There You Are

December 2016 Spirit of Giving Story Contest Entry


There You Are

Jay likes to window shop and look at all the pretty clothes that he knows he'll never get to wear. He's usually pretty discreet about it until the day that he isn't.


Author's Note:Ok so a few quick things. This is a story in Sephrena's Christmas contest. I was almost done with it before she announced the contest was closed but she was nice enough to allow me to insert it in, so thank you very much, Sephrena :). Now about the story, the image I used is in reference to something the character said. I was going to use my standard image of a girl but I found that one and I couldn't refuse it lol. Also this is a little shorter than most people will be used to me writing and it ends before the story really begins. I'm not sure if I'll ever write anymore of it either so just be forewarned ahead of time. If you want to see more of this tale, let me know and I'll consider it :) Happy holidays everyone :)

I was usually a pretty guarded person. It comes from having three older brothers and being the smallest one in the family. When you’re smaller and younger, you learn to dodge and weave when necessary. You can block in an incoming punch, swerve an oncoming kick and build up a defensive armor against most put-downs and insults. Because of this reason, I usually stayed in the shadows, tried to shrink myself as small as I could and avoid others whenever possible. I’m not a paranoid person but it helped when you never knew where the attack was going to come from next.

It also helped to hide secrets.

I had my fair share of those.

Most of them were little, minor and just plain stupid. Like the cash, I kept hidden under one of my floor boards or the flash drive of compromising and nasty blackmail photos I kept around my neck. Silly things. Things one tends to garner growing up as the youngest. Things that might one day save my ass in a pinch I suppose. They were small secrets, though. If someone were to find out about them, I’d be ok. Sure I’d be out of a lot of money and blackmail material but I’d survive.

It was the bigger secrets I was scared of.

Well one actually.

The one I didn’t want anyone to find out about.

The one that got me in my current situation.

You see ever since I could remember, I felt wrong. There was a small part of me inside that felt like my body didn’t fit. I’m not sure when I started noticing but one morning I couldn’t help but feel it. I think my mother always knew, though. I could vaguely remember her taking me out and about, dressed in some cute outfit. I was always a beautiful baby, far too beautiful to be a boy. In fact, lots of people would tell me that now. Of course, that was after they made the mistake of calling me a girl. If Dad or one of the morons was around, they’d quickly correct the error. Mom was the only one who didn’t. She had been the only one who understood.

Cancer is an evil thing.

After Mom was gone, I felt so alone. I could never relate to my father and brothers. Sports and overall macho bonding crap never seemed to interest me. I tried. I even let Dad take me to ball games and buy me all those violent video games. I had to wear the sports jerseys and decorate my walls with half naked women. I even tried my hand at Little League back in elementary school. I hated all of it but it helped to hide my secret. It also helped to make me the most miserable person in all of Becker Falls. Ok so probably not but I had to be in the top ten. There were only so many people in our tiny little town, I was bound to be one of the most depressed.

Looking back upon it, I think Mom might have been too. If not for the cancer, I’m sure she would have left Dad. In another life, I might have gone with her. I’m sure we could have been happy together. In fact, I know we would have been. Alas, it was not meant to be and now here I was stuck, living a lie and trying my hardest every day to keep others from finding the truth.

Like I said, though, I let my guard down.

Becker Falls was this tiny little town like I said. It was so small in fact that we didn’t even have a mall. So every weekend, my brothers piled into the pickup and drove to the next town over---Bigsby. It was a much bigger town, like a small city actually. The mall here was a pretty popular place, especially with kids my age. I always liked to tag along because like most malls, it had a lot of different clothing stores. So while my brothers disappeared to do God knows what, I spent my time wandering up and down the shops, staring distantly into the windows. I knew what I wanted and I couldn’t have it. At least looking at all those great things made me feel a bit better about myself.

I’d been doing it for months. They’d go off and do their thing and I’d spend time with mine. Always looking, though, never going further than the other side of the glass. I felt kinda like a zoo animal but in reverse. All the good stuff was over there and I was stuck here. Ever the observer, craving what he can’t have.

“Hey there,” said a voice, causing my body to seize.

And therein lies my current problem.

Someone actually noticed me.

I was numb, terrified.

