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Jade Box                   by: Genni Smith

 

Part 4

 

Amy hung back after class had finished and slowly approached the Teacher.

'What can I do for you Miss. Denton?' He asked.

'Um… this play thing.'

'Shakespeare.'

'Yeah. I…ah… I'm not good at that acting thing.'

'Well now is your chance to get good then. I intend for the class to perform it in front of the school.'

Amy tried another tact. 'Is there any way I can get out of doing this?'

'Well one was to be on time for my class. But I guess there is one other way?'

'What?' Amy asked hopefully.

'A death certificate Miss. Denton. Namely, yours.'

'Or yours,' Amy thought ruefully.

'Any luck with Fisher?' Katie asked when Amy came out of the room on their way to Math.

'Nope.'

'Oh well, look on the bright side. Think of all that time you'll have to spend with Danny.' Her friend smiled. 'He is so cute.'

'That's what I'm afraid of,' Amy mumbled.

-oOOo-

That day, after school, Amy pedaled over to Mary Anne's Performing Arts Studio. She didn't want to but if she had any hope of getting some of the money back she had to attend at least one afternoon a week.

On top of all of the hassles her gender change had caused was the fact that she had to try and look comfortable in a place where she'd never been before. That was especially true of Mary Anne's P.A.S. where she was greeted as a long time member of the family.

Set back from a main road Mary Anne's studio was actually an old warehouse that had been converted around ten years ago. Stuart passed it almost every day but barely gave it a second glance, unless a pretty girl was exiting.

Now it was going to play a big part in Amy's life, at least until she could get her hands on that old Chinese woman.

A woman who she'd never seen before came up and gave her a hug. 'I was sorry to hear you were giving up Ballet honey. You were damn good at it.'

'I just wanted a change,' Amy said trying to sound convincing. The fact was she didn't want to change. Not into a pink leotard with matching tutu at any rate.

'I guess it's hard to keep up the practice ballet requires and your school work as well.'

'And my job.' The girl nodded.

'Okay sweetie. Have you given any thought to what you want to do here now?'

'Singing or acting maybe.'

'Okay, I'll send you over to Louise.'

'Louise?'

'Yes, she's the drama coach here.'

Amy excused her self to go to the little girl's room. To her amazement the toilets were in the changing room and she found herself in the middle of a gaggle of girls all in various stages of undressing. She literally didn't know where to look. She wanted to look everywhere but knew how strange it would seem if this girl was perving on all the rest. Lesbian was not a label she thought suited her. Heterosexual girl scared her even more.

The lesson wasn't too bad as lessons go. At least she didn't have to write anything down but some of the exercises were pretty bloody stupid. Pretending to be a tree was a little painful when she considered the two hundred and fifty dollars she wouldn't be able to add to her Hong Kong fund.

She did meet a few more girls, some of whom seemed to know her and other who were meeting her for the first time. Even Louise set some homework. She had to pick out a small passage from a book or play and perform it in front of the drama class the following week.

-oOOo-

When she got home she went straight to her room to change out of the school dress and most importantly take off her bra. She had just slipped on some comfortable bike shorts and a bright yellow sleeveless T-shirt, anything but pink, when the phone rang.

Knowing the answering machine was on she grabbed a diet coke, for some reason she now preferred that to normal coke that Stuart drank by the bucket..

She listened to her mum say, 'You've reached the Denton's. We can't get to the phone at the moment so please leave your message after the beep.'

The caller on the other end of the phone had a shocking line and Amy listened carefully to try and work out what was being said. About the only words she could make out through the static was 'Rocket.' And 'good bye.' As well as a phone number she couldn't work out. Then the line went dead.

'What the fuck was that?' She asked. Shrugging she left it for her mum to deal with and went to watch some TV.

Jade got home half an hour later. 'Hi Amy, any messages?'

'Some dopey phone seller trying to off load a toy rocket by the sounds of it. Why? Are you expecting some one to call?'

'That would be telling. How was your day?'

Amy sighed. 'I might as well tell you, you're going to hear about it anyway.'

'What?'

'Our English class is going to put on a play. Romeo and Juliet.'

'So?'

'So guess which part I got lumbered with?'

'You're kidding?' Jade laughed, 'This I have to see.'

'Well it looks like you'll get your wish. Unless I can get out of it I am going to have to preform in front of the whole school.'

'And I thought there was no god,' Jade giggled. 'My brother Juliet. Who's the lucky Romeo?'

'Simmo.' Amy said quietly.

'Oh ah. Mr. Puts Tom Cruise to shame. The plot thickens.'

'You're lips will thicken if you give me too much shit.'

Jade shrugged. 'The bee stung look is in.' She paused for a moment and looked at her sister. 'I saw you at lunch today hanging out with all of those other girls. You must be learning heaps about the fairer sex.'

Amy grabbed her boobs. 'There's nothing fair about this body. In fact it's plain sodding unfair. To answer your question, no. I haven't learnt much at all about girls.'

'Nothing?' Jade asked incredulously.

