An Unexpected Pastime by Sam Dynes
Summary:

A boy's trip to the beach becomes unsettling when an important item is forgotten.


Categories: Characters: None
Story Attributes: Caught With Consequences, Sweet and Sentimental
Story Era: 4 - Modern Times (1951-2020)
Story Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 6 Completed: No Word count: 32699 Read: 42509 Published: 18 Oct 2014 Updated: 25 Apr 2017
Story Notes:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
If you wish to publish or adapt this work outside of this license, please contact me for options.
The original characters and plot of this story are the property of the author. No infringement of pre-existing copyright is intended. This story is copyright © 2013-2017 Sam Dynes. All rights reserved.

1. Chapter One by Sam Dynes

2. Chapter Two by Sam Dynes

3. Chapter Three by Sam Dynes

4. Chapter Four by Sam Dynes

5. Chapter Five by Sam Dynes

6. Chapter Six by Sam Dynes

Chapter One by Sam Dynes
Author's Notes:

A boy's trip to the beach becomes unsettling when an important item is forgotten.

Here's something that happened to me many, many years ago. I think I would have been about seven or eight years old at the time.

It was the summer holidays and my parents were off visiting family in England. My two sisters and I were left in the care of our grandma.

I remember it being a very hot day and when she suggested that we drove to the beach for a swim, we all agreed without a moment's hesitation. Although the beach was an hour and a half drive away, it was a perfect day for boogie boarding, or at least swimming if the waves weren't large enough.

Ten minutes later we were all in the car on our way. She had packed us each a plastic bag containing our swimwear and a towel, along with the boogie boards, a bottle of soda, plastic cups, and some lunch for all of us.

After a very long and hot drive, we finally arrived. As expected, there were a lot of people there. We walked over to the public changing rooms which were covered in graffiti and handed us each our bags.

We entered our specified rooms. Once inside, I was startled to find a girl's turquoise one-piece bathing suit in the place of mine. She had clearly provided me with the wrong bag.

I went back outside expecting one of them to be there to exchange bags. After five minutes, they all emerged. I was surprised to find my sisters had come out wearing theirs. Evidently the bathing suit I had wasn't theirs.

I recall her raising an eyebrow when I told her that it wasn't mine. Taking the bag, she took it out and like me, she was also surprised.

My older sister, April, shouted out “That's mine”. It turned out to be that it was her previous one that she had outgrown. My grandma suggested that we take a look in the car in case mine was in there but I was sure that everyone knew, herself included, that a big mistake had been made.

Sure enough, after five minutes of searching, it didn't turn up. I knew it wouldn't. Although she was sorry, she wasn't willing to drive all the way back for it.

Both my sisters joked that I should wear it. Noticing how disappointed I was, even my grandma suggested I should wear it, possibly without the straps to make it more suitable. I was quick to point out that it had a skirt around its waist line.

Eventually, my sisters disappeared into the ocean as they grew tired of teasing me about it. I was stuck with my grandma, lying on the beach, watching my sisters and everyone else around enjoying the day to its fullest potential.

Needless to say, I was quite mad with my grandma. I suggested that I could go swimming in the clothes that I was wearing but as she hadn't packed a spare, she wasn't going to let me.

After roughly thirty minutes, I couldn't take it much longer. Watching my sisters riding the waves while I was sitting here roasting hot and miserable. I tried to pass the time by walking up and down the beach but I grew sweaty quickly.

My Grandma gave me some money to buy an ice cream from a local vendor but that began to melt within seconds of leaving its freezer leaving my hand all sticky.

“All right, I'll wear it!”

My grandma hated to see us in low spirits and she had been pestering me every fifteen minutes to get out there and enjoy myself. I'm not sure if it was my reaction or my response to her question that took her by surprise, but she handed me the bag, smiled and said; “Good. I'm sure you won't even notice that you're wearing it after a while.”

I slowly walked over to the changing room pondering that. Would I consider that to be a good thing or a bad thing? She did have a good point before as well which was the main reason why I was doing this. While in the water and at the distance that my sisters where, nobody would be able to tell that I was a boy.

When I reached the changing rooms, I suddenly realized I wasn't sure which one I should use. I would be entering as a boy but hopefully come out looking like a girl.

As I wasn't sure if the girls one was occupied, I entered the boys. At least I could leave if someone was in there. Thankfully it was empty, but for how much longer, I couldn't know.

I put down the bag and quickly began to get undressed. When it came to the bathing suit, it took me a second to realize how to put it on. Never worn a girl's one before, or any other girls' clothing for that matter, it was something I never thought about before.

I stepped in to it, one leg at a time, carefully positioning them so they would come through their respective holes and pulled it up. Once it reached my waist, I pulled it up further and with slight difficulty, placed my arms through the openings and adjusted each strap to rest comfortably on the top of each shoulder.

It fitted like a glove, like nothing I had ever worn before. Every inch of it pressed against my skin but I didn't find it tight, in fact it seemed to be a perfect fit. It was an unusual feeling as if it were a second skin, leaving me feeling naked as well as clothed.

With that, it also provided me with a layer of embarrassment as well. Needless to say, it made me feel like a girl, and to amplify it further, here I was standing within the boys' changing room.

Although I had to admit it was much cooler than what I was previously wearing, I immediately wanted to get out of it. Fast. I was suddenly overcome with the sense that someone was about to enter. As it would have taken too long to change, I hastily placed my clothes into my bag and with it, sprinted to the door.

I ran all the way back to my grandma as well. I was glad that I hadn't taken her advice about not using the straps as at the pace I was going, it was sure to have fallen right off me. Out of the two options, I felt it was better to attempt to look like a girl while wearing it, rather than to clearly be a boy wearing a girl's bathing suit, although I wasn't sure how well I passed for one.

I didn't see anyone doing so but it felt like everyone was staring and pointing at me while whispering among themselves. I didn't dare look around to see if that was really the case and continued running straight ahead.

Running in a girl's bathing suit was another strange sensation. Since my limbs were free, this allowed me to move much faster, and every time I took a leap, I could free it stretching across my entire torso. With the cool wind rushing past my bare legs and arms, it was pleasantly stimulating.

When I reached my grandma to return the bag and pick up the other boogie board, she surveyed me, smiled, and said; “Very pretty.” Without looking at her, blushing, I quickly turned and darted towards the water.

How was I meant to respond to that!? Although I'm sure that she said it in support, it had actually infuriated me. Boys weren't meant to be pretty and I wanted to tell her that, however in my current state, arguing it wouldn't have been in my favour.

Even though I knew my sisters would tease me, I headed towards them. If I swam in another location, they would have eventually seen that I was missing and found me sooner or later.

After spending so much time in the blazing sun, the water was refreshing cool. As I got in further, I had to admit that I was impressed by the bathing suit's material as it didn't seem to adsorb much water. Although I'm not sure, I believe it was primary nylon since it had a silky smooth feel to it.

As I swam over towards my sisters, I found that I had much less resistance in the water. Perhaps it was due to the material as well, but like running, since my limbs were free, I felt that I could swim a lot faster than I usually would.

For a brief moment, I actually considered a girl's bathing suit to be better designed then a boy's one.

My sisters had seen me coming and as expected, they broke into laughter when they saw me. They teased me by calling me a girl and came up with a feminine version of my name to which they referred to me by.

However, I didn't let them have the satisfaction of knowing that it was getting to me because, in truth, it wasn't. Now that I was out in the water, I was enjoying myself which allowed me to block out their feeble taunts.

After ten minutes, they must have realized this as their mocking and laughter had now died down. The wind had picked up and some massive waves were being produced. We had countless races riding the waves, as well as general fun just swimming.

I hadn't realized it until I saw her flagging us done from the beach, but my grandma was right; I didn't even notice that I was wearing it for the past hour. I called over to my sisters that we needed to leave as it was probably time for lunch.

We road one last wave back to the shore. As I walked out of the water, my bathing suit began to cling to me, so I adjusted it by pulling at the right places to get it to fit right. My sisters, walking behind me, laughed at this to which I ignored.

To prevent drawing any attention to myself, I chose to walk through the crowd this time, carefully trying to casually position the boogie board over my front. Glancing around, nobody seemed to have noticed that I was actually a boy for which I was thankful for.

The three of us reached the public picnic tables where our grandma had set up our lunch. “How's the water?” she asked to which we all replied with positive answers. After we all had a number of chicken sandwiches and a drink, she broke the silence when she casually said to me; “Looks like you've gotten use to your bathing suit.” which caused my sisters to giggle.

I wished that she hadn't mentioned it and for a moment I thought about protesting. However, when looking at myself from their point of view, it would have been no secret that I had in fact gotten used to it. For the last hour, I had been wearing it, enjoying myself.

In the end, I just nodded hoping that my lack of response would be a sign that I didn't want to carry on this conversation. She clearly hadn't made this connection since her next question was; “How are you finding it? It looks like it fits you well.”

Truth be told, it did. Very well in fact. Although I didn't want them to think that this was a comfortable experience for me, as it was a skin-tight garment, if I gave a false answer, it was ensured that they would see right through it.

“Yeah, perfectly.”

As soon as my last word left my mouth, I gravely wished that I could have taken it back. Somehow it was delivered without any of the sarcasm that I had intended. It came out sounding like I actually liked it, or not minding it at the very least.

Although I was avoiding their glaring, it seemed like my reply had some reaction on them as it took my grandma several seconds to respond to me as if she was at a loss for words.

“You like it? Tell us, how does it compare to a boy's one?”

She had completely misunderstood me and for a second, I wanted to scream at them to clearly state that I wasn't enjoying this at all! However, after a moment I actually realized that that wasn't entirely truthful. As I had always been a bad liar, I figured that it would be better if I stayed honest, carefully choosing my words.

“It's not bad, but it's very different. I seem to be able to move better in it though.”

Once again she took a moment to respond. “Really? I guess that makes sense since your legs are free. Come to think of it, leotards are designed the same way.”

“What's a leotard?” I asked. The word sounded foreign to me.

“It's a uniform for ballet and gymnastics. It looks like a girl's bathing suit, but it's for both girls and boys.”

Was she having me on? It sounded absurd. “What boy would do either of those things?” I blurted out.

“Your father.” she immediately responded. “If you like it, we'll have to buy you one. I think you'll be good at them.” There wasn't a hint of it in her voice but it felt to me that this had come across mockingly. My sisters got another giggle out of this as well.

“I think that you two should do them as well.” she said turning to them, putting a halt to their laughter. “When I was your age, all girls did one or the other. I did ballet. Not only did I learn to dance but it kept me extremely fit.”

“Alice, my friend, does gymnastics. She enjoys it so I wouldn't mind trying it.” Faye, my younger sister, replied.

“Well, I'm sure your parents won't mind you picking it up. How about you, April?” she asked.

“Yeah, I would like to try it too.”

“In that case, I'll take you leotard shopping. They come in a range of designs. You'll have fun choosing one.”

At this point, I had no idea if she was serious about a leotard for me or not but I didn't want to stick around to find out. With my lunch finished, I promptly got up, brushed myself off, and swiftly headed back to the water.

On the way, I thought about it, my own leotard. I didn't like the idea of owning something that looked so girlish, but if she was willing to buy me one then what was the harm? I mean this bathing suit I was wearing wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and to be honest, it was surprisingly comfortable as well as efficient.

One thing that was for certain though, I wouldn't be going to be attending any classes. Even if the boys did wear these, I wouldn't be seen wearing one. I was suddenly aware of what a hypocrite I was and became self-conscious about what I was wearing so I sprinted the remaining way. Again, the cool wind rushing pass my limbs was an amazing feeling on that hot day.

“Sam?”

I halted. Someone behind me had shouted my name and I was sure that it was directed in my direction. It was a girl's voice but I knew it wasn't from my sisters or my grandma. Just as I was about to turn to look towards her, I stopped as I realized that this was the biggest mistake that I could make.

Quickly bending down, I feigned as if I had stepped in something sharp. I lifted up my right leg and made a gesture as if I removed something from my heel. It felt like a feeble attempt. Not only I that couldn't lie, I discovered that I could act either.

I resumed my dash towards the beach and remained with my back to it for roughly five minutes. At that time, my sisters arrived and I couldn't help but peek back. I couldn't see anyone I recognized although it was difficult at the distance I was at, but nobody seemed to be looking at me either.

Without being specific, I asked my sisters if they had recognized anyone. Neither did. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. I hated to think of what would happen if my classmates had found out about this. They would never look at me the same way again and I was sure that my friends wouldn't want to be my friends much longer.

I tried to think back to that voice and match it to a face but no matter how hard I tried, I found it to be futile. As the next hour went by, this began to claw at me. I wasn't satisfied with that and I needed to know the identity of this mystery girl.

This time it was Faye who noticed our grandma flagging us down to state that it was time to go. As it was possible that this girl was still here, I began to swim over to one side so I wasn't walking through the crowd. I couldn't believe how careless I was the last time.

Walking out of the water, I tried to be as casual as possible to prevent drawing any attention to myself. I looked around but like before, I didn't see anyone that I knew. I was optimistic that this mystery girl had already left as it was much cooler and the sky was beginning to get dark.

When I reached our grandma, my sisters asked me why I had gone a longer way back. I didn't want to tell them that someone noticed me. I had the feeling if they knew how embarrassing this was for me, they were sure to exploit it and my grandma would have probably given me a lecture about how you shouldn't be ashamed of yourself.

She handed us our towels which we used to dry ourselves off. We found that the changing rooms were locked at this hour so we drove back wearing our bathing suits sitting on the towels.

Perhaps everyone was tired but there were barely any words spoken on the way back unlike the drive there. My sisters and I shared a number of yawns. Once we finally did get back, it was almost seven o'clock. It wasn't a time I would have considered to be late, but it seemed that our day of exercise had taken a toll on us and my grandma suggested that we should get changed straight into our pyjamas.

I drowsily stepped out of the car and walked towards my room. Just like when I had put it on, I had a bit of difficultly getting the bathing suit off. Unlike boys' swimming trunks, I couldn't simply pull it down as it surrounded every inch of my torso.

Using my free arm, I held up one of my straps and pulled my arm through it. I did the same on my other side. With the straps no longer restricting it, I pulled it down to slide out of it. As it was still damp, clinging to me, pulling it off kind of felt like removing a layer of skin but it didn't hurt, in fact it was another admirable sensation.

This being a first for me, I wondered if my sisters, doing the exact same thing in their rooms, could appreciate the feeling as well as I could.

I picked it up from around my ankles and I held it up to me. Being damp, it was a fair bit heavier than when I had put it on. Staring at it, it was then when I realized that I had been wearing this, and only this, for almost an entire day, in a public place, as if I were a girl.

This was something that should had filled me with shame but actually I felt something quite different. I couldn't put my feelings together to understand why but I what I was feeling was actually pride.

As it slid through my fingers into my laundry basket, I was overcome with a feeling of loss. I didn't know how it would happen but I honestly wished that it wasn't the last time that I would get the opportunity to wear it.

I got dressed into my plain and dull pyjamas and joined my sisters downstairs for dinner.

Chapter Two by Sam Dynes
Author's Notes:

When he suddenly finds the house to himself, Sam is unable to resist repeating his experience.

During breakfast the very next morning, our grandma had casually asked my sisters not to mention my incident with the bathing suit to anyone. She had put together some good points which I'm sure had some affect on their judgement as they both agreed without any hesitance.

She had said that it hadn't been a punishment for me so it would be unfair to treat it like one and that they should be thankful in that their brother was able to put aside what he was wearing to join in their fun. Hearing her support was very pleasing.

While I'm sure that some sisters would have gone straight to a telephone after an event like mine, we all loved our grandma enough not to go behind her back. After that, it was as if it had never happened.

...well, almost. There was a single but huge exception; I was unable to forget it. Nearly a week had passed and every day since then, there had always been a moment when I found myself recalling it as clear as day.

Some of these moments had come over me at the strangest times and left me thinking, why did I just think of that? At other times, it was ensured. Ever since I had first stepped into it, every time I changed clothes, that bathing suit was always on my mind.

It's difficult to put my feelings for it into words but if I were to choose a single word, it would be; unique. Everything about it was unique. The shape, the material, even the way it was worn. It had simply been an astonishing experience. Secretly, one that I wished to repeat.

As if I was developing withdrawal symptoms, I noticed that this craving was becoming more and more intense as the days crept by, and by the fifth day, I had to admit defeat.

This day, like the first one, started off normal enough. The weather was fine. The sun was beaming, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and a refreshing cool breeze swept through the air.

Unfortunately, my sisters and I were wasting it indoors by watching the afternoon cartoons. Half way in, a commercial came on for a water park. Although I had seen this same ad many times before, even during the last summer holidays, after my incident I found myself looking at it in a very different way.

The thirty second ad focused on a family of five and their outing at the park, showcasing its water slides and the other activities. I hadn't noticed it before but one of the daughters was wearing a bathing suit that was exactly like the one that I had worn. She appeared to be about my age and was very pretty.

