Crystal's StorySite storysite.org

The Jade Box                 by: Genni Smith

 

Part 1

'Phone Susan,' Emma, the receptionist told her. 'It's your daughter.'

Susan Denton looked at her watch and frowned. With a mother's intuition she knew something must be wrong. 'Jade. What's up?'

'You better get home mum.' Jade's voice betrayed her normally stoic approach to all emergencies.

'What's wrong? Is it Stuart?'

'Sort of. Just come home. Please.'

 

On the twenty-minute drive back to her house all manner of possibilities ran through the mother's mind. Everything from a bad cut to a broken bone right up to a freak twister that knocked down the house leaving her son in the rubble.

She blamed herself for not being at home more often but since the divorce six years ago she had to work to pay for the little luxuries of life. Like food, the mortgage, her kid's schooling and electricity.

She also thought about her two children. Jade at almost seventeen was a lot like her in many ways. Petite and blonde Jade was very good looking, a fact she used to her advantage on many occasions. The girl was the student of the two and sometimes took life a little too seriously for Susan's comfort.

Her son, Stuart, two weeks off his fifteenth birthday, was much more laid back, much more like his father. At nigh on six foot tall he towered over both her and his sister. He had his father's darker colouring and winning grin and he was also a pretty good sportsman, playing both Australian rules football and cricket for his school and A-grade tennis for a local club during the summer. In fact, the one trait Stuart seemed to inherit from Susan and not her ex-husband was a love of music. He was pretty good at the guitar and has organized a few of his friends into a half way decent garage band.

God alone knew what was happening back at the house but as she pulled up she was overjoyed to see the place was still pretty much as she left it that morning. She quickly parked her car and raced into the house only to be met by Jade.

'What?' she snapped at her daughter. 'What on earth is wrong?'

'Come and see for yourself mum.'

About this time Susan was ready to kill her daughter. After the terrible business trip to Hong Kong the last thing she needed was the drawn out torture she was feeling. But she followed her daughter into the kitchen where she saw a girl in her early teens sitting at the kitchen table. It looked like the girl was in shock and she'd recently been crying.

Susan tried to work out what the hell was going on and why she'd been summonsed from work for a girl she'd never seen before.

And then she saw the box. 'My God,' she gasped. Hand rushing to her mouth. 'It can't be.'

'It is,' Her daughter replied.

Susan continued to look at the girl dressing in a pair of denim shorts and powder blue T-shirt with a sweetheart neckline. The girl hadn't even acknowledged Susan's presence. The look in her eyes told both Jade and her mother that she was off with the fairies. For the moment, Susan thought, it might be the best place for her.

'You'd better come and see this mum.' Again Susan followed her daughter, this time down the hall. 'Notice anything different?' the sixteen-year-old asked.

It took her a second but once again Susan simply said, 'My God.' In every family photo hanging on the hall wall the young girl sitting in shock in her kitchen was now in the shot.

'But wait. There's more.' Jade Denton said, sounding like a cheesy presenter on the home shopping channel. She lead her mother to Stuart's bedroom and threw the door open with a bit too much melodrama for Susan's liking.

The room that she had last seen before work that morning was totally changed. It had been, like most teenaged boys' bedrooms, a complete pigsty. Now it was ordered and distinctly feminine. The colour was changed. White walls and a floral bedspread seemed to leap out at her, as did the piles of make up on the dresser and a jewellery box that had once belonged to Susan's mother.

'When did it happen?'

Jade took a deep breath, something she did when she was about to launch into a long explanation. 'Well,' she started. 'I went out shopping this morning at around ten and the little jerk was still snoring away. When I got home I found him where he is now and saw the box, put two and two together and then rang you. All I've been able to get out of him since is that he found it in your wardrobe when he was looking for his birthday presents. I guess he got more of a surprise than he bargained for.'

Susan headed back for the kitchen and looked at the shocked kid who was now sitting in the foetal position. It didn't much matter, boy or girl, the scared child was her's and she hugged her and brushed away her tears. 'I'm sorry honey. I didn't mean for you to find the box.'

'You know about that thing?' Stuart asked her pointing to the intricately carved Jade box on the table. 'You know and you didn't tell me?' The words hung in the air like some kind of noxious gas then the girl/boy raised herself to her full height which was now much closer to five feet than six, and announced. 'Great, now I have to go to the toilet.'

'Remember to sit.' Jade smiled and was rewarded by a murderous look.

'That was uncalled for,' Susan said to her daughter after Stuart left the room.

'Why? Look at him. He's only been a girl for a little over an hour and he's totally gone to pieces. I'd hate to see him getting touched up by some guy or be around for his first period if this is any indication of how he'll handle it.'

'How can you say that Jade? His whole world it turned upside down and he's scared.'

'Well as far as I am concerned he's a typical guy and a little spell on our side of the fence would teach him lessons he'd never dreamed existed.'

'Ok,' Susan shot back. 'Let me put it this way. Do what you can to help him or say goodbye to sunshine because you'll be grounded until your thirty. Is that clear?'

'Crystal.'

In the toilet Stuart struggled with the button fly of the little shorts he now wore and looked over his breasts to see the white lacy panties he had on. With a snort of disgust he pulled both the tight shorts and panties down in one fell swoop and then turned and sat on the "throne." That seemed about all he was doing, sitting. He tried to clench and release different muscles but no urine flowed even though he felt like he was about to burst. 'How the hell do you do this?' he whispered to himself still stunned at the sound of the voice coming from his throat. To him he sounded like a little girl.