Turning slowly on my heel, I looked into the face of Kelly Donalds. We had a few classes together but we didn’t run in the same social circles. Partially because she was a bit on the popular side and because I didn’t have any social circle. Kelly was one of those girls. You know the one, super nice, super rich and super classy. She was friends with everyone, flittering from one group to the next but never really belonging to any. She was kind of cool that way. It helped that she looked like someone who could be on The CW. She had milky white skin, long silky black hair, and the most dazzling green eyes. She also had a smattering of freckles which looked kind of funny on her due to her Asian ancestry. I know what you’re thinking and if you must know, her father was Irish I think.

“You ok,” she asked, showing genuine concern. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost or something”

I finally found my voice.

“No, just startled”

“You’re in my English class right?”

All I could do was nod. Damn it. How could I have been this careless? Sure she’d only seen me looking but I was really looking. I probably could have talked my way out of it but we were outside Dillards. They had this great display of skater dresses, they were so cute. I loved skater dresses, they were spunky, young and classy all in one. I’d always admired them from afar but today I wanted to get a closer look. Why did today have to be the day that she walked by?

“I’m sorry I don’t know your name”

She looked sorry too. In fact, she looked like someone had shot her puppy. A girl like her made it their business to know everyone and not knowing me really seemed to disturb her. I guess I was doing my job then.

“It's Jay” I stuttered, without thinking.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I said more confidently.

Why was I still talking? Why was I still standing here, to be honest? I should have been gone. I was embarrassed enough as it was. One of the most popular girls in school just caught me fish bowling dresses. I knew she wasn’t the kind of person to spread rumors but things like this had a way of getting out. She wouldn’t do it intentionally but someone would find out. The rumor would spread like wildfire and I’d get my ass kicked on two fronts---from schoolmates and brothers. I was really dreading how things were going to go at school tomorrow.

“You ok?”

“I’m fine,” I said, looking in every direction but at her.

There had to be a way out of this. I didn’t want to be rude but I didn’t want to be here either. I knew this mall pretty well. There was stairwell around the corner and a fire exit at the bottom. A quick run to it wouldn’t take more than thirty seconds. It was a bit extreme but I didn’t have a lot of choices.

“You don’t like people do you?”

“What, no,” I said quickly, panic starting to build. “It's just I have somewhere to be soon”

“They’re not here,” she said, misinterpreting my fidgeting.


“Your brothers,” she said with a knowing smile. “I saw them at the movie theater. They were with Sara Ellis and her brood”



Kelly finally shifted a bit, giving me the opening I needed. I didn’t even wait to around to say goodbye. As she tilted to the left, I went to the right. Right around her and toward the stairs. I would have made it too if not for my short legs. She was in front of me in two seconds flat. How in the hell did she move that fast and in heels no less?

“That was rude,” she said cheerfully.

Couldn’t this girl take a hint?

Ok so being allusive with her was out of the question. Time to be direct and to the point.

“Don’t take this the wrong way but I don’t know you and frankly I don’t really want to get to know you. It was nice talking to you but I gotta go”

Harsh I know but I couldn’t let her blab to everyone.

I needed to get out of here and away from her.

I started to move around her and make my way to the stairs again. Kelly didn’t seem to want to let me go, though. She stepped quickly in front of me again, smiling that sweet smile of hers.

“Are you afraid of me?”

“What no!”

“Then are you afraid that,” she said and lowered her voice. “I saw you looking at that dress”

So she had seen me. She also knew what I was looking at.

I felt the familiar burn around my eyes as the tears started to flow. This was it, my life was over. I could just see school tomorrow. I bet I wouldn’t even be able to get five feet into the building before they kicked my ass. Freshman blood in the water. The seniors already gave me shit about my height. There was also something wrong about having hair just at my shoulders. Somehow being short and having long hair suddenly made me a fag. Their words, not mine. If they knew that I also liked looking at dresses then I was toast.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you…”

I pushed her away as hard as I could. I didn’t even care that I put her on her butt. I stepped over her and ran for the stairs. I was halfway down them when I heard a commotion. Someone was running behind me. Then a second later they were in front of me. What I saw blew my mind. It was Kelly, she used the railing and the wall and somehow hoped in front of me. It was like something straight out of Assassin’s Creed. Bad ass Assassin parkour at its finest. She dropped in front of me with ease too, she wasn’t even panting.