I immediately became envious of her. There she was, wearing only that cute little thing, surrounded by strangers and not a single one of them was staring at her as if it was the most natural thing in the world. What I wouldn't give to be in her shoes, or in this case, her bathing suit.

Being a boy, it was frustrating in that this was something that could never happen to me, however if it ever were possible, I would have already asked my grandma if I could have kept that bathing suit.

I couldn't stand it any longer! I heaved myself up from the couch and marched over towards my room. I had to wear it. I wanted to feel its silky smooth straps resting upon my shoulders, were raising my hands above my head would cause it to stretch across my entire torso, an amazing feeling as if it were a beautiful second layer of skin.

When I got there, I was dismayed to find that my washing basket had been emptied. I clearly remember eyeing it in there this morning as I got dressed. It didn't take much to work out where it would be however.

After walking down the wooden flight of stairs to our basement, I opened the washing machine. It had recently finished its cycle and after tearing some wet clothes from the side of its drum, I found it.

It felt great to be able to run its splendid material over my hands again, although I knew that it was nothing compared to the exquisite feeling of when it was surrounding every inch of me. If I had been the only one home, I would have put it on right then and there. Sure, it was fairly wet but I pictured myself in the position of the pretty girl in the ad; sunbathing without a care in the world.

There I would be in our vibrant back garden, lying down on one of our outdoor loungers with a cool glass of orange juice on the table beside me, soaking up the sun, feeling its warmth as well as the moisture slowly being removed from the only thing I would be wearing, that bathing suit, with every passing hour.

Opening my eyes, I quickly rush my hand over my view to block out the radiance of the naked sun. Turning to my left, I can just make out a blur of someone in their own lounger next to me. Once my eyes finally adjust to the light, I discover both my sisters doing the exact same thing I was doing, wearing their own bathing suits. Although they both had their eyes closed, they were relaxing so casually that neither of them appeared to be at all phased at what their brother was wearing.

As I turn over to my right, I gasp in horror to find my two best friends, Shawn and Michael, sunbathing in loungers of their own, only they were wearing their standard swimming trunks! Although Michael was wearing sunglasses, it appeared that they too had their eyes closed.

If I hadn't gasped, they would have remained this way but after hearing me, Shawn, the closest to me, opened his left eye to look at me. He was about to see me wearing nothing but this! I wanted to get up and run but his stare had frozen me in place. A second later, which felt much longer, he closed it and resumed his relaxation as if I had simply wasted his time.

Before I could recover from my shock, I suddenly heard an eerie thump from the sky above me which almost causes me to jump out of my skin. Looking up, I saw the concrete ceiling of our basement. In my hands was that bathing suit. It took me a moment to get my bearings. Just how long had I been lost in that thought?

I then realized that if I were a girl, not only would I have lived this experience, I was likely to have lived it on several occasions. It filled me with frustration. Why couldn't I experience this, even for as little as an hour?

As my fantasy wasn't going to come true while the others were here, I slid it from my fingers back into the washing machine and depressingly walked back upstairs. I met Faye as I reached the door.

“What where you doing down there?” she asked.

“I was... I lost something... I was looking through my pockets.” I stammered. Although I felt the lie itself was very good for me, the way it came out was less than satisfactory. Thankfully, she didn't seem to care either way.

“We're going for a bike ride. Are you coming?”

While I knew that this was something that I would have really enjoyed, my heart leaped as she said that. I now had plans which I wasn't going to let go to waste.

“No thanks”, I said in an unplanned cheerful tone with a smile that was difficult to hide.

She looked at me with a strange expression as if she knew I was up to something.

“Whatever.” she said turning around.

“Where are you going?” I quickly said before she could take another step. I didn't really care but after seeing her expression, I wanted to appear to be at least sightly interested, and it was also a good way to gauge how long they were going to be.

“To town.”

Yes! My heart did another somersault. If they were to peddle at a standard pace, I should have just over an hour to myself and they were sure to stop for lunch somewhere as well, possibly bringing up my time to just under two hours.

As they got ready, so did I. While I wasn't going to go to the basement while they were still here, I made myself a sandwich and that cool glass of orange juice that I had dreamed about. Since this would be a special occasion, I made it look fancy by placing two ice cubes within it as well as a straw.

As they left, I carefully listened as the garage door closed. As soon as it hit the ground with a thud, I skipped downstairs to retrieve that bathing suit. Like I would have done before, I stripped right then a there, almost throwing my clothes off me.

The cement room reminded me of the changing room where I had first worn it, only this time instead of it being dry, it was fairly wet. As I stepped into it and pulled it up, it clinged to me. The wet material made me a lot cooler and it seemed to be tighter.

When it was dry, I would have to say that it was one of the most comfortable things I had ever worn but a wet one wasn't too far off that mark either. It was still very fitting.

As for the temperature, it hadn't been the hottest day this summer but I felt that it was still a fine day to wear it and once I had placed my hands through each strap, locking it into place, I found the coolness of it to be very refreshing.

Just as I had remembered it, it felt amazing. I ran my hands over it. God, how I wished to have this as my own. Not wanting to waste a second, I picked up my clothes and crept back upstairs.

Although I was now the only one home, as I walked I couldn't shake off the feeling that I was being watched. I was surrounded by numerous windows. Any one of them could have a pair of eyes through them, glaring at me.

Once I reached the kitchen to retrieve my food and drink, I realized that this creeping about wasn't what I had wanted. I wanted to enjoy this moment, not be afraid of it. With a draw of breath, I attempted to push that feeling aside.

For some practice and peace of mind, I walked a few laps around the house attempting to be as casual as I could as if I hadn't changed. As I walked, even passed the open windows, the chances of anyone seeing me was minuscule, I told myself.

When I got back to the kitchen, I found myself walking perfectly normal. It was surprisingly how efficient that had been. With absolutely no hesitance, I picked up my glass and plate and walked straight through the sliding doors to the outside world.

The warmth of the grass felt great on my bare feet. Our garden was surrounded by a semi-large fence as well as a number of trees. Although it would have been possible to see me and the rest of the garden from a couple of our neighbour's top floor windows, they all had branches hindering their view and with the breeze swaying them about, I believed that it would be a difficult task for anyone to spot me.

Not only that but to be perfectly honest, this may be my only opportunity that I would be able to do this and therefore, I felt it was worth the risk. Just like the beach, in the unlikely event that someone did see me, they would just likely mistake me for a girl, I convinced myself.

I dragged a lounger and table over to the centre of the yard where the sun's rays weren't being obstructed. With my lunch on the table, I adjusted the lounger's headrest to a comfortable position to begin my hour or so of relaxation.

As I laid down upon it, the lounger felt great on my bare legs. It had already spent several hours in the sun bringing it to a perfectly warm temperature. Within five seconds on it, I knew that it was going to be difficult to get back up. Just as I had thought that, I suddenly recalled that I left my clothes in the kitchen.

My plan was to have them near me so I could quickly put them on over my bathing suit when I heard the others arriving back. Oh well, there's still plenty of time remaining and I have lunch to start. I'll grab them, along with some sunglasses, once I finish eating, I thought.

As I was eating, it was difficult not to consider this day as one of the best days of the summer. No, scratch that. Make that my life. Prefect temperature, weather, food, drink, and heck, even garment. There was no way I was going to let this be a one-off. I didn't know how but I would ensure that this event would not be my last.

Now my stomach was satisfied, I closed my eyes and soaked up the sun... completely forgetting about the clothes that I had left in the kitchen.

My eyes slowly flickered open. In front of me was a large patch of blue. Something was beaming bright with intensity overhead. Whatever it was, it was irritating. Where was I?

I then immediately came to my senses. I had fallen asleep! I couldn't believe it. How long had it been? Jumping out of my seat, I glanced back to the house to see if the others had arrived back yet. Although it looked undisturbed, I couldn't be sure. I hurried as quietly as possible back to the house.

As soon as I stepped through the sliding doors, I heard the unmistakable sound of the garage door opening. Their timing was impeccable. It felt like I had a guardian angel watching over me. The bathing suit was now dry so I quickly darted over towards my clothes I had left lying about to put them on.

Being only shorts and a T-shirt they were very easy to put on in a hurry although I still felt exposed with wearing just a bathing suit underneath. With a simple lift of my shirt, possibly caused by a strong breeze, it would become visible.

On the other hand, wearing it underneath something didn't make it feel any less amazing and to be honest with myself, provided that they didn't discover it, I wanted to continue wearing it. Because of my unplanned nap, I felt robbed of my time in it. It had been disappointing. As I didn't need my underwear, I placed it in my short's pocket.

They came in a few minutes later as I was bringing in my plate and glass. I must have fallen asleep quickly as my glass was still half full which I promptly finished off.

“Sorry we're late.” my grandma said as she walked in. “We did some shopping. We brought you back a muffin but there's some washing we need to hang out first. I nearly forgot about it.”

Late? Glancing at the clock, I was astounded to find that I had been sleeping for nearly two hours. God, was I lucky. I hated to think what would happen if they had caught me out there.

Being this late in the afternoon, I wasn't sure if the washing would be dry in time but my sisters and I all helped to put it out anyway. With still no patches of cloud, the sun was in full effect. The refreshing breeze had died down however, although this meant that I didn't need to worry about my shirt blowing up.

It didn't seem like the weather would be any different tomorrow so I guess that if necessary, it could be left out.

As I was hanging up one of my T-shirts, in the corner of my eye I spotted one of our neighbour's top floor windows was open. I was positive that when I began my sunbathing session they all were closed. I hated to be so pessimistic but could it be possible that someone had seen me? No, it was unlikely. When you open a window, you don't usually spend time looking out of it.

It made me suddenly recall my time at the beach with that mystery girl. Although I was able to remember most of that day very well, this part I had nearly forgotten about. Likely because I didn't want to remember it.

It made me sick knowing that someone out there may know my secret. Well, at the time, it wasn't a secret, just a misunderstanding, although I felt telling them that would be next to impossible. Now it was possible that another person knew of this and there was no way that I could pin this one on a misunderstanding.

“Sam?”

“Ah, sorry, just lost in thought.” I replied back to my Grandma who was eyeing me in concern. I realized that I had been standing idle for some time.

“What did you do while we were gone?”

“Watched TV.” I replied promptly.

“What a waste. You should have come riding with us. It was a beautiful day.” April threw in.

If I had known that I was going to fall asleep, I probably would have come. It was a pity that I couldn't do both, go riding as well as wear this, underneath something else of course.

“How about tomorrow? I'll come with you then.” I said.

“Can't. We're going to try out gymnastics.”

“That's why we were late. We were choosing leotards.” Faye added.

“You didn't want one, did you? I asked you when we were at the beach but you skirted off without an answer so I figured that you didn't want one.” my grandma added.

Great. Just great. She was the one who had said not to speak of that incident and here she was bringing it up as if it was casual conversation, although I couldn't be sure if her choice of the word 'skirted' was intentional or not.

My sisters didn't burst into giggles this time but they both had wide smiles on their stupid faces. I could tell that they were picturing me in a leotard. Little did they know, I was almost wearing one already.

“No.” I responded gruffly.

To be honest, if they were anything like the bathing suit that I had on, my answer would have been the complete opposite, however I wanted to drop the idea that I had enjoyed my time in it, and the same thing goes to anything else that was so girlish for that matter.

“No, thank you.”

“...No, thank you.”


After my muffin, I spent the next few hours in my room, lying on my bed, face up, staring at the ceiling. My shirt was half up and I was stroking my hand across my stomach, feeling the material of the bathing suit. It still felt amazing. I don't believe that I could ever get tired of it.

It was a pity that boys clothes weren't made of the same material. Girls simply took it for granted and had no idea how lucky they were.

I thought back to that day at the beach. My grandma had mentioned that a leotard was for both, girls and boys. Did leotards use the same material? ...or perhaps was it something even better?

As my sisters walked in from their bike ride, they each dumped a plastic bag on the kitchen bench. No doubt containing their new leotards. With another dose of frustration, I couldn't simply go out there to inspect them without a raise of an eyebrow. If I was a girl however, it would have been perfectly normal.

No, actually if I were a girl, I would have gone on a bike ride, chosen, and likely tried on, a new leotard, and already have my own bathing suit hanging up in my wardrobe right now. Why couldn't that be me? Just another reminder on how unfair life could be.

That glass of orange juice had caught up with me and nature was calling. It was right on queue as dinner wasn't far away either. As I got up, I could smell the delicious scent of roast chicken floating through the air.

I walked out of the toilet and turned on the tap to wash my hands. I had just learnt something due to what I was wearing. Something that I don't believe would have ever crossed my mind otherwise. If a girl was wearing a bathing suit, or a leotard, and she needed to relieve herself, she would be required to strip entirely naked.

As I only needed to pee, I was able to get around this, although awkwardly. It must be a real nuisance for a girl though, especially if she was busting to go. As I had discovered, donning and doffing a bathing suit wasn't a quick process. On the other hand, this was only my second time in one and perhaps the girls that wore them often were able to do this with ease. Maybe I just needed more practice.

Dinner was as good as it had smelt and once we had finished, we all retired to the lounge to watch TV. The holiday movie for tonight was the third Harry Potter film, my favourite one, but I found it a bit difficult to concentrate on it actually.

With a couch all to myself, I was lying sideways upon it with my head on the arm rest. With the way I was positioned, my T-shirt would have just been covering the top of my shorts, less than an inch away from my secret being visible. Actually it was hanging from me so if they were at the right angle, they could probably see it. Needless to say, I was lying there very dangerously but I made no effort to correct it.

I felt mischievously indecent and I pondered what would happen if it were discovered. I'm sure they would all be surprised but after that, what then? They all had already seen me in it and in fact, at the time, I had accidentally made it sound like I had liked it, so would it really be much of a surprise? Would they be able to just accept it?

Throughout the movie these thoughts stayed with me. It had reached a point where I had actually wanted a gust of wind to make it visible just so the first move would be made. It was difficult to picture the rest though. Perhaps it should simply remain as a dangerous secret?

With my thoughts elsewhere, I had barely noticed the credits rolling and with that, my grandma quickly stated that it was time for bed. After I had finished brushing my teeth, I went back to my room to get undressed. I didn't want to though. Well, not completely. Maybe I'll wear it to bed as well.

Just as I was about to lift my T-shirt over my head, I jumped as I heard my door behind me creak open. Letting go of my shirt and turning around, I saw my grandma entering. If she had entered half a second later, she would have gotten a clear view of it and therefore I couldn't help sighing in relief.

“You gave me a fright! Can't you knock? I was just about to get undressed.” It came across snappier than what she deserved but after a close call like that, could anyone blame me?

“Continue. It's not like I haven't seen it before.” she said with a blank expression.

“What?” automatically stumbled out of my mouth. I tried to add to that but I found that I was at a loss for words with my mouth left open stupidly.

“Strip, Sam. Otherwise, I'll do it.” she said coldly.

I stared at her for countless seconds in disbelief. I didn't know how but with that, I knew that she knew. With her patience drawing thin, she started to walk towards me with her hands outwards towards my shirt.

“...I'll ...I'll do it.” I said with a broken voice, avoiding her eyes, quiet with embarrassment.

My eyes began to water and within seconds I could feel a tear running down my cheek. It was now inevitable. With a moment of great hesitance, I started to undress knowing that she wasn't going to wait much longer. Avoiding her gaze and with my hands trembling, I dropped my shorts and removed my shirt, feeling like a fool.

What could I possibly say? I stared at the floor watching my tears fall. She walked towards me. Closing my eyes, expecting a cold hard slap across my face only increased my tears.

With great surprise, rather than my face, I felt her hands across my back. Opening my eyes, I saw that she had knelt to my level and was embracing me in a hug. This did nothing to help my tears and it soon became difficult to see through them.

“It's okay, Sam. I'm not mad although I wish that you would have just asked me for it.” she said softly.

Unable to respond, I just cried freely into her shoulder, embracing her as well.

“Don't cry.” she said, stroking my hair. After a moment, she added; “I'll ask you one final time. Would you like your own leotard?”

I nodded. Realizing that she couldn't see it, I was able to get out a quiet cracked “Yes. ...yes, please.”

“Good. We'll talk about this in the morning but for now, get undressed, ready for bed.”

She turned around and left, with a soft smile directed at me as she closed the door. I must have stood there trembling for at least five minutes waiting for my tears to crease. I had a bitter taste in my mouth knowing that she now knew the truth but her reaction had been heartwarmingly supportive, the opposite of what I had initially thought. I felt so lucky to have her as a grandma.

With my crying finally stopped, I took off the bathing suit, leaving it lying on my bedroom floor, and put on my pyjamas, wiping the tears from my eyes. I had no energy remaining within me and with exhaustion, I crawled into bed, thinking about what tomorrow would bring.

