"Josh and his secret lives!" Carla teased.|
by Joanne Foxcourt
This is a work of fiction so any resemblance to persons living or dead, in whole or in part, is purely coincidental. All of the usual copyright rules apply, but this story may be posted freely on any site that does not require a fee for accessing it. Also, the usual rules about legal restrictions on accessing stories like this apply according to where you hail from.
I hope you enjoy,
Chapter 1: Secret Agent Time
The young boy stared at the closet, a not uncommon event in his fifteen years of life, and felt the excitement and the fear all over again. This wasn't just any closet, it wasn't his closet, it was his mother's closet. He hesitated. The apartment was empty, his mother still at work, his sister out with a couple of friends, and the coast was clear. Like so many times before, the young man opened the closet door with trembling hands to expose the racks of clothing hidden inside.
Josh Stevens stood there, wearing only his underwear and a bra that he had stuffed with rolled up socks, surveying the options in front of him. Carefully, he removed one of his mother's dresses from the rack and held it up to his slim frame in front of the stand mirror beside the closet. It was a beautiful dress, a dress that was designed for elegant evenings out, all black with delicate lace around the neck. Josh loved this dress, he dreamed of wearing it, but didn't dare because it was expensive and he was afraid of damaging it.
Josh contemplated the vision in front of him. His eyes didn't see the boy in the mirror holding a dress. His eyes saw a beautiful young girl, her eyes glowing in preparation of big evening out at some fancy ball or gathering. In truth, Josh was not the most boyish looking of boys. He had delicate features, finely shaped hands, long brown hair, and enough shape that his sister had commented that he sometimes looked more like a girl than a boy. Publicly he hated that, secretly he reveled in it.
With his senses finely tuned to the protection of his secret, Josh heard the lock to the apartment being turned. Hurriedly, he hung the dress back up and closed the closet. He then quickly stripped off the bra and tossed it, and the socks, into the laundry hamper he had retrieved them from. Within seconds, he was shrugged back into his usual jeans and t-shirt.
"Hey Josh! How are things?" Lisa shouted from the kitchen. Lisa was Josh's twin sister and actually pretty cool in his estimation. She and Josh bore an uncanny resemblance to each other, their gender being the only differing factor and it was a factor that many people sometimes missed, assuming that they were sisters. They had many of the same friends as being twins had kept them very close to each other.
"They're okay. Did you have fun?" Josh responded has he wandered into the kitchen area, trying to bring the rapid beating of his heart under control.
"Yeah. Why didn't you come?"
"I just had a couple of things I wanted to do."
"You've been doing that a lot lately. What's going on?" Lisa asked.
"Nothing special," Josh denied.
"Give me a break, you can't fool me."
"It's nothing," Josh insisted.
Lisa sighed, "Alright, whatever, I don't believe you though."
Josh sometimes hated the fact that his sister could read him like a book. He hadn't considered that he could do the same with Lisa; it didn't really matter at this time. Josh was afraid of his secret, he was convinced that it was shameful, something to be hidden.
Lisa hated when Josh lied to her. She knew he was hiding something, something big, and it bugged her. She and Josh shared everything with each other, or so she used to think. It had to be something he was ashamed of, something he thought she would hate him for.
"Did mom say anything about dinner?" Lisa asked, changing the subject.
"I think she wanted to order pizza or something," Josh suggested.
Lisa laughed, "Nice try!"
"It was worth a shot. Anyways, the note said to start the roast and peel the potatoes and carrots."
"You do the carrots, I'll do the potatoes," Lisa suggested as Josh nodded.
::* * *::
"Lisa, what's going on with your brother?" Denise Stevens asked after dinner. Josh had disappeared into his bedroom to do homework.
"I don't know mom, he's been acting very strange lately. He hasn't been hanging out after school and he's refusing to tell me anything."
"I thought you two shared everything?"
"So did I," Lisa mused, looking down at the floor.
Denise could tell that Lisa was hurt by Josh's reticence, but there was little she could do about it at this time. They'd just have to sort it out between themselves, she thought as she flicked on the TV with the remote. "It'll work out Lisa, I'm sure he'll tell you in his own time."
Lisa nodded, "I hope so. I'm going to call Carla, we have to plan for school tomorrow."
Denise smiled absently as Lisa wandered off to her room.
::* * *::
"Hey Lisa! What's up?" Carla James asked as she picked up the phone.
"I'm worried about Josh," Lisa said into the phone.
"He's been acting weird, haven't you noticed?"
"Maybe a little," Carla admitted. "It doesn't mean much though, probably just a boy phase or something."
"He won't tell me anything."
"Now that is weird. Since when?"
"Last couple of weeks. I need to figure out what's going on with him," Lisa said.
"Do you want conference in Sue? She's the sneaky one, maybe she can think of some way for us to find out what's up."
"Okay." Lisa waited while Carla brought Sue Smith into the call.
"Hey guys, what's up?" Sue chirped into the phone.
"We're trying to figure out what's going on with Josh," Carla told her.
"What do you mean?" Sue asked.
"Well, he never hangs out after school anymore and he won't tell me anything," Lisa told her.