Finally it felt like he did explode as urine came out in a hurry. There seemed to be no way to aim it and he heard the very feminine sound of water hitting water. Another thing he found out was it seemed as difficult to stop as it had been to start, not like when he was a guy and he could turn it off and on at will. It was, he guessed, a practiced art and one he hoped he wouldn't have time to perfect. The one bright spot was the fact that his mother seemed to know what the story was with the box and so she should be able to get him back to normal, at least in theory. Eventually the flow ceased and he was about to stand and pull up the feminine underpants and a short when he realised this lovely trip to the "Ladies room" wasn't quite over. Stuart grabbed a big wad of toilet paper, not knowing the amount he needed, and dabbed his new private parts. He didn't even know if he was supposed to just wipe the pubic hair or actually go between the pink lips he now possessed but judging by the wetness he felt down there he decided on the latter.

'You took your time,' Jade said and her mother flashed her a warning look.

'So sue me,' Stuart replied understandably sullenly as he slumped back down into a kitchen chair. 'I've never had a... a...'

'...Vagina,' Susan finished off the sentence. 'In this house we call it a vagina. At least if you want to keep breathing. You might find out that all of the slang names for that part of the female anatomy aren't so funny now you have one yourself.'

Stuart had already run through the long list of names as he sat on the toilet. Snatch, gash, flaps, pussy, cunt. His mother was right.

'How you feeling?' Susan asked her son sympathetically.

'How do you think I feel mum?' He snapped back at her. 'I feel like I woke up in the twilight zone. Like I am having some weird kind of nightmare. I mean I've got boobs for Christ sake. I'm shorter than Jade now and I feel like I have the body strength of a three-year-old. I sound like a three year old too and on top of all that I've got more hair than a old English sheep dog.' Stuart grabbed a hand full of his long brown hair and then unconsciously tucked it behind his ear in a very feminine gesture.

'But apart from that you're ok hey?' Jade managed to say with a straight face.

'The only thing I want to know,' the new girl said, ignoring his older sister, 'is how? Why? And what?'

'That's three things.'

'Jade Lydia Denton,' Susan said, coming very close to the end of her tether. 'How does Catholic boarding school sound to you?'

That seemed to stop the interruptions from her eldest child so Susan continued. 'Ok Stuart,' Without realising it she took a deep breath just like Jade had and then kept right on going with her story. 'Do you remember when I came back from Hong Kong last week I wasn't in the best of moods?' The boy's breasts jiggled slightly as he nodded. 'Well, I was meant to go on the business trip with Bob Drummond but his son was in a car accident so they sent me over there with Lou Stevens.'

'Ah ha.'

Susan was a Personal assistant at one of the largest Internet providers in Australia. 'I get on fine with Bob but Lou is a different story. We were over in Hong Kong to try and get a contract with a Chinese firm and Lou basically worked me like a dog. I don't mind that, I get good money, especially when I am away from time to time. What really got me was the way he acted in front of the Chinese. He more or less treated me like a slave and was just about as sexist as a person could be. I could put up with even that, to a point. On the last day there I found out that while I was working my butt off Lou had one of the women from Accounting stashed away in his hotel room at night and in the day she went out and saw Hong Kong. The only bit of the Island I saw was on the way from the airport to the hotel or out of the window on the seventeenth floor.'

Susan stopped to light a cigarette and look at both her children. 'I was fuming. I mean really fuming. I'm surprised I didn't burst into flames, I was so hot. I was sitting in the bar, having some wine, trying to work out what to do about it and I got talking to this lovely waitress named Mei Ling. I poured out the whole story to her and she could see I was mighty angry. In the end she gave me a piece of paper with an address and a name on it. Mamma Chow. She said Mamma Chow could help me and told me to go see her. She wouldn't elaborate on it but I got the feeling that Mamma Chow, whoever she was might well be the right person to talk to.'

Taking a deep drag on the cigarette, using it almost like a comma in a sentence, Susan continued. 'It was Sunday, we flew out heading for home early the next morning and I went out and saw a bit of the place. I really didn't care if I got the sack. It was wonderful, so full of people and the shopping was great but all day I just kept thinking of Mamma Chow. I didn't know how she could help me but in the end I just sort of drifted to the address I had.'

Stuart inwardly groaned. He hated the way both of the women in his house used a thousand words to tell a story he could have told in two hundred. On this occasion though, his masculinity was on the line so he let her go.

'Anyway, before I knew it I was knocking on the door in this dirty little alley in one of the older parts of Hong Kong. This kid, about eight years old, opened the door and I told him Mei Ling had sent me to see Mamma Chow. He just nodded and led me up some very rickety old stairs. Mamma Chow looked like she was Eighty but she was probably more like sixty. She was wearing this blue Mao suit and didn't speak a work of English so the boy translated for us. Mei Ling had already phoned her and she knew all about my problem. That box,' Susan pointed to the box that was on her kitchen table, 'was placed in front of me and I was told it would turn Lou into a woman. I didn't believe it but the old woman insisted I take it. She told me that any man who opened the box would become female and the only people who would ever know the difference was the person transformed by it and anyone who knew the boxes purpose. All the old woman asked was that I write to the hotel and praise Mei Ling so she might get a better paid job'

'So you left the box lying around the house for anyone to open it?' Stuart snapped.

