|The Transformation Story Archive||The Other Sex|
Regrets and Might-Have-Beens
Regrets And Might-Have-Beens
It was early Summer, and school hadn't yet been out for a week. I was practicing, as always, running through my routine over and over down at the skate park. I was pretty good for a 13-year-old and I knew it. As my confidence grew, I threw extra height into my jumps, more life into my twisting leaps high over the ground. I was giving the routine of my life when tragedy struck.
A bearing froze.
This almost never happens to quality in-lines, especially in-lines as well maintained as mine. But I got lucky. Head over heels I tumbled, putting new marks in pads and anatomy alike. When I finally came to a stop, the group of spectators I had garnered rushed in to make sure I was OK. After a minute I knew I was, and they let me walk it off.
I would have skated it off, but that's real hard to do when you have a locked wheel. Until I could get a part, I was half-lame from my viewpoint.
And the regionals were in two days.
My life was ruined!!
Head hanging like a sad puppy, I walked home in an hour what I could have skated in a few minutes. What a ripoff! I KNEW I could have won the Juniors division if I put on a decent performance- I had the moves and the style to kick the ass of most kids 3 or 4 years older than me. Skating was my life! I had no friends, no extra-curricular activities, nothing but skating.
And I was going to miss the biggest event ever! It was my big chance, and these cheap skates had blown it for me! It was so unfair.
I threw open the door to our little apartment and flung the damned things down on the floor hard enough to piss off the neighbors three doors down. Then I went into my room, slammed the door, and buried my face in my pillow. No, I wasn't crying. I had just gotten some sweat in my eyes...
Presently JoAnne knocked gently at my door. "Is anything wrong?" she quietly asked.
I wanted to scream at her, tell her to lay off my business. But JoAnne had always been pretty good as older sisters go. She was only a year older, and we had played a lot when we were still just kids. I couldn't stand to think of the hurt look she got in her eyes when I yelled at her. It made me feel small and mean. So I wiped my eyes, put myself together a bit and let her come in. We sat on the bed, and I explained.
She understood right away what had happened, since she was a skater too, though by her own admission she didn't have much of a gift for it. I had tried and tried to help her, even customizing her skates a lot like mine, tuning them to the finest pitch of readiness. Covered by darkness, I had even worn them myself at the skating park, hoping to find something wrong with them to excuse her ineptness. But, sadly, except for the raised heels and thin leather they were as finely tuned as my wheels. I could perform in them almost as well as in my own.
Immediately she offered to let me scavenge her skates for parts, but they were not interchangeable with mine. Then she offered me the use of them for the Regionals, but THAT was out of the question. Yes, we were the same size and all that, but I would NOT wear white high-heeled skates with a fine leather fringe on top and big yellow daisies on the outsides of the uppers, not for love or money. I could just picture being in the magazines, and having the camera focus in on my feet to emphasize my moves like they did for the big names, only to show a big yellow daisy. Out of the question.
Then Sis suggested we could modify her skates. We looked them over for a while, but there was just no way to hide that they were girl's skates. Sadly, we gave up and watched TV to kill the time till Mom got home.
Soon, I noticed Sis taking odd glances at me.
I was in a foul mood, so I made a face at her and turned away.
Almost right away, she was looking strangely at me again.
"All right!" I said angrily, "I give up. What is it?"
"I don't think you want to know" she answered.
"Then quit looking at me!"
But she couldn't. I saw she was trying, but once she gets an idea she can't drop it until she shares it, no matter what. She had been nice to me all night, so I asked to explain, told her that it wouldn't hurt my feelings.
"OK," she said, "But just remember you asked for it. I think I figured out a way for you to skate in the regionals." She had my attention. "How?"
"Well, we can't change the skates. You're right about that. And we can't get parts for yours. And, no one would ask you to wear mine and damage your reputation. But what if we did it so that no one could possibly know?"
I was confused. "What do you mean?" I asked. "We-e-ell," she drug out, fearing the storm, "If you were a girl these skates wouldn't funny on you at all..."
I was too shocked to speak. Me, dress up as a girl? "Yech!" was the kindest though that crossed my mind. How could she suggest such a ridiculous thing? Why even bring it up?
"Well, just remember, you asked." And she was right. I let it drop.
Until the TV commercial mentioned the $5000 prize for best junior skater.
I still didn't want to do it, but we weren't a rich family and I KNEW that if I skated I would win, even in JoAnne's skates. Mom had lost the car just a couple months back, and she was working BIG overtime to make ends meet for us. She was tired all the time, and we never got to see her anymore. I figured $5000 would help a lot.
