Casey; Que Sera, Sera

Que sera, sera was a popular song from the fifties, but somehow it is having a big impact on me in this year of 2017. The translation ‘Whatever will be, will be’ along with a few phrases in the song seemed to find their way into my life, and as hard as I tried to avoid them they persisted.

I managed to graduate from high school with my body intact. Sis had accomplished the same trick a year ago. The school was rough, mainly gangs, very little control from the school administration, the teachers the bottom of the bucket except for a couple. If you wanted to learn anything you pretty much had to teach yourself.

Graduating was a feat in itself, if you showed up to class they usually promoted you, that way they would not have to deal with you again the following year. Surviving the physical abuse was the trick though. We were mired in poverty, living on the edge of several gang territories in Atlanta.

Mom did her best, after Dad left she was devastated, but managed to somehow keep a roof over our head and second hand clothes on our backs. Often that entailed three part-time jobs to accomplish that task. I loved her for all she did for us, wishing I could somehow improve part of her life.

After Sis graduated she worked some to, fast food the only thing available to a poor girl in tatty clothes. Her added wages to the family fund made life a little more stable, but really didn’t change anything. The uniform they gave her at work the nicest clothes she has ever owned. You could see when she put it on the pride that showed on her face. I think the job helped her, but often times after a long shift, she came home tired and depressed.

The idea that her job might be the best she could achieve in her life very sobering to a young female. She managed to deal with the life dealt her, but you could see the depression often in her eyes as she tried to get by day to day.

Through one of Mom’s jobs, she learned of a program for poverty level students where they got tested to see if they qualified for any scholarships to further their education. Most of the grants were only for poorer students, but you had to meet certain standards, abilities, or intelligence. We definitely qualified on the poverty aspect. To me it was wasted motion, I am sure nothing would come from it.

Well Mom had other ideas, if it would get her kids out of the mire it was worth it. Any chance to break out had to be explored. So Sis and I traveled by bus across town to a full day of testing. An hour into the testing my head hurt, the questions were hard, all very thought provoking.

After her first test Lucy was taken to a different room and I didn’t see her again until the lunch break. My group was being given scenarios, and told to find a solution to the problem. Then they moved me and two other students to a room with computers in it. Since I had never used one before I was shown the basics, then a question on the screen would come up. An image next, then I had to find the item that would best go with it and chose it. I thought the questions were stupid, but I liked playing with the computer, so I continued. Then different color splotches, and I had to pick the color that would best coordinate with the one on the screen.

Then we moved to pictures of different people, each dressed in different outfits with varying hairstyles. I had to pick the one that made the person look the best. Then females with different makeup on, again I had to pick the one picture that made her look the best. It seemed to go on and on, like I said the computer was fun to play with.

I met up with Sis again as we were fed, a delicious meal, better than any school food, and much better than we could afford at home. Split again after lunch, I was given different things to match or put on a mannequin. All of this is on the computer. The figure was neither male nor female, the items were different wigs, items of clothing, and finally different accessories. Depending on the items given me sometimes the mannequin turned out looking female, sometimes male. I thought it was weird for a male to be doing this, this is something Lucy would like to play with.

I still harbored the thought this was a waste of time, but the free food and being out of the neighborhood was quite welcome. Then there was the computer I got to play with, a real treat for someone not ever using one before. At the end of the day, we were told that the results would be sent to a counselor in our area, and they would tell us what we would qualify for. We did get another delicious meal, I know I couldn’t pronounce any of the names of the food, but it was all very good. The bus ride back home was depressing, I doubt we would hear anything back from any of them. We were both stuck in our lives, with no hope of breaking out of the conditions that bound us to being poor.

Sis was able to get lost again in her job, but the sad expression I saw on her face every morning made me cringe. A life of this was facing all of us, working to just make ends meet, never getting ahead, and never leaving the situation we found ourselves in. Mom was getting weaker, the stress and exertion of three jobs was wearing her down at an alarming rate.

She never complained about her situation, her objective is to get us out of the downward spiral we were all in at the present. To work every day, then after the first job ended, on to her second job. It was usually after five when she finally came home, ate some of what one of us had warmed up, then she went off to bed.

I tried real hard to find a job for myself, so that I could contribute to the family and maybe give Mom some rest, at least from one of her jobs. After a week of hunting a job I knew why all of the young males joined a gang, that is all there is available for them. At a lot of places, they never looked up from their desk when I handed in the application. In fact, in several businesses when I asked for an application, I was refused. Told that I would be just wasting paper.

Then one day, they contacted Mom at one of her jobs, since we didn’t even have a phone. This was for Sis and me to come in for our evaluations. The counseling session would be held at our high school, so we dressed in our cleanest clothes, then rode the bus to the school. It was lunch time so we were fed then we both got called back fairly quickly after the meal. We met with the counselors and they talked with us.

They gave us our IQ’s, occupations we would excel in, our scores on individual sections of the test, then what scholarships we would qualify for. I tuned out the first part of the conversation, it didn’t make any difference if I was smart, the jobs would still be denied me.

When my lady counselor told me I qualified for a scholarship to learn cosmetology my one word statement was “huh?” She explained what a cosmetologist was, and what the scholarship provided for. When she gave me the description of what a cosmetologist was, I laughed in her face. “You do realize that I am a male, I wear things from the Goodwill store, so you have to be kidding me!” She was not phased a bit. You have one of the highest scores in this area, everything points to a great career in this field.

I stood up to leave the room, but she grabbed my arm. Sit here for a minute, let me get the lady on the phone that is offering the scholarship and please take a minute to talk to her. I mumbled a little, then agreed, the food here today was almost as good as the testing facility we had been sent to. I felt a little guilty, I would talk to her, but when I got home that would be the end of it.

The counselor and the lady on the phone talked a bit then the phone is handed to me. She introduced herself to me. “My name is Francine and I own a chain of beauty salons. I am interested in new people with an aptitude in this area. When some of the test administrators called me with your results I decided to offer the scholarship to you.” She stated it might not be my first choice, maybe not even your second choice, but she would like me to try it for a week.

“I will fly you out to Phoenix, put you up for a week so that you can see what a career in this field is like. I will include all of your expenses, maybe some sightseeing, seven days away from your present life. I really would like to meet you, please say you will come and see what it is about. No strings attached, if after the week you don’t want anything more to do with this that is fine.”

After she started talking, I hadn’t said a word, just listened. I decided to give it a try, a week away from this life, a gift to treasure. “I would like to see what it is all about, but I still don’t think I am cut out for this. So don’t get your hopes up, and to be truthful, any way to get out of this life for a week is worth the risk. I will take you up on your offer, just remember I am barely educated, know nothing about this field, and can’t see myself being a cosmetologist no matter what I learn.”

She thanked me for being truthful, she will send me the tickets and arrange everything. “I still want to meet with you and talk to you” she said. After I hung up the counselor again told me what is involved in the scholarship offer. It is two years of schooling/work study. All school expenses paid, plus room and board. The money I make in the work study is mine to do what I want with it.

Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I thought, since I can’t get a job here. But me as a hairdresser, that is just so wrong. I am not a sissy or gay, surely no normal male would do that for a living. A way to maybe help my Mom with expenses, I couldn’t help here with no job or prospects of one, but this can’t be right. It was quite a quandary, do I take a chance or just settle for what I can find around here.

I have to wait for Sis, she is still in with her counselor. Finally she comes out, smiling like she had just won the lottery. Since it is late her counselor takes us home, the bus stops running in our area right after six. Geez we were with the counselors for five hours, time sure does fly. We are quiet on the ride home, thanking the lady for giving us a ride.

We enter our apartment, Sis going to the kitchen to start making dinner. Mom will be home a little after seven tonight, so we try and have everything ready when she gets home. Mom looks tired when she walks in the door, but smiles when she sees us.

We eat first, then she asks us what we found out. I am not particularly proud of what I was offered, embarrassed is more likely the reason, so I insisted Sis go first.

“I was offered a four year scholarship for college, the only condition is I have to major in computer related studies. It includes room and board and a student job in the computer lab for me to earn some extra money. Most likely I will be offered a job when I graduate, at least that is what they are telling me.” By the time she has finished her last sentence she is bouncing up and down in her seat, obviously thrilled with her news. Mom gets up and embraces her, tears running down her cheeks. I can also see a sense of relief pass over her, at least one child getting a chance to escape the inevitable.

Things settle down and they look at me. I look down to the floor, my news nothing like my sisters. I try to not divulge much of the details, the embarrassment of getting a girly type of scholarship too much to admit to. I simple tell them that I have been offered a trip out west to talk to the people about my scholarship, a one week stay, then I will be told what it entails. I desperately hope they will accept that and not question me anymore.

I get a hug from Mom and a non-believing stare from Sis. I am sure there will be many questions from her once we get away from Mom. I tried to waylay some of the questions by telling her they are sending me the tickets.

“I am proud of you both, but if something comes up with a chance to get out of this situation you both better take it. If I find out that you have turned something down, there will be hell to pay. Do I make myself clear?” We both answered, “Yes Mom” very quickly. It was not Mom’s ‘I may let it slide voice’.

I stayed to help with the dirty dishes, Mom checking my forehead to see if I am running a fever. Sis is giggling away, she knows I am withholding something, and is planning how to extract it from me. I head to my bed, but Sis is right behind me. It is only a one bedroom apartment, Sis and Mom sleep in the bedroom and I sleep on the fold out couch. Before bed Sis and I often lay on the couch talking about our day. I know tonight it will be a full blown investigation, or should I call it an interrogation?

As I come out from the bathroom, Sis is waiting for me. I get a hug, we often exchange them, something between us that we both enjoy and treasure. She pats the couch by her and I lay down. She starts to ask a question, I just hold up my hand to stop her.

“Let me tell you what has transpired. Please no questions until I am through. The counselor offered me a two year scholarship to be a cosmetologist, all expenses paid. It is out west, it sounds good on the surface if I am a female, but for a male it is absurd. They say I have a propensity for that sort of career. I am not even sure what that word means. Well, I will get a vacation out of it, but I doubt I will accept the offer.”

Sis got off the couch situated herself right in front of my face and stuck her finger into my cheek. “Look her missy, you will take that offer, you will study hard and become the best cosmetologist you can be or so help me I will beat the shit out of you! If you think I am kidding, you better sharpen your self-defense skills. I will beat you to a pulp in a heartbeat if you don’t agree to this!” The last words were almost yelled at me, Mom heard them and came out of the bedroom.

“Is everything all right between you two?” Sis smiled, then looked at me with daggers in her eyes. I spoke up telling Mom that everything is fine, just Sis laying down the law to me again. A phrase we had used in the past when one of us is upset or mad.

Mom looked at me. “It might be a good idea if you listened to her, she often makes sense.” Mom returned to her bedroom, Sis hugged me and left me alone as she also went to the bedroom. Mom could only afford one twin bed and Sis slept on a day bed that had been salvaged from someone’s trash. I had bolted a couple of broken pieces together to repair it and Mom had spray painted the bed to hide the rust. The mattresses were from the secondhand store, all she could afford.

I laid there on the sofa for several hours, how could I accept being a hairdresser, typically a female or gay occupation. I am neither but everybody is telling me to go for it. Since I was getting a headache, I closed my eyes and was soon lost in dreamland. Thankfully, I remembered nothing of them the next morning, I am sure they would have been doozies.