Susan looked her son up and down. 'Well if you call hidden behind my shoe rack in the wardrobe of my bedroom "lying around" then I guess I did.' The boy grimaced at that last statement. 'And believe me you haven't heard the last of that.' The mother said in a way only mothers can. 'Of course I didn't believe it but the thought of Lou in a dress was enough to make me smile the whole flight home. When Jade picked me up at the airport I told her about my strange Sunday in Hong Kong.'

Jade cut in at this point. 'The thought of it made me laugh so hard I almost wet myself. You see, mum didn't know but last year, at the firm's Christmas picnic Lou had tried to put the hard word on me and he didn't look like he was going to take no for an answer. Luckily his wife wandered over to where he had me cornered and that was the last I heard of it. I didn't tell mum because I knew she'd quit her job just for the satisfaction of telling Lou where to stick it.'

'That's right,' Susan said. 'I would have. But I thought about the box and was going to gift wrap it and leave it on Lou's desk when the contract is signed and then wait for the fun to start.'

Stuart took all of this in quietly. It would have been nothing more than bad fairy tale if he himself wasn't evidences it was all true. 'I take it,' he said slowly and deliberately, 'that there's no reverse switch on this thing?' He pushed the box away from him but he did it gingerly, as if afraid of what else it could do to him.

Susan grimaced. 'No,' she said simply, leaving the implications hanging in the air between them.

'Please tell me you have a plan? Something to get me out of this body?'

His mother shook her head. The three of them sat around leaving a lot unsaid.

Susan was at a loss but she needed to try something, if only to make Stuart feel better. She reached for her Filofax and dialled the hotel she had stayed in Hong Kong. Turning on the speakerphone she waited until the call was answered.

'Hello, Emperor Ming Hotel," came a heavily accented female voice. "How may I help you?'

'Yes, my name is Susan Denton, I stayed at your hotel on the 15th, 16 and 17 of this month. I want to talk to a woman named Mei Ling.'

'What room please?' The receptionist asked.

'No. She was a waitress.'

'What room please?' was the frustrating answer.

Susan fell into the old trap when it came to talking with people who didn't speak English all that well. She slowed her speech down and raised her voice, hoping it would make things clear. 'She's Staff. A waitress. Mei Ling.'

'No personal calls,' was the curt reply followed by the receptionist hanging up.

Stuart was not feeling a great deal better. If anything he felt a lot worse. 'That went well.' He said.

'That was only step one.' Susan told him. 'There was a guy there, Wang, who helps set up business conferences and does some translating if it's needed. I have his e-mail address somewhere. If all else fails I can find Mamma Chow if we go back to Hong Kong.'

'Then lets go.' Stuart said in all seriousness. 'We could catch the next plane. It's about a 7-hour flight. I could be normal by the time we go to bed.'

Jade had kept quiet for as long as she could. 'Mamma Chow must be powerful but I doubt even she could make you normal Stuart. Male? Yes. Normal? No one's that good.'

Susan looked at a smiling Jade and shook her head. 'Don't you have some where else to go?'

'Nope.'

'I'll put it another way Jade. Go. I don't care where. Go see a movie or a friend. Go shopping. Just go and leave this to me.' She couldn't really blame the girl. Her kids were usually at each other's throats, Stuart giving as good as he got, and Susan could see this was too good to pass up but it wasn't helping anyone.

Knowing that tone of voice well Jade stood. 'Well, I did tell Sandra I'd go over to her place today. We were going to try out some hairstyles for her job interview next week.'

'Good.'

'I'll be home later.' She kissed her mother on the cheek and headed for the door. At the last minute she turned to Stuart. 'If you're a good girl I'll help you with your hair when I get home.'

'Goodbye Jade,' Susan sighed.

Mother and transformed son were silent until they heard the car start off down the driveway. Susan took both of her son's slimmer, daintier hands and looked him straight in the eyes. 'You have to know how sorry I am that this happened to you,' she started. 'I don't have any idea what this is like for you honey but I can understand you're upset.'

'But...'

'But you have to face some realities here. I promise you I'll do what I can to make sure you spend as little time as possible as a girl. It's just there are a few things we both have to take into consideration. I'd love to go back to Hong Kong but I've used up all of my holiday time spending Christmas with you and your sister. I'd ask for more but with this China deal on at work at the moment I wouldn't get it and the plain and simple truth is we don't have the money for plane fares or Accommodation. You don't even have a passport so even if I could take the time off and we had the cash you'd have a two week wait for that.'

It sounded reasonable to Stuart even though he'd never admit it. Looking down at the breasts that now dominated his view he quietly said. 'How long?'

'Two, maybe three months.' Susan told him. 'Four months tops. Unless Wang can pass a message on to Mei Ling'

It sounded like a jail sentence to the boy, a bloody long one from where he sat. A thousand emotions seemed to flash through him at once. Anger, pain, sorrow, self-pity, fear, horror and vulnerability. 'Just keep Jade off my back.' Was all he said as he fell, sobbing into his mother's arms.

-oOOo-

Jade got home around ten o'clock that night no knowing what to expect. Her mother was sitting at the computer checking her e-mail every five minutes in case she got word from Wang or Mei Ling. 'Hi,' Jade said, unsure of her mother's reaction.

