Aged 10
Our new Neighbours moved in two days before Christmas. Mother, Father and a 10 year old girl named Jocasta. I thought that was a cool name because she is a superhero from ‘The Avengers’.
Her family were invited round to our place on Christmas Day because the Gas people hadn’t connected up their oven in time. Our families became firm friends from that day onward.
The first time I saw Jocasta not wearing tatty jeans, I fell deeply in love with her. Real love at first sight. She was going to be a ravishing beauty. Even at 10, she was just different from other girls her age. She let her below shoulder length slightly wavy hair fall loose. A fringe almost covered her eyes and black-rimmed glasses made her look so… Hot!.
In our first week at school, I was the envy of all the other boys because I got to show her the ropes. Well, she chose me because ‘he lives next door to me’. I didn’t argue. How can I? I was head over heels in love with her.
Even after she became popular at school she never forgot me. We’d go out as friends, study together and just hang out with each other. I asked her once why she did that. Her response was.
“I know I’m safe with you Tommy. You are more than my pal. You are more like my brother.”
I could have died but just to be with her as her radiant beauty grew over the years was reward enough. The sad part was that her brother had died the year before. He’d been run over by a car while waiting for the School bus. He was her twin. She missed him deeply so I was honoured to be her stand-in brother.
Jocasta and I were apart for the first time in years. We’d both done our ‘A’ Levels together but had gone onto different Universities. I went to Newcastle to read Engineering while Jo (I called her that because she hated her full name) went to Sussex to study Maths.
We met up every holiday and just carried on where we’d left off before. Naturally we emailed each other at least three times a week. Jo had become incredibly beautiful so men were lining up to date her. Sadly for her, she always seemed to pick out the rotten apples. I would literally spend hours on the phone talking to her as one romance after another ended. I almost told her one time that I was in love with her but I didn’t. I was the perpetual coward in that respect.
We’d both graduated with first class honours degrees. Jo didn’t know what she was going to do. Well, that was what she kept telling me. I on the other hand had obtained a Graduate Trainee position at a large Engineering Company in Derby.
All summer, Jo had a mysterious grin on her face. Nothing I could do would get her to tell me. Her parents didn’t know what it was either. All they’d say was,
“She has a job but she won’t tell us where it is. But she’s been a bit secretive ever since her brother died.”
I knew that there were some things that she wouldn’t tell me. I wasn’t her real brother after all but I did my best.
The day came for me to leave and move to Derby. I’d rented a one bed flat on the outskirts of the town. It was close to a bus route that would take me almost right to the plant where I’d be working.
Jo and I said our goodbyes on the Friday evening. She said that she was going to her job that had the possibility of foreign travel the next day.
By the Sunday Lunchtime our two houses were strangely empty. The chicks had finally fledged and flown the next.
On the Monday morning, I put on my ‘Interview’ suit and took the bus to work for the first time. As was natural for me, I was horribly early. I sat waiting as the other new starters arrived and took their places in the small lecture theatre where our induction course would begin at 09:30.
I could hear the stragglers take their seats as the lights dimmed and the head of Graduate Training, Mr Warren Mitchell took his place at the lectern.
An hour of boring facts later, we broke for a natural break. As I stood up, I could see a cluster of people trying to help someone. I took no notice as I headed for the toilet. I’d learnt the hard way over the years to keep my head down and try as hard as possible to become invisible. I fully intended to do the same here. I’d resolved to try to let my work speak for itself. For some reason, I couldn’t help start thinking of Jo. Where was she? What was she doing?
I was missing her already. Not knowing where she was for the first time in more than ten years was worrying me.
I returned to the foyer and poured myself a cup of coffee. I could sense someone standing close to me. I guessed that they were also waiting for their turn to do just what I was doing. I picked up my cup and turned to let this other person get their drink when I smelled her. I looked at the person.
There was Jo standing with her hands on her hips and smiling broadly.
“Aren’t you going to pour me one as well?”
“Jo? Jo?..... Wh…”
I was dumbstruck.
I offered her my cup and hurriedly turned back to the coffee and made a total mess of trying to pour one for myself. In the end I gave up and turned back to her.
I’d recovered enough to say,
“Jo? What are you doing here?”
“The same as you silly. Shall we go back inside? The next session is about to start.”
I could tell by the glares I received from some of the other trainees that they were slightly annoyed that this seemingly innocuous person had grabbed the best looking woman in the group from under their grasp.
It wasn’t until the day was over that I had a chance to properly speak to her.
“So this is that secret job you were not telling anyone about all summer?”
“Yes. Sorry about that.”
“Why? Why are you here? You could have had the pick of jobs in the City?”
“Yeah and so?”
“Look Tom, you know how I attract all the wrong sort of people into my life. You are my guardian angel. So I thought that… here I am.”
I thought for a moment before answering.
“Jo? Has it ever occurred to you that I would like to be a bit more than your guardian angel?”
She tried to say something but I stopped her.
“Please let me say this. I’ve been wanting to say this since the first day we met.”
“Jo, you are the most beautiful person on this planet. That first day we met, I fell in love with you but I knew that you were untouchable for me. You let me be in your life as your pseudo brother. That is something I will never forget. But I do not want to keep being your guardian angel. I want something more out of our relationship.”
This time, she interrupted.
