BigCloset Classic

Foul Boy, Fair Lady
Date: Thursday, October 30 @ 23:27:22
Topic Big Closet TG Stories


Why can't a boy--be more like a woman?
Foul Boy,
Fair Lady


After a young fan costs the Cubs the Series, he goes from being a goat to being a chick. A twisted take on Pygmalion from the author of author of The Jessica Project.

Foul Boy, Fair Lady

© 2003 by Nom de Plume

Two outs and bases loaded in the top of the ninth! If the Cubs got one more out, they would be on their way to the World Series for the first time in sixty years!

Wrigley Field was jammed to the rafters with screaming fans on that beautiful October afternoon. I was there with my Dad, just behind third base, in amazing seats that I scored on eBay. We were in the first row, so close to the action that you could reach out and touch the players.

Which is what I did, and which explains why I am wearing a dress as I tell my story.

DEATH THREATS AGAINST FOUL BOY

Chicago – Chicago police are investigating hundreds of threats against the life of Elliott Geiss, the Winnetka boy who single-handedly ruined the Cubs’ season yesterday. Geiss, 13, deflected a foul ball that would have been the final out of the deciding game of the National League playoffs against the San Diego Padres. After umpires declined to rule fan interference, Padres slugger Phil Nevin hit a grand slam home run on the next pitch, giving the Padres a 4-3 lead. The Cubs went down in order in the ninth inning, and police and security officers had to escort Geiss and his father out of Wrigley Field as irate fans shouted death threats and showered them with beer. (See the Sports section for complete coverage, including a profile of the young man already infamous throughout Chicagoland as the “Foul Boy”).

My mother threw the newspaper onto the sofa and dabbed her eyes with a tissue. The curtains in the living room of our neat suburban house were drawn tightly shut, and the strains of my sister’s violin practice almost drowned out the bleating horns from the steady stream of cars passing by on the street.

A uniformed policeman peeked through the curtains and shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it. You’d think Osama bin Ladin just moved to Winnetka.”

My mother started bawling again, and the policeman moved into the kitchen to help himself to another donut. “It’s just like your father to leave the country when we really need him here,” she cried.

“It’s not Dad’s fault,” I said. “He put off his trip just so he could take me to the game.”

“I know, Elliott. And I’m not blaming your father. I just wish he were here.” My father was an international business executive, and he had just left for a two month trip to Asia. When he left that morning for the airport, he told me to do everything my mother said, and to put baseball out of my mind for a while. Had he known what was about to unfold, I am sure he would have chosen different words.

My sister came downstairs, pointing at me with her violin bow. “How’s the scourge of Chicago?” she asked.

“Sarah, don’t tease your brother,” Mom scolded. “We have to pull together as a family right now.”

“Do you have any idea what this is doing to my social life?” Sarah sighed. “Since you changed our phone number, I’ve been cut off from the outside world.” Sarah, three years older than me, was one of the most popular girls in high school, and she delighted in tormenting me long before I became an overnight pariah.

“We’ll get a new number on Monday. In the meantime, just concentrate on doing your homework, for a change.”

“Elliott’s so lucky.”

“What do you mean?”

“There’s no way you’re sending him to school on Monday, are you? I mean, he’d be stoned to death.”

“Sarah, that’s a terrible thing to say.”

“She’s right, Mom,” I chimed in. “The kids will be laying for me. Please, don’t make me leave the house.”

“You can’t drop out of school, Elliott. That’s out of the question.”

“Then how are we going to keep him alive?” Sarah mused.

A strange look came over my mother’s face as she studied the two of us. “Elliott, stand up next to your sister.” Wondering why, I got off the sofa and slouched next to her. “Stand up straight, both of you.” We were identical in height, and although Sarah was three years older than I was, our weight was about the same. My shaggy brown hair was actually longer than hers.

Mom got up and put on her coat. “I’m going to pay a visit to Mrs. Chamberlain,” she said. The officer emerged from the kitchen with a face full of powdered sugar, and offered to organize a police escort. “That won’t be necessary, she lives next door.” Mrs. Chamberlain was the guidance director at my junior high school. What was Mom up to?