'Oh, hello. I didn't hear you come in.' Susan got up and gave her daughter a quick hug.

'Sorry about before Mum. I went too far.'

'I think you know who you should apologise to.'

'Yeah,' Jade nodded. 'This whole thing is weird and I guess I didn't think about it from his point of view... Even if he is a little jerk.'

'Stuart's all right normally. He's just a typical little brother. Your uncle Andrew did far worse to me when I was your age.'

'It's Strange. Sandra was asking about Amy and I didn't know who she was referring to at first and then I worked it out that Stuart is Amy. No one knows he was ever a guy.'

Susan frowned a little. Feeling guilty and not for the first time that day. 'Amy Jo Denton to be exact. I gave her a sleeping tablet and put her to bed.'

'I might go off to bed too. Good night Mum.'

'Sleep tight Jade.'

Jade went to the toilet and was heading for her room when she past her brother's door. She heard sobbing and knocked.

'What?'

'It's just me Stuart. Are you okay?'

'Ah ha.' He said in a voice that sounded anything but.

Jade opened the door and entered. In the little bit of moonlight that spilled into the room she could make out the much smaller form of her brother in bed. 'Sorry about before.'

'Whatever.'

'No really. I'm sorry.' Jade sat down next to him and put her hand on his arm. 'Being a girl isn't that bad. You'll see.'

'You Just don't get it do you?' He spat as he put on a pink bedside lamp and sat up. 'You don't have any idea what it's like?'

'I am a girl you know.' Jade was a little taken aback at this outburst even though her brother was now smaller than she was.

'You don't get it at all.'

'So tell me Stu.' She said softly. 'Make me understand.'

He thought about it for a bit, tears running down his smooth cheeks. 'Okay. Look, I'm your brother, or at least I was, so I never say this sort of stuff to you. If you tell anyone what I'm about to say I'll deny it.'

'Go on.'

'You're pretty, smart, you have a good personality and most of my friends think you're hot. Things come easy to you. Now imagine you wake up tomorrow and you're a fat chick named Ethel, with glasses, pimples and bad breath. Now imagine you as Ethel are in the pilot's chair of a 747 and you have to land the plane even though you don't have a clue how. Getting the picture?'

'Yep.' Now it was Jade's turn to feel guilty.

'I don't have a clue about girls. God they're hard enough to work out as a guy but now I have to be one and I don't know how.'

'That I can help you with.' Jade smiled. 'I can teach you how to be a girl.'

'I don't really want to know Jade. My whole life has changed because of Mamma Chow and that stinking box. No one saw Stuart kick five goals in the grand final last year because it didn't happen. No one saw me take a hat trick in cricket because I didn't play in the game. No one has heard me play guitar because from what I read in Amy's diary...'

'You, I mean she has a diary?'

'... Doesn't every girl?' Stuart asked.

'No. Well, back in the dark ages maybe.'

'Well Amy does, or I do. Whatever. She plays the flute. I can't play a note on the thing. She does ballet.' Jade giggled a little at the thought of her brother in a pink leotard. He ignored it and ploughed on. 'I tried to do a pass de whatever the hell you call them and fell flat on my arse. You want to know what it's like for me? Well, from now until I get back to normal, that's assuming I do get back to normal, I will have to be acting with everything and everyone wether I want to or not.'

Silence filled the air for a minute or two as Jade took all of this in. Finally she said, 'I get it Stuart. I really get it. Let me do what I can to help? Please?'

He nodded and took her outstretched hand. 'Okay. Truce.'

Susan walked past the room and saw Jade and Stuart do something she hadn't seen since her kids were really little. Hug. She hurried off so she didn't break the clinch.

'Good night Amy.' Jade said as she left the room.

'You are pushing it.' Stuart said as he threw a pillow at his sister.

'Oh there is one more thing before I leave you. Exactly which friends of yours think I'm hot and what are their phone numbers?'

'Night Ethel.'

-oOOo-

Amazingly his mother had been right Things didn't look as bad after some sleep. They were bad enough in Stuart's view but now they only looked Titanic bad as opposed to the Black plague bad he felt the previous night.

Stepping out of the shower he paused to look at his new body, really look at it. He still didn't like what he saw, not on him anyway. On some one else it would have been fine. What he hated about it most of all, probably even more than the femininity that seemed to leap out of his petite body, was the cutesy factor he now possessed. His face was all girl. From the cute little button nose to the dimples on chubby cheeks, each side of a pretty smile. There was a bit of a resemblance to his mother and Jade but a lot of his father and Aunts about him. Lowering his glance his eyes drifted past the wet hair that stuck to his slender shoulders and onto two smallish but very feminine breasts. They were much more conical in shape to the ones he liked to look at in playboy and on-line but he put it down to his age. Going lower still he registered the slimness of his arms and he missed he muscles he'd spent ages building up. Now they were so small they reminded him of pipe cleaners. A trim waist and a flat stomach with a belly button that stuck out rather than his old innie gave way to hips that flared just enough to make him look in proportion. He looked quickly at the triangle of pubic hair that covered a barely visible vertical cleft. He thought of all of the girls he liked and wondered if that triangle was worth all of the efforts he and his friends put in. The one in the mirror was almost a let down after all of his hormone driven fantasies about them.

