Hired Girl -3-
by Erin Halfelven
“You keep complaining about being short, so I give you high heels and you complain about them?” said Judith.
“Ha, ha,“ said Harold. “I still think this is a stupid idea, and the heels are stupid too.”
“The job I’m thinking of having you apply for is going to need heels,” said Judith. “And those are only two-inches, not really high heels at all.”
“High enough I feel awkward in them,” said Harold.
“Just keep walking around, you’ll get used to them and won’t even notice after a bit.”
They were in Judith’s room, soon to be Harold’s room, over the family garage. So far, in Judith’s plan to get Harold a job by dressing him as a girl, he was still wearing his own clothes, blue shorts and a white tee. But he had an old pair of her sandals on and walked back and forth from the outer door, around the bed, to the tiny half bath next to the closet then back again.
“You have such little feet,” she commented. “Good thing I still had a pair of size threes in the back of my closet.”
“They’re pink,” commented Harold, looking down.
“Duh,” said Judith. “Most of my stuff is pink; it’s my name, Judith Marie Pink. Mom never changed her name and decided to give me hers instead of Daddy’s. They gave you his because they decided Pink was not as good for a boy.”
“Wait…. If I’m going to be…. Can I change my last name? I’ve always hated Haight.”
“Yeah, I guess. Carol Pink. Hmm. What do you want for a middle name? Anything is better than Leland, right?”
Harold nodded, but his mind went blank. “Picking a girl’s name for myself….” He trailed off. He'd let Judith come up with Carol, and since it sounded so much like Harold, he thought it would do.
“Well, Marie is Grandma Haight’s name, and Leland was Grandpa Pink’s name. Do you see a pattern? How about Grandma Pink’s name for your middle?”
Harold blinked. “Carol Bellamie Pink?”
Judith grinned. “It’s so you.”
Harold looked at her suspiciously. “Won’t I need ID in that name to get a job?”
Judith shrugged. “All they really want is your Social Security number. People give phony names all the time.”
“Sure,” said Judith. “I can get you some fake ID if you want.”
Harold stared at her.
“I know a guy who knows a guy in East L.A.,” she said, not explaining further. “Do you have a California I.D. Card already? You know like a Driver’s License, but you can’t drive?”
Harold nodded. “I’ve had one of those since I started high school. But if I use that, they’ll see my real name.”
“Not to worry, just don’t show it to them but you can use the number off it on forms.”
Judith nodded. “I’m seldom wrong and never uncertain.”
Harold made a noise. “Isn’t it a law degree you’re studying for at Columbia? Is that so you can get away with being crooked?”
“What they’re generally for, yeah,” Judith agreed. "I mean, that's what Daddy uses his for."
Harold pretended to be shocked and they both laughed.
“Worse comes to worse, all you need is a letter from a doctor to change your name and sex on your California ID,” said Judith.
“Uh, no,” said Harold. “This is only temporary. Just so I can have a job for the summer.”
“Right,” said Judith, grinning.
“It is,” insisted Harold.
Judith was going through the back of her closet, looking for something that might fit Harold and wasn’t too fusty. “You’re so tiny,” she commented. “I’m having to go back to stuff I wore in middle school.”
She pulled items out and put them on the bed, mostly dresses with a few skirts and tops.
Harold watched while a variety of expressions played across his face.
“Try that on,” Judy said, tossing one item at him.
He held it up. “It’s a dress.”
Judy rolled her eyes. “It’ll make you look older,” she said.
A simple sort of garment with cap sleeves and a flared skirt, it didn’t look dangerous. “It’s pink,” said Harold.
“You’re Miss Pink, remember?”
“Arr!” said Harold. He started to pull the cloth over his head, but Judy stopped him.
“First,” she said, “this dress has a zipper, undo the zipper before you pull it on or it won't fit over your head. And second, take off that t-shirt, the sleeves and neckband would show.”
Blinking, Harold puzzled with the dress’s fastening before realizing that a hook-and-eye arrangement held it closed above the zipper. That opened, the zip slid down easily, the plastic mechanism the same soft, berry-like pink of the cloth. Then he pulled his t-shirt off over his head and Judy saw his chest.
“Stop!” she said.
“Oh, crud,” said Harold.
Judith walked over to him, staring at the cookie-like breasts.
“It’s called gynecomastia,” said Harold. “Doctor says lots of guys get a little breast growth just before puberty really kicks in. He thinks it’s a good sign….” He trailed off and his eyes filled with tears.