Two days later an envelope was delivered with Sis having to sign for it, since it was sent express and I was in the bathroom. It is addressed to me, so I carefully opened it, expecting something to pop out of the envelope. Lucy, my sister, is looking over my shoulder at the contents. The airline tickets fall out of the letter on to the floor. Lucy is the first one to reach them squealing in delight when she sees they are first class tickets. “You lucky dog, first class tickets for your flight out there, I wonder what else you will get to experience on your trip.”

The letter was short and to the point, Francine is sending a shuttle to pick me up and take me to the airport. The flight is tomorrow, the shuttle will pick me up at eight A.M. so that I will be at the airport in time for my noon flight. I am surprised, I didn’t think she would send first class tickets, spending this kind of money on me is utterly ridiculous. I told her I doubted I would accept the offer, I can’t see myself as a hairdresser.

Mom had just gotten up and came in to see what all the commotion is about. She read the letter, looked at the tickets, then both Lucy and her went to where I kept my clothes. Mom was mumbling to herself, throwing out clothes that did not meet her standards. Unfortunately, there was none left when she finished rejecting torn or worn out clothing. She stood there thinking, then Lucy had to open her big mouth. Maybe Casey can wear some of my pants and tops, they are not that feminine, but also not as worn or holey.

That said, they moved to her closet. This was not good at all, I knew my stuff was worn, Sis getting more clothes than me because she is working. I had no trouble with that, all I did was hang around the apartment, except for when I applied for some jobs. They came back a few minutes later with their choices, I frowned seeing them, this is going to be worse than I thought. I was made to try them on, they fit alright, since Lucy and I are relatively the same size.

I looked at my image in the one mirror we had in the apartment, let out a big sigh, but had to admit it didn’t look that girlish. I was sure that Mom would not let me go with any of my male clothes, so I kept quiet, accepting my fate and their choice of clothes. We had one small carry-on type of bag that was to be my suitcase. We normally used it to go to the grocery store, since we had to ride a bus to get there, and the grocery bags usually did not hold up to the return trip on the bus.

Since the flight is tomorrow I was sent off to take a shower, the bath tub in the apartment not good for anything but to stand in while showering. When I got out Mom was there, inspected me and then made me shower again this time washing my hair and using a conditioner on it. “Gee, this is only an interview tomorrow, ease up Mom.”

Lucy dried my hair, using the fan we used in the summer to cool the apartment. Then she brushed it over and over till it shined. I tried to put it in a ponytail for sleeping, but she wanted the ponytail higher on my head, redoing it and fastening the rubber band. She told me tomorrow she would let me use one of scrunchies, for the trip. I knew this was important to her, she only had two, and babied them to make them last longer. She was giving me one to use, I guess a gesture on her part to help me make a good impression.

I didn’t sleep much, too many thoughts running through my mind, although being this clean probably contributed to not being able to sleep. Lucy woke me the next morning around six, dragged me out of bed and helped me to dress. All the time I was trying to fight her off, but she would have none of it. Finally she smiled, that will have to do. My hair is in a very high ponytail, with her favorite scrunchie holding it. As she was putting it in my hair she told me it was for luck.

I was set down at the kitchen table and then she started the speech that I expected Mom to give me. “Casey whatever you do please be polite to the lady, this is a big chance for you to do something with your life. Francine seems to be a nice lady so do not foul this up. Be yourself, not what you are around here trying to be something you are not. Talk with her, try out the hairdresser thing, but keep an open mind. You can refuse the scholarship if you feel it is not right for you, but I will never talk to you again if you do. We both have been offered a chance of a lifetime to better ourselves, they don’t come often, so think before you act. I love you, and I will miss you, even though it is only for a week. We heard a beep outside, the shuttle must be here. I got a kiss, then Mom came running out to give me a kiss and a hug before I went down the stairs to my ride.

The driver took my bag, opened the door for me than returned to his seat. There was one other passenger, a very beautiful lady, dressed elegantly. She gave me a wonderful smile, then asked where I was headed. I told her Phoenix. “Do you have relatives or just visiting?”

I told her I had an interview for a scholarship out there, the smile I got in return even bigger. Several more passengers joined us later, so we didn’t talk much on the trip to the airport. Fifty minutes later we arrived, the driver got us our bags, and then I made my way into the terminal. It was so big, I was suddenly lost and afraid. She was right behind me pulling her cart with her luggage on it. I started to wander off, but she steered me to the Southwest Air counter. We both are flying to Phoenix, this is our airline, so get in line.

“Give them your ticket, and if you want your luggage checked, that also. Since you have only one bag it will fit under the seat if you wish.” I gave the guy at the counter my ticket, he checked it then punched it. I decided to keep my bag, and I turned to leave.

She stopped me, “wait over there we have the same flight, and we can go to the gate together. I stepped to the side while she got her ticket and her luggage checked, she kept out a small bag from her several suitcases to carry with her. She grabbed by hand, “let’s go we can get our boarding passes, then how about a beverage before we get on the plane.”

I realized I had no money so I declined, but she apparently didn’t listen to me. We went through security, her telling me what I had to do, before we got there. I had nothing in my pockets, but they still had me reach in and turn the pockets inside out. I didn’t even have a belt on, so that was not an issue. But taking off my shoes was embarrassing. Lucy had lent me a pair of hers, a little tight, but in much better shape than mine. When I had taken the shoes off, the long pants legs no longer covered them, exposing them as ladies flats. They had a cute bow on the vamp, hidden most of the time with the pants, but now quite visible.

As quickly as I could, I put them back on, resettling my pants to cover the bows. Stephanie was right behind me, steering me to the counter at the gate. She handed both of our tickets to the agent, asking for seats together. We got our passes and she dragged me to one of the concessions down from the counter. I tried to refuse, but she insisted on getting me something. I asked for a water, hoping there would be no charge for it. To my surprise I got a diet coke instead. I looked up at her, her heels making her taller than me. She smiled, “Just drink it.” I did it tasted real good, another treat we seldom got to experience.

She suggested the restrooms before we boarded, I headed off to the men’s restroom, but she stopped me, pointed to the ladies, a much better choice. I look puzzled, “With your shoes and slacks no one will know, but you may have a little trouble if you use the men’s.” I started to tell her that I was male, she just touched my lips with her fingers and led me to the ladies. There was not anyone else in there, so it was not a problem. I used a stall since there is nothing else available, then waited for her, not knowing what to do next, and not wanting to be alone if I ran into someone.

She stopped to wash her hands, I did the same to occupy my time. She fixed her lipstick then turned to me. “Let me put a little lipstick on you, it will make you less conspicuous. It won’t kill you, you will live through it I promise.” She had me pout my lips, then applied a coat, blotted it then another coat. I didn’t pull away, she had this way about her, and I trusted her. I ran my tongue over it, it tasted funny, but not that bad, and I turned to see my image in the mirror and nearly collapsed. All I saw was a pretty young girl, wearing lipstick. My top, the high ponytail all adding to my new image.

She had my hand leading me out of the restroom, giggling away. When we got back to the counter they were calling our flight, so she led me to the gate after we had picked up our bags. I was still in a daze, any thinking about anything, impossible due to the short circuiting in my brain.

We found our seats stowed our bags under the seats, and got comfortable. When things settled down after the pre-flight warnings, I turned to her to thank her for helping me, and I even thanked her for the lipstick. That is something so far fetched from the normal Casey persona.

She asked if it was my first time wearing any, I nodded in the affirmative. “I am sure it won’t be your last, you look really cute in it. By the way I love your hair, it is so pretty. You could do with a salon appointment to make it look better.” Her giggling at that last comment contagious, even I giggled a little. Imagine me wearing lipstick all the time and getting my hair styled that is funny. The weird part, is I never regretted her putting the lipstick on me, even several times running my tongue over my lips to savor the feel and taste.

The flight is four hours, I relaxed a little, then apparently fell asleep. The stewardess asking if I wanted lunch waking me up. I nodded my head too sleepy for words. “Here you are miss, enjoy your meal.” Then the stewardess right behind her asked what I wanted to drink. I replied water, but Stephanie told her that I would take a diet coke instead. The stewardess checked if that was what I wanted, then handed me the coke. I had told her, yes, please and got your welcome ma’am in return.

The flight wound down as the engines made a lot of racket as they reversed, slowing down the plane drastically. Then with a jolt the wheels touched down and the plane taxied to the terminal. When it stopped everyone rose from their seats and grabbed their bags from under the seats and from the overheads. Stephanie grabbed my hand, with her other hand holding her bag and her purse. We were one of the first to depart, down the ramp, then through the gate. I was looking for Francine to pick me up, but Stephanie steered me towards the center of the terminal.

She stopped then leaned over to whisper in my ears, “Francine is not coming. When she found out I am on the same flight as you, she asked me to pick you up and take you to her house. I am one of her salon managers here for some more training, so we are going to the same place. Now let’s get my bags and then a rental car, and we can head to her house. Is that okay with you?”

I nodded my head in the affirmative, then followed her to the baggage claim area. I was just glad to be in someone’s company, the airport is a scary place. She grabbed a cart and loaded her own bags, although I tried to help, then set off to the rental car area. She had a reservation so it was only a few minutes before we were at her car. I helped her to put her luggage in the car, then went to the passenger side to get in. In my eighteen years on this planet, this is only the fourth time I have ridden in a car. Now buses I was very familiar with, that being the only means of transportation for families that are poor. That or walking the only transportation we could afford.

She seemed to know her way, and in a little over an hour we pulled up outside a huge ranch house. From the driveway it seemed to go on forever, I could hardly see the other end of the house. I got out of the car and followed Stephanie into the house. She didn’t knock just opened the door and walked in. We were greeted by two very beautiful females, both quite tall and dressed elegantly. I was quickly hugged, the taller lady almost squeezing the life out of me.

Then she pushed me back a little to take a closer look at me, “My name is Francine. It is so good to finally meet you Casey. We are anxious to get to know you better, your week with us will be quite enjoyable I think. This lady next to me is Dallas, the individual that runs all of my companies and of course you know Stephanie. Incidentally, I love you lipstick it looks so good on you.”

The blush made me stagger, that much blood running to your face bound to cause problems with the rest of the body. Before I could respond I am smothered in another hug from Dallas, then kissed on the cheek. “We are going to have so much fun this week, I know you will be pleased. After being released from the hug and managing to take another breath I looked at the three. I have never seen three females so friendly and outgoing. They asked Stephanie about her trip then we walked down a hall to some bedrooms. I was shown mine, then Stephanie walked into another. I presume she has stayed here before since she seems quite comfortable and knows her way around.

My bedroom is huge, almost as big as our whole apartment. I laid my bag on the floor, then looked around. Although the room was not overly feminine there was a vanity, a table with a computer set up on it, and two dressers. The walk-in closet had female clothes in it, apparently from a previous guest, but quite large. The view from the window is spectacular. The foothills behind her house quite beautiful with some cactus silhouetted against the backdrop of a late afternoon sky.

Stephanie showed up, telling me that I needed to hang up my clothes so they would not wrinkle. I smirked, I doubt she knows they are always wrinkled, a fact of life for the poor. She opened my bag and started removing the clothes. She laid them on the bed as she went through them, then folded them back up neatly and placed them back in the bag. She turned to me. “I need you to take off your clothes, everything except your underwear.” I looked startled, but with her tone of voice I figured I better do it. It was said with a sense of authority, expecting the one she was talking to do as she says. I took off the top and pants she folded them neatly and placed them in my bag. She zipped it up and put it in the closet.