'Are you ready Stuart?' Susan called from the hallway.

He wrapped the towel around himself, the same way his sister always did and opened the door having made a big decision. 'You and Jade had better call me Amy Mum.' He sighed. 'At least for the time being.'

'Are you sure love?'

'Yeah. We all know who I really am but it would look kind of weird if you're running around calling me Stuart.'

-oOOo-

Being a Saturday Susan had the day to spend with her kids who were off school for the summer holidays anyway. Normally Stuart would be out with his friends playing cricket or doing what ever it is that teenaged boys do when they're together and Jade was either at work or sleeping in. Susan herself did her weekly grocery shop on Saturdays but this morning they all had a more pressing problem. What was Amy going to wear?

'I hope you two don't expect me to get dressed by a committee meeting every morning.' Amy grumbled as she stood in her room dressed in an apricot coloured satin robe. 'I can dress myself you know?'

'Sure you can sweetie,' Susan said. 'Just think of us as training wheels. Just for a few days.'

Amy was directed to a seat in front of a vanity mirror so Jade could blow-dry her hair. 'Have you heard from Wing or Dung or whatever the hell his name is?' She half shouted to be heard over the noise of the drier.

'Wang,' Susan corrected. 'Not yet but if I still haven't heard from him by Monday I'll talk to a guy we're using on the China contract. He's lived in China for 6 years and he speaks fluent Mandarin. He shouldn't have any problems getting on the phone and talking to Wang or Mei Ling.'

It took about ten minutes to dry and comb her hair and then she was handed a pink pair of panties and matching Bra. 'Well?' She said to her mother and sister. 'Turn around.'

'We have seen it before Amy.'

'Not on me you haven't.' Amy stated. 'Humour me.'

Both of the other women sighed and turned away as Amy took off the robe and pulled up the panties but Jade couldn't resist wolf whistling as her sister pulled on a pair of panties for the first time.

'I don't know why I can't just dag around in my normal clothes,' Amy griped as her mother did up the straps of the bra and told her how to put it on the easy way, clasping it in front of her and then spinning it around.

'I know you Amy. Half the time on weekends you slipped on a pair of football shorts and that was it. If you're going to be a girl you will look the part. I don't want other people looking at you and saying I am a bad mother for letting you get around looking like......'

'...like a boy?' Amy interrupted.

'Exactly,' Susan nodded. 'If nothing else I would have thought you'd have learned in the last day that boys and girls are different. Besides, don't think I am going to waste my energy on fighting you about what you wear. I already have a perfectly adequate teenaged daughter to do that with.'

Susan pulled out a pair of black three-quarter length jeans and a pink T-shirt with a large butterfly embroidered on the chest.

'At least let me wear normal jeans and a black T-shirt.'

'Do you think people will mistake you as a boy if you wear them? Look at yourself Amy, you could wear a sack and people will still see a girl.'

'At least I could be a comfortable girl.'

'Please Amy, you know fighting stresses me. Do you know what happens when I get stressed?'

'I got a feeling you're going to tell me,' the girl replied as she tried not to look at the figure clad only in lingerie staring out of the mirror.

'I forget things.' Susan said. 'It's funny, I thought I wouldn't have a problem finding Mamma Chow in Hong Kong but now? Now I am not too sure I could. I know it's off a main street with lots of Chinese people. There can't be too many of them in Hong Kong can there?'

'Okay, okay.' Amy conceded defeat. 'I'll wear the stupid things.' He reached for the pants only to hear his mother and Jade laugh again.

'What? What did I do now?'

'You're trying to put the pants on the wrong way.' Jade giggled. 'The zipper goes on the back.'

'How the hell am I supposed to go the toilet that way?'

'Think about it Amy.'

All of a sudden a light bulb went on in Amy's mind. 'Oh.' She said. 'You two are enjoying this far too much for my liking?'

The T-shirt followed and then Jade set to work on her sister's hair. She figured she'd tortured her enough so she just put it in a ponytail and used two little clips to keep the stray tendrils at the side out of her face. Make up was pushing it too hard so she didn't bother. Susan had gone to answer the doorbell.

'Some one here to see you Amy.'

'What? Who? Tell them I'm sick or something.' She stammered. It wasn't a lie. The thought of anyone seeing her dressed like a girl was making her sick very quickly.

'Don't be silly Amy.' Susan brushed off the hysteria. 'It's only Katie.'

'Katie from next door? That's bad enough.' Katie and Stuart grew up together and Katie was a bit of a tomboy so the two got on well. She could out kick, out run and out fight every boy in school when she was younger. Every boy but Stuart.

What made Susan and Jade smile was the fact that the poor girl had a huge crush on a totally oblivious Stuart. As puberty hit Katie had softened in both her dress sense and boisterousness and in the past year or so had done everything but throw herself naked on to Stuart. Sometimes Katie didn't think Stuart even knew she was a girl. A very cute blonde girl with almost sky blue eyes.

'Well it's too late.' Susan stated. 'She's waiting for you in the lounge room.'

-oOOo-

Stuart, now Amy felt totally strange in her pink strappy sandals as she walked out to meet Katie with about the same enthusiasm Marie Antionette must have felt as she headed for the guillotine

Katie didn't seem to think anything was wrong. 'Hi Amy,' she said, hugging her best friend. 'I was just wondering if you wanted to go to the mall with me?'