'Not really. Sure I can fix my hair and do my make up but when it comes down to it I am jus t acting a part.' Amy replied. 'My drama coach…'

'You have a drama coach?' Jade interrupted.

'I do now. Anyway, my drama coach would say I was just speaking the lines and I don't really understand my character.'

Jade thought about it for a second or two. 'Maybe you're looking at things the wrong way.'

'Oh god. This'll be good.'

'Look Amy, the way I see it you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting turned back into Stuart right? I mean even if you go to Hong Kong and find Mamma Chow she might not help you. True?'

'I guess so,' Amy grudgingly agreed.

'So, either you’re stuck that way for good and you'll just have to get used to it, or you get turned back to normal.'

'I kind of worked that one out for myself Jade.' Amy said. 'But thanks for the insight.'

'Do you want to hear this or not?'

'You mean I get a choice?'

'Well no.' Jade admitted. 'Listen, the girls your hanging out with don't see you as Stuart. To them you've always been Amy. I've seen the photo's and some of them were at your fifth birthday party, when were you all dressed as fairies. You don't have to act with them so they'll see you as female.'

'True I suppose,' Amy mused. 'But I need to keep on my toes so I don't slip up with basic stuff I should remember but don't'

'I just hope that if you do go back to being Stuart you at least understand girls a little bit. Not just understand what it's like to wear a dress or do your hair, but really understand girls.'

'And how the hell am I meant to do that?'

'Well for a start you spend all of your time thinking about the differences between your old life and now, between boys and girls. Maybe you should try looking for the similarities.'

'Oh, I get it.' Amy said. 'You mean that all Hitler had to do was say to Churchill, "Winston, I will admit we have our differences. I want to take over the world; you want to defend freedom and liberty. But we have much more in common. Both of our peoples come from the same basic stock. We both like beer and sausages. Let's forget about this silly war and we can go back to hating the French like normal." Yeah, that makes perfect sense.'

Jade got up from where she was sitting. 'I can't talk to you when you're in one of these moods. Just promise me you'll think about it?'

'If it'll get rid of you I'll promise to jump over the moon.'

Jade rolled her eyes and headed out of the room. She stopped just before the door. 'By the way,' she said turning to face Amy. 'Did you hear the school's putting on a formal?'

'A formal dance?'

'No, a formal apology you Nigel. Of course a formal dance.'

'When?'

'In about six weeks. I am still deciding which boy I'll go with.'

Amy shrugged. 'Is that your only problem? I can help you out there.'

'You can?'

'Yep. Always pick the guy with the guide dog.' Amy laughed

-oOOo-

'I'm going out mum,' Amy said just on dusk.

'Out? Where?'

'I just have to run to the Mall, I need some more pantyhose because the pair I wore the other day has a ladder in them so long you could use it to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sam goes off his face if we don't wear them, sexist prick that he is.'

Susan just raised her eyebrows letting Amy know she wasn't happy with the language. Mothers must go to some sort of school to learn how to do that, Amy thought.

'Well have you asked Jade if she has a new pair to spare for you?' Susan asked.

'Yes and she hasn't. What's the big deal mum? The Mall is a ten-minute walk away. I can be there and back in half an hour.'

'The big deal is, it's getting dark.' Susan said.

'So? It's never bothered you before if I go out after dark,'

'Have you had a look at yourself recently Stuart? You are a young pretty girl. You're what? Five foot three inches? You weigh almost nothing and you have lost a huge amount of body strength.'

'I'll be ok mum,' Amy said trying to placate her. 'What's the worst that can happen?' She regretted asking is as soon as the question passed her lips.

'Oh I don't know,' Susan began. 'You could be murdered, raped, and assaulted abducted and sold into white slavery. God knows why, its not like you do any work around here.'

'I don't think that's the point of white slavery mum.'

'Don't argue with me Amy. I'll drive you to the mall.'

'Mum, It's a madhouse up there when it comes to parking. It'll take you half an hour just to park. I can be there and back in that time. You're never this protective of Jade.'

'There are three very good reasons for that. She's older, she has a car and she's been a girl her whole life so she can read the warning signs.' Susan said, nailing each point home by holding up a finger.

'I promise to walk on the main roads and not take a side street. It's not that late anyway.'

'All right, but take my mobile phone with you.'

'Now that I can do.'

-oOOo-

Amy walked along the road feeling a little paranoid. She jumped at every little sound. She heard footsteps behind her and her heart raced but it was only a young couple out for a stroll. The main street was well lit but there were dark patches where the light didn't reach and it was in these dark spots where Amy's imagination ran wild.

She was happy when she saw the brightly lit mall ahead and felt relieved to get inside where it was as bright as day. She paid a quick visit to the Copper Pot and said hello to some of her colleagues then headed for the department store where she purchased 5 new pairs of black pantyhose.

