11 Toeing the Line

I was actually in a pretty good mood now, for the first time since this horrible discovery, so I was content to let my sister guide me. “So what should we work on, first, Teen?”

She thought for a moment. “I can do your make up for you, if we have to go someplace, and help you pick out clothing, so those can wait. But I can’t walk for you, and you can’t walk around like you are afraid of being heard. So…”

She opened my closet and rummaged around a bit. I peered over her shoulder and saw more shoes than I’ve ever owned in my life. There must have been close to a dozen pairs. As Marshall, I owned a pair of sneakers, one pair of dress shoes, and a pair of boots. I used to own a pair of loafers, but they wore out and I never saw the need to replace them. But Marsha had way more than that. Eventually, Tina selected two pairs.

“Here are some flats than you can wear for around the house, Marsh. It’s going to take you a bit of time to get used to heels. Let’s start with these pumps.”

“Wait. ‘Pumps’?”

“It’s a pretty standard shoe, but the heel is a lot lower than the ones you were trying to wear this morning.”

“Didn’t you say Marsha was wearing the higher ones because of her height? I’m really not comfortable being this short, and I think I’d rather learn to wear the higher ones. At least I’d get more of my height back.”

“You can work up to those, Marsh. The shorter ones will be hard enough for you.”

Obviously, she knew a lot more about this than I did, so I put on the pair she handed me and stood up. “Now what? Do I just walk?”

“Yes. Try to walk across the room and back. And this time, step on the heels. That’s what they’re there for.”

So I did. It wasn’t horribly bad. I wobbled on almost every step, but didn’t even come close to losing my balance. I turned and looked for approval, but Tina looked pained.

“No, that’s not even close, Marsh. You shouldn’t have to stop and balance every time you put down your foot. Look. Watch me.”

She walked across the room so that I could look at her feet from the side. She wasn’t pausing at all, but neither was she spending a lot of time on her heels. She’d land on her heel and then roll immediately on to her toe.”

“OK, I think I see what you’re doing,” I said. I walked back to the closet, making it a point to slap my toe against the ground as soon as my heel hit the ground. It felt really awkward, but at least I wasn’t wobbling. Not much, at any rate.

Tina wasn’t really impressed. “That’s better,” she admitted, “but you’re still trying too hard. The toes should come down naturally, without all that slapping stuff. Try talking smaller steps.”

“Smaller steps?” I protested. “I’ve got tiny little legs, so I’m already talking shorter strides than I’m used to.”

“Just do it.”

It was like a revelation. The first couple of steps felt almost natural. I didn’t have to force my toes down, they just hit automatically. I experimented a bit, walking back and forth. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

“I think I’m getting it, Teen! Look. The shorter stride makes my foot come down almost flat, so I don’t spend a lot of time on my heel. Then if I shift my weight forward as I step, my toe comes right down.”

“Not bad,” she said, pleased. “Your walk is starting to a look a lot more natural, and it’s making your hips swing nicely.”

“Wait,” I said, my heart feeling as though it wanted to stop. “My hips?”

“Uh huh. That’s what you taught me. If you walk properly in heels, it gives you ‘a womanly stride that the guys like to watch.’”

“Um, wait. Wait.” I sat down on the bed, trying to hide my backside as best I could. “I’m not really comfortable with that part.”

“That’s what Marsha taught me,” she shrugged. “Not much you can do about it. It just happens naturally. Besides, it’s the way Marsha walks. And you want to be in character, don’t you?”

It was a good point, and I probably would have felt better about it, if she hadn’t winked at me immediately afterward. I resolved then and there that ‘Marsha’ was suddenly going to be a bit more tolerant of her lack of height. Those flats were definitely going to be my friends.

“Oh come on, Marsh,” Tina chided me. “You’re attractive. The boys will look. Not as much as if you were half-naked like most of the girls on campus, but you’re not going to be able to stop them from looking at all without really calling attention to yourself.”

It was clearly payback time. I know that I had enjoyed girl watching, and had never given any thought to how the girls felt, being watched. I guess I’d figured that if a girl didn’t want guys looking, she’d… Hmm. What, exactly? Dress modestly? I got up and looked at myself in the mirror. I guess I was dressed pretty modestly, with my skirts down to mid-calf and my long sleeves. In fact, I sometimes thought that girls in pants, especially jeans, were dressed much more immodestly, with all the creases seeming to draw the eye in one particular direction. Still. I turned in the mirror a bit. My bust wasn’t extraordinary, but my figure was pretty decent. If I saw a girl who looked like that, I’d have looked. Not that I was attracted to myself, of course. That would have been really creepy. But I had a lot of experience looking at and evaluating girls, and I’d probably have rated Marsha at least a 7 or an 8.

