A Strange Attraction to Concrete Cows
by Karen Page
Edited by Angel O'Hare
Monday lunch soon came and another rehearsal. This time however I was better prepared and it obviously showed in my performance. I used what I had learnt on Saturday but didn't give it the full monty.
"Well done Bill," said Mr Abbots. "This was a much better performance."
"It looks like your sister enjoyed it as well."
I turned to see her get up come towards me as Mr Abbots turned and walked to talk to one of the other cast.
"I was just here to hand your costume to Mr Abbots but you had already started so I stayed to watch," explained Beth. She then whispered, "You obviously had a good crash course of girl 101 on Saturday. Have you been practicing since?"
"Yes, a little on Saturday night and also a bit yesterday."
"Well don't overdo it," warned Beth as the bell rang signalling the end of lunch. Beth scampered to her registration, which was at the other end of the school. As mine was only round the corner I sauntered and was still one of the first to arrive.
Later after the afternoon lessons were finished I walked home, as usual, with Anna and Erika. "How did the rehearsal go?" asked Erika as we puffed up the hill.
"A lot better. This is all down to your help on Saturday. I'll probably not be so much of a laughing stock when we perform. Well, no more ridicule than a Dame normally gets.
"How did your parent's house hunting go?"
"Well our parents managed to find a house virtually next to each other in the Old Farm Park area. This is next to the Browns Wood area where your Dad lives."
"What are the houses like?"
"Well they are four bedrooms with a huge glass stairwell. Other people have huge plants growing in it. I suppose with the huge glass panes it will act like a greenhouse. Dad was saying that one house even has a palm tree growing in theirs."
"What happens next?"
"Well as it is such a short time we aren't going to be able to sell our house and move in time so the company is buying our houses so we can move between Christmas and New Year. Our parents are going down to Milton Keynes next Saturday to choose curtains. They are also going to go Christmas shopping as Milton Keynes shopping centre is much bigger than the one in Wolverhampton."
"So it is definitely happening?" I asked with sadness in my voice.
"I'm afraid so," replied Anna her voice breaking. Tears were evident in her eyes. I glanced over towards Erika and she also looked upset. As I was standing between them I put my arms around them both and brought them together in a group hug.
"It will all be okay," I said trying to reassure them. "I just know we will all get together again."
As we all managed to compose ourselves I waved goodbye and walked down the driveway to my house while the other two girls carried on up the road.
The week went on and towards the end the classes were starting to wind down in preparation for the Christmas holidays. Next week would be the last week of practices before the show on the Friday and Saturday evenings.
On the Friday as we where about to part ways I suddenly remembered, "What time are we meeting to go Christmas shopping tomorrow?"
Erika and Anna shared a quick look. Anna replied "Can you be at our house for half eight?"
"Yes, there are a few things we need to do before we catch the bus."
"I'll be there," I said with a little reticence.
That night I went to bed early and set the alarm for half six. Why so early? What had Anna and Erika concocted for tomorrow? I loved Anna and would do almost anything for her. I also knew that neither of the girls would do anything to hurt me so I had little trouble sleeping.
I was awoken to a strange beeping noise. Oh yes, the alarm. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and headed to the shower. I noticed that some of the hair on my arms and legs were growing back so I tackled them. I again did under the arms and found it slightly easier than last week. I re-donned my pyjamas; not wanting Mum discovering me like Beth did last week.
I dressed in my jeans, long sleeved polo shirt and trainers. I laid out my thick woollen jumper to wear when I leave as the temperature was only forecast to be eight degrees Celsius.
Mum and Beth weren't up as for breakfast I decided on two Weetabix. This would keep me going till lunch. This brought back memories of the telephone call I had with Dad on Wednesday. He had been to see a computer company in Kettering and had passed the Weetabix factory in Burton Latimer. On the way back he called in and managed to get a guided tour. My thoughts then turned a bit melancholic as I remembered some of the good times I'd had with Dad. I really missed him and had not seen him for over a year. I wonder why we aren't allowed to visit. Will he come at Christmas? Probably not. Was it my fault? Did he leave as he couldn't cope with seeing his only son turn female?
Mum came down the stairs and looked surprised to see that I was up and had already eaten breakfast. She then saw the sad look on my face. "What's wrong," she asked in a kind voice.
"I was just thinking about a few things. I'm okay." I got up to get myself ready but obviously my Mum was not finished. Beth just came into the room and was surprised to see I'd already finished breakfast.