When she got out of the mall it was pitch black and the Stuart half was ragging on the Amy half for being scared but it didn't stop her. She had just set off across the large car park when a car pulled up beside her. At first she didn't look at it, half expecting it to be a homicidal maniac or at best some randy guys who wanted to invite her to perform all sorts of acts.

'Amy?' A familiar female voice said. 'Would you like a lift, love?'

'Oh, hi Mrs. Frances,' Amy said feeling a wave of relief rush over her. 'That'd be great thanks.'

'Hop in. How's school?'

'School's school.' Amy shrugged. 'You know how it is.'.

'It's been a long time since I was in high school sweetie, but yes, I know how it is.'

They drove a little further with Amy trying to think of something to say. Eventually Mrs. Frances was the one to break the silence. 'What do you think of Steve?'

'Ah… Katie's Steve? Why?'

'I'm just interested honey. Katie doesn't talk to me much these days and I haven't had a great deal to do with the boy.'

'He's ok, I guess.'

'You don't like him do you Amy?'

'Is it that obvious?' Amy laughed. 'No, I don't like him.'

'I always thought you were a good judge of character.' Katie's mother said as they pulled into her driveway. 'Can you do me a favour?'

'Name it.' The girl nodded.

'Well I don't think either of us want her to get hurt but if she does I'm the last person she'll come crying to. She knows I'm not keen on him. If the worst happens between her and Steve just look after her ok?'

'Sure Mrs. F. what are friends for?'

'Good girl. Thank you.' The woman smiled as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. 'Will you be ok to get home from here?'

'Yes thanks.'

-oOOo-

Amy was at her locker the next day at lunch time changing her books over, when Katie said, 'oh my god.'

'What?'

'Don't look now Aim but he's coming over here.'

Amy turned and saw Danny Simpson heading straight for them. 'Oh god.' She explained.

'No, but he's not too far from being one.' Katie smiled. 'I think I need to use the ladies room and leave you two alone.'

'Katie!' Amy said pleadingly but it was too late. Katie scuffled off and gave Danny a wink on her way past.

'Hi,' he said.

'Ah… Hi.'

'It looks like Fisher is serious about this play thing.'

'It looks like it.' Amy conceded trying not to blush and failing.

'Well, the way I see it we have three options. One, we can put a contract out on him. Two, we can each break the other person's legs. Or three, we act better than Laurence Olivier just to stick it up the old bastard.'

Amy cursed herself for giggling like a schoolgirl but then thought that was exactly what she was. 'Well, I can't spare the cash and I kind of like my legs as they are…'

'I like your legs as they are too,' Danny smiled as his eyes turned down to have a quick look at them.

Amy couldn't believe a guy was flirting with her and she didn't feel like vomiting. 'So that leaves us with a bit of rehearsing to do I guess.'

'I guess so.' The boy nodded. 'Are you free this afternoon?'

'Oh. Sorry. I have to work.'

Danny thought for a second. 'Oh work. That’s where you do stuff for some one for a certain amount of hours and they pay you money right?'

'So I've been told.' That's it Amy girl, play it cool.

'Interesting theory but it'd never work in practice.' He grinned. 'Not for me anyway. I find that digging myself into and out of the shit is a twenty four-hour a day job. How about the weekend?'

'Um… I have to work Saturday morning but I'm free after one.'

'Damn, and that's the time I usually set aside for robbery and murder.' He laughed. 'But for you, I'll clear my calendar. Your place or mine?'

Amy instantly thought of the stirring Jade would do if he turned up at their house. 'Yours.'

'Okay.' He took out a pen and some paper from his bag and wrote down his address. 'Say two o'clock?'

'That should be fine,' Amy shrugged. 'I'll let you know if I have something else planned.'

'Cool. It's a date.'

'No,' Amy snapped defensively, 'it’s a rehearsal.'

'Ok, it's a rehearsal then.' Danny smiled. 'By the way, we have a pool and it's supposed to be hot so bring your bathers if you want. We can swim.'

Amy was going to say there was no chance of that but Danny had turned and walked away before she could get her brain into gear. 'Bugger.' Was all she managed to say.

-oOOo-

Amy rushed home from work on Saturday and threw on a pair of jeans and a red sleeveless T-shirt but then made the mistake of looking in the mirror. 'Ugh,' she said on seeing her appearance. She tried on three other outfits before settling on a denim skirt and a light blue halter neck. Her Bikini bottoms were on and she had the top in her handbag, just in case. She left her hair the way it was but did put on a little lipstick and some eye shadow, wondering all the while why she was getting so worked up about it.

'Can you give me a lift please Mum?'

'What happened to little Miss independent? ' Susan asked as she looked up from the book she had been reading.

'Fine, I'll ask Jade.'

'No, it's ok. I'll take you. Where are you going?'

'I have to go to a friends house to study.' Amy said not wanting to give her mother a reason to laugh like Jade had.

'You? Studying on a weekend? Ok, now I am getting worried.'

'Come on Mum, don't bust my balls over this. If you want me to go back to acting like Stuart I can but I thought you'd be happy I was taking an interest in my school work.'

