This is a follow-up to A Surrogate Sister, which you may want to read first. This story begins five years after George and Andrew's youngest brother Peter became Sophie, and is told in flashback form from Andrew's point of view.
Also, I'd better warn you that it's nearly 40,000 words long!
Also, I'd better warn you that it's nearly 40,000 words long!
Being at college is loads better than being at school. There's no uniform for a start, the subjects are more interesting, there's no PE, RE or IT to endure and I've made a few new friends too. It's not uncommon for a handful of us to go down by the creek and sit talking, smoking and generally killing time between our classes. Today I sit with Bekah and TJ... and as usual, TJ is moaning about his parents. I wouldn't mind but his folks are loaded and all his supposed problems can be attributed to him being a spoilt little brat who's struggling to grow up. He's a nice enough guy but sometimes I wish he'd give his 'my parents are so unfair' mantra a rest. I guess Bekah was also at the end of her tether with his incessant whining because she told him that he has no idea just how lucky he is. She described her own home life which leaves both of us speechless. She grew up with an alcoholic mother and an abusive yet mostly absent father. Any nice clothes she had were second hand and she endured years of teasing and taunting at school for being scruffy, spotty, speccy and so on. Once she'd informed TJ just how bad growing up could be in a broken home where money is scarce, he shut his mouth. “What about you Drew?” she asked me. “Your Mum's a single parent isn't she?”
I nodded and Bekah asked what she's like. “She's OK I guess. She used to be a bit mad but...”
“My Mother's bonkers!” TJ interupted. “She even irons socks... and if there's one thing I can't stand it's creases in my T shirt sleeves...” Bekah and I shared a sly grin and rolled our eyes as TJ resumed his rant about how bad his life in a cushy middle class home is. We let him rant away though, and thankfully mid-rant, he realised that he was supposed to be somewhere and darted off.
"See ya tomorrow TJ." we said in unison.
"See ya tomorrow TJ." we said in unison.
“Poor lad... having creases in his T shirt sleeves.” Bekah giggled. “My mum didn't even have an iron and if she did she'd have pawned it for a bottle of gin.”
This made me laugh out loud but it wasn't funny. “Sorry. It's the way you said it, not what you said.”
“Ah it's OK... I could write a book about my mother's drunken antics” she replied.
“So...” Bekah asks after short yet comfortable silence. “When you say your Mum was a bit mad... how do you mean?”
After seeking her assurance that she wouldn't tell anyone, I said “Well, she wasn't a psycho or schizo or anything like that.. but she did make me and my brother wear dresses.” I gulped before defensively adding, “Not all the time... just occasionally.”
“Wow!” Bekah exclaimed as she lit two cigarettes and passed one to me. “I wasn't expecting that.”
“Thanks.” I said as I took the lit cigarette from her, “It was pretty weird.” I added before taking a long deep toke of my ciggy. I didn't want to reveal everything to Bekah... in fact I wasn't sure I should be revealing anything to her, but it feels good to talk and she seems as if she's capable of listening without prejudice.
“So... how come your Mum made you wear dresses?” she asked. “Was it a punishment thing?”
“No nothing like that.” I replied. “My younger brother went to high school in Crickley...” I began.
“Which one?” she asked.
“Malham Hall.” I cautiously replied.
“I had a feeling you were going to say that.” she replied, “It's a very good school.”
“Not if you're a boy it ain't.” I retorted before taking another drag of my fag. “Well...” I backtracked. “...it is a good school I suppose... it's just the boy's uniform isn't so good.” I said. I didn't tell her that my mother turned Peter into a girl and insisted we called him Sophie as she didn't need to know about that, but did tell her about him having to dress like a girl for school as that is the precursor to Mum making me wear dresses. “My big bro and I used to tease him something rotten.” I confessed. “But we were just picking on an easy target.”
“So... your brother went to Malham Hall...” Bekah said. “...and you went to Broadoak Road, which isn't an EP school?” she quizzed, adding “Educational Petticoating” for clarity. I nodded and she continued. “So... how come you ended up wearing dresses then.”
I sighed. “I dunno... it just sort of happened.” I replied. “You promise you won't tell anyone?”
Bekah assured her confidentiality and dug a little deeper. I cast my mind back five years to that fateful summer when it all began...
My Surrogate Sister
It's been a very strange summer, what with his mum fussing over his sister all the time and saying “Doesn't Sophie look pretty today?”.”Doesn't Sophie's hair look nice in ringlets?”, “Doesn't Sophie's dress look nice?” “Sophie this” and “Sophie that” became a daily... no, an hourly occurrence. It wouldn't be so weird if Sophie really was a girl, but she's not... she's his younger brother Peter and their mother decided she wanted... no, needed a daughter... and Peter was the obvious choice since Andrew's was considered too ugly and George is too old.
Today is a big day for Peter because today is the day that Mum is taking him to get his new school uniform. We all knew he'd be dressing like a girl at his new school, but I think even Peter was overwhelmed by just how big a fuss our mother made about it. “Do I have to?” he moaned when Mum told him to go and try the summer uniform on.
“Of course Sophie dear!” Mum replied in her annoying overly joyous voice she'd adopted. “Girls love trying on new outfits.” she reminded him.
“Oh... OK.” Peter coyly replied.
“Leave him George.” I suggest as our older brother George sneers under his breath.
“Her!” Mum reminds me. I mumble an apology and glance at Peter. “Run along Sophie... I can't wait to see how it looks.” Mum excitedly tells him. My heart kind of goes out to my little brother at times like this. I know he doesn't like being a girl as whilst he appears to be accepting and willing, there's a clear reluctance in his voice and on his face. I can't imagine what it must be like for him, having to pretend to be a girl day in day out. A few weeks ago he was a normal boy just like me until one Saturday when Mum turned him into her daughter, and that daughter could have easily been me!
Looking back, it seems almost laughable that a simple card game would hold such high stakes. I'll point out that this was no tense game of poker, but a frantic game of Happy Families that would decide which of us three brothers would become 'Sophie'. I still recall the fury I felt when Peter slammed his cards down on the table, leaving the competition between George and myself. But this soon turned to elation when Mum pointed out that the winner will become her new daughter and our new sister. All three of us assumed that the loser would have to become a girl, which meant we were all playing to win... and the fact that I was so close to winning still sends shivers down my spine.
My heart went out to Peter as he sloped off to his room clutching his gingham school dress whilst George called him names. But somewhere deep in my gut I hate my little brother every time he says 'OK mummy' whenever Mum wants him to try on a new dress or tie ribbons in his hair or embark on some other girlie activity. I know I'd be at least putting up a proper fight!
“Andrew can be nice to Sophie so why you can't George I'll never know!” Mum said to my big brother. Mum and George often have this conversation, but I don't get involved. On the one hand I agree with George that 'Sophie' isn't a girl and should be dressing or acting like one, but on the other hand I agree with Mum... Peter's simply trying his best in difficult circumstances and we should be more supportive instead of being nasty. This puts me on the fence so I've stopped teasing Peter for acting and dressing all girlie, but I do try to avoid calling him 'Sophie' or referring to him as 'her' or 'she'... in fact I tend to avoid talking to him altogether since he became Sophie.
Mum shouted up the stairs. “Come on Sophie... we're all waiting to see how it looks!”
“I'm not!” George sneered as he shot up from his chair and stormed out of the house.
Mum shook her head as he left then looked at me. I smiled through pursed lips, but I didn't know what I was smiling about. We both watched as Peter shyly walked down the staircase wearing his new school uniform. It's one of those bog standard gingham school dresses that junior school girls wear, but in purple instead of the more common blue or green. Mum fussed over how smart he looked, made him try his school cardigan on, then the blazer, and possibly worst of all, a straw boater hat! It was uncomfortable viewing so I headed for my room. “What are you doing Andrew?” Mum asked me. “Well whilst your there, can you put your uniform on too please?” she added.
“What for?” I asked.
“Because I'd like a photo of you and Sophie in your school uniforms.” Mum replied. I tried to moan my way out of it but it was no use. After taking several photos of us, Mum sent Peter to change into his winter uniform. Mum faffs with my tie and my hair whilst he's upstarts. Peter returns wearing a purple & green plaid pinafore dress over a white blouse with a broad round collar. On his feet are the same Mary Jane's, but his legs are clad in a pair of dark green woolly tights.
Once again, Mum stands us side by side and begins taking photographs. George returns, sneers at both of us and makes derogatory comments about our smart new uniforms,and bangs about in our bedroom, clearly looking for something. After a few seconds he bounds back down, sneers once more in our direction and storms out of the door again, slamming it behind him. Mum advised us to take no notice of him before she started fussing over Peter once more. “Can I get one with your hat on?” Mum asked/told him.
“That's a different hat!” I stated as he reluctantly donned a grey hat instead of the yellowy straw one.
“It's the winter hat.” Peter replied, glancing up at its brim. The winter hat is grey felt with the school crest embroidered on the front and a purple band similar to the one on his summer hat. Its brim isn't as wide and its top much more rounded than his square edged straw boater.
“It's better than the other one.” I said as I imagined having to wear something similar.
Peter cast me an appreciative smile before Mum started faffing with his fringe and his collar before standing back to admire us. Mum wanted pictures of him wearing his hat, without his hat, then with his blazer on, fastened and unfastened. I suggested I go and put my anorak on, but Mum dismissed my jovial suggestion and told me to stop being silly before faffing with Peter again.
After a few snaps of myself and Peter wearing his winter uniform, Mum tells me to get changed before I 'ruin my new trousers', then told 'Sophie' to go and try his PE kit on, which he'd clearly rather not do. Mum tells him that she needs to make sure everything fits as she sorts through the numerous cellophane packed items. “Shirt, skirt, knickers and socks.” she says as she bundles the items to together.
Peter glances at me and rolls his eyes. I throw him a reassuring smile before we head for our bedrooms. It wasn't too long ago that Peter and I shared a bedroom, but since mum turned him into Sophie, I've been sharing with George... and George's presence is evident in the mess I now have to put up with. I shut the drawers he'd left open before changing out of my school uniform and pull on my jeans and a t-shirt. I return to the kitchen and Mum asks if I've hung my shirt and trousers up properly. “Yes.” I reply before my eyes follow Mum's towards the stairs.
“Oh very sporty.” Mum says to Peter as he slowly descends.
“It's too short.” Peter gulps as he looks down at himself.
“It's supposed to be short.” Mum replied. “Have you got your gym knickers on too?” she asks, prompting him to reveal the thick purple panties he wears beneath his pleated purple skirt.
I can still barely believe that there's a school in which the boys have to dress like girls... and as I understand it, most of them are normal boys like me and George... not pretend girls like Peter. I can understand them dressing like girls if they're in Peter's position, but when they're not it just seems wrong.
“They're lovely colours Sophie.” Mum says as she fusses around Peter. As usual, Peter just puts up with her faffing as he models his 'outdoor' PE kit. Alongside his pleated purple skirt, he wears thick woolly knee socks in green and a short sleeved polo shirt, also in green. The is embellished with the school crest embroidered over the left breast and wide purple stripes down each side, running from armpit to waist. Mum picks up yet another polythene wrapped item and hands it to Peter. “This one's for Gym I think.” she told him.
I watched as Peter reluctantly returned to his room and yet again thanked my lucky stars that it wasn't me having to pretend to be a girl. I couldn't be more thankful when Peter returned wearing his Gym kit: a long sleeved purple leotard bearing a small school crest in the middle of its chest and broad green stripes up the sides. His two uniforms and his PE kit seemed bad enough, but a leotard and nothing else must be horrendous to wear if you're a boy!
Why Peter needs two PE kits I've no idea. At my high school we wear the same kit for outdoor and indoor sports and it seems to work. When mum passes him another batch of items, I can't help but exclaim, “Three PE kits!?”
“One for outdoor games, one for gym and one for dance.” Mum replied. “Plus a swimsuit.” she added.
“A girl's one?” I gulped.
“Of course.” Mum replied before prompting Peter to go and try on his 'dance' kit. Once he was out of earshot, Mum thanked me for not teasing my brother... or 'sister' as she put it. “She's got enough to put up with when George is being horrible to her.” Mum added.
“You can say that again!” I thought. Fact is, both I and George have teased Peter since mum decided he should be a girl, but as George's teasing and taunting has escalated into nastiness, I've eased off. If it was me having to wear girl's clothes all the time, sleep beneath a girl's duvet and wake up in a girl's bedroom, answer to a girls name and act all girlie then I know I'd appreciate a bit of support. But what I can't get my head round is why Mum continues pretending he's a girl when it's clearly the root cause of everything Peter has to put up with.
I pat myself on the back for successfully containing my snorts and sniggers when Peter descends the stairs wearing his 'dance' kit. His cheeks are crimson and rightly so. He wears another purple leotard, but this one has thin shoulder straps. Around his waist is a short purple skirt made from a fabric that can be seen right through. I question the point of it, but not out loud. His legs are clad in a pair of pale pink dance tights and for all intents and purposes, he's dressed as a ballerina. The only thing he's lacking is a tutu. Not surprisingly, Mum fusses over him the moment he lands on the kitchen floor. “I couldn't work out this cardigan.” he said, drawing Mum's attention to the green woolly garment that hangs limply from his hand.
“It's a bolero.” Mum says as she helps him into it. It's like a cardigan I suppose, but only covers his arms and upper back, those being the areas this leotard doesn't cover. Again, I couldn't imagine how Peter must feel having to wear such a girlie outfit. It must be bad enough wearing that stuff in front of me and Mum, but wearing it in front of an entire class must be horrendous. Mum claims it's OK because all the boys wear the same, but that would be of no consolation if it was me being sent to this 'petticoating school'. After enduring a little more of Mum's fussing and faffing than anyone could handle, Peter is told to go and change. The way he bounds up the stairs suggests he's keen to do so. He returns minutes later wearing one of his dresses and Mum starts faffing with his hair, tying it in bunches and fussing over how nice and pretty he looks.
In a way I was a little envious of all the attention that Peter was getting since he became Sophie, but ultimately I was thankful that it wasn't me that had endure one girlie outfit after another. In private he claims that he hates being a girl and having to wear dresses and skirts all the time. But in front of Mum or his friends (being Laura and Vanessa), he just acts all girlie as if he's trying to score brownie points. He also claims that he's not looking forward to going to his new school because he has to dress like a girl, but then contradicts himself by saying he'd rather go there than to a normal high school now he's a 'girl'. It's hard to work him out these days.
My brother George just calls him a sissy or a freak to his face and behind his back. He also calls Mum a variety of derogatory terms behind her back and refers to our home as 'the house of freaks'. I know all too well that home life is a long way from normal, but George seems to have forgotten just how depressed Mum was before Peter became the daughter she'd been longing for. I've given up trying to pacify George just as I've given up teasing Peter as the former has proved to be pointless and the latter was just plain mean. I'm looking forward to the day when George leaves for college because he's turned into a person I struggle to like or look up to. I wish I was old enough to move on too though... with a sister who's really my brother and a mother who's constantly fussing over him/her... it's not exactly a normal household these days. None of my friends knock anymore and whenever I invite them over they either make excuses or bluntly tell me that they way my mother fusses over my 'sissy brother' is far too weird.
I'd sort of got used to seeing my brother wearing nothing but girlie dresses and skirts throughout the summer holidays. Mum would have Peter change his outfit two or three times a day and he seemingly got a new item of girlie clothing on a weekly basis. It was a bit overwhelming to witness, but at least I didn't have to endure it like Peter does. I'd assumed that having to go to school dressed as a girl would be far worse than being a girl at home, but Peter claims the opposite to be true. At home he's the only boy dressed as a girl whilst at school he's just one of many boys who wear the girl's uniform.
I spent the first week of the new school term being frequently quizzed about my younger brother/sister. It wasn't easy trying to justify my mother and defend my brother but I guess it was easier than being in Peter's shoes, especially those with heels! Peter seems to be happy enough at his new school, and he likes the fact that his school uniform is far less prissy than the dresses Mum makes him wear at home. I guess Malham Hall is a better place for him than Broadoak Road where he'd be the only boy wearing the girl's uniform, assuming he'd be allowed to wear the girl's uniform.
George's attitude towards our brother and our mother is getting worse as he prepares to leave for college. For some reason he's due to enrol in mid September so we have to put up with his trollish presence for another week yet. Half the time when I try to defend Peter, George starts having a go at me too and claiming I've going soft. I don't know why he's become so horrible to us, but I do know that I can't wait to see the back of him.
When George starts packing, he seems intent on never returning as he packs almost all of his possessions. “You won't need this much stuff George.” Mum tells him as she unpacks as quickly as he packs. “There won't be that much storage space in the student halls.” she tells him. George is adamant that he needs to take 'all' of his CDs and DVDs, and in spite of Mum's insistence that he probably won't have that much free time to get any use from them, he packs them none the less.
“Have fun in the house of freaks!” are the parting words my elder brother George whispers to me as his taxi arrives.
“Yeah thanks George... see you at Christmas.” I reply. He could have been a bit less sneery as he left, I thought, but I guess he's looking forward to making new friends, going to concerts and living in student halls, free from parental guidance whilst I'm expecting little more than Sophie this and Sophie that whilst barely being noticed.
The moment George left, the vibe in the house changed completely. All the bad feeling came from George's direction and with his menacing presence gone, things felt a lot more homely. Of course it's still strange having a sister who's really a brother, but I'm getting used to that. Peter's predicament is well known amongst my friends and acquaintances, but they seem to be more interested in the rumours rather than the facts. The rumours are that my brother is either gay or a transsexual, Neither are true but both sound more likely than the actual truth.
One evening, I'm sat on my bed reading a comic when Peter enters. He's wearing a pale pink girl's T-shirt with a line drawing of Tinker Bell on the front, along with a short ditsy ra-ra skirt and woolly tights with white & pink stripes. In his hands is a large pile of laundry which he starts putting away. “You don't have to put that away Pete.” I say. “I can do it.”
“Mum told me to put it away.” he replied.
It didn't seem fair that he has to dress and act all girlie, plus help Mum with all the chores. His hair is tied in a single high ponytail that bounces off his skull as he put my clothes away for me. He asks me about school and enquires about his old friends. I fill him in on a few details before returning the question. “What's it like at Malham Hall?”
“OK.” he replied. “I've made a few friends and the teachers are OK.” he told me.
“Is it just like a normal school... apart from the uniform?” I asked as I sat up on my bed.
“Not really.” he solemnly replied. “Most of the lessons are the same I suppose, but during the breaks we're not aloud to sit around chatting... well, not the boys anyway.” he explained.
I decide I should at least help him put my laundry away and ask “What do you do then?” as I grab a bundle of socks. Peter didn't sound very enthusiastic when he replied, and I could barely believe my ears. “That sounds awful!” I said.
“It's not that bad.” he optimistically said, but I sensed he was just putting a brave face on. The thought of having to dress like a girl at school sounds bad enough, but having to play games such as hop scotch, skipping and clapping games during their break times seems beyond humiliating.
“Cant you play footie or owt instead?” I asked, sensing the answer would be no.
Peter shook his head and I noticed how his ponytail continued to swing for a brief moment afterwards. “Ball games are banned in the playground.” he replied before saying that he was never any good at football anyway. “Hop scotch is quite good though.” he added.
“I'd feel like a right girl if I had to play hop scotch.” I said as I bundled a pile of my T-shirts into their drawer.
“I think that's the idea.” Peter glumly replied before telling me to put my T-shirts away properly. “There's no point me ironing them if you're just going to stuff them in your drawer.”
“Sorry.” I said as I put them away 'properly'. I thanked him when we'd finished putting away my laundry and Peter returned the compliment before leaving me alone.
Conversations with Peter are a rare thing these days, which is probably more down to me than than it is him. I returned to my comic but spent more time wondering what it would be like if it was me that had won the game of Happy Families some three months ago. I wondered if I'd even remember what it felt like to wear boy's clothes after all that time wearing nothing but skirts or dresses. I imagined what the average school day might be like too. After the humiliating journey dressed as a girl, I guess going through the school gates would be a bit of a relief. Having to play one of a number of girlie games during the break times didn't sound much fun either, nor did playing netball wearing that really short PE skirt. Peter tells me that it's OK playing netball, but I don't believe him. Then again he did say it was OK in comparison to Dance, which is mostly basic ballet and mind numbingly boring. I guess it'd probably be a relief to don the school uniform after wearing the dance kit... or any of the PE kits for that matter. In spite of all my musings, I was thankful for the fact that I'd never know for sure what it's like to attend Peter's school... but it did intrigue me.
After having a bit of a clear out, Mrs Mullen (Vanessa's mother) brings round a bag of clothes that Vanessa's outgrown and wondered if they might fit Peter. “There's a few school blouses, a pinafore and a couple of summer dresses, they'll probably be too big for her now but...” Mrs Mullen says as Mum routes through the bag. “...they'll be good for next year maybe.”
Mum thanks her for the clothes, and says she'll send Sophie over later to say thank you too. “She's out with Lauren.” she added. Mrs. Mullen leaves and Mum puts the carrier bag full of clothes to one side. “Sophie's going to be over the moon!” she exclaims, casting me a broad grin.
“No he's not.” I think whilst smiling back and saying “Yeah.”
When Peter does return he pretends to be interested as Mum holds dress after dress against him to check them for size and style. Most look like a good fit whilst others seem to have plenty of growing room. “Some of these might fit you Andrew.” Mum said as I loitered in the background.
“I don't wear dresses!” I retorted. “Only girls wear dresses.”
“There's plenty of boys at Sophie's school who wear dresses.” my mother reminded me for the umpteenth time. “Try this one Sophie.” Mum said, thrusting a frock into Peter's hands.
I watch as he climbs the stairs, shyly clutching the rancid green dress. “Yeah but they're all queer or summit.” I reply when he's out of earshot.