"Sit down," she commanded. Both Beth and I sat and she continued with, "What's the problem. Is it school? The pantomime? The girls leaving?" I had shaken my head on all of these items.
"I was thinking about Dad." Mums face clouded over. Beth looked at the table embarrassed that I'd brought up the only taboo subject. "Why did he leave?"
"I don't think we should be discussing this," she snapped. "Your father and I promised each other that we would not discuss the reasons with either of you until you were both older."
The tears then started trickling down my cheeks. "Is it my fault? My illness?"
My Mum then looked surprised and a bit hurt. "No, it is not your fault or Beth's. It isn't even my fault or your fathers. I still love your father very much and I know he still loves me. There are circumstances that I didn't understand last year that I now understand a bit better. We decided it was best for both you and Beth if we split up till either the circumstances changed or you were old enough to understand."
"So why do you punish us by banning visits to Dad? He is as important to us as you are."
Mum was quiet for a few moments. "You may think of it as a punishment but it isn't. Both Andrew and I are trying to protect both of you. Bill gets a lot of stick from people at school and we didn't want it to get any worse. Now for a revelation that I am ashamed of; it was also easier for me to deal with the circumstances without Andrew around. However I have worked through most of the issues I had and I would want to be back with him in a shot but that would cause you both a lot of pain."
"Sorry I can't say more but as I said earlier, it is an agreement that Andrew and I have reached and it is for your own good," concluded Mum. "Next time we speak with your Dad I'll get him to talk to you both about it as well. Does that answer any of your concerns?"
"I just have one question," said Beth. "Will we ever see our Dad again?"
Obviously this was too much for Mum as tears started streaming down her face. "We are trying to protect you both and none of you will see your Dad until we can reveal why he has gone away. The latest will be when you have left school. However if circumstances change it might be earlier."
Beth and I moved our chairs so we were both sides of Mum and snuggled up to her. Neither of us had realised how difficult Dad not being here was on her. For them to make the sacrifice of not seeing each other when there was so much love must mean they were serious about protecting us. It didn't sound much like he was having an affair any more but what was going on?
Mum regained her composure and I rushed to quickly get ready. I managed to reach Anna's on time.
As I came up the drive Anna opened the door and pulled me in and said, "Erika isn't here yet but you can get started. Go to my room and look on the bed you'll understand."
Why was everyone talking in cryptic messages today? First Mum with her spiel about Dad and now Anna. However this message was a lot easier to decrypt. Lying on the bed was a long denim skirt, pink long sleeved top, tights and panties. On the floor was a pair of casual looking shoes with one inch heels. There was a note next to the panties saying "Give me a shout when you're dressed."
"Anna," I called down the stairs. "There isn't a bra here."
"Missing wearing one already," she teased. The more seriously she said, "It's deliberate. Don't worry about it, just get dressed."
Oh boy. Well I suppose this would be good practice. If I can pass in the shops then I knew I would be able to survive when my dodgy hormone receptors failed. With a small bit of regret I striped hanging my carefully chosen clothes on the supplied hangers and my underwear into a bag. It didn't take me long to slip into the clothes and brush out my hair. I still hadn't heard the front door but I thought I heard the phone at one stage.
I opened the bedroom door and called "Anna. I'm ready."
Anna bounded up the stairs and into her bedroom, "Lets have a look at you." She gave me an appraising look from head to toe. "I like what you've done with your hair."
"Thanks. Do I pass?" I had again adopted the female voice that I'd learnt last week.
"Oh yeah, you look and sound very much like a girl, and you don't need makeup to enhance your face. I doubt even your own sister would recognise you."
"I'd rather not take that chance. So is Erika coming?"
"Yes. She should be here in a few minutes. Here Jill, you will need these," she said passing me a denim jacket and a thick winter coat.
"Not Jill again? The time in music was enough."
"I'm afraid so. I can't go round calling you Bill when you look like that. People might think it suspicious."
I nodded and we went downstairs. We saw Erika walking towards the house so we left with Anna securing the house behind us. "If we rush we should make the number 870 bus from outside the school," panted Erika.
We were lucky and the bus was running late. Two giggling girls accompanied by a rather shy and subdued girl boarded the bus. By the time we got to Wolverhampton some thirty five minutes later it was three giggling girls who stepped off.
"First thinks first," said Anna taking charge. "We need to sort some makeup out for you. We have avoided it because your skin is a slightly different tone to ours. Let's go to Boots where they will be able to do a colour match."