She took my hand and led me into the closet and looked for something for me to wear. I was red in the face, truthfully red in more than the face. She handed me a nice pair of ivory slacks, then a top in burgundy with ivory trim around the sleeves and neck. I stood there looking at her like what am I supposed to do. Giggling she said you need to put them on and then come out to the vanity. I did, the sensations of the soft luxurious fabric making me woozy, it is like I am being caressed.

I walked out to the vanity, set down and tried to think pure thoughts, every nerve in my body is sending sensations to my mind, causing a burning smell to emanate from it. She removes my scrunchie, laying it on the vanity, then starts brushing my hair like Lucy did. I close my eyes and just melted, it feels so good, if I could purr, they would hear me in the next county. She uses a couple of barrettes in my hair, then hands me her lipstick and tells me to redo my lips.

Looking in the mirror most of it had worn off, so I applied another coat, blotted it, then did it again. Stephanie smiled and led me to the dining room for something to eat. It was set up as a buffet, both hot and cold items. My eyes must have looked as big as saucers with all the choices available. Another giggle, not just from Stephanie, but also from Francine and Dallas. They suggested that I take a little of everything, that way I could decide what I liked the best.

The food is so good, I cleaned my plate in no time, halfway through I remembered my manners and ate slower. I saw the ladies ate with one hand and kept their other hand in their lap. I tried to emulate them, keeping my hand in my lap, hard to do when the food is so good and I am so hungry. I usually ate with one hand but the other hand is always occupied with the water glass, or a roll. I noticed they didn’t get anything else from the buffet, but Dallas leaned over telling me to get more if I wanted. “Females have to watch their figures, so no seconds for us.”

Their figures were gorgeous, I don’t understand why they had to watch them. I got up and added a few more spoonfuls of the best tasting items, but I did limit what I took. I could eat there all night if they would let me. They tried to include me in their conversation, but one and two word answers was the limit and the extent of my participation, being that I was occupied with the delicious food.

After dinner Stephanie and Dallas went to an office down the hall and discussed business, At least that is what they said they were going to do. Francine took me to the living room, had me sit on the couch and after getting a notepad set right next to me. “You and I need to talk some. All of my employees know that I want to learn as much as I can about them, their families, their education and their life. So tonight, you are going to tell me everything. I am interested in you, and for me to be able to help you, I need to know these things. It will not change the scholarship I offered you, but it might make the relationship between you and me more comfortable.”

She just looked at me, I tried to look away from her, but she raised my chin so that I was looking at her face, then nodded. At first I was scared, but she made no comment about what I told her, so I gave her the whole story, including things about Sis, and how hard Mom is working trying to keep a roof over our heads. She asked about school, what courses I liked, how I related to the other kids. She shook her head several times, when I mentioned tough times, but never made a comment. She asked about any hobbies, if I could use a computer, about Lucy’s scholarship. I made the necessary replies, but didn’t overdo it.

I liked Francine a lot, she didn’t make judgments, didn’t make comments that might bother you, just listened and took everything in. After I had wound down some she suggested some hot chocolate, my smile the only answer she needed. We went to her kitchen, and I set at one of the bar stools while she made the drink. I had only had the treat once before, just a mix added to water, but this tasted so much better, the milk she used made the drink exquisite.

She took me to her office, had me sit behind her desk, and showed me how to get on the internet, then how to browse and search. I was fascinated, the computer at the testing place was fun, but this is worlds different. She set in another chair in front of her desk while I browsed the internet. She is writing on her pad and watching me intently. I look over at her and her eyes are focused on me. “Do you want me to stop, this is fun but maybe you need to use the computer?”

“No I am fine, I can’t believe your schools didn’t offer any computer training in this day and age. Can you tell me about the apartment that you’re family lives in and where in Atlanta is it located?”

“Mom can only afford a one bedroom apartment, it has a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. Mom and sis sleep in the bedroom and I sleep on the couch in the living room. The bathroom has only a shower, since the tub faucets don’t work. The apartment is located on the fringe of downtown Atlanta, kind of between two rival gang areas. Usually they are fighting among themselves, so we tend to be left alone. If we had anything of value we wouldn’t have it for long, the stealing in the area is pretty bad. The buses stop running at dark, too dangerous to do so afterward.”

A few more notes were written on her pad, then she asked me what I wanted to do tomorrow. “Do you want to sight see some, maybe go to a ballgame, what would you really like to do.” I thought for a minute, then responded.

“I want to find out more about being a cosmetologist, whether I might be able to study to be one. They said there was some work study involved where I could make some money for myself. I need to be able to send some money to Mom, she is getting worn down, three part-time jobs for the last four years is affecting her health and she is always tired. I need to help her somehow, since I can’t get a job back home, this way I can send her some money to help with expenses, so she can quit one of her jobs.”

Francine wrote some more things in her pad, then said take another hour on the computer, then off to bed. “We will leave for the salon at eight A.M. We will see what you can do and you can see what is involved. Is that okay?” I nodded my head and then went back to the computer. Forty minutes later I turned it off and went to my bedroom. Francine had left earlier to talk to Stephanie, so I was alone as I made my way to the bedroom.

When I entered I saw some clothes laid on the bed with a note attached from Stephanie. I was to put the clothes I had on now in the laundry basket in the bathroom and take a bath. Then put on the sleepwear and get into bed. If I needed any help, her bedroom is just next door. I did as the note said, the bath was awesome, the water had bubbles in it withot me doing anything, so by the time I lowered myself into the tub the bubbles nearly covered my body. They smelled good, a flowery scent that clung to my body. I am reluctant to get out, the hot water and the scent felt heavenly.

I was ashamed too, a male enjoying a bubble bath and smelling like flowers, unheard of. Back in my neighborhood I would be beaten regularly for any such action. I did enjoy it though, what does that make me?

I eventually got out, dried off and made my way back to the bed. The pajama top looked huge, but the feel of the material was wonderful. When I picked it up to slip it on, a pair of underwear fell out. It matched the shirt, so I slipped it on. That feeling of the soft material on my body made me sigh. I am guessing they are a type of panties, and the shirt is a female’s sleep shirt, but I didn’t care at the moment. I snuggled under the covers, the slick sheets so cool feeling and comfortable. Within minutes I remembered nothing, sleep overcoming my need to think things through. All of this just so wrong for a male, but feeling so good at the same time.

Stephanie woke me the next morning, having to pull off my covers to get my full attention. “Come on, let’s get moving, a big day ahead for you. I have laid your clothes for the day on that chair. Hair in a ponytail please, we will work on it at the salon. You have twenty minutes to get ready and I will meet you in the kitchen.”

I looked for my bag, I am sure Stephanie had put it in the walk-in closet yesterday, but now there is no sign of it. I walked over to the chair, pants, a blouse, and a pair of panties are there, neatly folded with a pair of flats on the floor in front of it. Reluctantly I dressed in the items, thankful in a way to be able to wear nicer clothes than what I brought with me. The panties and the silky blouse the hardest to get accustomed to. I knew they were clothes for a female and I was a male, but the silkiness and the fact that they were new won out. I don’t remember ever having anything new in my life, everything either hand me downs or from thrift stores.

I brushed my hair in the bathroom using the scrunchie from yesterday, then checked my appearance and went to find Stephanie. I was handed a burrito, made with eggs and sausage, and a bottle of water, and then hustled out to her car. As we made our way to the salon, Steph told me that this salon is one of five in the Valley of the Sun, but is the largest of the group. When we got to the salon my jaw hit my chest. The place was huge, the parking lot nearly full, lots of people inside being taken care of. I followed behind her, taking time to gawk at the customers and the stylists. Everywhere I looked there is more stylists, some in individual rooms, others at stations spread out over the floor of the salon. Their pink and burgundy outfits clearly identifying them as employees.

Stephanie had to slow down several times to let me catch up, my head swiveling around trying to take it all in. Finally she grabbed my hand and led me on back to an office at the back of the salon. She walked right in, pointing to a chair in front of the desk. I sat there trying to process all that I saw on the way in, my mind clogged with all the scenes I saw, even some male customers getting makeup and curlers in their hair was the most I remembered.

Francine came in next, sitting behind the desk, trying to get my attention. “Casey you have to wake up, you will have time later to process what you have seen, we need to show you some things and get your feet wet, so that we can see how this is going to work. None of this is a test, I just want to see how much talent you might have and if you accept the scholarship where we need to start your training. Stephanie has taken a liking to you so she will show you some things then we will set you up with a place to show us what you can do. Have fun with it, do your best and we will talk about all of it later.”

Another short walk, to a more private room, around the corner from Francine’s office. Stephanie slipped a short apron over her dress had me sit in a chair then leaned the chair back. This room had mirrors everywhere, so that I could see what she is doing from several different directions. She washed my hair, then added a conditioner, telling me what she is doing. I watched her in the mirrors, as she performed the steps.

Placing the chair back up in the upright position she combed my hair, then sectioned it off. Going through each section she released it combed it straight, then cut it. Then to the next section, working from the back of my neck forward to my forehead. When she had finished with the cut she started placing curlers in my hair. That got my attention real quick, she continued, but never explained why. It was a private room, so I tried to stay calm, but I had many questions, number one why a male would be getting his hair in curlers?

I like Stephanie, she is a lot like my sister, helping me but making sure that I behave also. I withheld my comments, but watched even more intently to see what else she is going to do to me. After she had completed that task, she started working on my nails. Filing them, removing something from around the edge of my nails, and then applying polish to them. A clear coat first, then two coats of color, followed by another clear coat. I couldn’t believe how they looked, the light shining off them as I moved my fingers.

I was moved to another chair under a dryer, and she turned it on giving me a hairstyles book to look at while my hair dried. Boy, I would have never thought I would end up in a salon, hair in curlers, under a dryer looking at a hairstyle book with polished nails in a vibrant pink. I wasn’t sure whether I should be upset or happy to be pampered, but the tears were threatening to make their way down my cheek, none the less.

When the dryer clicked off she had me move back to the styling chair, and removed the curlers. She brushed it lightly, just teasing the curls a little without pulling the curl out completely. As she did more and more of the curls, I was amazed at my transformation. Anything masculine disappeared and a cute young girl appeared in the mirror.

She had me stand up, asked if I had been watching everything she had done, then pointed to a life size mannequin in another chair at the back of the room. It had hair similar in length to mine, and finger nails slightly longer than mine. “She is all yours, take as much time as you want, but I want you to do the same thing with her as I did to you. If you want to make changes be my guest.”

“It is nine o’clock now, we will take lunch at one so have fun, and you can’t damage anything or ruin anything so just have some fun. There is a computer if you want to look something up on the counter, similar to the one you used last night. I have a class I need to take, so I will be busy for a while. Both Francine and Dallas will be by to watch for a while, but don’t let them bother you.” I received a hug and she was gone. I sat down hard in the chair, yeah no pressure at all.

I figured I would have some fun so I started by moving the mannequin to the styling chair. I doubted I could do what Steph had done to me, but it will kill some time. I really didn’t want someone to peek over my shoulder so I closed the door to the room. In the past, at high school that has happened several times, so maybe with the door closed I wouldn’t attract as much attention.