“Something!” my mother corrects. “And no they're not. They're normal boys just like you.” Mum tells me as she holds one of Vanessa's cast off frocks against me.
I swipe it away in an instant. “Get that off me!” I barked.
“I was only seeing how it looks!” Mum said defensively as she held it up again, thankfully not against me this time. “It's a pity it's too big for Sophie... I love this style.” she says, more to herself than to me.
“She'll grow into it.” I dryly state.
“Yes she will.” Mum replied as if in a dream. She turns towards the sound of footsteps. I turned too. Peter appears on the stairs wearing one of Vanessa's old dresses and surprise surprise, Mum gushes over how nice he looks. After several long minutes of sickening compliments, Mum tells Peter that she wanted me to try on the sailor dress. “I don't know what he's so worried about...” Mum adds as she holds it against herself, “...it's quite boyish for a dress... no flowers, no frills.”
“It's still a dress though.” I moaned. Peter backs me up and says that I shouldn't have to wear it if I don't want to.
“Yes but, it wasn't so long ago that you didn't want to wear dresses either dear.” Mum said in a patronising tone.
“That was different though.” Peter replied as he began to blush. “You don't need another daughter.” he added.
“I know.” Mum replied as she gave Peter a hug, “I've got all the daughter I need right here.” she said in a sickening tone before planting a kiss on Peter's forehead. God it's weird, more so without George being here to balance the male/female split. “It just seems like too long to wait to see how it looks.” Mum said.
“You can see how it looks by holding it.” I stated.
“I mean to see how it looks 'on'.” Mum replied. “It could be months, years before Sophie grows into it.” she mused as she admired the navy blue frock. To be fair, it does look a lot better than most of the frocks she makes Peter wear... it's just a pity it's too big for him, especially since Mum keeps glancing at me as she gushes over it.
George has been away from little over two weeks and this conversation is starting to freak me out a bit. At least Peter backed me up... but maybe he's just worried that I'll claw some attention away from him if I did wear it.
The days grow shorter and the nights draw in. The walk to school is starting to get chilly. In fact walking anywhere is starting to get chilly! One afternoon, Mum suggests we go for a walk along the old railway and up over Sykes Hill, the justification being that it's a lovely clear day and the view from the viaduct and the top of Sykes Hill will be glorious. “Yeah but it's freezing though!” I reply, “And it takes like an hour to get there!” I add.
“It'll be warm enough when you're walking.” Mum said.
“No it won't! Everyday it's cold walking to school, cold coming home from school and walking doesn't make any difference.” I claimed, although I was just being stubborn and lazy.
“Sophie walks to school and doesn't complain about the cold. She has a much longer walk than you and she doesn't even wear trousers.”
“Yeah but she wears tights.” I replied. Since half term, Peter no longer wears his gingham school dress, instead he wears a pleated woolly pinafore... yes it's quite short, but he wears woolly tights with it, so it's obviously quite warm. Unfortunately, this perspective led my mother to suggesting that I go and borrow a pair of Sophie's school tights.
“Oh mu-um.” I moaned. “Do I have to?”
“With them or without them we're going for a walk.” Mum stated. “Now it's you who's insisting you'll be too cold, so I suggest you go and ask your sister if she'll let you borrow a pair of her tights... it's not like anyone will see them.” she told me.
Sheepishly, I moped upstairs and knocked on Peter's bedroom door. He opened the door and asked what I wanted. “Mum said we're going for a walk and told me to borrow a pair of your tights.” I half-heartedly said.
“Woolly ones?” he asked. I nodded and frowned to make it clear that I wasn't keen on wearing them. Peter turned and rummaged in one of his drawers. “They'll have to be white because all my green ones are in the wash.” she said as he pulled a pair out. “...apart from these ones.” he added, referring to the pair of burgundy woolly tights he wore beneath his corduroy skirt.
“Thanks.” I grumbled as she passed them to me. I made sure my bedroom door was closed before dropping my pants and pulling the tights on.. or trying to. There must be a knack to this. Maybe I should have asked Peter to help... actually no, scrub that... I'll work it out.
Mum's voice called my name and a second later my bedroom door swung open, “Aren't you ready yet?” she stated. I only had one leg in and was struggling to get the other foot in. Mum helped me and once on, I wasted no time in pulling my pants on to hide the tights. They felt a bit weird as they clung to my legs, but did feel really warm too. Within minutes of leaving the house, Mum asked me if I was warm enough.
I nodded and smiled bashfully. I wondered if the tights would feel just as warm without my long pants covering them. Not that I wanted to find out... it's just that girls always look like they should be cold wearing just a pair of tights with a little skirt. “Are you warm enough?” I asked Peter. He nodded and didn't look cold, so I guess he must have been.
We walked along the old railway line which led us past a number of old mills, a canal wharf and eventually into the greenbelt where it crossed the Crick valley via the Wrenn Viaduct. Peter and I couldn't resist dropping stone chippings into the river below, although the last time we were here 'she' was my brother. The sun was low and the shadows were long and the view from the viaduct was fantastic, especially on such a clear day like today.
At the far end of the viaduct we left the old railway and began to climb Sykes Hill. “Race you to the top!” Peter said and immediately began running. Being as competitive as any boy I chased after him, determined to win. I blamed the fact that he'd beaten me to the trig point at the top on the fact that he'd had a head start, albeit a small one.
From the top of Sykes Hill one can see the entire valley. Mum slowly made her way up as we admired the panoramic view. “What are you doing?” I asked Peter as he started grabbing at his tights.
“Hitching my tights up.” he said. “They do have a habit of dropping down.”
I'd notice that too, especially when running up the hill. I tried to pinch them through my pants to hitch them back up to, but it didn't really work. Mum must have noticed because when she got to the top, she called me to her and dug her hands inside the waistband of my jeans and pulled my tights back up for me. “Better?” she asked.
I nodded, smiled and blushed. We started down the other side which led us down into the valley and over the packhorse bridge, before making our way back up to Covenworth and eventually home.
It was a nice walk and I'm glad Mum persuaded me. It was also the first time we'd gone out as a family without George. Normally George and I would distance ourselves from Mum and Peter, but today felt like the first time Peter and I had spent some proper time together. Mum lit the fire and made us a nice hot mug of cup-a-soup. An hour or so after our return, Mum and Peter began preparing supper and left me alone in the front room. A while later mum returned and after a little small talk, suggested that Sophie might want her tights back. I was all cosy in front of the fire and didn't really want to move, plus, they're nice and warm. “I've got an idea.” Mum said before leaving. A few minutes later she returned with something slung over her arm. “Why don't you try this?.... seeing as you want to keep those tights on.”
“Oh mu-um... I don't want to wear a dress.” I moaned as she held open the blue sailor dress that was too big for Peter, but supposedly about my size.
“I know you don't, but Peter's been very brave over the last few months...” she replied. It was odd hearing her use his real name. “...don't you think it would be nice if you showed him a little solidarity?” she suggested.
I didn't really know what solidarity meant, but I knew what she was getting at. I looked at the dress and exhaled slowly through my nostrils. “Do I have to?” I moaned.
“You don't have to.” Mum assured. “I just think it would be nice for Peter... not being the only one for once.” she added. I recalled when Peter told me that he preferred being at school to being at home because at home it's just him who dresses like a girl, and reluctantly I agreed.
I took the dress from her and made for my room, but Mum suggested I change in here instead. “It'll be a nice surprise for her.” Mum said as she drew the curtains and tucked them behind the radiator whilst I removed my top.
As well as the dress, she'd also brought me a vest to wear under it, which had a vague floral pattern in the knit, and stretchy lace trim around the neck and arm holes. Mum raised the navy blue sailor dress over my head and told me to put my arms up. Within seconds it surrounded me and Mum fastened the zip, which strangely ran up one side from waist to armpit. Once the dress was on, I unbuttoned my pants and pulled them off. “Very nice.” Mum grinned as she stood back and looked me up and down. It didn't feel as horrible as I'd expected, but it didn't exactly feel nice either. I wondered what George would say if he could see me now and guessed that he'd be less than gracious. I sat myself down and, having witnessed my mother constantly remind Peter to smooth his skirt as he sat, I smoothed my skirt as I sat. “Stay in here.” Mum grinned. “This is going to be such a lovely surprise for Sophie.”
I sat waiting for five or ten minutes before Mum returned. Reluctantly I went to the kitchen expecting Peter to laugh at me, but her wasn't even there. Mum pulled out a chair and beckoned me to sit. “I sent her to put a nice dress on too, but she's no idea why!” Mum told me as I sat. A few minutes later, Peter descended the stairs wearing one of his prissy party dresses and glanced at me. “I don't see why I have to wear this just for supper!” he said. “It'll be bath time soon.” he added.
Any second now he'll see me and react, but instead he barely looked at me. He grabbed his prissy white pinafore apron and asked Mum (or 'Mummy' as she insisted he call her) to fasten the buttons. Mum cast me a knowing smile as she buttoned Peter into his pinafore apron, I just sat there petrified. The tension increased by the second. “You sit down Sophie, Mummy will serve.” Mum said. Peter sat down opposite me and moved hisr plate and cutlery so it was perfectly aligned. He watched our mother for a few seconds, then looked at me. I felt myself going beyond red as I anticipated his reaction. Then just as I thought he simply hadn't noticed, he said. “Andrew, are you wearing a dress?”
His expression was one of shock and disbelief rather than a big grin or worse... bellowing laughter.
“He is.” Mum chirped. “Stand up Andrew and show Sophie your dress.” Mum said.
“Oh Mu-um do I have to.” I moaned. I felt much safer hiding most of me beneath the dining table.
“Well she can't see through the table can she?” Mum said.
I gulped and reluctantly stood up before stepping to one side. I looked at Peter then down at myself, nervously grabbing my skirt as I did so. “That's looks OK on you.” Peter said. “I'd rather wear dresses like that than dresses like this.” he added, sneering at his own party dress.
“I thought you liked that dress Sophie.” Mum said defensively.
Peter backtracked a little and said he thought it was very pretty, “But it's too pretty.” he added. “I prefer it with my piny than without it.”
“I think it looks lovely with or without your piny.” Mum said. “You both look lovely.” she added in my direction, before putting a pork chop on each plate. I sat myself down and tried my best to pretend that this is normal, “If I was Peter it'd probably feel normal.” I thought as Mum poured my gravy for me.
“Now be careful not to get any gravy on your dress Andrew.” Mum said as we ate. “Really you should be wearing an apron like Sophie.” she added.
I looked at Peter and the white pinafore apron Mum insisted he wore whilst easting, and was glad I wasn't wearing an apron too. Although there's no such thing as a boyish dress, I could see what Mum meant when she described the sailor dress as boyish as it lacked lace & bows as well as girlie colours & floral prints. It was just a plain blue frock with white trim and a big square collar. Even while wearing a dress, I still feel like I'm getting off lightly compared to Peter.
“Why don't you help Sophie with the dishes?” Mum suggested once we'd finished eating. I didn't have the heart to decline and somehow knew that she wouldn't take no for an answer. Peter told me what to do and to be honest I felt more like a hindrance than anything. He had a routine and I was in the way, but he said he appreciated having me helping. “Why did Mum make you wear a dress?” he asked.
“Dunno really... she said it'd be a nice surprise for you.” I replied.
“Did you get in trouble for something?”
“No.” I stated. “Why would you think that?”
“Because a lot of the boys at school ended up being petticoated after getting into trouble.” he told me. “Mostly it's a punishment.”
“I don't think I'm in trouble.” I replied as I looked down at myself. “It'd be a pretty bad punishment though.”
“You look OK.” Peter told me. “At least she didn't put you in something like this.” he said, drawing my attention to the prissy party frock beneath his piny and his thin white tights covered in little love hearts.
“Yeah... that's far too girlie.” I replied.
“Try telling Mum that.” Peter said with a frown. “According to her, nothing's too girlie!”
After we'd done the dishes, Peter and I sat and watched TV for a bit until Mum announced that it was his bath time. I took the opportunity to ask if I could go and change. “You may as well keep it on until bedtime Andrew.” Mum said as she looked me up and down. “And you did say it wasn't so bad.” she smiled.
“But... doesn't Sophie want her tights back?” I said. I know it's a crap line of reasoning but it's all I could think of.
I wasn't surprised when Mum said “I think she can wait a few hours.” She smiled and looked me up and down from boyish head to the tip of my stockinged toe. “Anyway, that dress looks much nicer with tights that it would without.” she said. “Although knee socks might be nice too.” she added as if her mind was wondering.
I gulped and tried to visualise just how ridiculous I must look from someone else's point of view. I did expect to feel far more ridiculous than I do, but as far as dresses are concerned this isn't a bad one, I figured... before cursing myself and trying to chase such thoughts from my skull. “Haven't you got any homework Andrew?” Mum asked.
“Er... a bit yeah.” I replied.
“Well why don't you get on with that instead of staring at your knees.” she suggested.
I hadn't even realised I'd been doing it until she said, but seeing pure white knees sticking out from under a blue skirt is weird yet intriguing. Even as I tried to concentrate on my homework I continued to glance at my white woolly knees.
The next day at school was weird. It felt like everyone was looking at me oddly, as if they somehow knew that I'd worn something I shouldn't have... but that was just me being paranoid. If anyone knew, I'm pretty sure I'd know they knew.. but that didn't stop me spending much of the day thinking about the time I'd spent wearing a dress.
It wasn't until midweek that I opened my wardrobe (something I do everyday) to hang my school pants up and I noticed the navy blue sailor dress hanging there. “Mum?” I said as I went to the kitchen, checking she was alone.
“Yes love?” she asked as she pottered.
“Why is that dress in my wardrobe?” I sheepishly asked.
“Because it fits you and you said you liked it.” Mum replied.
“I didn't say I liked it.” I insisted, but backtracked after Mum gave me one of those looks. “I just said it wasn't bad.” I reminded her. “But I don't want it in my wardrobe.” I mournfully added.
“Well it's been there all week. Why you've waited 'til now to mention it I don't know.”
“Because I hadn't noticed it 'til now.” I replied. “Can I put it somewhere else?”
“You could hang it from your door hook if you want.” Mum suggested, although I knew she was teasing me. “There isn't room in Sophie's wardrobe and it doesn't fit her anyway... and my wardrobe's jam packed full too.” she explained. “And since George left for college there's plenty of room in yours.” she smiled. “And if you do want to wear it again you know where it is.”
“But I don't want to wear it again!” I claimed.
“Well it's there just in case you change your mind.” Mum replied as she resumed folding the laundry. “No one would think any less of you.”
“George would.” I moaned, sticking out my lip. “If he was still here you wouldn't me making me wear dresses.”
“I'm not making you wear anything!” Mum replied, before reminding me that it was I who wanted to borrow a pair of tights and I who agreed that wearing the dress would be a nice surprise for Sophie. “I made it perfectly clear that you didn't have to wear it Andrew... it was your choice.”
I slumped my head into my shoulders. “Yeah but...”
“And George isn't here.” Mum interrupted, “When he was the pair of you were horrible to your sister, and now he's gone it's good that you're finally starting to get along with Sophie.”
“I wasn't horrible to her!” I whined.
“You weren't very nice either... all that sniggering and whispering and giggling behind her back.” Mum retorted. “Peter's doing the best he can in a difficult situation and the very least you can do is show him some support and solidarity.” Mum paused, pulled out a chair and sat down. I followed suit. “Now I know Peter isn't a real girl, and I know he'd rather be a normal boy... but I need someone to call my daughter and fortunately for you, that someone is Peter.” Mum explained in a calm and considered voice. “Put yourself in his shoes.” she suggested, “Wouldn't you be happier having a nice brother instead of one who sniggers and sneers at you?”
“I don't snigger at her.” I claimed.
“Well... not since George left you don't.” Mum pointed out.
At that moment the front door opened and Peter returned. “Can Laura come in?” he asked.
Laura hovered behind and said “Hello Mrs Jackson... hi Andrew.”
I muttered a hello as Mum said, “Hello Laura. Don't you look smart in your uniform.”
“Oh er.. thanks.” Laura replied, looking down at herself and frowning. “Mum makes me keep it on 'til I've done all my homework.”
“Oh that's a good idea... it'll help you concentrate.” Mum smiled.
“I'd rather wear my own clothes after school.” Laura frowned.
“I'm sure you would dear, but I suppose school isn't really over until your homework's finished.” Mum told her.
“That's what my mum says.” Laura replied.
“So what have you two been doing? Gossiping?”
“No.” Peter and Laura replied in unison.
“Sophie's been helping me with my homework.” Laura claimed.
“Can I loan her my Black Beauty book?” Peter asked before explaining that Laura had to choose a nineteenth century book to read, then write an essay about it, but not being much of a reader she didn't know where to start.
The two skipped up stairs. Mum and I watched them go before turning to each other. Mum smiled at me and I smiled back... although I wasn't sure what we were smiling about. “Why don't you help me make supper seeing as Sophie's helping Laura with her homework?”
I'd much rather sit in front of the telly as usual, but it's not really fair that Peter has to help her every night. “OK.” I moaned. “What are we having?”
“How's about omelette?” Mum suggested.
“Mmmm!” I replied, that being one of my favourites after burgers and pizza of course. “I'm not wearing that!” I blurted under my breath as mum removed her pinafore style apron from its hook. “Laura might see me!” I quietly yet assertively added.
“I don't think Laura will mind Andrew.” Mum said. We both glanced toward the staircase and the sound of footsteps.
“Thanks Sophie.” Laura said, waving the book and smiling. “I'll bring it back when I’ve read it.” she added before saying goodbye to each of us and leaving.
“Bye Laura.” Mum hollered before turning to me and offering me the pinafore once more. “Well that's cleared up that little problem.” she grinned.
I sunk my head and put my arms through the arm holes, before turning around so Mum could fasten its three buttons. “Why don't they put the buttons where I can reach them?” I asked.
“It would make more sense wouldn't it.” Mum replied as she turned me to face her. “Do you want to peel the potatoes or chop the onions?” she asked.
“Potatoes.” I replied.
Peter returned from seeing Laura off and Mum told him that I'd kindly offered to help make supper, “...so you can get on with your homework.” Mum suggested.
“Can I do it after my bath?” Peter asked. “I wanted to read my book.” he added.
“Homework.” Mum told him. “You can read afterwards.”
With that, Peter got his books out and took them through to the sitting room and I helped Mum by peeling the potatoes and carrots. Next, I mixed the eggs together whilst Mum chopped up the cheese, tomatoes and onions. When everything was ready to be served, I asked if I could take my apron off. Mum bypassed my question and told me to tell Sophie that supper was ready. Peter smiled as he looked me up and down. “Tea's ready.” I said mournfully. “Can I take this off now?” I asked as I returned to the kitchen with Peter following.
Mum was busy dishing up. “Why don't you help Sophie with her piny, then after supper you can do the washing up together?” Mum suggested.
Sometimes she had a long winded way of saying 'no'. Peter grabbed his piny and hung it over his shoulders, and I fastened its buttons for him. “Thanks.” he meekly said, casting me a smile and glancing at my piny. Peter always wore one whilst eating supper whilst George and I never did. It felt strange as I sat myself down and arranged the mass of fabric over my lap. I recalled the numerous occasions both I and my big brother had teased Peter for wearing his piny and felt a tinge of guilt. Peter isn't teasing me, although I wouldn't blame him if he did.
“How are you getting on with your homework Sophie?” Mum asked as we ate.
“OK.” he replied. “I'll do a bit more later.” he added.
“Well I've been having a think.” Mum said. “Seeing as I have to pester both of you to do your homework... especially you Andrew...” she added, looking directly at me, “...I think it'll be a good idea if you both get on with your homework as soon as you arrive home from school.”
“Ohhh.” we both moaned, before offering a number of excuses.
“You can both see your friends or watch TV afterwords.” Mum told us before telling us that now on, we'd have to keep our school uniforms on until we'd finished our homework. “No more leaving it 'til the last minute Andrew.” she stated. I wasn't happy but I do have a habit of doing it in a rush the night before it's due, and sometimes the following morning too.
“But what if I want to do something else after school?” I whined, as it's not uncommon for a group of us to go into town, to the arcades or back to someone's house.
“It'll have to wait until after your homework.” Mum replied. “You'll thank me come Sunday evening when it's all done, and if you both do your homework together you'll be able to help each other.”
The best thing to do in times like this is to play along, and chances are Mum will forget all about it after a while. After supper, Peter and I did the washing up, drying and putting away, and finally I was out of the pinafore. “Thanks.” I said to Peter after he'd unfastened my buttons for me. He turned and I unfastened his. “Don't you hate having to wear this every mealtime?” I asked.
Peter turned and nodded. Under his breath he said, “Almost as much as I hate being told how pretty I look.” he gulped. “And having to have a bath every night.”
“Yeah, that does sound pretty boring.” I said. “Wanna watch some telly?” I asked.
A broad grin swept Peter's face. “OK.” he replied.
I know I know... it's a tear jerking moment... the first time I've said anything like that to Peter since he became my sister. The fact that I gave him control of the remote should have you all reaching for tissues. However Peter gave it back to me. “Mum'll only make me watch girl stuff if I have it.”
“Don't you like that either?” I asked.
“Not really... some of it's OK but mostly I just pretend I like it to keep Mum happy.” he confessed.
As usual, Mum was pottering about the house. She entered the sitting room and told us we'd done a 'lovely job' clearing up in the kitchen, before saying “Haven't you two got homework to be getting on with?”
Peter asked if he could do his after his bath, before assuring our mother that both he and I would start doing out homework as soon as we get home from school... starting tomorrow. “OK.” Mum conceded. “But I want you to at least make a start on yours when Sophie goes for her bath.” she said to me.