* * *

Mom was gone for almost two hours. When she returned, there was a look of grim determination on her face. “Dad called from Tokyo,” I told her. “He left the number of his hotel room.”

“Good,” Mom said. She turned to the policeman, who was slightly disheveled from his nap on the sofa. “You can leave now,” she said curtly. “Thank you for coming. I’ll call 911 if we have any trouble.” After he shuffled out the door, she picked up the piece of paper with Dad’s telephone number and headed towards the master bedroom.

“What did you talk about with Mrs. Chamberlain?” I asked, but she closed the door behind her. In a few minutes, the sounds of an argument began to penetrate the bedroom walls. Sarah and I stared at each other as Mom’s voice became louder and angrier. We couldn’t make out what she was saying, but it was obvious that she was very unhappy with my father. Suddenly we heard her slam down the receiver, and she emerged from the bedroom with steely eyes. Mom was a Chicago woman, fiercely proud of her self-reliance, and once she set her mind on something, it would take an armed posse to stop her.

“Sarah, please come with me,” Mom said, heading towards Sarah’s bedroom.

“What did I do?” Sarah said as she fell in behind her. In a few minutes, a hideous sound suddenly emanated from Sarah’s room. My sister was cackling with unrestrained glee. I heard Mom scolding her, and the sounds of drawers opening and closing, and then the hideous cackling resumed until Sarah was silenced again.

The telephone rang. I picked it up in the master bedroom. “Hello?”

It was Mrs. Chamberlain. “Oh Elliott, I just want to you to know how brave I think you are. I’m sure everything will turn out just fine, dear. You might even enjoy the experience! May I speak to your mother, please?”

Bewildered, I put down the phone as my mother entered the room. “It’s Mrs. Chamberlain for you,” I told her. I listened as my mother and Mrs. Chamberlain exchanged words.

“Are you sure it’s going to be okay?” I heard my mother ask her. “Oh, that’s just wonderful, thank you so much for everything. No, I haven’t told him yet, we have all day tomorrow to get ready. Yes, I will, and thank you again. Bye.”

After she hung up the phone, Mom asked me to come inside the bedroom and close the door behind me. Sarah fixed me with an evil grin as I closed the door in her face. “What’s going on?” I asked.

“Come sit down beside me, and I’ll tell you,” she said as she perched on the corner of the king-size bed. I sat down nervously, wondering what she had on her mind. “You are going to be transferring to Francis Xavier,” she began. Francis Xavier was the Catholic school near our home. Its priests and nuns were famously strict, and I had no friends there. Before I could protest, she cut me off. “It’s already been decided. Mrs. Chamberlain has spoken to the Dean of Francis Xavier personally, and he has approved your transfer, under the circumstances. Your safety is everyone’s paramount concern.”

“But Mom, transferring to Francis Xavier won’t help,” I protested. “The kids there will all know who I am and what I did, and I won’t even have any friends to help me. I’ll be dead meat!”

“We already thought about that. You are not going to school as Elliott Geiss.”

“What do you mean?”

Mom let out a deep sigh. “We are going to enroll you as a girl.”

"What?"

"You heard me. Mrs. Chamberlain agrees that the best way to ensure your safety is for you to assume a new identity and attend your new school in disguise. Your face has been on every newspaper and TV station in the country. We have to make you completely unrecognizable."

My head was spinning. "But why do I have to be a girl?"

"Because I know you can pull it off. You're not too tall, you're thin, and you've got a pretty face. And," she said gently," you haven't hit puberty yet."

That hit me like a slap in the face. My slow development was becoming a growing source of embarrassment in gym class, where most of the other guys were way ahead of me. I compensated for it by being a better-than-average athlete, and I had my share of girlfriends, but I was painfully aware that the peach fuzz on my face and legs set me apart, and I was very defensive about it. "No way!" I shouted in a breaking voice. "Dad would never let you do this to me!"

"Your father is very unhappy about it, of course, but he is halfway around the world right now. He agreed to leave the final decision up to me, and this is what I've decided. I don't expect any more lip out of you."

I was startled by her sudden intensity. Obviously this was what my parents had been arguing about on the telephone. I couldn't believe that he would let her do this to me.