"I need to find out what is going on. He tells me it's nothing, but he's lying about it. I can tell when Josh lies, it's almost like I can read his mind."
"I thought twins could read each other's minds," Carla joked.
"It's not funny! I'm worried about him and all he does is bolt home after school and never hangs out," Lisa explained.
"I still think it's just a guy thing. He's not a jock, he's a bit of a loner, and he almost exclusively hangs around with us," Carla noted. "Maybe he feels out of place or something."
"Yeah, but now he's turning into a complete loner, instead of being a bit of a one, and I don't know why! Do you have any ideas Sue?" Lisa asked.
"Well, I think we need to spy on him, find out what he's doing that he can't tell us. That means we have to get to your place before he does," Sue informed them.
"Spy?" Lisa asked, sounding dubious.
"Uh huh. It's the only way."
"So, how are we going to do that?" Carla asked. "It's not as if we have any faster a way of getting there than he does."
"We'll have to get him delayed," Sue suggested.
"How?" Carla and Lisa asked at the same time.
"Leave that to me..."
Chapter 2: Oh, Josh
"Joshua Stevens! Just what is that picture doing in your locker?" Mrs. Carlaw's shrill voice sounded over the commons area.
"Huh? What picture?" Josh questioned, unsure of what she was talking about.
"That picture!" Mrs. Carlaw pointed to the picture of the bikini clad girl on the inside of his locker door.
"How did that get there?" Josh asked, confused at the sight of a picture he hadn't put up.
"Fine story that is young man, obviously you put it there. You do have a lock on your locker I presume?"
"Have you shared your combination with anyone?"
"Then that's settled, nobody else could have put it there. Take down that offensive picture and see me after school for detention."
"Yes ma'am," Josh sighed as he ripped down the picture. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out who put the picture in his locker or why, but there it was. Looks like I need a new combination for the lock, Josh thought as he made his way to homeroom.
::* * *::
"That's settled," Sue whispered to Carla and Lisa as they watched Josh walk out of the common area.
"Poor Josh," Lisa said. "Mrs. Carlaw is such a prude. She'll chew him out all through the detention."
"Couldn't be helped, she's probably the only teacher that would give him a detention for it."
"How did you get his combination Lisa?" Carla asked.
"It's easy. He's always used our birthday and current age for his lock."
"Well, let's get to class before we get a detention too!" Sue exclaimed.
::* * *::
"I got a detention," Josh told the three girls as he sat down with them at lunch. Josh was pretty unusual for a teenaged guy. Most of the guys ate with other guys and the girls with girls, but Josh and Lisa were practically joined at the hip as twins and they always ate together. Josh got some teasing for it, especially since he was a dead ringer for his sister if you didn't look below his shoulders.
The girls all made sympathetic noises. "I guess you won't be hanging out with us at the mall then?" Sue asked innocently.
"Well we're going clothes shopping anyways, you'd be bored."
Josh tried to hide his sudden happiness at the news. If the girls were going shopping, then he'd still have hours to play with at home, even with the detention. "Don't worry about me, I've got some stuff to do anyways," Josh told them.
"Like what?" Carla asked.
"Just some guy stuff. Nothing special."
"Josh and his secret lives!" Carla teased.
::* * *::
The three girls raced back to Lisa's place after school so that they could find a good spot to hide from Josh when he came home. "Are you sure this is a good idea?" Lisa asked for third time since arriving.
"Relax Lisa! It can't be all that big. Josh isn't into drugs or anything, we'd know. We just need to find out what's happening so we can help him," Carla soothed.
"We love him too Lisa, he's like a brother to us. We'd never hurt him," Sue added.
"Okay," Lisa sighed. "He should be home any minute, let's get hidden."
::* * *::
Josh, once again, stood before his mother's closet in a borrowed bra and panty set and held his favorite dress against his body. His mind wandered with the vision in front of him.
Josh whirled at the sad sound of his sister's voice from the doorway. "Lisa! I... I..." Josh stopped at the sight of the three girls staring at him in surprise.
"Josh?" Carla asked.
Josh panicked and bolted through the girls and into his room, slamming the door behind him. He stood there, trembling, his back pressed against the door as it tried to open.
"Josh? Josh! Open the door!" Lisa shouted from the other side.
"Go away," Josh cried miserably.
"Josh, please let us in."
"Why? So you can laugh at me? My life is over."
"We won't laugh. Did we laugh?" Carla added.
"Then open up, we have to talk," Lisa ordered again.
Josh sighed as he stood up from the door and pulled his robe down and placed it around his body. As the door opened, he said, "You guys must hate me."
"Why?" Sue asked, surprised at that.
"Because of this," Josh gestured helplessly.
"Well, you're wrong," Lisa told him. "We're upset that you didn't tell us, but not because you're wearing mine and mom's clothes."
"But... it's wrong," Josh insisted. "I don't know why I do it."
"What's wrong with it?" Carla asked. "It's only wrong if you're ashamed of it."
Josh sat down hard on his bed and buried his face in his hands.
"Look Josh," Sue said as she sat down beside him. "You've always been a good friend, as close to me as anyone. We don't hate you for this. It makes you even closer to us. We can help you too."