Who the hell was this girl?

“What kind of person would I be if I let you run out of here in tears,” she said, gently putting her hands on my shoulders. “Now c’mon, let’s go sit down and talk for a minute”

I was too upset to argue. I let her take me by the hand and lead me back up the stairs. She led me over to a small seating area in one of the lesser used corners. It was right near the bathroom and there was a bit of a smell so not many people used it. The benches were clean at least. Sitting down, she let me have a few moments to collect myself.

I hated crying.

I especially hated doing it in front of other people.

It didn’t help that Dad always used to give us a hard time. Ok so not actually us, more like me. My brothers didn’t cry. Well, they did when something sad happened of course. We were all bawling when Mom died. Even Dad. Not that any of them would ever admit it. They were men. They were macho men in fact and macho men didn’t cry. Whenever he caught me sniveling about something, he’d always say to me, “Man Up. Wilkes men do not cry”. Which was BS? You couldn’t stop someone from crying.

Unfortunately for me, though, I took his words to heart.

And I’ve been crying a lot lately.

“So you want to talk about it?”

I shook my head when I had my tears finally under control.

“No,” I said “I want to forget about it”

Kelly frowned. “You don’t open up to a lot of people, do you?”

I shrugged. She was right but I had my reasons. I knew the world was starting to become more understanding about these things but I was still scared. Especially in this town. We were a little backward in our way of thinking. Sure things were progressive, we had a gay couple who lived on our block. Things were still hard though too. Especially around the house. I’m not saying Dad was an outright bigot but he made it pretty well known his feelings about these things. Dad had a reputation about town that he had to maintain. He owned a string of auto shops and car dealerships all throughout the state. Well actually inherited them but still one needed to be a certain type of man to own those places, according to him.

To show weakness was like blood in the water.

To present yourself as anything less than 100% Red Blooded American Male was even worse.

It was all pretty stupid if you ask me.

“Look, thanks for the help,” I said, waving at my tear streaked cheeks. “I’m good now. You can go”

Yes please go.

She smiled and nodded. She stood up slowly, making sure that skirt of hers didn’t rid up. It was a nice one. She’d worn it a few times before and I’d always admired it. It was from Rue21 if I’m not mistaken, I’d seen it on their website. A skater skirt, much like the dress but without the bodice. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing one wore in December but Kelly pulled it off nicely. She paired it with a nice pair of gray leggings, it suited her. Then again, everything she wore suited her just fine. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was jealous.

“It's nice, isn’t it?”

I nodded before I realized what I’d been asked. Of course, she’d caught me looking at her skirt. Clothes were after all my weakness. Especially cute ones like hers. In school, I always struggled with not looking. Not just at her either. There were a lot of girls there who dressed very well. Kelly was one of the many trendsetters, though. Her current style was preppy chic and it worked really well. Like I said before, straight out of The CW.

“I mean…ummm….nice legs”


She smiled. It was a calculating, evil smile.

“You know maybe you can help me. You see Brian was supposed to meet me here but he got called into practice this morning. I need someone to carry my bags, play critic, that type of thing?”

Brian was her boyfriend. He was on the hockey team but he wasn’t like the rest. Sure he was a jock but he didn’t go out of the way to harass me like the others. In fact, more than once he’d actually stopped the harassing. He was a defenseman, you know those who stayed back by the goalie. So he was pretty big and scary when he wanted to be. Even some of the football players backed down when Brian told them too. He and Kelly had been dating for a while, I think since the start of sixth grade. They were one of the longest couples around. We used to be friends back in elementary school, well for a second anyway.

Puberty changed that.

‘I’m not sure…”

“It's fine,” she said with a laugh, cutting me off.

She grabbed my hand and pulled me from the bench. Kelly really was forceful when she wanted to be. I tried to dig my heels into the ground, futile because it was in fact marble. She was strong. Stronger than me that’s for sure. I tried to protest but my pleas fell on deaf ears. She dragging me toward the No Man’s Land too. My agitation was taken over by excitement the closer I got to the door. My heart started to beat faster and my palms started to sweat. I was actually going inside. This was the moment I’d been waiting my whole life for and there was no turning back now.

