88 Worn Out

Closing night came all too soon; one final performance, one final round of audience congratulations, only this time we had to stick around as they filed out. “OK, folks,” Alvin announced, “the sooner we get out of costumes, the stage struck and everything away, the sooner we can get to the party.”

It wasn’t long before Nikki and I found ourselves back in the costume room, checking to see what kinds of repairs or cleaning was going to be necessary before putting away everything we had pulled for the show. Most of the work was pretty trivial. We’d put some temporary stitches into some of the costumes which had to be undone, and there were a few seams that needed to be reinforced; otherwise, she was going to send some of the suits to be cleaned, while laundering the rest herself.

“Another great performance,” she commented, as we worked.

“Mm hmm,” I agreed.

“I thought you got stronger as the run went on; that final scene with Jack was really intense tonight.”


“Alvin was very pleased. The whole thing came together. He’s going to be interested in having you audition for one of the leads in his next show.”

“Maybe,” I shrugged.

“You should be very proud of yourself.”


“OK, what’s wrong?” she asked, putting down her sewing.

I looked at her in surprise. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you were really hyper after every performance. I would have expected that to last you longer than this, but you’re already looking really down. Come on! We’ve just completed a very successful, if all too brief, run, and you were great! Smile!”

“I’m just thinking about something Vicky said.”

Nikki winced. “You’re still letting her drag you down, aren’t you?”

“It’s not like that!” I protested. “Vicky is… well, she’s very important to me, and–”

“And she’s never going to accept the ‘new’ you, anyway. What did she say this time?”

“Oh, well…” I looked down and wrung my hands. “She said that I shouldn’t really be so pleased at being good at playing a girl. She questioned whether I really minded…” I had to take a breath to continue. “Whether it really bothered me any more to have lost my manhood.”

“And does it?”

My head snapped up. “Of course it does!” I protested. “It bothers me every day! But why should that mean that I can’t do a good job with the role?”

“It doesn’t, Marsh. What does she think you should have done? Retreated into a shell, like my brother? Refused to do the role of Mollie because ‘it wouldn’t be manly’?”

“I… I don’t know. It’s just that it really bothers me. That it didn’t bother me to do it, I mean.”

Nikki sighed. “You’re saying that you would be happier if you’d been miserable?”

I stared at her. “I guess that doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?”

“Well… Your feelings are your feelings. If it bothers you, it bothers you. But shouldn’t you feel better at least at being bothered…” she scrunched her eyes closed. “… at not being bothered?” When I didn’t have an answer, she went on. “You’ve adapted, Marsh. You’ve dealt with what you needed to deal with. You’re not really in control of whether you can ever change back, are you? Aren’t you doing everything you can on that end?”

“I’m… not really sure. I mean, Chad says that it should be possible for me to find somebody who knows and would be willing to talk.”

“And is it?”

“I don’t know,” I wailed. “Eric is trying to think of who might be a good candidate. Then I have to think of a way to approach them so that if they don’t know what I’m talking about, they won’t think I’m crazy, and if they do know, and they agree with the conspiracy, they won’t report me, but if they do know and they don’t agree, they’ll help me.”

“I see.” She really looked as though she was trying to be patient with me. If I thought back on what I had said, I wasn’t completely sure that it sounded sensible. “So what’s different about tonight? You seemed fine since we opened. What’s changed? Is it just the downer about the play being over?”



“I guess a lot of people are really up about next weekend…”

“Ah, I see. So this is about House Parties? Is that the problem?”

“I guess…” I wandered over to another corner of the room, unable to stay still. “House Parties. The big couples event of the semester. Where you really see who’s with somebody and who’s not. Where singles stand out and get laughed at.”


“Well, that’s what it’s always felt like to me,” I said, defiantly. “Do you understand? I’ve pretty much always had a girlfriend, Nikki. For more than four years, I’ve always had somebody to be with, somebody to dance with, cuddle with. Somebody who thought I was the most special person she knew. Last year, I took Jackie to Fall House Parties and Vicky in the Spring. This time around, I have nobody, and no prospects for anybody. I’m alone, and as long as I’m a girl, that’s the way it’s going to be. Alone. For the rest of my life.

“Oh, I’m putting up a good front. I’ve pretty much got my roommates convinced that I don’t really care; that I’ve come to terms with being alone and all that. But I’m not. I hate being alone. I haven’t been on a date in over two months, and that’s the longest I’ve ever been alone since I started dating. I just… I feel like such a loser.”

“You are not a loser. Marsh, if you really wanted somebody…”

“Yeah, the problem is I want somebody, but it has to be somebody I would be attracted to, and I can’t even imagine being attracted to anybody. I mean, I sometimes dream about being myself and being with Vicky again, but I don’t feel that thrill that I remember when looking at a girl.” At her inquiring look, I hurriedly added, “or a guy.” I shivered. “The very idea disgusts me.”

“That sounds really tough.”

“Yeah.” I took a deep breath and let it out. “Anyway, it looks like we’re about done. We might as well get back to the theater and see if we can help out.”


I forced myself to smile. “I’ll manage, Nikki. I really will. I just don’t know how, yet.”