Josh looked up in surprise, his face streaked with tears. "How?"
Chapter 3: Should ah, Could ah, Would ah
"What I don't get is why," Carla admitted after they had gotten Josh calmed down.
"I don't know," Josh admitted. "It's not something I can really explain. It was like a compulsion, something that just pulled me and left me no control. I tried to fight it, but I couldn't."
"I don't understand," Lisa admitted.
"Neither do I. Have you ever done something that scared you silly, that part of you thought was wrong, but you did anyways? Especially when it made you feel better?"
All three girls nodded.
"That's what this is like. I know it's wrong, it scares the hell out of me that I would be caught, but I couldn't help it. It made me feel better, more whole, like a gap in my life was replaced. I was transported away, like in a vision, where everything was different."
"How long have you felt this way?" Lisa asked.
"For a long time. As long as I can remember, really. It didn't matter much when we were kids, mom dressed us alike to fool people and we didn't really understand what boy or girl meant, we just assumed. When we got older, it started to matter more, but I didn't really figure it out until more recently."
"Figure what out?" Sue asked.
"That I should have been a girl."
All three girls stared at Josh with open mouths. "Are you sure it's not something else?" Sue asked, tentatively.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, look at your surroundings. You grew up with your mother and sister. You only hang out with girls. You're not a jock... All you have is chick stuff around you."
"I rationalized like that for a long time. It even worked for a while, but it's not true. It's not that simple."
"Do you prefer boys?" Lisa asked.
Josh shook his head.
"So you do like girls."
Josh shook his head again.
"Now I'm more confused," Lisa admitted as the other two nodded agreement.
"It's hard to explain. You see, the problem is that I don't much like my own body and it's hard to see past that when looking at guys. Every time I see a girl's body, I get jealous rather than interested. I can't even think of sex when mine is all messed up."
"So what do we do?" Carla asked.
Sue nodded. "We have to figure out a way for you to catch more than a glimpse of our side."
"How do we do that?" Josh asked.
"Well, I doesn't hurt that you look like Lisa," Sue suggested.
Lisa looked at Sue in surprise. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
Josh and Carla looked at each other. "What?" They said in unison.
"We're going to create me a new sister," Lisa smiled.
::* * *::
"You seem a bit happier today Lisa. Did you and Josh settle things?" Denise asked after dinner and Josh had disappeared for homework again.
Lisa nodded as she settled onto the couch. "We talked a bit mom, so I understand a little better."
"Are you going to tell me?"
Denise raised her eyebrow.
"Mom, it's up to Josh."
"I see. Well, you two can tell me anything you know, I'll always listen."
"I know mom. What's on the tube?" Lisa asked, changing the subject.
Denise flicked on the TV and started flipping channels. "Looks like the usual schlock tonight. Let's see... Well, we've got 'How I lost 50 pounds and now I'm hot' as one option."
"Neither of us has to worry about that!"
"Well then, there's a re-run of some sitcoms."
"Seen 'em," Lisa dismissed.
Denise flicked a few more channels. "There's 'My boyfriend steals my clothes' here."
"I don't know... They don't look all that great."
"Well, they're guys, what did you expect?" Denise asked, laughing.
"I just figured that they'd try more."
"Lisa, honey, these shows are for shock value. Besides, guys don't look like girls, you can always tell."
"What about Josh?" Lisa challenged.
"Josh doesn't look like a girl!"
"He looks exactly like me."
"Hardly, only a blind man would mistake you for both being girls," Denise denied.
"I think you're seeing Josh with a mother's eyes," Lisa disagreed.
"Why this sudden insistence that Josh looks like a girl?"
"No reason, I just thought of how much he and I look alike when you mentioned that."
"Well, honey, Josh is sensitive about his looks, so don't be teasing him. He's got delicate features, but he doesn't look like a girl."
"Alright mom," Lisa capitulated, rolling her eyes.
Denise continued flipping channels without a lot of hope.
"Do you think it's wrong for guys to want to dress like girls?" Lisa asked suddenly.
"Why do you ask?" Denise put down the remote.
"I was just thinking about that show."
"Well, I don't know about wrong, but I think they probably need help."
"Help? Are they sick?" Lisa asked.
"Sick might be too strong a word, but it's not normal."
"Lisa, I don't understand all of these questions. Is there something you're trying to tell me about Josh?"
"No mom, I was just curious. I've never really seen anything like that before."
Denise gave her a long, measuring, look. "I see."
Denise let it drop. "Don't you have homework to do?"
Lisa nodded, suddenly not feeling all that happy and it wasn't homework.
"Then you should probably be doing it."
::* * *::
"I don't know Josh, mom seemed pretty sure," Lisa admitted.
"I don't want to deal with shrinks. They pump you full of drugs and stick electrodes all over you. That's all I need is to have my brain fried."
"They don't do that stuff anymore!"
"I don't want to chance it," Josh insisted.
Lisa went back to doodling in her notebook. She'd been trying, most of the evening, to concentrate on homework, but was getting nowhere. Her mother's simple statement had her more worried about Josh than before. "Are you afraid that they'd make you stop?" She asked suddenly.