“Checking out the merchandise?” Tina teased me.

“No!” I said, jumping away from the mirror, embarrassed. “I was just… well, does it bother you when they look, Teen? It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about.”

She shrugged. “I think it would bother me a lot more if they didn’t look, Marsh. I like boys, and I want them to like me – or at least for certain ones to.”

“Certain ones?” I echoed. “As in boys, you might want to date?”

“Well mostly, a boy I have dated.”

“Wait a minute! You’re dating boys already?”

She gave me an impatient look. “I’m fifteen years old, Marsh! When did you start dating?”

“Um… I was… fourteen. But that’s different! I’m a boy!”

“Why is that different? How old was your first girlfriend?”

“Um, fourteen.”

“And I’m fifteen. So what’s the problem?”

“But. You’re my sister!”

“And your girlfriend was probably somebody else’s sister.”

I knew that this made perfect sense in my own mind. There were good and sound reasons that my sister shouldn’t be dating yet. I just couldn’t think of what they were. “I’m not going to win this argument, am I?” I finally admitted.

“Hardly. I waited a whole year longer than you did.”


“And Marsha encouraged me. Did you encourage me, Marshall?”

I sighed. “It’s just so hard to think of my sister… out with some boy.”

“Get used to it. It’s going to happen a lot, I hope.”

“Oh. Um, how far have you gone?” I asked, not sure if was really ready to hear the answer. “

“We went to a couple of movies. He held my hand. And. I’ve had one good night kiss so far.”

“Anything else?”

“You sure you want to know?” she said, teasingly.

“Yes. No. I’m not sure.”

She laughed again. “That’s as far as we’ve gone and as far as I’m going to go just yet. What about you Marshall? How far have you gone?”

“Um I’m really not comfortable…”

“Farther than kissing?”


“Lots farther?”

“I’m really not comfortable…” I repeated. At his point, I really wanted to change the subject, but Tina was having fun making me sweat.

“Marsha and I talked about this kind of stuff all the time. I know exactly how far she went with Dirk.”

“But… guys don’t talk about things like that.”

“Girls do,” she insisted. ‘This is going to be an interesting time for us, isn’t it? Did you talk to me at all?”

“Oh sure we talk a lot – just not about… you know…”



“Sorry – it’s just so funny to see you nervous, Marsh. If you’re really uncomfortable, we don’t have to talk but I hope you want to – I like talking about stuff with you – with Marsha, I mean.”

I sighed. “I’ll do my best, Teen. I can’t promise.”

Just then mom poked her head in. “Marsh? Ready to spend some time with me?”

Was I ever! I was glad to have that conversation end. I’d always been close to Tina, but there have been some things we just didn’t discuss. Apparently, her talks with “Marsha” had been a lot different than with me. I was sure she would understand, but she’d probably also try to get me to talk the way she was used to. It was going to be an interesting few months.


  1. Maiden Anne says:

    Overall: I enjoyed this chapter,and found it rather funny in some ways.



    -Who is Dirk actually? Is Marsh going to make up with him?
    Not really dealt with at all in this chapter, not necessary for him to be dealt with in this chapter.

    -What is it going to be like for a guy to live as a girl?
    Tina brings up (or brings up again, we did get a hint of this earlier) an interesting difficulty. Marsha talked freely with her sister about ‘the facts of life’ and her dating relationships, whereas Marshall is very uncomfortable talking about either of those with his younger sister. Looks like Marsh has quite a challenge ahead.

    And also, isn’t there something Tina didn’t bring up? Didn’t she just send Marsh off ‘like a lamb to the slaughter’? How is Marsh, without knowing any of the details of the relationships that Marsha has, or the issues she has been struggling with, or any news except that she is playing in ‘The Mousetrap’… going to be able to spend time with her mom, telling her all this stuff? I could see Marsh being able to make ten minutes talk about her role in the play, and then what?

    I’ll read the next chapter, to see how Marsh handles it.

    -Is Marsh going to be able to handle the challenge of playing Mollie?
    Not really dealt with at all in this chapter, not necessary for it to be dealt with in this chapter.

    -Is Marsh going to change back, or stay the same?
    As each new challenge comes up for Marsh, I wonder again whether he will give up on his resolve, but Marsh seems to be resigned to it.

    -How is Marsh going to emotionally handle the situation?
    A tricky bit brought up by Tina. Seemingly, learning to be Marsha is going to be embarrassing.