I leaned the chair back, washed the hair several times, and applied conditioner after carefully rinsing the shampoo out. I liked running my fingers through the hair, it just felt right somehow. I rinsed the conditioner out then toweled dry the hair. I set the chair back up and sectioned the hair. It took me a couple of minutes to be able to grip the comb right, and hold on to the hair until I could clip it together.

After finishing that, I looked in the mirror at my hair seeing how Stephanie had cut my hair, focusing on the length of each layer. I sighed, started on the lower neck and tried to emulate what Stephanie had done for me. Every once in a while I checked the length from side to side to make sure I was cutting it even across the head. When I had finished the hair on the mannequin is very similar to my cut. I started on the curlers, it took me several attempts before I could even roll the hair and not have it look like half of the hair was not in the curler.

Another sigh, when the last roller went in. Now for the hard part, the manicure. That was the name Stephanie used for what she did to my nails. Filing the nails was not too hard, although I had to straighten out a couple where I did not have them even. The cuticle part was a little more adventuresome. I learned the word cuticle from the bottle that Stephanie had got the liquid from. I did as she had done pushing back the extra skin, then watching it dissolve so that I could wipe it off.

The first attempt at putting on the polish was a disaster, even a kid could stay within the lines when coloring, and I was not even close. Then I thought at how Stephanie had her hands when applying the polish. When I laid the palm of my hand flat, it was much easier. I had four nails that I had to redo, it took me several minutes to find the polish remover to be able to get the disaster off, so that I could try again. This time I managed to stay within the lines, and was able to add the other coat, then the topcoat.

I looked at the time on the computer, I still had over an hour, so I decided that I would try some makeup. It was on the counter top at the side of the room, so fair game for me to play with. While I was figuring what makeup I wanted to use I checked the dryness of the hair, deciding it needed a few more minutes to dry. I had done the manicure with the mannequin under the dryer, like I had seen some of the stylists do as I walked into the salon.

I picked a few things that I figured that I could handle, laid them to the side, then went back and removed the mannequin from the dryer. Back in the stylist chair, I removed the curlers, then looked at the mass of curls before me, trying to think what I could do to be a little different. I tried the brush through some of the curls at the side of the head, pulling the curl up with a slightly smooth side. It looked good so I looked for something to help keep the hair that way. I found some pins on the counter and carefully pinned the curls near the top, leaving the side somewhat smooth, although it was still slightly puffed out.

I brushed the top curls up arranging them in neat little circles all over the top of the head. Those also were pinned to keep them in place. I tried the front curls several different ways, but ended up brushing them forward, then to the right side. Now for the back, I tried several different things, not liking anything I tried. I finally decided to pull the curls straight back and up, then teasing them lightly to drop a little like tendrils. The hair could have been a little longer, but I liked the look.

Now for my attempt at makeup. I knew that I liked when Stephanie added lipstick to my lips at the airport, feeling guilty that I liked it. Ever since I flew out here, nothing has made sense to me. I didn’t make a scene when I was given different clothes to wear, enjoyed the lipstick, and loved the female sleep shirt, wondering if I would have the same one tonight or something different. Just too weird, but at the same time fun. I applied some mascara to the mannequin’s lashes, using several coats to make them look darker. I had seen Stephanie apply it to her own lashes at the airport, so I tried to duplicate what she had done.

Then a little blush on my customer’s cheeks, taken off and reapplied when I got it too near the nose. I giggled when I thought of the mannequin as my customer, but that is exactly what it would have been as a person. Thankfully there was a box of makeup wipes for that purpose on the counter next to where the pins were. Then lipstick using a darker pencil to outline the lips, then a lighter shade to fill it in. Since it is a mannequin, I didn’t bother to blot the lips.

Stephanie was not back yet, so I took the mascara to my own lashes, just to see what I would look like. Well that didn’t work out because I ended up sticking the brush right in my eye. Alright fall back and let’s try that again. Second time I almost messed it up again, but managed to get some where it should be. It took me twenty minutes to get enough on my eyes to show up, blinking my lashes looking so seductive. After the fight with the mascara, the blush got dropped, so I just did my lips in the burgundy outline and the light red lipstick. This time I did blot and reapplied the lipstick. I heard the door open, and Stephanie came in looking gorgeous. It turned out she was here for a class in new cosmetics that the salons were going to carry. While she was telling me this she walked around the mannequin looking at it very closely. “Have you had any help” I told her no, I was just playing around.

She excused herself for a minute and came back in ten minutes with Dallas and Francine in tow. Both had their faces done in the new makeup, looking quite beautiful. I complimented them on their looks, but Francine wanted to know who I had talked into helping me.

I looked at the floor, whispering that I had no help, also telling her that people around me when I am doing something bothers me. Francine and Dallas both conferred on the other side of the room. I couldn’t understand what was said. Meanwhile, Stephanie was smiling as if she had just had a tasty meal, one that was too good to be ignored. She touched my lips, checked my mascara, telling me that I needed a little more on my top lashes. She handed me the mascara and watched as I applied another coat to the top lashes.

Francine suggested we go to her office, she had some things to talk over with me. This time I was told to sit on the sofa, with her right next to me. “I have seen many students over the years, some good, some with skills so good that they spent only months getting their license. You, however, have blown all of them away. You will take my scholarship, there is no discussion on that any more. I have made your mind up for you, your skill and ideas are way ahead of a lot of my stylists I have working for me now. You just need some of the basic anatomy and hair care courses. Now are you going to be a problem, or will you cooperate with me?”

I giggled a little. “Okay, I will accept your scholarship, and I just hope you will not be disappointed with me later. It is fun, I had a ball today, almost forgetting where I came from and my family. I do want to earn some money so that I can help my Mom though.”

“What type of jobs does your mother have?”

She works as a cook at one place, at another she is a waitress, and her last job is as an assistant in a beauty salon. She cleans, does their laundry, and restocks the supplies for the salon. The owner is nice enough to allow her to get phone calls there, since we have no phone at home.” Francine looked at Dallas and before she left the room, she told us that she had to make one phone call, but would be right out.” Stephanie suggested lunch, my stomach growling its approval.

Steph and I walked to the front reception desk, and she picked up one of the salon’s weekly newsletters. She opened it up to the next to back page where new employee arrivals were listed. “I will get your picture here next week, since you will be joining the group, but I think we need to work on your appearance some. The hair could use some more work, and you definitely need to practice with your makeup.”

“You want my picture as a female? I am a male you know, maybe not much of one but never the less a male.” Stephanie has offered me many opportunities to dress like a female and I have not refused her, I wonder if she sees me as a female. I am sure that the scholarship is for the male Casey, but yet they haven’t said anything either about the clothes, lipstick, and mascara. I presume the curly hair was a test to see if I could do something like that on my own.

Stephanie leaned over near me, talking quietly. “Who do you see yourself as? If I remember correctly you put the mascara and lipstick on yourself, after your session with the mannequin. Don’t look down at the floor when someone calls you on some incident. You like it, and you know it. So let’s own up to it and be the best person that you can be, whether male or female. Okay.”

I nodded my head, but she still had to raise my chin till I was looking at her. “Remember what I said.”

Francine came up from her office and we headed to her car. As we were driving to a restaurant Francine told Stephanie to enroll me in the makeup class that they were sponsoring at the salon. You can teach Casey this afternoon what she missed this morning. Then tomorrow morning she can join us. I looked at Francine, puzzled at what she said, then over to Stephanie who was giggling at me. “Well no time like the present to work on your makeup skills. By the end of the week you will be gorgeous.”

I immediately looked at the floorboard, but Stephanie calling my name made me look up. She smiled then looked out the other window. I swallowed hard, I can see where she isn’t going to let me forget her advice anytime soon. The restaurant was a little Italian place, small but cozy. We were seated and given menus. I looked at the selections and almost choked. The cheapest thing was seven dollars, my family could eat for three days on seven dollars. I looked up to say something but Stephanie’s look made me swallow those words.

I decided on the spaghetti with meatballs, then Stephanie told the waitress that I would have the side order of spaghetti and meatballs, and a small salad. I looked over to her, she was trying hard to stifle a giggle, but not succeeding very well. When the waitress left the table to turn in the orders, Steph leaned a little closer, you now have to watch your figure, smaller entrees and a salad pretty much a requirement for a young female to stay attractive. I started to object, the hard look I got from her killed that thought instantly.

“If you are going to be wearing makeup, and have a cute hairstyle you will have to wear female clothes. To stay attractive in those clothes you will have to curb your appetite and eat healthier. Now do you understand?” I nodded, but this time remembered to look at her and not at the floor.

Both Francine and Steph ordered salads with chicken on them served with a tomato sauce to use as a dressing. It looked good, but then anything I hadn’t had looked real good now. We talked a little more Francine then suggested that Steph and I go horseback riding tomorrow afternoon after the makeup class. The thought of me on a horse made me laugh, yeah right, I doubt you could even convince me to try it. Then I doubted I would stay on one long, probably falling off right after I got on.

When we got back to the salon, Dallas met us at the door and Francine and her went back to the office talking. I thought I heard my sister’s name in the small part I was able to hear. Steph dragged me to a private room, handed me some makeup wipes and told me to cleanse my face real good. She had brought in a tray loaded with makeup, different than what was left in the other room. We set down in chairs facing mirrors and she asked me if I had to shave often. I blushed but told her I had nothing there to shave, not even one stinking whisker. She handed me a cream and told me to apply it to where a male usually has a beard, then let it set for thirty minutes.

While that was doing its thing she had me pluck my eyebrows. The first one hurt a lot, in fact they all hurt. Steph told me eventually the pain would not be sufficient to be felt, a few months and I would not even think about it. I am not sure if I want to continue to pluck my eyebrows, but maybe dressed as a female all the time might require that procedure. She didn’t get carried away with what she told me to take out, but it sure changed the appearance of my face. My eyes became more noticeable my forehead less conspicuous.

Then she picked out my colors, from the large selection on the tray. As she tried a spot of each to make sure they accented my features and not detracted, the selections were set in front of me. Then she pointed in what order they were to be applied to my face. I thought she was going to put the cosmetics on for me, but she had other ideas. I had to remove the cream on my beard area, then a moisturizer and I was ready for the makeup. The first one is a concealer, she explained its uses and where it is usually applied and with what. Then she handed it to me and told me to get started. I just looked at her, “Aren’t you going to help me?”

She smiled. “I am helping you. I told you where to use it and why, it is your face and you need to learn to do this for yourself, so get started.” I frowned, actually it was more like a pout, Stephanie giggling at my facial expressions. I used my finger and applied it where she told me to. It seemed to be too heavy so I rubbed it a little more and it smoothed out so that it didn’t look I had any on. The spots I had put it on did look brighter, the darker areas now gone.

As I moved through the selections each one done in the same way. I applied too much eye shadow, it obviously showed so she handed me some makeup wipes and told me to clean all of the makeup off my face. After completing that she smiled and told me to start over again from the concealer. That happened twice more before she was happy with my makeup. I enjoyed the mascara and the lipstick the most, licking my lips to taste the lipstick after I applied it. Stephanie smiled, then told me to go to Francine’s office and show her what I did.

As I walked down the aisle I was nervous, proud of what I accomplished, and somewhat ashamed of letting myself doing something so feminine. I peeked into her office and without looking up she told me to come on in. I walked over to her desk, and stood waiting for her to finish her work. She looked up at me, then got up and came around to hug me, holding me very tight, just like what Mom and Sis did back home. She saw me wavering and moisture in my eyes. “Don’t you dare cry and ruin that beautiful face.”