"I don't know, maybe."
"But you said yourself that it was wrong," Lisa noted.
"It is and it isn't. I don't know anymore, I'm confused. Is it wrong to feel this way or is it wrong that I'm afraid to feel this way?" Josh waved his arms.
"What's the difference?"
"A lot. One is inside me, the other isn't."
"Oh," Lisa commented. "I think you should talk to someone. A professional, like a doctor."
"I can't. Please stop..." Josh whispered, tears forming in his eyes.
Chapter 4: Sex, Gender, and Minds... Oh My!
"Ms. Dickenson, do you have a few minutes?" Lisa asked, poking her head through the door.
"Hello Lisa! Certainly. What's on your mind?" Sonia Dickenson, the school counselor asked.
Lisa entered the office and closed the door before taking a seat. "It's kind of hard to explain..."
"This sounds serious," Ms. Dickenson noted.
Lisa nodded. "I have a friend, a guy friend, who is having a real problem."
Lisa shook her head. "No, just a friend. He's having a problem with his sex."
"I don't understand, Lisa."
Lisa sighed. "I guess I'm not being to clear. He told me that he wants to be a girl."
Sonia Dickenson sat back surprised. "Well, that is a bit unusual. It's not unheard of, though."
Lisa nodded again. "Well, I'm not sure what to do."
"Well, let's get a few things straight though. There is a difference between sex and gender."
"What do you mean?"
"Sex is your physical attributes. Gender is your brain. They don't always line up quite right."
"Which is the correct one?" Lisa asked.
"I'm not a gender psychologist Lisa, but I don't think that there is an easy answer to that question. How long has Josh felt this way?"
"A long time, I think."
"I didn't say it was Josh!" Lisa realized, suddenly.
Ms. Dickenson smiled gently. "Lisa, don't worry, it was pretty obvious. What other boy in the school would tell you something like this? It pretty much had to be Josh."
Lisa shrugged, resigned. "It's Josh."
"I don't think you have to worry in the manner that you have."
"You mean it's not wrong?"
"Not in the way you might think," Ms. Dickenson noted. "Josh has a problem, a serious one, but he's not sick or twisted. By itself, this sort of problem can be treated. No, the real wrongness is how many in society would react to this. Josh's fears are going to be grounded in that."
"It can be cured?" Lisa asked.
"What is a cure?"
"Well, something so that he wouldn't feel this way anymore."
"Josh probably feels like an alien in his own body. There are really only a few ways to deal with that. Either you can change his mind, or you can change his body until he feels comfortable with it."
"Can they change his mind?"
"If he truly feels this way? No. At least, I've never heard of it happening very successfully."
"Lisa," Ms. Dickenson said, "Don't lose sight of the fact that Josh needs to feel happy in life too. If it is better for him to become her, then it is better."
"How can I help?" Lisa asked.
"Be there for him. Encourage him to discover himself and learn more. It may be that he is satisfied with a part time glimpse into our world. In the meantime, I'm going to contact a friend of mine and see if she is taking patients. She's an expert in gender issues."
"Josh is afraid of psychiatrists."
"You, and your friends, need to convince him otherwise. I assure you Lisa; she is there to listen, not poke, prod, or judge."
"Thanks Ms. Dickenson, you've helped a lot."
"My pleasure Lisa. I'll let you know what my friend tells me."
::* * *::
Lisa was sitting with Sue and Carla in the cafeteria waiting for Josh. "I talked to Ms. Dickenson today," Lisa told them.
"About Josh?" Sue asked.
Lisa nodded. "She helped, a little. She said that sex was the body, gender was the brain. She also said that they don't always agree with each other."
"Can anything be done?"
"Surgery, if it's true."
"Surgery!" Carla looked surprised.
Sue shook her head as she saw Josh coming towards them. "Hey Josh!" Sue said loudly.
"Hey guys, what's up?" Josh responded.
"The usual," Lisa shrugged.
"Are you all set for tonight?" Sue asked.
"Tonight?" Josh was at a loss.
"For the big experiment! For the trip to the other side."
Josh blushed and nodded.
"Don't worry bro, it'll be cool." Lisa assured him.
"When?" Josh asked.
"Right after school."
::* * *::
Josh spent the rest of the afternoon in the half daze of anticipation. A very big part of him was scared silly, another part was excited, and a final part was just plain relieved that he didn't have to totally hide anymore. Of course, they weren't going anywhere, they'd be in the apartment and he'd be safe. He still couldn't help the nervousness he felt.
Josh hooked up with the girls after school finished. They'd have several hours because his mom started work late and ended work late to avoid traffic. Now that her two kids were in their mid-teens, Denise hadn't seen a need to fight the rush hour traffic and, besides, both kids could cook.
Once they got to the apartment, they all sat around in the living room to make basic plans for the transformation of Josh. "First thing that has to happen is that Josh needs to shower," Sue decided.
"Huh?" Josh replied intelligently.
"The first step in the process is to make you smell like a girl," Sue told him. "While you're showering, we'll pick out some clothing and stuff for you to wear."
"Okay. Now?" Josh asked.