“I will.” I assured. Come 7.00pm, I was good to my word and got my school books out, although I’d much rather just sit staring at the TV. Mum took my brother for his nightly bath and I cast him a sympathetic smile as they left. How he puts up with it I don't know. It must be bad enough having to wear girl's clothes all the time, let alone having to have a bath every night before he gets ready for bed, then being sent to bed really early... every single day.
Over the next few days, Peter and I got on with our homework when we got home from school as we'd promised. Doing it with Peter was actually better than doing it on my own because in spite of him being younger than me, he is a bit cleverer. He explained long division to me better than my maths teacher did, and he could spell the words that I could barely pronounce. Mum became like a stuck record, saying things like “it is nice seeing you two working together”, every time she passed through the kitchen. Me helping Peter clear up after supper became a regular thing too. I wouldn't mind but it meant me having to wear Mum's giant piny. Of course I complained, using the fact that it was far too big as part of my defence.
As usual, Mum took Peter into town so he could help with the Saturday shop. When they returned, Peter asked if he could go and see if Vanessa was in. “If Andrew helps me put the shopping away you can.” Mum replied.
Since Peter's always helping Mum do this and do that, I didn't mind helping for a change. “Aww thanks Andrew.” Peter said in a very girlie voice before leaving.
“That's very sweet of you.” Mum said as she began passing me the tinned stuff.
“I don't mind.” I replied. “I guess it's not fair that Sophie has to do everything.” I added as I put away whatever item mum passed me. She began to unpack a bag from BHS and from it she passed me a plain paper bag and said “Bought you something.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Have a look.” Mum replied.
Inside was a white cotton garment which could have been a shirt, but after unfolding it, “Oh Mum.”
“Well you did complain that mine was too big.” she smiled, “So I bought you one of your own.”
I fully unfolded the white pinafore apron which, just like Peter's, had broderie anglaise ruffles around the arm holes, frilly trim around the hem and three buttons on the back, right where I couldn't reach them. Mum told me to try it for size and reluctantly I put my arms through its sleeves and turned around so Mum could button me in. It did fit much better than Mum's did, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Thankfully she didn't make me keep it on as it needed ironing. From the same bag she removed a plastic hanger bearing a pair of knickers and a vest. I gulped and half expected they too might be for me, but Mum said, “I bought these for Sophie... aren't they pretty.”
“I guess.” I shyly said, thankful that the Cinderella themed set of frillies weren't for me. Again, my heart went out to Peter because he's the one who's going to have to wear those. They wouldn't be so bad if they were plain, but since Mum's decided that he likes the Disney Princesses and according to her, Cinderella is the nicest of all of them, Peter ends up with quite a lot of Cinderella themed stuff. He's got a statuette, the book, the DVD, a couple of T-shirts, a nightie and a duvet all bearing Cinder-bloody-rella... and now a pair of knickers and a vest too! I've overheard him on a few occasions trying to tell Mum that he's too old for princess stuff, but Mum always claims that girls like princesses and therefore he does too.
When he returns from Vanessa's, Mum puts him to work and after ironing my new apron for me, he helps mother prepare Saturday's evening meal. I can't say I was surprised when Mum told me that I had to wear my new piny whilst eating. Afterwards as Peter and I washed and dried the dishes, I expressed that I wasn't happy that Mum had bought me my very own piny. “I told her you'd prefer a plain one, like chefs wear...” Peter claimed, “...but she said 'oh no, I want you both to match', and bought you one just like mine.” he told me, using a faux-mum voice. “I tried to tell her but...”
Peter shut up when Mum sauntered in to the kitchen. “What are you two chattering about?” she asked. Peter spilled the beans, but not in a spiteful way... she was just being honest. Mum smiled and told me that she had a feeling I wouldn't like it, adding, “I don't think Sophie likes hers much either.” before grabbing what she came in for and leaving.
“Why does she buy us things she knows we don't like?” I asked Peter.
“That's just what mums do.” he replied. “Even when I was a normal boy I didn't like half the stuff she bought me.”
I could empathise with that. Mums do have a habit of just buying us things and either expect us to like it or not caring what we think. For example, she's got terrible taste in trainers... and when the old ones are worn out I've had no choice but to adopt the new ones whether I like them or not. Last year she bought us all new jackets which she thought were 'trendy', but they weren't. They had vinyl panels over the shoulders and being black, all three of us felt like dustbin men when we wore them. “Little chance of being mistaken for a dustbin man now.” I thought as I looked down at the brilliant white structure that was my piny. I looked at Peter in his almost identical piny and figured I was lucky that at least I'm dressed as a boy under mine. “Will you unbutton me please?” I asked once we'd finished.
As I hung my very own pinafore apron up next to Mum's and Peter's, I imagined how my big brother George might react when he sees it. Maybe Mum'll make him wear her big one when he comes home, I figured, but I can't see that happening. More likely he'd start calling me names just like he and I used to call Peter names. Then I imagined his reaction to the dress in our wardrobe... I visualised myself insisting that I only wore it once and George not believing me, then telling everyone else at the earliest opportunity. I suppose I can trust that Peter won't say anything to anyone, and he's had plenty of opportunity to do so.
We watched TV until 7.00pm when Mum turned to my brother and predictably said, “Bath time Sophie dear.” Not so long ago I'd giggle and snigger as 'she' was taken for 'her' bath, but now I just feel sorry for him. I'm sure normal girls don't dress as girlie as Peter does... in fact I know they don't. Normal girls wear jeans and plenty of other plain or boyish things. Since becoming Sophie, Peter has worn nothing but prissy dresses or skirts, and almost all of them are either frilly, pink or flowery, peppered with bows and/or lace or other girlie designs. I guess in a way, I'm lucky to have only had to wear a simple blue sailor dress with no flowers or frills... and I get the feeling that Mum'll pester me into wearing it again, one day.
The next day, Sunday, the weather was windy, rainy and generally horrid. Normally I'd be getting on with homework but with Mum's insistence that Peter and I do it as soon as we get home from school, it's all done. There was little on the telly to occupy me and unlike Peter, I wasn't much of a reader. Consumed with boredom I sauntered up to Peter's room and knocked on the door. “Can I come in?” I asked as I looked him up and down.
“Why?” Peter replied cagily.
“I dunno.” I shrugged. “I'm bored... what are you doing?”
“Reading.” he replied before stepping to one side to let me in. Peter's bedroom is a room I seldom enter. Mum had George and I helping to redecorate in the summer holiday and since then Peter's domain has been something of a cathedral to all things pink and girlie. The walls are clad in cream coloured wallpaper with numerous images of romanticised ballerinas in a variety of poses; each wearing a pink leotard and pink tutu. His curtains are pink with a Barbie print and his lampshade, table lamp and waste paper basket all have Cinder-bloody-rella on. His bed is covered with a ghastly My Little Pony duvet, on top of which is what I assume is his current book. There's a number of cute and cuddly teddy bears, rag dolls and other soft toys lined up along the wall side of his bed. I hesitantly perched on the edge of the bed and picked up the rag doll. “Do you play with any of this stuff?” I asked.
“Course not!” Peter defensively replied.
“Sorry I didn't mean....” I said as I put the doll back in its place. I looked around and gulped as I imagined having to live in such girlie surroundings. I doubt I'd spend as much time in here as Peter does, that's for sure. On his mantle is a pair of ceramic ballerinas and a pink plastic clock also bearing a ballet motif. His shelves held a lot more books than mine did, as well as a selection of old and unused toys. However unlike my selection of outgrown toys, Peter has a collection of toys he's never played with, such as a Barbie doll, a number of Disney Princess figures, a fluffy unicorn and a miniature doll's house in cheap looking pink plastic.
“I don't play with those either.” Peter said as I found myself staring at his toys. I looked at him with apologetic eyes, then at today's dress: deep green velvet with long bell sleeves, a white pan collar and matching white cuffs. A white broderie anglaise underskirt is visible below the hem of his dress, and his hair is tied in two short, high bunches, tied with white broderie anglaise bows. “Stop staring!” Peter gulped as he threw a trembling hand up to his hair.
“Sorry.” I frowned as my eyes dropped to my knees. I looked at his dressing table, on top of which is a variety of hair accessories, a pink hairbrush and a pink broad toothed comb. “I can't imagine having so much pink stuff.” I said. “Doesn't it do your head in?”
“A bit.” Peter shrugged as he nervously thumbed the hem of his dress. “But you try telling mum that you don't want something she's set her heart on you having.” he added. “I guess one day I'll be a boy again... when I'm George's age I'll have to be.”
“Yeah.” I replied. “I wonder what he's up to?”
“Dunno.” Peter shrugged. “Probably hanging out with his new mates, playing pool or table tennis... the common room looked pretty cool.”
“Yeah.” I agreed as I recalled my elder brother's growing excitement as his enrolment approached. George seemed more interested in what he'd be doing in his free time at college than the subjects he'd be studying. “Mum went and hung that dress in my wardrobe.” I confessed.
“Are you going to wear it again?” Peter asked.
“Dunno.” I gulped. “Try telling Mum you don't wanna do something when she's set her heart on it.”
“At least it's not really prissy like mine are.” Peter said.
“Yeah I suppose.” I replied looking at his dress. “That's not too bad.”
“Thanks.” Peter blushed. The sleeves are bit of a pain but...” he added as he straightened his arm to demonstrate just how much fabric was in them, “...it's nice and warm.” he said as he ran his hands over the soft velvet fabric.
I tore my eye's from his dress and panned around his room. “Hey what's that!?” I said, grabbing what I thought was a silver cigarette lighter from his dressing table.
“Lipstick.” Peter glumly replied as I haphazardly pulled off the lid.
“Oh.” I said as I twisted the barrel up and down. “Do you wear it?” I asked. As far as I know, the only time Peter's worm make-up was when Mum first turned him into Sophie and paraded him around the neighbours' houses.
“Sometimes.” Peter replied. “Try it if you want.” he added as I became engrossed in how it works.
“Er... no thanks.” I gulped as I replaced the lid. I was about to put it back but Peter held his hand out. I passed it to him and watched as he applied it to his bottom lip, rolled it against his top lip and smiled at me.
“It tastes like coca cola.” he claimed.
“Really?” I asked, not that I wanted to find out. OK maybe I was just a tiny bit intrigued, which resulted in me trying it for myself. I followed his example and applied it to my lower lip, before tasting it with the tip of my tongue. My brother told me to roll my lips together first, otherwise I'd just lick it off. “It does a bit.” I said after running my tongue along the inside of my pursed lips and indeed finding a cola taste. “I don't think it's my colour though.” I gulped as I looked at my reflection in his dressing table mirror.
Peter just grinned as I began to suck on my lips to remove it. “If mum sees it she'll probably make me wear that dress again.” I said. Peter told me to use one of the tissues on his dresser to remove it. “Thanks.” I said after wiping my lips and looking at the pale pink smear on the pale pink tissue. “Has it gone?” I asked as I turned to my brother. He nodded. “You won't tell mum will you?” I asked.
“Course not.” he assured.
“Thanks.” I replied.
A brief moment of silence was broken when Mum knocked on the door and walked straight in. “I wondered where you'd got to Andrew.” she smiled. In her hands was a small bundle of laundry. Guessing by the occasional pastel colours and lacy trim, it was a pile of Peter's underwear. Mum placed it on his bed, right next to me. On the top was pair of yellow knickers with white spots and white satin bow stitched just beneath the waistband. I heard a distant voice say “Pretty aren't they?”
I felt disoriented and embarrassed as I realised I'd been staring at them. “No!” I gulped. Mum just smiled at me as I felt myself blush. Mum said she'd put my clean undies on my bed. “...so make sure you put them away instead of just kicking them on the floor at bedtime.”
I decided now was as good a time as any to leave. I went to my room and, for once in my life I did put my underwear away. I wondered how Peter must feel every time he opens his underwear drawer. “It must be awful.” I figured as I visualised my own drawer full of frilly knickers and lacy vests. From the bookshelf I selected my Bumper Book of Tanks & Guns, slumped on my bed and opened it. Imagining driving a tank is far more preferable to imagining a drawer full of knickers. I turned the pages and found myself intermittently glancing at my wardrobe door and visualising the blue sailor dress that hung inside. I wondered what it would feel like, just sitting on my bed and flicking through my books whilst wearing a dress. Would I be constantly aware of it? Is Peter constantly aware of whichever dress he's wearing? After all, one isn't constantly aware of the jeans or jumper they're wearing... so would a dress be much different. I know from experience that it's a bit weird, but whether or not one would just get used to it, I'm not sure. Not that I want to find out.
When it was time for Sunday lunch, Peter and I helped each other into our pinafores, which is also something I can't imagine ever getting used to. I managed to spill gravy down the front of it and apologised to my mother. “Oh don't worry.” she said. “Sophie will give it a rinse when you've done the dishes... won't you dear.” she added as she turned to Peter.
“I'll do it.” I said as I watched Peter obediently nod, causing his two little bunches to bounce around his head.
“That's very nice of you Andrew.” Mum smiled.
Being as useless and undomesticated as most boys my age, I didn't really have any idea how to rinse the gravy from my piny. Peter probably spent more time helping me than if he'd done it himself. “Thanks.” I said as he hung it on the radiator to dry.
“You did most of it.” Peter replied. “Will you unbutton me please?” he asked.
“Sure.” I said as he turned his back to me. I looked at the long zip that ran all the way up the back of his dress as I unfastened his pinafore's three buttons. I imagined that too would be quite tricky to remove without someone to help. “At least my dress has a zip I can reach” I thought before cursing myself for putting the words 'my' and 'dress' together. I asked Peter if Mum has to undo his dresses that have a back fasteneing.
He turned and glumly nodded as he pulled his pinafore off. “Mum says they put the zip on the back to make the front look nicer, but I reckon it's so I can't take it off.” he said.
“Wouldn't surprise me.” I replied as I looked him up and down. “It does look nicer from the front though.”
Peter looked down at himself and flattened the skirt against his black stockinged legs. “Yeah... it'd look daft with a zip down the front.”
I went through to the sitting room to watch TV and Peter went up to his room to read. “Yeah.” I replied after mum asked me if I'd hung my piny to dry. “Yeah.” I repeated when she asked if Sophie had gone to read. “Done it all.” I said when she asked if I had any homework to do. “Can I put Star Trek on?” I asked, noticing that the dreaded Songs of Praise was about to start.
“Sophie said it was nice that you'd paid her a visit today.” Mum said. I grunted one of those non-committal responses as I was more interested in to opening scene of this week's Star Trek episode than Mum's idle chatter. Predictably, as 7.00pm approached, Mum put down the newspaper and said she needed to get Sophie's bath ready. “When did you last have one?” she asked.
“Er... Thursday I think.” I replied.
“Well maybe you should have one after Sophie's done.” Mum suggested.
“Do I have to?”
“Seeing as you're not sure when you last had one, yes... you do.” Mum replied. “Maybe I should start making you have a bath every night like Sophie does.” was her parting comment. Some twenty minutes later, Mum hollered down the stairs, “Andrew! Bath!!”
There was nothing much on TV so I made my way upstairs. From Peter's room I could hear mum fussing over him. “What about this nice Barbie one?” she said. I heard Peter's whiny voice claiming that he didn't like Barbie. “Of course you do. All girls like Barbie.” Mum's voice replied, “Now come on, stop fussing and put it on.” she insisted. “Is that you Andrew?” she shouted.
“Yes.” I replied as I grabbed a clean towel from the airing cupboard.
Mum popped her head around Peter's bedroom door and said, “Jim jams on when you've finished... I've put some out for you.” before disappearing again.
It was only after I'd got in the bath did I properly register what mum had said. “She doesn't normally put my jim-jams out for me.” I said to myself as I plunged the sponge into the water. I rooted out my sole bottle of bath & shower gel from amongst all my brother's bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and whatever else he had. As I bathed myself, I became increasingly worried about the pyjamas. Now I have a dress hanging in my wardrobe, I don't think I'd be surprised if I found a pair of girlie PJs waiting on my bed.
Thankfully they were my own pyjamas. I looked at the clock and thought that a quarter-to-eight was a bit too early for getting ready for bed, but at least I'm not being told to wear a Barbie nightie, I figured. I pulled on my PJs and donned my bathrobe before making my way to the sitting room. “What are you doing?” I asked when I saw Peter sat on the floor between Mum's legs, with part of his hair wrapped up in numerous knotted rags.
“We're putting Sophie’s hair in rags so it'll be all nice and curly for school tomorrow.” Mum replied.
Peter didn't look too happy about it as he passed Mum rag after rag which she tied in his hair. I sat myself down to watched TV, but couldn't help but glance at my brother as Mum gradually covered his head with a host of knotted rags. Every now and then he'd go 'ouch' and complain that she was tying them too tightly. “No I'm not.” Mum insisted as they were added. “There you are.” she said once she'd finished
I cast him a sympathetic smile as he stood up. His dressing gown fell open revealing a pale pink knee length nightie with a huge photograph of a Barbie doll on it. No wonder he was moaning, I thought. Even a cartoon print of Barbie would look better than an actual photograph. He sat himself on the sofa and began fiddling with the rags.
“Leave them alone Sophie.” Mum told him, “If they come out before morning it won't work.”
“You've got to sleep with those in!” I exclaimed. Peter frowned and nodded. I suggested that they'd all fall out because.... well I just guessed they would. Mum said that he'll be wearing a hairnet to stop that from happening. I don't know what I'd do if I was in Peter's predicament. I'm not sure if I'd be able to just grin and bear it like Peter does. What he puts up with would be torture to me or any other boy for that matter. Maybe he really is a sissy, I thought. Then I remembered how I just swallowed my pride and donned the sailor dress with barely any fuss last weekend... and now I have my own piny too, I can hardly pass judgement on my brother.
When I got up the following morning, Peter's hair was indeed far curlier than usual, and therefore far girlier too. To cap it all Mum had tied a broad white ribbon in a big bow on the top of his head. I still had my PJs on but as usual Peter is already wearing his school uniform: a woollen plaid pinafore dress (nothing like our aprons) with purple, green and blue in the weave, over a white long sleeved blouse and bottle green woolly tights. As usual, his feet are clad in those horrendous Mary Jane shoes with their little clumpy heels that make him just as tall as I am. “Did you manage to sleep with all those rags?” I asked.
Peter looked up at his new frizzier fringe and nodded. “It wasn't too bad.” he claimed as he put a breakfast bowl out for me and poured me a glass of orange juice. If I had to get up early and sort out his breakfast I'd be in a grumpier mood than I usually am... but Peter doesn't seem bothered in the slightest. I guess even when he was a boy (or allowed to dress as one) he was always happy to help. When mum decided to turn him into a girl and made him help with almost all the household chores I just took him for granted. But now I'm starting to feel guilty that he not only helps to prepare and serve my meals, he clears up after me and does my laundry too. I do help wash the dishes after supper though... so I guess do do my bit... well... more than I used to anyway.
At the weekend, Peter and Mum returned from their weekly shopping trip and Peter gleefully showed me what Mum had bought him. “Look Andrew! Mummy bought me some jim-jams!” he exclaimed, holding the polythene wrapped package for me to see. Beneath the clear plastic was a neatly folded pyjama top not too dissimilar from my own. It was white with tiny blue spots, and the only thing that gave it away as a girl's pyjama set is the frilly trim around the collar. Initially, I wasn't sure why Peter was so chuffed with them, but since he's only been allowed nighties since he became Sophie, even a pair of girl's pyjamas is something for him to get excited about. “Good for you Soph.” I smiled.
Later as Mum served supper, she placed her hands on my shoulders and said, “You do look nice in your piny.” as she played with the ruffled broderie anglaise trim around the armholes. Although I was becoming accustomed to wearing it, Mum still made me blush when she commented on how it looked. I looked up at her and she ruffled my hair. “Peter... do you use shampoo when you wash your hair?” she asked, sneering at her hand as if it was contaminated.
“Yeah.” I said.
“Well it doesn't feel like it.” she said.
As is the new norm, it's now my bath time straight after Peter's. Only this time Mum insisted on actually bathing me. Of course I moaned that she was treating me like a little kid, but Mum was having none of it. “How you can have a bath every night and not get yourself clean I've no idea!” The fact she'd left the bathroom door wide open didn't make me a feel any better. Peter's voice was heard and both Mum and I looked towards the door. There he stood wearing his new pyjamas, but didn't look as happy with them as I'd have expected.
“I think they're too big.” he frowned as he let go of the pyjama pants and they fell straight down..
“I think you're right.” Mum chuckled as he grabbed them and quickly pulled them back up.
Peter's lower lip stuck out as he moaned that he was looking forward to having jim-jams again.
“Oh well never mind Sophie.” she said. “Go and put one of your nighties on and we'll get you some in your size tomorrow.” she promised before turning back to me. “Maybe they'll fit you.” she said.
“I don't want girl's pyjamas.” I whined.
“They're just the same as boy's pyjamas Andrew... and I can't take them back now they've been worn.” she told me. I moaned that they weren't 'just the same', but Mum said that they were near enough and the least I can do is try them.
Peter was in a sulk all evening. He'd been looking forward to wearing her new pyjamas all afternoon and was thoroughly glum that they were too big for him. So instead of wearing his new pyjamas, he were one of his pink frilly nighties... again. I was in a bit of a sulk too because Peter’s new pyjamas did fit me, so I sat wearing those. For a pair of girl's pyjamas they weren't too bad I guess, being white with little blue spots, but the frilly detail around the collar was repeated around the cuffs of both sleeves and legs, so they were clearly girlie in style. What I didn't realise when Peter was showing them off earlier today, is that it was a three pack. Tonight I'm wearing the white ones with blue spots, but I'm not looking forward to wearing either of the other two pairs; one being blue with little pink spots and the other being pink with little white spots.