We moved to the couch and set down. Her right beside me holding my hand tightly. “Do you like how you look? You make a very pretty girl you know. I think for your time here it would be better if you stayed as a female, the way you move, your hand movements, your voice, all of those things very feminine. I won’t push the issue, but if you want to I would be very supportive of having a female Casey for my pupil.”

“I don’t have any female clothes to wear, Stephanie has been nice enough to let me wear what is in my room, but I can’t keep borrowing them, the owner will be upset.”

Francine giggled, “Those clothes are yours so let’s not hear about not having clothes again. As you get comfortable in your stay, we will let you pick out some clothes that you like from our store. So now that is settled let’s talk about your beautiful face.

When we get through I want you to walk through the salon, observe the faces of my stylists and the customers and then find a mirror and look closely at yours. You are very pretty, and as a female you are gorgeous. Your makeup confirms that the woman underneath is totally female from the inside out. Anybody can put makeup on, but the inner beauty is what makes the makeup spectacular” she concluded.

I thought of lots of things as I walked through the salon, taking time to look at the faces of the stylists and their customers. Since I have accepted the scholarship, I wonder where I will be staying. Dressing as a female might make living alone a bit of a problem. How does a female react, what does she do, how will I be perceived by others? All questions to find answers to. I also need to find out more about my chance to work some, the need to help Mom a major concern for me.

There were quite a few totally beautiful faces in the salon. I know several of them were male, but a lot of them were a question mark. All of her stylists dressed and acted like girly gurls, walking around in their towering heels, making their customers even more gorgeous. When I made it back to where I did my makeup Stephanie was still there. I walked back to the vanity I had been seated at and stared at the image in the mirror. I sighed, my face is pretty, almost as pretty as the faces I saw in the salon. So wrong for a male to be prettier than a lot of females.

Stephanie watched my face as I looked at my image, wondering what is going through my mind. I felt closer to Steph than the others, Dallas and Francine were just as nice as Steph, but I felt more comfortable around her.

“Okay, enough of that thinking, you are going to be wrinkled and old before you get to your next birthday. What is on your mind? I will not tolerate any evasive maneuvers. I need to hear what is bothering you so I can help. Now out with it,” she said looking at me like a loving mom talking to a child.

It all came out, like the floodgates suddenly opened and my thoughts and worries were splattered all over the place. “Where will I be staying when I am studying to be a cosmetologist? Can I still earn some money to send Mom? Am I going to be dressed as a female all the time? It seems so wrong to be dressing as a female, I do like parts of it, but I am a male, surely this is not right.” The tears followed right behind, I was now leaning on Steph’s shoulder, bawling my eyes out. That even made me ashamed, young men aren’t supposed to cry, now seemingly crying at the drop of a hat.

Steph finally managed to calm me down some getting me to sit up again, her blouse wet from my crying. “I will answer your questions then we will have a long talk. You are going to stay here at Francine’s during your training. We will make sure your Mom is taken care of, a reward for having two such sweet daughters. You will not be required to dress as a girl, but you and I both know that is what you want. As for being wrong, there is no right and wrong, everybody deserves some happiness in life, so if you acting like a girl makes you happy, what is wrong with that?”

“Casey, you have a lot of talent, once you get some training you will go far, a career in Cosmetology that will make you financially secure for your entire life. Dallas and Francine are working at helping your family become more secure, and allowing your Mom some rest from her efforts to provide for you two. After your training, you have a guaranteed job here for the remainder of your life.”

“Now as to your dressing, since we have some time this afternoon, let’s get you dolled up, heavy on the femininity, and spend the rest of the day as a young woman, both in looks and actions. Then tonight we can discuss whether you want to continue or revert back to the young man image.” I nodded and was dragged off to experience a dose of femininity. Nervous, yes, scared, yes, curious definitely. I think terrified would be a better choice of words in this case.

When we got to a treatment room, she asked me to disrobe, then hop up on the table. Several techs showed up and three pairs of hands started working on me. My nail polish is removed and extensions are added to my existing finger nails. Fake breasts are next, measured and then glued to my chest, and finally the third tech worked on my toenails. This time I was going to receive a bright red polish, both toes and fingers, the extensions making my fingers look thinner and more lady-like. As soon as the tech took her hands off my new breasts they started moving, every breath causing some movement of my new additions. I moved my newly manicured hands to stop the motion, the motion quite disturbing to me.

I looked at my image in the mirror, something that I noticed I was doing much more often. Laying on the table is a pretty young woman, holding her breasts tenderly. I sighed, so wrong yet it felt and looked so natural, a female obviously having some salon time, getting ready to go out. They helped me up to a sitting position and a bra is slipped over my arms and fastened. That helped immensely, the movement now somewhat restrained and less obvious.

Stephanie handed me a robe then led me through a door at the side of the salon. My eyes got as big as saucers when I saw all the clothes in the store. Apparently this is part of the salon, a part I knew nothing about. There are quite a few customers shopping, the three changing rooms in the back of the store currently full. I am led to a section of racks that have some of the most beautiful dresses hanging there that I have seen. I look down for a minute, I just stared in awe at the beautiful dresses, something a male would never do. Stephanie quick to catch my downward glance and called my name. I looked up immediately, blushing at being caught again. Still ashamed about noticing how pretty the dresses are, something a male would never do unless it was on a beautiful woman, the female his object of desire, not the dress.

We shopped for a proper dress for quite a while, I even tried on one to see how I would look. It was narrowed down to a Red silk dress and an Ivory sweater dress. The red dress hugged my body coming to only mid-way on my thigh. The skirt was very tight and restricted movement as I tried to walk. It had a scoop neck, helping to frame my face even more. The bodice of the dress was hugging my upper torso, just like the skirt did down below.

The sweater dress had a delicate stitch to it, making it look like part of the dress is lace. The sweater dress was just plain tight all over, hugging my breasts and butt like it had been sprayed on. I couldn’t make up my mind, so Steph took both selections back to the salon. She talked to both Dallas and Francine then we took her rental car and headed home. Yes, Francine’s house seemed like home, I was already feeling like I belonged somehow.

When we got home I was led to my bedroom. “Get undressed, take another bath, then put on the lingerie I will lay out, then select the dress you want to wear tonight. You and I are going out to dinner, then to a club for some dancing.”

I panicked, “I can’t go out with you in front of other people, they will see that I am a male and I will be picked on, maybe worse.” She turned me towards the mirror in my room, “There is no male here anymore, just Casey and she needs to interact with other people as a female, so do as I say. You have one hour to get ready, including applying the new makeup. Now get to it, girl!”

I looked at the floor again. “Casey stop that and get ready.” I swear she has eyes in the back of her head. I did as she said, but my stomach was doing somersaults as I got ready. I finally managed to finish and went to the floor length mirror to check my appearance. There was no male showing that is for sure. Now whether that is good or bad, that is to be determined. I went down the hall to the kitchen all three of them waiting for me. I swallowed hard, but kept my head up before Steph could admonish me again. I got a big hug from both of them, but before I could say anything else I am being led to Steph’s car.

Back towards town, this time going to one of the suburbs of Phoenix. Scottsdale is the ritzier of the suburbs surrounding Phoenix, according to Steph. We pulled up in front a young adult dance club, the valet getting our doors for us. We walked in, although I was holding back a little, still hesitant about any of this. We were shown to a table, helped with our chairs and Steph ordered us two diet cokes.

There were a lot of people here, both males and females, but as soon as we sat down I noticed lots of eyes focused on us. Steph moved a little closer to me so we wouldn’t have to shout. There is music playing from a big jukebox in the center of the dance floor. There were some revolving spot lights moving over the dancers adding to the excitement of the room.

I was intrigued, but held back by my body trying to shrink and sneak away before someone came up to me, exposed me and I got thrown out. At least, that is what my mind is telling me that would most likely happen if I stayed. Steph made me look her in the eye, “Nobody will see anything other than a young female out on the town, so relax, look around and if someone comes up to the table we are going to be polite and talk to them, okay?” I nodded my head, but did manage to look around some.

Sure enough two young males did show up at our table, wanting to know if we wanted to dance. I went instant red, but Steph told them no, not right now but maybe later. They did ask our names, Steph telling them hers and looked at me. Damn she is going to make me talk to them. I gave them my name and then asked if Steph wanted to use the ladies room, something I had read in one of the magazines at the salon while my hair is drying. Steph is giggling away, as we made our way to the restroom. Then as we approached, I suddenly stopped, I can’t go in there, but when I looked at myself, I realized I couldn’t go to the other one either. So into the ladies room and quickly into a stall to keep talking between me and Steph to a minimum. As we cleared the door I saw the line, and knew I had screwed myself royally. I looked to Steph, she just smiled and we stood in line waiting for a stall to open up.

By the time one was empty I really did have to go, I made my way in facing the toilet. It was suddenly a duh moment. I quickly turned around and began to figure out what clothes had to come off for me to be able to actually use the bathroom. It seemed like forever before I was able to get undressed, use the toilet and then redress. I almost walked back out without my purse, but remembered it at the last minute. Steph was at the sinks repairing her lipstick, so I joined her and did the same.

We made our way back to the table, luckily the young men were gone. Steph set right next to me and began to explain what went on in these clubs. I relaxed some, realizing that although I was being stared at, it was exciting in being not found out.

After she had informed me of quite a few likely scenarios tonight, she just told me to follow her lead. It wasn’t but a few minutes later that another two some approached us. They introduced themselves and we did likewise. They asked us to dance and Steph graciously accepted. I looked at her, with daggers, I can’t dance and especially with a guy. Ben and Steven took hold of our arms and helped us up from the table. We were led to the dance floor, where the next number just had to be a slow romantic song. Steven held me like you would hold a girl and I copied what Steph was doing with Ben. The dance was alright, I didn’t step on any toes that I remembered, being held like that was nice, but then I shouldn’t allow it to start with. They played another slow number, so we remained on the dance floor. Finally, Steph told them thanks for the dance so we could head back to the table. Both of our hands got kissed, that right there turned me upside down. I now was clueless about where I was and what I am doing.

I did manage to follow Steph to the table, and plopped down in my chair. Steph ever the taskmaster made me stand again and sit properly. She is having a hard time from breaking out into laughter, even some tears forming since she is about ready to split a gut. I lean my head down in shame, but quickly straighten up before she calls me on it again. Finally everything and everybody recovers some and we talk.

“To dress as a female, especially an attractive female, males become a part of your life whether you desire it or not. That is just how it is, so you have to learn how to deal with the attention, how to tell them no, and how to stay safe around them. That is what we are doing here tonight.”

“You might want nothing to do with a male, but pretty women attract males like flies. You can’t just tell them to go away, a male figures you are just playing hard to get, so he tries harder. It is ingrained in them to pursue pretty females till they catch them. As you have seen here tonight, you are going to attract a lot of attention as a female. So it is vital to learn how to manage that attention, stay safe, and still have a little fun and enjoyment.”

“You probably weigh about a hundred and thirty pounds, now put you in a dress, proper undergarments, and heels, then have a two hundred and fifty pound male seeking your attention. How are you going to handle him if you tell him no, and he decides to ignore you. I doubt you could beat him up or physically keep him from raping you if he gets drunk and decides he deserves some attention from you.”