So I let Sis work me over, just to see what could be done.
We had a fight right away. She wanted to perm my hair and paint my nails and everything, while I just wanted to do enough to get by. Finally, once she got me to listen she explained that because I was really a boy I had to do more to look girly than a real girl would. And the last thing I wanted was to be found out, right? She went whole hog.
I hated shaving my legs the most, I think. And my armpits. I hadn't had hair in either place very long yet, and I guess I was still sort of proud of it. I pointed out that my legs would be covered while I skated, but Sis would have none of it. "What if you have to go to the bathroom?" she asked. "You'll have to sit down, you know. And that means your drawers come down. Which means your legs will show. You don't want to get caught, do you?"
I began to hate that phrase over the next couple hours.
While my false nails dried, she began on my hair. I've always preferred the long look, and I guess it served me well. JoAnne dyed it ash blonde, to make me look less like myself. And she teased it and trimmed it until it felt altogether like someone else's head of hair. I'd always wondered why girls wear barrettes, until I found out that the fluffed hair goes all over unless restrained.
She wouldn't let me look in the mirror until I was finished. If she had, I'd have never gone through with it.
Next came clothing. I planned on wearing my own underwear underneath, but Sis explained that I needed more "filling out" and besides, it would show through. So I with deep misgivings donned panties, and bra. Sis stuffed them a lot to make them look right, and it was a really strange feeling to have all that extra padding. Next, she brought me a pair of pantyhose.
"No!" I said. "Absolutely not. Out of the question. I don't need to wear those, and I won't."
"Kevin," she explained, "You're right. You won't have to wear these to pass at the skating park. But I have an idea. We have to know if this is working or not. Mom's going to be home soon. How about if you see if you can fool her into thinking you're a friend of mine?"
I argued, but no other clothing (including my own) was forthcoming so eventually I donned the hose. It was no more pansy than the bra, right? And I might as well be hung for sheep as lamb. The dress was easy after the nylons, almost an anticlimax. As were the earrings and the makeup.
Sis had become very quiet as she finished up, getting a really starry look in her eyes. Finally she stood me up on her high heels, and helped me learn to walk a bit. It was easy, for a skater. Then she took me to the mirror. I was gorgeous.
More than that- I was a young teen knockout.
I watched the beautiful girl in the mirror's jaw drop in exact synchronization with my own. I had to blink a few times with my mascara'ed lashes to really connect the reflected image with myself. It was sort of like trick or treat, but more so. I stared and stared.
JoAnne giggled. "Polite girls don't stare, Kevin." Then she stopped. "We need a name for you, don't we? How about one similar to 'Kevin' so you react more naturally?"
I was still at a great distance. "Sure, whatever."
"Karin, then. Karin with an "I". And we'll use Mom's maiden name for your last. Karin Streck, future skating champ and prize winner."
I turned to meet her ecstatic gaze. What else could I do? "Karin Streck it is."
And we sat and waited for Mom.
She came in without groceries, which was not a surprise to either of us. We had planned on eating more home cooking to try and get the car back, but with all the hours she was working Mom found fast food a lot easier to make happen. At Sis's suggestion, I was sitting with my legs crossed as she had shown me, with her teddy bear on my lap. Like she said, I was really a boy so I had to overdo it. I didn't know if I was more afraid of Mom recognizing me or not recognizing me. I was 'way far away from anything I was comfortable with, and just barely managed a polite little smile when introduced to my own mother. Sis kept things going, not letting me play shy. She made me walk over and show Mom that I had a dress just like her's, pointed out how nicely it set off my complexion, the whole nine yards. I spoke as little as possible, being as uncomfortable with the subject matter of "girl-talk" as I was with the gentle tone of voice I tried to project. I kept waiting for her to see through the thin makeup and flashy hair work, but she never did.
She literally did not recognize her own son. It was frightening to me at a very deep level.
Pretty soon Mom was cross about my still being out. I looked at Sis, who explained that I was out desperately searching for a part for my broken skate.
Mom was really sympathetic about that- it kind of touched me to see that she really did care about my skating. She said she hoped I would be able to find some way, any way to compete.
Sis's face brightened. "ANY way?"
"Well, any way that's legal. I wouldn't want him to cheat or to steal someone else's skates. But other than that, yes, I would do almost anything."
Sis erupted in glee, while I blushed and Mom stared at both of us. Finally, Sis explained about her skates...
And my hair...
And the dress...
And so forth. When Mom realized what had happened she grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me around to face her, looking me over.