A loud crash from downstairs shocked us both into silence. Sarah cried, "Oh my God!" from the upstairs landing.

Mom sprang off the bed and opened the bedroom door. "Stay here," she whispered as she crept down the stairs. Ignoring her, we followed her into the living room, where a bowling ball lay on the carpet, surrounded by shards of broken glass from a gaping hole in the picture window. A message was scrawled in red paint on the shiny black surface. "Elliott Geiss is a dead man."

Mom turned to us with the look of a pioneer woman whose log cabin has been surrounded by marauding Indians. "From now on, you are both going to do exactly as I say. Sarah, that means you are going to help your brother without your usual snickering and snide remarks. As for you, Elliott, I don't want to hear another word out of you. Now off to bed, both of you, while I call the police and clean up this mess. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow." Shaken, Sarah and I slunk off to our rooms without protest.

That night seemed to last an eternity. I listened at the door as the policemen came and went, and then I tossed and turned for hours as I contemplated my fate. There had to be another way out of my predicament. Anything would be better than pretending to be a girl. I was a guy, I lived and breathed sports, and like most of my friends, I looked down on fags and fairies. I just wanted my old life back. Why did I have to reach out for that stupid foul ball?

* * *

Long after I woke up the next morning, I pretended to be asleep, hoping against hope that some miracle would occur, and that Mom would give up her crazy idea. My hopes were shattered when she tapped on my door and poked in her head. "Rise and shine, sleepyhead," she said with annoying cheerfulness. "We have a big day ahead of us." She opened the curtains to reveal a beautiful Sunday morning. "There's plenty of time to make breakfast and get you ready for twelve o'clock mass."

Normally, I hated going to church on Sunday, but suddenly it didn't sound so bad. Anything to put off her ridiculous scheme to make me dress up as a girl. I sprang out of bed and stopped dead in my tracks as Sarah entered my room holding a dress in each hand. "Which one do you think, Mom?" she asked sweetly. "The blue one is a little on the short side, but I think it may fit him better than the pink one."

"You want me to go to church in a dress?" I blurted out.

"Yes, dear," Mom said matter-of-factly. "Of course, we don't dare go to St. Patrick's today. We'll attend mass at a church near the Woodfield Mall, and spend the afternoon shopping for your new wardrobe. Sarah can loan you some of her clothes to get you started, but you'll need your own undies, and we’ll help you pick out some things that you can wear on the weekends."

“Weekends?”

“Of course. You’ll have a school uniform to wear during the week, but unless you feel like spending the evenings and weekends in your room, you’ll need some casual outfits too.”

I felt the walls closing in. "Please, Mom, don't make me do this," I stammered.

"Remember what I told you last night?" she said with a sudden edge to her voice.

I hung my head in despair. "Yes, Mom."

"Good. Now, first things first. Let's see if we can do something with your hair. I put some of my shampoo and conditioner by your bathtub. And while you're at it, run a razor over those legs of yours." I opened my mouth to object, but the look on her face told me that protest would be futile. With a heavy heart, I headed for the bathroom.

I was surprised to find the tub full of bubbles. Bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a washrag and soap, and several bic razors were lined up along the edge. Mom was dead serious about this! Reluctantly, I peeled off my pajamas and stepped into the hot tub. I closed my eyes and submerged myself below the mound of bubbles, putting off the inevitable as long as I could. When I finally ran out of air, I surfaced with a strategy. I would pretend to play along with Mom’s insanity until I could run away from home. When Dad found out that I was missing, surely he would come back to Chicago and put an end to this madness.

With that, I poured shampoo on top of my head and lathered it into my long hair. As I did, I was reminded of how many times my father had chewed me out for letting it grow so long. If only I had listened to him! After I rinsed it off, I studied the instructions on the bottle of conditioner before I applied the creamy liquid as directed. Then I picked up one of the razors and went to work on my wet, soapy legs. What little hair I had began to disappear into the suds. Ouch! I gave myself a nasty cut as I tried to navigate one of my knees. Ouch! Another cut! I slowed down and finished my left leg with no further damage. Two cuts later, my right leg was also sleek and hairless. Good thing summer was over and I wouldn’t be wearing shorts, I thought to myself as I dried myself off.