Chapter Three by Sam Dynes
Author's Notes:

Although concerned with his grandma's reaction to his secret, Sam finds himself shopping with her for his first leotard.

It was difficult to get out of bed the following morning. I had awoken at my usual time, a few minutes past seven. After finishing off my familiar yawn, the sudden memory of last night came rushing over me as if it were icy water. Darting up over my covers, I spied that bathing suit lying on my floor, exactly where I had left it.

If I were to be entirely honest, I wished that it had all been a dream. Although I was remarkably thankful with my grandma's reaction to it, it was also terrifying in that she now knew of this secret. I couldn't see her telling anyone about this, knowing how ashamed of it I was, however she wasn't the type of person to believe in shame, rather that people should be themselves, not hiding behind covers.

Thinking it over, this was probably why she was so keen on buying me a leotard, which I had to admit, wasn't against, although something told me that there would be more to it then just that and this was troubling. Perhaps it would be best to tell her that I no longer wanted it, but would she accept that?

I spent the next ten minutes in thought, trying to come up with a way out of it. Like my first time wearing it, I wanted a way to pin it on a misunderstanding, but in the end I found it to be futile. There was nothing that could hide the fact that I had put it on willingly. With a sigh, I heaved myself out of bed, stepping over the bathing suit, and dressed myself in my own clothes.

Throughout the day, I was always on my toes awaiting my grandma to pull me aside, where I would then, most likely, make a pathetic attempt at explaining myself. Like being sent to see the principal at school, it was something that I was dreading.

However, this never came. The day had proceeded as if our incident had never occurred, and it wasn't like I was avoiding my grandma either. Even when I first saw her during breakfast, she made no signs out of the ordinary. As the hours went by without anything unusual occurring, I was able to loosen up.

Once lunch passed, I was nearly convinced that she had forgotten all about it. She didn't suffer from Alzheimer's but why wouldn't she have confronted me about it by now? She had had plenty of opportunity. On the other hand, perhaps she knew that I didn't want it brought up and dropped this whole leotard idea. Knowing her though, the former was the most likely option. Whatever it was though, I was relieved that it didn't look like I had to go through with it.

“All right girls, ready for your first gymnastics lesson? We'll be leaving shortly.”

It was an hour later when I heard that, crushing any hope that I had of avoiding it. I had stupidly completely forgotten about my sisters' gymnastics try outs.

“You might as well get ready now. Just wear your clothes over your leotards.”

My sisters darted up eagerly to their rooms to get changed.

“Actually, come out here to show them to your brother.”

As if her first message hadn't been enough realization for me, this one was. Turning towards her, she was looking back at me with a small smile on her face. I knew then that it had been remarkably dense of me to think that she had simply forgotten and it felt as if she was teasing me about it.

I thought about saying something. If there were a time to get out of it, this would be it. Although I could say that I simply no longer wanted one, I was positive that she wouldn't accept this without bombarding me with a series of questions to which I would find difficult to answer. Playing out our conversation in my head had quickly left me at a dead end.

“Um... I no longer want a leotard.”

“Hmm, why not?”

“Well, they're too girlie.”

“As I mentioned, boys wear leotards too, and you seemed to like wearing a girl's bathing suit at the beach the other day, or yesterday for that matter.”

“...”

I was shocked to find that I had envisioned her saying that I had liked wearing it. At the very least, I had to make it clear to her that I had in no way liked it. As soon as I was able to muster up the courage to tell her this, in a stellar example of perfect timing, my sisters came back skipping into the room.

“What do you think?” April asked, twirling around.

My grandma hadn't exaggerated in any way. In terms of shape, they were exactly like a girl's bathing suit, a single piece covering the torso. Their design, on the other hand, was completely different.

Although I had seen some very colourful bathing suits before, leotards seemed to take this several steps further. April's one was shades of red with a majestic golden phoenix across its front. Faye's one was mostly blue which was covered in waves of bubbles all around it.

What I found most extraordinary about them was that they were very flashy, and as they twirled about the light would reflect off them making them appear like a glistening metallic material. Looking at them closer, they appeared to have glitter and beads covering them as well.

“Shiny.” had automatically slipped out of my mouth.

“Well, it's not too late to buy you one.” my grandma added. Per the norm, my sisters got a chuckle out of this. I barely registered it though as I was left thinking; could it be that I would be wearing one of these before the day was over?

With a clap, my grandma said; “Come on, it's time to go. Sam, would you like to come?”

Diverting my eyes off my sisters' mesmerizing new uniforms, I turned to her and she returned a wink that only I would notice. I knew right then and there, that this could possibly be my only chance to get out of it. But after seeing them, I wanted one.


Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the gym to drop off my sisters, literally.

“All right girls, have fun. I'll be here at five to pick you up.”

Registration had seemed to have already been taken care of, or perhaps they didn't need any for try outs, as my grandma didn't need to go in with them. If I had the option, I wouldn't have minded going in to take a look at what exactly they would be doing, not to mention seeing any more leotards.

On the drive there, I kept thinking of my own. I was also interested in seeing if my grandma had been truthful in that boys wore them as well. Looking around though, as I had partly expected, I couldn't see any boys, although there were a number of girls talking around the entrance. None of them had gotten changed yet however.

“So Sam, ready to go shopping?”

This I hadn't expected; another way out. I thought my decision had been made clear when I entered the car. This gave me another chance to think it over, but by now, I didn't want to.

“Yes, please.” I promptly replied without any further thought.

“That's good to hear, however if you're going to have your own leotard, I won't let it go to waste.”

Ah, so here was this catch I had been expecting.

“While your sisters are doing gymnastics, I will be teaching you ballet. I also want to you to treat your new leotard with respect. Whenever you're not wearing it, it will be hanging up proudly in your closet, not under your bed or elsewhere hidden away.” she told me using a stern tone.

Now this I had to think about. The latter condition was most concerning.

“What if April or Faye find it?”

“They won't. How often are they in your room?”

I had to admit, she was right about that. None of us ever went into each others rooms outside of asking each other something or to state that something was ready such as dinner. Although it was still a worrisome feeling in knowing that this leotard would be in plain site behind an unlockable door.

“You won't tell them, will you?”

“No, but I would like you to. If not now, later on. However, I will not be lying for you.”

This was exactly what I had thought she would say.

As for ballet, outside of knowing it was a form of dance, I knew absolutely nothing about it. It felt justified though. With a bathing suit, it was for either swimming or possibly sunbathing and like that, it didn't seem right to own a leotard and not to make use of it. I was positive that I would have liked just wearing it but to actually do something in it, I felt that it was more of a bonus then a punishment.

Although I had no interest in dancing, I would be willing to give it a try.

“Deal.”

“I'm glad. I'm sure that you'll enjoy it.”

On the way to the store, we discussed it. During the three hours that my sisters were to be at gymnastics, my grandma would train me in ballet. Provided that they enjoyed the try out and wanted to keep going with it, this would give us two and a half hours each weekday for our practice as they needed to be dropped off and picked up.

As I knew very little about ballet, she said that it focused on elegance and therefore was mostly a slow dancing style. She said that for her first lesson, she'll show it to me first from an old video collection she had, rather than training me straight away. I was glad when she told me not to worry though as this wasn't going to delay me from getting a leotard.

It didn't take long to arrive at the store which was only a five minute drive away. It was a small one called 'Swift Movement – Gymnastics & Ballet Supplies'. Outside of its name which was painted like a signature on its plain black exterior, there didn't seem to be much to it but as I stepped through its door, I was taken aback.

It would have been best described as the candy store equivalent for clothing. Inside was littered with racks packed full of leotards. They were all the colours of the rainbow, all in hundreds of styles and designs. It was one very colourful pleasant sight. Along with the racks of leotards, scattered around its walls were even more, as well as accessories such as batons and hoops which were just as colourful. The only places that weren't filled with product were large posters of gymnasts and ballerinas although I wouldn't have been surprised if they were for sale as well.

I was a single foot into the store but I already knew that I would be spoiled for choice. It would have been difficult to select just one. I could see why my sisters had taken as long as they did.

My grandma followed in behind me.

“The boys ones are over there, Sam.” she said pointing at the back of the store were a blue sign was hanging. She then walked over to the cashier, a young lady, whom I had only just noticed, the only other person in the store. She was looking at me with a blank expression on her face. I embarrassedly looked away and walked over towards were my grandma had pointed, feeling like a fool as I'm sure she had seen me admiring the ones in front of me, which I had now learnt weren't for boys.

I froze in revulsion for a moment when I reached the boys' selection, marked with blue signs mounted on top of their racks. When it came to choices, there appeared to only be three; plain black, plain navy blue, and plain white. I then had a sudden realization. It was now apparent that all the others were clearly for girls. Looking around, I couldn't believe I hadn't notice it before, but what boy would want to wear something so glamorous? Come to think about it, what boy wanted to prance about wearing something that looked so girlish? Actually, what boy even wanted a leotard anyway?

Although this revelation filled me with disgrace, we were here now and at this point, if I didn't pick one, I was certain that my grandma would have forced one on me. When we were talking in the car, she had sounded very merry about training me so I doubted that she would let this opportunity go to waste.

As I was sure to be leaving here with my own leotard, I would rather have it be one that I had chosen and with all that said, I was still disappointed to find my available choices had taken a drastic turn. The ones that I had available to me were so extraordinarily bland compared to the others that filled the store. I felt that even the bathing suit that I had worn were better than these. In a desperate attempt to find something that was even slightly interesting, I went through the boys racks one by one to see if there were any other styles that may be hidden from view.

With the final rack searched with no results, I sighed and glanced at the surrounding others. Although most of them were clearly girlish, some of them weren't and I felt they could have passed as boys' ones. I couldn't quite understand this as outside of their design, both the boys' and girls' ones were exactly the same shape, well, outside of some of the girls' ones that had sleeves. Why did they even need to differentiate between boys and girls anyway?

If I had picked one from the girls' selection, would my grandma even care? I mean she had seen me in a girl's bathing suit so would there really have been much of a difference?

“You know Sam, I wouldn't mind if you chose a girl's one.”

Her sudden voice from behind startled me. She must have seen me staring at the others and came over. Looking back, the cashier was looking at me as well, smiling this time. She seemed to have made this connection too which made me a bit queasy.

“I can't blame you. These ones are kind of boring, aren't they?” she said looking through the boys' racks.

I had to stop and think for a moment. Although I was now free to select any leotard in the store, this had come with a dose of frustration as well. I knew that I was going to make use of this privilege, I wanted to, and I'm sure that my grandma knew it as well but doing so while in a stranger's vicinity was loathsome. With that mystery girl at the beach, and possibly a neighbour who had opened that window yesterday, this now made possibly three people who knew about this, and I didn't know anything about them. At the rate I was going, it felt like at least half the town would know of this within a week's time.

I tried to stay positive. On the other hand, it was unlikely this cashier and I would ever cross paths again, and she was probably the only one who had gotten a clear look at my face. The one that had opened the window yesterday, if they had even noticed me, probably thought that I was a girl at the distance I was at, not to mention behind the cover of the trees.

I didn't know what to say in response to my grandma's question so I just started looking through the girls' racks as a sign of acknowledgement to which she did the same, probably to help me find something. Now that I was looking closer at them, I noticed that some of the girls' ones did have different straps and neck lines. Many even had skirts, some attached and others as a separate piece.

When I had started off, it didn't feel right admitting but nearly all of them looked amazing, and the more that I saw, the more I began to appreciate them. It was funny actually, this morning I was dreading this but now that I was here, I was beaming that I had been given this opportunity to the point that I couldn't help but smile.

For every twenty different designs I saw, about four of those I placed on my mental possibility list. After going through the first of many girls racks, I had to laugh at how foolishly futile that had been. Looking at the others, there were easily no less than two hundred unique designs in the store. Just like I had expected, this would be a very difficult decision.

I think I must have been too quiet, taking too long, or maybe both, and therefore my grandma starting suggesting ones, calling me from across the store, holding them up to show me. Although I didn't care what the cashier thought, it was still nerve-racking at how public she was making this. Thankfully nobody had entered while we were here. What would they think when they saw a boy shopping for a girl's leotard?

I shook my head at the ones she was suggesting. Although some of them were possibilities, I simply couldn't muster up raising my voice above a whisper to say “That one's nice.” across the store.

After fifteenth minutes or so, I had gone through all the racks in the store. It had made no difference though. Memory of any previous leotards were replaced with newer ones when I came across them, as if my memory were a basket now overflowing with choices.

“Sam, you'll need to choose one in ten minutes. We've been here for about half an hour now and they'll be closing soon.” my grandma approached me to say.

“I put together a selection for you. What do you think of these?” she said gesturing to a number she was holding.

She showed them to me one by one. I thought that she had made some good choices, some of which were ones I had added to my possibility list. None of them I felt were overly girlish as they were mostly made up of boys' colours, blue and black. Although a few of them had skirts, they were separate pieces so I wouldn't need to wear them.

“Do you like any?”

Yes, I did. All of them in fact, although I'm sure she was looking for a narrower answer then that. With only ten minutes remaining, I figured it would be easier to choose from her selection rather than looking through the racks again.

Going through them once more, I was finally able to make my choice. Out of the ones she had chosen, there was one had stood out as the coolest, although only slightly. I hadn't noticed it when I made my rounds, probably because it contained a skirt which would have made me immediately dismiss it. I felt a bit guilty seeing this as I realized that I hadn't given them all a fair look but it was too late to go through them all again.

It was mostly black but it did shimmer a bit in the light. Across its front and back were what looked to be claw marks, as if a large monster had slashed at it. They were made by patches of orange and blue material, shiny and coated with glitter, similar to what my sisters' ones were made of.

“This one's neat.” I said.

“Ah, good. I think so too.”

She held it up in front of me. “Looks like it'll fit but we better make sure. I'll be right back.” she said walking over towards the cashier.

She came back with a measuring tape in her hand. Escorting me to the changing rooms, we went inside where I stripped down to my underwear so she could take my measurements. I felt exposed being so bare in front of her, but then again, yesterday I was in the same position wearing nothing but a girl's bathing suit which was far worst. It did feel a bit weird though. Soon I would be wearing an almost identical garment, this time with her full approval.

“I'm not sure if we'll need to compensate for anything but I think that it should be fine.” she said looking at a size chart attached to the back of the changing room's door. “As they won't be open much longer, it would be best if you tried it on now.”

I hadn't expected this, thinking that I would first be wearing it in the comfort and privacy of our home. However, I didn't make a fuss as I would have been disappointed if we found that it hadn't fitted and couldn't replace it until tomorrow. Handing it to me, she left the changing room.

As I was already undressed and being very eager to wear it, I had in on in less than five seconds, all whilst smiling. I didn't bother with its skirt though and left it on the hanger. It was almost not worth my grandma leaving. She somehow sensed this and asked through the door; “How does it fit?”

“Great!” It fitted perfectly, just as good as that bathing suit, if not better.

Somehow thinking that my response was another way of saying “Come take a look.” she opened the door for the world to see! The changing room was in direct line of sight of the counter and if she wasn't standing in front of it, the cashier would have easily seen me. I wanted to run and hide but this wasn't possible in a one meter squared changing room.

“Looks good, Sam.” she said looking at it with a pleased expression, not noticing my face filled with terror. “You should walk around in it for a bit to see how well it moves with you.”

...was she joking? She wanted me to walk around the store wearing just this?!

“What... what about her?” I whispered pointing through her at the cashier.

Having absolutely no idea, she casually turned around to look at her, stepping out the way in the process, giving her a full unhindered view of me. The lady was looking at me with a grin across her face. I could feel my eyes starting to tear up in embarrassment and diverted them back to my grandma as it was too painful to see.

“She already knows that you're wearing it, Sam, and don't worry, nobody else is here. They're going to be closing soon so nobody will be entering.”

As the damage had now been dealt, I reluctantly stepped out of the changing room and began my shameful walk around the store, all while thinking how stupid I was for getting into this mess. Although I had my head down sulkily, eyes fixed to the floor, I could feel them both looking at me with great intensity as if I were an animal at the zoo.

“Well?”

Being so invested in my self-loathing, I barely registered what I was doing or for what purpose.

“Ah... yea, fine.” It fitted well even when walking about, although I couldn't understand why it wouldn't have. It got me thinking, did she really think it might not have, or was this some sort of cruel exercise in an attempt to make me more comfortable about wearing it?

“Good, this'll be the one. Come over to the counter so she can scan it, Sam. You can wear your clothes over top of it.”

As soon as its tag was snipped off, a symbolic moment overcame me. I was now the owner of a leotard. It wasn't anybody else’s. It was mine, entirely for me. This had invoked a number of feelings, both good and bad, but after putting them all together, it was pride that eventually overpowered the rest.