"My God..." she said slowly, examining me carefully. "You're, you're actually BEAUTIFUL..."
And she began to laugh, too.
I really felt left out of the joke. Here I was wearing clothes I wouldn't be caught dead in, being pinched in all the wrong places. I felt awkward and uncomfortable. And my family couldn't stop laughing.
Finally, with tears running down her cheeks Mom got herself back under control. She saw my serious face and apologized. "I'm sorry, Kevin, it's just that..."
"I know, Mom," I replied, shifting my weight a little to relieve the awkward pressure of the heels. "But I've GOTTA be in the regionals. I'll win for sure! And we do kind of need the money, don't we..."
A veil came over Mom's face. "Yes Honey, we sure do. Is the prize less for the girl's division?"
"Mom!" I said petulantly. She knew so little about street skating. "There IS no girl's division. Everyone competes together. Otherwise, I'd be cheating!"
She nodded. "Good. JoAnne, get your purse. No, wait, get two purses. Kevin needs one."
"Yes, Mother. But we decided to call him, er, her Karin spelled with an "I". That way, he'll have an easier time in front of the judges."
"Good thinking! Get Karin a purse and let's go get dinner. Then we've got some shopping to do!"
"Wait!" I said. "I'm not going out like this!"
"Whyever not?" asked Mom.
I spluttered. "Well, people will SEE me!"
Mom gently put her hand on my shoulder. "Kevin, don't you think it's a good idea to get some practice while you can? You've only got two days." She examined me critically again, squatted down to adjust my clothing as I had seen her do for Sis so many times. "Besides, Karin, if either your sister or I looked half as good as you do we wouldn't mind being seen at all." And she kissed my nose and gave me her little Mom smile.
Mom and Sis were right- I was the focus of all the attention. On the bus ride I felt eyetracks all over me, until a gentleman gave up his seat for me. "Thank you, sir" I said in response an elbow in the ribs, and he replied with a big smile "No problem at all, little miss". It was eerie- I wasn't use to this kind of thing at all. JoAnne ostentatiously crossed her legs as I settled in, and I followed suit even though it wasn't very comfortable. At the hamburger factory, Mom and Sis made it a point to order a salad for me instead of my usual greaseburger. I'd never had one at a place like this before, and I was surprised to find that it was quite good. I concentrated on little bites, trying not to stain my dress or upset my makeup too badly. I didn't succeed, though. Mom announced that she needed to visit the ladies room. I didn't react, so she kicked me gently in the shin and announced it again. I was horrified- I hadn't been in there since I was three or four. But how could I argue? Freddie Reavis was at the next table ogling me. I had to go along to avoid being caught.
Once she was sure we were alone, Mom redid my face while whispering encouragement. "You're doing great, Karin!" she exclaimed. "Just look at that boy at the next table staring at you. I'm so proud!"
I didn't know how to take her being proud, but I knew I didn't like Freddie. I gave him the "high chin of disdain" as we collected our purses and left for the mall. This was one feminine gesture I had examined many times in great detail, and the crestfallen look on Eddie's face was almost worth the whole charade.
We went to a dance shop. I didn't understand this, as neither Sis nor Mom went in for that sort of thing. But I caught on quick when Mom held the shiny pink unitard up to me to check for size while JoAnne nodded approvingly.
"Are you two crazy?" I asked in my boy voice.
Heads turned. I had forgotten for a moment what was at stake. I continued in a whisper. "Why would I want that thing?"
"Why Karin, you've got to have SOMETHING nice to skate in. You wouldn't want to be the only girl there in shorts and a t-shirt, would you?" Mom asked.
Desperately, I tried another track. "But we can't afford it!"
She grasped my chin, turned my face up. Very sadly, she explained to me that if I didn't win we were sunk anyway.
I tried on the unitard.
It felt even stranger than the other clothes. It sort of grabbed all over, while leaving you free to move about any which way. And it was warm- how could something so light and insubstantial be so warm and soft? It made me look more girly than the damned dress did. Men and boys walking down the mall stared openly. It sent chills up and down my spine...
The shop's owner was an artist. While I stood very still, she painted several large daisies on the unitard. Mom went over and selected a helmet and some new pads from a bike shop, and the owner customized them with daisies as well. At the last minute Mom added a shiny blue unitard to practice in, and a couple short dancer's skirts. I thought I would die of humiliation at appearing in this getup. But it had been too late to back out for hours now.
The ride home was strangely silent. Mom and Sis just sat and stared ahead with silly grins on their faces. Sometimes they would look at each other or me and giggle. It was like they expected me to join in, but I can assure you that the joke had long since lost it's humor for me.