And I really didn’t. I tried to ignore my little funk at the party. At least, I don’t think anybody else but Nikki noticed. I tried not to pay attention to the fact that so many of the cast and crew were paired off: Alvin and Nikki, Jack and Naomi, Jared and Jo, and whoever those girls were who were with Pete and Cody. At least I didn’t hear anybody comment about my mood by the time the party broke up.

I threw myself into my schoolwork more than I had earlier; with the play over, I had more time free in the evenings, and with finals just around the corner, I had no trouble finding something to do with that time. Of course, I had to finish Terry’s gown first, and she was suitably pleased when I presented it to her.

“It fits perfectly, Marsh,” she said, showing Lee Ann and me. “Greg is going to be so pleased!”

“And you look beautiful in it,” Lee Ann complimented her. “Nice work, Marsh.”

“All I did was adjust some seams,” I grinned, but I was quite pleased, too. It might have been a piece of cake for Marsh, but it was the most difficult sewing job I had tackled yet, and I was feeling pretty good about it.”

“Well, I owe you big time, Marsh,” Terry said, hugging me. “I just…” She looked at me regretfully.

“Seriously,” Lee Ann added. “It would be so epic if the three of us could all be there.”

“In the spring, for sure, right, Marsh?”

“Um… maybe,” I said, not sure at all what I was supposed to say.

“I think we’re going to have to start working on a date for her as soon as we come back from break,” Lee Ann told Terry.

Inwardly, I groaned. But at least I had about six months to figure out what to do about it.

When Friday night rolled around, I was polite to Lee Ann’s boyfriend, Stephen, and retreated to my bedroom, hoping to avoid the many “loving couples” that were now infesting the campus. Both of my roommates had dates, my ex-girlfriend had a date, the guy that everyone had expected me to go out with had a date… The only real positive I could take away was that I had done a really good job on Terry’s gown, and she looked great in it, but there was just so much pleasure I could take from that accomplishment when I was busy feeling lonely.

To make it worse, one of the dance floors was in the building across the quad from my dorm, and I could hear the band hired for the occasion. I could imagine all those lucky guys watching their girlfriends gyrate to the music and really getting to appreciate it. I could imagine what they would be doing afterwards, too, another activity of which I was now seemingly forever to be deprived.

I tried to drown it out by practicing the guitar with my headphones on, but my inept chording was all too vivid a reminder of all that I had lost. Listening to rock music on my iPod was much better – at first. When my mix perversely hit one of the songs Vicky and I used to listen to, though, I tore off my headphones in disgust. There had to be something I could do that wouldn’t bring up unfortunate memories.

I wasn’t really in the mood to review my notes, even though exams were starting on Monday. I’d been keeping up with those pretty well this term. All my sewing and rehearsal time had been relatively modest; I’d spent no time whatsoever on romance – no dates, no thinking about dates, no cuddling… I suppose there was a bright side in that. At least my grades were probably going to be higher now.

The closest I’d come so far was my miniskirt and low-neckline fantasy, and even that was beginning to pale. I needed something a bit stronger, and right now, I thought, I deserved it. I’d been very responsible with money, had managed to become competent with a new skill, and had spent almost nothing on myself in months. It helped that Marsha’s agreement with Mom and Dad hadn’t required her to contribute quite as much as I had had to. Even setting aside the money I needed to buy Christmas presents, I had a reasonable amount left over, and now was the time to spend it. I was actually going to buy myself some sexy clothing. Not for anyone else’s eyes, of course, but it would be something I could wear in the privacy of my dorm room when I needed to get turned on.

A quick search showed that there was a suitable clothing store about a mile-and-a-half from campus. Since pretty much everybody I knew was occupied, and nobody really cared where I was, I decided that a long walk in the morning would be good for me.

The next morning, I set off right after breakfast. Counting the distance from the dining hall, I had a two-mile walk ahead of me, and it was probably going to take me more than an hour at a leisurely pace. The most troubling portion of the walk was the start, due to all of the couples I had to pass, and whose public affection excited my envy. Eventually my path took me through the north section of campus, which housed the engineering and art departments. That area was empty, fortunately, which I didn’t find particularly surprising. On Saturday, the only students likely to be there were a few upper-class engineers, obsessed with their ongoing projects. I didn’t expect them to have dates, frankly, although to be honest I didn’t actually know any junior or senior engineers.

I reached the clothing store after about an hour of walking through the brisk November morning, and then hesitated. I had never actually enjoyed clothing shopping, and had so far not ventured into a clothing store at all since waking up female. I remembered my girlfriends suggesting that there was something very confusing about women’s clothing sizes. It would have been sensible for me, as a budding seamstress, to know a lot about how clothing was sized and how it fit, but that was a lesson Nikki and I had not gotten to as yet. My own clothing had a confusing mix of sizes, ranging from 2 to 6, yet all seemed to fit about the same.

I dithered in front of a rack of skirts, unsure exactly how I was going to find what I wanted. It had all seemed so simple – buy a short skirt. But the reality was proving to be a bit more confusing. There were so many! They came in different styles, and colors, and I couldn’t really tell why you would wear one versus another. I had had no idea what I wanted beyond, “something that will turn me on.”