'I am sweetie.' Susan said feeling a little chastised. 'It's just a little surprising. Let me get my keys. Can you lock the back door for me please?'

-oOOo-

Susan pulled up in front of a large and obviously expensive house that was situated in the part of the suburb called Mortgage Hill.

'You know some one who lives here?' Susan asked.

'He said he did,' Amy didn't sound all that sure.

'He? Are you sure you're just studying?'

'Not you too.' Amy groaned. 'It's an English assignment.'

'Ok sweetie. Give me a call when you need a ride home.' The mother said giving her daughter a quick peck on the cheek. 'I'll stay until you get inside.'

Amy slowly got out of the old station wagon and walked up the steep driveway. She grabbed the brass knocker and banged twice, ringing a doorbell for good measure.

She was looking back down the drive at her mother when the door opened and when she turned back she was face to chest with Danny who wasn't wearing a T-shirt.

Susan grinned as she saw Amy look anywhere but at the tanned muscular chest of a rather cute guy.

'Hey,' Danny smiled. 'Come on in.'

Amy quickly waved to her mother and couldn't help but notice the grin. 'Hi Danny,' She said awkwardly. Still avoiding looking at his chest. It was silly really and Amy couldn't understand why the sight of it made her feel uncomfortable. After all, only 3 weeks ago she looked much the same. Maybe she didn't have the six pack that Danny possessed but there wasn't much difference.

Entering the huge house she was amazed at the furniture and knew in an instant that Danny's parents weren't short of money. 'Nice place,' was all she said.

'You reckon?' Danny grunted. 'Well I guess it's better than the last place we lived. Sit down. Do you want a drink?'

'Ah… Coke please. Why? Where did you live before you moved here?'

'I'll tell you Amy, there's nothing more scary than two hippies with a bit of money.' Danny laughed from the kitchen. 'Mum and Dad were both activists in Uni in the early 70's and they still hold on to some whacked out ideas.'

'I don't understand?'

'Mum's a Lawyer, Dad's a doctor, a Surgeon to be exact. Both of them do a lot of free work. Well, they can afford it. Anyway, they got sick of the rat race a few years ago and dad sold everything off to buy a hobby farm. I tried to point out that since it was the only money we had coming in it was hardly a hobby but you know parents, they don't listen.'

'So what happened?'

'They missed the rat race.' Danny laughed . 'And here we are.' He came back into the large lounge room, passed her a drink and then sat on a chair across from her. 'You look nice.'

'Have you got any brothers or sisters?' Amy asked as she sipped her coke.

'Nah, I was kind of a shock to my parents.' Danny grinned. 'I think mum's still in shock to tell the truth. What about you?'

'I've got one sister, Jade. She's a couple of years above us in our school.'

'And parents? I mean I know you've got them. What do they do?'

'Mum works at an ISP and Dad works at being an arse hole.' Amy shrugged.

'Oh, he teaches English huh?'

Amy laughed. 'No, he's not that bad. He lives in Perth so we don't see him much.'

'Speaking of arseholes, I have been thinking about this play. Fisher has already cast the rest of the play hasn't he?'

'I think so.' Amy nodded. 'Why?'

'Well, get out a pen and a calendar and mark this down. I've had an idea.'

'I bet that hurt Danny.'

'You're a cruel, cruel woman.' Danny laughed. 'I think we should have a bit of a laugh at Fisher's expense.'

-oOOo-

'Hi Mum,' Jade said.

'Hi Honey.' Susan said giving her a kiss. 'Where you been?'

'Over at Jessica's place. Is Amy here?' Jade asked as she sat down on the sofa next to her mother who was just watching a tennis match.

'No, I dropped her off at some boy's house about two hours ago. She says she was studying.'

'Ok. Can I talk to you then?'

'Sure you can Jade. It looks like Agassi has this game wrapped up anyway. What's on your mind?'

'You're not that confident about finding Mamma Chow again are you?'

Susan looked surprised and then turned the TV off. 'What makes you think that?'

'I'm not stupid mum and neither is Amy. If you were sure he'd be back to normal in a matter of months, and no one would ever know the difference, why worry about how she looks or what she wears? I think you aren't too sure about her ever getting back to being Stuart and you're getting her used to it so the news won't hit her as hard.'

The mother sighed and then said nothing for awhile. 'I'm not sure what else I can do Jade.' She finally admitted. 'I feel responsible for her predicament and I know that if she can't resume her old life it will hit her hard. But if the worst happens and she is stuck then at least she will be able to handle all of the things she needs to as a girl. Until we know one way or the other I prefer that we looked at the situation optimistically.' She stared off into space as if too ashamed to look at her daughter. 'My grandmother always said; expect the worst, hope for the best and take what you're bloody well given. What else can I do?'

'I do understand mum. For what it's worth I think you're doing the best you can.'

'Then why do I feel so terrible about it?' Susan asked.

-oOOo-

Amy was still laughing about Danny's plan when she got home and still giggling about it the next day when she went next door to spend some time with Katie.