On Sunday, all three of us went in to town and Mum purchased Peter a set of pyjamas in his size. He was over the moon. Mum spent a bit too much time browsing the girl's department for my liking, which is the main reason I've tried to avoid going shopping with Mum and Peter. It's all Sophie this and Sophie that and it quickly becomes tedious. However looking at my brother's expression when Mum's fussing over him in the girl's shops, he's having a far worse time. “Are you looking forward to wearing your new jim-jams Sophie?” Mum asked as we walked home.
“Yeah!” he exclaimed, swinging the carrier bag that held them.
“Well I'm looking forward to seeing you both wearing matching jim-jams.” Mum grinned.
I don't think I’d ever felt the hairs on the back of my neck stick up before that moment. There's no point telling her that I don't want to wear girl's pyjamas because I can second guess all her responses: they're just like boy's pyjamas, they're only for bed, no one will see you, we don't mind, etcetera, etcetera.
I felt very hard done by for the next few nights, especially when I had to wear the pink ones with white spots. On Thursday after school I realised that all of my old pyjamas had been put in the rag basket and put up a proper fuss. “Three pairs of jim-jams is plenty Andrew.” Mum told me. The rag basket is actually an old pump bag in which Mum puts old clothes and towels, cut up into squares to use as cleaning cloths. I stuck my lip out so far I could see it. Mum gave me one of those looks. “Think yourself lucky you don't have to wear nighties too.” she said, “I don't see your brother complaining about his nightwear Andrew. So why you're putting up such a fuss over a pair of pyjamas I've no idea.”
I suppose she has a point, and whenever she says 'Peter' or 'your brother' instead of 'Sophie' or 'your sister', I know she's being serious. My younger brother has to wear loads of ghastly pink nighties with Barbie dolls and Cinderella and ballet dancers and fairies, unicorns, dolphins, teddy bears, butterflies, flowers and all sorts of other ghastly stuff on them. I guess my biggest fear is my older brother's reaction when he sees me wearing a pair of girl's pyjamas. In fact since Mum and I are having this exchange whilst I'm wearing my pinafore apron, I don't know why I'm putting up a fuss over my pyjamas either as this garment is far more girlie.
“Oh, that'll be Sophie.” Mum said as we heard the front door open and shut. “Oh, you've brought Vanessa over... hello Vanessa.”
I wanted to either die or disappear as Vanessa looked directly at me. Instead I just froze as a broad grin swept her face. “That's a lovely apron Andrew.” she said.
Mum agreed, but thankfully told Vanessa that I was only wearing it because I was helping her. “It just seemed easier than him changing out of his uniform.” she added, before thanking me and unbuttoning my pinafore. Hopefully Vanessa doesn't think it's actually my piny. “Can I go and finish my homework?” I asked. My heart was pounding as I left the kitchen. I guess it's better that Vanessa saw me wearing a piny than say, Laura. Vanessa doesn't go to the same school as me and I'd bet any money that Laura wouldn't waste any time telling everyone she knows.
The following Wednesday was Bonfire Night and everyone was looking forward to seeing the annual firework display and huge bonfire on the Coronation Field. It seemed to be the only thing people were talking about at school. I shuddered and shivered as I walked home that afternoon. Paul was also feeling the cold but Laura, clad in her short skirt and tights, claimed that it's not that cold and declared us both wimps. I got my school books out as soon as I arrived home and began my homework. It took me a few moments to warm up and Mum asked if was cold outside. “Freezing.” I replied as the central heating slowly penetrated my body. “And it's only going to get colder tonight.” I added as I contemplated loitering on the Coronation Field for an hour or two.
“You should borrow a pair of Sophie's tights again.” Mum suggested.
I recalled how warm they felt when we walked up Sykes Hill, so wearing another pair whilst watching the fireworks seemed like a sensible idea. “OK.” I said.
“Here look.” Mum said, opening a carrier bag. “I bought these for Peter...” she began. It's odd to hear her use my brother's boy name, but it's sort of nice that she does on occasion. She never uses it when he's around and doesn't like to hear me using it either. I wondered if it just slipped out or not as she eagerly unfolded a pair of corduroy dungarees. “Do you think he'll like them?” she asked as she held them from their braces.
Although they were a dusty pink colour and had a big floral appliqué 'S' on the bib pocket, they were essentially a pair of long pants. “I think he'll love those.” I enthused.
Mum turned them towards herself and said, “They're nice aren't they?”
I nodded and smiled. Peter hasn't worn anything but skirts and dresses since Mum turned him into Sophie, so I expect he's going to over the moon with a pair of dungarees. My smile dropped when Mum said she'd bought a pair for me too. I feared the worst but at least mine were a royal blue and not a dusty pink like Peter's. They did have a large appliqué 'A' on the bib though
“I know they're a bit girlie but...” Mum said as she held them up, “...you can always wear a jumper over them to hide this bit.” she added as she ran her hands over the ditsy floral fabric that formed the appliqué 'A'. “I got you a new T-shirt each too.” Mum added, tossing me a pale blue T-shirt, and putting a pale pink one on top of Peter's new dungarees.
The t-shirt was plain, but had little pin-tucked sleeves and was clearly a girl's t-shirt. “Thanks.” I shyly said as I dreaded wearing it. At least it's not pink, I figured.
As predicted, Peter was over the moon with her new dungarees. I was less keen on mine as mum put us side by side so she could have a good long look at us. “I do like it when you match.” she grinned, “...and you really suit this shade of blue Andrew.” she added as she placed her fingers on the girlie pin-tucked sleeve of my new t-shirt. I might be dressed in blue and wearing long pants, but there's no avoiding the fact that I'm wearing girl's clothes. However once I'd put a jumper on to conceal my t-shirt and the bib of my dungarees, I looked and felt like more or less like a boy again.
As we walked to the Coronation Field where the bonfire and firework display was held, Peter told me how good it feels to be wearing pants at long last. “Are you wearing tights too?” I asked, having borrowed a pair of Peter's to fend off the chill. Peter said he wasn't. “Are you not cold?”
“No... I've got pants on.” he replied, clearly chuffed with the novelty of not wearing a dress or a skirt for once. I told Peter that even I felt a bit chilly in the leg department. Peter suggested that since his daily defence against the cold is either knee socks or tights, he's more accustomed to the cold than 'normal' boys are. I listed a few names of the girl's at school who seem to wear knee socks all through winter and wonder how they cope. “They're just used to it.” Peter reiterated.
We saw plenty of familiar faces at the Coronation Field. There was the usual baked potato stall, a burger van, a toffee apple stall, parkin, roasted chestnuts, parched peas and a stall selling glow sticks and sparklers. We mingled and chatted whilst we waited for the big display to begin, and before too long it kicked off with it's usual fanfare and a foray of rockets that burst into a canopy of brightly coloured sparks above our heads. Oohs and woos echoed around us as the display progressed. I found myself needing the toilet, but hung on as I didn't want to miss a single moment of the fireworks.
The firework display ended as it had begun, with a huge ba-ba-boom of rockets above our heads. I darted towards the temporary toilet block and spent a few desperate minutes in the queue. I thought I was going to burst as I finally got inside, but to my dismay I realised that the fly on my dungarees is only for show... there's no actual zip! If I wasn't so desperate, I'd have got myself into a cubicle and gone through the rigmarole of removing my jacket and jumper, undoing the straps on my dungarees and finally relieving myself... but time was well and truly against me. I wet myself there and then, right in front of the urinal. Almost in tears I ran from the toilet block as the dampness engulfed me. I hung my head and looked down to see a very noticeable dark wet patch. Sheepishly I approached my mother and brother. “Can we go now Mum?” I asked.
“Already?” Mum replied. Noticing his distraught expression she asked what the matter was. I just hung my head, unable to speak.
“Oi Jackson!” A yobbish voice shouts. “Have you pissed yourself?!””
I turned to see a group of kids from my year all pointing and starting to jeer in my direction. I felt my mother grab my hand, “Come on Sophie... we're going home.” she said as we were quickly marched away from the fire and festivities. “Oh dear Andrew.” Mum said empathetically. “What happened?” she asked. I fought back tears of embarrassment as I tried to explain. When I told Mum that it was almost too late by the time I'd realised my dungarees don't have a proper fly, she said. “Oh I didn't even think to check.”
Even if mum feels partly responsible, it doesn't help me. We raced home and I was stripped and plonked in the bath within minutes. “Everyone's going to know!” I said as my tears began to flow.
“If I was you I'd tell them that you spilt a can of cola over yourself.” Mum advised. “All they saw was a damp patch... they can't know what happened for sure.” she said.
What should have been one of the most enjoyable nights of the year left me feeling utterly miserable. At school the next day it was one of the most memorable nights of the year for a reason I tried my best to deny. No one believed that I'd spilt cola over myself, and the few that did see my wet pants embellished the story considerably. As far as most of my class were concerned, I'd wet myself at the firework display because the loud bangs scared me, then I went home crying like a girl, holding my mummy's hand. Of course I denied it, but failed to convince anyone as I'd made a pigs ear of an excuse as to why we'd left so hastily. Kids can be so cruel sometimes, I learned. The next day was worse because one of the big bullies cornered me because I'd shoved one of his minions for calling me 'pissy knickers'. I thought he was going to headbut me as he got right up close to me. I looked up fearfully at his ugly mug as he started to pour a bottle of fizzy pop over my crotch. I didn't even realise until it was too late. He ran off laughing and I ran to the toilets where I managed to dry my pants as best I could using the hand dryer, but a noticeable stain remained. Everyone claimed I'd wet myself again and no one wanted to believe the truth.
“How's your day been?” Mum asked when I got home. “Oh dear.... they'll soon forget when they've found a new drama to occupy their silly little minds.” she said when I told her that they keep teasing for what happened at the fireworks display. She stepped back and looked down at my crotch when I told her about the prank that had been played on me. “Well they'll have to go in the wash.” she said. I went to my room to change. Mum followed. Since she has a rule which states that my brother and I wear our school uniform until we've finished our homework... Mum told me to put some clean school pants on. But since it was Friday, they were all in the wash. “Oh just a minute!” she said as if a light had switched on in her mind. She popped out and returned a minute later with a plastic carrier bag.
“What's in there?” I sheepishly asked.
“Well...” Mum said as she placed it on my bed and opened it. “...you remember when Vanessa's mum brought some of Vanessa's old clothes round for Sophie?” she said as she rummaged through layers of folded fabric. I do remember, because one of Vanessa's old dresses now hangs in my wardrobe. “Here it is.” Mum said as she lifted out a very very familiar looking item. “I know it's too big for Sophie but it should fit you.” Mum smiled as she unfolded a plaid pinafore dress.
“Oh mu-um.” I gulped.
“Oh Mu-um.” Mum teased. “It's a school uniform... what's the problem?”
“It's a girl's uniform!”
“Not at Sophie's school it isn't.” she reminded me.
“But I don't go to Sophie's school.” I moaned. I knew it was futile because once Mum's got her heart set on something, she really won't back down. The pinafore went over my head and over my shirt and rested on my shoulders. I looked down at it and it was short, very short and left me feeling very exposed. Mum said she'd fetch me a pair of knee socks and headed out the door. “Can I wear tights instead?” I asked in a low, mournful voice.
Mum said that I didn't need tights for sitting in the kitchen. “I think knee socks look nicer anyway.” she added.
I could barely believe that I was actually wearing the Malham Hall school uniform. But the evidence was all around me. When mum returned with a pair of Peter's knee socks, I asked “How come this is called a pinafore but it's nothing like my other piny?”
Mum explained that my piny is a traditional pinafore, (meaning 'pinned to the front') and in the olden days was worn over your clothes to help keep them clean, and this is a modern pinafore dress, worn over a shirt or blouse. “In America they call this kind of dress a 'jumper'.” she added as I pulled the socks up my legs.
“What do they call a proper jumper then?” I asked.
“Erm... a jersey I think.” Mum guessed. She smiled at me and said, “Come on, homework.”
A hoard of butterflies erupted in my stomach as I descended the stairs. The pinafore dress felt really short and my knee socks didn't give me anywhere near enough coverage. I imagined what it must be like to dress like this for school everyday and wondered if all the boys at Peter's school feel as self conscious as I do now. Peter was due home any minute now and as much as I dread him seeing me, I'm fairly certain that he wont tease me.
The first thing Peter said when he saw me was, “You're wearing my uniform! Does that mean you're coming to my school now?” He looked towards Mum for an answer.
God I hope not! I thought as Mum said, “No Sophie... unfortunately we can't afford to send you both to Malham Hall.” Phew, I thought as Mum continued. “All of Andrew's school pants are in the wash.” she said as she stood behind me and rested her hands on my shoulders. Mum then told Peter that 'my' uniform is one of Vanessa's old ones that he's yet to grow into. “You don't mind him borrowing it do you?” Mum asked her/him.
Peter shook his head. “As long as he doesn't wear it all the time!” he insisted in an attempt to discourage Mum. “I don't want it to look old and tattered when it fits me.” he added.
Mum left us alone to study. I tried my best to concentrate on my books in order to avoid thinking about my clothing. But as my free hand frequently found my lap and its fingers nervously felt the texture of my woolly pinafore and bare lap, I spent more time thinking about my clothing than I did my homework. After a while Mum emerged from the utility room with a bundle of laundry. “Andrew would you mind taking these up to your room.” Mum said as she placed the pile on the table. “There's some of Sophie's there too... just pop them on her bed.”
I didn't really want to handle Peter's frilly undies, but I didn't want to get on my mother's wrong side either. I put down my pen and picked up the bundle before taking it to my room. It was clear where Peter’s undies stopped and mine started, and with hesitant hands I separated the pile and took my brother's knickers and vests to his bedroom. I couldn't bear to sleep in a room like this, I thought as my eyes panned around the wallpaper, peppered with ballerinas. I placed my brother's pile of frilly underwear on his duvet, which today is pale blue for a change... with a huge picture of Cinderella on it!
Peter was alone in the kitchen when I returned. He glanced up at me as I sat down, and said that I should smooth the skirt as I sit to stop it getting creased. “Sorry.” I gulped as I smoothed the skirt. “I hope Mum doesn't make me wear this all the time.”
“I'd rather wear that than most of my dresses.” Peter said. “It looks OK on you.”
“No it doesn't... I look stupid.” I insisted. “I don't like wearing my own school uniform and I certainly don't like wearing yours.” I added as I looked down at my legs. “And these socks are really girlie.”
Peter told me that Mum often makes him wear girlie knee socks when he'd rather not. “I prefer tights.” he said, kicking out his foot to show me his bottle green woolly school tights.
“I'd prefer those too.” I confessed.
“What's that?” Mum asked as she entered with a bundle of bedding. Reluctantly I told her, and Mum suggested that she'll 'maybe' let me wear tights on Monday, but reiterated that knee socks do look nicer.
“Can't I wear my own uniform on Monday?” I moaned.
“Well you could.” Mum replied. “But you know how I like it when you both match.” she smiled.
“But!” Peter said.
“It'll hardly get tattered and ruined doing homework Sophie.” Mum replied as she began climbing the stairs.
“I bet she wouldn't be doing this if George was here.” I moaned as soon as we were alone again. “He'd stand up for me.”
“He didn't stand up for me.” Peter said. “I'm glad he's not here.” he added.
This left me with the ill taste of guilt as I didn't really stand up for my brother either. Both George and I just laughed and giggled and gossiped and teased when Mum turned Peter into Sophie. And if George were here, I expect he'd treat me exactly the same way as we used to treat Peter. “Sorry I was mean to you.” I confessed.
Peter cast me a pursed smile. “That's OK.” he said. “Sometimes it's just easier to be mean that it is to be nice.” he added.
Philosophical statements have never been my strong point. In fact I can barely pronounce philosophical, let alone spell it. When it was me and George it seemed logical to side with him... boys sticking together and all that. Then without George's influence and heeding Mum's advice, I've tried to be more considerate to Peter and his situation. Even if he does dress like a girl all the time, he's still my brother and I like spending time with him. And unlike George, Peter did stand up for me when Mum first tried to get me to try on the sailor dress.
“How are you two getting on?” Mum asked as she returned.
“OK.” we simultaneously replied.
“How do you fancy a take-away?” she said.
Of course we fancied a take-away. I suggested KFC and Peter wanted pizza. I asserted that KFC is loads better than pizza. Peter pointed out that we can get a pizza delivered, and we'd have to go to get the KFC. An image popped into my head of us sitting in the KFC, chomping into our chicken drumsticks and scoffing fries, dressed exactly as we are now. “OK let's get pizza.” I said.
Peter and I continued doing our homework until the delivery arrived, at which point we helped each other into our aprons, cleared our books from the table and sat down to a rare take-away treat. As Peter and I cleared up after eating, Mum grinned at me and said I looked like I was ready to be confirmed.
“What's that?” I asked, looking down at myself in my white school shirt, white pinafore apron and white knee socks.
“When girl's get confirmed at church they wear a white dress...” Mum explained, “...not too dissimilar to your shirt and piny.” she added.
“One of the boys in my class wore a dress when he got confirmed...” Peter interjected, “...he said he looked like a ghost.” She grinned.
Mum grinned too but it didn't tickle me. Mum looked me up and down, smiled, then said, “I'll have to get you some shoes like Sophie's too.”
I gulped. I glanced at Peter's feet and as usual, he wore his shiny black Mary Jane's with their dreaded T-strap, heart shaped silver buckle and clumpy two inch heel. Worn with dark tights they don't look too bad I suppose, but with white socks they look horrendous.
After tidying up and finishing our homework, I asked if I could go and get changed. Mum glanced at the clock. “It'll be bath time soon so there's not much point.” she said.
“Bath time's an hour away.”
“Exactly.” Mum replied. “There's no point getting changed just for an hour is there?”
“I guess not.” I replied. Peter and I went to the sitting room to watch TV, but I probably spent more time looking at my bar lap, girlie knee socks and and the little skirt of my pinafore dress. It must be horrid wearing this to, from, and at school everyday, I thought. But then I figured it's probably not that bad if everyone wears the same. I recalled Peter telling me that he and the other boys have to play hop-scotch or skipping games during their break times. I didn't want to imagine skipping or playing hop-scotch in something this short, but imagine it I did.
Eventually, Peter was taken for his bath and twenty minutes later Mum shouted my name. “Oh Mu-um.... I can do this myself.” I moaned as she began getting me undressed. Mum said I'd only leave 'it' screwed up on the floor as she pulled the pinafore dress off me. A few minutes later I moaned “Oh Mu-um... I can bath myself.” when she plunged the sponge into the hot soapy water, grabbed my arm and started scrubbing me.
“You can get yourself wet but that's not the same as getting yourself clean.” Mum said as yet again she proceeded to bath me.
Once out of the bath, Mum followed me to my bedroom. “Oh Mu-um... I don't want that in there.” I moaned as she opened my wardrobe and hung the tartan pinafore inside.
“Oh Mu-um!” my mother said, mimicking me. “If you don't stop whining Andrew you'll spend all weekend wearing it.”
I stopped whining.
As I walked home from school on Monday afternoon, all I could think about was the prospect of wearing Peter's school uniform again. I hoped to high heaven that my mother wouldn't insist I wear it, but her first words after greeting me were “I've put your uniform out.”
“It's not my uniform...” I gulped. “...it's Sophie's.”
“It's yours until she grows into it.” Mum told me.
I tried to talk my way out of having to wear it, but it was futile. I sauntered up the stairs to find not only the tartan pinafore laid on my bed, but one of the white blouses like my brother wears and a pair of his white knee socks too. I immediately turned and began to whine, “Oh m...” but she was right behind me. I suggested that it would be better if I kept my own shirt on instead of 'getting that dirty', but my suggestion was dismissed.
“Do I have to wear these too?” I sulked, picking up the white knee socks in a way that would suggest they were in some way contaminated.
“Yes.” Mum replied.
“Can't I wear tights instead?” I asked. It may sound strange that as a boy, I'm asking to wear tights instead. But tights are plain and warm... these knee socks have those horrible patterns up the sides and being as white as the driven snow, look a lot more girlie.
“Because I want you in knee socks.” Mum replied.
“But I'll be cold.” I claimed.
“Nonsense.” Mum grinned. “You're not going out anywhere.” she added.
“But they're too girlie!” I whined.
Mum was having none of it, so reluctantly I changed into the blouse and pinafore before rolling the girlie white socks up my legs.
“You've got to make sure the pattern is nice and straight.” she said, prompting me to twist them this way and that until the pattern was indeed nice and straight. From beneath my bed, Mum removed a white box and said “I went shopping today.”
I gulped as she removed the lid. I can't say I was surprised when she revealed a pair of shoes identical to those my brother wears for school. “Oh... do I have to wear girl's shoes too?”
“Because boy's shoes won't look nice with your pinafore.” Mum said as she smoothed the skirt section of 'my' pinafore over my lap. “There's no point dressing like a girl if you don't look nice.”
“Well don't dress me like a girl then.” I moaned.
“Oh for goodness sake Andrew!” Mum sighed as she picked up my foot and slipped one of the shoes onto it. “Peter dresses like a girl all day every day, in and out of the house and you're complaining about the occasional hour.” she said as she fastened the buckle. It wasn't often she used his boy name, but when she did, she was being deadly serious. “You're supposed to be supporting your sister and showing her a bit of solidarity but all you can do is whine and moan and sulk about it.” she told me as she fastened the other shoe around my foot. I said nothing. I could have kicked either of my feet out of her hands but I didn't. I just sat there and let her fasten the Mary Jane's to my feet as she ranted. Once they were on didn't know what to do... I just sat as if frozen on the edge of my bed. “Well stand up, let's have a look.”
“These feel weird.” I said as I stood up in them. I looked down and all I could see was a girl.
“Heels do feel strange at first.” Mum said as she looked me up and down. “Just be careful running up and down the stairs in them.” she said.
“I don't think I'll be running anywhere in these.” I replied.
Mum looked me up and down and cast me a broad grin. “Come on... the sooner you get on with your homework the sooner you'll forget how nice you look.”