There wouldn't have been many boys that had been able to experience this opportunity, and even less with the support that I had. Some of them would probably have been punished just thinking about it, perhaps to the point of even being disowned. Not me though. Although I wish that it hadn't involved me standing here, in a public place, wearing only it in full view of a stranger, I was entirely sincere when I said that I was now the proud owner of leotard, a girl's one at that.

I almost skipped back to the changing room to don my regular clothes, doing what my grandma had said, putting them over my new leotard. When I got back to the counter, she handed me a bag. Being a standard practice when shopping, it took me a moment to realize why this was strange. I was already wearing her purchase, so what was in here?

“They've got a special on tights, Sam, so I've bought you a pair as well.” she said pointing to a sign upon the counter which read; '50% off plain tights with any leotard.'

I didn't quite know what to think of this. Tights were associated with girls, at least to me. I had never heard of boys wearing them. Although I'm sure that my grandma would state that they were if I had asked, it still didn't feel quite right having a pair of my own.

You would think that I wouldn't have cared about what gender they were for as I was currently wearing a leotard of the opposites, but these tights I felt were a different matter. My leotard was very similar to a boy's one so I could look past that. I couldn't with tights, and as she had implied that she brought them solely because they were on special, this meant that they weren't a required part of the uniform. Now that I had some though, I was sure that I would be expected to wear them, not “letting them go to waste” as she had put it.

Then again, I was in no position to argue. I was lucky to be here in the first place, nor should I be so dismissive without trying them on first. I may actually find that they are a good companion with my leotard.

As my grandma and I left the store, it was impossible not to notice how much time had gone by. The sun was beginning to sit and the sky was getting dark. I couldn't help smiling about this thinking; could anyone have chosen a leotard quickly with the selection that they had?

“Well, you took nearly as long as your sisters.” my grandma added looking down at her watch. “Hopefully we'll have enough time to get through that video.”

Just as I was about to open the car's door, I heard a “Hey, wait!” from behind. Looking back, it was the cashier hurrying towards us.

“You forgot your skirt.” she said holding it out for me to take, still on its hanger, with a grin across her face. Thankfully the area was deserted at this hour but having a sentence like that directed at me, made me bright red with embarrassment.

“Thanks.” I muttered, looking away.

“You're welcome.”

I hoped that my grandma hadn't thought that I had left it behind on purpose in case she had wanted me to wear it as well. With it resting on ­my lap on the drive home, I couldn't help picking it up to inspect it closer, although not without a second thought. It would be a very girlish act to perform although I knew at this point that it wouldn't have bothered my grandma even the slightest.

Like my leotard, it was black made from a material that I wasn't familiar with. It had several layers all at different lengths, making it become transparent at its hemline. Like most of the other skirts I had seen at the store, it wasn't very long. Perhaps an inch shy from the top of my knees if I were to guess.

“You don't have to wear it if you don't want to, Sam, although I do think that you should at least try it on.”

“Okay.”

Unlike the tights, I was well aware that skirts were solely for girls and therefore they were something that I didn't want to have anything to do with. I hadn't worn that bathing suit and now this leotard simply because they were for girls. I was able to take some pride in that. I had worn them because they were unique, like nothing I had ever worn before.

With all the support that she had provided me though, her request would be an easy one to fulfil so it was granted without question.

As I was so immersed with my new uniform and the upcoming lesson, I hadn't noticed that she hadn't taken the usual route home...

Chapter Four by Sam Dynes
Author's Notes:

With his grandma's help, Sam begins his first ballet lesson.

It was only until I felt the thump of the car hitting the pavement of a driveway when I realized that we weren't home. Just as I was about to ask my grandma where we were, I spotted her house at the end of it. Ah, I guess that made sense. Her home was only a couple of blocks away from the store we had just left and much closer to the gym than our one were.

“It'll be easier to pick up your sisters from here, and it's where I have those tapes we'll be watching.”

She lived alone so nobody else would be there, and if this meant that my lesson would be longer, I was all for it. I was actually quite eager to get started. Now that I had the proper attire for it, I was keen on putting it to use. As she had said, it would have been a waste otherwise.

“I'll go and find those tapes. Why don't you try on your skirt and tights while you're waiting?” she said as we entered.

I hadn't wanted to wear either of these, especially the skirt, but it was the least I could do for her after all this. Like my leotard, I suppose that it would have been wasteful not to try them on at least once.

As she left the room, I placed the bag down on her table and began to undress down to my new leotard. It felt very liberating to free myself from my other clothes although I couldn't help but feel a little ashamed as well. Would this feeling ever disappear? It was a bit disappointing to find that it was still affecting me. It was safe to say that my grandma didn't mind in the least, in fact she was probably enjoying this.

I shook it off. If she was enjoying this, I should be too, and now that I had this as my own, perhaps the more I wore it, the more that this feeling would fade and eventually disappear.

I opened up the bag to retrieve those tights, tearing apart its wrapping. They were white. A good contrast to go with my mostly black leotard, I guess. Taking them in one hand, I was surprised as they dangled from it. I had always thought tights were similar to socks, only longer and weren't as thick, making them see through. Instead of two separate pieces though, it was only one, merging together at the top.

Because of this, they looked difficult to get into. I then actually realized that in order to wear these correctly, I would need to put them on first, before my leotard. Come to think of it, if they weren't like this, they wouldn't look right and probably wouldn't stay up. Just like entering that bathing suit for the first time, not knowing how to put it on, it was a new experience for me, something that I probably otherwise would have never thought of. Even before my lesson had started, it was surprising how much I was learning.

Knowing that I would have to strip to wear these, I walked over to her vacant bedroom, closing its door behind me. Pulling my hands through each of my leotard's straps, I then pulled it down and stepped out of it. I was quite pleased with myself as it was very swift, unlike previous times when I often fumbled with it. It was a sign that I was becoming used to it.

Sitting on the end of her bed, I held the tights in my hand and attempted to put them on. Now these, needless to say, I wasn't used to. When putting on socks, I would normally have my legs wide apart. With these though, I was forced to keep them together for the most part, making the tights very tricky to pull up.

It took me a number of attempts. On my first one, as my feet didn't seem to fit right, I discovered that they had a front and a back. With this corrected, I still spent a minute or so tugging at them, trying to pull them up all the way. I ended up having to start over, stretching them as much as I could from the very bottom. Finally, I was able get the top, which contained an elastic band, around my waist, snapping it into place.

With them now on, I looked down at them. It was astonishing at how long they could stretch. Just a moment ago they were in a packet smaller than an envelope and now they were covering almost half of me. They weren't as transparent as I thought they would be. If someone were to see them at a couple of meters away, they would probably appear as solid white.

As for how they felt, exactly as their name, they were tight, although not to a point of being uncomfortable. I got up and donned my leotard over top of them. As they weren't very thick, it was impossible to know where the top of the tights reached my waist without seeing them. Like my leotard, they could be described as a second skin. I felt naked because of it and yet I was perfectly covered.

All that was left was the skirt. This, thankfully, was simple to put on, requiring no fumbling about with, however that feeling of shame was greatly amplified now that I was wearing it.

I got up and slowly walked over to the door. I stood there, holding its knob in my hand for some time, hesitant to open it. After a sigh, I turned and pulled it open knowing that my grandma wasn't the kind to laugh.

She was waiting for me, sitting in one of the table's chairs. As the door squeaked open, she looked up at me and smiled. A smile that was much more energetic than I would have liked. It confirmed my suspicion that she was enjoying this.

“Wow, Sam. If only if your hair was a bit longer, you could probably pass as a girl.”

…was that supposed to be a compliment?! Before I could even begin to put together a sentence to respond to her, she got up and took my hand.

“Have you seen yourself?”

With the liveliness of taking a new puppy for its first walk, she hastily pulled me over to her guest bedroom. In the corner of it was a large full body antique mirror. I really didn't want to see myself this way as I was sure that it would do nothing to help the embarrassment that I was feeling, but in a blink of an eye, she had positioned me in front of it with her hands on my shoulders, standing behind me.

“What do you think?”

Instead of turning red as a turnip, I stood there staring at myself in disbelief and shock. Was that really me I was seeing?! She was absolutely right; if only the mirror was shorter to not show my face, there was no way to know that behind this skirt, leotard, and tights that there was a body of a boy. Thanks to the skirt, my crotch was completely hidden, removing all traces of my boyishness.

“...I look like a girl.” slipped out of my mouth.

I probably should have taken in a great deal of shame about this but somehow I couldn't. As I stared at my reflection, a small part of me watched in horror as I found my expression unwillingly made its way into a smile.

It was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, but not in the way of shame or anger, but more of a way of laughter, as if I was wearing a girl's Halloween costume as a joke or as part of a friend’s dare.

“Do you like it?” my grandma asked.

Looking up at her reflection, I could see that she had noticed my smile as well. I guess that there was no denying it now, although I was positive that she had known my feelings regarding it from long ago.

“Yes, it's fun.”

“Well, you're in store for a great deal more.” she replied in tune. “We haven't started ballet yet.”

A moment or so later, she was in the kitchen making us each a drink while I was working the VCR, rewinding the tape to get it ready. My sisters and I were probably the only ones in our school who knew how to operate one of these. We had stayed here before and had watched a number of old cartoons that she had from it. It made me wonder how old this ballet tape was.

Written on its label in black marker were the words; 'Swan Lake'. From the kitchen she told me that it was a story about a prince and princess, the latter being under a curse making her a swan by day.

Her description had only increased my confusion about ballet. I thought that this was supposed to be dancing, not a play, but as I was about to see it for myself, I didn't bother asking her for the specifics.

Just as the VCR made its clunking noise to signal that it had reached the start of the tape, my grandma came in with our drinks; hot chocolate for me and tea for her.

“This won't be an actual lesson, Sam. More of an introduction to show you what ballet is. However, feel free to try out what you see. I'm sure that you're eager to put your new uniform to use.”

Looking down at it, I was still wearing the skirt and tights. The tights in particular, now that I had them on, would have been too much of an effort to remove. The skirt on the other hand, wouldn't have been any trouble at all, yet here I was, still wearing it.

I would have liked to have convinced myself, and my grandma too for that matter, that as she had already seen me in these, there would be no point in going through the trouble of removing them, however if I were to be completely sincere, I knew that wasn't entirely truthful. There was a small part of me that found this to be fun, in a silly kind of way that I couldn't fully explain.

I hit the VCR's play button and joined my grandma on the sofa, picking up my drink in the process.

As I had expected, the video quality wasn't as good as a DVD but it was still watchable nonetheless. It started out with an introduction on the history of Swan Lake although I was still left wondering if this would be more of a play or a dance as it described itself simply as a ballet, nothing more.

It was clearly a professional act put on in an impressive theatre in front of a live audience. As my grandma mentioned that she had done ballet when she was younger, I had half expected this to be a tape with her in it. I hadn't noticed a year to state when this was produced but it appeared to be too modern for that.

It quickly became apparent that ballet was a hybrid of a play and a dance. While there wasn't a single spoken word, it did have characters, sets, and acts. Words were substituted for pieces of classical music, most of which I found to be fantastic and that's not even taking in account the excellent performance that went along with it.

When it had first started off, I was a bit unnerved to find that the performers weren't wearing leotards but actual costumes, although I did notice that they were wearing tights, the men included. I had guessed that perhaps leotards were something only worn in practice, however it wasn't long until I saw one, a much more dazzling one than mine I must add.

It was pure white with jewels covering it which sparkled in the limelight as she performed. It looked to be strapless, unless its straps were very thin or transparent, probably both. Along with it was a skirt, a tutu to be specific. Unlike mine which was loose, falling down under the effects of gravity, her one was mostly flat and was much larger, extending out to about half of her arm's length. It was made up of countless layers cut in to long narrow shapes that reminded me of feathers, which I then realized was probably the intended effect.

Like me, she was wearing plain white tights. Upon her head was a tiara which sported feathers, or possibly some material to look like them. I couldn't be sure due to the quality of the footage.

It was the costume for Odette, the princess, when she was in her swan form, my grandma told me. That much was clear although I was thankful that she was providing commentary as some parts were vague and difficult to comprehend. This was the minority though, which was saying a lot since not a single word had yet been spoken.

Although her uniform was stunning, the most noticeable part was her feet, her shoes in particular. During her performance, she was often standing upon the tips of them. My grandma told me that they were called pointe shoes. The pointe technique was when a ballerina supported her entire body on the tips of her fully extended feet, she went on.

“That looks painful, and difficult.” I couldn't help but say.

“The shoes are designed for it. It's not painful but you're correct in that it's difficult. It took me and my friends many classes to finally be able to do that, although I doubt that I'll be able to pull it off today.”

“We'll start off with the basic movements first so you won't need your own shoes just yet.” she added.

This didn't trouble me. No matter how many lessons were ahead of me, I couldn't see myself good enough to be able to do that. It was the leotard that was the most important item anyway, to which I was now a proud owner of.

Along with providing commentary for the story and characters, she pointed out each dance move as it was performed. Couru, Pas de Bourrée, Pas de Chat, Passé, and many, many more. There were so many that I eventually lost track and it didn't help that some had very similar names, all of which were foreign.

As my mug was almost empty, I took the final sip of it and placed it down on the table beside me with a light tap.

“Now that your drink's finished, why not go give it a try, Sam?” my grandma asked a few seconds later.

I felt well outside the league of the performers on screen but I still wanted to give it a go, mostly to put my leotard to its intended use which I had eagerly been awaiting ever since we had left its store.

“Okay.”

Lifting myself up, I walked over to the middle of the room. Needless to say, it was far smaller than the stage we were watching so I wouldn't be able to attempt the huge leaps that some of the dancers were making. Actually, I probably should avoid any jumps altogether as her home was littered with China ornaments and other fragile decorations that may fall and break with my thumping.

I decided to stick with the simple moves, acting them out from the screen. It didn't feel that I was even close to doing them justice but that didn't stop my grandma from providing me with plenty of praise.

“Very good.”
“Excellent, Sam.”
“Great!”

I started off very timidly, doing the most basics of moves that I could see. Although I had wanted to do this, I was a bit uncomfortable with her eyeing me as I pranced about in a skirt. Her compliments had helped a great deal though and it wasn't long until this feeling vanished entirely. After that, every time I received her praise, it made me stride to do better.

Now and then she also politely pointed out problems with my form such as my feet, legs, or back wasn't straight or high enough. I was sure that she wasn't being as pedantic as she could have been, likely because it was my very first lesson, which I appreciated.

As we continued, I did feel that I was getting better. I didn't stumble as often and felt my movements flowed naturally from one to the next, which was a key element of ballet, my grandma had said.

It was funny actually. This began as I had wanted to make use of my leotard as it was designed for but after twenty minutes or so, I was so absorbed in my dancing that I had completely forgotten that I was wearing it, along with the skirt and tights. It made me reminisce back to my day at the beach. Although I started off so unbearably ashamed about wearing that bathing suit, like this, after only a short amount of time, I was enjoying myself so much that I became entirely unaware of it.

It was only until I performed my first pirouette, a one-legged spin, when this realization came back to me. As I span, I noticed my skirt flowed out with me. It was something that was unmistakably girlish but for some reason I didn't take a single pinch of shame in doing it, in fact it was such a pleasant discovery that I couldn't help but to repeat it several more times, all while looking down at it as it flared up.

I stopped sharply on my third or fourth spin. As my grandma was sitting behind me and hadn't said anything for some time, I completely overlooked that she had been observing me.

She was smiling at me, clearly noticing that I had made a new discovery. I opened my mouth to say something but as I hadn't formed it yet, nothing came out.

“Ah, how could I forget? I haven't taught you one of the most important things; how to révérence, to curtsey.”
“Begin in first position, Sam. Put your right foot behind the other, lifting it up, pointing it towards the floor.”

A curtsey? I was sure that it was primary a girl's gesture but I suppose like wearing tights, it may have been something done by both sexes in ballet. Although on the other hand, I was wearing a girl's uniform... Could it be that because of this, she was training me as a girl? I didn't want to think about it, and since we've been having such a good time, I didn't want to harm it by bringing up such an awkward question.

I obediently followed her instructions, doing a few. As it was a gesture, not a dance move, it didn't involve a lot of movement, making them very simple to do and easy to master.

“Very good. That's a ballet curtsey but there are several others. When doing a standard curtsey, you would gently take the sides of your skirt in each hand, holding it up as you bend down.”

I couldn't help but try a few of those as well. Like when doing a pirouette, it was enjoyable interacting with my skirt, the only part of my uniform that I could since the rest of it was skin tight. I felt a bit worrisome though. Why did she tell me about a standard curtsey? As I was only doing ballet, had she expected me to use it? No, I was thinking too much into it. She had only brought up this gesture as it had involved the skirt which I had reminded her of.

“It's traditional to do a curtsey to your teacher after each lesson as a sign of respect, Sam.”

Although she hadn't implied it, I turned towards her, performing one as best as I could. For all that she had done for me so far, she had deserved at least this in return. As I raised myself back up, I looked at her expecting to see a smile in return. I was taken aback to find her mouth was open it terror. Had I offended her?!