Passing over the threshold, I felt something.

Something important.

It was like the part of me that was male was left there, on the other side. Being here now, surrounded by all this femininity, I felt at peace.
Ok, so it wasn’t all feminine stuff. Dillards was a department store after all. There were men’s clothes in here too but the majority of it was for women. High class, fashionable women. This place was definitely on more of the expensive side that’s for sure. It’s funny really because it looked like the kind of place my Dad might buy his clothes from. If he didn’t insist on buying them all from online male clothing outlets. Being here now---standing amongst some of the things I dreamed about---was actually kind of anti-climatic. It was just any other store, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was so afraid to come in here before.

Kelly let go of my hand.

“I need to get a dress for Stephanie’s Christmas party, c’mon you can help me look”

“I don’t know anything about dresses,” I said quickly.

She smiled. “Well then you can just hold my bag like Brian does”

Kelly all but fluttered down the aisles. She glided like a princess, it was amazing to watch. Me, I was stomping about like a truck driver. I followed her slowly, trying not to look like I was taking it all in. I looked at everything, though, it was just so amazing. If I’d been shopping with Dad or the idiots, I’d never be able to come in here. So I was going to savor this while it lasted.

“I need something light and flirty, I want to knock Brian’s socks off,” she said, trying to include me in her shopping experience. “What do you think?”


Why was she doing this to me?

Was it some kind of cruel game of hers?

“Oh how about the one in the window, that what’s it called dress”

“Skater,” I said, without thinking.


She smiled.

“Yeah that one”

So that was her game.

She didn’t say any more. Instead, she led me to the back of the store where there was a display of the dresses. The one in the window was an enticement, something to draw customers in. Then they put the actual dress in the back of the store that way the people would have to walk all the way through the store to get to it. On the way, they’d see other things they might want. It was a pretty clever thing to do. I had an uncle who worked retail. He said they did stuff like that all the time. Especially around the holidays. Christmas was after all only weeks away now.

The dresses were stellar.

An assortment of skater dresses, racer necklines, foil dipped hems, lace bodices. Super cute, super sexy and definitely super chic.

Kelly was currently eying a red one. Not as cute as the foil ones but it would still work. It would definitely look good on her. If she paired it with a nice pair of block heel sandals, it would look awesome. I closed my eyes and pictured it on her. Yeah, definitely great. As soon as the image of her left my head, I couldn’t help but picture myself wearing it too. The image made me grimace. I liked the look of the pretty clothes but being a boy I knew they’d look horrible on me. I didn’t have the body for something like that.

“Earth to Jay,” she said, snapping her fingers.

I snapped open my eyes, flushing. “Sorry, was distracted”

“I see that”

She was currently holding two dressed by the hanger, the red one she’d been eying and a nice blue one. Either one would look great on her. I’m just not sure what she wanted me to do with them.

‘Those are umm nice”

She rolled her eyes. “Of course they are. That’s not what I want to know, though. I want to know which color looks better on me”

Personally, I don’t think either color suited her. With her dark hair and fair skin, she would probably look best in black or a dark purple.

Neither color suited Christmas well, though.

“I think probably the red”

She scrutinized both dresses then sighed.

“Stand here for a sec,” she said, beckoning me over.

I walked over to where she was standing. She stepped aside. Then she held one dress up to me, placing the neckline under my chin.

“What are you doing?”

“You’re about my height and size, I want to see how it looks”

I tried to squirm away but her glare made me stand still.

She scrutinized again. Then she did the same with the other dress. She gave me the turnaround gesture. I actually had to take the dress from her, hold it up to my chin and turn around.

“I’m not sure actually. I like them both a lot. I think I might need a live model”

“A live model”

I really didn’t like the sound of that.

Well, I did like the sound of it actually but I knew where she was going. I was both excited and terrified at the same time. More terrified right now, though. She knew my secret and was now just toying with me. Like a vicious cat playing with a timid mouse. I wanted to run as fast as I could but that didn’t really work out so well for me last time. The way I saw it, I had two options. One I could blatantly refuse and storm out of here. It would be a dick thing to do but it would be the right thing to do. Or rather the male thing to do. It was something I knew I should do but it was honestly not something I wanted to do.