I reluctantly followed my mother out of my room and did indeed take care on the stairs. All those times I'd watched Peter descend these step wearing a variety of girlie outfits I wondered how it must have felt. Well now I'm getting an idea. It's somewhere between stupid and special. Once my feet struck the tiled kitchen floor I realised how noisy the heels on my shoes were, and once I'd sat myself down at the table I realised how much higher my knees were.
I was anticipating Peter's return nervously and imagined what it must be like having to wear this at school everyday. Peter tells me that she... sorry, 'he' has simply got used to wearing girl's clothes all the time. I recall him saying that if girl clothes were as bad as most boys think, then even the girls wouldn't wear them. I guess he's right. They're not that bad to wear but there's a big difference between wearing something and being seen wearing something. It's not so bad at home but there's no way I'd go outside dressed like this.
When Peter returned, Mum had me stand up so I could show him my new shoes. Of course he said I looked nice, but he goes to a school where he's used to seeing boys dressed like this. “Are those my socks?” Peter asked.
“You don't mind him borrowing them do you dear.” Mum replied.
Over the next few weeks, I sort of got used to the routine of getting changed into the Malham Hall uniform when I got home from school. Mostly Mum would put a pair of Peter's knee socks out for me, but if it was particularly cold outside she'd give me a pair of his bottle green school tights instead. I got used to wearing my new 'school' shoes and didn't even give their elevated heel a second thought. All the times I've thought how do girls walk in those?, and now I know
At this time of year the high street stores and television commercials are ramming Christmas down our throats. As a twelve year old Christmas really is something to get excited about. Both Peter and I were hoping for the latest games console and loads of cool games. We spent many an excited chat speculating whether we'd get Special Ops, NFS or FIFA, hoping Mum wouldn't skimp and buy us the old versions. “I bet she buys me something really lame like My Little Pony or Tinker Bell.” Peter sighed. “I'm gonna get so much girl stuff this year.” he gulped.
My heart went out to my brother and I can only admire him for putting a brave face on. “It'll be OK.” I said. “Mum'll come round and accept that you're not really a girl... one day.”
“Yeah maybe... but I'm not going to hold my breath.” Peter replied. “At least it's not just me anymore.” he added. “When George was here it was horrible... I just hid in my room all the time.”
“I'd forgotten about George.” I gulped. “I hope Mum doesn't make me wear a dress when he comes home.”
“Maybe she'll make him wear one too?” Peter grinned. Somehow I couldn't see that happening.
A couple of weeks later, Mum told us that George wouldn't be coming home for Christmas. He'd sent a Christmas card and enclosed an extensive letter. Mum read us the relevant bits and told us that he'd taken a really good job in a posh hotel which would see him through the holidays, and since it's not only paid well but also counts towards his course work (he's studying travel, tourism & hospitality), it's too good an opportunity for him to miss.
In spite of my claims that I wasn't looking forward to George returning home, I was a bit gutted that he wasn't coming back for Christmas because maybe, just maybe he'd talk some sense into our mother. Peter on the other hand was pleased to hear the news. In private he told me that his first Christmas as a girl is going to be bad enough without George's sneers and insults. I told Peter that it'd be OK and optimistically added that it could be his only Christmas as a girl if Mum sees sense. “I hope so.” he replied as he looked up at me, clearly on the verge of tears. “It wouldn't be so bad if she treated me like a girl my age.... but she treats me like a seven year old.” he whined, and quite rightly so. “Even Lauren says my bedroom's too girlie...” he said as we both cast our eyes around his bedroom walls. “...and she's a girlie girl!” he added.
“I'm just glad I don't have to dress like a girl all the time too.” I gulped as I smoothed my dress over my lap. “I don't mind the odd girlie day...” I said, today being one of them, “...but I don't know how you put up with it every day.”
“You just get used to it.” Peter replied. “And at least Mum dresses you your age.” he added.
I gulped as I looked at my blue sailor style frock, white tights and black Mary Jane style shoes. In comparison to Peter's prissy outfit, I guess mine is a lot more grown up. “I don't have to dress like a girl outside either.” I added. “Do you just get used to that too?”
Peter nodded. Just then we heard a knock on his bedroom door and Mum entered. “What are you two gossiping about?” she asked.
I gulped and said “Clothes.”
“Oh really?” Mum said with a smile.
I nodded and quizzed Mum why she always made 'Sophie' wear little girl dresses “...instead of something a bit more grown up.” I said, looking down at my frock, “Like this.”
“She doesn't 'always' wear little girl dresses.” Mum replied defensively. “But you've got to remember that Sophie missed out on being a little girl... and I missed out on having a little girl too.” She smiled admirably at Peter, or more accurately, his dress. “By rights I should be putting you in little girl dresses too.” Mum said to me, sending shivers down my spine.
“Why?” I whined.
“So you'd match your sister.” Mum grinned.
She left us alone after dropping a hint regarding Christmas and what we may or may not be getting.
It was late on Christmas eve. Peter and I had had our nightly bath and we sat watching TV. As usual I wore my girlie pyjamas and Peter wore a festive nightie which is pink with snowmen printed all over it. We were all looking forward to Christmas Day and I mentioned that I'd set my alarm clock for 5.00am. Mum said she had no intention of getting up before 7.00am and stressed that we weren't allowed to open any presents without her. I had a bit of a moan about this but Peter took Mum's side. Mum said she'd put a couple of presents out that we could unwrap before she was up, but stressed that we mustn't open any other presents without her... which seemed like a fair compromise.
On Christmas morning, I climbed out of bed and crept to Peter's room before quietly tapping on the door. “Pete?” I whispered as I slowly turned the handle and crept inside. “Pete.. You awake?”
“Yeah.” he groaned from beneath his duvet. “What time is it?” he murmured as his head emerged
“Quarter to six.” I whispered. Peter groaned. “Oh come on Pete... it's Christmas!” I pined.
Begrudgingly, Peter threw his legs out of bed, pulled his nightie down over his knees, pushed his fists through the sleeves of his dressing gown, slid his feet into his slippers, then yawned whilst rubbing his eyes.
I looked over to the small chest of drawers by the foot of his bed and the sizeable princess lamp perched on top of it. “Do you always sleep with that on?” I asked. If I slept with a 12” high plastic statuette of Cinderella that's illuminated from within, I'm sure it'd give me princess nightmares.
“I must've fallen asleep reading.” Peter replied as I he closed the large hardback book that lay on his duvet. I glanced at the title before he put it on his shelf: The Bumper Book for Girls.
“Don't you read any boy's books?” I asked after scanning the spines of his other books.
“I'm not allowed to.” Peter frowned. He perked up a bit though when he added, “Girl's books are OK.” I wasn't so sure, but what do I know? I've never read any. Come to think of it, I've not many boy's books either. “Come on...” Peter said. “But we've got to be quiet.”
We crept downstairs and into the sitting room. All was dark until Peter turned the big light on. The tree looked resplendent even without the fairy lights switched on and the floor beneath it is hidden under a vast array of brightly coloured gifts. True to her word, Mum had placed some presents on the coffee table which we could open without her. “Yours looks better than mine.” Peter commented as I picked up the two small packages that sat on top of a much larger one.
Initially I agreed with him as his are wrapped in pink and white Hello Kitty wrapping paper whilst mine are wrapped in blue paper peppered with snowmen and snowflakes. “Oooh.” I moaned as I unwrapped the first gift. “Maybe Mum got the labels mixed up?” I said as the wrapping paper dropped from my hand, leaving me holding a pair of 'Woolly Winter Tights'.
“Maybe.” Peter replied as he unwrapped a pair of red tights with white snowflakes on.
I wasn't quite as keen to unwrap the next gift, but I couldn't not unwrap it. “Ooh Mu-um.” I groaned. A 'Thermal Knickers & Vest Set' was attached to a strange plastic hanger. But it wasn't the hanger that worried me. The knickers and vest matched my tights almost perfectly, being white with green holly leaves.
“A least they're not pink.” Peter said as he opened his similar sized gift. “Oh there's a surprise... neither are mine!” he said, showing me his pair of red knickers with a snowflake pattern similar to his tights. The vest matched too.
“I hope this isn't what I think it is.” I gulped as I began unwrapping the large parcel mum had left out for us. I didn't rush. In fact I opened it slower than any gift I'd unwrapped before or since.
Peter lifted a deep red dress out of a mass of torn pink wrapping paper. It had long sleeves with white cuffs, a white round collar and a band of faux fur around the hem of its skirt. Inside my deceptively boyish wrapping paper I found an almost identical dress, but in dark green instead of deep red. Peter looked at my dress then my face. I cast a frown back. Being forever the optimist, Peter offered me a pursed smile before saying, “They're actually OK for Mum's tastes... they could have been a lot more girlie that this.”
You can't get anymore girlie than a dress! I thought, but I guess he was right. Most of Peter's frocks are pink or flowery and far more prissy than the relatively plain frock each of us held. “I hope she doesn't expect me to wear it.” I said as I plonked the dress along with the tights and underwear onto the sofa, before plonking myself on the armchair.
“I think she's hoping we'll be wearing them when she gets up.” Peter replied. “Otherwise she wouldn't have let us unwrap them.” he added.
Of course I challenged his perspective, but he was probably right. “Do I have to wear these too?” I gulped as I hesitantly picked up my festive underwear set.
Peter nodded. “She'll probably check.”
I had hoped that the Christmas break would deliver a few weeks worth of respite from having to dress as a girl, but looks like that hope has been dashed. At least when I change into my Malham Uniform I still wear my own undies beneath it. One thing I've never pulled up my legs is a pair of girl's knickers, but that's all about to change. At least they're not pink or frilly.
Our dresses have a zip running all the way up the back. After zipping my brother into his new dress, I turned to let him zip me into mine. Timidly we faced each other, then looked down at ourselves. “I really like it.” Peter said as he ran his hands over the soft velveteen fabric. “This material is lovely and warm.” he added, clearly enjoying wearing it. I just stood and looked at him, not knowing what to say. “Oh come on Andrew... think about all the really sissy dresses she normally buys... you must admit that this isn't bad.” he said to me. “And yours is much nicer than mine.” he said as he looked me up and down. I guess he has a point. My green dress isn't anywhere near as loud as his pillar box red one, and both are a lot better than most of Peter's other frocks. Peter was also right when he said that the fabric felt really nice... it did.
We sat and looked at the pile of gifts beneath the tree and speculated as to what was each may be. Understandably, Peter wasn't hugely excited as all his gifts were covered in a variety girlie wrappings, hinting at the gender of the gift within. As far as I could tell, all mine were in more traditional wrappings... but since I sat wearing a festive frock with festive tights and matching festive underwear, I couldn't be sure that all of my gifts would be 100% male. Of course I hoped they were... but I just couldn't be sure.
Mum appeared at 7.00am sharp and gushed over both of us. Peter didn't need any prompting to stand up and show off his frock. I on the other hand did. “Stand up Andrew... give us a twirl.” she grinned. Hesitantly I did as asked, without the twirl bit of course. She told me I looked very sweet and made me blush. “Stand together so I can get a photograph.” Mum insisted. I pleaded with her not to show it to anyone... especially George, and Mum agreed. “You look like Santa's little helpers.” she grinned as she previewed the photograph. “Big smile!” she said as she pointed the camera at us again.
Over the last six months I've got completely used to seeing my brother dressed as a girl. Even when he's out there's his school photo hanging next to George's graduation photo in the sitting room, which also shows Peter wearing a dress. I've even got used to dressing as a girl whilst I do my homework, and wearing my sailor dress occasionally... but this is the first time I've ever seen a photo of myself dressed like a girl. At least Peter looks like a girl with his lengthy wavy hair... I just look like a boy in a dress. “Right... what would you like for breakfast?” Mum asked “Bacon and eggs or chocolate?”
“Chocolate!” we replied in unison. Mum parked herself next to the tree and passed each of us a large flat parcel. Even with the wrapping in place, a selection box of candy is easily identifiable. Mine is themed around Toy Story which is a bit 'young' for me but that doesn't matter. It's the contents that count! Kit Kat, Marathon, Mars Bar, Flake, Double Decker, Chomp.... this could be the best breakfast ever. Predictably, Peter's selection box is a Disney Princess one, but the contents were the same. We chomped through a few candy bars and washed them down with a chocolate milkshake... then Mum proceeded to hand out the rest of our gifts.
This year there's no chance of getting our gifts mixed up as mine are all in 'normal' wrapping paper and Peter's are all in girlie wrapping paper. We both may well be wearing dresses but Peter's still the one getting a bum deal this Christmas. He appeared to be grateful for the Cinderella stationery set, the Tinker Bell toe socks, the Barbie bead jewellery kit, the Hello Kitty radio alarm clock, several packs of colourful woolly tights, the sparkly pink hat, gloves and scarf set, the giant blister pack of hair clips, bobbles, bands and slides... plus a few skirts, dresses, blouses and more knickers than I cared to count! He feigned his appreciation admirably... far better than I could have, but it was clear to me that he'd have prefered an altogether more boyish Christmas. On the upside though, Mum had managed to find him an entire volume of vintage Girl's Own Adventure stories, which he was genuinely chuffed with.
I unwrapped the usual gloves, scarf, socks and slippers, a couple of books, a digital watch, a calculator, a stationery set and the inevitable pack of underpants. Why Mum thinks a pack of underpants makes a good present I'll never know. But at least I wasn't unwrapping loads of girlie stuff.
“Now this is for both of you.” Mum said as she placed a large gift on the coffee table in front of us. We both had a good idea what was inside and both wasted no time ripping off the paper. Neither of us could contain our excitement and both of us wanted to plug it in straight away. Mum passed us each a DVD sized gift... mine is clad sparkly blue wrapping paper, Peter's in pink. We knew it was a video game each, but which one we had no idea. I was over the moon with the latest Special Ops game. Peter was clearly less enthusiastic about his Princess Adventures video game, but pretended he liked it more than he did. The console itself came with the FIFA soccer game and a sports compendium which boasted over 40 different games... so there's plenty of non-girlie games for him/us to play.
“Can we plug it in Mum?!” I asked, almost bouncing off the sofa with excitement.
“It's a bit early for video games.” Mum said, “Plus there's still loads of presents left.” she added. Mum said we could plug it in after 10.00am and after we've had some 'proper' breakfast. I glanced at the clock. It's just gone 7.45am and 10.00am seems like weeks away. “Pull your dress down Andrew... I can almost see your knickers.” Mum said with a grin.
I pulled my frock over my lap just as quickly as I felt myself blush. “Sorry.” I sheepishly said. In spite of enduring regular petticoating since early November, today is the first time I've worn knickers. The fact that I'd forgotten about them didn't sit easy with me.
“You have got your new knickers on haven't you?” Mum asked.
I forced a smile through pursed lips and nodded. “Are you going to turn me into a girl too?” I asked, making sure I sounded as miserable as possible about the prospect.
“Of course not.” Mum smiled. “Sophie's my girl and you're my boy.” she said. “But even boys can have the occasional girlie day.” she added. This was followed by an uncomfortable silence which Mum broke by asking us if we were warm enough. Peter and I nodded. Mum put her hand on my knee and said, “These tights do look nice and warm.” as she rubbed the thick woolly fabric with her thumb.
“My dress is nice and warm too.” Peter added as he ran his fingers over the velveteen fabric.
“That's why I bought them.” Mum smiled and spent a moment admiring us. I forced a smile and look at my festive frock and festive tights and thanked my lucky stars that my big brother wasn't here to witness this. “Right, shall we have a bit of a clear up before we start on the next batch?” Mum suggested.
After clearing up the discarded wraping paper and gift tags, Mum asked 'Sophie' is he'd take his nightie & dressing gown along with my pyjamas up to our rooms, and he did.”Mum?” I asked.
“Yes dear.” she replied.
“Would you have bought me a dress if George was here?”
“I don't know.” she replied. “But George isn't here so there's no point worrying about it.”
“I guess.” I gulped as I stared at my knees and the faux-fur trim of my festive frock.
“It means an awful lot to Sophie you know.” Mum told me. “Even if she's not your little brother anymore... she still looks up to you.”
Peter returned and asked if we could open some more presents. “Of course.” Mum said. “In fact...” she began as she routed beneath the tree. “There's a couple here which I forgot to wrap with your dresses.”
I feared the worst as I took the gift from her. But it wasn't that bad, being a green Santa style hat that matched my dress. Peter unwrapped a red one and immediately wore it. I followed suit. My hat might have looked daft but it was warm and cosy and unisex... so it stayed on my head. Mum took another photo of us sat together on the sofa. “Oh that's a nice one!” she said as she showed us the preview on the back of her camera. “I'll print one off to put on the telly.” she suggested.
“Please don't Mum.” I moaned. Mum assured me that she was only teasing, which I'd sort of suspected. One can't be too cautious I suppose. Especially since she wasted no time in showing Peter off to all and sundry after turning him into Sophie. Dressing like a girl isn't so bad, so long as no one else knows.
The rest of our gifts were mostly knick-knacks and stocking fillers. All in all we ended up with seven selection boxes each, as well as boxes of Maltesers, Matchmakers and After Eight mints, trivia books, and DVDs... mine being boyish and Peter's all being girlie. I did get a pair of slipper socks which I suspected to be girls, but I wasn't sure so I didn't say anything. They are nice and warm though. I felt sorry Peter who opened one girlie gift after another. How many hair accessories and items of underwear can one girl need? I thought as I ripped open yet another sparkly present. “Are these for me?” I hesitantly asked.
Mum peered in my direction and the gift in question. “Yes, they are.” she said with a smile.
“Why” I moaned before dropping my head to look at not one, but five pairs of knickers on my lap!
“To wear of course.” Mum smugly replied.
“Oh.” I sulked. “I was hoping I wouldn't get any more girl stuff.”
“And I was hoping you'd be a bit more grateful Andrew.” Mum replied, making me feel just a little guilty. “There's nothing wrong with having a few girlie things, even when you are the man of the house.” she said as she leant over to me. “And if you look here... you'll see that these are for boys.” she added, tapping her fingernail on the label.
I don't recall thanking her but she did say 'You're welcome' so I guess I must have. I looked at the label again and said “I didn't know they made knickers for boys too.”
“They make lots of nice things for boys these days.” Mum smiled.
I put my knickers with my other presents and Mum passed each of us another gift. This time I took a leaf out of Peter's book, swallowed my pride and feigned gratitude. To go with my knickers I now have a matching pack of cropped vests. Again the label stated they were for boys, but the style suggested otherwise. Next I unwrapped a pack of girlie white knee socks. Mum said I've been borrowing Peter's for long enough and now I've got my own. I had a little moan and reminded her that I actually prefer wearing tights when I wear the Malham Uniform. Mum said she knew as she passed me my next gift, and low and behold it was a pack of bottle green school tights. My thanks for these was actually genuine, but on unwrapping yet another pack of knickers I returned to faking it. Mum told me that these were school knickers and pointed out the phrase 'Back To School' emblazoned on the pack. I noticed it also stated 'Boys', so maybe they weren't so bad, I thought as I put them with my other gifts.
“Andrew you've hardly looked at them.” Mum said disapprovingly. “Even if they weren't on your wish list, you should at least pretend you're grateful.” she told me. “Sophie can do it.” she added.
I mumbled an apology and picked up the box and looked at it. Mum advised me to open the box and have a proper look, which I reluctantly did. A trembling hand removed a rolled up pair of panties, which I carefully unfolded and laid them on my lap. I gulped and said they were 'nice'. “They are aren't they.” Mum said as she took them from my lap, admired them and passed them back to me. These were followed by another gift; a matching pack of white vests with a similar lacy trim. At least these weren't cropped like the others, but they were just as girlie in spite of the label stating 'boys'.
I gulped as I envisaged going back to school and everyone talking about what they got for Christmas. Of course I had plenty to boast about, what with the games console, Special Ops, a digital watch and much much more. I'd just have to make sure that I don't mention my dress or my socks & tights, my vests and definitely not my knickers! “Do I have to wear these at school?” I asked.
“Well I was thinking for after school, when you're wearing your other uniform.” Mum replied. “But you can wear them at school if you want.” she added.
“Er, no!” I thought. Even if the label does state that they are for boys, they're still knickers. I placed the packs of 'school' vests and knickers alongside my other gifts and received the next brightly coloured offering. I prepared for the worst but contrary to my expectations, this really was something for a boy. A new winter jacket, and a really cool one at that. It had Air Force patches on the sleeves, epaulettes on the shoulders and pen loops over the breast pocket. I thrust my arms into the sleeves and clearly over the moon with it, found my reflection in the hallway mirror. The new jacket did indeed look 'cool', but my focus quickly shifted to the green velvet dress and white festive tights beneath it. I returned to the sitting room and Mum asked if I liked my new jacket. Of course I did!
Mum turned her attention back to Peter who was pushing his arms into his new winter coat. Unlike mine, his was girlie with flashes of pink ruffled lace contrasting with the dark blue quilted fabric. It had a band of pink fur around the hood which is replicated around the cuffs, and two pink furry pompoms hang from the ends of the hood's drawstring. It went almost to his knees and completely concealed his dress. George went to the big hallway mirror and Mum looked at me with a broad grin on her face. “What?” I asked.
“Nothing.” Mum replied. “I just think you look nice, that's all.”
She could make me blush at the drop of a hat, which I did. I looked down at myself and my white tights with their holly leaf pattern, the band of faux-fur around the hem of my green velvet dress and my brand new jacket. The ensemble didn't really work but it wasn't bad. I was at least thankful that she'd bought me a 'normal' dress and not something really prissy like half of Peter's.