“Oh, my. I’ve completely forgotten about your sisters.”

Although it was relieving to hear that I wasn't responsible for her shock, turning to her clock, I was also stunned to find that we were meant to pick them up over half an hour ago! Looking out the window, it was really starting to get dark. We must have been so absorbed in ballet that we simply hadn't noticed.

“We better hurry. Get dressed and ready to go, Sam.”

With that said, I guess that meant my first lesson was now over. I was a bit disappointed as we hadn't gotten all the way through that tape so I hoped that it wouldn't be my last one either. As I would only be doing this if my sisters had enjoyed their gymnastics, it'll be all up to them if I continued or not, and I suspect that our tardiness wouldn't be doing any favours in this area.

Rushing back to her bedroom, I hastily threw my top layer of clothing back on. It was uncanny that I had elected to wear pants today, rather than shorts, unlike every other day this summer, which thankfully covered up my tights so I didn't have to spend the time removing them. I didn't bother taking off my skirt either. Although it may have fitted into my pants' pocket, I didn't want to crease it, but just in case, I couldn't help spending a few seconds or so to make sure it was tucked in, hidden from view. With it secure, I proceeded to the car, meeting her there.

“So what did you think of ballet, Sam? Enjoyed it?” she said as we were on our way.

“Yea, although I doubt I'll ever be as good as the dancers in that video.”

“Don't say that. Practice makes perfect. I hope that your sisters had enjoyed their gymnastics as well so we'll be able to continue with it, although I may be able to arrange something if not.”

It was clear that her enthusiasm was just as high as mine, probably even higher. Her support had been overwhelming so far and now it had reached a new level in that she was willing to continue this even if my sisters didn't want to. Although I was extremely pleased to have it, I did feel a bit troubled by this. What did she mean by an arrangement? Doesn't that imply that someone else was to be involved? I didn't want to think about it and if I were lucky, I wouldn't have to.

“Thanks.” was all I could say in response.

“How are you finding your uniform? Do you like your skirt and tights?”

I knew this was coming. She had seen me performing my first twirl and I could clearly recall that smile she was wearing when I had noticed this, so I was positive that she already knew what I felt about it. She probably just wanted to hear it from me. Although I was still a bit embarrassed about it, it wasn't enough to lie about.

“Yes, I like them. Wearing that skirt was actually fun.”

Gah, that last sentence felt so wrong to say as it left my mouth. I wish I could have taken it back but as much as I didn't like admitting to it, it was entirely true.

“You don't mind, do you?” I added.

This hadn't come out as I had intended it to. What I had meant to say was to ask her if she thought it was unusual. I was about to expand on it but she replied before I was able to.

“Absolutely not, but it wouldn't matter if I did. If you're enjoying something and it's not harming others, you shouldn't concern yourself about what others think of you, Sam.”
“I had recently read an article which had listed the biggest regrets of terminal ill patients. Guess what the leading one was? 'I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.'”

The way she had emphasized the quote told me that it was one she lived by. Even before that day at the beach when this had all started, I had kind of already known this but it was made much clearer when put into a single sentence.

Although I hadn't expected anything less from her, it still did raise my spirits to hear this as it meant that there was no reason that I should be feeling embarrassed or ashamed about wearing my leotard or bathing suit, or anything else for that matter, in front of her. I would remember this for our next lesson.

As comforting as that was though, it didn't apply to my sisters, friends, or classmates. It was painful enough just thinking about how devastating it would be if any of them were to find out about this. The amount of risks I had already taken was concerning.

Wanting to cast those thoughts aside, I turned the topic back to ballet, asking her how I had done so far. Like when I was doing it, she provided a lot of praise and was pleased at how energetic I had been about it, although she advised that it was my form and posture that needed work. Since I was still in my uniform, I decided that I'll keep practising when we got home, in the privacy of my own room of course.

She must have been speeding as the next time I looked up I could see the gymnasium just ahead of us. I had expected to see my sisters at the entrance with faces of disapproval due to our lateness, however they weren't there, nor was anyone else, but its door was still open.

“They must still be inside. Do you want to come in?” my grandma asked.

I left the car with her to find them although my primary motivation for doing so was to satisfy my curiosity of seeing exactly what they were doing. I suspected that their class had finished though.

As we walked through its doors, I was quite surprised at how vast the place was. Although it was large on the outside, it somehow seemed even bigger within. There was a small office area at the entrance but outside of that, it was made up of one very large room which needed a number of support pillars to hold up its ceiling.

Although I don't think that I had ever been inside a gymnasium before, it was everything that I had expected one to be as if I had seen pictures of them somewhere before. At the front there was a very large mat. Scattered around the rest of it were bars, trampolines, rings, a pool full of foam, and a number of other equipment that I couldn't name.

As suspected, there weren't many others here, likely having already left, but we spied my sisters at the back playing on one of the trampolines. There were a few other girls about as well using other equipment. They too were wearing leotards. One of them was walking across a beam in a shiny neon pink and white one that was very eye-catching which was amplified even further due to the spotlights above shining on her.

You would have thought that I had seen enough leotards to last a year today but even now I couldn't help but to continue admiring them. Earlier on at the store, I had dismissed many as they were simply too girlish but after hearing what my grandma had said, it now didn't faze me at all. Even though I now had one as my own, I don't think that I would have hesitated if I got the opportunity to try on one like hers, or any other for that matter.

When I diverted my eyes off the girl, my sisters were skipping over to us, clearly noticing our entry.

“Sorry we're late. Lost track of time.” my grandma said when they were within earshot.

“It's all right. We played on the equipment.” Faye replied.

“So, how did you like it? Would you like to continue?” my grandma asked, getting straight to the point, not wasting any time. This was the million dollar question.

“Yeah, it was great fun.” she replied smiling, bouncing on the balls of her feet. April was nodding, sharing her cheerfulness. Seeing this, I couldn't help but smile myself.

“I'm glad to hear that.” my grandma replied turning her head to face me, smiling as well. “Well, I'll talk to the staff to get you registered.”

While she was in the office area doing this, my sisters told me what they had been doing for the last few hours. It was clear that like me, they had really enjoyed their time. They seemed to have learnt quite a bit already as they pointed out all the equipment, telling me what it was called and how it was used.

While waiting for our grandma, they began doing cartwheels on the mat. I was almost about to try one myself but I stopped abruptly as I realized I was wearing my ballet uniform underneath which would probably become exposed. It clearly wasn't worth the risk.

It made me think though. Had I made the right choice in selecting ballet? Although I had liked it far more than I had ever thought that I would, gymnastics sounded like it would have been good fun as well. Sure, I would have been mocked by my sisters for wearing a leotard but when I wore that bathing suit, it actually hadn't lasted long and more to the point, I was having so much fun that I barely cared anyway.

What troubled me the most though was that if I had chosen to do gymnastics, I would be here with them in a leotard as well, not having to conceal it or the ballet lesson that I had just finished, now and in the future. The part of me that I saw smiling back at myself in the mirror, I could almost hear him screaming at me to simply confess, to get it over and done with. He had a point too; although it would no doubt surprise them, among other things, they would eventually accept it.

With a deep breath, I made up my mind. When we got home, I would tell them. No, make that show them... although it would be best if I lost the skirt.

After a few minutes or so, we were all back in the car. Although it was quite dark now and the air was cooler, my sisters hadn't bothered to get changed. It reminded me of the drive home from the beach. We were all in bathing suits, myself included, and now we were all in leotards, although they weren't aware of mine. It actually made me feel out-of-place, the odd one out, but in only a few minutes time, I would be professing them my secret.

Although my sisters were speaking to us energetically about their class, I was quiet with nervousness. In my head I ran through countless scenarios on how to break this to them but no matter how many times I tried, it was just something I couldn't see working. I was never one to start a conversation and starting one as shocking as this... well, it was difficult to even consider it as an option.

Perhaps it would be better to avoid one altogether? Suppose that after getting home, I would take off my top layer of clothing and just simply go about the rest of the evening as usual. After all, it was the first step that would be the difficult one.

I was so absorbed in thinking about all this that I was barely paying any attention to the conversation that was occurring around me. It was only until I heard the phrase “What were you guys doing?” which had the impact of shattered glass that made me break my silence.

“Watched TV.” I immediately said. This came out louder than I had anticipated, putting a second of silence in the air as it was the first words I had uttered since we had entered the car.

Although I was looking ahead at the wind-shield, I could tell that my grandma had turned towards me, no doubt wearing a frown, feeling a little disappointed with me. It wasn't a lie though, or even a fib. We had watched TV.

To be fair though, if I hadn't interjected I don't think that she would have told my sisters what we had actually been doing. She would have probably said something similar to me, not a lie but a misdirection, as she had made it clear that she wanted me to be the one to tell them.

As I thought of this, it was this that was likely the actual reason why she was disappointed. It was as if I were saying that I didn't trust her. I felt a bit foolish because of it. I would have apologized but I couldn't do that while in my sisters' presence.

When I make my confession though, I'm sure that she'll forgive me.

Chapter Five by Sam Dynes
Author's Notes:

Now with something to do these holidays, Sam and his sisters were going to require a few more leotards.

As it was now so late, our grandma suggested that we ate something from the McDonalds' drive-through nearby rather than having to cook something at home. My sisters, like most kids our age, cheerfully agreed. Normally I would be there with them but once she had said this, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed as it meant that my plans had now been laid to waste.

When we arrived home, I had planned to resume my ballet practice in my room. Once dinner was ready, one of my sisters would have found me to advise of this. Sure, it would be shocking and awkward but I couldn't think of any scenario where it wouldn't have been, but at least then, it would be over.

The optimistic side of me even thought that they could accept this. Although I was teased by them when they first saw me in that girl's bathing suit, it had stopped within only a few minutes and with my grandma's support, they had never brought it up since, and I'm sure that she would be willing to support me again.

“Okay. My treat since you all did so well today.” my grandma added.

“What about Sam? He didn't do anything.” April piped up a few seconds later, only just realizing that she had referred to all of us.

My heart froze as I heard this. Surely she wouldn't tell them what I had actually been doing, would she? Thankfully she didn't say a word but although I was looking forward at the road ahead, I could tell she had turned slightly towards me again, expecting me to say something myself. The choice of words she had used kind of made me feel as if she had predicted this to occur.

“I did ballet! Before starting, we went to the store and brought a leotard for me as well! Just like you two, I'm wearing mine as well, underneath my clothes. Mine actually has a skirt too! And I loved it!”

That's what I wanted to say but I couldn't. I simply couldn't. Although it would have only taken seconds to express, the devastation that it would have would be horrendous, lasting much, much longer. I didn't know what was worst; keeping this secret locked away, or releasing it to the world.

For now though, I kept it in, staying silent. If I were going to share it, it would be in a position where I could demonstrate. That way they may be able to respect the effort that I had put in, rather than just thinking that I simply liked to dress as a girl. Come to think of it, they didn't need to know about my skirt, although it was part of my secret, it wasn't the main one.

“So, what would you like to eat?” she asked us, pulling up to the intercom.

I hadn't realized how hungry I was until I smelt the scent of our food in the air. My practice must have taken quite a toll on me. My sisters seemed to be the same as it hadn't taken us long to get through our burgers.

When we arrived back home, all that was left was my drink. Glancing at the clock, it wouldn't be long for bed. Although I had wanted to get some more practice done, I felt a bit too tired for it. After a yawn or two, I decided to proceed straight to bed. After all, I would be doing some more ballet tomorrow. Because of this, I went to bed smiling.

The following morning started like any other this summer. It looked like it was to be another fine day with only a few patches of cloud within its sky.

As I got ready for it, getting dressed, I noticed that I had left my ballet uniform on my bedroom floor. I actually felt a bit guilty about this as part of my deal with my grandma was to treat it with care and respect. If I hadn't already put my underwear on, I probably would have just worn it again. I was actually a bit tempted to but knowing that I'll be wearing it later on today was enough to satisfy me.

Like my grandma had requested, I picked it up from my floor, found a spare hanger for it, and proudly hanged it up in the middle of my closet, being the first thing that I would see the next time I opened it.

I must admit that I was a bit worried about my sisters finding it but despite it being in plain view, it didn't seem likely they would ever need to look in my closet for anything. I could have placed it to the side, hiding it behind something else, however I sincerely wanted to know it was there, reminding me of all the fun that I've had spent in it. Along with that, it was also a pleasure to look at. Compared to my other clothes in there, this one stuck out like a very vivid painting.

“All right, girls. Your gymnastics begins soon. Are you ready?”

It was a couple of hours past noon when our grandma announced this. Although my sisters didn't know it, I was just as happy as them, perhaps more so, to hear this. I almost wanted to skip to my room to put on my uniform but before any of us could get up to do this, she added to them; “Don't worry about getting changed this time. You are going to need some more leotards since you'll be doing this every weekday.” Both of them verbally cheered hearing this.

Just as I was about to ask if I could come to, already with my mouth open, ready to speak, I stopped myself, thinking how suspiciously energetic I would sound replying so quickly. However, my question wasn't necessary as my grandma turned towards me and asked with a smile that only I could understand; “Sam, would you like to come along as well?”

I lightly replied; “Okay. ... It'll be good to get out of the house.”, trying to sound as neutral as possible, although I wasn't able to hide the slight smile that was on my face to which my sisters thankfully didn't appear to have noticed.

As we drove there, my sisters were very joyously discussing which leotards they were going to choose. Our grandma had stated that they could pick four more, making a total of five for each day of the week for their gymnastics. She hadn't mentioned me but I was sure to be included.

I immediately froze as I realized this, becoming overwhelmed with dread. How exactly was I meant to select my own leotards with my sisters being there?! Had my grandma expected me to? As it wouldn't be in her character to make another trip only for me, had she trapped me in a position where I were to confess my secret in exchange of being rewarded with a number of leotards? Thinking about this made me feel sick to my stomach.

I spent the rest of the drive in an anxious worried state, not at all paying attention to my sister's conversation. Was there a way out of this? I still could make it appear that I came along for the drive, not caring about its purpose, but I had to admit, I would be sort of devastated if my sisters returned from it each with four new leotards that I had missed out on.

This wasn't fair. If I were a girl, this wouldn't be happening at all! I would be part of my sister's conversation, discussing our favourite designs and choosing them once we got to the store, probably trying them on too. Once again, I found myself thinking about how better it would be if I had been a sister, rather than a brother.

I heard the clunk of metal, the sound of the car's door opening, when I had realized that we had arrived. My sisters got out and almost skipped over to the store's entrance, with my grandma and myself following behind. I would have asked her about getting leotards for me as well, however as she had parked directly outside the shop, there wasn't enough time for me to do so without us being within earshot of my sisters.

As I walked through its doors once again, still containing a very mesmerizing view, I spied the same cashier who was there the previous day. She noticed me as I came in, presenting me with a smile. I quickly looked away. I hadn't wanted to be rude but I didn't want her to drop any hints that I had been here yesterday, hoping that she would make the connection that my previous purchase was a secret from my sisters, to which she had now become a part of.

I found that it was completely impossible for me not to be envious of my sisters while we were there, to the point where I wouldn't have been surprised if I turned green and started to emit a radioactive haze. They were both going back and forth between the racks, speaking energetically about which ones that they thought looked best, and then running to the changing rooms to try them on, often reappearing in them to show each other and our grandma. They were very lively, darting about as if they were high on sugar.

I had wished that they showed them off to me as well. I had been walking around the store aimlessly, attempting to keep up an appearance of finding this boring, but instead I decided to stay beside my grandma so I could eye them as well. It took every fibre of my being to do this without showing signs of my admiration for them though.

While they were making use of the changing rooms, I attempted to look through the racks myself. Being here again was an opportunity that I couldn't waste. However, it became frustrating as similar to me, it didn't take them long to get in and out of their leotards, allowing me only seconds to really be able to browse through them myself.

I quickly found that this wasn't a very effective process and I then attempted to stay behind them, outside of their line of sight, while I went through the racks. It took quite an effort to browse while constantly looking up, keeping an eye on where my sisters where so if they did glance in my direction, I could duck behind a rack or make it appear as if I was just drifting around the store.

It must have been obvious to my grandma and the cashier of my awkward method of browsing and I could tell that they had traded glances at times. I didn't really care though, just as long as my sisters didn't notice.

About ten minutes later, our grandma announced; “All right, we don't have much longer before your gymnastics begins. You'll better start deciding on what leotards you want.”

Hearing this, I was overcome with a thought. As my grandma had yet to mention getting any leotards for me, perhaps I were to share the ones that my sisters would choose, after all when they were to be wearing them, there would still be eight left for me. Like my sisters, now that I would be doing ballet every day, one leotard wasn't going to be enough.