I wanted option two.

I needed option two.

“You want me to put on one of these, don’t you?”

Her smile got really big. “Oh, would you. That would be fantastic!”

Oh, she was definitely playing with me now.

‘Wait, what”

“There’s no one around, you’ll be fine. Just pop into the changing room over there, put on that red dress and tell me when you’re done. I’ll see if it looks good then I’ll buy it”

She made it sound so simple. I suppose it was. I really wanted to put it on but I was scared what might happen. I mean what if this was all a setup. As soon as I put the dress on, she could jump in there with a phone and take blackmail photos. Or worse, take the photos and plaster them all over her Wall on facebook. I’d be the laughingstock of the whole school. Not to mention the punching bag of every jock everywhere. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face that kind of ridicule and beating.

“Go on, it’ll be fine. I’m not some malicious bitch out to destroy you”

She was smiling when she said it. She had such a nice, warm smile.

Damn it.

I groaned to make it sound like I really didn’t want to do it. Inside, I was practically dancing with anticipation.

Without any more hesitation, I took the red dress into the nearby dressing room. Generally, when I went clothes shopping with my Dad and brothers, we never bothered with dressing rooms. We just told our Dad the size pants or shirt we needed and he bought them. If they didn’t fit, he’d just take them back and get the next size down or up. When Mom was alive, shopping was a bit different. She used to make us do the whole nine yards---she’d measure us, make sure we used the dressing room and if something didn’t fit right, she’d meticulously make us try on clothes until we found the right articles that did fit. It used to drive my brothers nuts but I loved it.

I really missed her.

Ok so dress time.

I hung it on the little hanger on the back of the door, trying desperately to control my excitement as I did so. I started to undress which was a chore in or itself. I usually dressed in layers because I hated my body. First I took off my zip up hoodie, shaking free the mop my mop of dirty brown hair. Dad hated that I refused to get it cut. A boy shouldn’t have hair past his shoulders. It was only past them by a couple of inches but it freaked him out anyways. I liked t though. I also liked how it hung in my face, covering half of it. It made me look cool and mysterious.

I pulled my shirts off next---yes shirts as in plural, two of them.

I frowned at what I saw there.

Or the lack of what I saw.

I was fourteen. Most boys my age had gone through a massive puberty by this stage. They got taller, got muscles, hair on their chest and face. Me, I went through puberty but I didn’t get any of the male benefits. Which I suppose was what I wanted but at the same time, it’s like blood in the water in the locker room during gym class. I had no muscles to speak of and there definitely wasn’t any hair on my chest. I didn’t even have the broad shoulders like most boys. In fact, my body was downright feminine looking. Slender shoulders, thin waist. I could even see my ribs if I looked hard enough. I wasn’t what you might call tall either---only five seven. Which if you saw my father and brothers---who were at least six foot two or taller---then you’d know I was definitely the short one.

Taking off my pants, things didn’t get any better for my maleness.

I had girl hips.

Another plus for me but try being the boy who looks like this. I knew what I wanted in life but to other guys, I was a freak and they liked to let me know. The ridicule wasn’t anything too serious, just the typical locker room teasing. It stung though so I went out of my way to hide it as best as I could. I.E. the baggy hoodie, two shirts and the baggiest pair of pants I could get away with.

I couldn’t help but wonder if God was punishing me.

Here I was a boy but a boy with a clearly feminine body. Most boys would be tortured by it because they’d want to look manly. To me, it was torture in another way because it told me what I couldn’t have, what I’d never be able to have without help. I wanted more than anything to be whole and this body was a constant reminder that I’d never be what I wanted.

My last male humiliation was the tiny bulge in my boxer briefs.

Yeah, my brothers had a field day with that one.

“Everything ok?” asked Kelly from the other side of the door.

“I’m good, just taking my time”

“Well if you need any help just let me know”

How did I let her rope me into this?

Well, actually how did I blunder into this to be fair because that’s what I did. I got careless, she caught me and now she was clearly out to embarrass me. I was just waiting for the reveal of the whole prank.