“There are ways to handle men, so pay attention and learn, it could save your life later. First, if possible on dates never go out alone, another female often makes such a difference in reigning in inappropriate behavior. Second, a cell phone, some pepper spray, cash money, and condoms are essential for any young female. A cell phone to call for help, the pepper spray to stop aggression toward you, the cash money to get you back home safe from a situation, and condoms to assure that you don’t catch some disease that you really don’t want.”

“Casey do you follow me so far?” I nodded in the affirmative, but shaking some as I did it. “You are going to be a gorgeous woman, even in sweats and minimal makeup you exude a female persona that is going to attract lots of attention. I am not trying to keep you from enjoying the female life, but to be smart and confident in that life.”

We stayed longer, her pointing out ways to leave me in control, what to look for in a male and how to tell if a male has too many drinks besides the obvious slurred speech and repulsive breath. If a male is dressed nicely and is courteous to others, that is one positive sign. When first met, does he try and take control immediately or does he try and get to know you first? She made me do the talking when the next two males showed up.

It was funny no matter how many were in their group, since it was only two of us, only two of the males came to introduce themselves and ask to dance. After I relaxed some I actually had a little fun. A particular cute guy came up to the table, introduced himself and wanted to know if we wanted to dance. I looked him right in the eye, “No I don’t but I wouldn’t mind talking to you.” Stephanie almost spit her drink out her nose and this guy’s sidekick started laughing. They did sit down and we talked for ten minutes before they figured out nothing else was going to happen and made their excuses to leave.

Another couple of gentleman came over and we made the same small talk, but they too had to leave. Then a single guy came over, introduced himself, and asked if he could sit for a minute. He was staring at me, never even looking at Steph. He was nice to talk to, interesting too, trying his best to draw me out. Where I lived, what did I do for a living, all of these and more were asked as sincerely as he could muster. Steph signaled me that it was time to leave, so I told him that I loved talking to him, but he was a little older than I had in mind for a boyfriend, but I have a gay brother that might be interested in you. He walked away shaking his head, never saying a word.

Steph did lose it that time, grabbed my hand and we left. As we got out to the parking lot she was howling doing everything she could to keep from completely losing it. “Casey you are truly amazing! I wondered if you were going to recognize the smooth talker, but you not only recognized him, you totally shut him down. Way to go girl!”

As we drove back to Francine’s we discussed the evening, what I learned and whether I was still as gung-ho after seeing how the sexes related to each other normally. Steph emphasized that not all males were like the ones tonight, but a fair percentage did fit that category. Some would as the dating process moved ahead tone it down, dropping back into what amounted to their normal behavior. Some of these will be good prospects for husbands, usually their macho friends causing the distorted and over the top behavior.

When we got to Francine’s I was suddenly shy and sullen. I was acutely aware that I am still a male and tonight I acted like a young boy hungry female, flirting and sometimes encouraging a response.

We made it back home, and I had to recant the evening for Francine. Several times she was looking at me, almost staring right through me. Since I was getting more comfortable in her presence, actually more comfortable around any of them, I asked her what she is thinking.

“I am just amazed at the person that has been hidden deep under your male self. There is no similarity between your female side and your male side whatsoever. I know you have not had access to any of what you are experiencing now, but it seems at times that you have done these things many times before. For a product of the male gang scene, you are talented, caring, and absolutely 100 % female. Enough of that, you have a full day tomorrow, makeup class in the morning and horseback riding in the afternoon. Maybe even something special for tomorrow evening, who knows. Time for bed, after you remove your makeup. Shower in the morning then to the salon. One of the techs will do your hair there, we will eat out after the class, and then you and Steph can go horseback riding. Now vamoose.”

I slipped out of the clothes once in my bedroom, looked for what to wear to bed, then saw a long pink nightie laying on my bed. I slipped it on, the feeling of it enveloping my body so good. I found a matching pantie, then headed to the bathroom to remove my makeup. I almost felt naked without the clothes and undergarments. Only a few days, and I want to wear them all the time. A little bit of shame surfaces, but then I looked at the clothes that I had slipped out of, knowing that Steph would be on me in a heartbeat if I left them there on the floor. I hung the dress, the undergarments put in my clothes hamper, something the male me would never have done.

I got the makeup off, looking at my image in the mirror, I looked rather plain, nothing like I had looked when at the club. I thought back to a couple of the encounters, a smile playing on my lips at the words spoken and the lessons learned. I realized then how much different a female’s life is compared to a male.

I got comfy in bed, I heard the door open and Steph peeked in, wished me good night, and then went to her room. Before I could count the first sheep, I was sound asleep, but luckily no dreams, at least none that I remembered. The alarm the next morning was persistent, I finally relented and eased out of bed. The silk of the nightie caressing every part of my body it touched.

I brushed my teeth, then sadly left the nightie to take a shower. The pulsating jets made a wreck of me, after I managed to turn the water off, I stood there for at least ten minutes wondering how anything could feel better than that shower. My self-imposed contemplation ended when Steph poked her head in and told me to get it together, ten minutes until they leave for the salon.

Casual dress prevailed, a tight pair of jeans, and a camisole top. I thought about not wearing a bra, but knew I would never get it by Steph. After I slipped it on I was glad for the support, my breasts feeling a lot better being cradled by the bra. I remembered no makeup this morning since this was a class in applying makeup. I made it downstairs, all three looking at their watches and then at me. “Hey I am a girl and being late comes with the clothes.” They all laughed.

Dallas drove to the salon this morning, parked in the back and we entered the salon by the side door, the one used to access the clothing store. Through the store, across the salon and into another store set up with vanities, and brighter lighting. Steph showed me to a vanity, then set at the one next to mine. An instructor entered along with ten more stylists, their cute outfits making then stand out. Today is apparently evening makeup, the instructor showing us what she wants on a model in front and then we are to duplicate the look on ourselves. As we attempted to do the same thing to ourselves she walked around offering suggestions and hints to make it easier.

After the foundation she excused her model, and asked me to come up front. I gulped but obeyed, I am sure I would be made a laughing stock very quickly. She had me sit at the vanity, same as the model, but facing the mirror, instead of away from it. She showed me what each step is to be by pointing it out on my face, but made me do the actual application of the makeup. It seemed easy, each time she showed me something new she did it but with a lot less detail. On the final two or three things she just told me what is next and gave me no instruction. I managed it without much difficulty, waiting for her to go to the next item.

When we got done, she had everybody cleanse off their face and do it all again but without help. I seemed to not have any trouble, finishing way before any of the other students did. I was looked over, but then she smiled like a cat that had just finished a fish. Now all your other ladies, take it off again and do it once more, Casey will be around to help any of you needing some help. I just stared at her, then looked at Steph and Francine. Their smiles from ear to ear showed me how much they appreciated my talent, knowing that I had excelled again with very little help.

I made the rounds helping everybody some, but purposefully tried to stay away from the three girls, an upstart poor kid outdoing them in makeup application that just shouldn’t happen. Most everybody got it right this time, the instructor Lisa complimenting me on my skill and speed in doing the makeup. She asked if I had formal training, maybe at one of the theatrical universities. I told her no, but left the other facts out. Well Francine heard part of this and walked over. “Casey is here on a scholarship to learn to be a cosmetologist, no formal training so far.”

Lisa just stood there mouth agape, Steph shortly joining the conversation. “Think what she will be able to do when she has some classes, providing we can find somebody that knows enough to teach her something she can’t just look at and do with no instruction.” Lisa was sure we were pulling her leg, I know technicians back at the company that are not as good as you. By the way when you get finished your training I am sure my company would be glad to hire you. Before any of the girls could speak up, “I already have a job here, so no thanks, but I do appreciate you offering it to me.” Surprisingly I was proud to make that statement, quite a turn around for a former male. Then another thought, I wonder how much of a male I actually was.

We all left the room stopping to check on things in the salon, then out to Francine’s car. The short ride to the restaurant was passed in quiet, my mind wondering why things so feminine appear to come so easy to me. We went in and got seated in a private room in the back. Our drink orders were placed, then we discussed what we were going to order for lunch. I figured a chicken salad, already my figure is influencing my menu choices. While we were waiting for the waitress to return I reached into my purse and opened my compact to check my lipstick. We had all visited the ladies room before we left the salon, but I wanted to make sure my lipstick is fresh, not sure why, but it seemed to be the thing to do.

Steph started giggling, the other two joined in shortly thereafter as soon as they became aware of what I was doing. I looked at them then giggled a little myself, then in typical female teenage mode stuck my tongue out at them, causing the giggles to be transformed into outright laughter. We finished the meal in some chit chat, nothing really being said, but just conversation shared among us.

As we got back to the salon, Steph pulled me away, “We have a date with a horse, so let’s go.” I tried to pull back, this was more than I wanted to try, for some reason being on a horse scared me to the core. Well Steph had other ideas so soon we were out at Francine’s at her stable. Steph wanted to know if I wanted to ride in a saddle or wanted to ride sidesaddle. I kind of slumped my shoulders, I didn’t want either, but doubted I would get that choice. She showed me how to saddle the horse and put the bridle on, the horse turning to size me up before I mounted her. I figured she saw how new I was to this and would dump me as soon as we cleared the barn.

I was helped up on to Salon Star and waited as Steph mounted her horse. She took the reins for my horse and led us out into the pasture. A nice easy walk, I was amazed I was still on the horse, leaning forward to hang on to its mane, for fear of falling off. I gradually set straight in the saddle when I realized I wouldn’t fall off, then Steph handed me the reins so that I had control of the horse. That was even worse, what do I do with the reins. We rode around the perimeter of the pasture, as I became less terrified of the horse. Steph started showing me what the reins were used for, and how to use my feet in the stirrups.

I actually got Salon Star to a trot, me bouncing wildly in the saddle, but it was fun. We went back to the barn, took the saddles off and brushed down the horses. When I finished Salon Star turned her head and gave me a kiss, shocking me. It was more a lick with a wet tongue, but never the less it was nice. Steph giggling away as I wiped my face with a towel. We walked outside a little, talking about the horses, life in general and if I was looking forward to my training. “Yes this week has been terrific, more that I have ever hoped to experience. I am still ashamed of me dressing as a female, it feels right, but also not something a young male should partake of.” As an afterthought I told her I missed my Mom and sister, hoping things are going alright with them. A smile from her and we headed back to the house.

When we got to my bedroom, she told me have guests tonight, so I had to dress in some nicer clothes. The gray A-line skirt and the black and grey sweater would be fine for dinner tonight. Four-inch heels and, of course, evening makeup. I wandered in to the bedroom, slipping off my clothes, then made my way to the bathroom to take a shower. I have taken more baths and showers out here than I did in three months back home.

I had wrapped a towel around me as Steph had shown me, went to my closet to pull out the garments for tonight. I dressed in my lingerie, having very little trouble with my bra, it almost seemed second nature to me now. I slipped the panties up my leg, then a garter belt with stockings attached. The skirt slipped over my head, and zipped up, then the sweater. I set at the vanity and did my makeup, just like in the class today, then worked on my hair a little.

I took a curling iron to the top, making lots of medium curls. The back in a ponytail, and the curls arranged around the base of the ponytail. I found some ribbons, narrow and in the right colors of black and gray. I applied a fresh coat of lipstick, now almost my favorite thing to do. One more check in the mirror, then downstairs.