I put my pajamas back on and went downstairs for breakfast. Mom and Sarah were engaged in an animated conversation. “It’s all set,” Sarah was saying. “I asked Jeannie if I could borrow one of her old Francis Xavier uniforms for a Halloween costume, and she said no problem. She’s the same size as I am, so it should fit Elliott just fine.”

“That’s wonderful! We can order Elliott his own uniform tomorrow, but it will be so much better for him to fit in from day one.”

I sat down and looked glumly at my orange juice. Two purple pills were next to it. “How was your bath?” Mom asked.

“Terrible. I cut my legs to ribbons.”

“Poor baby, I should have helped you! Let’s see,” Mom said. I lifted up my pajama legs and showed her the carnage. “Oh, that’s not so bad. They’ll scarcely be noticeable under your stockings.”

“Stockings?”

“Drink your orange juice, and be sure to swallow those pills.”

“What are they?”

“They’re to help your complexion. Girls take them so they won’t get acne. That way you might not have to wear any makeup.”

“Makeup?” It was just like girls to have a secret remedy for zits that they kept to themselves. Sarah gave Mom a sly wink as I scarfed them down.

“I want you to listen to what I have to say very carefully,” Mom said as I listlessly started in on my scrambled eggs. “It is no exaggeration that your very life depends on it. As far as the world is concerned, Elliott Geiss is no longer living in this house. He has gone into hiding in Asia with his father.”

“That sounds like a great idea.”

Ignoring the interruption, she plowed ahead. “As of this moment, your name is Elise Huhn.”

“What?”

“Mrs. Chamberlain recommended that we give you a first name similar to your old one. She suggested Ellen, but I thought Elise was a nicer name, and you are taking my maiden name for your surname.”

The doorbell rang. “That must be Jeannie with his uniform,” Sarah said.

“Her uniform,” Mom corrected Sarah. “From now on, your brother is your sister, and I have two daughters. This is not going to be easy for any of us, but if we all pull together, we’ll get through this somehow. Now let’s go upstairs, Elise, and get started.”

I trudged up the stairs like I was walking down death row. Mom led me into her bathroom and sat me down at her vanity. My hair was still wet, and she went to work with rollers and scissors while I hung my head in despair. Mom often told us how she worked her way through pharmacology school as a hairdresser before she married my dad and became a full-time mother, and it didn’t take her long to finish whatever she was doing. I closed my eyes as she finished me off with a comb and hair dryer, not daring to look at the finished product in the mirror.

Her next move was equally disconcerting. My fingernails were carelessly long, and she proceeded to file them into oval shapes. She may have thought about putting a coat of polish on them, but after a glance at the clock on her dresser she said, “Oh oh, time’s flying. We’d better get ourselves dressed for church. Go ahead and get started, Elise, I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”

Like a zombie, I walked into my bedroom to find my bedspread strewn with silk and lace, and I recoiled at the sight. It was one thing to have to wear a dress, but there was no way I was putting on girl’s underwear! I opened my dresser drawers and got the shock of my life. All of my old clothes had been removed! With growing panic, I ran to my closet and opened the sliding door. Hanging there were the two dresses that Sarah had shown me before breakfast. Everything else, all of my pants, shirts, jackets, and sweaters, had been cleaned out. Mom must have done it while I was shaving my legs.

That knocked the stuffing out of me, and I sat down on the bed and began to cry. I was still weeping when Mom came in a few minutes later, and she took me in her arms and hugged me. “Oh Elise, I know this is going to be hard on you, but you do understand why it’s necessary, don’t you? Please try to be brave!”

With that, I was introduced to the unfamiliar world of women’s underwear. Sometimes late at night, I had fantasized about peeling lingerie off beautiful girls, while coaxing a few drops of milky fluid out of my virgin penis. Now it shrunk in shame as my mother dressed me in my sister’s bra and panties. “Why to I have to wear a bra?” I protested.