I really didn't like the idea of sharing clothes with my sisters, especially not in secret, but they were sure to be washed after we wore them. April's ones may have been a bit too big for me but Faye was roughly my size. Being such elastic garments though, there was a possibility that I may fit into both. If this was indeed to be the case though, I would have liked to have at least a small say in what their choices were if it was at all possible.

Pondering this, I formed an idea. Sensing an opportunity of being able to potentially influence their choices as well as putting an end to my painful way of browsing, I approached my sisters, practising in my head what I was about to say to them.

“This is boring. Can I help you find something so we can get out of here faster?” I asked, using a slightly whiny tone.

For a change, I was pretty impressed with how well my fib sounded, not at all like my usual ones were I would nervously stutter with a forced expression. Perhaps my lies weren't so bad when I weren't so caught off guard with them.

Although I could tell that they were a bit surprised at my willingness to help them, I was confident that they actually believed that I was bored, rather than doing this for any other reason. It was Faye that took me up on my offer.

“Yeah, I'm looking for two. One with mermaid scales and another with a pegasus on its front. I saw them earlier but I can't find them now.”

With this, it immediately became a lot easier to browse and I felt like kicking myself for not asking them earlier. I had actually spotted the leotards she was after recently, or possibly similar ones, and had a rough idea where in the store they were, however now that I could browse much more freely, I wasn't in a hurry to end it.

I wish she hadn't been so specific about the choices she was after. If she had simply wanted a certain colour, I could have chosen something I would have liked as well. I very much doubted that I would enjoy wearing ones as girlish as those, but I felt that there was absolutely no way that I could provide her with suggestions without exposing my actual intentions for helping her.

She eventually found them both before I did. As they both got changed into the leotard that they wanted to wear today, I rapidly became aware of how quickly this opportunity was sliding through my fingers, almost about to end, causing me to almost shake with anxiety.

I had to stop delaying this. With a deep breath, I marched over to my grandma to ask about the leotards for me as well. However, as I was half way to her one of the changing rooms' doors opened in front of me, blocking my path.

April walked out of it wearing a dark purple leotard that had purplish pink curvy lines surrounding it, coated with glitter, which looked to me like abstract vines. Noticing me behind her, she turned to me and said; “Pretty neat, eh?”

“Yea.” I replied as indifferently as I could. Although I didn't hate it, it was a bit too pinkish for my tastes.

Now that they were both changed into their uniforms, the three of them marched towards the counter to purchase them. I stood nearby, watching as the cashier tallied them up on her till, all while depressingly thinking that I could have had a pile of leotards for myself as well.

I hated myself for it but I had given up. I suspected that my grandma had brought me along expecting me to concede, providing me with plenty of opportunity, but with my sisters here, I just wasn't able to muster up the courage to do so. Despite being such an easy task to do physically, I was constantly overpowered with distress and uncertainty whenever I had attempted to.

However, I was positive that our ballet training would still continue nonetheless. Although they weren't entirely to my liking, I would probably be using my sisters' spares when my own leotard needed washing.

Once we had finally exited the store, a wave of regret and relief washed over me. The latter was due to knowing that my sisters were none the wiser about what I would shortly be doing.

After a small sigh, I had a spark of an idea, causing a glimmer of hope to swell within me. Not letting it go to waste, I suddenly spoke.

“Hey, can I go to the toy store nearby, while you drop them off? Please?”

My aim was to say it casually, not in the obvious joyous tone that it had come out with. Even my sisters happened to notice the smile that came along with it. It didn't worry me though, as after all, there was no denying that the toy store was an actual fun place to be, although I knew that I would have a lot more fun at the place that I was really planning on being.

Our parents weren't the type to leave us unsupervised in public but I was hoping that she could make an exception. I think my unintentional smile may have helped, as after seeing it, she smiled herself and said; “Oh, alright, but don't leave the store.”

It was clear that she knew what I had in mind, and allowing me to do so, I almost wanted to run up and hug her. Needless to say though, within my sisters' presence, I wouldn't be doing that, but I did respond with a very polite “Thank you.”

I headed in the direction of the toy store, walking slowly. Once I knew that the car would be out of sight, looking behind me to check, I quickly turned around and almost ran back to the leotard store with my contagious smile still stuck to my face.

There was still a few people within the area at this hour but at this point, I didn't care at all. Even if someone had noticed me entering, nothing could subdue the happiness that was now thriving within me.

“Welcome back.” the lady at the register said, looking up at me as I marched into the store. On her face was the same smile she had when I had entered before, although there was also a hint of confusion too. No doubt due to my unexpected return. It felt good that I was now able to return the smile she had provided me this time round.

As the gym was less than ten minutes away, I unfortunately didn't have the time that my sisters had gotten. However, when I was here previously, I did come across a couple that I thought were great choices, keeping a mental note of where they were.

Just as I was lifting up my arm to take one of them from its rack, I stopped suddenly, realizing that there was a problem. There were several sizes available for it but I hadn't a clue what my size was. It had been my grandma who had selected my previous one.

Taking the one that looked like it may have fitted me the best, I held it up to my torso, looking down at it, checking if it would fit. As soon as I did that, I suddenly became aware of what a girlish gesture it was. I had seen in movies and TV shows girls doing this very thing with dresses. I couldn't think of a time where I had ever seen a guy do this, making me blush slightly with embarrassment.

Being such flexible garments though, I wasn't sure how well that would work with leotards. I could have taken a selection over to the changing rooms with me to find my size, however I wanted to waste as little time as possible.

Although I wasn't fond of it, I had an idea. I turned around, facing the counter. Like before, the cashier was observing me with a small smile. Her gaze made me a bit nervous but as I was the only one in the store, I couldn't blame her for watching me. I suspected that she had seen me performing that gesture and probably knew what I was about to ask.

“Excuse me. Do you remember the size of the leotard that I bought yesterday?”

“Child medium.” she immediately responded without so much of a thought.

Her prompt answer caught me by surprise, expecting her to need to look it up somehow. I suppose that I did stick out like a sore thumb though as I doubted that she saw many boys within the store, and even less of them picking out a girl's leotard. I was probably the first and only one, making me feel a bit disgraceful.

However, I pushed that out of my mind. The premise that I would have four new leotards before the day was over was enough to keep me bright.

My question must have had an impact on her as she brought up a conversation with me as I went to and from the racks, searching for other leotards that I would have liked to wear.

“So, are you doing gymnastics as well?”

I was a bit hesitant to respond but I didn't want to be rude either. I guess it sounded better to state that I was using these for something, rather than that I had just liked to wear them. Although I didn't think she would find out, my grandma would have wanted me to stay truthful as well.

“No, I'm doing ballet.” I said politely. “My grandma is teaching me.”

I added the last bit a few seconds later. I didn't want her to think that I was wearing these in a class full of girls, or boys for that matter.

“Oh, the leotards you've got there are more suited for gymnastics. The ones for ballet have the ballerina over their stands. I suppose it doesn't matter though.”

I hadn't noticed that. Looking up at them, I thought that they were just part of the store's decorations. Most of the other racks had gymnasts on them. Now knowing this, as I went through the racks, it became obvious of the two types of leotards there were.

The gymnastic ones were what my sisters were wearing, as well as that one of mine. They were a lot more flashy, generally having multiple colours and many made use of that sleek shiny material. Most of them didn't make use of skirts but the few that did were attached to the uniform, not being a separate removable piece, often being very short.

The ballet ones were plainer, generally being a single colour although a few of them had some sort of decoration on their front as well, usually a ballerina, a jewel, or ballet shoes. The tops of some of them were very different from their gymnastic counterparts, some having very thin, almost invisible, straps or puffed sleeves.

What stood out the most was their skirts, which about half of them had. Although these ballet ones were lacking in overall design and colours, I felt that the ones that had skirts made up for it, with many of them having multiple layers or being very frilly, sometimes fading into another colour at their hems.

I guess I preferred the gymnastic ones a little more but as I would be getting several, I felt that I should select some ballet ones too. After all, it was ballet that I was doing and I felt that I should be using the correct uniform for it.

To be honest though, after performing that pirouette, I learnt how much fun a skirt could be. It made me feel a bit ashamed to think this, but along with that, with a skirt, they did a lot to hide the fact that I was actually a boy. If I was to wear girls' clothes, I came to the conclusion that it was best to appear as one.

“How long have you been dancing for?” the cashier asked from behind me.

“Not long. After this, I'm having my second lesson, although it's mostly just watching an old tape.” I replied, being more focused on my selection as I was trying to avoid wasting any further time.

“Care to show me?”

I automatically turned around and looked up at her once I had registered this, initially thinking that I had misheard her. Was she serious?

Seeing my alarmed expression, she quickly added; “Tell you what, I'll let you have a free leotard.”

She got up and walked around the counter to one of the racks, looking through it. At this point, it became clear she wasn't just having me on. Before I could even start to think about how I was going to respond to her, she found the one she was looking for. Actually, she had found two, holding them up in each hand to show me.

Both were a light baby blue with short sleeves, ballet ones. They were very plain, having no real decorations on them. The only difference between the two was that one had an attached skirt.

I really didn't know how to react to this. It seemed to me that not only did she want me to show her what I had learnt so far, but she would have liked to see me perform it in a leotard as well. I needed to stop and think it over for a moment.

I wish that I could say that it had been a difficult decision, but if I were to be sincere, it really wasn't. Despite knowing that it would be very mortifying, this lady had already seen me in one only yesterday, and probably already knew what I was doing since my grandma had spoken with her. Overall, I considered that spending a couple of minutes or so performing some quick ballet moves in exchange for another leotard would be well worth it.

Without saying anything, I slowly moved my hand up, pointing to the one with the skirt. It wouldn't have been one that I would have otherwise selected, but I had to admit, it wasn't horrible. I was glad that she had chosen some blue ones, rather than the baby pink ones that were hanging beside them.

“This one?” she said smiling, holding it out for me to take.

Almost snatching it, looking away, I hurried over to the changing rooms feeling my face becoming as red as a beet. I couldn't believe that I was doing this.

I held it up in front of me, just staring at it, lost in thought. I guess that I would have found myself in a leotard sooner or later today, so I suppose that now was just as good a time as any. Just as I was about to undo the button on my pants, I heard the cashier's voice again.

“Hey, did you want some tights too?” she asked through the door.

“Yes, please.” I replied.

She hadn't mentioned if these were also free but I suspected that they were, although my grandma probably wouldn't mind paying anyway. Along with the leotards, I was sure to require some more tights as well.

Hearing her march back over from the counter, where the tights stand was located, she slid a packet of plain white tights under the door for me.

Just like the last time I had worn these, these were a real struggle to put on compared to the leotard. I must have spent a good few minutes trying to pull them up all the way to the top. However, once I finally had everything on, it was a pleasing comfortable fit.

I couldn't help but be a small bit hesitant in exiting the changing room but after looking down at it now surrounding me, there wasn't a pinch of doubt within me that didn't think that this had been a very easy worthwhile trade. It felt great to be back in a leotard again, especially a new one. With a nervous smile, I turned the door's lock and stepped out into the store.

Similar to my grandma yesterday, the cashier was waiting for me and her smile grew larger as she saw me, causing me to blush. I hurried past her, over to the area in front of the counter, the only part of the store which had a large exposed area, allowing me to perform what I had learnt so far.

I spent the next few minutes performing some ballet moves, stating their names if I could recall them. I also attempted a few sequences from Swan Lake that I could remember, although I was very limited with the space I had and they probably weren't performed half as well as the professional dancers that I had seen.

The cashier didn't seem to mind though. She didn't say a word and just watched, clearly enjoying my performance as her smile never disappeared. I was just glad that she hadn't burst out into laughter, something that my sisters probably would have done if they were in her position.

With another glance at her, I noticed that she wasn't watching me, rather someone behind me. Stunned, I quickly turned around in panic. Thankfully, it was only my grandma walking in. Clutching at a sudden knot in my chest, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

I was astonished at myself for how careless I had been. If it had been anyone else, I didn't have enough time to run. Not that it would have mattered though as I probably would have died of embarrassment right on the spot.

“What's all this?” she asked with a grin, eyes fixed on my new uniform.

Still recovering from my shock, the cashier responded before I could, no doubt noticing this. She explained the situation and praised me at how good I was. They were soon in a lively conversation about me. I would normally hate being the topic of discussion but as it was full of compliments, I had nothing to complain about.

I resumed my search for leotards while they talked between themselves. I hadn't noticed it earlier but it had taken my grandma lot longer to arrive back then it should have. I had thought that she may have stopped for coffee somewhere but then again, I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted to delay our lesson. Perhaps she just wanted me to have some freedom to choose my leotards in peace, without any distractions? If so, that hadn't gone as planned, but at least now I didn't have to worry about sizing, nor getting changed later on.

After seven minutes or so, I had finally made my selection. I was still wearing my extra one but fortunately nobody else had entered. I started off avoiding the racks at the front of the store for this very reason but as time when on, I forced myself to in an attempt to help me become more confident about wearing it.

It had actually been a lot more difficult this time, choosing four rather than one. There were so many that I would have loved to have and wear, easily the majority of the store, however as I didn't have all the time in the world, I picked out a number that I felt that they had just that little extra bit to them. To keep things even, I ended up choosing two of each type, two ballet and two gymnastic ones. My grandma was pleased with my choices and after the cashier tallied them up, we were eventually on our way.

“Hey, why did you take so long to come back from the gym?” I asked curiously.

“It's a surprise. I'll show you once we get to my place.” she replied, smiling at me.

Hearing this, I couldn't help but notice that there was an extra shopping bag in the seat behind her. It didn't have any branding upon it so I hadn't a clue what it contained but whatever it was, I was sure that I would have loved it. Knowing this, it was difficult to sit still during the drive. That contagious smile had returned and I felt that it wouldn't be able to leave me for the rest of the day.

Once we arrived, stepping through her door, along with taking off my shoes, I automatically took off my top layer of clothing too. It just didn't seem right to be wearing a leotard, only to hide it underneath something, I thought to myself, patting it over my stomach.

Happily skipping in the remaining way, my grandma, walking behind me, asked; “Why don't you get the TV ready? I'll prepare your present in a minute.”

This didn't take long. The tape was already in the same position we had left it yesterday, however I rewound it a short distance to the start of the segment as it had been in the middle of one. While doing so, I kept my ears alert, attempting to make out the sound of my gift, trying to work out what it could be, however all I could hear was the crumple of its plastic bag.

She entered the lounge with her arms behind her back, obviously holding it there.

“Close your eyes.” she declared with a grin across her face. Smiling, I immediately complied. I felt her hands upon my shoulders and she directed me into one of her other rooms. I kept trying to guess what it was. All this seemed to be too much trouble for just another leotard or tights. Could it have been ballet shoes? If so, I didn't see why I needed to close my eyes and walk for them.

We came to a stop a few feet later. I was very tempted to peek, however I knew my grandma would be disappointed if I had so I kept them shut tight.

Not at all what I was expecting, I felt her place something over the top of my head. It was tight, similar to a beanie but wasn't made from cotton. What on earth was this thing? Some sort of ballet hat was all that I could think of. She spent several seconds adjusting it, pulling my ears out from under it and tugging it up on my forehead. There must have been a very confused expression on my face as I hadn't a clue what she was doing or for what purpose.

It all immediately became clear when I felt the next thing brushing against my ears as she pulled it over the top of the previous beanie like thing. It was a wig! I had almost opened my eyes in realization, but she quickly said “Almost there. Keep them closed.” with a stern but cheerful tone.

After a few more seconds of maintenance, making use of a comb, she placed her hands on my shoulders and I heard the words that I had been eagerly awaiting; “Alright, open your eyes.”

In front of me was a pretty girl with flowing blond hair, wearing my leotard. ...no wait, was that actually me?! I was in front of her mirror again, staring at my reflection. I was completely dumbfounded. If my grandma hadn't been standing behind me, it would have almost been as if I was looking through a glass window, but even still, I needed to move my hands, just to confirm that it really was me I was surveying. I was in near disbelief at how much of a girl I looked like. Heck, I doubted that even my sisters could have recognized me like this.

“I am such a girl!” I said blissfully, without a pinch of shame coming along with it. What I had planned to say was “I look like such a girl!” but I guess in my emotional state, my words got jumbled up on the way out. I didn't care enough to rectify it though. I just stood there, mouth open in bewilderment, examining my reflection, being very difficult to look away.

I took the opportunity to do a few twirls, getting a good look at my new uniform and wig, as well as perform a few curtseys to myself. Watching my reflection, I even felt that the way I acted like this was gracefully girlish. It was as if I was watching an entirely different person.

“You are so adorable.” my grandma exclaimed observing me, tickling me on my sides. I soon broke out into giggles as she became more intense with her fingers, eventually causing me to stumble over, trying to free myself from her grasp, to which she also began to laugh heartily.

After a very satisfying moment of laughter between the two of us, I lifted myself up from the floor, wiping my tears from my eyes, and gave her a large hug around her waist.