Josh made his way to the bathroom and peeled off his clothes. He took a moment to study himself in the bathroom mirror. Not a bad shape, he mused to himself. Smiling, he turned on the taps and started the shower. Not ten seconds into the shower, Sue barged in. "Hey! A little privacy in here!" Josh shouted, hiding himself behind the curtains.
"Relax, I've seen you naked before," Sue told him. "We all played doctor together."
Sue rolled her eyes. "I forgot some instructions. First, don't wash your hair. We can work with it a bit better like it is. Second, shave your legs and pits."
"The first I can do, the second I don't know about."
"Well, I've got gym and stuff," Josh pointed out.
"They'd never notice, you're a blonde and you can barely see the hair anyways."
"So, why worry then?"
"Because, you goose, it's part of the experience!"
"I'm not sure..."
"Look," Sue told him, exasperated, "Just tell anyone that asks that you and I are dating and that I asked you to do it."
"Really?" Josh asked, surprised.
"Really. Now shave!"
"I'm shaving! I'm shaving!" Josh lathered his first leg. "Do I shave all the way up?"
"Just go above your knee, most girls don't bother higher up."
"I didn't know that," Josh admitted.
"It depends on how dark your hair is. Now that I think of it, though, maybe you should do the whole leg," Sue suggested.
"Most guys don't know any different and if your whole leg is shaved, they might not notice that it is at all."
"Okay. Ow! Damn!"
"I cut myself."
Sue broke out into peals of laughter. "Well, you just got your first war wound."
"It's bleeding! I don't think blood soaked legs are especially feminine," Josh protested.
Sue peaked into the shower. "It's a scratch you big baby!"
Sue started laughing again as she ducked the spray of water directed her way. "It'll stop bleeding before you're done. Just don't make a habit of cutting yourself or it'll get harder to hide. Anyways, once you're done, come to Lisa's room."
::* * *::
All three girls looked skyward as Josh walked into the bedroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. "What?" He asked.
"What girl wears a towel like that?" Lisa asked him.
"Well, it's not like I have anything to hide upstairs."
"Doesn't matter Josh, it's getting into the experience that we're trying to create here. If you want to be a girl, you have to be one mentally too. You have to think like one. It's not just clothing and makeup. It's a mindset. It's how we think."
"Which reminds me," Carla noted. "We can't just keep saying Josh. It won't help."
"How about Joan?" Sue asked.
Josh shook his head.
"Danielle?" "Marie?" "Allison?" "Lucy?" "Dina?" "Shirley?"
Josh shook his head at all of the suggestions.
"Have you got anything better?" Lisa asked, exasperated.
"Well, um, I've always like 'Melissa' for a name," Josh admitted.
"Perfect!" Carla clapped.
"Melissa it is," Lisa agreed as Sue nodded. "Now, Melissa, let's get you ready." Lisa held up a white bra and panty set. "This is one of my older sets. The bra doesn't fit anymore, so you can keep the set."
Josh, now Melissa, took the offered panty set. "Um..."
"Could you turn around?"
The girls rolled their eyes, but turned around as requested. Having put on a bra and panties before, Melissa was quick to get them on. "Do you have some socks or tissues?"
"For what?" Lisa asked as she turned back.
Melissa waved at the vicinity of her chest.
"That went out decades ago!" Sue laughed.
Lisa held up two flesh colored, rubbery like lumps. "These are some helpers. Most girls are a little embarrassed about their chests at first and sometimes we help nature along the right path." She tucked them into Melissa's bra. "We can't all be Carla, who I think was born well-endowed."
"It's in the genes," Carla protested.
"And the chest."
Carla stuck out her tongue and muttered something about jealousy.
"Okay," Sue interrupted the exchange, "Put on the tights next." Sue handed Melissa a pair of white knit tights.
Melissa started to put her foot into the tights.
"Not that way. Roll the legs up and then place your foot into the toe of the tights. You can run tights like nylons if you're not careful," Sue instructed.
Melissa did as directed as Lisa readied the denim jumper skirt and white top. "These next," she instructed. "Put the top on first and then the skirt, it's easier than playing with the shoulder straps after. Once it's on, pull your shirt in from under the skirt."
After Melissa was dressed, the others looked at her. "Wow," Carla said. "You two really look alike now. It was always from the shoulders up, but now it's the whole picture."
Melissa smiled. "Do you think so?" She asked.
Sue and Carla nodded as Lisa stared with a half-smile. Melissa looked at Lisa. "I was just thinking... It's too bad you couldn't dress like this all the time, we could swap classes and get amazing marks!" Everyone laughed.
Sue guided Melissa to Lisa's makeup table. "This'll be easy because you and Lisa are a perfect match. Now, what we're going to do is instruct you and you can do it. Don't worry if it doesn't look good the first time, you'll just need practice."
Lisa handed Melissa the bottle of liquid makeup. "First thing you want to do is apply an even coating of this to your face with a makeup sponge. Those are the little triangle sponges there."
Carla added, "Try to get an even coat and don't forget under your chin and blending into your neck."
Melissa followed the instructions, watching herself in the mirror as Lisa pulled her hair into a high pony tail so that it was out of the way for working.