“May I help you?”

I turned to see a salesgirl smiling politely at me.

“I’m looking for, um… a skirt.”

“Something like the one you’re wearing? Our longer skirts are over this way,” and she started walking away from me.

“No!” I said, a bit louder than I had intended. “No, I want one that is… you know…” and I gestured with my hand, about halfway down my thigh, then moved it lower… and then forced myself to move it higher again. “Around here.”

“Pleated? A-line? Where will you be wearing it?”


“General school use, then?”

I seized on that. “Yes! Something that a girl might wear while going to classes.”

“For the winter? How about this navy pleated skirt? It should look good with the blouse you have on now, and will match with several colors, if you have more like it.”

“Perfect!” I grabbed the skirt she indicated.

“You can try it on in the dressing room. Here, take this one, and this one… they’re all reasonably similar, and should also match your blouse.”

In the dressing room, I forced myself to calm down. There was no reason that I should be nervous, I reminded myself. I was just buying clothing. The salesgirl had no idea what I was going to be doing with it. She was just being helpful. And now I had three different skirts – all much shorter than my usual. I took off my own skirt and tried on the first one she had shown me. Looking at myself in the mirror, I started to feel very sexy, indeed. I tried on the other two. Both were quite nice, but didn’t have quite the same effect on me. Not quite. It didn’t matter, though. I had found the skirt I wanted.

Putting my own back on, I handed the one I had chosen to the salesgirl and said, “I’ll take this one.”

“We’re having a sale, you know,” she said. “What else can I show you?”

“Nothing else,” I said, hastily. “This is fine.”


“Um… yeah,” I replied, wondering what I had just done wrong. “That’s all I wanted.”

“OK…” She rang up the skirt for me, and I paid with cash. Then I remembered that I had intended to buy a low-cut blouse, as well, but suddenly I just didn’t dare ask for something else. It would probably have been too much money to buy them both, I told myself. But then I felt even more embarrassed to have wimped out.

I started to leave, but then got an idea. “Can I just change into this now?” I asked. She shrugged, so I returned to the dressing room and put on my purchase. It had occurred to me that I could walk pretty much all the way to Johnstone Hall without running into anybody who would know me. Strangers would just see a college girl, dressed more or less they way most girls on campus were dressed. That way, I could make up for my cowardice by wearing this skirt in public without actually been noticed.

As I walked, I smiled to myself. Nobody knew how daring I was actually being. I found the idea, along with the skirt itself, to be very exciting. By the time I had reached the engineering buildings, I was already quite turned on. It might have been a mistake; I wasn’t sure how much privacy I would be able to get this early in the day, especially with my roommates’ boyfriends hanging around, and I was definitely going to need to give myself some relief. I started imagining how I could remain completely quiet while pleasuring myself at the same time. I deserve this, I told myself. It’s compensation for being alone all the time.

But the entire pleasurable picture came crashing down when a voice called my name.


  1. scotts13 says:

    >> I needed something about stronger,

    I think you mean “a bit” not “about”.

  2. Michael says:

    >> If it bothers you, it bothers, you.

    one too many commas

    >> and I right now, I thought,

    one too many I’s

    >> a surprised voice called my name.

    Oops. 🙂 This should be fun.

  3. Hoopla says:

    Ooooo, a cliffhanger!

    Who could it be? Could it be Vicki? Or Nikki? Or Dirk?!

  4. Hoopla says:

    Oo! I think it is Jeremy!

  5. Hoopla says:

    I wish we could edit our replies.

    The reason I say Jeremy is because he is an electric engineer and Marsh is in the Engineering section of the school.

    I do hope it is and Marsh gets a ‘surprise’ as his/her reaction to seeing Jeremy again – after all Marsh has been using Jeremy to kiss Jared for the last month and a bit.

  6. April says:

    “Yup” <– missing a period

    “I guess…” I wandered over to another corner of the room, unable to stay still. “House Parties. The big couples event of the semester. Where you really see who’s with somebody and who’s not. Where singles stand out and get laughed at.’ <– should be a regular quotation mark at the end

    Of course, I had to finish Terry’s gown, first, and she was suitably pleased when I presented it to her. <– could probably drop the comma before "first"

  7. April says:

    It would have been sensible for me, as a budding seamstress, to know a lot about how clothing was sized and how it fit, but that was a lesson Nikki and I had not gotten to as yet. My own clothing had a confusing mix of sizes, ranging from 2 to 6, yet all seemed to fit about the same.

    Hmmmmm. If Marsha were a normal college-age student and buying a mixture of Juniors and Misses clothing — quite likely — it seems that her sizes would be bound by a Misses size on the bottom and a Juniors size on the top. Misses sizes tend to be a bit larger, so often a size 2 in Misses would be a size 3 or 5 in Juniors. So, a more realistic range would be from 2 to 7, instead of 2 to 6.

    Given her small size, it’s also possible that she would have all Juniors sizes, in which case it might be something like 3 to 7, but since her clothing tends to be more conservative, it’s probably more likely that she has a mixture of the two sizing schemes.

    It’s the little details! *grins*

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