    -How is Marsh going to change because of this challenge he is facing?
    Will he learn to have a stable relationship?
    This seems to have been Marsh’s main concern in the beginning, but now s/he seems to have dropped it. (probably too many other things on his/her mind.. :))

    -Will he have more respect for girls/treat them better?
    He certainly had a revelation in this chapter regarding how girls feel. Whether it will at all change his behavior if/when s/he goes back is yet to be seen.

    -Will this stint as Marsha seriously affect his relationships for the rest of his life, because he knows what it is like to be female?
    Unless he has as bad a memory of Marsha’s life when he goes back as he did before he came, it certainly seems like he is going to be a lot more thoughtful/sensitive about what he does due to what he has experienced as Marsha.

    -How are Marsh’s relationships going to change because he is now Marsha?

    -His relationship with Chad: seems to be changing for the more-distant, but we have yet to see.

    -His relationship with his family: We don’t know yet, the change with Marsh’s mother might happen in the very
    next chapter.

    -His relationship with his friends/girlfriends: Just watching, nothing new.

    -Is Marsh going to be able to change back, or is he stuck forever as a girl?
    Continuing to be a tension, although not one that is really mentioned. Chad is the only one who has brought that up, and his suggestion wasn’t really taken seriously by Marsh.

    Characters –

    Is having to struggle again after his/her brief relaxation, fighting his ‘big brother’ instincts toward his sister regarding dating, and at the same time attempting to deal with his embarrassment at being a girl, at having girl body parts, at walking like a girl, at being looked at like a girl.
    Interesting that Marsh is so upset at Tina dating. Did Marshall’s Tina not date yet? If she did, why was Marsh surprised? If she didn’t, why didn’t she?

    Marshall was obviously more casual and less intimate in his relationship with Tina, or at least, he was intimate in different areas. Since Marsha turned out to have such an open relationship in the area of sex and boyfriends, I wonder whether Marshall will turn out to have had a more open relationship with Tina in some other area.

    Marsha again shows that her relationship with Tina was different from Marshall’s, but in everything her relationship seems to have been better, more open, more honest, more encouraging. Perhaps this is because we haven’t really heard much about Marshall’s relationship with Tina, except that he thought it was good, and they didn’t talk about sex.

    There is a bit of a change in Tina’s treatment of Marsh. In the last chapter she objects when Marsh implies he is the real Marsha, now she is calling him/her Marshall all the time.
    I really find it amusing the way she teases Marsh about sex. I think it adds humor to her character. She is probably going to enjoy some bits of teaching her sister/brother to be a woman again.

    Chad is not in this chapter, and is not needed in this chapter.

    Again not in this chapter, again not really surprising.

    M’s Mom:
    Just waiting to see what happens.

    Lee Ann:
    Just waiting.

    Alvin Tomlinson:
    Not mentioned, not expected.

  2. von says:

    >>Sorry – it’s just so funny to see you nervous, Marsh.

    Huh. So Marsha was never nervous?

  3. Russ says:

    >> Huh. So Marsha was never nervous?

    Not about talking with Tina about sex.

  4. von says:

    Been there, done that, earlier chapter.

  5. Maiden Anne says:

    Interesting that Marsh is so upset at Tina dating. Did Marshall’s Tina not date yet? If she did, why was Marsh surprised? If she didn’t, why didn’t she?

  6. DS says:

    The lack of detail in this chapter is disappointing, I finished it wanting so much more! I look at this as Marsh’s first real chance at understanding how deep the situation is. So far, Marsh has been winging it, but now he’s actually *trying* to act feminine. I would imagine Tina wouldn’t start with just walking. Her mannerisms would be decidedly masculine, the way she moves, sits, holds herself, all would reflect her masculine personality. When trying to walk, I don’t think she’d be oblivious to things like her hips moving differently. Her skirt moving with her new gate, her breasts shifting in her dress, her hair getting in the way, what to do with her arms, etc.

    Tina hints at it with the “If you walk properly in heels, it gives you ‘a womanly stride that the guys like to watch.’”” line, but I think this should be a real eye opener of what’s ahead for Marsh and what it means to be a woman, much more so than what she’s cared to admit so far.

  7. Russ says:

    >> The lack of detail in this chapter is disappointing, I finished it wanting so much more!

    Sorry to disappoint. When I read, I tend to skip over a lot of descriptive detail, so it is harder for me to put it in when I write.

  8. April says:

    “Hardly. I waited a whole year longer than you did”

    ^— Is missing some punctuation. 🙂

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