Entering the dining room I saw two females standing and talking to Francine. As my heels clicked on the floor, they turned to look at me and I let out a high pitched squeal. Running to them I hugged them and got hugged in return, the females were my Mom and Lucy. I didn’t even think of how I was dressed, just so happy to see them. Mom was holding me tight, and Sis had both of my hands in hers. When we pulled away I suddenly remembered how I was dressed and turned bright red.

Steph was nearby, so she came over, took my hands from sis, and made me look at her. “We will have none of that young lady, you will not look down or be ashamed of yourself. Your Mom and Lucy love you for who you are, so behave or I will have to paddle that cute fanny of yours.”

Francine took that time to tell everybody the details of the new arrangements. “Your Mom now will live out here, a house a few miles from here. She will work in the salon, her full time job and her only job. Sis is now going to UCLA, a full scholarship there for four years. She will be able to visit quite often, due to the shorter distance. Then we have Casey. As you can tell she is all female, and quite talented. She will stay with me at the house, since I can make sure she does her homework and keeps her appearance as it should be. I imagine she will have her license within three months, and then will be working in the salon, or helping out in other salons.

I was shocked but happy, especially for Mom, Sis too. We would be a family once again short distances apart but still a family. Mom dragged me to a love seat and we set down, her eyes never leaving me, I smoothed my skirt, her eyebrow raised slightly, but nothing was said. Since I didn’t offer any explanations Steph interceded and told every one of my exploits, my time at the salon and my accomplishments. Mom and Sis listened intently, smiling often as my tales were told. I was extremely embarrassed, dressed as a female, all of the things that I did as one and now sitting next to my mother, dressed as her youngest daughter.

Francine stopped us, it was time to eat. We made our way to the dining room and all were seated. I was immediately put on the spot as Francine asked me to say a little prayer. Through the redness of my embarrassment I thanked the lord for my Mom and Sis and Francine. Thank you for these caring people and this food. Last but not least for my substitute mother Stephanie, who has made me see the truth among a jungle of falsehoods? I love you all and ask the lord’s blessing. Amen.

I looked up, tears in Steph’s eyes as Mom got up and went to Steph to hug her and thank her. Lucy and Francine were all smiles. The food was great, and for once no one told me I had to watch what I ate. I did though, the idea had already been set in my mind, pretty for a female means some sacrifices. After finishing dinner Mom and Sis grabbed me and we went to my room to talk alone for a while. Francine and Stephanie had some business to discuss. I think it was just so we could talk alone.

Mom was so thrilled at what I had done for her and Sis. Francine had told Mom that I was so special that her and my sister needed to be rewarded for putting up with such a wonderful daughter. By the time they had been told everything had been arranged, her new job, her new house and sis’s scholarship had been transferred and enhanced. Mom and Sis both got cars so they could get to work and school, Mom got driving lessons, while sis had gotten hers in school.

Then Mom looked at me. “Are you happy this way? It looks like you were born to it, the mannerisms everything about you says female. Looking at you I only see my daughter, the other child that used to live with us is gone. Thinking back maybe you were always my daughter, just dressed funny to blend in at school.”

“Yes, Mom I think this is right, I was helped along the way to find myself, but never pushed or shoved to do something I didn’t want to do. Stephanie has been my angel looking after me and caring for me like you do. She has made me behave, doing what is right and never settling for anything else. Can she be a member of our family too?” I was hugged by both of them, Mom crying and Sis whispering in my ear that the real you has emerged, finally.

We talked some more than rejoined the rest in the living room. Mom went directly to Stephanie and hugged her again for caring for me. Then both Mom and Sis hugged and thanked Francine for everything. Francine smiled, you will have to do a good job for me at the salon and sis will have to excel at her studies, I always need well trained computer people. By the way these came for you, and handed each one of us a cell phone. You are on our salon’s plan so you will have all the minutes you need to use. Steph will show Casey how to use them and she can show her Mom and Lucy.

Now let’s adjourn to our salon in the house and have Casey give his Mom and Sis a makeover. I quickly looked over at Francine, no you can’t do that to me. In the meantime Steph had my arm and was leading us to the salon. I was panicking, but to no avail. Sis wanted to go first, so she hopped up into the chair. Steph pulled me aside, they love you, now show them what you can do. I will help if I am needed so get started.

I did the same thing I had done with the mannequin, wash and condition, cut and curlers. Sis’s hair was longer so I used larger curlers. I tried to think how it would look the best. Sis was kind of no nonsense, not really girly, but still a female. I decided on a bob for her, easy to maintain, but still feminine. I consulted with Stephanie, told her a bob and is this the set for that hairstyle?

She grinned at me, “You saw it in the hair styling book didn’t you?” I had remembered and the set I used was the right one for a bob. I went back to sis and as her hair was drying I did her manicure. Looking at her face I thought that a peach color would look the best. I selected a peach nail color with some sparkle in it, not glittery but just spots of light reflecting particles. I managed to get the manicure done, I only had to redo one nail when I couldn’t stay within the confines of her nail.

Then I started on her face, her eyebrows needing the most attention. Sis never said a word during the whole transformation. Her eyes were glued to everything I did, every movement, every action, everything I touched. When I had her eyebrows looking better, I started on her makeup. Concealer, then foundation, blended till they almost disappeared. I managed to get her eyes lined fairly easy, but was shaking when I tried the mascara. I took a deep breath then started again. Steph came over and put a hand on my shoulder to give me confidence, after that I managed to get three coats on her eyes. I added some blush, a touch of eye shadow to blend with the blush, then moved to her lips.

I got her lips lined, working so close to her, I decided that a cheek kiss was appropriate. I got a big hug from her in return, but everybody told her not to cry, it would ruin the makeup. I applied the lipstick, three coats, blotting in between.

Then I went back to her hair. The curlers were removed and I started brushing the hair. Gently at first turning under the brush as I pulled it through the curl. I had to use a curling iron on her bangs where I didn’t get the curlers set right. The finished product was what I had envisioned, it made her look a little older and much more attractive. When I turned the chair around to face the mirror, she saw her image and squealed in delight. Before I could protect myself I was engulfed in a massive hug, with lipstick marks all over my face.

I saw Steph behind her smiling, and giving me a nod of her head. Francine had the biggest smile on her face, and Steph was mouthing well done. Mom looked in awe, her older daughter looking so beautiful as she was attacking me.

Finally things calmed down a little and I took Mom’s hand and led her to the chair. “Madam you are next, I am Casey your stylist for today and I will make you beautiful.” It took me a few moments to get her to let me go, her hug was quite encompassing. There was a tear or two trying to get out, I helped her into the chair and leaned her back and started to wash her hair. I leaned down close and told her I love her so much, just relax and I will have you looking as good as Lucy.

I thought a layered cut, with some curls would be the best for her, but looked to Steph for some help. Steph showed me how to do the layering then stepped back to make me do it. I gave her a pleading look, but to no avail. I managed it get it done, you don’t know how hard it is to do something with an audience. Sis was watching what I was doing in between catching glimpses of herself in the mirror. Francine and Stephanie were also glued to my actions. I heard Mom sigh several times, not sure why, but I hoped it was because of the pampering.

I did her manicure, in a muted pink, more suited to her age and looks. No extensions, her nails a little beyond her finger tips. I stayed within the lines this time, Steph gave me a quick nod when I finished. I had used large rollers on Mom’s hair and now it was drying under the heat of the dryer. When it felt dry I worked on her makeup, just the basics concealer, foundation, blush and mascara followed up with a bright pink lipstick, that I covered with an off white lip gloss.

To me it looked good, but when I looked at my audience I noticed several open mouths. Steph always the one to quiz me asked where I learned to do that. I told her it was in one of the beauty magazines that I looked at when under the dryer earlier at the salon. All I received was a shake of the head in wonderment.

I took out the curlers and brushed the hair lightly, then used a pick to reform the curls and added a little hairspray to keep them in place. The style framed her face, the layered curls making her look much younger. I touched up her lipstick again with some gloss and turned the chair around so she can look at herself in the mirror. Her mouth opened wide and she burst into tears. She got up out of the chair and attacked me, messing up my makeup job, but I could see she was so happy. She squeezed me so hard, her hug trying to take all of my breath away.

Francine came over and hugged both of us. “Now you see why I want Casey to become a stylist. She has so much talent. She has been here only for a few days, watched what others did, attended a makeup class and look what she has accomplished. Most of my career cosmetologists can’t do what she can, and they have years of experience.”

Lucy didn’t want to be left out, so she joined the group hug. Dallas came back in carrying a tray of beverages, diet cokes and hot chocolate. She looked at my Mom and Sis, then in a voice slightly louder than a whisper “Amazing, simply amazing!” After mom calmed down some I fixed her tear stained cheeks, redoing the makeup that had run down her face.

The next day I went with Mom to her new house, we had packed Steph’s car with some clothes and necessities. It was a cute two bedroom house in a nice neighborhood. Small enough for her to manage easily on her own, but big enough for Sis and I if we visited. After we unloaded her things and got them hung, Steph took her to pick up her car. It wasn’t brand new but a name brand small economy car. It was basic white, four door, with stereo and automatic transmission. When she set in the car after getting the keys I saw tears running down her cheeks, I gave her a hug, wiped her tears and rode with her back to the salon.

As we went into the salon she found Francine and hugged her hard, Francine just took her back to the rear of the salon and showed her what her job was going to entail. She introduced her to everybody, making sure that they knew that she was Casey’s Mom. Then she left her at reception for the regular receptionist to teach her the ropes. It was Francine’s idea that she would be able to fill in if somebody didn’t show up for a shift or they became really busy.

Mom was in seventh heaven, meeting everyone, talking with everybody, knowing that she was appreciated for once in her life. As I was being taught things I noticed that Mom was always busy, sweeping the floor of hair, stocking supplies, answering phones, anything that she thought needed to be done. Francine also noticed, smiling quite often through the day, the techs also noticed, they wanted for nothing during the day, Mom made sure that everything was as it should be.

I was switched around during the day, each tech showing me some new hairstyle or a new procedure. Francine only wanted me working with makeup or hairstyles, everything else was forbidden. I wanted to learn the other things too, the salon doing so many other things to change a person’s sex, or at least the looks of one’s sex. I was told that since my talent was hair and makeup she wanted me to concentrate on those areas.

When it was quieter I got treated to many of the services, my nail color changed almost every day, and I didn’t have to lift a brush. Lucy got treated to several shopping trips through the salon’s clothes and also the mall getting her clothes for college. Dallas went with her one day to UCLA, found her housing and helped her settle in getting her clothes there and seeing about books and a laptop. They took her car, a two year old sedan, with her doing part of the driving. When they got back, she was bouncing all over the place. She had a private room in one of the dorms, she loved her car and was complimented on her hairstyle and makeup many times. For her life couldn’t get much better.

Several times she offered to get a part-time job so she could pay Francine back for her generosity. Each time she was refused, get your schooling, and then you are coming to work for me. Dallas had told her the same thing many times but she felt so guilty about taking the help. Finally Francine gave her a job to do, involving some of the maintenance costs involved with the salon locations. It could be done on the computer with the data accessed from the salon’s server.

I saw her on one of the salon’s computers most of the afternoon, her eyes glued to it. She would go to the bathroom, then almost run back to the computer. She declined lunch, whatever she was working on was very important to her. Just before five she took some paperwork into Francine’s office. We did not find out until dinner that she had finished the project in its entirety, something that Francine figured would take her months.