Amy was once again reminded of her new height as she looked Katie in the eyes for the first time in three or so years. 'I'd rather swallow razor blades,' she mumbled truthfully.

'Sorry, what was that?'

Susan jumped in saying 'She said she'd love to go.'

'Mum.'

'Sorry Amy? my memory is going again.'

'I'd love to come,' Amy told her friend in a not so lady like tone.

'Did I miss something in there?' Katie asked when the two girls got outside.

'Only a form of child abuse.' Amy replied sullenly.

'You are a wicked, wicked woman.' Jade Told her mother.

'Ah ha but you have to push the chick out of the nest one way or another.' Susan grinned.

-oOOo-

Stuart never got shopping. He just never *got* it. For him it was a case of get in, get what you want and get the hell out again. About all he'd do at the mall was sit in the food court and look at the girls with his friends.

Now, as Amy he was one of the girls but shopping was still a mystery. She and Katie had linked up with two other girls from School, Terri, a tall brunette who now dwarfed Amy, and Emma, who had beautiful red hair and piercing green eyes.

They spent hours going from one shop to another to try on and even worse, discuss every item of clothing in the mall. It wasn't even until the shopping trip was about half an hour old that Amy worked out no one had any money to spend on clothes or make up. Shopping for them was a social outing and she was amazed to find out that the shopping was just a setting for talk. Talk about boys, bands, boy bands, the school gossip and of course clothes and make up.

Stuart never got the talking thing. To him it seemed a waste to use hundreds of words when a few grunts could convey much the same message. And what he didn't get about girls is they seem to think silence is just there to fill in with words. Around Katie, Emma and Terri, if silence was truly golden then Amy would be bankrupt forever.

Amy tried to hold up her end of the conversation but she was way out of her depth and before too long the other girls seemed to sense something was wrong. He knew this because Katie said, 'is something wrong Amy? You don't seem yourself this morning.'

'You don't know the half of it.' Amy smiled as she sat in the food court trying not to look at the boys looking at her.

'Anything we can help you with?' Terri asked, reaching out and taking Amy's hand.

'I don't think so, unless you know some one in Hong Kong.'

'Huh?'

'Forget it. Don't worry, I am ok.' She smiled, finishing a salad sandwich she had bought when the others did even though she'd rather have a burger and fries.

'Where to now?' Emma asked.

'I need to go to the ladies room.' Katie announced.

Thus Amy was introduced to another female tradition. Going to the ladies room in-groups. The women's toilets weren't half as smelly but there was a bit of a queue so the four of them waited patiently and chatted some more.

Feeling ready to burst by the time she finally got to a stall Amy struggled out of the pants and then sat and peed, feeling very relieved. Being the last in she was the last out and she found her new friends standing around the mirror either washing their hands or re-applying make up. She walked to the basin and washed her hands, only half listening to the conversation. That was until they discussed what they were doing that night and Katie mentioned the fact that she was going out with Steve Ellis.

'I thought you hated him?' Amy said.

'Hated him? I have been going out with him for over six months.'

'Yeah,' Emma giggled. 'They're practically married.'

This was news to Amy. As far as she knew Katie did hate the guy. He'd sniffed around her for awhile but she wasn't interested. Steve and Stuart didn't exactly get on, coming to blows on more than one occasion especially when Steve wouldn't take Katie's answer of no. It seemed like more than her gender had changed.

-oOOo-

'How was your day honey?' Susan asked Amy a she walked into the kitchen.

'Great,' Amy answered sarcastically. 'We shopped, we bonded and we even peed together. The perfect day for any girl. And to top it all off nicely some nice boys invited me to show them my tits as I walked home.'

'Well, as Tammy Wynette once said ; sometimes it hard to be a woman.'

'I have no idea who Tammy Wynette is but I would have gladly taken her word for it without this practical demonstration.' Amy grumbled as she motioned to her body. 'And I could have done without the shopping trip today.'

'Well, you did have to get out of the house and sooner is better than later.'

'I could have lived with later Mum.'

'You have to get used to being Amy now. If we can't get you back to normal in the next two weeks you will just have to go to school as Amy.'

The girl shuddered at the thought of the school dress she'd seen hanging in her wardrobe earlier. 'I know. It's just not easy for me Mum.'

'I know sweetie.' Susan said hugging her. 'There still hasn't been a reply from Wang though so we may well have to go to Hong Kong.' Susan searched her daughter's eyes for a second and said, 'there is something else bothering you isn't there?'

'Sort of. Did you know Katie has a boyfriend?'

'No but good for her.'

'You think? She's going out with a real jerk.'

'He must have something going for him. I mean Katie is a sensible girl and she seems to like the good guys.'

'Well not this time,' Amy said, wondering which nice guy her mother was talking about. To her knowledge Katie had never really like any guy in particular. 'Oh well,' She added. 'Terri and Emma invited me over to Emma's house to watch some stupid chick flicks tonight. But before you say anything I said no.'

'So what are you going to do instead?'

'Take off this damned uncomfortable bra, put on a pair of shorts, a baggy T-shirt and then I am going to sit down and watch the football and think boy thoughts. I have had enough of girl world for one day.'

Susan thought about it for a second and came to the conclusion that Amy was probably right. No point in pushing the girl too far. Besides, Susan though later as she looked at Amy stretched out on the sofa, even in shorts and a T-shirt she still looked very cute.