“It will make your dress fit better,” she said as she fastened it behind me, giving me pointers on how to fasten the clasps while she filled it out with tissues. “You’ll have to do this all by yourself tomorrow, and every day after that. Now then, let me show you how to put on your nylons.”

I cringed at the thought. “Do I have to wear them?”

“It was forty degrees out when I woke up this morning. You’ll be thankful you have them on, young lady.” Before I could protest, she picked up a pair of Sarah’s pantyhose and handed them to me. I could feel my boyhood slipping away as she coached me on how to put on my first pair of stockings. “Very good,” she said approvingly after I tugged them up to my waist. Then she took one of Sarah’s slips and dropped it over my head.

Just then Sarah came through the open door carrying a bundle of clothing. “Omigod!” she cried. “You so look like a girl!” I must have blushed deep red as I stood there in front of my sister, dressed in her slip and stockings. It was the most humiliating moment of my life.

“She is a girl,” Mom corrected her.

“Do you want to try on your uniform?” Sarah asked.

“We don’t have time for that now,” Mom told her. “Go ahead and get dressed for church yourself.” Sarah put my uniform down on the bed and tore herself away.

Mom got the pink dress off its hanger. “This will be more appropriate for church,” she said as she unbuttoned a few of the top buttons. She showed me how to step into it, and then she pulled it up over my shoulders and buttoned it up to my neck. I started to cry again when she lifted up my dress and fussed with the lacy hem of my slip. She gave me a hug and said, “I know this must be so hard for you.”

“Oh Mom, I can’t go out dressed like this. Everybody will know that I’m a guy.”

Without a word, she steered me into her bedroom and pointed me towards the full-length mirror on her closet door. When I saw my reflection, my knees buckled. There was no way anybody would mistake the person staring back at me for a boy. From my wavy hair to my stockinged feet, I looked like a pretty girl. “Elise,” Mom said gently, “nobody will suspect a thing unless you make a scene and call attention to yourself. As long as you behave and do the things I tell you, your secret will be safe.”

Sarah came in and asked what we were doing. “Go get some flats for your sister to try on, please,” Mom told her. She returned in a few seconds with a pair of low-heeled white shoes that I tried to put on, but they were too small for my feet.

“I guess that means I can’t go to church,” I said hopefully.

“Not so fast,” Mom said. She went into her closet and came out with a pair of white high heeled shoes. “These only have a two inch heel, let’s see how they look on you.” She knelt down in front of me and guided my feet into her heels. They were tight, but they fit. “Try taking a few steps,” she said. I wobbled at first, and they pinched my toes, but I was able to walk in them. I hated the way they forced me to take little steps, like a girl.

“They hurt my feet,” I said.

“Welcome to the club,” Mom replied.

The rest of that morning is a blur: Sarah draping one of her winter coats over my shoulders and handing me a white purse to carry…Mom smoothing a light coat of gloss over my lips, “just to give your face a little color”…crouching down as Mom backed our car down the driveway, only to find that the media stakeout vanished after they fell for the story that I fled to Japan…Mom’s instructions to keep my knees together, my head high, and above all to smile: “your best camouflage”…Sarah’s whispered words of encouragement as we walked side by side into the crowded church…kneeling in my nylons and praying in vain for God to give me my old life back.

Although I was scared to death throughout the service, it turned out that Mom was right: everybody took me for exactly what I appeared to be. After church, we drove to the Woodfield Mall, where we spent a beautiful October afternoon driving nails into the coffin of Elliott Geiss. Among the horrors I experienced were shopping for dozens of pairs of panties and pantyhose, having my ears pierced, and the embarrassment of a sleazy shoe salesman looking up my dress. When we finally headed for home, laden down with shopping bags, I was exhausted, demoralized, and reconciled to my fate: until Dad got back from Japan, I was stuck being a girl.

The turning point came when we stopped at a restaurant for an early dinner. Like everybody at church and the mall, the hostess and waiter referred to me as “Miss” and “Young Lady.” I was tucking into a hamburger when Mrs. Binaca, the neighborhood busybody, came to our table and showered Mom with condolences. “You were so wise to spirit Elliott out of the country!” she said. When I was introduced as Sarah’s friend from high school, Mrs. Binaca complemented me on my pretty pink dress.