I shrugged, "Thirteen year old girls wear some makeup so I need to know and practice. Just make sure that I get something to remove it otherwise Mum will go ape! Actually before we go to Boots I need to withdraw some money."
Well I managed to withdraw the money without incident and we walked to the middle of the Mander Centre and entered Boots. One thing that is common in all Boots stores is they all have cosmetic counters by the entrance. So there was no avoiding it.
"There's about half a dozen different brands. Which one is best?" I asked my comrades.
"I use Clinique and Anna uses Estée Lauder. It's up to you."
I decided on the Estée Lauder as the Clinique counter looked busy.
"Hi, my Mum has just given me permission to start wearing makeup," I explained, in my best female voice, to the counter lady. Her white coat gave her a very clinical look. "I will need a colour match for foundation etcetera."
The lady smiled saying, "Hop up onto the stool and lets see what we can do. I'm Stacy."
"I'm, er, Jill," I said as I struggled to climb onto the stool. Eventually I was seated.
Stacy moved a round magnifying mirror so I would be able to look in detail at what she did. She then began to examine my face.
"Your skin is so smooth. It doesn't appear that you've ever suffered from acne as you don't appear to have any blemishes. Most girls of your age don't wear foundation and blusher. Let's start with a bit of colour on your lips and something to accentuate your eyes."
I noticed in the mirror that my face reddened slightly at her compliment. I was blushing. The compliment made me feel proud but I felt so humiliated that I blushed.
Fifteen minutes later I left carrying a bag of purchased supplies, including facial wipes. My face now sported a smidgen of makeup making me look like a very sophisticated thirteen year old.
"Lets try on a few things," encouraged Erika as she dragged me into ETAM. That girl is insatiable. Both Anna and Erika were soon hunting through racks of clothes.
"What do you think?" asked Anna holding a top against herself.
"Looks good," responded Erika, "but you don't have matching slacks or skirt do you?"
"How about this?" I suggested holding up a skirt. I had decided that standing around like a prune would look odd. Anyway they appeared to be making shopping seem fun and why shouldn't I have fun as well.
"Just the thing," responded Anna. "You've certainly got a good eye."
We carried on browsing and I pulled out a casual dress with a denim jacket. "What do you think?"
"Ooh yes," both girls responded.
"Let's try them on," encouraged Erika.
We trouped into the changing room and we were soon exhibiting our new outfits to each other in the changing room corridor.
"Are you planning to take me on any more trips like this?" I asked.
"Its good practice," replied Anna. "When you asked how far this should go you said to cover everything. Shopping is just one of the things you need to get used to."
"I'll get this outfit then." I responded.
"Well it certainly looks good on you," said a familiar voice from behind. "Do you have enough money or do you need my help?"
I saw Erika and Anna had turned pale and I almost collapsed when I turned round and saw Beth standing there. There was nowhere to go so I rushed back into the cubicle to get away from her. While hiding I changed back. I sat on the little chair, slightly shaking, trying to think on how to get out of this mess.
After a few minutes I had calmed down so I exited and saw Beth still waiting. "Anna and Erika are waiting outside. Are you going to get these?"
If Anna was going to take me on more trips like she promised then it wouldn't be fair to always borrow from her. However I couldn't bring myself to purchase them with my sister there. There is a difference between knowing and suspecting. Beth might suspect I have some female clothes but her knowing for definite was something I wanted to avoid.
"I'm not sure," I said to the on duty attendant and handed them to her. She hung them on a rail to be put back on the shop floor later.
"Come on little sis, I think you ought to get them. They fitted well and you looked good in them." she cajoled.
I looked straight into her eyes. What was going on? There didn't appear to be any malice but being encouraged by my sister to buy a dress was freaky.
"I'm not going to tell Mum," she continued. "Look, let me get them for you."
The attendant passed the top and skirt to my sister and we walked to the till.
"Beth, this is something I need to do. I'm paying." She nodded and I found myself twenty pounds poorer.
As we walked to the entrance I asked, "I thought you were going to Sarah's?"
"I was but she wasn't feeling very well so I decided to do some Christmas shopping. I saw Anna and Erika as I was passing but didn't see Bill. Instead I saw this young girl and after last weekends events I suspected."
"Are you going to tell Mum?" I mumbled.
"No. I've a few things to get before I need to go home to start the evening meals so let's have a chat about it tonight. Don't worry as I'm not angry or anything. Enjoy yourself and have some fun! Don't forget the girls are invited to eat with us tonight."