-oOOo-

'Oi, Faceache, get up. We've got work to do'

'Huh?' Amy said as she was wrenched from her slumber.

'I said get up,' Jade repeated. 'I said I was going to help and I will but I get to pick the lesson times.'

'Lesson?' Amy looked at the bedside clock. 'Bloody hell, It's only 9:30. I didn't think it was ever this early on a Sunday morning.'

'Well there's a lot you don't know sister dear. That's what today is about. I am going to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about being a girl but were afraid to ask.'

'Doesn't the Bible say something about not working on the Sabbath?'

Jade nodded and smiled. 'Yeah and I may be wrong but I seem to remember something in there that goes ; Thou shalt not pisseth off thou older sister. Lest older sister useth her new found height and weight advantage and slappeth you into last week.'

'You even thought about getting into motivational speaking?' Amy asked as she swung her legs out of bed and sat up.

'No.'

'Good.'

Jade ignored that last little bit. 'You've got 45 minutes to eat some breakfast and then get that round little butt of yours into the shower. By the way, you look so cute.'

Amy looked into the mirror as she stood. She was wearing the same baggy T-shirt she had on the night before and her panties just peeked out from underneath but worst was the fact that her hair had that "Just been shagged" look, as Stuart and his friends referred to it. 'Forget what I said about the Bible Jade, because if there was a God he'd do the honourable thing and strike either me, or preferably you, dead.'

'Hustle sweetie,' Jade laughed. 'You've got a lot to learn today.'

-oOOo-

After two pieces of white toast and a long, hot shower Amy felt a little better but as she wrapped a towel around herself she wasn't looking forward to Jade playing teacher. Jade for her part was anxious to get underway.

'Did you wash and condition your hair?' She asked when she walked into the bathroom.

'Yep.'

'Good. Now let me feel your leg.'

'Jade! I never knew you cared.'

'I'm seeing how hairy they are you little jerk. And they are. '

'Oh no, call the follicle police.' Amy sniped sarcastically.

Jade simply reached into the cupboard and pulled out a bar of soap, a tube of cheap moisturiser and a Silk care ladies razor. 'Be nice Amy, it may well get bloody.'

'You're kidding?'

'Nope. Any girl that doesn't shave her legs and under arms is seen as either a Lesbian or a French woman. And personally I don't know what's worse.'

'Just wet the soap and cover your right leg from just above the knee down to the feet. There are just some things I won't do for you.' She stopped while Amy did that. 'Now watch carefully because you'll be doing most of this.' Angling the blade so it was just right Jade started from the ankle and in a long, careful continuous stroke she ran the razor right up the front of her sister's calf. 'It's that simple.' She stated. 'Just keep doing that including the back and then repeat it for the other leg. It's pretty much the same for the under arms. When you're done rub some moisturiser over them and meet me in your room.'

-oOOo-

'How'd you go?' Jade asked as Amy walked into her bedroom wearing the same robe as she had the day before.

'I see what you mean about getting bloody,' Amy replied showing a bit of a nasty nick on the back of her left calf.

'Call it a war wound.' Jade smiled. 'Now come and sit and I'll teach you some basic hair styles'

'You know that this is all being stored up here,' Amy tapped her forehead. 'And I will repay you back for every little bit of it.'

'I wouldn't expect anything less.' Jade shrugged. 'Now I borrowed some books from friends, there are all sorts of styles in here. I want you to study them and there will be a test at the end of the week. Right now I will teach you the basic ponytail, how to do plait your hair and how to put it up.'

'Trust you to be so helpful now. Where were you when I wanted Kelly Barnes' phone number?'

'Shut up and watch Amy and then we'll move on to make-up.'

An hour and a half later Jade pulled out some make up and said, 'now the trick to putting on make up is to make it look like you're not wearing it.'

'At the risk of putting Max Factor and L'Oreal out of business Jade, there's an easy way to achieve that. Don't put any of the shit on your face.'

'That would be too easy Amy, and much less fun.'

'How did I know you were going to say that?'

 

It was one p.m. when Amy finally got out of her sisters clutches and got dressed. She could still taste the lipstick and smell the perfume Jade had liberally applied. Jade had been pushing for a dress but she wouldn't hear of it. Instead she put on Jeans and what he later learned was a Lavender coloured peasant shirt with a scooped neck line and cap sleeves. She didn't overly care, it was feminine enough to keep her mother and sister off her back yet comfortable enough to get around in.

By this time Amy had been a girl for a little over 48 hours and she knew more about being a girl than she even wanted to know. But even she had to admit she was no closer to understanding the "Fairer Sex". If anything she was further away from that understanding than she had been when she was Stuart.

 

-oOOo-

She walked into the kitchen where Susan was sitting, looking at some paper work and eating lunch at the same time. 'Your daughter is a sick perverted girl.' She said to her mother.

'Which Daughter would that be?' Susan shot back with wry smile.

'Funny mum. Real funny. What are you doing?'

'Just working out our finances love. It's always important but if we want to get you and me back to Hong Kong we'll really have to tighten our belts.'

'Well at least I have the waist for it now.' Amy quipped.

'Something doesn't add up here,' Susan said running some more number though a calculator. 'There seems to be over 500 dollars missing from my bank account.'

