Melanie's Story -- Chapter 7 -- Saturday at my Aunt's

CHAPTER 7 -- Saturday at my Aunt's

I got my mother to agree to take me over to Teresa's. The earliest she'd leave was 8:00, though. She said she'd pick me up if I gave her a few hours' notice. So, Saturday morning, I packed up a few CDs and got driven to my aunt's and uncle's.

When I got there, they were just finishing breakfast. Teresa was still in her pyjamas, working on some toast, and looked surprised to see me. I apologized for getting there too early, but Teresa said it was fine and offered me a muffin. I showed her the CDs, but she said it was too early. We went upstairs to her room.

"I talked to my mom, and she thinks you probably need a bra. You can't keep squashing your breasts like that, and since you say the nipples are sore, you need a bra that protects them. She also says you can get bras that make your breasts less obvious. But you need to go to a store that specializes in bras. We can take you shopping next weekend."

"Thanks. It's sort of scary, but I guess that's what I need to do."

"Anything else I can help you with?"

"There is something. I hope it's not too stupid." I think I blushed again. "What do you do about when your pants legs bother you -- irritate your legs right up here." I pointed to right near my crotch.

"Is it getting red and all?"

"No, more like it, uh, tickles or itches or something." I didn't want to describe it more accurately.

"Is it better when you don't have pants on?"

"Oh, yes. When I'm alone in my room, I take them off, and it's so much better. But I can't walk around the house or outside in just my underwear."

She looked like she was weighing her words. "I don't know if you'll like this suggestion, but: would you be willing to try a skirt? It wouldn't have pants legs to irritate you. And it wouldn't have to look all girly."

I thought about it for a minute or two, but the way my legs were bothering me kind of pushed me over. "Okay, I'll try one. But -- would you have one that fit me?"

"I've got one in a one-size-fits-all size. It's sort of flowery and long, but I don't think it's too bad." She went into her closet and pulled it out. It was long and crinkly and had some sort of pink and blue pattern. "Do you want to put it on now?"

I nodded.

"I'll turn my back while you change," she said, and turned. I took off my shoes, then took a deep breath, slipped off my pants, and pulled the skirt on up to my waist. Within a few seconds, I felt relief.

"You know, maybe you can take off the ace bandage. No one here is going to tease you about it." I pulled my shirt off, and she started taking the bandages off. When she was done, I could see my breasts kind of slumping down. They weren't exactly pin-up size, but they weren't tiny. And I had to admit, on a girl, they wouldn't have looked half bad. I tried putting my shirt back on and looked in the mirror. The breasts weren't all that obvious, but you could tell they were there if you looked. I stood back and looked at myself. It had been a long time since I'd looked at my whole body in the mirror. I hadn't even looked at my face since October, when what little beard hair that I'd had had been gone for weeks.

I looked like someone else.

I looked like a girl. A fashion-challenged girl, but still a girl.

It wasn't just my chest that had changed. I was shorter, my hips were wider. And my face looked different. I couldn't figure out exactly what had changed, but it didn't look like I remembered it.

"It's so weird. I'm looking in the mirror, and I'm seeing a girl. Not me. The skirt and the no bandage and ...."

"Hey, Martin. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? You don't look a lot different from when you came in. I know it sucks. I know it's not what you want. Hey, I'd be pretty upset, too, if one day I started looking like a boy. But maybe you need to start getting used to it. I mean, suppose you'd gotten this horrible burn scar. You could have gotten one in that motorcycle accident. You'd have to get used to looking that way."

"I guess you're right. But -- I don't think I'm ready yet."

"Now, can you turn your back so I can get dressed?"

After she got dressed, I tried looking in the mirror again. If I didn't think about it being me, I could see that "she" wasn't bad-looking. Maybe even a little pretty. I shuddered and felt a heavy rock drop down through the bottom of my stomach. I turned away.

"Let's go downstairs and talk to my mom."

"Dressed like this?"

"Why not? It's not like it will bother them. It's not half as weird as what they already know about you.

When her mother saw me, she looked me up and down, but said nothing and her expression was pretty casual.

"He's wearing a skirt because pants rub in sensitive places."

My aunt nodded. "Do you like it?" she asked.

"It's a little girly for my taste."

"Maybe when we go shopping next Saturday we can find something that's a little more masculine-looking."

I plopped down on a chair. "What's the use?" I moaned. "I'm going to look like a girl no matter what I do."

Teresa started to say something, but her mother interrupted. "Give him some space. Let him feel it. It's going to take a while for -- it'll just take a while. Martin: do you want us to leave you alone?"

I shook my head. I was trying to hold off tears, but I didn't want to be alone. "But I'm keeping you from whatever you were going to do today. And I'm sure I'm boring Teresa."

"This is more important."

"What's more important?"

"How you're feeling. Helping you deal with all this."

Now I did start to cry. The idea that how I felt was important to somebody besides me, that they'd drop what they were doing to make me feel better. I couldn't take it in.

I won't bore you with the details. Short version: I spent the next fifteen minutes or so crying and feeling sorry for myself and Aunt Edith stroking my shoulder until I'd cried myself out.

Once I was able to do more than whimper, Aunt Edith and I arranged that we would all go clothes shopping next Saturday. She extracted from me the fact that my boy-underwear wasn't fitting right any more, so she added that to the list. Bras, skirts, now underwear. And shirts that would hide my breasts, sort of.

Teresa suggested we go for a walk.

"Dressed like this?"

Teresa rolled her eyes. "Is that all you can say? Nobody's going to think anything weird, even if they see us. Most people are inside, or if they're outside, they're working and won't pay attention to us."

We got on our shoes and coats and walked the block to the nature preserve. It was warm for the end of November, but that's still not warm, and my legs got cold. I reminded myself that outdoor gym class in gym shorts was even colder and soldiered on, but by the time we got back, I was cold through and through. Uncle Boris was in the kitchen, and when he saw us, he made some mugs of hot chocolate to warm us up.

"How's it going?" my uncle asked.

"Should I be honest?"

"Of course."

"Pretty shook up. I looked in the mirror and I don't look like me any more. Nobody's going to see me, they'll see some girl."

He'd been standing while Teresa and I sat, but he squatted down until his eyes were level with mine, in a sort of man-to-man attitude.

"When I look at you, I see my nephew Martin. Your appearance may have changed a little, but I still see the same Martin." He stared at me for a few more minutes. "Your appearance is not you. It's what's inside that's you, okay?" Then he stood up. "What do you say we download a movie and make some popcorn?"

"A horror movie!" Teresa squealed. Then she got a serious look on her face and asked me, "do you like horror movies?"

I didn't, actually, but didn't want to disappoint her. "As long as they're not too scary." So we downloaded a campy horror movie, which took us to dinner time. I thought I should call my mom for a ride, since she wanted a few hours notice, but Uncle Boris said he'd drive me. I stayed for dinner -- leftover turkey.

When it was time to go, I went to change into my pants.

"Don't you want to keep the skirt on?"

"I don't want to have to deal with my family's reaction. I don't know how I'm going to explain it if your mom really does buy me a skirt next week. It really was a lot more comfortable, though," I added wistfully.

I changed, but she insisted on giving it to me in a bag. "Don't worry about the skirt," my uncle said as he drove me home. "Edith will talk to your dad and straighten it out."

When I got home, my brothers were in the living room watching the TV there. Since Thanksgiving, they hadn't dared to harrass me. They looked all stiff and nervous, like they didn't know how to act around me. Actually, my parents did, too. It was like I was living with strangers.

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