As we exited the store she wave bye and left me with Anna and Erika who drowned me in questions. "Are you okay? What did she say? Is she going to tell anyone? Did you get the outfit?"
"Whoa, slow down. It's approaching lunchtime so let's go get something to eat and I'll fill you in but yes I did buy the outfit."
"Way to go Jill," crowed Erika. "Your first girls outfit."
We walked out into Victoria Street and we went into the local Pizza Hut. After the customary wait we settled down to munch on a Meaty Edge pizza.
Both girls looked at me expectantly so, "I presumed you want to know what happened between me and Beth?" As they both nodded I explained ending with, "I don't know what she thinks. She promised not to tell Mum but who knows."
"Send me a text message tonight to let me know," asked Anna.
"No need," I responded. "Remember that last week you were invited to eat with us for when your parents weren't around. Beth reminded me earlier that you are both expected to be eating with us again tonight."
"Okay, next it is underwear," said Anna as she guided us to the required shop. "You need to get yourself some bras and panties."
I gulped. Yes I'd already got a dress and jacket but buying my own bras. It felt like I was tempting fate. "Do I really need to?"
Both girls nodded and Anna dragged me into the shop. We took the escalator to the first floor and soon found myself staring at racks of bras. Each block had signs that appeared to identify the type of bra; minimizer, enhancer, sports, multiway, underwired, non-wired.
"How do I choose a bra?" I asked my mind still trying to comprehend the choice.
"Well, you don't have anything to fill one," said Erika explaining the obvious. Anna just glared at her and steered me towards the teenage section. The range was smaller and I soon saw Anna had taken me to the bras that were labelled ‘Starter Bra'.
A sales lady walked up and asked, "Hi girls, can I help?"
Erika steered me to the front. "Hi, Jill is a late bloomer and was wondering if you had anything to help."
"Of course," she replied. "Let's go to a changing room and I'll measure you."
Anna looked at me and must have seen the petrified look on my face. "Could you also measure me?" Anna asked sweetly, "I think I've had a growth spurt."
"Can you do me too?" asked Erika rather lamely as she finally understood what was happening.
The sales lady just gave a small laugh. "Come on then, lets get you all measured."
We all followed the lady into a large changing room. "Okay girls, off with your tops and bras so I can measure you properly."
Anna and Erika looked at each other wondering what to do. Obviously they didn't want to strip off in front of me.
"It's a bit cold in here," I said removing my top. "Why don't you two keep your tops on to keep warm while the lady measures me first?"
The sales lady took one look at my flat chest and said, "It doesn't look like you need a bra yet." However not wanting to loose a sale she continued, "However I bet you feel a bit underdressed when you see your friends wearing them?"
I just nodded.
"Don't worry they will come eventually. Let me measure you and I'll see what I can find to help."
A tape measure suddenly appeared and my chest size measured. The sales lady disappeared to find an appropriate bra.
"Thanks," said Anna and Erika in unison both looking embarrassed.
I just gave a small smile as it would have been fun to see Anna topless. Obviously my parents gave me too many manners.
"Let's see how this fits," said the sales lady as she walked in with a bra. I slipped the bra up my arms and she fastened it at the back. The bra had a pattern of little shapes and was slightly padded.
"Would you like to keep it on?" asked the sales lady.
"Er, well..." I stuttered.
"Keep it on Jill, it's all good practice," pressured Anna.
The sales lady thought that Anna meant practice for my eventual breast growth. However I knew exactly what Anna meant.
"Yeah, I'll keep it on," I confirmed to the sales lady. "Why don't I pay for it while you measure these two?"
I put on my top and went to pay for the bra I was wearing. As I waited for Anna and Erika I started to wonder if one bra was enough. I wouldn't be wearing it that often but it might be good to have a spare.
A few minutes later Anna appeared and then Erika. Neither of the girls required new bras.
"You might want to get a spare," said Anna as the sales lady disappeared looking for a new victim. I just smiled and showed her the spare I was carrying.
"Panties next," said Erika grabbing my arm.
"I won't have to be measured, will I?"
Anna stopped, took one look at my face and burst into fits of giggles. "No, we know your size as you fit into my panties perfectly."
As I looked at the panties there was quite a choice. However most of the different ranges were for adults. For children my age and size the range was rather more limited. After looking I decided on a pack of five varied pastel coloured panties. There was a slight lacy effect around the top.