“Me too. I knew this past year at Uni that you were the one for me. So when I got offered this job, I knew that I had to take it. I also knew that if you knew before we came here that you’d run a mile. I know you Tom.”
“No Jo, you don’t know me. I fell in love with you and am still in love with you because I wanted to be you! Now I must go and tell HR that I can’t take the job after all.”
I almost ran away from her down the corridor. To my anger, the lift doors closed right in front of me.
I pressed the recall button but nothing happened.
Before I knew it, Jo was grabbing my shoulder.
“Tom, you will do no such thing. Can’t you understand that it is you I want to be with? Suddenly a lot of things make sense. You know what? I don’t care. You are the man or woman for me. Get it?”
I didn’t have any time to get it. Wearing really high heels, she towered over me. She held me and kissed me long and hard.
When she broke off, she said,
“There you were all the time right under my nose and I was too blind to notice you.”
“But Jo? Didn’t you hear what I said? I want to be a woman. I’ve suspected for years that I wasn’t quite right. That first day you came into my life I fell in love with you. You are the most beautiful, funny and downright sexy person I have ever met. You can’t be interested in a pitiful wannabe women like me. Then a few years ago, I started to understand what it was. I wanted to be you or at least a woman like you. But it was obvious all along that you would never be interested in a totla loser like me when you can have the pick of pretty well and man or woman you desired.”
“Now get this straight Tom. You are not a loser and never have been. In my eyes, you are the greatest.”
Then she sighed
“Ok, I will admit that making you into a decent woman is not going to be easy but I do know one thing and that is I want to be with you for the rest of my life in or out of skirts, dresses and shoes, lots of shoes. So get it through your think head that I’m going nowhere this side of armageddon.”
“Are we ready to do this?” asked Jo.
“As we’ll ever be.”
“Ok, lets do it.”
We walked into the sitting room of my house. Our parents were just settling down after Christmas Lunch. It was now or never for us.
The past three months had literally flown by. What with work, finding somewhere to live together and getting me at least a partial wardrobe we’d hardly had time to sit down let alone become real lovers. I’d also been referred to the Gender Clinic at the hospital and I was working towards coming out at work once my trainee period had ended in the summer. If both of us had jobs then we’d move forward with our plans. Now it was time to tell the folks.
“Jo and I have an announcement to make.”
“Are you two finally getting together?” asked her Father.
“Well sort of,” said Jo.
“Are you or aren’t you?” he asked again.
“Jo and I are going to get engaged but that is not the only thing.”
“I knew it!” exclaimed her Mother,
“You are pregnant and I’m going to be a grandmother!”
“No Mum. Please let Tom speak. This is hard for both of us.”
All their eyes turned towards me.
“I fell in love with Jo the day we first met this time in 2001. I say love with her but I wanted to be her. She was beautiful then and now! Well she is the most ravishing woman I have ever met. Not only is she stunningly beautiful but brainy as well.”
“I’m, sorry we are going to get married and live together and yes hopefully produce some grandchildren but by then I won’t be called Tom. I will be called Sara. I am going to live as the woman I’ve always wanted to be. That day when I first met Jo, I knew what I wanted to be. I asked her to marry me and she said yes.”
Then we showed everyone our left hands. On our ring fingers were identical engagement rings.
There was silence in the room. After what seemed an eternity, my father broke it.
“As long as you two are happy then I am.”
Jo’s mother had gone bright red in the face. Then she said,
“Do something George! Put a stop to this right now!”
“Sorry Jayne, I’m going to do no such thing. Can’t you see that they are happy and in love with each other. We’ve all known for years that they meant the earth to each other. I’m just happy that our daughter is going to be there for Sara.”
“George! What will all our friends say?”
“Who cares what those stuck up bitches at the Golf Club say? I certainly don’t.”
At this point, Jayne stood up and still fuming said,
“I’m not going to stand for this any longer. You know where I’ll be when you all come to your senses.”
Then she stormed out.
“Don’t worry my darling. She’s only going to her mothers. It is her who has to see that you are doing the right thing,” said her father.
“Dad? What if she does not come back?”
“Good riddance to bad rubbish. I don’t really care any more. As long as I can give you away then my job is done.”
“Mum? Say something?” I pleaded.
“Son, or should I say daughter I have wished for this day to happen for a long time. I always felt that there was something stopping you from asking Jo out. I wondered if you were Gay. Now I know what it is and I find I really don’t mind. As long as you are happy then I am. But answer me one question?”
“Anything,” I said.
Before it could be answered, there was an almighty crash from outside. We all hurried to the window.
There was Jo’s Mother Jayne sitting in her brand new Beemer. The front of it was embedded in the low wall that divided our two properties.
“Serves her right,” said her husband as we watched her get out of the car and immediately trip over one of the small statues that Jayne had put in their designer front garden.
She saw us watching and glared back as she stormed off up the road on foot.
There was a bit of tittering going on behind our net curtains as we sat down again
Them mum asked in her Irish brogue,
“Is it one wedding dress or two that we’ll have to be buying?”
Jo and I said in unison as we smiled at each other.
Dad went and cracked open the best bottle of Scotch in the house.
Later that night Jo’s mother returned home, her tail very much between her legs. Her mother had given her short shift and told her daughter not to be such a prude.
Not long after, the two mothers began arguing over who would be paying for the wedding. Normal service had been resumed much to the relief of everyone else.
It is amazing what lies right under your nose without you knowing it.
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