I grabbed the dress. I’d stalled long enough.

I took a moment to run the fabric gently through my fingers. It was something I’d always wanted to do. It was something I remember doing with my mother. When she used to wear dresses, I always went out of my way to feel them in my fingers. I also used to rub the hem against my cheek and giggle. I didn’t do that now but I wanted too. I did close my eyes though and saw my mother again. Holding this dress made me think of her. It also made me think of all the special secret times we used to have with one another. Those times when my brothers were out and my father was work. The two of us would secretly slip into her room and she’d make me her daughter.

Her little princess.

Mom never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do. She and I were in it one hundred percent.

With my eyes still closed, I absently put on the dress. I’d seen girls do it a hundred times on tv and in the movies and on YouTube. A dress like this one had a zipper in the back so you had to step into it. First putting your feet in at the bottom then slowly pulling it up your body. I put my head through the neck, my arms through the open sleeves and zipped up like I’d been doing it for years. All with my eyes closed too.

I took a deep breath before I opened them.

When I finally did, I started to tear up.

Whenever Mom and I had our secret mother-daughter time, she used to make a big spectacle out of it. She kept a few dresses for me in the back of her closet, hidden away from my father. Mom wouldn’t get the dress until she’d brushed my hair and painted my nails. Then she’d help me with my tights and my little shoes. I used to love the feel of the nylon on my legs and soft cotton of the girl’s underwear wasn’t nearly as harsh or as unwelcoming as the boxers that my father wanted his boys to wear. It was a whole new experience and I loved every bit of it. The dress always came last. It was usually pink and classy. Something a young, sophisticated girl would wear. I don’t really remember what Mom and I did together as mother and daughter but what she used to say after I got the dress on always stuck in my mind.

There you are, Jessica

Looking in the mirror now, at the young teen girl staring back at me, I couldn’t help but hear Mom’s voice in my head.

I mouthed the words right with her:

“There you are, Jessica”

I took off my glasses to get the full effect, brushing the hair from my eyes as I did so.

For so many years I’d been hiding her away, keeping her a secret from the world. She’d been fighting and straining, screaming to be let out. I was selfish and cruel. I kept her all to myself, locking her away like a nasty monster. But there she was again, here and smiling. I hadn’t smiled like that in a long time. I forgot how much I liked to smile, to be honest. Mom and I used to smile all the time. Things changed after she died, I changed. Her happy, smiling child died with her. I mourned my mother that terrible day but I think I cried for Jessica too.

A light knock on the door brought me from my revelry.

A second later, the door opened and Kelly slipped inside.

“Holy shit wow,” she said with a slight gasp.


“So that’s what you’ve been hiding this whole time, huh?”

All I could do was nod.

“Well, you look amazing just like I knew you would. You’ve got a great body and that face, you’ve been hiding that behind all that hair for so long. No wonder you confuse the guys so much”


“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t know?” she asked, shocked. “The guys, they talk about you all the time. None of them can figure out if you’re a dude or a chick.”

She was lying. She had to be lying. I knew the guys, well most of them anyways. I’d heard what they say about me and none of them were confused. They were dicks. They liked to poke fun at me for a series of different things. None of them were confused about my gender, though.


“You really are clueless, aren’t you?”

I didn’t say anything.

“Then help me prove it. Wear this dress to Stephanie’s party”

I scoffed. “I’m not going to her party”

“Jay might not have been invited but I assure you, this girl would have been. You’re a real knockout, Stef would be an idiot not to have you there”

This time I laughed.

Wow, when was I last time I laughed.

“I don’t know”

“Well don’t decide right now anyway,” she said with a smile. “Get out of that dress and toss it over the door. I’ll ring it up and you can think about it later”

I nodded. She gave me a hug then left me alone.

It took me a few minutes to get undressed. I just wanted to stand here and stare at Jessica some more. I’d only ever seen her as a small child and the years had been kind to her. Looking at her now, I couldn’t help but wonder how I ever thought I was a boy. Sure I still technically was but there was clearly a girl staring back at me in the mirror. There had always been a girl there. Was I just that stupid not to see her?
I finally took the dress off then tossed it over the door for Kelly.

I redressed slowly, not wanting her to disappear.