Mom made me leave the nails on to sleep, and put me up in curlers. Between clawing myself unexpectedly and the strange sensations on my scalp, I hardly got any rest at all. I woke up to find the other two members of my family at my bedside, looking me over. Mom held her chin cradled in her fingers, appraising me and the situation, while Sis just smiled and looked. Finally, Mom went and got JoAnne's old housecoat for me to wear at breakfast.
I raised Hell at that. I even cried, a little. I was desperate.
Mom sat down next to me and held me for a bit, and then explained that she wanted me to spend all the time I could thinking "girl". She said I was very pretty, but not very feminine. And I had to be more of a girl to pass close inspection. Our family's future was riding on the prize money, she explained. Could I put up with it for just two more days? I couldn't say no, and she rewarded me with her "Mom smile" again. I always got warm and sappy when she did that...
So I wore fuzzy slippers and a housecoat while I drank my breakfast diet drink, then Mom had me take a bath using her special oils to make me smell right. I smelled, alright, when I got out but I didn't like it. Sis said it was a perfect touch, though, and they had me lay back on the bed wrapped in a towel. I didn't understand what was happening until I smelled nail polish again. I pulled my feet away- there was no excuse whatsoever for this! But it turned out there was- Sis owned nothing but open-toed casual shoes, and no girl my age, they claimed, left her toenails unpolished. I had to wear SOMETHING on my feet to walk to the park.
I checked later- it was true.
So I accepted a pedicure, while Sis plucked at my eyebrows. She'd been at it for awhile when I realized that it would take awhile for them to grow back out. "Hey," I complained, pulling back and making Mom curse at my suddenly moving feet. "That eyebrow plucking is kind of permanent for a couple days isn't it?"
She eased me back. "Silly! I wouldn't take very much. You're still my brother, when this is over. I don't want you to be embarrassed."
When she was done I realized that her and my definitions of "very much" were quite different. Oh well, it was too late. And I had all Summer to recover.
When they finished they brushed me up and helped me dress up in the blue unitard. I wore a dress over it for the bus trip across town to the city's other skating park, where I desperately hoped I would be able to find a way to vary my routine enough to make it not look mine. My old pads and helmet were not distinctively male, so I strapped them on in the girl's locker room with Mom and Sis helping, got the silly little skirt fastened, and went to work.
Amazingly, it was one of my best days.
I felt terribly aware of myself at first, hearing the guys shout to each other to "Check out the new babe" and such. But as always, my consciousness left my mind and became more subtle, living in my flying arms and pumping legs and overworked sense of balance. I forgot where I was and how I was dressed; heck, I even forgot who I was. I just existed, living in the beauty of the eternal "now". It came to me gradually how the routine should be, what should change and what shouldn't. I even limped my wrist a little thinking of Mom working all the time, and minced just a tad remembering our lost car. It was improvised, but it was excellent. After a four- hour workout I was as sharp as I'd ever been, unitard or no.
My family was silent in the locker room, shocked at what they'd seen. Neither of them had come to see me skate in ages.
They made me take another bubble bath, and worked endlessly on my hair. I wanted to stay home and rest, but they wanted me out on the town some more. This was the worst yet- they made me watch a romance movie...
I won the competition clean the next day, of course. No one else came close. The media picked up on the story of a "girl" winning a unisex athletic competition, and I couldn't get away from the reporters until they interviewed "Karin". Mom and Sis stayed 'way back to keep me anonymous, and I gave the papers our old address from when I was 4. My happy smile wasn't faked as I accepted the trophy and the check, even if I did have to make it a carefully coached girl smile. I even managed to keep it up when one of the judges kissed me, though it was hard. Very hard. But I got through it, knowing that in three hours "Karin" would be history, a memory which someday promised even to become fun.
Everyone wanted to talk to me after the ceremony, of course, and I smiled and nodded and acted as airheaded and dingy as I could. Presently a man came by and congratulated me like the others had, and asked if I thought I could do as well at the Nationals.
My jaw dropped. The Nationals? Why, we didn't have the money, I explained...
Turns out this guy represented a roller blade company. He thought the idea of a girl champion endorsing his product line would make for good sales and open the market more. I kept smiling vacantly while he and Mom worked out details...
The Nationals were two months away, and I had photo shoots for my new role as a sponsor almost weekly. Mom moved us into a new apartment so the neighbors wouldn't catch on, and begged me please be Karin for just a little while longer. Karin, she explained, could make as much in a week as Mom had in a month. And we were still so far behind...