“Thank you for this. I love you.”

I could tell that she was taken back a little, clearly not expecting this, but I couldn't blame her. I had never been the hugging type, but after all this, I felt that I couldn't express my gratitude in words alone.

“Thanks, Sam. I love you too.” she said, stroking the top of my wig.

A short while later, we were both in the lounge, in front of the TV. Like yesterday, she had made a drink for both of us but mine had barely been touched as I was so much more focused on my dancing. My grandma had tied up my wig in what she called a ballet bun so it wouldn't get in my way, making it a lot shorter, however I was pleased to find that I still passed as a girl with it this way, or at least I thought I did.

After ten minutes or so, there was a knock at the door. “Who could that be?” my grandma said, getting up to answer it. I didn't think much of it and continued to practice, although I took the opportunity to take a sip of my drink as it was soon to get cold.

I heard her talking to someone very casually, a woman, almost like a friend. Whoever it was, they had been at the door for sometime, far longer than what a postman would have taken.

With the music from the TV playing, it was a bit difficult to make out what they were saying exactly, however my ears easily picked up a sentence that immediately put butterflies in my stomach, almost causing me to gag.

“Would you like to come in for tea?”

My first thought was to run and hide into one of her other rooms but it would be impossible for me to do so without running pass her entranceway, no doubt noticing me. It was an uncomfortable thought but it was clear that she had wanted to introduce me, making any use of hiding futile.

Staring at the windows, pondering that maybe I should just escape out of them, I did have a spark of a better idea. Thanks to my wig, nearly forgetting about it, I could simply attempt to act like a girl, trying to be as girlish as possible. I didn't know if my grandma had already stated the truth of my gender to whomever it was but it was worth an attempt at the very least. This was probably the best option available to me.

I spent a few seconds attempting to make out my reflection in the windows of her glass cabinets which held her collection of ornaments, ensuring that I looked the part. I could hear both pairs of footsteps marching in and my right leg began to twitch with a worried anxiety. In an attempt to hide it, I quickly resumed my dancing, trying to force my focus on the performers on the TV.

With my heart racing at the sound of each step they took, they finally came to a halt behind me. I slowly turned around, all the while wishing that what I actually was wouldn't be obvious.

“Sam, this is Judy, a friend of mine. I've invited her in for tea.”

Judy was an old lady as well. She looked to be similar in age to my grandma, probably a bit younger. Her hair wasn't as grey and she clearly put a bit of effort in her appearance, wearing gold earrings and lipstick.

It was a bit distressing in that my grandma had referred to me by name, only to remember that Sam was a unisex one. As I had nearly always heard it in reference to me, I had become a bit biased in thinking that it was a boys' name only. I was never very fond of it – preferring others if it had been up to me – but at a time like this, I wouldn't have traded it in for the world.

I kept watch on her face as she surveyed me up and down, trying to gauge from her expression if she was aware of what I actually was. If she had discovered it, I wasn't able to notice. She just examined me with a regular smile across her noticeably red lips.

“Hello Sam. That's a pretty leotard you're wearing.” she said politely.

“Thank you.” I replied smiling courteously in a voice higher than my usual, attempting to sound like a girl as best I could, bowing down, presenting her with a curtsey as a sign of my gratitude.

They both beamed at my attempt of refined elegance, clearly not at all expecting it. Perhaps I had overdone it, I thought in worry.

End Notes:

Once again, I'm sorry about the long delay on this. Along with personal matters, I had felt I had written myself into a corner for a large length of time. I was previously writing this story as it flowed out from my fingertips, not really having an overall goal for it in mind.

However, I'm pleased to say that I've now planned ahead for the next several chapters. With this, I aim to produce chapters at a much faster pace. Thanks to anyone who stayed with me.

Please let me know of any feedback, be it positive or negative. It's very much appreciated.

Chapter Six by Sam Dynes
Author's Notes:

Although initially concerned about his grandma's friend, they begin The Nutcracker and Sam begins to gradually warm up to her.

Removing the cassette from its cardboard sleeve, I inserted it into the VCR, making it produce that satisfying clunking noise that it always did. This time, written on its label, was 'The Nutcracker'.

We had finished Swan Lake on my previous lesson yesterday. I was a bit hesitant to call it a lesson though as I felt that my grandma was a lot less involved in it compared to my first one.

This had primary been because of Judy. Listening to their conversation throughout it, Judy had been a childhood friend of my grandma and they had actually done ballet together when they were girls. Because of this, they spent a lot of time speaking about the nostalgia they had for it. This was interesting to listen in on at first, but as it continued, I had wished that they put a little more effort into my lesson.

They hadn't completely forgotten about me though. With both of them observing me, they were quick to praise me when I did certain movements correctly. Despite this being pleasing to hear, I also wanted them to point out the opposite too, so I could attempt to improve upon it. It was clear that my performance was far from flawless.

I suspected that this may have been due to the fact that neither of them wanted to appear to be harsh to me in front of the other. I could understand this from Judy, being a guest, but didn't feel this should have been as much the case as it was for my grandma. Looking back on it, I probably should have spoken up about it but I suppose that it didn't matter now.

I didn't expect to see Judy again, with it just being the two of us for this lesson.

When she had first walked in yesterday, I was a bit worried about yet another person knowing about this secret of mine. It had seemed to me that every time I wore these clothes, someone new would have a chance to find out about it, yet, as if they were bewitched, I found that I was unable to resist temptation.

I was actually sure that Judy honestly believed that I was a girl at first. Two of the compliments that I had received from her were; “good girl” and “pretty girl”. Although she appeared to say these very naturally, I couldn't help but glance at her when I heard this for the first time, trying to gauge if she was being sincere or not.

My grandma noticed this and grinned at me in such a way that led me to believe that Judy was actually being earnest, unaware of my real gender. This caused a large surge of energy to rush through me, knowing that I was genuinely able to pass as a girl this way. This did wonders to my dancing, making me strive to hear it again.

I was thankful that my grandma hadn't corrected her. I felt that I would have died if she had done but I was sure that she knew how important this was for me to hear.

I was also very glad that I had elected to choose the leotard with the skirt back at the store, although if I had known that a stranger would have been watching me so closely, I probably would have asked for one of those baby pink ones instead, just to appear slightly more girlish. It was an awkward thing to think about though.

My drink had finally caught up to me and to keep up appearances of being a well brought up girl, I asked politely if I could be excused to use the toilet. “She's very well-mannered.”, I heard Judy say to my grandma as I walked out of the room. It was a bit of a strange sensation but my heart swelled hearing this. It was the first time I had ever been referred to as 'she', removing whatever doubt I had left of Judy knowing that I was really a boy.

As I hadn't needed to remove my tights entirely, getting back into my uniform wasn't as much trouble as I thought it would be. After tugging them from my knees up to my waist, I pulled up my leotard over them, adjusting its sleeves a little to fit snug, putting it back to how it was.

It was the little things like this, something as regular as changing clothes, that I found to be amazingly blissful these last few days. It really hadn't been anything different since when I had first stepped into that bathing suit back at the beach, what felt like putting a coat of girlishness around me. Despite filling me up with shame and disgrace back then, it had now been replaced with pleasure and pride.

I felt like such a girl this way, taking not a pinch of shame thinking so. It made me wonder if actual girls, such as my sisters, could ever admire this sensation as much as I did. I supposed that most girls took it for granted how lucky they were to have clothes like these.

Before returning to the lounge, I decided to stop by her spare bedroom to use her mirror, ensuring that my uniform was correct, although, to be honest, I had wanted to spend a moment admiring myself this way again too.

Once I was back in the lounge practising, after a few minutes, I couldn't help but notice that it felt like the atmosphere had changed. It wasn't obvious at first but as time went on, I realized that Judy wasn't as active in conversation as she had been previously. She still gave me praise here and there but she just didn't seem to be as lively as she had been earlier. I was worried. Could it have been that my grandma had told her and she now found me to be shameful?

I didn't want to think about it and tried to keep my focus on the TV and my performance, avoiding facing her. I really had hoped that I was just imagining things, causing a seed of doubt to sprout within me without any merit. I decided that when she left though, I would ask my grandma about it.

This time had come roughly ten minutes later when my grandma said, looking at her clock; “Oh, nearly time to go, Sam. Your sisters will be finishing soon.”

She had previously explained to Judy that while I was doing ballet, I had two sisters doing gymnastics. Judy got up to leave as well. If she hadn't supported what I was doing, it was still pleasant to hear her say that “It was very nice to meet you, Sam.” with a smile. Although I wasn't sure if it would had improved things, I responded with another curtsey. Watching her face, it was a relief to see her smile grow a little with it.

After she had left, I changed back into my regular clothes and we were shortly both in the car, on our way. During the drive there, my grandma had asked me about what I thought about Judy and if I had minded her watching in on our lesson. I hadn't for the most part and stated that I thought that she was nice enough. Although I kept this to myself, I did wish that they had spent less time talking between themselves. As I didn't expect to be seeing her again, I figured that it wasn't worth mentioning.

This would have been a good time to ask her if she had told Judy that I was really a boy but I found myself to be hesitant. I was reminded back to the trip home from yesterday when my sisters were in the car. If I were to ask her this, it felt a bit like saying that I couldn't trust her with this secret, despite her helping me so much with it. It was such an awkward question to bring up and, more importantly, I wasn't sure if I had actually wanted to hear the answer anyway.

No matter what though, I suppose that it was a bit futile to think that I could ever hope to pass as a girl. I was really a boy after all. I felt that a wig, a leotard, and tights could never be enough to hide that. I suppose that if Judy hadn't known now, she would have found out eventually.

I was a bit worried if Judy would tell anyone else though, but thinking it over, I suppose it didn't matter. Even if she were to profess it, I couldn't see how anybody I knew could have found out. I suspected that anyone she spoke to would be around her age. It just didn't seem possible that it could spread to anyone that I knew personally.

We had arrived at the gym a short while later. This time my sisters were both at the entrance waiting, chatting happily with two other girls there. I recognized one of them as Alice, a friend of Faye from school, but I couldn't pin down the other one who was a clear bit shorter than the other three.

Although Alice had a jacket over top, none of them had gotten changed yet, still in their uniforms, with the other three clutching plastic bags containing their regular clothes. Despite it being quite dark, I suppose they weren't in a hurry to get dressed after their draining gymnastics, although the hot summer's air probably didn't help things either. The majority of the other girls waiting there hadn't gotten changed either.

From the car's window, I took the time to admire the many leotards that were on display, although, to be honest, what I found most fascinating was the simple fact that these girls were able to wear them so casually here. They were all acting so naturally, as if they were all just wearing their regular clothes, like it were a common occurrence, which I suppose it was for them.

Little did they know that I, a boy, was watching them with a spiteful envy. What would have been so normal for them, to the point that they probably never thought about it, was something that was entirely off limits to me, or any other boy for that matter. My heart sunk knowing that there was absolutely no way that I could be blessed with such an opportunity.

My sisters noticed our arrival and after saying goodbye, the two of them hurried over to the car. Just as April was about to open the back seat's door, I quickly remembered that the bag containing my new leotards, tights, and wig was there. I promptly turned around and snatched it near milliseconds before it would have been noticed, hiding it below my seat.

I made sure not to leave the car with it when we arrived home, only going back for it once I knew my sisters had settled down in front of the TV for the evening. My grandma had noticed this but she didn't say anything, thankfully. Like a spy, moving as softly as possible to prevent any crackles from the bag's plastic, I returned with it to my room, pleased that they hadn't noticed. I felt a lot easier with them now safe within my room.

I placed my tights within my sock drawer. As for my leotards, I found a spare hanger for each of them and proudly hanged them up in the middle of my closet, placing my wig upon the top shelf. Once they were all in place, I took a step back and took a moment to admire them all hanging there.

Despite my regular clothes easily outnumbering them, with my five vibrant girls' leotards right in the middle, they clearly made a big difference to my closet, as well as the room in general. I felt that if a stranger were to ever open these doors, they could be excused for thinking that this was a girl's room.

Although I honestly did enjoy the sight of them there, knowing how much fun they were, I still had a worried doubt in the back of my mind that someone, probably my sisters, would eventually discover them.

I detested myself for it but I had to admit, it was much too dangerous. I felt that I had taken far too many chances already, pushing my luck too much. Like a balloon that was close to popping, I knew that I was being too careless with it. I grabbed them all and moved them to the left of the others, ensuring that they were hidden behind them. Although I was a bit gutted that I could no longer view them, my common sense was telling me that I had done the correct thing.

They were still hanging up like my grandma had requested, exactly where they were meant to be, however I could discreetly remember that she had used the word 'proudly' as part of her deal with me, hearing her voice say it in my head. Feeling a bit of guilt, I supposed that what I had done couldn't have been constituted as pride, however I didn't feel like she would have checked, rather that she could trust me.

Knowing that I was now betraying her trust, put a very heavy hole within my heart. Therefore, I made a promise to myself that once I became more comfortable with them being there, I would put them back in the middle.

Going back to our present lesson, the beginning of the Nutcracker. Once again, my grandma helped me with my wig, putting it on and tying it up into another ballet bun. As she was doing this, we heard the doorbell ring. She quickly finished it off and got up to answer it.

I was surprised to hear Judy's voice from the door, which probably meant that she would be here again. Although I suspected that like last time, my lesson wouldn't be as involved with her here, I did feel a little pleased knowing that if she had been aware of what I actually was, she hadn't been entirely put off by what I was doing.

On the other hand, if she still believed that I was really a girl, I suddenly realized in horror that I hadn't gotten changed into my ballet uniform yet! Looking down at the clothes I was wearing, a green T-shirt and light grey shorts, these weren't exactly girlish. Just like when she had entered yesterday, there was no time to run. The best that I could hope for, is for her to think that these were regular unisex clothes. I suppose that I was lucky enough to have my wig on at the very least.

Since we didn't need to stop at the leotard store this time, I hadn't had the opportunity to change yet. It had crossed my mind when I was getting dressed this morning, wearing one underneath my clothes, however at this point, I disliked the idea of wearing one, only to hide it. Along with that, the day had been simply too hot to wear tights throughout it, amplified by the fact that I would have needed to wear pants to cover them.

When our grandma told my sisters to get ready, after they were in their rooms, I headed to my own to get changed as well. However, when I realized that I would need to put my tights on, changing out of my shorts, it would have been a little too suspicious. As they didn't need tights for their gymnastics, they would certainly be ready before I was too. Instead, I picked out one of my leotards and a pair of tights, folding them up and placing them in my shorts' pockets. I was very impressed that a complete uniform was able be stored in such little space.

I then realized that I needed my wig as well. Well, to be honest, I didn't really need it, but it seemed to do wonders to my confidence, really making me feel like I was an actual girl. As my sisters would be emerging from their rooms shortly, I quickly grabbed it and hastily walked to the car, where I hid it below my seat.

“Hello again, Sam.” Judy said walking in.

Like before, she surveyed me up and down. It may have been the doubt within me, causing me to imagine it, but I was sure that I saw her lips curled slightly as she was doing this, as if she was in disapproval. Her voice on the other hand was still just as polite as it had always been.

“Hello.” I responded, trying to keep my voice girlish, preforming another ballet curtsy to her. It felt very lacklustre to do one without a skirt though, I immediately discovered. Actually, I wasn't sure if they should even be done without one, making me feel a bit foolish.

“I have a surprised for you.” she said with a very bright smile upon her face, holding up a plastic bag she was carrying, pulling out its contents.

“It's an old uniform that my daughter no longer needs. You can have it.”

Opening her fingers, the garment she was holding rolled out, falling open. It was a baby pink ballet leotard with puffed sleeves. Written on its front, in a very curvy neon pink typeface coated in glitter, were the words; 'Ballet Princess'. Even with that though, the most stunning thing about it was its attached skirt; a very ruffled classical tutu. Each layer of it was slightly transparent but with so many of them - too many to count at a glance - it made for a very neat effect. Along with that, the hem of its top layer had a shiny rose gold strip surrounding it. Needless to say, it was very pretty.

Automatically, my mouth dropped open in awe. My grandma, noticing this, moved to my side to inspect it as well.

“Wow, that's cute. Good thing you haven't gotten changed yet, Sam. Why don't you try it on now?” she asked.

She hadn't needed to as I'm sure that the expression on my face was enough of an answer, but I honestly felt that I could have begged to try it on right at that moment, even if I was already my uniform.

“Yes, please!”

Judy handed me the bag and I hurried, almost running, to the spare bedroom to try it on, intensity wishing that it fitted me well. Opening the bag and lifting the leotard out of it, I was merrily surprised to find that underneath it was also tights, a hair clip, and some ballet shoes as well.

It was clearly a professional uniform and part of me actually felt that it was well outside my league, as if Judy had given me a Ferrari, but that was overpowered by the simple fact that I couldn't wait to wear it, undressing as if my clothes were on fire.