'Probably a bank error Mum, you know what they're like.'

'True. I'll give them a call tomorrow to see if they can straighten it out. Anyway sweetie, while I've got you here there are a couple of things we need to talk about.'

'This doesn't sound good.' The girl said sitting at the table. 'Go on then, let's get it over with.'

'Well the first is your birthday.' Susan said as she picked at her stir-fry.

'That's easy. It's cancelled this year. Next?'

'Not so fast princess.' Amy grimaced at that. 'You know what a big deal your grandmother makes for the four of you. To her, Jade's, your two cousins and your birthdays are the highlights of her year. The whole family goes out for tea at a nice restaurant. That is not going to change this y ear.'

'Okay, but I'm not getting dressed up.'

'Yes you are, Dress, pantyhose and heels. The whole deal. It won't kill you for one night. It's not your grandmother's fault you went looking for your presents early and I'll be buggered if I have to put up with her whingeing to me about missing out on a birthday meal. This is non-negotiable. If you don't do it to help me out I won't help you out by going back to Hong Kong. Got it?'

'I don't have a choice do I?' Amy grumbled.

'Good. Now, getting back to the money. I get good money at work but when I have to pay for the house, run the car and keep you and Jade fed and clothed there's not much left over. The simple fact is we need more money coming in. The sooner some one earns it the quicker we find Mamma Chow.'

'Some one? I take it you mean me?'

'You're quick. I think you can do a few nights a week after school and maybe a Saturday as well. Anything you can add to the kitty I'll match dollar for dollar.'

Amy got up and started to walk away.

'Where are you going?' Susan asked.

'Just going to check my room and make sure there are no wire hangers in there. You're reminding me of some one.' Amy told her.

'Keep that up and I'll get Jade to teach you about feminine hygiene. Think about that job ok?'

Amy sighed, long and loud. 'Yeah, alright.'

-oOOo-

'This really sucks,' Amy said a little later.

'What does?'

'I'm bored stupid Jade.'

'Well that wouldn't be a long journey.'

'I'm serious. There's two weeks of holidays before the new school year starts and here I am looking like a stupid teeny-bopper girl.'

'So?' Jade said as she absently flicked through the channels on the TV hoping to find something other than sport to watch.

'So, last Sunday I was playing cricket with my friends and then we spent the night rehearsing the band. It may sound stupid but I miss my friends.'

'That bunch of losers?' Jade laughed. 'Exactly whose turn is it to have the brain they share this week?'

'That's great coming from a girl whose friends have all of the mental capabilities of a Barbie Doll but none of her looks.' Amy shot back.

'Will you stop bothering me Amy? If you miss the Neanderthals so much go and see them.'

Amy seemed to look down at her cleavage and think for a second. 'Uh, I might give it a miss.'

Jade turned off the television and smiled. 'Oh, I get it.' She said. 'You're worried about what your dead beat friends will make of the new you.'

'No... Well, sort of. Yes.'

'Plant your butt sister dear. School is back in progress.' Jade waited until Amy sat on the couch and then she continued. 'The most important subject of all. Boys.' The younger sister was about to interrupt but Jade put her hand up to stop her. 'Before you start. You know about boys as a boy. A totally different thing to understanding them as a girl.'

'I don't suppose there is any way I can get out of this chat? At least let me put it off until tomorrow.'

'Nope.' Jade said emphatically. 'It's simple really. Rule one; All boys are arseholes. Rule two; if in doubt refer to rule one.'

'What can I say?' Amy asked. 'That was worth waiting for wasn't it?'

'You really want me to tell you about boys?' Jade asked, a little surprised.

'No, but I guess I should know.'

'Okay,' Jade sat back and sighed. 'The thing you really need to know is that all of the rules have changed for you. If you don't look interested in boys you're either seen as a lesbian or frigid. If you look too interested you're a slut. If you send out the wrong signals, even without knowing it, and then back off you're a prick tease. And probably for you, the worst is the fact that you'll go back to school without a boy friend.'

'And that's bad how?' Amy asked in all innocence.

'God you can be dense sometimes.' Jade said, shaking her head. 'It's a new school year and reputations are important. Any boy with a pulse who doesn't have a girlfriend is on the prowl. So any girl without a guy is considered fair game. I've got a feeling you're going to be very, very popular.' She finished with a big grin.

'You know something Jade?'

'What?'

'I used to think you were a sadist.'

'And?' Jade asked

'I was right.'

 

-oOOo-

The next morning Susan got worried. Amy was up early and even showered without having to be pushed into the bathroom when the stink got too much. Jade woke up not long after and she too was shocked. 'Bloody hell,' She said to her mother. 'Normally Stuart doesn't start the day before 11 am and I always thought he was allergic to water or afraid of it. What's going on?'

'Your guess is as good as mine.' Susan replied with a shrug.

About 15 minutes later the bathroom door opened and Amy stepped out, one towel around her petite body and another wrapping her damp hair. 'Oh,' she smiled seeing a curious pair at the other end of the hall. 'Morning. Jade can you do me a favour please?'

'Ah... yeah, I guess. What's up?'

'Can you give me about twenty minutes and then come into my room?'

'You haven't found a gun or something have you?'

'No mum. I just need her help.'

'All right. What's going on?'

'All will be revealed,' Amy said somewhat enigmatically.

 

 


2001
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