Sue examined the finished effort. "Missed a small spot," she pointed on Melissa's left cheek. Melissa corrected the mistake. "Okay, lightly brush on some of this powder with the big brush."
"Next is eyeshadow," Lisa said as she handed her a palette of colors.
"Frosty blue is in again," Carla suggested. "It'll match what you're wearing too. Just use this brush to dust over your eyelids." Melissa dusted her eyelids with the frosty blue shadow.
"Okay, now we want to line your eyes with this pencil," Sue followed up. "This is tricky. You want to follow the line of your lashes, top and bottom, with a steady line."
Melissa brought the pencil near her eye and started to line it, but she couldn't stop the rapid blink. "Pull your eye a little, like this," Lisa demonstrated by applying some pressure just outside the corner of her eye. Melissa tried that and found that it helped.
"Not too bad," Sue commented as she peered into Melissa's eyes. "A little rough in spots, but you can use the smudge tool at the other end to soften and correct." Melissa tried that and it seemed to help.
Lisa passed her the mascara. "Not that you need eyelash help, and I'm jealous by the way, but this will thicken and lengthen your lashes. Just go slowly and try not to blink. The lower lashes are harder."
Melissa applied the mascara. "There's clumps," she noted.
"No problem," Lisa reassured, "just use this lash separator." Lisa held up this tiny comb on a stick. Melissa combed out her eyelashes and could see an improvement.
"Blush is next!" Carla announced. "You want to go light with this, just on the apple of your cheeks and just enough to give you a hint of color. Too much and you'll look like a mime."
Once the blush was applied, Lisa held up the lipstick. "Now for the crowning glory..."
::* * *::
All four sat on the couch in the living room. Carla was shaking her head. "I can't get over it. You look so much like Lisa."
"We are twins Carla!" Melissa noted.
"Yeah, but... it's uncanny."
"How do you feel Melissa?" Sue asked.
"Good. Real good. Thank you so much for this, I'll never forget it."
"What makes you think this is the only time?" Lisa asked.
"I don't know..." Melissa stammered, "I just figured..."
"Figured wrong is what you did," Sue noted. "We have to get you practiced so that you can go out with us."
"Go out?" Melissa looked a bit frightened at that.
All three nodded. "Not right yet, though," Lisa added. "We have to work on your mannerisms and stuff. Soon, though. You did a great job on your makeup for the first time. With some practice at being a girl, nobody would know, not even mom!"
"Speaking of... I think Melissa probably needs to transform again," Carla suggested.
"Oh wow! It's getting late. Into the shower Melissa, and wash your face really, really good," Lisa instructed.
Later that night, Lisa dropped of a nightgown in Josh's room. "I thought you might want to borrow this Melissa," Lisa explained.
Josh accepted the gown gratefully. "Thank you Lisa," he said, giving her a hug.
"I love you. Sleep well."
Chapter 5: I'm Standing, Caught in the Crossfire
The weeks following the initial session with the girls saw a lot of growth for Melissa. It became a goal for the girls to get Melissa to the point where she could easily join them in public. Melissa looked the part and now she was able to act the part. More importantly, Melissa had become comfortable around the others.
"You know, I'm getting bored hanging here after school. We need to do something different," Sue decided.
"Like what?" Lisa asked.
"Let's hit a mall, not the usual one, but a mall. We've got bags of time before your mom gets home. She always works late on a Friday."
Melissa stood up. "I'll shower and change then."
"Uh uh girl, Melissa needs to make her public debut!"
"I don't know Sue... here is one thing, but in public?" Melissa asked nervously.
Sue nodded, "yep."
"You look and act just fine Melissa," Carla added.
"We'll just go and check out the latest music and see what's new in the clothing stores for spring," Lisa added. "Everything'll be fine."
"Well... I guess so," Melissa conceded looking scared.
::* * *::
The four got off the bus at the entrance to the mall. Melissa hesitated at the entrance, feeling far more vulnerable in a skirt than she had ever felt as a guy.
"Come on pokey!" Lisa pushed, "Let's get inside and have some fun." Melissa allowed herself to be pushed inside.
Once inside, Melissa took a deep breath and followed the girls to the music store. It was the usual sort of mix of teenagers looking at the latest releases and the adults looking for anything but. Once she realized that nobody was pointing and laughing, Melissa allowed herself to relax and explore her own musical tastes. Unlike Lisa, Melissa was much more into Rock and the Blues than modern pop and so she drifted over to the Blues section of the store.
Before long, Melissa was absorbed into the racks of music thinking that she only needed In Step to finish off her Stevie Ray Vaughn collection. Melissa held the disc in her hands longingly as a voice said beside her, "That's a great album."
"Huh?" Melissa responded with deep intelligence, looking up into the face of the young man standing beside her.
"It's a great album. Crossfire is a rockin' tune to blast on your stereo."
"Yeah, I love that song," Melissa admitted.
"You going to buy?"
"I think I will. I'm Melissa."
"Steve. Yeah, Yeah, it's corny, but that's what my parents named me. I think being a fan of SRV runs in the family."