Unlike my other tights, these were pink, slightly lighter than the leotard. Once I had them on, still giving me trouble as they always did, I noticed that it contained a number of small frills just above my ankles.

Getting to the main course, the leotard, I held it up to me. This was something I found myself doing every time I received the opportunity to wear a new one. It was like admiring a meal, eyeing its texture and absorbing its scent, before I sunk my teeth into it. I almost couldn't believe that I was about to wear this, causing my heart to flutter.

Stepping into it and pulling it up, I spent a few seconds on its sleeves, puffing them up. It seemed to be a pinch tighter than my other leotards, however I felt that being in one as glamorous as this... well, it was an easy sacrifice to make.

Looking down at my skirt, I found it to be the most striking. On the previous leotard I had worn, the skirt was very basic, falling down with gravity. It was in stark contrast to this one, which flowed out from around my hips, producing a pleasant pink hazy circle surrounding me. I felt that this skirt was the superior one as it would always be visible when I looked down at it, instead of only appearing whenever I performed a pirouette.

With the leotard in place, I seated myself down on the corner of the bed, being careful to avoid creasing my tutu as I did so, to put on the ballet shoes. Unlike everything else, these were beige. I was pleased to find that they fitted very well.

All that was left was the hair clip, a laced pink rose. I had to inspect it first, to see how to use it, as I had never worn one before. My sisters had a few but it had never crossed my mind before now at how they put them on. I felt a bit stupid finding out that, exactly like their name, it was just a clip, similar to a clothes peg with a spring. I clipped it on to my wig, just above my right ear.

I had consciously selected this room to change in due to its mirror in the corner, however I had purposely avoided it until now, only wanting to see myself once I had my new uniform fully on. Filled with both worry and excitement, eagerly awaiting to see my reflection, I took a leap in front of it.

Gasping, clutching my hands over my mouth, I once again found myself in disbelief. I clearly hadn't gotten used to seeing myself like this yet, although I sincerely didn't want to either. It was fascinating to find myself looking nothing like I usually did, making me feel as if I had just swapped bodies with a pretty girl my age. A large smile broke out across her face, causing me to be overcome with a few seconds of ecstatic laughter.

I stood there staring at my new uniform in admiration. As much as I sincerely did love it, I had to admit, the words 'Ballet Princess' written across my chest in hot pink was a bit jarring and I would have preferred it having something else, anything else, in its place.

However, looking myself up and down, I suppose that it didn't matter as I was very pleased to find that I didn't look anything like a boy this way, somehow even more so then when I was in the same position yesterday. I suppose that this was due to this uniform being the far more girlish one.

I had been a bit worried that its skirt wouldn't cover up my boyishness as it flowed out, rather than fall down, but because it was so ruffled, it managed to do so surprisingly well. I was very thankful for this as otherwise it would have been difficult to leave the room wearing it. In the case that Judy believed that I was really a girl, that would have made for a very shocking and awkward moment, I envisioned. I probably would have just stated that it hadn't fitted me, only to avoid it.

Turning around, looking at it from other angles, it was no doubt the prettiest thing that I had ever worn. Actually, thinking it over, it was probably prettier than anything my sisters had worn, possibly combined. I could see them in envy of me, or any other girl, wearing this.

Needless to say, I was very satisfied with it and hurried over to the door, being very eager to show it off, actually surprising myself. Turning the handle and stepping out, I cheerfully skipped into the room.

“How do I look?” I asked with a twirl.

They both stared at me, stunned, causing their responses to be a bit delayed it seemed.

“Absolutely adorable, Sam.” my grandma replied.

“Like a ballet princess.” Judy stated jokingly, making us chuckle. Although it was the part of my uniform I was least fond of, I did find her response amusing and took it as a complement.

“Thank you.” I replied to each of them with a curtsy, being a lot more fulfilling now that I had a skirt to go with them.

A moment later, we began The Nutcracker. It was a bit different from Swan Lake in that it started off with a spoken synopsis by a narrator, describing the characters and events of its first act. It was about a famous toymaker called Drosselmeyer who was about to leave for a Christmas party, bringing toys and gifts to the children there. One of them being a Nutcracker doll, the title of the ballet.

Although this removed surprise from its story, it did however make it a lot easier to follow along with and since ballet lacked character speaking roles, I didn't feel that this would make it any less enjoyable.

It quickly felt a lot more like a play than Swan Lake did. The scenes we had seen so far were made very clear, the first being Drosselmeyer's toy shop and then the following being an old fashioned London street complete with snow. I was very impressed with the set designs, looking like pages straight out of a picture book. It was neat to see characters walk, or in many cases dance, over to their Christmas party.

Along with that, the few songs we had heard were very good too, being very catchy, something that I wouldn't have otherwise thought possible for music without having lyrics to sing along with. Somehow I felt that I had heard a few of them before, although I couldn't quite pin down where, probably from a movie or TV show, I thought.

Judy and my grandma were talking between themselves like last time, being more invested in the video than me, reminiscing about their own days of ballet, much like before. However, since I had gotten such an amazing uniform out of it, thanks to Judy being here, I couldn't be bothered by it at all.

The next scene was a large golden hall with an impressive Christmas tree right in the middle, clearly being the party. However, what stood out the most though was that along with the adult performers, there were also a number of kids as well, roughly my age.

The boys, like the men, were wearing old Victorian era costumes. The girls though where wearing flashy silk party dresses. Despite them being all the same style, each was in a different bright colour, being as vivid as a bowl of Skittles. They quickly reminded me of gymnastics leotards. Thanks to the limelight beaming upon them, they all had that familiar shimmering glossy shine coating.

Some of the girls were very pretty and they all had their hair stylized. However, I found myself more focused on their dresses rather than the girls themselves.

“Those are pretty dresses, aren't they Sam?” asked Judy. I suspected that she had seen me staring at them.

They were, very much so, however I was a bit troubled in thinking that. Had I now gone full circle? Had I reached the point where I was not only envious of bathing suits and leotards, but now of dresses too? What was most worrying was that before I had ever stepped into that bathing suit back at the beach, I had absolutely no interest in girls' clothes, yet here I now was, staring at a dress, wishing that I could wear it.

It got me thinking, if I knew that I could have the opportunity to wear dresses like those or a uniform like this, looking like I did now, disguised as a girl, I don't think that I would have minded taking up real ballet lessons, even if the classes were made up of actual girls. Perhaps if I did well enough, maybe my grandma would be willing to en-roll me in one. It may have been wishful thinking but she might have thought about this already. I wouldn't put it past her.

After all, it had been quickly apparent that her lounge wasn't the best place for these lessons, being far too small for them. Also, my sisters were having real gymnastics lessons and yet I had the same amount of leotards than they did. Actually, come to think of it, I now had two more.

“What?” I heard my grandma ask, clearly directed at me.

I discovered that a smile had overcome me as I thought this which she must had noticed.

“I just realized that I have more leotards than my sisters.” I replied with a touch of pride in my voice.

A couple of seconds later, it had suddenly dawned on me that what I said was remarkably foolish! It wouldn't have been something that an actual girl would have said, at least not in the tone that I used. I should have used their names or, better yet, had said; 'I have the most leotards out of all of us'. Despite being correct, using 'my sisters' really sounded like it had excluded me.

It wouldn't have mattered to my grandma but Judy I was still trying to keep up appearances for, and my reply made a lot more sense in the context of me being a boy. With that bombshell, I felt like it would have been a miracle if she hadn't picked up on this by now.

“If you were my daughter Sam, your closet would be filled with leotards and dresses.”

I didn't quite know what to expect from Judy's next words but it certainly wasn't that, taking me by surprise. It may have been the doubt within me but I felt that there was a trace of a deeper meaning within it, making me think that she knew what I actually was. After all, if she somehow did still believe that I was a real girl, her statement would have been a bit out of place, especially with the inclusion of dresses.

Putting aside my over analysing of her words, no matter its context, it was still some form of a complement. I suppose that at the very least, it was to say that I was able to pass as a girl this way.

I didn't quite know how to respond to it though. I tried to think of something to say in reply but I couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound awkward. Although it felt a bit lacking, I instead just resumed my dancing with a small smile to her, hoping that would be enough of an acknowledgement.

After what had seemed like an hour, my grandma announced that it was almost time to leave. I was disappointed to hear this. We were shortly into the ballet's second act and I was very invested within it. From what I had seen of it thus far, it had easily become my favourite of the two ballets. Compared to Swan Lake, I felt that The Nutcracker had exceeded it in several ways, having better music, characters, story, dances, and, I must admit, costumes too.

Along with those dresses from earlier, Clara, the girl in the leading role, had been wearing what appeared to be a cross between a white dress and a nightgown, having long sleeves with many frills and a long flowing skirt made up of numerous layers, all tied up in a large bow on her back. Just like herself, it was very pretty and I was in awe seeing her perform in it.

At one point, she had the whole stage to herself and I was amazed as she fluttered across it, with the trail of her skirt following behind. I tried my best to match her but with the limited space I had, it just wasn't possible. It had made me wish that I was in her position, including in her uniform.

Speaking of uniforms, as Judy was getting up to leave, I thought about how I was going to thank her for my gift. I felt that my usual expression of gratitude with a curtsy didn't come close to what she had provided me, easily the most amazing thing that I had ever yet worn. Looking down at it once more, a thrill rushed throughout me. I couldn't believe that not only was I wearing this, but I was now its owner, a proud one at that. It would certainly be hanging up in the middle of my closet.

Like with my grandma yesterday, I supposed that embracing her in a hug would be a sufficient way of expressing my thanks, however I was a wee bit hesitant. Along with not being much of a hugger, I had only known Judy for two days, almost being a stranger, and the thought of hugging someone after such a brief amount of time seemed a little awkward, maybe for both of us.

On the other hand though, I didn't want to appear ungrateful and I felt a hug would help enforce my girlish demeanour. Despite suspecting that Judy knew what I actually was at this point, if my inkling was correct, it was great to know she wasn't so dismissive of my secret as I had initially thought.

Sensing an opportunity, I gave her a quick hug around her waist and, stepping back, followed it up with a curtsy.

“Thank you very much for the uniform, Judy. It's been a lot of fun to wear.” I stated respectfully.

“You're very welcome, Sam.” she replied, looking at me with a pleased smile.

Once she had left, I returned to the spare room to undress out of it, knowing that it would be difficult, wishing that I didn't have to. As I looked at the girl in the mirror once more, I honestly felt like I could have worn this forever. There was a part of me that had actually wanted my grandma to convince me to continue wearing it as I sincerely doubted that I could refuse that request.

“Almost ready, Sam?” she yelled from the kitchen impatiently, getting ready to leave.

With a sigh, I began to undress.


After collecting my sisters from the gym, we arrived home twenty minutes later. Much like previous times, they asked what we had done with our time. My standard reply to this question was that we had simply watched TV. I did feel a little dishonest stating this, despite it being technically true.

Yesterday I had realized that this had almost put me into a bit of a pinch as if they were to continue the conversation, they would have surely asked what we had been watching, to which I couldn't have provided an accurate answer. To be prepared for it, I thought about looking through the TV guide for one, however I then suddenly concluded that I didn't need it and instead I could just remain truthful.

Sure, they didn't need to know about my practice, nor my collection of leotards that now filled my closet, but I don't think it would have been too much of a shock if they believed that we had turned on the TV to find that a ballet was playing and watched it, especially as our grandma used to do it. Along with that, it would have been a good way to gauge their reaction if they were to find out my secret. Testing the water, so to speak. Now knowing this, it had kind of made me want them to ask.

It made me think, rather than telling them all at once, maybe it was better to slowly build up to it. Perhaps to begin with I could start wearing my ballet shoes casually around the house but I quickly realized that I wouldn't know what to say once my sisters questioned me about them. Although it still seemed a little crazy, it felt like the better and easier choice than telling them right out. It would be something I would have to carefully think about.

However, before that, I needed to see my collection. Like the previous day, I had left my new uniform in its plastic bag under my seat, only going back to the car to retrieve it once I knew it was safe from my sister's senses. Carefully removing it from the bag, I proudly hanged it up in the very centre, placing my six previously hidden ones evenly between it. The one that I had planned to wear today was still in my pants' pocket but when I took it out, I was surprised to find that it hadn't creased at all. As far as I was concerned, the material of leotards and bathing suits was a magical one.

Taking a step back to admire the view, I was very pleased with the result and now had no qualms about leaving them there. I still couldn't believe that these were all entirely mine, as well as the fact that I had two more than my sisters. It almost made me want to brag to them about it.

Although I loved them all, it was my new 'Ballet Princess' one from today that really stood out from the rest, with its baby pink colour, puffed sleeves, and a very ruffled tutu. The others couldn't hold a candle to how glamorous that one was, nor could I recall any that did from the leotard store from earlier either. It made me wonder where Judy had gotten it.

I suppose that it was a bad comparison though as the ones I had chosen were selected due to their cool designs more so than anything else. I had strayed away from the really girlish ones, with their pinkish colours and excessive frills, but after finding myself in one, I now didn't mind them at all. That said, I was still very happy with the choices I had made and didn't feel that I would have replaced any of them.

It made me think about which one was my favourite, however I quickly realized that I couldn't quite make that assessment as I had yet to wear the majority of them. It was a little surreal in that I had been given two, with the second one only a day after the first. It made me fancy the idea that maybe I never got to wear them all, as people would constantly be gifting me more. However, I wasn't greedy and with them all laid out before me, I was very content with what I had. Well, for now at least.

As I got undressed, ready for bed, I became conscious to the fact that along with the clothes I had just removed, I had a few leotards that needed washing as well. Being a form of underwear, I supposed that they were to be washed after each time they were worn, much like bathing suits.

Marching back to my closet, I took my three previous ones off their hangers, and carefully placed them into my washing basket. I spied April's old bathing suit already lying in it. Despite it being very ordinary compared to my leotards, I still held it in high regard as if it wasn't for it, this summer probably wouldn't have been half as interesting or enjoyable, to say the least. It was amazing that such a simple mistake could have led to something so blissful.

However, I was a bit concerned that my washing would be grouped together with my sisters', causing my new clothes to be noticed by them. It would be our grandma who collected our baskets in a few days, once there was enough for a load. Thinking about it though, as she appeared to be so keen on me making the confession on my own terms, I suspected that she would put them aside from the rest.

To be sure of this, I suppose that I could have asked her about it, but right now I wasn't too concerned. I guess that it was a gamble that I was willing to take. After all, if it didn't go as expected and they were seen, it would only lead to my secret being released, freeing me from it, finally having it over, awkward as it were.

As I crept into my bed, I started thinking of that previous thought; that maybe it was perhaps better to slowly build up to my confession, rather than blurting it out all at once, and my washing had sparked a bit of an idea for it. Perhaps when our grandma puts our clothes away, she could 'accidentally' give me some of my sisters. Obviously regular clothes at first, T-shirts and shorts that weren't too girlish, and I could start wearing them, pretending not to realize that they were theirs, so that they became used to me being seen in them.

Although I felt like that would be a good start if possible, I quickly came to a mental block. It would be quite a leap to jump from T-shirts and shorts to a skirt or a dress, and putting one in my room 'by mistake' would be quite a stretch.

On the other hand, maybe I didn't need to wear them at all and instead I could pretend to be 'annoyed' whenever I found their clothes placed within my room. As this continued, I would eventually 'find' a dress put there 'when she wasn't thinking', and putting on a very frustrated persona, feigning to be at my boiling point, run out of my room wearing it, shouting angrily at her; “You've done it again! Does this look like my clothes to you?!”

That idea quickly crumbled away as I remember her saying that she wasn't going to lie for me, which meant that even a fib would probably be out of the question. Even so though, I wouldn't have been comfortable shouting at her, acting or not.

That said, I guess that I didn't really need her help entirely and instead I could sneak into my sisters' rooms myself to borrow their clothes for this plan. However, I suppose that I still needed her to blame which felt a bit foul after all she had done for me. I suspected that she wouldn't have approved of it anyway, and after recollecting my thoughts and feelings on it, neither did I.

Along with that, I suppose in that scenario, there was no reason why I would have needed to wear the dress anyway, and could have just brought it out still on its hanger. If my sisters had asked, I could have stated that I was so vexed about it, I felt like I needed to show her 'directly', but it was clearly a concept that had worked better within my head.

With all of my ideas having some fatal flaw, I was forced to sweep them into my mental trash bin. Surely there must be some way to do this without it coming across as a shock or me dying of embarrassment. However, glancing at my bedside clock, I had spent too much time trying to think of one and it was now time to get some sleep. I left the night with some small comfort in knowing that my grandma hadn't placed a countdown on my confession, as otherwise I was sure that I would be spending my nights in a constant state of anxiety, tossing and turning throughout it.

This story archived at http://www.lgtales.com/stories/viewstory.php?sid=69