After we got home and my new things were put away, I put on a long flannel nightgown and joined my mother and sister in the family room. I couldn’t bear to watch the Padres in the World Series, so I sat down on the sofa next to Sarah as the Sunday night movie came on. While my sister braided my hair into pigtails, we watched “My Fair Lady.”

“Omigod!” Sarah said suddenly. “Elise looks just like Audrey Hepburn!”

She was right. The gangly tomboy with pigtails and a big nose looked just like me. I squirmed as she was slowly transformed into a fairy princess, and dozed off before the ending.

* * *

The alarm clock went off at six o’clock the next morning. At first it seemed like a normal day. A glance at the ruffled cuff on my nightgown brought me back to reality.

The uniform for girls at Francis Xavier consists of a pleated knee-length jumper in navy blue, a white blouse, and matching knee sox or tights. I was glad that Jeannie loaned us her knee sox, which somehow seemed less feminine than tights. While I dressed myself as a girl for the first time, I thought sadly about how I used to feel sorry for the boys at Francis Xavier because they had to wear shirts and ties.

Mom was waiting for me in the kitchen when I came downstairs. Sarah had already left for an early music lesson. Mom retied the bow at the back of my jumper and brushed my hair, pinning it above my ears with some barrettes. After I downed some anti-zit pills with my orange juice, I told Mom that I was too nervous to eat anything. She seemed nervous too, and after she fixed a purse for me and gave me one of Sarah’s winter coats, we were on our way to Francis Xavier. We rode in silence until we got to the beautiful campus, its sweeping green lawns filled with autumn leaves. Mom found a spot in the visitors’ parking lot and looked at me before she turned off the engine. “Tell us about yourself, Elise,” she said.

I launched into the spiel that we had rehearsed on the way home from the mall. “My name is Elise Hahn. We just moved to Winnetka from Omaha.” That would hold up, as my grandmother lived there. I continued relating my fabricated background until she was satisfied.

Once we got out of the car, I had to hold down my dress when an Artic blast chilled my bare thighs to the bone. “My legs are so cold!” I cried.

“Would you like me to pick up some navy blue tights for you to wear tomorrow?”

“I guess.”

We hurried into the handsome stone administration building and made our way to the Dean’s office. A secretary showed us into a large paneled room, where a priest and a nun were waiting for us. Monsignor Tully, the Dean, had a kindly face and bushy white eyebrows. Sister Delano, plain-looking and middle-aged, was wearing a gray dress instead of a nun’s habit.

Monsignor Tully looked me up and down before he spoke. “So this is the young man who sent the Padres to the World Series,” he said with a chuckle. When Mom and I stared back at him, he said, “Forgive my little joke. I know how difficult this must be for you. With God’s help, I’m sure we can get you through this.”

He turned to face my mother. “When Mrs. Chamberlain called me on Saturday night, I was only too happy to help. We will do everything possible to make sure your son’s secret is protected. However, we are primarily a religious and educational institution, and he will have to abide by our rules in return.”

“I am sure that you will have no trouble from Elise,” my mother said.

Monsignor Tully turned to me. “Only two people in the entire school will know your true identity,” he said. “Myself, and Sister Delano, who will be your homeroom teacher. Sister Delano also teaches English. None of your other teachers will know anything about this. If you have any trouble whatsoever, please tell Sister Delano, and if she is unavailable, come straight to me. Is that understood?” I nodded my head in agreement.

“Now, I have arranged for you to be excused from gym class. You will have an extra study period in the library for the time being. Otherwise, I expect you to comport yourself like any other girl in your class. Are there any questions?”

“Which rest room should I use?”

Everybody laughed as I turned beet red. “The girl’s room, of course,” Sister Delano said. “Just remember to close the stall door and sit down!” More laughter from everybody but me.

After we signed some forms, and Mom gave me an awkward hug goodbye, Sister Delano escorted me to my homeroom. It was filled with chattering students who sized me up as she showed me to my desk in the first row. The new girl! Several of the guys were ogling my legs, and I remembered to keep my knees together as I sat down. One stern glance from Sister Delano, and the class immediately fell into silence.