She couldn't help but look at Katie with a slightly different perspective since Jade told her about Katie's feeling towards Stuart, but she was enjoying the girl's company as much as she had as Stuart. It was a different sort of friendship but no less enjoyable. Since that day when Katie had the fight with Steve Amy relaxed around girls and just went with the flow. She knew enough now to hold her own in any make over session and could speak on most topics the other girls might bring up. About the only thing she was a little unhappy about was how quickly Katie and Steve made up.

She stayed for a traditional Sunday roast and then headed home around two PM, surprised to see a familiar car parked in the driveway.

Her mother was in the lounge room with her dad's sister and husband.

'Here she is,' Colleen Denton said. 'Hi honey.'

'Hi Aunty Colleen.' Amy replied, happily giving her favourite Aunt a hug. 'G'day Uncle Phil.'

'How are you Amy?' The man who now seemed incredibly huge to Amy smiled. 'You're looking well.'

'I'm pretty good thanks. I just had some roast lamb and I never get it at home.' She threw a look at her mother who responded with a "so, sue me" shrug. 'What are you two doing here? Where’s Lachlan?'

'Phil's mum is baby-sitting for us. We have some news.'

Amy's raised her eyebrows. 'Oh? Good or bad?'

'Well we're happy about it.' Phil smiled. 'We want to wait until Jade gets back before we tell you though.'

Jade came home about fifteen minutes later and the whole hug, hi and how are you routine started again. Then finally they got to the point. 'We're going to get married.' Colleen beamed.

'Ah… hello. You two are already married.' Jade said.

'Well technically we are. But we didn't have a big do. It's our tenth anniversary in a little over a month and your aunty Colleen and I have been talking about the original big day and it was pretty small. We didn't have the money to put on a fancy show. We want to do it right this time around.'

'That's right' Colleen smiled and took Phil's hand. 'Church, white dress…'

'You'd look lovely in that Uncle Phil.' Amy grinned.

'… Tuxedo, Limos and all the trimmings.' Colleen said ignoring her niece.

Jade gave them both another hug. 'It sounds great. Do we get an invitation?'

'Well, we were hoping to make it a real family event. Lachlan will be a groomsman and so will your Dad. We are in the market for two young beautiful girls to be bridesmaids.'

Amy didn't like the sound of this.

'I'd love to.' Jade gushed.

'Amy?'

She tried to think of a way, any way, to get out of it without upsetting her Aunt and Uncle and also incurring the wrath of her mother. Unfortunately none sprang to mind.

'What the hell.' Amy grinned. 'I'm in.' What else could she do?

-oOOo-

Life settled into a routine for the next couple of weeks for Amy Jo Denton. She had school, work, acting and singing lessons. She hung out with Katie and numerous other girls and she spent a lot of time with Danny Simpson rehearsing Romeo and Juliet and even had a few fittings for her bridesmaid dress.

It wasn't like she didn't enjoy herself. If she stood back and could look at her life from afar she'd see it wasn't too bad at all. But it wasn't really her life, it was Amy's and Amy was in truth Stuart. The only truly bright spot of the week was payday when she could see her bank balance slowly creep up. Amy literally counted the day until she could go Hong Kong. One more hurdle was over come when she applied for a passport.

Money, passports and Amy's grumbling about dresses all looked pretty petty when she slept over at Katie's house on Friday night.

Amy woke up early one morning, around six AM. She was on an inflatable mattress on the floor in Katie's room and after remembering where and who she was she looked at Katie's bed expecting to see the girl curled up asleep. Instead, there was an empty bed.

Amy assumed Katie had woken early and had left her to sleep. She padded quietly to the bathroom to pee but the door was locked and strange sounds were coming from inside.

'Katie?' She whispered so as not to wake the girl's parents. 'Is that you?'

'Ah… Hang on.' The girl replied sounding like she had been crying.

Amy heard some movement and then the door opened an inch or so. 'What's going on?'

'Come in,' Katie sighed opening the door wider.

Amy entered the bathroom and her nose was immediately assaulted by the smell of vomit. 'Yuck,' she said. 'Did you take something that didn't agree with you?'

'In a manner of speaking.' Katie said sarcastically and almost laughed.

'What?'

'More like who.'

This didn't make any sense to Amy. Here was Katie, obviously head down in the toilet, bringing up last night's meal and she was trying to tell her something. 'Was it the pizza?'

'I'm pregnant Amy.' Katie blurted.

Amy sat down on the side of the bath; scared her legs were going to give underneath her. She didn't even know Katie was having sex. 'Are you sure?' She asked, mentally kicking herself for asking such a stupid question.

'I've already missed one period and I'm late for this one. I've been speaking on the porcelain telephone most mornings. I'm pretty sure.'

'Have you… do you… Is there anyway this can be a false alarm?'

'I doubt it.'

'Have you been to a doctor? '

'Are you kidding?' Katie spat. 'Doctor Hughes will tell my mum and mum will go nuts.'