"I don't see many teenaged girls listening to SRV," Steve admitted.
"I'm an enigma," Melissa smiled. "My sister is the pop music fanatic." Melissa pointed to Lisa.
"Twins! Wow, I guess it's skin deep only?"
Melissa laughed again. "No, just in music. We're exactly alike otherwise."
"Cool. I'm jealous, I always wanted a twin."
"It's got its plusses," Melissa agreed.
"Well, enjoy the disc Melissa," Steve told her. "I've got to run."
As Steve left, the others came over. "I think he likes you," Sue noted.
Melissa blushed. "We were just talking about Stevie Ray. I was scared shitless."
"You looked okay, we saw you laughing," Lisa pointed out.
"He was funny, and nice."
"You passed the first test, and up close too!" Carla pointed out.
"Yeah... I think I'll have that heart attack now," Melissa decided as she gathered up the disc to pay for it.
::* * *::
Denise put the key in the lock to her apartment as she nodded politely to Mrs. Ames, their next door neighbor.
"I see that your other daughter has decided to shed her tomboy looks," Mrs. Ames said by way of greeting.
"My other daughter? Tomboy?" Denise looked quite surprised.
"Oh yes, she always wears jeans and t-shirts and they made her look almost like a boy. I was surprised to see her dressed like her sister for once. I guess they were going to the mall."
"They?" Denise was feeling very lost in the conversation.
"All four of them seemed excited about a new mall or something. Ah, to be young again. Have a nice evening," Mrs. Ames smiled.
"Thank you, you too," Denise responded automatically, her mind whirling.
Denise dropped her purse on the side table and attempted to gather her thoughts. What on earth is going on, she wondered. "It's got to be related to Josh," Denise said out loud. "Well, with the place empty, now is a time to see what's going on in his life." Denise made her way to Josh's room.
::* * *::
Melissa and Lisa were laughing quietly as they let themselves into the apartment. "I'm telling you Lisa, this song is the best!" Melissa protested as she began singing a few more bars of Crossfire.
"Bah, I like to dance. You can't dance to that stuff," Lisa sneered.
"Sure you can," Melissa told her as she began dancing into the living room. "Oh shit!"
"Mom!" Lisa added as she bumped into Melissa's back.
"Which one is which?" Denise demanded as she twisted the clothing in her hands. "Well?"
Melissa shrunk back from the harsh tone as she pointed to herself. "Josh," she replied, sounding scared. Lisa rubbed her shoulders in encouragement.
"I was going to ask you to explain these," Denise said, gesturing at the small amount of clothing in front of her, "but I guess I have an idea."
"I can explain."
"Really? You can explain why my son is dressed like my daughter? Get changed. Now!"
Melissa shook her head and ran to her room, the sounds of her sobs trailing her.
"And you!" Denise turned to Lisa accusingly. "What on earth were you thinking of?"
Unlike Melissa, Lisa wasn't about to be intimidated. "I was thinking of my twin!"
"By humiliating him?"
"The only person who appears to be humiliated is you," Lisa told her.
"Did you hear her voice when we came in?"
"Hers! Answer the question!"
"Lisa, don't shout at me, I'm your mother," Denise told her.
"You're avoiding the question."
"He," Denise stressed the pronoun, "sounded happy."
"She! She isn't humiliated."
"What if someone found out?"
Lisa shrugged. "Someone did. Me."
"Mrs. Ames thinks Josh is a tom girl. Josh gave up trying to convince her otherwise ages ago."
Denise deflated on the couch. "I don't understand," she said quietly.
"Neither do I, but maybe it's time we did."
Chapter 6: Learning to Fly
"Tongue tied and twisted, just an earth bound misfit," Josh sang. "I."
"You aren't being positive," Denise admonished as she drove to the medical centre.
"Besides, Ms. Dickenson says the doctor is super nice," Lisa added.
"I can't believe you told her," Josh grumbled.
"She'll keep it to herself."
"I don't like shrinks."
"Psychiatrists are here to help you," Denise said.
"What if she wants to change my mind?"
"Would that be so bad?"
::* * *::
"Josh, please relax," Dr. Patel. "I promise you that I'm not here to change your mind, poke you, or stick chemicals down your throat."
"I'm a little nervous doctor," Josh said as he fidgeted on the chair.
"Amy, please. Why so nervous?"
"I don't know. I guess ..."
"Surely you don't believe the stories."
"I'm only here to help you be who you want to be. Do you know who you want to be?"
"Melissa!" Josh covered his mouth as soon as he said it.
Amy smiled gently. "Are you worried that I will try to take Melissa away from you?"
Josh nodded, looking frightened.
"I won't do that."
Josh visibly relaxed.
"Why don't you tell me about Melissa," Amy suggested.
::* * *::
"How are you today Josh?" Amy asked as Josh came into her office a week later.
"I miss going out with the girls," Josh admitted.
"We only did it once."
"Have you had any time as Melissa since?" Amy asked.
Josh shook his head.
"I don't think my Mom approves."
"I think it's more likely that your Mom doesn't understand."
"You know what I think we need to do?" Amy asked.
"I think we need to have Melissa here."
