Still with tears in her eyes, Mum waved good bye, as we left.
Having stepped out onto the street, Barbara, or Mrs. Jones as I was supposed to call her, produced a strap from her pocket. She fastened one end of it around my right wrist, the other around her left.
“Oh, come on!” I moaned. “First mum tricks me into wearing these clothes, and now this?”
“I just want to make sure you don’t run away, or do anything stupid.” she calmly replied.
We walked at a leisurely pace, and it seemed like she made sure she walked under every working street-light along the way, which made me glad it was late at night, thereby minimizing the risk of anyone seeing me.
She seemed to sense my nervousness, because she asked why I was so scared. When I told her, she smiled and asked if I had seen myself in a mirror. When I told her I hadn’t, she said: “I have a full-length mirror at home. Take a look in it and you’ll see you have nothing to worry about. You look like most other girls your age and therefore very pretty.”
We eventually got to her place, and I took a look in the mirror, and found she actually was right. Thanks to my slightly androgynous face, I did look like a girl.
Suddenly, I heard a rustling noise behind me, and in the mirror I saw what looked like a dark-haired girl, dressed in a creme-coloured floor-length cotton-dress, coming out of one of the rooms. She stood behind me and surveyed me, from top to bottom.
“Good evening,” she said, and I discovered ‘she’ was really a ‘he’, “who are you and what are you doing here?”
Mrs. Jones, who at that moment appeared from the kitchen, answered:
“Now, don’t be rude Gilly; I want you to greet Lana like I taught you, because he’s going to stay with us for a while.”
He curtseyed, only just bending his knees, and I did the same. Then he said in a whining voice: “Mum, you know I don’t like being called ‘Gilly’; my name is Giles. Not that that name is much better, but at least it’s a boy’s name!”
“My name’s actually Larry,” I introduced myself, holding out my hand.
“No it’s not,” Mrs Jones sternly said. “As long as you two are wearing skirts or dresses, you’re Lana and Gilly; you best remember that. If I have any say in the matter, you’ll always be dressed like that. And believe me; I my word DO carry a lot of weight in our little society. Now Lana, I will show you where you’ll be sleeping tonight.”
She took me to a room at the back of the house, not much bigger than a broom-closet which was made even smaller thanks to a big wardrobe and four-poster bed.
“As I said, Lana,” Mrs. Jones said,” this is where you’ll be sleeping. I know it’s kind of small, but as I told you; it’ll only be for tonight. Tomorrow, you and Gilly will be escorted to the train-station, to board a train to your new school, where you’ll learn a variety of new things. But do I have to warn you, it’s the kind of boarding-school where the discipline is strict; very strict indeed! I know, because I’m the headmistress. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, Mrs. Jones,” I gulped.
“Fine!” she said.”Now, I will help you get out of the dress, and then you will get into your night-gown and go to bed. You’ve got a long day ahead of you. By the way; are you wearing a corset?”
“No, I don’t think so, ma’m,” I replied, “I actually don’t even know what a ‘corset’ is.”
“That’s perfectly all right, dear,” Mrs. Jones said, “I’ll get you one of Gilly’s. It’s an old one, but I think it’ll fit, given that you seem to have about the same size as she.”
She helped me get out of the dress and into the night-gown, which had a high neck and long sleeves. I got into bed, and she said: “Good night, Lana,” before turning out the light and closing the door.
When I woke up the next morning, I didn’t know where I was at first, then it all came back to me; I was at the mercy of Mrs. Jones and her son, and we were about to be shipped off to a special school.
I had hardly had time to finish the thought, when the door opened, and said Mrs. Jones stood in the opening, carrying two very stiff-looking pieces of clothing and a something that looked like a sleeveless t-shirt. She told me to get out of my gown, and put my underwear, pantyhose, boots and t-shirt on. I did and then she put one of the stiff pieces of clothing around my waist. It was so tall, its upper end was just below my armpits; the lower a couple of centimetres beneath the top of my hips, and it had strings in the back.
“This is called a corset,” she told me, “and no respectable lady goes anywhere without it.”
I was told to grab hold of one of the posts, and when I did, she started tugging on the strings, and I felt the corset getting tighter and tighter.
“Stop,” I moaned, “I can’t breathe”.
“Just a bit more,” she gasped, “and we’re done!”
When she had closed the corset to a point where she was happy, she wrapped the next piece of clothing around my legs, so it covered my thighs. I was told to button it up, and I found that with it on, I could still walk; only my stride was severely restricted.
“There,” she said. Everything fits just as it should! I’ll just have to tighten the corset a bit more, before we leave to catch the train.”
“Tighten it a bit more?” I moaned.”I can hardly breathe as it is!”
“Oh, nonsense!” she cried out, with a broad smile on her face. “Surely a big boy like you can stand it being closed a bit more, without complaining? Us girls have to stand having it closed a considerable bit more than that, I can tell you!” she snorted. “No, after breakfast, I’ll tighten both of your corsets a bit more, and then we’ll have to go to the train-station.”
And tighten it, she certainly did! By the time she was finished, I really got to know what ‘I can’t breathe’ meant; and I could hardly eat anything.