'I don't think they're allowed to tell anyone Katie.' Amy said getting her breath back at last. 'But if you want to be sure then there are plenty of other doctors around.'

'They'll have to tell some one Aim. I'm underage and any doctor will have to tell the cops. Won't they? I don't want Steve to get into trouble.'

At the mention of his name Amy saw red. 'Steve? You don't want Steve to get into trouble? Jesus Christ, does Steve know the trouble your in? Does he even care?' She hissed.

'Amy, please keep it quiet. I don't want mum waking up.'

'She's not going to be asleep for the next eight months Katie.'

Katie put the lid of the toilet down and sat on it, looking directly at Amy. 'I haven't told Steve. I'm not sure if I am going to.' She shrugged.

'You have do.' Amy stated. 'You didn't wave your magic wand and conjure up a baby all by yourself. Your beautiful assistant had to help.'

'I love him Amy. You know guys, he could run a mile when he hears.'

'If he does, is he really worth having?'

The two girls sat in silence in the dawn light that filtered into the bathroom. Amy broke the silence when she hugged her friend. 'It's ok honey. I'll help you through this.'

'Really?'

'Hey, what are friends for? The first thing we need to do is get you to a doctor. You really should tell your mum.'

'No.' Katie said rejecting the idea outright.

'Ok. We'll play it your way. I'm always around if you need a shoulder to cry on. Right now though, I really have to pee or I will explode.'

-oOOo-

Tuesday afternoon Amy accompanied her friend to a doctor's surgery a few suburbs away. Both girls had changed out of their uniforms in the ladies room at the mall. Katie said she didn't want the doctor looking down their nose at the pregnant schoolgirl. Amy happily put on Jeans and a top.

They sat in the waiting room, Katie jumping every time some one walked in, Amy calming her friend down. All the time Amy held the other girl's hand to give her strength.

'Katie Frances.' A doctor called. He was in his late thirties or early forties, dressed casually in jeans and an opened collar shirt.

Both girls got up and followed him down a hallway to where his surgery was.

'I'm Katie,' the girl smiled nervously. 'This is Amy, my best friend.'

The doctor sat and looked at the pair. 'You haven't been to this medical practice before?'

'No.'

'Okay, I just have to ask you a few questions. Medical history, that sort of thing.'

Katie answered them all as well as she could given her emotional state.

'Right,' Doctor Bennet smiled. 'Now what can I do for you today?'

'I think I'm pregnant.'

'I see,' He said, his voice taking on a harder edge. 'When was your last period?'

'Two months ago.'

'Well, we're going to need a urine sample. You'll find a toilet at the end of the hall to the left.' He said handing her a small plastic jar.

Both girls stood up again and returned shortly after with a warm container full of yellow liquid.

The doctor walked over to a bench with his back to the girls so Amy couldn't see exactly what he was doing. After a few minutes of him fiddling around he went back to his chair. 'Well, you are indeed pregnant Miss. Frances.'

'Shit.' Katie said. It was one thing to suspect it but a totally different thing to have it confirmed by a doctor. 'What do I do now?'

'I would have hoped that way something you would think about before finding yourself in this predicament, not after.' Amy could see Katie's body stiffen up. The Doctor continued, 'apart from pregnancy, girls like you leave yourself wide open to sexually transmitted diseases. Everything from herpes to H.I.V. Honestly, one condom could have saved you all of this and virtually stamped out any risk. If you must have sex at least be adult enough to do it responsibly.'

Amy looked over at Katie who was almost in tears by now. 'It was just once,' Katie whispered, eyes locked on the floor.

'Well once is all it takes.' Doctor Bennet said. 'You know that now, don't you?'

Amy had had enough. She raised herself to her full five feet three inches and let the Doctor have it. 'Talk about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted,' She yelled. 'Katie is not a slut, she's not a tramp and she's not stupid. She simply fell into a trap that women have fallen into since time began. And it's not all her fault either. I bet if a guy came in here and told you he got his girlfriend pregnant you wouldn't bat an eyelid. No, go for the easy target. Well here's some news for you, you jumped up little quack, Katie walked in here thinking she couldn't possibly feel any worse and thanks to your caring, concerned bedside manner, some how she does.'

'Amy,' Katie said. 'Let it go.'

'What ever happened to the hypocratic oath?' Amy said ignoring Katie. 'Well you go home and sleep well tonight because if you're supposed to make your patients feel three inches tall you've really done your job well Doctor Bennet.'

With that she got up and pulled Katie out of the room. Katie looked like she was about to cry and Amy felt bad but she couldn't sit there and let that miserable jerk talk to her friend like that. They were outside when Katie began to laugh.

'What?' Amy asked.

'Do you think we'll get a Christmas card from him next year?' Katie responded.

-oOOo-

Susan was worried about Amy. She had been spending a lot of time with Katie recently and the two were very secretive. Susan had been a mother long enough to know something was up. She had quizzed Jade on it but that hadn't revealed any new information so she let it drop. Until a week later when she received a call from Amy's school counsellor.