“I would like to introduce our new classmate, Elise Huhn,” she said. “Elise comes to us from Omaha, Nebraska. Now let us recite the Lord’s prayer.”

The day passed quickly. By paying attention to what my teachers were saying, I was able to take my mind off the fix I was in, and I learned more in one day than I ever did in public school. During breaks and recess, I kept to myself. The other kids thought I was either stuck up or shy, which was fine with me.

English was my next-to-last class of the day. Towards the end of the period, Sister Delano gave us a new assignment. “Each of you is to write a theme describing an experience in your lives which changed you in some way. It is to be at least 5,000 words in length.” The class groaned. “You will have two weeks to complete it, so I suggest that you get started tonight.”

After English, I had my study period in the library. I looked through the window at the guys playing soccer and the girls playing field hockey, longing to be out there with them. So Sister Delano wanted me to describe an experience that changed my life. I sat down at a computer and started to write.

* * *

Sister Delano watched closely as Mrs. Geiss read through Elise’s theme. They were sitting side by side in two of the students’ desks in her classroom, at the mandatory parent-teacher conference for all students the week before the Thanksgiving recess. She waited until Mrs. Geiss finished the last page before she spoke.

“The quality of the writing is extraordinary, especially in light of your son’s academic record.” She held in her hands a manila folder from Elliott’s old school. “He was on academic probation twice last year, and he had straight D’s in English. At first I thought he must have had some help on this, but I have ruled that out, at least insofar as help from another student is concerned. He would be mortified if any of them ever read this.”

“I can assure you that Elise had no help at home on her theme,” Mrs. Geiss said with irritation in her voice. “Neither her sister nor I were even aware that she was writing it.”

Sister Delano followed her lead, and switched genders in referring to her new student. “Then how do you explain her sudden gift for the English language?”

“Perhaps it’s true what they say about suffering and art. How has she performed in her other classes?”

“I have reports from all of her teachers. She has maintained a straight A average in all of her other subjects during the six weeks that she has been here.”

The two women stared at each other for some time. “It seems that this experience has had unexpected benefits,” Mrs. Geiss finally said.

“Evidently, at least from the standpoint of academics. And her behavior has been exemplary. Quite a contrast from your son’s disciplinary record at public school.”

“Elliott used to fight and show off all the time. I suspect that he was compensating for his lack of physical maturity. Now when Elise comes home, she goes straight to her room and does all of her homework before dinner. Things are much more pleasant around the house these days.”

“It would appear that Elise is biding her time until her father comes to her rescue.”

“That is not going to happen.”

“I must say, I was surprised by your husband’s lack of support, considering what your family has been going through.”

Mrs. Geiss let out a deep sigh. “I begged him to cancel his trip to Asia, but the truth is, he has been carrying on an affair with a woman in Tokyo for over two years, and he has been hounding me to agree to a divorce for months.”

“Dear God.”

“After he refused to come back and help us through this, I agreed to grant him a divorce. He will be relocating to Japan, and I doubt if he’ll even come back to clear out his things. I have kept this from the children, because I know it will be devastating for them, but I suppose there is no point in prolonging the inevitable. I will have to find some way to tell them soon,” she said as she got up to leave.

“You will be in my prayers. It sounds like I will have Elise in my class for the foreseeable future. Perhaps you should encourage her to begin writing a personal journal of her experiences.”

“That is a wonderful idea. I give thanks every night for what you and the other teachers at Francis Xavier have done for my daughter,” Mrs. Geiss said as she handed Elise’s theme back to Sister Delano. “She is just beginning to blossom.”

“The Lord helps those who help themselves,” the nun replied as she flipped through the theme for a particular passage. “If you can spare any of those purple pills,” Sister Delano said without looking up, “I have several hellions in my class who could use some help with their…complexions.”

Mrs. Geiss picked up her purse and coat and hurried out the door.

If you would like to read Elise’s Journal, tell the author Nom de Plume c/o The Jessica Project.

TG bad boy to good girl in hiding deals Rated-M
Part 1 of a new series from the author of The Jessica Project.
2. Elise's Journal
3. Misstrial

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