For the next two hours we cruised around the Mander Centre and other shops around Wolverhampton. We boarded the bus laden with bags full of presents and enough gift-wrapping paper to sink a battleship. When we alighted near the school we saw the steep hill ahead. Why did we buy so much at once! After changing clothes at Anna's we marched down to my house for tea with me feeling very worried about if Beth had told Mum.
The two girls went in the lounge where my Mum was sitting while I deposited the purchases in my room. I had left the top and skirt at Anna's but hid the new underwear at the back of my draw.
When we all sat down to Duck l'Orange I saw Beth for the first time since she caught me buying girls clothes. I glanced at her with fear in my eyes and she gave me a reassuring smile.
"I hear that Bill and the girls also went to the Mander Centre. Did you see them?" Mum asked Beth.
Oh God. Why does Mum always have to ask such awkward questions? "No," replied Beth. "I saw Anna and Erika and one of their girl friends but didn't see Bill."
I definitely felt better at this stage. Erika and Anna also looked relieved, which I hoped Mum didn't see. Duck was just a pain to eat, too much bone with very little meat.
Desert was Baked Alaska, which was a first for Erika. As she bit into it she was surprised to find cold ice-cream within. "Cool! How'd you do this?" she asked Beth.
"What do you mean?"
"Well I saw you just remove this from the oven so I know you didn't add the ice-cream after."
"Oh that. Trade secret."
I grinned at Beth's teasing. "The meringue acts as a temporary insulator," I explained. "You just have to make sure that it fully covers everything or the ice-cream melts."
"How do you know this?" asked Erika.
"Bill made it November last year," replied Mum. "Putting the meringue on can be quite fiddly and it is something you don't forget. Also meringue is Bills favourite."
The girls left at about nine, after calls confirming that their parents were back. Beth and I went upstairs to have our discussion. I followed her into her room and sat on the floor with my back to her bed.
"Thanks for not telling Mum," I started. "Why?"
"I'm not a snitch," she responded. "Mum would probably be very upset if I told her and that would not be fair on either of you. Why were you dressed as a girl?"
"Practice for the pantomime."
"That's only part of the reason. You purchased an outfit for you to wear on other occasions. You have the pantomime on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. You won't have chance to go out dressed before then. So why are you dressing as a girl?"
I was trapped. Beth wasn't stupid and had summarised the situation to me so I knew that she knew I was lying. I also think that she knew, that I knew, that she knew I was lying. So there definitely wasn't any escape. The only way out was the truth.
"I'm changing. My hips are the most noticeable but there are other items such as my face. I started puberty five years ago and I would have expected to have to shave by now. Eventually my body will be too feminine to live as a boy and I'll have to live as a girl. I asked Anna and Erika for help to learn what I need to know before they leave."
Beth thought about what I was telling her, "I think there is more to it than just that. I think it might have started out like that but I think you are beginning to find the clothes more enjoyable than you thought."
"The clothes are really unimportant. They just fitted my body correctly, apart from the lack of breasts. However I seemed to fit in with Anna and Erika a lot better. Even though I've always been close with Anna it seemed to bring us even closer. However, I've no idea why or if it was just a coincidence. I think it will be something I will keep an eye on when we next go out."
I said goodnight to Beth and headed towards my bedroom while Beth headed towards the bathroom. Mum came steaming up the stairs looking very much the worse for wear. It looked like she had been crying. She physically grabbed us both, "I've just had a phone call about your father. He's not well and requires a bit of looking after. You are both too young to stay on your own so I've arranged for Beth to stay with Sarah and Bill to stay with the Scott's."
"How long are you going to be away?"
"It depends on how quickly he recovers. From the scant details I have I think I'll be back during Tuesday. It‘s late so quickly pack an overnight bag and collect the rest tomorrow. Both families are expecting you in thirty minutes. Once your gone I will lockup and drive to Milton Keynes."
Shocked at the sudden revelation I made my way to my room and packed a few items. As I packed my mind was a whirl of activity. What was wrong with Dad? Mum seemed very upset about Dad's condition but didn't elaborate on the issue. I wonder if this is down to the reason he has left. I better not ask Mum what was wrong with Dad just in case. I don't want to cause her to get upset like last time.
I left five minutes after Beth giving a big hug to Mum as I departed towards Anna's. On one hand this was quite exciting; sleeping in the neighbouring room to the girl you loved. However my enthusiasm was diminished by thoughts about my Dad. Something minor wouldn't have my Mum rushing at little notice to the aid of somebody she was split from.
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