The funny thing was that she was still there.

It was like a light being switched. Staring back at me---for the whole world to see---was Jessica.

How in the hell did that happen?

I didn’t step out of the changing room until a minute or so later. Kelly was standing there waiting, holding two shopping bags. She quickly held one of them out for me.

“What’s this?” I asked, taking the bag.

“Your dress dummy”

“My what?”

“Are you sure you’re not a blonde?” she said with a giggle. “It's your dress, you know the one you were just wearing”


“No…I umm…can’t take this!” I said, trying to push it back to her.

She refused to touch the bag.

“Of course you can. It’s a gift, my gift to you”

A gift? But she’d already given me so much already.

“I can’t bring a dress home!”

“Don’t worry about it. If those morons ask you about it, just tell them I forgot it and you’re going to return it to me tomorrow”

Yeah like they’d ever believe that.

“I still can’t…”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “You’ve been looking at that dress all day. Last week you were in here looking at another one and the week before that”

“How do you know that?”

She rolled her eyes again. “Because I’m here every weekend too. I’ve been watching you window shop for two months now dummy. Always stopping at every window, staring at every dress. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and decided to intervene. You can try to hide it all you want, Jay, but there was a girl inside of you screaming to get out”

Two months?

I started to tear up again.

“I’ve been so stupid”

“No not stupid, just in pain. I wanted to help, I needed to help. You looked so lost and lonely. I told myself that I wanted to help you find that girl you were so desperately trying to hide”

“Jessica,” I said softly. “Her name…I mean…my name is Jessica”

Kelly smiled. “Welcome to the better sex, Jessie”

She held out her hand. I shook it.

We both laughed.

I was still really confused, though. Why would she want to do this for me, a complete stranger? Sure we were classmates but we weren’t exactly friends. Like I said before, we traveled in different social circles. I should have been an insignificant, non-entity to her. And yet, she went out of her way to help me?

“Why would you do this for me?”

Before she could say anything, though, we heard laughing. Coming toward us was my brothers. Brian was with them too. They made a motley crew. Like I said Brian wasn’t a bad guy but why he ever wanted to hang out with those three was beyond me.

“Hey babe,” he said, grabbing Kelly into a big hug.

“Bri Bri” she said then shot my brothers a look. “Morons”

I wanted to laugh but I knew what would happen if I did.

“What is the loser doing with you,” asked Hank, my sixteen-year-old brother.

He and Harry were twins. Frank was the oldest, a senior like Brian.

“Your brother was wandering about the mall when I found him. He’s been a Godsend today. He’s been helping me carry my bags while I shopped” She leaned over and kissed my cheek. “ A real sweetheart”

My brothers’ mouths dropped open. I couldn’t help but smirk at them.

Thanks for that Kelly.

“Well, we gotta go now. Dad wants us home for dinner” said Frank, I couldn’t help but see him smirk too.

Kelly took my hand and pulled me away, telling them to give me a moment.

“You’re a strong, independent woman, don’t let those assholes get you down”


She took out her cell, making me do the same. We exchanged numbers then she gave me a hug. As we were hugging, she whispered in my ear:

“To answer your question earlier about why I’m helping you, well us girls have to stick together after all”

She pulled back and winked.

My mouth popped open.

She kissed me on the cheek again.

“I’ll see you at the party then?”

I numbly nodded.

She did that little half hand wave some girls did. Then she walked over to Brian and looped her arm with his. They said something to one another, laughed and wandered off. I stood still, stunned. Did she mean what I thought she meant?

I watched her go.

No, there was just no way.

Frank came wandering over a few seconds later. He nudged me with his shoulder, breaking me from my numbness.

“Hey what’s with the bag?” he asked.


“It’s a gift,” I said dumbly.

“A gift?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “For who?”

“A girl I know,” I said confidently. “I haven’t seen her in a while but we recently reconnected. Her name is Jessica and I think I’m going to be seeing a lot more of her from now on”

Author’s note: As I’m sure all of you know, comments are life blood to an author. I’m not begging or demanding, but I certainly would appreciate anything you have to say (or ask). It doesn’t have to be long and involved, just give me your reaction to the story. Thanks in advance...EOF

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