I grinned and bore it. I had to always be Karin, of course, since I was coming and going as her regularly to practice and such and we couldn't afford the slightest hint of suspicion. Mom tried to be good to me, she really did, but she just couldn't understand that I didn't get excited over her bringing home a new hat for me, or a stuffed animal. More and more she and JoAnne were thinking of me as Karin, and since I was seeing no one else, no other friends or anything, it was getting very confusing to me. One day I dressed in my old jeans and t-shirt to go play the way I had, but Mom came back home unexpectedly and caught me. I got in terrible trouble! Mom asked if I wanted to see us all in the poorhouse, and demanded I get dressed immediately in my proper clothes. I cried and raged in my frustration, but I didn't get a word of support until I was dressed for another evening shopping. Then Mom told me how sorry she felt for her Karin, and held me close till my tears dried. My old clothes vanished shortly thereafter.
Sis got jealous of all the attention I was getting, of course. But she kept quiet, too, as she also enjoyed the better neighborhood we had moved to and the nice new toys. She started taking drugs, though...
I won the Nationals, of course, and the World Challenge beyond that. The feminists picked up on my victories, and used me as a good example for girls everywhere. Pretty soon I was appearing on talk shows and being interviewed for teenybopper magazines. When I got a question about how I felt about braces messing up a girl's looks, or how to attract boys I just kind of though about Sis and answered like she would've, if she were still healthy. I missed a lot of school over that kind of thing (Mom had explained to me that money could fix any school registration system in the country, so my records all read "Karin" now) until Mom finally, as she put it, "popped for a tutor to get the State off her ass". I learned how to stand and sit and converse like a lady instead of Algebra, but I don't think the State knew or cared as long as the forms were filled out right.
Puberty progressed. My face slowly began to become more angular, but then as I landed my first role in a sitcom that quickly reversed. My breasts began to get tender and swell, while my hips filled out in a most peculiar way to a boy like me. It took me a long time to find out it wasn't just wearing the dresses that did that to me, that Mom was spiking my food with something called estrogen. I spoke to her once about it, a bit fearfully, but she reassured me that everything was under control and that she had my best interests at heart.
When I was in my Sweet Sixteen, as Mom persisted in calling it, one of her boyfriends tried to rape me. I wanted to crack him in the jaw, but my training was beginning to take and I kicked him in the nuts instead. It scared me that I did it automatically, like any other girl would have...
Then came the last few months before I turned 18. At 18 I would be free, able to take control of my not-inconsiderable finances and walk out on Mother, trying to regrow my life on a more natural path. It was getting hard to remember baseball and fistfights, hard indeed. But I would find a way. The last straw had come when I had explained to Mother that I wasn't in the least attracted to men, that while I was undoubtedly toothsome and charming as a young woman that it was still just a role I was playing. I wanted to be free of it someday, and enjoy sex and have children. She had looked at me worriedly and asked if I wasn't attracted to men even just a little bit. No, I had exclaimed, I was quite sure I preferred women. She had looked startled for a moment, then quite calmly explained that it was OK for me to be a Lesbian, under the circumstances, and that she and Sis would understand. And she gave me her "Mom" smile....
It sickened me. "Motherrrr!" I exclaimed in rage while stamping my foot, and then I about freaked out on the spot. When had I started calling Mom Mother like my sister did? It had been a long time, now, I was sure. And I had stamped my petite little high heel into the carpet so naturally...
Right then I decided to get out. There would be no more nylons, no more earrings. Well, actually there would have to be for awhile, I supposed, until I learned to pass as a man and get some clothes again. And maybe get some weight off my hips and chest...
I packed furiously, hating every garment I threw into the "Princess" style luggage. I concentrated on plain stuff to wear while I had to, and expensive stuff to sell. Eventually I came across my Signature Series Limited Edition Daisy Special rollerblades. They were valuable, and I should have packed them. But instead, in a thoroughly girlish gesture I turned around to throw them across my lacy pink bedroom.
As I turned, a hand caught my arm and twisted it around my back, just like happens to all the women in the movies. And I was weak and soft like them, so I screamed like them too. A hand clasped my mouth, and a needle sunk into my delicately skinned arm. I felt the intruder's hands under my breasts, supporting me as I collapsed.
I woke up in a private medical clinic. A nurse spoke reassuring nothings to me in Spanish as I came around, then left. I was strapped to my bed.
No one ever did tell me what was going to happen. But when the smiling nurse came back and began shaving my crotch, I knew that Mother had won the final round after all.
Regrets and Might-Have-Beens copyright 1998 by Anonymous.
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