Amy had no idea when she walked though the door that her school had called. 'Hi mum,' she said a little quietly.

'Hi. How was school?'

'Ok I guess.'

'Do anything interesting?' Susan asked.

'Nope. Just a normal school day.'

'Don't lie to me Amy. Mrs. Cox rang. You weren't at school today and nor was Katie. Where were you?'

'Ah… We went in to town.'

'Oh, you two just decided that there were better things to do than go to school? You just don't think some times do you? This is something I'd expect from Stuart, not you.'

'Reality check Mum. I am Stuart.' Amy shouted back. 'Stuart is me. We're the same person. I think you forget that a lot of the time.'

Susan followed the girl down the hall and into her room. 'So what did you do today? What was more interesting that school?'

'A frontal lobotomy would be more interesting than school Mum.' Amy said. 'We just went in to town and… looked around. I'm very sorry. It won't happen again. Please, can we drop this?'

'Drop it? I haven't even warmed up.' Amy made a huge mistake by rolling her pretty eyes. 'Fine,' Susan said. 'You want it dropped. You're grounded for two weeks. You will go to school, work and Mary Anne's and that is it. Any other time you will be here. See? That was easy. Consider it dropped.

-oOOo-

Jade knocked on Amy's door later that night. 'What gives?' She asked her little sister.

'The Salvation fucking Army.' Amy spat, not even looking at Jade.

'Oh aren't we a barrel of laughs? I mean what happened with you today?'

'I wagged school, played hooky, went truant.' Amy shrugged.

'I guessed that Amy. What I want to know is why?'

'Well for once something in the world will just have to happen without Jade Denton knowing the reason.'

'Are you in trouble?' Jade asked softly. 'Apart from with Mum I mean.'

'Nope.'

'Because if you are, you can trust me you know? I know you don't like being a girl but one of the good things has been how much closer we are.'

Amy looked up for the first time. 'I know,' she sighed. 'It's not me with a problem, If it was I'd tell you. I can't say any more because Katie has asked me to keep quiet.'

'Are you sure you're ok?' Jade asked.

'Yeah, I'm fine.' Amy smiled. 'Thanks for worrying though Jade. I really do feel closer to you now.'

'Do you?'

'Yeah, but if they can cure polio I'm sure a vaccine for what I have will be out soon.'

-oOOo-

Amy slid on her school dress the next morning, put her hair up in a pony tail and walked out of the house with out even looking at Susan. Parents weren't the only ones who could play the silent treatment. Katie was waiting for her at the bottom of the driveway. 'Hi Katie, how are you feeling this morning?' She asked rubbing the other girl's arm.

'I am happier about seeing that other doctor yesterday, she was pretty cool.'

'Yeah, at least she didn't treat you like a slut. I could kill Bennet for that.'

'I reckon for a moment there he thought you would kill him. You're a great friend Amy.'

'Do you know what you're going to do?'

'Well, Doctor Tims was right. I guess I should tell Steve and see what he thinks.'

'Hello. I said that days ago.' Amy said in mock hurt. 'Did you cop much shit from your parents?'

'One month grounded. You?'

'Two weeks,' Amy shrugged. 'But then I only have one parents anger to deal with.'

-oOOo-

The girls split up at school. Amy had a history lesson to go to and Katie took Spanish at that time.

'Hey Amy,' Danny called. 'Wait up.'

'Danny. I was hoping I'd see you. I can't come over to your house after school.'

'Shit,' the boy said. 'We still need to rehearse.'

'Well we're rehearsing with the rest of the class at lunch. I guess that will have to do.'

'You working again?' He asked as they walked to class.

'Nah, I got grounded for ditching school yesterday.'

'Bummer. Do you think your mum will mind if I come over to your place?'

Amy found herself wanting to tell Danny that her mother would kick him out but she couldn't. Why should she? She enjoyed the guy's company and where was the harm in that? 'We are doing something for school so she can't really complain.'

'Cool. I've got to go or I will cop another detention for being late. I'll see you later to get the address.' Danny threw her that killer smile and took off running.

-oOOo-

'Have you seen him yet?' Amy asked Katie in whispered tones, when the two met up for maths.

'Not yet.' Katie frowned. 'I think he's avoiding me.'

Probably, Amy thought, the guys a dick head. 'No way, he loves you.' She told her friend. 'He's probably just hanging with his buddies.'

'Amy,' A voice boomed across the room. 'This is a maths class, not a gossip session. Perhaps you'd like to share what you were saying with the whole class?' Mr. Davidson said.

'Ah, I'd rather not Sir. It's rather personal.'

'Listen up everyone. Miss. Denton is about to reveal some personal information. Go ahead.'

Amy shrugged and looked at Katie who just buried her head in a book. 'I was just…'

'Stand up please,' Davidson demanded. 'I'm sure the people in the back row want to hear it.'

Amy stood. 'I was just asking Katie if some one should tell you that your zipper is down Sir.' She said. 'I guess it's a moot point now though.' She sat to laughter from her fellow students.

