OK, here's something I wrote a short time ago, and never really developed any further. Please let me know if it's any good or merits a sequel. Thanks! - Haylee
Now THAT'S the million-dollar question. Maybe I should explain...
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My name is Henry Longtree -- Hank to most of my friends. My best bud Marcus and I were just chilling one day, passing the time. We were sitting on the front porch one breezy September day, in late Indian Summer -- him in faded jeans and a T, hair all slicked back, and me in my usual wife-beater and cut-offs. School had just begun about a week prior, and we were both having problems adjusting to the new environment high school afforded us.
We were low men on the totem pole - both from a scholastic and popular point of view. Not only were we freshmen (both in the ninth grade), but, because we were both "gifted", we had been advanced a few grades. While most "frosh" were just starting puberty (in the 12-14 range), we both still had a few years to wait before being visited by the demon gods of puberty. Marcus was ten (having recently celebrated his birthday in August), but I wouldn't turn the big one - oh until November.
We were idly chatting about the latest video game when an unexpected gust caught an errant strand of my hair, blowing it across my face, temporarily blocking my vision. As I was pushing the deviant lock away, Marcus sighed -- heavily.
"Dude!" he sighed. "When ya gonna get that mop cut? Now that school's started, we need to at least TRY to build reputations for ourselves. And with that long auburn hair, emerald eyes, and your 'delicate' stature and features, everyone's gonna think you're a sissy... or worse. You REALLY want THAT following you around?"
"Well... I... Um..." I stammered, before finding my voice. "Quit being a douche, OK? Long hair's in. All the rock stars have it."
"Maybe, but you're a LITTLE short to fit that mold. Besides, aren't you tone-deaf? Try again, pipsqueak."
God I hated it when he called me that. Just because he had a growth spurt this summer, and had grown six inches (and about fifty pounds). Plus the fact he had a star athlete for a brother. A brother who just LOVED to make Marcus spot for him. Naturally, he had lifted weight all summer. All I had were three dopey sisters...
"Dad said it was OK. That I could find my own style. Mom just said it was my hair to do with as I pleased. My sisters..."
"And how are the hunk-crazed demons? How many dresses did you have to 'model' for them this summer, anyway? Five? Six?"
Damn! I wish he'd just drop that. Mom was a professional seamstress, who owned the most upscale clothing store -- catering to misses, juniors, and petites -- in town. Almost every girl in town has had an Elegant Eva's Enchantments at one time or another. My sisters were also seamstresses in their own right, and helped Mom out frequently. Unfortunately, they had all grown to big to model -- if you know what I mean. As my mom was a perfectionist, and didn't exactly trust the way the dresses hung on the mannequins, that left just one person to stand in as a live model... ME.
"I was WORKING, OK? You know, a J-O-B? I actually EARNED MONEY this summer. Enough, in fact, to get me that new gaming platform I've been drooling over. With enough left over for Demon Children I, II, AND III, when it comes out. All YOU did was become a muscle-bound dweeb..."
"Ouch. OK. You win. Waving the white flag here. Gawd, you're even bitchy like a girl. Gotta get away, Dude! Too much estrogen there..."
He smirked. Even though I, TECHNICALLY, won the "flame war", he still managed to get in a snarky last shot. THAT'S SO like him... Wish I had a "devil-may-care" attitude like that. Guess that's why we're friends -- he just says whatever the hell he wants. Unabashed truth is a rare commodity these days.
"And don't YOU ever forget it, bro!" I retorted, smugly.
"But..." he paused for effect. "You STILL didn't answer my question. How many?"
I blushed -- deeper than any MALE ever should -- then meekly whispered, "Too..."
"Only TWO?" he questioned, shocked by my response.
"No. T-O-O... As in too damn many. It just... I don't know. Sometimes it just bothers me, bro."
"Yeah, guess it would. NO man likes to wear a dress. Not any that I know anyway."
I slowly turned away, as tears formed in my eyes. Unfortunately, it wasn't quick enough, as Marcus caught a glimpse of my sudden ansgt.
"Dude! What's up? What did I say? Look, whatever it was, I'm sorry, OK? We been friends like FOREVER, man. You KNOW I was just foolin' around with the whole dress stuff. At least you got a job..."
I turned to face him.
"No, it's not that. The dresses. They're just clothes -- pieces of fabric sewn together. Wearing them's just a part of my job. I can handle that. What I can't handle is..."
He inched closer, putting his shoulder around me, in a vain attempt to comfort me.
"It's OK. I swear. Goes no further. Promise. So please, please tell me what's got you so upset. I haven't seen YOU cry since kindergarten."
I drew a deep breath and sighed. I didn't know if I ought to continue. Did I even WANT to?
True, I have known Marcus practically all my life. But still...
Could I TRUST him? Especially with something so intimate. So confusing and taboo. So... So PRIVATE?
Suddenly, Marcus's face shown with recognition, as if he had just realized the answer to all of mankind's questions.
"It's the dresses, isn't it?" he stated, more than questioned. "You LIKE them, don't you? You like wearing them."
I nodded meekly, tears streaming down my cheeks. My confession had just cost me my best friend.
"Aah.." he mused. "And when I told you to get a haircut. Called you a sissy. Teased you about wearing dresses. Said you were bitchy and a girl."
His face went completely ashen, as he took a step backward -- quickly. Too quickly, as a matter of fact, as he started to fall. Luckily, he managed to just catch hold of the banister, steadying himself in the nick of time. He eased himself to the porch, placing his hands over his face as he did so. He became quiet -- too quiet -- as his breathing became ragged and shallow. Muffled.
Oh. My. Gawd! I thought. Is he.. CRYING??!! HE IS!!
It was now my turn to be the comforter, I thought, taking a seat on the porch beside my distraught friend.
"Y--Y--You called me a... a... a... DOUCHE. I've been SO, SO MUCH worse. I've been a complete ass. No wonder you got offended so quickly. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Hey," I soothed. "Is OK. You didn't know. But what am I going to do? NORMAL boys don't usually wear dresses. And they sure as hell don't LIKE to, if they ever have to..."
"We'll think of something... TOGETHER. Oh, and Hank? Or would you prefer something more... feminine? Like Henrietta?"
"Hell no. Hank's just fine."
"OK, Hank. Thanks, Dude!"
"No prob, Marc. By the way..." I paused.
"You're still a D-O-U-C-H-E!!!" I giggled, slapping Marcus playfully on the back.
"Uh... thanks. A LOT. I think...?" Marcus questioned, the edges of a grin slowly sweeping his face.
I couldn't help myself then. I completely and utterly lost it. Not one to be left out, Marcus quickly followed my lead, as we both broke down into hearty guffaws.
I have one HELLUVA friend, I thought. Maybe -- just maybe -- I'll keep him...
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