I cast my eyes to the foot of the tree. There were only a few gifts left and I wondered if any more of mine would be girlie. I looked at Peter's pile of gifts; a resplendent display of pinks, purples and lilacs. He got more clothes than anything else, which seemed like a shame to me. My pile was far more palatable and contained far less clothing. On top of my pile sits my new knickers, vests, socks and tights. They're not ideal but it could have been worse, and I guess it's good that my brother's not the only one getting girlie gifts this Christmas... good for him anyway.
After eating a proper breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast, Mum finally let us plug our new games console. First we played FIFA, but Peter kept beating me so we switched to playing Special Ops. After an hour of that, Mum suggested we try another game as the gunfire and explosions were beginning to give her a headache.
We wanted to try out the numerous games in the sports compendium, but Mum said that we should play 'Sophie's' game next because it looked 'nice'. The Princess Adventures is a collect and effect game in which one or two players choose one of the eleven Disney Princesses and collect gold coins that can be found in variety of landscapes. There's also flowers to pick and butterflies to find, and according to the blurb on the box, elusive flower fairies that grant magical wishes. Being a girl's game aimed at the 4-8 age group, it was really really easy. Each princess had different powers and moves, and the coins they collected could be exchanged for new costumes which were required to progress to the next level. The flowers we collected could be arranged in your 'princess bedroom' and providing the display is big enough and colourful enough, the butterflies we'd collected wouldn't fly off. It also had lots of mini-games including coconut shy, balloon bounce, princess tennis, a horribly girlie version of Asteroids and a despicable dance along game, which Mum insisted we play. It wasn't all bad as the bowling game was a lot of fun, as was the sledging game in the Winter Wonderland level. By the time Christmas dinner was ready, we'd actually spent more time playing Princess Adventures than we had playing FIFA and Special Ops combined, but this is one detail I won't be boasting about at school in the new year.
We turned off the console, donned our pinafore aprons and sat down for Christmas dinner. “The Princess Adventures game is a lot of fun isn't it.” Mum said. “Much nicer than all that shooting and blowing things up.”
“It's too easy.” I said, before sort of bragging about how many coins, flowers and butterflies I'd collected.
“And which Princess were you playing as?” Mum asked.
“Rapunzel.” I sheepishly replied. “She's got really long hair that she can use as a rope and climb trees and buildings and things.”
“And a lasso.” Peter added.
“And which princess did you play Sophie?” she asked.
“Merida.” he replied. “She has a bow and arrow.”
“I've not heard of her before.” Mum said, which prompted us all having a conversation about which princess if from which film. Of course Mum and Peter are more knowledgeable than I on the subject... I didn't even know which film Rapunzel was in.
“I think Tangled is in that Princess DVD box set that Sophie for Christmas.” Mum informed me. “Maybe we should watch it after dinner.” she suggested.
I wasn't keen because it sounded lame, but watch it we did and I must admit (but not publicly mind), I really enjoyed it. At around 7.00pm, Mum suggested that Peter and I have a bath before getting ready for bed. We both moaned about this, it being Christmas Day and all, but Mum reminded Peter that he has a bath every day and today is no exception. Mum, then told me that since I'm having a girl day too, I should also have a bath. “Anyway I've got one more surprise for you.” she tentatively added, more in my direction than Peter's.
Peter had his bath first, then I had mine. Instead of putting my pyjamas on afterwards, I went back down stairs wearing my bathrobe and nothing else. Mum pulled the remaining gifts from beneath the tree and passed them to each of us. My gut feeling was right and this 'one last surprise' was something girlie... very girlie! Peter unwrapped a Cinderella sleepwear set and I unwrapped a Princess Aurora one. Peter's is mostly blue in colour but mine is exclusively pink, consisting of a long sleeved nightie, a short sleeved nightie, a vest and some 'sleep' shorts. Only the shorts didn't have a picture of Princess Aurora on and when I expressed a little disapproval, Mum apologised and said, “I'd have bought you the Rapunzel one if I'd known she was your favourite.”
I looked over at Peter's sleepwear set and felt a little bit envious. Given the choice, if I have to wear a nightie I'd rather wear a blue one... even if it does have Cinderella on it! But I wasn't given the choice and I spent the rest of Christmas day wearing a pink long sleeved nightie bearing an image of Princess Aurora in a love heart on the front, along with a pair of pink girlie slippers over a pair of fluffy pink bed socks.
Peter asked me if he could sleep in my room since George's bed was vacant. I told him that it's OK with me so long as it's OK with Mum, and she said “Yes”. When Peter and I finally went to bed, Mum had put Peter's duvet on George's bed. Thankfully my duvet cover was left unchanged, unlike me. I was a little unsettling chatting to my brother as he lay under a frilly pink duvet with a silhouette of ballerina on it, complete with an actual lace tutu. What is more unsettling is the nightie I hide beneath my duvet. It's a frilly pink monstrosity that rivals Peter's prissiest dresses and it's puffy pink sleeves are constantly in the corner of my eye. I consider removing it and stuffing it somewhere out of sight, but Peter said, “Mum might check... and I don't mind... I always dress like a girl.”
He had a point. I swallowed my pride and encouraged myself to be less self conscious about my nightie. I propped my elbow on my pillow and pulled my duvet down a little, revealing the white love heart that contains the image of 'my' Princess Aurora. Peter told me that Aurora's way cooler than Cinderella, the princess emblazoned on the front of his new nightie. I suppose he's probably right but I'll just have to take his word for it. We stayed up talking for a while and I had a little moan about getting 'loads of girl stuff' for Christmas. Peter pointed out that I'd got hardly any girlie stuff compared to him, and again he was absolutely right. “How many new dresses did you get?” I asked.
“Four.” he replied. “Plus five skirts.”
“How many have you got altogether?” I asked.
Peter shrugged. “I dunno... too many to count... about twenty I guess... not including skirts.”
“It must be boring dressing like a girl all the time.” I said.
“It's anything but boring.” Peter replied. “But that doesn't mean I enjoy it... I mean, it's OK being a girl, it's just weird with everyone knowing I'm not really a girl.” he explained before adding, “Real girls don't have to wear dresses all the time.”
“You wear your dungarees sometimes.” I reminded him.
“Yeah but proper girls wear jeans and hoodies all the time, they don't always wear skirts and dresses and stuff like me.” he sulked. “Anyway, she's only let me wear my dungarees twice since bonfire night.” he added.
My mood dropped as I cast my mind back to the worst night of my life when I wet myself in front of some kids from my school. I still get called 'pissy knickers' on the odd occasion at school, and I reckon they'd call me even worse names if they knew what I'd been given for Christmas. I drifted of to sleep feeling sorry for myself, but couldn't help but thumb the frilly trim of my new nightie.
The next morning, Peter and I had breakfast whilst wearing our new nighties. It felt strange with him wearing blue and me wearing pink, but I guess we were equally girlie. Mum must have told us how sweet and pretty and adorable we looked about twelve times before Peter asked if he could go and get dressed. Mum planted her hands on his shoulders and said, “Would you like to wear your dungarees today?” Of course he did, but that had the knock-on effect of me having to wear my dungarees too. “Are you going to wear your new knickers today Andrew?” Mum asked me.
I had a feeling she wouldn't take no for an answer, but I wasn't going to say yes either. “Er... am I?” I replied.
“Well I think it would be nice.” she said. “Just make sure your knickers and vest match.” she added. “And save your school knickers for after school.” she advised. I left Peter to clear the breakfast dishes and went to the the sitting room and my huge pile of Christmas gifts. Everything was there apart from my new undies, socks and tights, so after having a bit of route I returned to the kitchen. “Mum I can't find them.” I said.
“Can't find what?” she asked.
“My... knickers.” I hesitantly replied. For a boy it's hard enough just saying the word 'knickers', let alone putting the word 'my' in front of it.
“I put them in your drawer so they wouldn't get mixed up with Sophie's.” Mum replied in an overly chirpy tone of voice.
I went to my room and my heart dropped when I opened my underwear drawer to find it half full of neatly folded knickers, vests and crop tops alongside my boys undies. Of the coloured ones, the least girlie pattern was white with blue and purple stripes, so I selected those along with a matching crop top. I couldn't wait to get out of my pink princess nightie but wasn't looking forward to pulling on my new girlie underwear either.
As luck would have it, Mum decided to walk in just as I was putting my crop top on. I felt myself go bright red, standing in only my knickers and little crop top, which I know is essentially a training bra. She said they looked nice and complimented my choice of colour, before telling me to fold my nightie properly (it was scrunched up on my duvet) and put it under my pillow ready for tonight. Whilst I did that, Mum got my dungarees out along with the girlie blue T-shirt she likes me to wear with them. Then she straightened the duvet on George's old bed. “Would you like Sophie to stay in your room again tonight?” she asked.
“If she wants to.” I replied.
“I think Sophie's got an Aurora duvet cover.” she said in an uncertain tone. “I could route it out and put it on your bed, then it'd match your nightie.” she smiled.
“I don't really want a girlie duvet too mum... sleeping in that nightie was bad enough.” I gulped as I pulled my dungarees on.
“It can't have been that bad.” Mum grinned. “You'd have taken it off if it was.” she said, “And you were definitely wearing it when I checked on you.”
“I still don't want a girlie duvet though.” I moaned.
In spite of my request, that evening I found that Mum had switched my duvet cover for one of Peter's, and it did indeed match my nightie with its big picture of Princess Aurora decorating the ghastly pink fabric. “Is that my duvet?” Peter asked when we went to bed. I nodded and said Mum had put it on. “Is it yours now?” he asked.
“I hope not.” I replied, fearful of actually getting under it.
Peter slept in my room most of that week, and Peter's Aurora duvet cover stayed on my bed for the duration too. I feared Mum might move him and all his girlie things in permanently, but she didn't. By New Year's Eve, Peter was back to his own bedroom and my room was all 'boy' again... well apart from the dresses in my wardrobe and the nighties, PJs & girlie underwear in my drawers... underwear in which my mother had stitched a tag bearing the word 'Andrew'. Mum said it was so my frillies wouldn't get mixed up with Sophie's in the wash. I'd have preferred it if she'd labelled Peter's undies instead of mine, but Mum claimed that Sophie has far too many and it was simply easier to stitch a label into each item of my girlie undies.
When we did go back to school in the new year, a couple of my friends felt sorry for Peter when I told them about all the girlie stuff he'd got for Christmas. They remember him as a boy and still can't get their heads around the fact that he now lives as a girl, even after all this time. I said nothing of my own girlie gifts, nor spending Xmas day wearing a dress. I did slip up by admitting to watching Tangled on Christmas Day and enjoying it... this resulted in a bit of teasing but nothing I couldn't handle. Rapunzel is both cool and sassy in that film, even if she is just a cartoon character.
Every school day my Mum would ritually lay out the Malham Hall uniform on my bed ready for my return home, along with a clean pair of my frilly white 'school' knickers, a matching vest and either a pair of either white knee socks or bottle green tights. I'd rather not have to wear a girl's school uniform whilst doing my homework, but it did ensure that my homework did get done and did have the knock on effect of my grades gradually improving. Not surprisingly, my mother claimed that the improvement was (in part) due to me studying whilst petticoated. I claimed that it's more likely due to me simply taking the time to study properly instead of rushing through my assignments the night before they're due. I suggested we test my theory by spending a week or a month not changing into the Malham Hall uniform, but Mum said it's not worth risking my grades over and said that petticoating is a tried and tested study aid. “Just look at Sophie grade if you don't believe me.” she suggested.
Since Christmas, whenever Mum picked up a 'few things' for Peter, there was a good chance she'd pick up a few things for me too. Gradually my underwear drawer became overrun with girlie undies and I often found myself having to route through them in order to find a pair of my old boy's undies... and each & every girlie item had my name written on a label. I used to wonder how Peter managed to put up with so much girl stuff in his life, but I soon came to realise that one simply puts up with it. I didn't mind wearing girl's clothes after a while so long as my friends and neighbours didn't find out... or my older brother for that matter.
George wrote to Mum every month and Mum told us he was having a 'whale of a time' at college (Mum's words, not his). He was due to come home at Easter and I can't help but admit that I was dreading his return. Since Christmas the girlie side of my wardrobe has been added to considerably. Mum always used the same excuse when a new frock appeared, claiming she'd bought it for Peter but it was a bit too big for 'her'. When Mum told us that George had taken another hotel job that would see him through the Easter holidays, I was naturally relieved. But I also felt that George had abandoned Peter and I in the house of freaks as he called it. I reckon these holiday jobs are just an excuse George is using to avoid returning home. I wouldn't be surprised if they were a big lie and that George is in fact spending the holidays just hanging out with his new mates, playing pool and drinking beer. Whatever the truth... I'm glad he's not going to witness both Peter and I being regularly petticoated.
Unlike Broadoak Road School which has one uniform for the whole year, Malham Hall has a separate winter and summer uniform. I'd got used to wearing the winter pinafore and blouse after school each day, but from Easter through 'til October, Peter has to wear the summer uniform... and in Mum's eyes, that means I do too.
It felt weird at first as the purple & white gingham dress is so much thinner and lighter than the woolly pinafore I'd become accustomed to, but after a couple of weeks I just got used to it. As springtime progressed and days grew warmer, I began to wonder why my school doesn't have a summer uniform too. My long school trousers can be unbearably clammy on some particularly warm days and I actually looked forward to getting home and changing into my light and airy school dress.
“So you did like it... eventually.” Bekah said, dragging my thoughts from the past to the present day. I'd given Bekah a highly edited version of the events detailed above. The story I told Bekah didn't involve 'Sophie' at all, just Peter as a normal boy attending a not so normal school. I also left out any mention of the girlie aprons we had to wear for supper and chores, and of course the incident on bonfire night when I'd wet myself. I twisted the facts to imply that since Peter dressed like a girl at school, Mum thought it would be nice to buy him some girl's clothes to wear at home too. I felt it was better to keep Mum's near breakdown within the family, and gave Bekah a story that was more palatable and far less freaky than the whole truth.
I cringed a little before replying. “Not so much 'liked' it.” I claimed. “Once I'd got over the initial stage fright, the worst thing about girl's clothes was other people knowing.”
“But you're telling me.” she said.
I gulped and looked her in the eyes. “I guess I needed to tell someone... it's been this huge secret lurking in my skull and you're the first person I've trusted enough to tell.”
“Well you can trust that I won't tell.” she reassured. “Do you still dress like a girl?” she asked after a short comfortable silence.
“No.” I replied. “It pretty much stopped when I left school.”
“Does Peter?” she asked.
“Only at school. He's in sixth form now doing A-levels...” I replied. “...and hoping to get into Oxford.” I proudly added.
“Wow... I guess everything they say in favour of petticoating must be true if he's going to Oxford.” Bekah replied before enquiring about my older brother again.
“He works on cruise ships and earns shit loads.” I told her. “I've not seen him for years.” I shrugged. “He went off to college in Wolvingham and hasn't come home since.” I explained. “He writes occasionally and sends Mum a big fat cheque every month...but other than that I don't really know.”
“You don't sound too bothered.” Bekah noticed.
“We used to get on really well but as soon as he left high school he turned into a proper w*nker.” I told her. “I know he's my big brother and all but... any admiration I had for him is long lost.” I paused. “Saying that... he does send money back to Mum, which is pretty good of him I suppose.” I added. “I guess it would be nice to see him again... but I ain't going to lose any sleep over it.”
“I'm a bit like that with my big sis.” Bekah told me. “All she can talk about is how much money her husband earns and how much their car cost and how much they're going to spend on this, that or the other.” she ranted. “I mean... good on her because we grew up with fuck all, but why she needs to go on and on and on about money all the time I've no idea.”
“Have you just got one sister then?” I asked.
“Yeah.” Bekah replied. After a brief silence, she said. “Sorry to keep going on about it but... when was the last time?”
“The last time... what?” I asked knowingly.
“The last time you wore a dress.” she grinned
“Er....” I replied as I cast my mind back. “...10th of July.”
“This year!?!” Bekah exclaimed.
I gulped and nodded. “It was Peter's graduation day.”
“Wow! That's like... twelve weeks ago! I was expecting something like... a year or two!!” Bekah said. “What did you wear?”
“Oh...” I began. “...a skirt & blouse.” I recalled, before admitting that the outfit also included a handbag, high heeled shoes and make-up.
“Eeek!” Bekah almost recoiled. “Can you walk in heels then?”
I nodded. “Not that I have any plans to.” I added with a smile as I tucked a stray lock of hair behind my ear.
“What did you do with your hair?” she asked.
“What did Mum do with my hair you mean?” I replied as a nervous smile swept my face. “She curled it.” I said as I checked the time. “I think we're late for C&C Studies.” I added.
“Shit!” Bekah exclaimed as she too checked the time. “Should we skip it?”
“Well we've missed half of it already so we may as well miss the rest.” I replied. Bekah nodded so I pulled my cigarettes from my jacket pocket and removed two from the pack. We sat in silence for a moment, smoking.
“I suppose in a way, you're quite lucky.” Bekah suggested in a thoughtful tone. I replied with a slightly perplexed look. “Well...” she began as she re-lit her fag. “...you know what it's like to be a girl more than most guys do.”
“I know what it's like to dress as a girl.” I replied. “No idea what it's like being one.” I added before drawing on my cigarette. “But I see what you're getting at.” I felt slightly embarrassed after confessing so much to Bekah but it also felt good getting it off my chest, even if it was a highly edited version of the events detailed above. She didn't need to know every last little thing, but I suppose for those of you reading this, it's only fair that I tell you exactly what happened to Peter...
As mentioned, my brother Peter is in sixth form studying for his A-levels and has a very good chance of getting into Oxford. He lived as Sophie for just under two years and went back to being Peter aged thirteen when his voice began to break. I guess that shattered the illusion of 'Sophie' in Mum's eyes and things at home went back to normal... well sort of. Sophie had gone, along with most of her prissy dresses and her girlie pink bedroom became Peter's 'lad-pad'. However Peter did continue to attend Malham Hall High School which meant that he continued to dress as a girl every school day.
In spite of Mum seeing sense regarding Sophie, she still insisted that our petticoating would continue on a part-time basis. I stopped moaning when Mum informed me that I'd be joining Peter at Malham Hall High School. “There are grants available so I could make it happen 'if' necessary.” she told me. Whether this was an actual fact or an idle threat, I've never been sure. But I wasn't prepared to test her.
Part-time petticoating meant that I continued to change into my girl's uniform after school everyday. It was a routine I was used to and my brother wore his uniform too, so it wasn't exactly the end of the world. When I grew out of one uniform it was handed down to my brother and another was purchased in my size. When I'd outgrown one pair of school shoes I was bought another (although often from charity shops)... and Mum made sure I always had a clean pair of knickers, knee socks or tights to wear too. It wasn't ideal but it wasn't that bad either... it was the odd occasion that Mum suggested we wear one of our 'Sunday' dresses that I didn't like. These were the dresses we each received every Christmas and every birthday. It wasn't always a Sunday on which we had to wear them, but it was often a dreary rainy day as Mum said we were the next best thing to sunshine. I recall being bright red with embarrassment on those days so maybe she was onto something. Sometimes it was a weekly event, sometimes monthly, but the days when Mum exclaimed “Why don't you boys put your Sunday dresses on today!” seemed to come often enough. One particularly miserable Whitsun break, I recall we wore a 'Sunday' dress most of that week.
Since Peter stopped pretending to be 'Sophie' and Mum stopped pretending she had a daughter, she fussed over us in equal measure on the days we wore our dresses. I got first hand experience of how it felt having to sit for ages whilst Mum added curls, ribbons, slides and clips to my hair. I may have looked ridiculous but the process felt kind of nice. I don't think I'll ever stop feeling guilty for teasing Peter when he first became Sophie. I detested him for just going along with it, but it was only through being petticoated myself did I realise how easy it is.
I guess I'm not alone in wondering if being petticoated would have an effect on ones gender, and I speculated on many occasions if my Peter would turn out to be gay or something. That idea was put to bed when it was revealed that Peter had a girlfriend. I was a little jealous that my little brother had found a girlfriend before I had, and when he started going to her house to study after school, I felt a bit lonely too. I was chuffed for him... don't get me wrong... it just felt weird being petticoated when he wasn't being petticoated with me.
His girlfriend is quite pretty and nice enough. She also attended Malham Hall so was used to seeing him wearing both boys and girl's clothes, but according to my brother, she doesn't encourage him to wear girl's clothes outside of school. Peter's girlfriend did call round unannounced one day when we both wore our Sunday dresses, which was pretty embarrassing... but she wasn't phased at all. Looking back it was kind of funny with me and Pete wearing prissy frocks whilst the only girl wore a pair of jeans and a jumper.
As things currently stand, Peter is in his first year of sixth form studying his A-levels and has a steady girlfriend. I'm in my second year of college and have the hots for Bekah (although what she thinks of me after this confession I currently don't know), and our big brother George is off having a fruitful career in the travel, tourism & hospitality industry, seemingly happily avoiding the 'house of freaks'.
I wonder if George even knows or cares that things are back to normal now. I've only been petticoated once since leaving school and as far as I know, Mum hasn't petticoated Peter since he graduated either (his sixth form attire doesn't count). I suppose George might know all this anyway as Mum often writes to him and I know that he writes to Mum every month without fail, enclosing a big fat chunk of his pay cheque with every letter. I suppose it's good of him to continually chip in to the family purse, and I know Mum appreciates the money. But I also think it's guilty money he offers in exchange for avoiding us for all these years. Like I said to Bekah, it'd be nice to see him again but I'm not holding my breath. We've all moved on reasonably well without him.
I kept most of the details of Peter's graduation day to myself when I mentioned it to Bekah. That was the last time I was petticoated, and these are most of the details...