Judith pulled her brother into a hug. “I’m sure he’s right,” she said. “You’re going to be fine.”
They held each other for a long moment.
“What if I’m stuck like this?” Harold whispered. “What if I never get any taller, or stronger, or, or anything?”
“Not gonna happen,” said Judith.
They squeezed each other once more and let go. Judith pushed Harold out to arm's length and looked him in the eye. “You want to do this? Just to get a job?”
Harold wiped his eyes with a hand, and Judith gave him a tissue from the box on her nightstand.
“I really want to have a job,” Harold said.
“But…” Judith prompted.
“But when you suggested, that, that I could get one if I dressed as a girl. I thought….”
Judith didn’t say anything.
“I don’t know what I thought. That, that maybe I’d be better off if I were a girl? I guess.”
Judith shrugged. “You seem to have a talent for it. Almost half of the people we met today thought you were my sister.”
Harold made a face. “Yeah, I know. It’s been happening a lot lately. It’s why I cut my hair.”
Judith handed him another tissue. He sat down on the bed, still bare to the waist. “Wattamigonnadoo, Judy?”
“Whatever you wanna do, punkin,” said Judith.
Harold made a visible effort not to cry again, his face almost twitching in his distress.
Judith sighed. “I’m sort of sorry I started this. I just meant for us to have some fun. If I could tease you and get you out of the mood you seemed to be in, it would have been worth it. But I dunno, your problem seems kind of more serious than I thought.”
Harold looked down at his chest. The little swellings behind his nipples were quite visible, shaped a bit like vanilla wafers with undersized Hershey’s kisses sitting on them. “Because of these?” he asked. “They itch, but it hurts like the devil to scratch them. And, and, they seem to still be getting bigger.”
Judith wrinkled her nose. “I remember.” She glanced down at her own modest endowments. “I never got much bigger than a B-cup myself. Uh? Maybe you’ll take after Mom’s side of the family. Aunt Rhoda has to buy bras online because most shops don’t carry G-cups.”
“Aunt Rhoda is fat,” said Harold. They smiled at each other, perhaps weakly, but smiles all the same.
“How come no one else has noticed? When did this start happening?”
“After school ended this year,” said Harold. “Or I probably wouldn’t have survived gym class. Bad enough being short and skinny….” He trailed off for a moment. “I’ve been wearing my thickest t-shirts and, and, I kinda figured maybe some of those people who thought I was a girl had noticed.”
“Huh,” said Judith. “And the doctor you saw last month saw them?”
Harold nodded. “They were smaller then but he said, nothing to worry about. Well, he said, nothing to worry about – yet.”
Judith rolled her eyes. “So when do you start worrying? Any clue?”
“I’m supposed to see him again before school starts up, so, last week in August.”
“That’s six more weeks.”
“Uh-huh. It’s one reason I haven’t been worrying about getting the pool ready.” They both glanced out the window toward the above-ground pool still under its winter cover.”
“Well, crud,” said Judith. “Do Mom and Dad know about it, uh, them?”
“I dunno. The doctor may have told Mom; she didn’t see. But she didn’t say anything to me.”
“I bet the doctor is worried about some kind of liability,” Judith muttered. She considered what she knew of malpractice law, but shook that line of thought off. Too complicated and not much help to Harold right now.
She had ended up sitting beside Harold on the bed when she was holding him but now she stood up. “Do you want to go ahead with this? Getting a job?”
“I thought you said you were just teasing me?”
“Well, no. Not just teasing you, I know I can get my 'little sister,'" she did the air quotes, "a job where I’m going to work. The Jazz Promenade. It’s a restaurant and bar in Riverside hotel.”
“What? As… as a waitress?” Harold looked vaguely alarmed.
She shook her head. “You can’t, they serve wine and beer and cocktails in the restaurant, too. So you’re underage, and I’m not sure I could convince anyone you were eighteen.” She grinned at him and he smiled back, more of a nervous twitch actually.
She continued. “But I worked there as a hostess when I was only seventeen. I’ll be working as a cocktail waitress, now, making fa-abulous tips and you can have my old job. At least part-time, I’m sure. Being cute is an advantage in the hosting business.”
“Uh?” said Harold.
Judith turned back toward her closet and chest of drawers. “I just wonder if I still have a bra that will fit you?”
“Judy! Arr!” said Harold. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her.
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