Wednesday, October 7, 2015
this is another shorty that I've thrown together recently. It could be expanded into a longer one, with more details of the hero's past, and a more descriptive narrative of the current action, but I think that everything than needs to be told is told.
Frankly, the story has been told many times before (see Bea's Changing of the Guard, Announcement, for example) - the hero's significant other learns his childhood secret (that his mother, or someone else, used to dress him up as a girl), and instead of being repulsed, welcomes this method of discipline. On the other hand, it was fun to write. I hope it will be fun to read, too.
I shift nervously in the couch.
“Really, mother, we’ll need to cut down on these tea parties,” I say, “I do enjoy them, of course, but they are really cutting into my work time. I can’t keep on leaving the office early every other day.”
My mother pretends not to hear me as she moves toward her kitchen.
Andrea, my fiancée, shoots me an angry glance.
“Don’t mind him, Alice, he’s being a stick in the mud again,” she says to my mother.
“It’s just like when he was a little boy,” my mother chuckles, “Please don’t make me stay for your tea party, mummy, all the other boys get to play outside.”
“I really don’t see why you’ve got to be so grumpy about visiting your mother,” Andrea mutters to me.
“Oh shut up, you only want to come because you get to eat her cakes each time,” I hiss at her and instantly regret it.
Andrea’s lips turn into a thin, unforgiving line.
“That was a very mean thing to say, Charley,” she says coldly and turns away.
Seconds pass and I know I should apologize but before I can sum up the courage, my mother returns.
“Here we are,” she says, setting down the tea tray on the table.
“Oh shoot, I forgot the silverware,” she says and starts getting off her chair again.
“Never mind, I’ll get,” I say, happy to get away from the strained atmosphere.
“Say, Alice, how did you make him stay for the tea parties when he was little?” I hear my fiancée ask, but I move out of earshot before I hear my mother’s reply.
While I search for the silverware, Andrea’s shrieking laugh penetrates the clutter of the cutlery drawer.
Without much doubt, I realize Andrea has just learned how my mother used to dress me in girls’ clothes when I didn’t want to attend her tea parties when I was little. Not that it was such a well kept secret to begin with, but I was hoping it would have been revealed to hear in a different light.
At least she’s in a better mood, I bitterly say to myself as I go back to the living room.
Now it’s my mother’s turn to shriek with laughter.
“Oh Andrea, wouldn’t that be nice, but we couldn’t possibly, could we? He is a grown man after all,” she says to my fiancée, then, as she suddenly notices my presence, stops embarrassed in silence.
“I’m sorry, Charley, I was just telling Andrea,” she says, flustered, apologizing, when Andrea, completely ignoring my presence, speaks to her.
“I’m sure we could,” she says, not loudly, but firmly enough to silence her.
Outside, it’s already getting dark but my mother’s living room is exactly like we have left it. When mother returns from the kitchen with a fresh pot of tea, it looks as if the tea party has only just begun. In a way, it has.
“Tell us again how having tea with your mother interferes with your work,” Andrea says.
“Have a cup first, dear,” my mother says, “Maybe a slice of cake as well?”
“Yes, please,” I say, grateful for her intervention.
“Yes,” Andrea says, “Do have a slice. In fact, I’ll have another one myself. Unless, of course, you have something to say about that?”
She looks at me challengingly.
“No dear,” I feebly reply.
“Though I really do eat too much of your cakes, Alice,” Andrea says to my mother, “It seems like every day, there’s something else in my closet I can no longer put on.”
“Nonsense,” my mother scoffs, “You’re a healthy woman, that’s all. Just because you aren’t thin as a rake, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.”
“Thank you,” Andrea kindly smiles at my mother, then turns to me.
“Charley?” she says, the smile still on her face, “You were saying?”
As rich as my mother’s cake is, and as much as I welcome the refuge it gives me from having to speak out loud, I simply can’t force another bite down my throat. Under my fiancée’s unrelenting gaze, I carefully put down the plate on the coffee table, then pick up my cup. The remainder of the tea is already lukewarm but still provides a pleasant respite. But, just like the cake, I can only drag sipping on the tea for so long before I have to put the cup down again.
“Another cup?” my mother helpfully offers, but before I can nod, Andrea speaks up.
“Later,” she says and turns her gaze on me again.
I have no choice but to start speaking. Although what I have to say has been on my mind for a while now, I’d much rather cower in silence than speak up at the moment. On the other hand, things have recently gotten so much out of hand that this may well be my last chance to get a hold of my life.
“Well, it’s quite simple, really”, I begin, trying to ignore, as much as I can, the fact that I’m wearing my mother’s knee length, pleated black satin skirt and her pale yellow silk blouse.
“I’m not getting enough work done because I’m not spending enough time at the office,” I continue. Underneath my mother’s blouse and skirt, I’m wearing a full set of black satin lingerie, lavishly decorated with lace, most of which can be easily seen through the diaphanous blouse.
“And the reason I’m not spending enough time at the office is because I’m leaving pretty much every other day,” I say.
“Can’t you just stay longer when we’re not having a tea party?” my mother asks.
“I try to,” I reply, “But I can’t always make up for the lost time.”
“Why not?” she asks.
“Some things have to be done within the day,” I shrug, feeling the slippery layers of my new clothes brush against each other, “But mostly I don’t make up for the time lost because Andrea gets angry if I stay too long at the office.”
“Rightfully so,” my mother says approvingly, but not approvingly enough to placate Andrea.
“You’re making this sound like it’s my fault,” she says.