'Erm… Turn to page 238 of your text books please class.' Davidson grumbled as he turned and pulled it back up.

-oOOo-

Amy had just enough time after rehearsal to rush to the toilet. She chose her stall, entered, pulled her dress up and her panties down and sat when she heard some one crying. It was strange, ever since she had been a girl she found it hard to pee when she knew others were listening. She sat there for a few minutes but nothing would come out. 'Will you just piss off,' she said to the phantom crier. But the tears kept coming and the urine didn't.

Eventually Amy gave up. 'Are your all right in there?' She asked as she knocked on the door of the only occupied stall.

'Amy?' The door opened and Katie was sitting on the toilet lid with tears streaming down her face.

'Either you told Steve and it didn't go well or you ate something from the cafeteria.' Amy said. She had noticed Katie hadn't turned up for rehearsals but thought that because she was only in charge of stage decoration she wasn't needed there.

'Men are arse holes.' Katie cried.

'Not all of them.' Amy wanted to say all of us but caught herself in time. 'But I take it Steve wasn't happy at the prospect of becoming a dad?'

'He told me that it was my problem.'

Amy put her arm around her friend. 'Prick,' was all she said.

'How could I be so stupid? Why didn't I see him for what he really is?'

'Well they say love is blind.'

'Yeah but it's not supposed to be retarded Amy. Do you know how it happened?'

'How you got pregnant? I have a fair idea.'

'No, I mean how we ended up doing it?'

'Tell me.'

'His parents were out one night and we had a few drinks from the booze cabinet. I was drunk before I even knew it. God, it wasn't even fun. Wham bam thank you ma'am. I was left wondering if that was it. And then I missed my period.'

'You can't go to classes in this condition Katie. Go home and I'll cover for you.'

'You sure?'

'Yeah. Go home and I'll call you tonight.'

'Thanks Amy,' the girl said, smiling weakly. 'I love you.'

Amy returned her hug, wiped the tears away with her hand and then headed off to class whispering 'I love you too Katie,' as she went.

-oOOo-

'Hey babe,' Steve said to Amy a little later.

'I'm trying to work out what’s smaller, your dick or your compassion.' Amy growled. 'So far your compassion is winning but it's close.'

'Jesus, keep it quiet.' Steve Ellis said taking her off to one side. 'I didn't do anything wrong.'

'No? How about getting an underage girl drunk and then taking advantage of her?'

'She was all over me,' Steve said defensively. '

That should have been a clue dick weed. You'd need to be off your face to find you sexy.'

.'Look Amy, it's really none of your business. It's between me and Katie.'

'No it's not you bastard. You used her, fucked her and dumped her. No she's pregnant you don't want to know her.'

'I said I'd help pay for an abortion.'

'Oh that's big of you. Let's stick a vacuum cleaner up your arse and put it to full mate. That'll give you a tiny idea what abortions are about. You better pray she doesn't have this baby because I will personally make sure you're named as the father and then tell Katie how to get you to pay for child support .'

'I don't have a job.' Steve grinned. 'She can have a hundred per cent of what I earn. Nothing.'

'There's one small flaw in that plan. The payments will last until the kids eighteen and even a dead head like you will probably have a job by that time. As for now, underage guy's parents have to cough up the cash. I bet that will make your mum and dad happy.'

'Are you finished?' He asked.

'Not quite. I want you to know that if you so much as look at Katie the wrong way I'll kick you in the balls so hard you'll have to open your mouth to take a piss.' Amy walked away leaving a speechless Steve standing with his mouth hanging open and fear in his eyes.

Finally something good about being a girl, Amy thought. If she had been Stuart and said the same things she had no doubt that she'd have at least one black eye and maybe a few cracked ribs. She felt powerful for the first time since opening the Jade Box.

-oOOo-

'Are we going to bury the hatchet?' Susan asked when Amy entered the house that afternoon.

'Yeah. I'm sorry mum. I can't tell you why I ditched school but please believe me when I say I had a good reason.'

'Ok.'

'What? You're going to let me off the hook?'

'You're still grounded but I hate arguing.' Susan said giving the girl a hug. 'If you have to take a day off school then at least let me know. I worry about you more now.'

'You're on. Listen, I have a friend coming over soon if that's ok. We are rehearsing a play for school.'

'Is this Mr. Pectorals from the other day?' Susan grinned.

'Yes it is. His name's Danny and he's a friend.'

'A cute friend.'

'I hadn't noticed.' Amy lied.

'Well you know you can invite him to Colleen and Phil's wedding. Jade's inviting a friend.'

'I didn't think she had any.' Amy giggled. 'I am going to get out of this bloody school dress. If Danny turns up please don't embarrass me.'

'Me?'

'Yes, you.'

"I wouldn't dream of it.' Susan said.

'No, of course you wouldn't dream of it. You'd just go right ahead and do it.'

'Well I have to get my fun somewhere.'

-oOOo-

 

 


2001
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