::* * *::
"Please hurry up Lisa," Melissa begged as Lisa slowly made up her face the same way as Melissa's.
"Will you relax? We have plenty of time. Mom won't be home for twenty minutes."
Melissa kept pacing.
"You don't have to do this," Lisa said as she put the finishing touches on her lipstick.
"But I think you should."
Melissa sighed and slumped into a chair. "Yeah, I should. I'm scared."
"What if she laughs?"
"Why would she laugh? You look gorgeous and I ought to know 'cause you look like me," Lisa told her as Melissa giggled.
"Really? I don't look like a guy in a skirt?"
"Trust me sis, if you looked like a guy in a skirt, we'd both look that way."
"Mom wasn't happy about this idea," Melissa tried.
"Mom will get over it."
"Why is this so hard?"
::* * *::
"I have to say, I'm impressed," Amy said as she led Melissa to the comfortable chairs.
"You're really quite a beautiful girl you know."
Melissa's eyes widened.
"Of course, now I have to make sure you aren't Lisa," Amy grinned.
"Well, we could do a physical exam."
Melissa shrank against the couch.
"But that won't be necessary. How do you feel?"
"I was only joking," Amy told her.
"Not of that, just of someone figuring it out."
"That you aren't a real girl?"
Melissa nodded timidly.
"What's a real girl, I wonder?" Amy mused. "What do you think makes a real girl Melissa?"
"Well, I guess the physical parts."
"You mean the breasts and the vagina? Medical science can help with that you know."
"Ah, the womb. Why would the womb be the thing that makes a girl?"
"Girls can have babies," Melissa said. "I can't."
"Lots of women can't have babies, that doesn't make them any less a woman. What is a real girl Melissa?"
"I ... I don't know."
"Exactly. Forget the physical parts for a moment, are you a real girl?"
Melissa nodded. "Do you think I am?" She asked.
"I don't know yet," Amy smiled gently. "That is what I'm trying to discover about you."
"I don't get it."
"No matter what happens in here, Melissa will always be a part of who you are and what you will be. The same is true of Josh. What we are here to do is to find out if Melissa is a part of Josh's life or the other way around. When we both know the answer to that question, then we can make some decisions."
"How do we find that out?" Melissa asked, suddenly feeling as if a significant weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
"Your sister and her friends were unintentionally brilliant," Amy grinned. "They have already helped you to start learning to fly."
Chapter 7:Finding Melissa Without a Map
"Kids are starting to comment," Carla observed as Melissa finished touching up her makeup in the mall bathroom.
"About?" Sue asked.
"Like what?" Lisa prodded.
"Well, most of them think he's gay, but they've always thought that. It's just getting more noticeable."
Melissa shrugged as she put the eyeliner back in her purse. "It doesn't matter," she told them. "They haven't a clue."
"Yeah," Sue agreed. "They really don't have a clue!" All four burst into giggles as they left the bathroom and sat back at the food court table.
"I can't really tell the difference anymore," Carla told them. "I mean that I have to actually think about Josh consciously at school. It's getting pretty hard." Sue and Lisa nodded agreement.
"Come on, it's only been a few months since this started," Melissa protested. "You've known Josh all your lives."
"You blend Mel," Sue explained. "I mean, we know who you are, but at school, Josh is disappearing. We can't tell the difference between you anymore."
"Amy said that too," Melissa noted. "She asked me to come as Josh last time and then thought I had forgotten."
"Really?" Sue asked.
"That's so cool," Carla giggled.
"Yeah, I think I have an answer now too."
"An answer?" Lisa asked.
"Is Melissa part of Josh or is Josh part of Melissa?"
"I think it's obvious," Lisa said and the others nodded.
"Yeah, so do I."
"It sucks though," Carla observed.
"Huh?" Melissa and Lisa said at the same time, looking surprised.
"It means that I have two hot chicks to compete with for attention from the guys. That sucks." Carla favored them with a sniff and a grin.
The table dissolved into giggles again as Melissa threw a french fry at her friend.
::* * *::
"You know that you're still very young," Amy observed.
"I know, but I know who I am," Melissa told her as she idly twirled a strand of hair around her fingers.
"That's a remarkably feminine gesture."
"Hair twirling. Do you do that at school?"
"I don't know. Maybe?"
Amy smiled. "I'm positive that you do," she said.
"Probably," Melissa agreed. "Carla said that people are noticing things."
"I'm not surprised. Even I can't really tell when you are Josh and when you are Melissa anymore."
"I know who I am."
"So do I. Have you heard of Harry Benjamin?"
"You understand the reference?"
"I do. RLT."
"RLT. The real life test. I've talked with your mother."
"She has come a long way."
Melissa nodded. "She still doesn't really understand, though."
"No, but that isn't surprising. Most people never will. Even I don't truly understand, though I have some knowledge to guide me."
"So, do I start RLT?"
"Not yet. You have some tasks first," Amy told her.
"There are people to talk to, plans to make, before you can start."
"That depends on you."
"Okay, what do I have to do?" Melissa asked as she sat up straight. She felt her heart suddenly pounding with an excitement and an eagerness to get started.
to be continued...
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