As his final high school year cam to an end, Peter was naturally very excited about graduating from Malham Hall High School, and I was excited for him. No longer would he have to wear the summer & winter uniforms he'd grown so accustomed to over the last five years, and for the graduation ceremony he's going to be wearing 'grown-up' clothes for once. I was a bit bemused at how much he enthused over the new clothes Mum had bought him; a pair of black court shoes, a smart straight skirt, thin 'grown-up' tights and a plain white blouse. It was a very conservative outfit and compared to his old prissy dresses, could be considered boring or even daggy. But seeing how happy it made him was something of a revelation. He may be dressed as a girl but at least he's dressed as a normal girl, or more accurately, a young woman. He was happy and I was happy for him, but I couldn't help but wonder if he'd have been happier if he could wear male attire instead.
I mentioned this to Mum and she suggested that it would be nice if I showed my support by wearing something similar to his graduation ceremony. Of course I tried to talk my way out of it but Mum managed to talk me into it. She assured me that there'd be plenty of other petticoated boys and young men in attendance and like Peter, I could wear something 'grown-up' rather than the girlie frocks I used to wear. I agreed on the proviso that I'd go as Peter's big sister 'Andrea' and not his brother who just happens to be dressed as a woman. Initially, the idea of passing myself off as a female seemed better than attending as a seventeen year old petticoated male, but I began to have second thoughts when Mum said I'd have to wear a 'proper' bra.
Mum suggested we give 'Andrea' a trial run and did my hair and make-up one evening. She did make me look very feminine, but looking feminine isn't the same as looking female. I quickly realised that there'd be no way I'd fool anyone so I reluctantly agreed to attended the ceremony as Peter's petticoated brother.
“Oh do I have to?” I moaned when Mum said we should go shopping to find my outfit. My biggest fear was that someone I know might spot me browsing the skirts & dresses in one of the department stores. “Can't you just choose something?” I suggested.
“I could.... but we need to make sure it fits you.” Mum replied, “And I'm sure you'd feel more comfortable in something you've chosen.” she added. “You know what my taste can be like!”
She had a point. Mum did tend to go for the prissy styles so to avoid me looking like a meringue (or worse), I agreed to accompany her. She took me into Crickley rather than Covenworth, which was a bit of a relief as hardly anyone in Crickley knows who I am. I was a still a bag of nerves as we strolled down the high street, and this wasn't alleviated as Mum drew my attention to every single female mannequin in every shop window display. She told me which styles she liked and which she felt were inappropriate for the occasion. I asked her if she'd keep her voice down a bit, and Mum apologised. “I'm so used to shopping with Peter.” was her excuse. We didn't enter any of the department stores or boutiques as we strolled along the high street, but paused in front of each one whilst Mum asked my opinions and said things like “You'd look nice in that”, “That skirt would suit you” and “Would you prefer a dress?” in a voice still far too loud for comfort. “Ah, here we are.” she said as we came to a lingerie shop... the sort with a variety of hideous control garments on display in the window.
I gulped as we stepped inside. My eyes nervously panned around the interior which was filled with limbless & headless mannequins clad in panties, bras, girdles, suspender belts and corsets. Promotional posters bore images of models wearing similar garments... but something didn't look quite right as some of the models looked suspiciously boyish, and in one case the model looks positively masculine. Mum approached the counter and I sheepishly followed. She wasted no time informing the owner that I needed measuring for some control briefs and a bra.
I almost swallowed my tongue on hearing this. “I thought wouldn't be wearing a bra!” I gulped.
“No Andrew, I said you wouldn't be wearing a proper bra.” Mum retorted. “You'll be wearing a 'flat' bra.” she added.
I lifted my T shirt so my chest measurement could be taken. Then I unfastened my jeans whilst my waist and hip measurements were taken. The owner jotted the sizes on a notepad and asked my mother if I'd be 'taking a size smaller'. “Of course.” my mother replied. This puzzled me. What's the point of taking my measurements, only to get what's essentially the wrong size?
Mum selected a pair of white knickers that she liked the look of. They looked quite similar in style to my old white school knickers with their lace trimmed high waist and low legs, but were somehow much more serious. Mum asked to see a selection of flat bras that would match, and as an array of uncomfortable looking garments was placed on the counter, my eyes began to wonder.
Beyond the till, on the far end of the counter was something that I never knew existed. We've all seen adverts for TenaLady absorbent pants on the TV, but I've never seen TenaSissy before! A pile of large multi-packs are stacked like bricks and perched on top is a promotional plaque stating Free Rubbers & Over Knickers. The multi-packs themselves bore images of the big absorbent pants and clearly stated in a yellow rectangle is their gender and age range: Boys - Age 8-10, Boys - Age 11-13, Boys - Age – 14-16, Boys – Age 17-19. ...but the colours and designs were anything but boyish!
My mother, having spotted me staring said “I don't think you want any of those Andrew.”
I gulped and felt myself blush as I returned my eyes to the selection of flat-bras on the counter. The owner seems engrossed as he describes each one, “This one has a similar lace trim to the panties.” he says as he runs his manicured fingers along the stretchy lace trim. “Or there's this one with lace inserts.” he adds as he picks up another flat bra with lace 'cups'. “It's a very popular choice.” he adds.
“Oh yes that's lovely.” Mum said as she slid her hand beneath the 'cup', demonstrating its translucence to me. “What do you think?” she asked.
“Er!” I croaked.
“Or do you like this one better?” she asked, referring to the plainer white bra with far less lace.
“I guess.” I gulped.
She lined them up in the manner they'd be worn with the bra laid above the panties and asked me more assertively if I was happy with the set. I spent a moment observing the ensemble. The bra is relatively plain; stretchy white sateen with a little lace trim around the chest band and cups. The knickers are much the same in style. I've worn much worse beneath my Sunday dresses, so I said they were 'nice'. “What are those for?” I asked, pointing to one of four short clip things that hung from the leg holes.
“They're for your stockings.” Mum replied. I guessed that the moment I asked.
“Will you be wanting stockings?” the owner asked me directly.
“Er!” I croaked.
“Oh yes.” Mum gleefully replied on my behalf. “What colour do you fancy?” she asked me.
I've only really worn my bottle green school tights and sometimes a pair of white girlie tights in the past, so I didn't really know what colour I 'fancied'. “I don't know.” I gulped. Mum suggested either thin black ones or something more natural looking. “Natural?” I half heartedly suggested.
“There's bamboo, champagne, nude, light tan, sun kissed, honey...” the owner listed. “Why don't you go and have a look.” he suggested, gesturing to the display.
Mum and I perused the selection. All the different 'natural' colours looked more or less the same to my untrained eye, being in the light beige part of the spectrum. Mum explained the difference between gloss, satin, soft and velvet, before removing a 'nude' pair from the revolving rack. “These look nice.” she said as she passed me the slim oblong box.
I gulped as I looked at the package... everything about it is so feminine and the model's stocking clad legs do look fantastic. I said they looked OK, for no other reason than to get it over with.
“They'll look lovely I'm sure.” Mum smiled. “Actually, you'd better take three pairs.” she added, grabbing another two packs.
“I don't need three pairs Mum.” I said.
“You need a spare pair in case you get a ladder.” Mum replied. “And a spare pair in case you get another.”
I wished I was anywhere but here as I placed the three identical packs of stockings on the counter. Mum passed him her credit card before smiling at me I gulped as I watched the owner carefully fold my new control knickers and my flat bra. He wrapped them in a sheet of pale pink tissue and carefully placed them in a branded paper bag along with the stockings. He returned my mother's debit card along with a receipt, then looked at me and smiled as he pushed the bag towards me. I gulped and muttered something along the lines of 'mum ... carry … please'. My mother just gave me one of those looks, so I timidly took hold of the bag and dreaded every second I'd spend carrying it.
I meekly thanked the owner and we left the shop. Instinctively I hugged the bag in an attempt to hide the very telling image displayed on each side, but Mum insisted I carry it 'properly'. I could only hope that no one gave my bag a second glance as we strolled down the busy high street, but even a single glance would reveal its contents to be anything but masculine.
Mum took me in and out of a number of boutiques and department stores before she found a skirt and blouse that she liked. The blouse was a bit girlie, having a bit of frill around the short puffed sleeves and atop its high tube-like collar. The skirt is straight and charcoal grey. Mum had me try it on in the shop, which was an experience I could have done without. Being a fitted, almost tight knee length skirt, I was concerned about my very obvious bulge. “No one will see that when you've got your control knickers on William.” Mum informed me. She told me this in a voice far too loud for comfort. I just wanted to get out of there so agreed to her choice of both skirt and blouse (I might have even said 'nice'). “Yes, it is lovely.” she said with a smile as we headed for the tills. “The high collar will conceal your Adam's apple... that'll help you look a little less boyish.” she added, again far too loud for my liking.
I empathised with Peter and how he must have felt whenever Mum used to take him clothes shopping. At least he was dressed like a girl, was referred to as a girl and pretended he was girl. I'm clearly an average looking teenage guy with a shaving rash and moppish hair, and Mum's making no secret that it's me she's shopping for. The assistant didn't seem at all phased. I suspected that with with Malham Hall so close by, maybe they're used to seeing males in the ladies department. I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders as we left the store with my new outfit. “Right, all we need now is some shoes.” Mum announced.
Doh I'd forgotten about shoes! “I'm sure my old school shoes will still fit.” I suggested, hoping to avoid having to try on women's shoes in a women's shoe shop.
Mum said they probably would, “But don't you think Mary Jane's are a bit young for such a grown up outfit?” she asked. “You are seventeen Andrew.” she added.
I'm also a man! Albeit a young one, I thought as Mum told me that a nice pair of court shoes is what I need 'at my age'. Thankfully we found a pair that Mum liked in the very first shoe shop, but it was the fourth pair of shoes I'd tottered back & forth in so it wasn't what I'd call an easy purchase. I thought the heels on my Mary Jane's were high enough but on 'grown up' shoes they're a good inch higher, and the heels are much more slender. The sales assistant complimented me on how well I walked as I tried each pair and Mum proudly told her that I'd had plenty of practise. “That wasn't so bad was it?” Mum said to me as we walked back to the car.
I muttered a non committal “I guess.” I breathed my final sigh of relief when she started the engine and reversed out of the parking space.
We were halfway home when Mum exclaimed “Oh fiddlesticks!”
“What?” I asked.
“A handbag... I completely forgot!” she replied.
“I don't need a handbag Mum.”
“You're just going to hold your spare stockings in your hand are you?” she asked.
“I won't need spare stockings Mum.” I retorted.
Mum told me that I would need my spare stockings, “...and you need something to put a compact, lipstick and a vanity mirror in.” she added in a flustered tone. “You absolutely do need a handbag!”
“Surely I could borrow one of yours?” I suggested. “Or Peter's.” I added. “You've spent enough already, especially for just one day.”
Mum sighed. “I suppose.” she said. “It's going to be worth it though, even if it is just for one day.” she added with a smile. “I can't wait to see you both looking like grown ups.”
“Yeah... grown up girls!” I thought as she drove us through our neighbourhood. We arrived home and Mum wasted no time in showing Peter what I'd be wearing for his graduation ceremony.
Thankfully she didn't insist that I actually model the outfit for him, but he'll be seeing it in all it's glory before too long. Peter, as ever was supportive. Whilst Mum pottered he told me that he knew that I'd much rather not wear feminine clothes for his graduation, but said it meant a lot to him that I would be.
Peter himself approached the occasion with reluctant excitement as for the first time in his petticoated life, he too will be wearing 'grown up' attire. Since purchasing it a couple of weeks ago, he's tried his outfit on a few times in the house, but never in public. Like mine, his consists of court shoes with slender heels, a smart straight skirt and a white blouse.
Aside from a handbag, Mum remembered another item she'd intended to buy me. “Immac.”
“What's Immac?” I asked.
“Hair removal cream.” Mum replied.
“Hair removal cream?!” I quizzed.
“Yes. Hair removal cream.” she confirmed. “You can't have hairy legs... you'd look ridiculous.”
“But I'll be wearing tights.” I replied. “Stockings.” I corrected.
She never had any problem with hairy legs when I wore my school frocks or Sunday dresses for all those years. “Peter's done his legs and he'll be wearing tights too.” she informed me.
I began to fear that I'd bitten off more than I could chew by agreeing to attend Peter's graduation wearing feminine attire. My blouse hung from the hook on the back of my bedroom door, my skirt hung in my wardrobe and my new underwear lurked in my drawer. This time last year I was used to having a drawer half full of girlie knickers and vests, but throughout the last year my drawer has been 100% male. With the addition of my new underwear the drawer feels somehow complete again, but not in a good way.
The day before the ceremony, Mum gave me a tube of cream bearing the word Immac. She told me how to use it and told me to use it on my legs, hands, arms, armpits... everywhere. I went to the bathroom and reluctantly I did as I was told. I waited the full fifteen minutes in spite of it getting really stingy after ten, and then rinsed it all off in the shower. Watching the hair fall away from my arms and legs was weird, but the smooth skin that remained felt kind of nice. The bathroom door swung open. “Mu-um!” I hollered as I covered my privates.
“I'm just checking how you're getting on.” Mum said in a chirpy voice as she stood as bold as brass in front of me. “Have you removed all of it?” she asked.
“Er.. yeah.” I nervously replied, looking down at my hairless arms and legs.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes.” I insisted, wiggling my elbows and waggling my knees whilst keeping my hands exactly where they are.
“Show me.” she said, as she stared directly at my hands.
“I don't have to remove that too!” I blurted. “Do I?” I gulped.
After another handful of cream and another fifteen minute wait for it to take effect, I watched the last of my body hair disappearing down the plughole. As a seventeen year old, It's been a lot of years since I've been hairless down there. I looked and felt like an overgrown child. Mum returned and checked that I was indeed hairless before telling me to put my pyjamas on. I complained that it was far too early and reminded my mother that I'm not a kid anymore.
“Well stop acting like one!” Mum insisted. “You're not going anywhere tonight are you?” she asked. I shook my head. “I thought not.” she said, before telling me once again to put my pyjamas on. The sensation I felt as I pulled the brushed cotton pants over my new smooth skin sent shudders through me. I pushed my hairless arms through the sleeves of my PJ top and felt a similar sensation. I went down to the sitting room where Mum and Peter sat watching TV. It didn't seem fair that I was ready for bed at 7.00pm and Peter was still dressed. “Ah. Ah.” Mum said as I sheepishly took my seat. “Down here.” she said, pointing to the cushion positioned on the floor in front of her.
I gulped as I looked at the big pile of rags on the coffee table and knew exactly what Mum had in mind. I cast my mind back to when he first became Sophie and Mum made him get ready for bed early too. At least I don't have to wear a nightie, I thought as Mum began separating my hair and started wrapping it, strand by strand in the rags. The whole process took a good hour, and to add insult to injury, Mum stretched a pink hairnet over my head and said “There you are.” as she patted my shoulders.
I got up from the floor and sat in my usual arm chair. Curling my legs beneath myself, I felt very sheepish as Peter cast me a reassuring smile. I smiled back and glanced upwards. “I don't want to think about how I must look.” I gulped.
“It'll look nice tomorrow.” Peter said, “When it's all curly.”
“You think?” I asked. Peter had had his hair put in rags on many occasions when he was a girl, but for me it's a first. I'd had bunches and pony tails, loose angel curls, ribbons, clips and slides but never rags. I haven't been petticoated since the day I left high school so all this is a bit of a shock to the system... and a blast from the past. Adrenalin swelled in my stomach as I anticipated attending Peter's graduation, so much so I could barely concentrate on my favourite TV show.
I felt like a seven year old on Christmas Eve as I lay in bed that night. I tossed and turned as a rampant hoard of butterflies fluttered frantically around my stomach. With every movement my hairless skin slid effortlessly in my cotton pyjamas, but my head, clad in a myriad of rags and covered with a hairnet didn't feel quite so pleasant. I didn't think I'd ever get to sleep but I must have done.
I was woken when when Mum entered my bedroom. “Come on sleepyhead... we've got a big day today.” she said as she cast my curtains open. “Did you sleep OK?” she asked, staring directly at my hairnet.
“Yeah I think so.” I replied as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
“I can't wait to see how your hair looks.” Mum grinned. “You've never had a proper hair-do before have you?” She said. I guess I knew what she meant, although my mother has 'done' my hair on many occasions when petticoating was a regular occurrence. I placed my hands on my head and asked if I should remove the hairnet. “Not just yet.” Mum replied, before telling me that Peter was making us all breakfast.
In the kitchen/dining room, Peter was indeed making breakfast. The table was laid and bacon sizzled in the pan. It was an enjoyable yet nervous breakfast as Mum explained the day's itinerary. “After breakfast Andrew, you need to have a good body wash and a good close shave, then I'll do your make-up and nails.” she explained. “Once you're dressed we'll take those rags out and do your hair.” she smiled. Peter cast me a reassuring grin. “Are you OK doing your own make-up Peter?” Mum asked him, “Or would you like some help?”
Peter nodded and said “I'll be OK.”after emptying his mouth. Throughout his fifth and final year at Malham Hall, he'd learnt all about make-up and hair styling at a weekly after school club called PG (short for Personal Grooming). Mum asked him what he was going to do with his hair, which is currently in a shoulder length fringe-less bob style. “I'm just going to tie it back I think.” he replied. “I don't want to go too overboard because I'll be wearing a mortar board.” he added.
After breakfast, I went to the bathroom and smeared shaving foam over my cheeks and chin. I gave myself a good close shave before rinsing and washing my face properly. After brushing my teeth I removed my pyjamas and found my new hairless body. Being free of all body hair from the neck down looked really strange, like I'd regressed back to being a prepubescent whilst my body remained fully grown. My arms and legs look longer and slimmer than I'm used to, and as I began washing myself with a hot soapy flannel, I quickly realised just how sensitive my hairless crotch had become. I dried myself off, donned my dressing gown and exited the bathroom.
Mum told me she'd be doing my make-up before I got dressed, so I went straight downstairs. “All clean?” Mum asked. I sheepishly nodded and smiled through pursed lips. Mum asked if I'd put my underwear on and I said I'd wait until later. “Why don't you put it on now?” she asked.
Knowing an instruction when I hear one, I turned and went to my room. Mum must have laid my clothes out whilst I was washing myself as on my bed lay my new flat-bra and my new control knickers. Next to these she laid my blouse and my skirt. Reluctantly I picked up the knickers, opened my bathrobe and stepped into them. They were unlike any other pair of knickers I'd worn. I had to sit on my bed in order to squeeze my hips through them. I arranged my tackle as best I could inside them, before turning to the bra. I'd worn cropped vests before, which were essentially a training bra, but this was a whole new ball game. I struggled to fasten it and shamefully had to shout downstairs and ask Mum to come and help.
“How do the knickers feel?” she asked as she helped me into my bra, “They look nice.” she added. I told her that they felt 'really' tight. Too tight in fact. “They're control knickers Andrew.” she said as she stared at my crotch. “You don't want your boyish bulge showing when you've got your skirt on do you?” she asked as she adjusted the shoulder straps. “How does that feel?”.
“Tight.” I replied.
I wasn't surprised when Mum told me that it's supposed to be tight. “You don't want it riding up your chest.” she said. I pulled on my bathrobe and followed Mum to the kitchen. A chair waited for me, along with Mum's big vanity case. Peter was just finishing clearing up after breakfast. He cast me a reassuring smile as I sat myself down. “Oh show Peter your underwear Andrew!” Mum chirped.
“Oh Mu-um! Do I have to?” I whined. Mum insisted, so I stood up, unfastened my bathrobe and held it open for a brief moment so my brother could have a look. He said it looked nice, but clearly felt some pity for my predicament. I fastened my robe and sat back down.
Mum must have spent a good forty minutes doing my face. After tidying up my eyebrows with a pair of tweezers she applied a foundation layer, then gave me a good dusting of powder. She began working on my eyes, which took a while because I couldn't help but blink and wince as she tried to apply my eyeliner. My eye shadow went on without much trouble, but the application of my mascara caused my eyelids to flutter and smudge it. “Now you've got to make sure you don't touch your eyes because you'll ruin it.” Mum said. “So no rubbing, even if you have an itch.”
“OK.” I meekly said. The time Mum spent defining my eyebrows, applying my blusher and finally my lipstick and lip gloss was nothing in comparison to the time she'd spent doing my eyes. Mum gave me a mirror so I could have a look. “Blimey.” I exclaimed. “That looks nothing like me!” I said as I observed myself. When Mum gave me a trial run a few weeks ago, she gave me a much more natural look than today's glamorous palette. My skin looked like porcelain and my cheekbones are clearly defined due to the pink blusher she'd applied. My candy pink lips shimmered and shined, and the lilac and purple eye shadow complimented the overall pink palette my mother had given me. My eyelashes looked longer than ever thanks to the dark brown mascara I wore, and the eyeliner made my eyes look far bigger and brighter than they'd ever looked before. I gave my mother the mirror back and said thank you. My only hope is that in the event that I do see someone who knows me, there's a good chance they won't recognise me.
Peter said I looked 'beautiful' and Mum asked him if he'd pop up to my room and fetch my skirt, blouse and stockings. “Oh, and shoes!” she added as he set off. When he returned, Mum suggested he make a start on his make-up whilst I got dressed. I'd have rather not have had to roll my stockings up my hairless legs with my younger brother present. I couldn't look at him as I stood in my big pair of control knickers and my flat-bra whilst Mum attaches the tops of my stockings to the four suspender straps.
Once my stockings were on, I pushed my arms through the sleeves of my blouse and spent several very self-conscious minutes as Mum fastened the many buttons that ran up its back. Peter didn't stare at me as he was more concerned with applying his own make-up, but he did frequently glance in my direction. I looking down at myself as Mum fastened the buttons on the back of my neck. “Mu-um.” I asked.
“Yes Andrew?” she replied.
“Don't you think I should wear a vest?” I suggested. “This blouse is really thin.”
“You don't need a vest because you've got your bra on.” Mum replied.
“It's my bra I want to cover.” I told her. “People might see it.”