My gaze gradually drops, glancing first at Andrea’s bare feet, then across the floor to her shoes now resting on my feet. The fact that they fit me so well was a pleasant surprise for the women.
“I just want to do my job,” I mutter.
“Have you been reprimanded by your superiors?” my mother asks bluntly.
“No…” I try to reply, but tears are welling up behind my eyes and force me to pause for a second.
“Then I don’t understand the problem,” my mother says, “If you’re not in trouble with your bosses, why shouldn’t you carry on like that?”
“It’s not just…” I try to say, but I can’t help it and burst into tears, immediately aware of the black streaks of mascara that my tears must be marking across my reddened cheeks.
“Looks like someone needs a cuddle,” my mother sings.
“C’mere,” Andrea beckons, patting the seat of the sofa beside her, but I shake my head.
“I said come here,” she repeats sternly and I, still crying, get off my couch. Unsteady on my three inch heels, I welcomingly take Andrea’s outstretched hand. But immediately I realize that she’s exerting not so much support as control when she guides me towards her and I find myself sitting down not beside her but right in her lap.
“That’s better,” my mother says as I rest my head on Andrea’s shoulder, and Andrea helpfully rearranges my skirt so that it covers my stocking tops.
“If anything,” my mother reproaches, “You’re working too much, not too little. See how stressed out you are?”
“But I’ve been passed over for promotion twice already,” I protest between my sobs, “Just last week, Laura got promoted to branch manager, and she’s been three years less in the company than me. Sure, I don’t get in trouble for leaving early, but the people who get promoted are the people who are there all the time.”
“Oh dear,” my mother laughs out, “This brings back memories.”
“It’s just like when he was little,” she says to my fiancée, “he’d say ‘All of the other boys are getting so much better at baseball’ when I wanted him to stay in every now and then.”
Andrea doesn’t say anything, just dabs at my cheeks with a paper tissue.
“Why do you want a promotion so badly, anyway?” my mother asks.
“Well…” I start to say, dumbfounded by her question, “More challenging job. More money, of course.”
“Forgive me for saying so, dear,” my mother replies, “But I think that you have all the challenge you can handle. As far as money is concerned, do you really need it? Together with what Andrea is making, I think you will be well off enough.”
“We’ll be okay,” Andrea says calmly.
“I don’t want to meddle in your affairs, of course,” my mother continues, “But for the sake of your health, I think you should cut down your work load anyhow, and I think that, as a couple, it would make much more sense to focus on Andrea’s career. I mean, she earns more than you already, and unlike you, doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by the work.”
“Your mother’s right, honey,” Andrea says without missing a hear beat, “I think you’re spending too much time at the office already.”
“But that’s exactly opposite of what I’ve been trying to tell you,” I object, but she silences me with an index finger across my lips.
“What time did you leave today?” she asks me.
“Around four,” I reply sheepishly.
“That’s as late as I want you staying at the office from now on, tea party or no tea party,” she says, “Understood?”
“Andrea, please, be reasonable,” I feebly try to plead with her.
“Understood?” she repeats, letting me know with her strict tone of voice, her icy glare and her strong grip of my shoulder that she is very serious about this. I, on the other hand, sitting in her lap dressed from the skin out in my mother’s clothes, simply can’t find the strength to argue anymore.
“Yes, dear,” I say, tears welling up behind my eyes again.
“Good,” she quips, “I’m glad that’s settled.”
“Marvelous,” my mother agrees, “Then we can meet for tea tomorrow already.”
“Actually, Alice,” Andrea says, “I won’t be able to make it tomorrow. Unlike some people, I do have to stay at work longer from time to time. But tell you what, how about we have the next tea party at my place?”
“Sounds lovely,” my mother says.
“Would this Friday be OK for you?” Andrea asks.
“Sure,” my mother says, then looks at me.
A moment of silence passes before my mother finally addresses the elephant in the room.
“Should I…” she begins carefully, then pauses again for a second.
“No use in beating about the bush,” she says finally, “Do you want me to pack up some more of my clothes for Charley?”
“That’s very kind of you, Alice,” Andrea says, “But I’ll have to turn down the offer.”
“Oh,” my mother says curtly and blushes furiously.
Awkwardly, she gets up and starts clearing up the tea tray.
“Thank you,” I whisper to Andrea when my mother is out of earshot.
Andrea leans in to me and kisses me hard, her tongue roaming through my mouth, her hand fondling me under my skirt. Unwillingly, I respond by clasping my arms around her neck and curving my midriff upwards against her arm.
“You’ll thank me later,” she whispers as we hear my mother approaching. We break off the kiss before she sees us, but the lipstick smeared across our faces leaves no doubt about what we were up to when she was away. She’s visibly uncomfortable and as I follow her gaze I notice that my erection is also quite visible in my glistening skirt. Clumsily, I try to hide it in the satiny material, but that only makes it worse as it draws everyone’s attention to it.
“Leave it, silly,” Andrea finally moves my hand away, “It looks like you’re playing with yourself.”
My mother clears her throat uncomfortably.
“Look, please don’t take any offence about what I said before,” she says, “It was just a thought.”
“Actually, Alice, I was thinking the same thing,” Andrea says, “I’ve got of clothes that I can’t get into anymore, and there’s no sense in them just sitting in the closet somewhere. So please, I hope you don’t take any offence, and some day, I’d still like to take you up on the offer. But not before I take Charley shopping. After all, I can’t have my husband-to-be start our life together in hand-me down clothes.”