“Well it's better they see your bra than you nipples isn't it?” she asked.
I knew which direction the conversation was going, so I conceded with a meek “I guess.”
Mum passed me my skirt and I stepped into it. When I'd tried it on in the shop last week, my boyish bulge was clearly visible. But today, thanks to my constricting and somewhat uncomfortable control knickers, I'm completely flat. It's hem landed an inch above my knees, and clad in my glossy nude stockings, my legs looked slender, shapely and shimmery. The skirt not only hugged my hips and butt, but my thighs and legs too. I had a little moan that it was too tight, adding “I can't even stride properly.”
My brother said that it will help me take shorter steps as it's best to avoid walking at full stride with high heels on. “That's what the teacher said in etiquette class anyway.” he added.
“And she's absolutely right.” my mother said, before telling me to tuck my blouse into my skirt. Once done, I slipped my stockinged feet into my new court shoes and finally I was dressed. Both Mum and Peter told me how nice I looked and I coyly smiled and blushed and thanked them.
Peter only spent ten minutes doing his own make-up and unlike mine, his was subtle and natural looking. He brushed his hair back into a neat, low ponytail and asked Mum if he looked OK. “Very nice.” Mum said. I agreed and wished that I too had been pained in a similar understated palette. “Right, you go and get dressed Peter whilst I do Andrew's hair.” Mum said.
I'd almost forgotten about my hair. In fact I'd sort of forgotten about the rags and hairnet that covered it as I'd worn them since early yesterday evening. Mum sat me down, removed my hairnet and began removing the rags one by one. “Oh this is going to look so nice.” she said after a few minutes. “I bet you can't wait to see it.” she added.
“I can't wait for today to be over!” I thought as I sat patiently whilst the rags were removed. I'd been petticoated on so many occasions but sitting here and now, it feels like the first time I've been 'really' petticoated. After a good ten minutes, the final rag was removed and Mum handed me her small vanity mirror once more. What was once an unkempt mop of hair is now a mass of curls that seem to float weightlessly around my head. Mum told me that it looked better than she'd ever hoped. “I think we can safely assume that you're going to be one of the prettiest petticoated boys at Peter's graduation.” she proudly told me. “Why don't you go and have a proper look in the hallway?”
I wasn't looking forward to seeing myself but there's no point in not seeing myself. My first thoughts regarded my blouse. I'd have much preferred it if it wasn't quite so see through as it seemed to frame my bra in such a way it drew the directly to it. I turned to get an idea of how it looked from behind and again, the straps and band of my bra is clearly visible. My charcoal grey skirt and black high heels looked OK as although feminine, were smart and seemingly understated. My make up however screamed pink & girlie and the addition my voluminous curly hair suggested that I may even pass as a real girl... or even a young woman for that matter. But my ivory blouse with its high collar and little puffed sleeves, both trimmed with lace, worn over my pure white flat-bra said 'sissy'. Nothing more, nothing less, just sissy.
Peter joined me and I couldn't help but envy him. His skirt and shoes were similar to mine in style, although his skirt is black and a few inches shorter than mine. His legs are clad in thin black tights, or more accurately, 'barely' black. His blouse looked more like a fitted white shirt rather than anything too 'blousey'. Of course he's dressed like a girl too but I'm definitely the girliest. In fact, my younger brother looks more grown up than I do!
Mum made us a cup of tea, which I really needed to help calm my nerves. The first thing I noticed was how my lipstick left it's mark on the rim of my cup. Mum told me that that does tend to happen, before putting the stick of candy pink lipstick in front of me, along with the transparent gloss too. “Peter have you got a vanity mirror Andrew can borrow?” she asked, before she started rummaging in the under-stairs cupboard. Peter went to his room and returned a minute later. Mum emerged from the cupboard saying “I had a feeling I'd find it in here.” as she held a large pink purse.
“Do I have to have a pink one?” I moaned.
Mum told me I did, for two reasons. “It matches your lipstick perfectly, and you need a splash of colour with that skirt & blouse.” she said with a smile. Peter returned with a small vanity mirror and passed it to Mum. She opened the pink purse and dropped it inside, before telling me to fetch my spare stockings. “And be careful in those heels, they're higher than you're used to.” she advised.
It's been so long since I wore heels I'm not used to them at all! I thought as I climbed the stairs. As a boy, I'm used to bounding up and using every second or third step, but in my tight knee length pencil skirt, I have no choice but to use every step. It seemed to take ages to reach the top step. I grabbed the two packs of stockings before carefully and cautiously descending the stairs. I handed them to my mother. “They're for your clutch bag.” Mum said.
“What's a clutch bag?” I thought, before realising she meant the purse.
I was afraid to touch it, but I knew I'd dug myself far deeper into this hole than I'd ever imagined, so picked it up and opened its flap. “Do they fit?” Mum asked.
“Just.” I replied as I slid the two pairs of stockings inside it.
“Your lipstick, gloss and powder needs to go in too.” Mum added as she passed me the bag. After looking me up and down a few times, her eyes panned around the kitchen. “Right I think that's everything... oh no... you need a ribbon!” she exclaimed..
There's a drawer in the Welsh dresser in which she keeps a collection of ribbons in all sorts of colours. She found a few pink ones and chose the one that most matched the clutch bag. “Oh Mum do I have to wear a ribbon?” I moaned as she cut a long length of it from the roll. “Can't I have a white one instead?” I asked after she said 'yes'.
“But this matches your purse.” she replied as she dangled the length of candy pink ribbon in front of my face. “And your lipstick.” she smiled. “And I'm pretty sure I've got a nail varnish in a similar colour too.” she added.
I rolled my eyes at Peter as my mother tied the ribbon in my new curly hair. He cast a supportive smile back at me before his eyes shifted to look at the top of my head. I suspected Mum was tying the ribbon in a nice big bow, just as she'd tied in Peter's hair on so many occasions. The ribbon was held in place with a few hair slides, and the ribbon itself held my hair off my face. Mum trotted upstairs and I asked Peter if I looked like a dick. “No.” Peter replied. “You look like a girl.” he said.
“A girl with no tits.” I replied as I looked down at my blouse and visible flat-bra. Peter began to reply but silenced himself as he heard Mum return. She trotted back down the stairs with a small pink bottle in her hand. “Perfect!” she announced after holding it next to the pink purse. “Peter, would you be a love and paint Andrew's fingernails for him... I need to get myself ready.” she chirped before trotting back upstairs.
I sighed and said “When I agreed to wearing something similar to you I didn't expect this.” I looked down at myself and felt my ribbon flop forward. At least the ribbon in my hair might draw some attention away from the bra strapped around my chest, I figured as my brother sat in the chair opposite me. “Why couldn't she dress us so we matched like she used to?” I asked as Peter unscrewed the lid of the nail varnish.
He told me that we 'sort of' match with our skirts and shoes as he took hold of my hand. “I suppose there's no point me wearing a nice blouse and doing my hair up 'coz I'll be wearing a gown and mortarboard for most of the afternoon.” he said as he began to paint my nails. “If not I'm sure we'd be matching.” he added. I asked him if he was also wearing a flat-bra. Peter glanced at me and said he'd been wearing one since his 13th birthday.
I did one of those double take things. “But... that's after Mum stopped the whole Sophie thing.” I reminded him.
“I only wear them for school.” he replied. “We all have to once we're teenagers.”
“I didn't know.” I gulped. “Is yours as tight as mine?” I asked. “I can hardly breathe in it.” I added.
“I dunno. They are supposed to be tight.” he replied as he glanced at my chest. He placed my hand down and told me not to move it. He advised me to drink some of my tea before he starts on the next hand as the varnish will take about 10-15 minutes to dry. I took his advice and noticed another imprint from my lipstick on the rim of my cup. I looked at my purse and my painted nails before considering the ribbon tied in my hair. They are indeed all more or less the same shade of pink. As prissy and girlie as I look and feel, I suppose I can count my blessings that I'm not completely clad in pink; a colour my brother became more than accustomed to wearing when he lived as a girl. “Do you ever miss being Sophie?” I asked him as he carefully painted my nails.
“Not really. But I'm still petticoated half the time so I may as well still be her half the time.” he replied.
“Well after today that'll be the end of that.” I said.
“Maybe.” he replied. “I think I might stay at Malham Hall to sit my A-levels.”
“Why not come to college with me?” I asked. “It's a lot closer and at least you won't have to...” I said, thinking about his school uniform. “Do sixth formers still wear the uniform?” I asked. Peter shook his head as he concentrated on painting my pinkie fingernail. “Oh well that's OK then.”
“We have to wear skirts though, or dresses.” he said as he placed my hand flat on the table and told me not to move them. “Sort of business wear like this.” he said as he stood up and straightened his skirt. “Which I think is better... I dunno about you.”
With his legs clad in thin black tights and wearing a fitted mid-thigh length skirt, Peter doesn't look girlie but does look feminine... which I guess is better. “It's better than this.” I replied, glancing down at my prissy blouse. Peter told me that he likes my skirt and my shoes, but agreed that my blouse is a bit too frilly. “And a bit too see through.” I added.
“It's only for one day though.” my brother reminded me.
“I know.” I replied. “How you coped at school everyday I'll never know.” I added as I stared at my drying fingernails.
“No one at Malham cares if you're dressed as a girl or a boy...” Peter told me, “...so you don't have to worry about what they think. Just be yourself and tell yourself that its normal and you'll be fine.” he advised.
“Yeah but that's easy for you to say.” I claimed. “You've stepped out of the front door loads of times dressed like a girl... I've never done it before.” I gulped.
“Yeah I suppose.” Peter said. “When Mum decided that I should become Sophie, she packed up all of my boy clothes in bin bags... apart from the ones I was wearing.”
“Yeah I remember.” I said, guiltily recalling how George and I laughed and called him names.
“Then she drove me to a charity shop, bought me a dress, made me try it on and that was it... no more boy clothes.” he told me. “My first public outing was slap bang in the middle of Covenworth shopping precinct two minutes after I'd worn my first dress.” he said. I knew what he was driving at. “I'd have much preferred it if mum eased me in a bit... first get used to wearing dresses... indoors, then get used to wearing knickers... indoors... then maybe take me outside after a few months.” he pondered. “Or years.” he added, looking me in the eye.
“Yeah I guess you're right. At least I'm only going to Malham Hall and not being paraded through town.” I said.
Peter nodded and smiled and glanced at my hands. All this time I'd kept them flat on the table. “I think they'll be dry by now.” he said.
I picked up my hands and curled my fingers and admired my shiny pink nails. “It must be weird wearing this stuff everyday.” I said. “Like proper girls do.”
“They only wear it to hide all the muck under their nails.” Peter replied as he admired his own nail varnish; being a pale nutty brown colour. When I've noticed him wearing it in the past it's always been pink in one form or another. I mention this to him. “Mum said this is a grown up colour.”
“What are you two talking about?” Mum asked as she appeared at the foot of the stairs.
“Nail varnish.” Peter replied.
“Oh that's nice.” she smiled. “Do I look OK?” she asked.
We both said yes. Mum wore a peach shift dress with a matching fitted jacket. In one hand she holds a peach handbag and in the other a peach hat. On her feet is a pair of peach court shoes and her lipstick? You guessed it... peachy!
“Have you got everything in your purse Andrew?” Mum asked. I nodded. “You sure, lip stick, gloss, foundation, mirror, spare stockings?” I nodded again and she suggested I reapply my lipstick before we set off. She asked Peter the same, but said handbag instead of purse before supervising me as I topped up my candy pink lipstick, then painted a shimmering layer of gloss over it. “Lovely.” Mum said. “Now try not to lick it off, otherwise you'll spend all afternoon applying it.” she advised, before busy-bodying inside her own handbag.
“How do you do that?” I asked as I watched Peter apply his lipstick without using a mirror.
“Practice.” he replied as he popped the lid back on his lippy and dropped inside his handbag. Why he gets a normal black leather handbag with handles and I get a pink purse thing I don't know. After all the times I've thought that Peter was getting the shitty end of the stick by having to wear prettier and prissier dresses that I ever had to wear, today the tables are turned. He's the one in 'normal' clothes and I'm most definitely the prissy sissy.
We prepared to leave and I reached for my jacket as we passed through the hallway. “Andrew you're not wearing that.” Mum said.
“But I need something.” I replied.
“Nonsense, it's a lovely day.” she told me as she opened the front door to reveal a lovely day. She remotely opened the car before locking up the house. I trotted as fast as I dare and jumped inside. Peter was a lot more casual as he approached the car. Mum looked at me and shook her head. “In the back Andrew.” she said.
“What!?” I thought. I always sit in the front because I'm the oldest.
“In the back!” Mum ordered. “It's Peter's big day so he's in the front.”
I frowned and opened the door. Every second outside on the street I risk exposure. I quickly climbed out and opened the back door and got myself inside as quick as I could. Peter climbed in the front seat, fastened his seat belt, then waved out of the window. I looked to see what he was waving at and noticed Vanessa in her bedroom window, grinning and waving. I wanted to die. But I guess she's not a gossip like Lauren. It wouldn't be quite so bad if my bra didn't show so much, I thought. “Then again there's still this ribbon in my hair.” I figured as I moved part of it off my face and back where it should be... in amongst my masses of curly locks!
As we drove, I'd prepared myself to throw myself across the back seat in order to hide my petticoated self from anyone who may recognise me. Such fears alleviated as we crossed the narrow greenbelt between Covenworth and Crickley, but when it was time to step out of the car at Malham Hall High School, my stomach almost burst with anticipation.
As our official chaperone, Peter is expected to show Mum and I around his school. We pass classrooms full of boys and girls wearing the all too familiar summer uniform. Apart from the obvious, Malham Hall appears to be a normal school teaching English, maths, geography, history, IT, arts and science. I expected the boys would all look miserable or ashamed having to attend a petticoating school, but they honestly don't. We pass though the main hall where boys and girls do gymnastics, all wearing their long sleeved leotards and nothing else. We pop into the dance studio and spend a moment watching the dance class. Here both boys and girls wear pale pink dance tights, a strappy leotard and a little see though skirt. Peter tells us that they're practising the five positions of classical ballet. Outside we briefly watched mixed teams of boys and girls play netball, all wearing their short knife pleated PE skirts which reveal their big thick gym knickers with every throw, run or jump.
If you take the clothes all the boys wear out of the equation, Malham Hall looks like any other school, I figured. I upgraded this to any girl's school after we passed the tennis court where four boys played doubles, each wearing a tiny white tennis skirt over a pair traditional tennis knickers with row after row of frilly lace covering the bum. Strolling through the courtyard we saw girls and boys playing with skipping ropes either in groups or alone. Some played hopscotch and others played clapping games, seemingly happily chanting the rhymes as they clapped along. Each and every one of them wear the same purple and white gingham summer dress with white socks and black girlie shoes. It's an outfit I was no stranger to as I wore it every day after school, but thank heavens I didn't have to wear it here. Eventually, Peter led us to the outdoor stage and seating area where his graduation ceremony would be held. We had a good hour to wait so Mum suggested we 'mingle'.
What surprised me was just how many guys around my age were also dressed in feminine attire. It turned out that they were mostly the current six formers attending their siblings' graduation. They were mostly dressed similar to myself in a smart skirt & nice blouse or maybe a conservative dress, so I didn't feel too out of place. I was however very conscious of my blouse and visible bra as I couldn't see any others wearing something similar. There were a few boys in colourful prissy sissy frocks, but they were a definite minority. Of course there's an equal number of lads in attendance that aren't wearing anything feminine. Most of them kept their distance and eyed the rest of us with suspicion.
The meet & mingle wasn't as humiliating as I'd expected. Most of the attention was on Peter and most of the compliments went in his direction too. I was a little envious of my brother when people told him how smart and grown up he looks in his conservative skirt, shoes and blouse. His hair is brushed into a simple low ponytail and his make up is natural and subtle.
Having spent the night in rags, my hair is as curly as curly can be, and with the addition of a candy pink ribbon tied in a bow, is also very girlie. The few acknowledgements I received included the words 'pretty' and 'prissy' and more often than not, my very visible 'flat-bra' was also mentioned.
Mum was clearly very proud of me and my attire, and made it clear to those we chatted with that I wasn't a full-time petticoatee, but was only doing it for the day to support my brother. “Oh that's a shame.” was a frequent response. One woman even said that petticoating should be compulsory because males only know their place when petticoated. Initially I thought that compulsory petticoating would be horrendous, but thinking about it, my biggest fear wouldn't exist as all the other boys my age would be petticoated too... just like so many are here at Malham Hall.
Peter left us to go and don his graduation robe and take his place with the others. Mum and I took our seats and waited for the ceremony to begin. A boy about my age clad in a curious all-in-one shorts & top outfit followed his parent or guardian to a seat a few rows in front of us. His hair is very boyish and no make-up decorates his face. His outfit is sky blue with a white round collar, trimmed with lace and is clearly a feminine garment. The shorts are short, as are his sleeves and his legs, like mine, are completely free of hair. He wears a pair of thin white pop-socks and sky blue T bar sandals, but instead of fastening with a buckle, they have a broad satin ribbon tied on a bow atop each foot. I learned the name of his outfit when Mum said “That play-suit looks lovely doesn't it.”
It wasn't what I'd call nice and guessing by the morbid expression on his face, he doesn't like it either. As he took his seat, I noticed that his play-suit fastened via a long back zip, meaning the white buttons on the front must have been for show. On spotting what looked like a small padlock at the nape of his neck, I turned to my mother and quietly said, “Is that what I think it is?”
At first Mum wasn't sure what I meant, but after observing the boy for a moment she said “Oh you mean the lock?”
I nodded and she went on to tell me that he's probably being punished for something. She speculated that he may have refused to wear his dresses, kept taking them off and as a result, has been fastened into a garment that he can't remove. I used to wonder why Peter didn't simply remove his dresses when Mum began to petticoat him. I've often wondered why I didn't do the same as it is the obvious thing to do, but if the consequence is an outfit like that, I'm (kind of) glad I complied. “What if he needs the loo?” I asked.
“I expect he's wearing a nappy.” Mum replied, plain as day. I recalled the multi-packs of TenaSissy I'd spotted in the lingerie shop and suggested that such a practice was maybe bit extreme. Mum said it's quite common for petticoated boys to be put in nappies and mentioned that she herself had 'almost' put Peter in nappies when he first became Sophie.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because he refused to wear his knickers.” Mum replied. I was slightly agog with this revelation. My own mother was willing to put my eleven year old brother back in nappies, just because he didn't want to wear knickers! “Once he knew what the options were he made the right choice.” she smugly informed me. After a short pause she said “You on the other hand needed no such encouragement.” She threw a wry smile at me. “I had no trouble putting you in knickers. No trouble at all.” she proudly added.
Surely I put up a fight, I figured. But on reflection I guess I did simply accept my first pair of knickers. It was Xmas morning and I'd put them on before Mum was even out of bed. I remember quizzing her about the pack of school knickers she gave me that very same day, but thinking about it... I just did as I was told and wore them after school everyday and my defiance was nothing more than a whiny “Oh Mu-um! Do I have to?”
The seats around us quickly filled up and Mum started making small talk with the other adults. I sat quietly, nervously holding my candy pink clutch bag on my lap and thinking about why my seemingly willing-to-be-petticoated brother had to be threatened with a nappy whereas I didn't! It's not the first time I've cursed myself for not putting up a proper fight when Mum began to dress me as a girl, but as Peter informed me earlier today, it's likely to be the last time so I may as well try to enjoy it. Looking at the boy locked inside his outfit, I guess I've got a lot to be thankful for.
Before long the ceremony started and one by one, Peter's entire school year briefly took to the stage to receive their certificate. Peter's probably used to it but for me, seeing so many sixteen year old boys wearing heels and skirts and make-up was a real revelation. “It's so normal here!” I thought.
On the whole, the hour long ceremony was as dull as dishwater. We were only there to witness Peter's brief appearance and had no real interest in any of the others, each of whom received a small applause from friends and family members when they appeared. Mum and I clapped and cheered as Peter took to the stage. He looked as proud as punch as he received his certificate and smiled sweetly at the crowd before doing a little curtsey and leaving the stage. The moment the last graduate had left the stage, everyone got up and began to mingle. Mum and I sought out Peter so we could congratulate him again. I wasn't exactly pleased when Peter introduced me to a few of his classmates because dressed as I am, what would they think? It wouldn't be quite so bad if they hadn't stared directly at my chest... or more at my bra. Why I'm worrying I don't really know, each of them wears feminine clothing too... it's just their underwear isn't on display as mine is.
To this day, that remains the only time I've worn feminine clothing outside of the house and in public... and it pains me to admit that it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I expected. Everyone was nice enough and the main focus was on Peter and the other graduates, so I spent most of the afternoon loitering in the background. Of course Mum wanted a photograph of Peter and I together because we both looked “so grown up” as she put it. Compared to the dresses we've both had to wear in the past, she's absolutely right. We all clapped and cheered as the graduates assembled and threw their mortarboards into the air, and after a little more mingling, we finally we left. Mum claimed it was the proudest day of her life!
On arrival home, Peter went and changed into his boy clothes and I asked Mum if I could change too. Mum reminded me that she'd spent a lot of money on my outfit and reminded me that I'd agreed to wear it all day. I don't recall making such an agreement but there's was no point arguing. Mum had obviously made her mind up and it was the last time I was petticoated.
A gentle nudge dragged me out of my thoughts. Bekah needed my lighter so I reached into my pocket and passed it to her. “What were you thinking about?” she asked.
“Ah nothing.” I replied as a clear image of my outfit on the day my brother graduated lingered in my mind's eye. “Just stuff.”
“What kind of stuff?”
“Memories I'd rather not have.” I replied.
“Dressing as a girl?” she asked. I nodded and cast her a sympathy seeking smile. “Well... it doesn't have to be a memory.” she said.