Sis was proud of herself, she had found the programs necessary to do the work, then learned how to operate them from tutorials on the net. She entered the data into a new spreadsheet that she had designed, then added formulas so that the figures would automatically add up as the data was entered. Of course, Francine was flabbergasted, her accountants did this, but not someone just learning computers. For the next three days Dallas spent time with her showing what was needed for their business and how it was to be prepared. They still would have to have the accountants but now had somebody to check their work and give Dallas figures as she needed them to make proper management decisions.

My time was being well monitored, Steph my foster Mom kept a tight rein on me. From the time we left Francine’s house until we got back at night I was constantly doing makeup or hair. When I didn’t lose enough weight for her satisfaction my lunches were curtailed down to an energy bar, and that night I was escorted to a ladies gym for my first workout session. To be fair Steph took the class too, but she must have been cheating before she came here. As I was out of breath, my breasts rising and falling rapidly as I tried to get air into my lungs she just looked at me and smiled.

I did lose fifteen pounds over the next couple of weeks. Sis had been gone for a week now, her emails loaded with all the details of her new college life. On her second email she requested an appointment with her stylist for when she came back to town. She had gotten so many compliments on her appearance that it was imperative that she book her appointment early. Now she had an image to maintain and needed all the help she could get. It had been decided that she would come home every four weeks, sometimes driving herself and sometimes taking the plane.

Mom was right at home now in the salon, Francine never had to tell her anything, she was always early for work and never left until she had everything done. When a receptionist was late or called in sick she just went to the desk and settled in for the duration. She still managed to do her tasks, working them in as she did her receptionist job. I stayed at her house on the weekend, still had to work the days, but at night I was home with Mom.

Starting the second week along with learning new hairstyles I had two hours of class a day about hair, anatomy of the head, hands, and the face. At the end of the month I was given a test on a computer. I am sure from the questions it was for the state license for a cosmetologist. The next week my studies were switched, apparently concentrating on areas that I had missed questions about. It was not hard, just took some concentration.

Stephanie had to go back to her salon, but Francine and Dallas kept me studying and out of trouble. I even got to ride Salon Star again this time by myself, although Dallas did make sure she was around if I had any trouble or needed help. So I did my time at the salon Monday thru Saturday, studied at night at Francine’s and spent the weekend nights at Mom’s house. Never a dull moment for me. The fourth week Stephanie came back to town, and that morning she whisked me off to a state office on the other side of town near the capital building.

As we were walking in I found out I would be taking my exam for a license. I didn’t think I was ready, but since I was standing in front of the receptionist as she is handing me the exam I presume I will now be taking it. I am sure that is why they brought Stephanie back, to make sure I didn’t get away with anything. Two hours later I handed in the exam, I had sweated through most of it, I thought I knew the material but had that lingering doubt. The lady in the office graded it, then announced that I had indeed passed it with a score of ninety-seven, eighty-five is required for passing the exam.

Next I was led to another room, and to a typical beauty station. Another mannequin was awaiting me and the lady told me what I had to perform to complete the exam. A wash and set, eyebrow plucking, color application, and a full makeup job. I had three hours to finish, my efforts were to be filmed and a panel of judges would review the tape and either pass me or require another exam six months from now. Of course, I would have to repeat the courses and training. The sheet of paper I was handed gave me the hair color to use, the type of hairstyle, the type of makeup and how the eyebrows were to be shaped.

When I awoke this morning I had no idea that I would be doing this, I guess I should have suspected something when Steph showed up, but it was when we pulled up to the state office building before I became aware of what I would be doing. I know most of the students at the salon spent at least a year before being allowed to take the exam, so they were pushing it with me. I was all for it as I yearned to get to do customer’s hair for real, it was so much fun. I learned from the classes but was also eager for them to end.

I glanced back at Stephanie but she just smiled and told me she would be back later. I shrugged my shoulders, and got started. The camera in the room bothered me a little, like I was being constantly watched but I pictured Francine and the girls there instead and I managed to forget about it. I did the hair color first, Sylvia at the salon had taught me well. I washed the hair first, then used two different conditioners before I applied the hair color. I applied it to the roots first and then worked it into the ends of the hair, I checked it often, as Sylvia had taught me to feel the hair as to whether the processing was done, not to use a timer for the length of treatment. I figured that the mannequin had been used often for this and the hair most likely in poor shape. When I felt it the first time I knew that to be true, that is why I used twice the conditioners. As expected, the processing was done way ahead of the normal time. I rinsed it well and sectioned it off to be able to set it in curlers. I was quite a bit faster in putting the hair in curlers than I was the first time I tried it so I completed that part earlier than expected. There was a portable dryer there and I positioned it on the head and turned it on. I did the eyebrow plucking as the hair was drying, making swift work of the style they had wanted the brows in.

I had to wait for the hair to dry before I could start on the makeup. I saw some nail color there and to stay busy I did a manicure on the mannequin, applying a nice deep red polish to the nails. Once the hair was dry I started on the makeup, doing a daytime look. The colors were already selected so the process was not time consuming. I removed the curlers, brushed the hair into the desired style, and then set back down to wait for someone to see that I was done. I figured with the camera they could tell that I had finished.

The lady in the office came and got me, returning me to the main office. She handed me my license, after snapping a picture to use on it. She did tell me that I had obtained one of the highest scores of any applicant. Of course, Steph came in at that time, hearing everything the lady said. She looked at my license, a big smile breaking out on her face. She took my hand and we were out the door and soon in her car heading back to the salon.

When we got there, she told me to give the license to the receptionist so that it could be framed and hung on the front wall. She took off for Francine’s office. Nothing much was said from the others as Francine and Dallas were busy with some other projects. I went to the stylist that I was scheduled for today and pitched in. They would show me the set for the curlers and I would put the curlers in. Then after drying I would brush it out. That way I got to see the style and how it was supposed to look when finished.

Steph found me and we headed to lunch. We had found a hamburger joint down the street that was very good. One of their favorite items was a vegetable burger, they made the burgers themselves, then fried them on the grill. The taste was unbelievable, it tasted like beef but was actually good for us. It was served with a salad, so was quite popular with the ladies. After polishing one of each, we headed back to the salon.

In the parking lot Steph said that we were going to try something different today. They had arranged for a bunch of students who were interested in doing hair and makeup to a workshop. I was going to be doing the workshop, show them some basics then walk around helping the ones that showed some promise. She wanted me to make it fun, and interesting, but keep an eye out for ones that have some natural talent. I gave her a look that would kill a mere mortal, she laughed, swatted my butt and told me my students were waiting where they did the makeup seminar when I started.

I stood there hands on my hips, not knowing exactly how to handle this, but another swat on my butt, much harder than last time got me moving. As I rubbed my ass cheeks, I looked back at her a huge smile now on her face. I did head in that direction, maybe I can figure something out. When I entered the room I was surprised there were at least twenty students there, some boys and quite a few girls. I looked around to see what I had to work with. They had set up ten work stations, complete with curlers, brushes, and combs and of course makeup.

I looked around to see what groups they had separated themselves into, maybe friends or school mates. I divided all of the students into one of the ten groups. The males were the customers, the females were the stylists. I could see the males already worried, they were going to get their hair set and makeup. A couple seem relaxed but the others were definitely sweating it. I took the one group and kept them with me. I wet the boy’s head and started placing the curlers in his hair. I told the groups to do the same with their customer.

The hair was to be done first, then as the hair dried makeup was next. After I had the basic layout started I let the one girl in my group to finish inserting the curlers. I walked around watching what they were doing, and making some suggestions. Then after the hair was set, I told them to change places the male would be doing the hair and the girl that had set the hair would be the customer. It was a little more comical watching the male set the hair, but most of them caught on pretty fast.

Now I had everybody with curlers in their hair and we were ready for some makeup. We did the rotation as before me telling everyone I wanted a day time look, very natural in appearance. I didn’t show them anything, just let them decide for themselves what a daytime look should be. Most of the males were not macho football players, all thin and a bit nerdy in appearance. There look became feminine as the students worked their magic. Of course, the females were better at it since they wore makeup most of the time anyway.

I made mental notes of who showed the most potential. So far, I had two males and five females that were outstanding. Seven more that had some talent, but obviously had not been able to practice their skills any. They were having fun, a lot of kidding going on, and at the end of the session I had them model their looks for the others.

Unbeknownst to me all of this was being video broadcast to Francine’s office, the three of them watching what I was doing and my students. As we were doing the comb out on the hairstyle the three of them joined us, watching the final unveils. After the impromptu fashion show they awarded each student a gift certificate for a hundred dollars that they or a relative could use at the salon. It was also announced that a few of them would be called back for a one on one session with me personally.

Two days later unannounced my first student appeared. Steph and that grin of hers having arranged this, but conveniently forgot to tell me about the meeting. Of course, I knew the student from the initial class. Again no direction, just get the two of us together and make Casey figure it out on the fly. We had the use of one of the treatment rooms, so I pulled my reluctant pupil along until we were settled in the room.

I wanted to know his background, his hobbies, and his desires for a career. It took me a while to get him to open up, but I eventually got what I wanted from him. Today I wanted him to repeat the last class lessons, but on himself. I will advise but he is to do all the work himself. The red from his face spread pretty much all over his body, but he, at least, didn’t faint.

I helped him to get started in washing and conditioning his hair. I made very few comments, either good or bad, just advised when necessary. He had trouble rolling his own hair in curlers, but after I helped him with the first one or two he managed. The set was not perfect, but considering this was his first time quite acceptable. While he sat under the dryer we talked a little. He asked why he was asked to do these feminine things to himself.

“Your customers will either be female or want to look female, so you have to understand what it is like to do and experience these things on yourself. The best way is to go through this for yourself. Now you know how to set your own hair, in a few minutes you will know how to apply your own makeup. Afterwards we are going out dressed as females, so that you can feel what it is like for yourself. I get to see what you can do, and maybe encourage you to a career in the beauty industry.”

I could see the fear coming into his eyes, his mind finally putting together that he will be going out dressed as a girl. I gave his hand a squeeze, nothing to be afraid of, more than half the population lives their lives as a female one more is no problem.

As he started on his makeup, I went to the clothing store and got him some ladies pants and a cute blouse. Nothing requiring female underwear or foundation garments. When I came back, the male was gone, now a young female set there carefully removing her curlers from her hair. I had found out that she preferred Nikki, even in boy mode. Nicholas would never do now, even his mannerisms had softened some. Not campy or gay, but more subdued and gentle.

I had to remind him of a better way to brush out his hair, his nerves making him a little forgetful. Once I reminded him he had no trouble getting his hair to look as feminine as his face. He was accepting his look now, the shock wearing off a little. I left the room for a minute to allow him to change clothes, finding Steph and telling her what I wanted to do. She told me that all three of them wanted to go out to dinner with us, but left what was going to be discussed up to me. I gave her another death stare, but again it didn’t even get her to crack up.

I went back to check on Nikki, told her what was planned, not to get upset, the three females quite likable although obviously getting old. Steph heard that remark and blistered my fanny, then reached over and gave Nikki a big hug. As we left the room I was rubbing my sore fanny, the giggling from everyone getting a little carried away.

By the time we got to the restaurant it was five females in active chat mode, giggling and having a ball. Steph told Nikki that she had called his Mom, and she would be by shortly to enjoy dinner with them and then after dinner she would take Nikki home. I could see some unease there suddenly, apparently Nikki not sure about being seen dressed as a female, especially by her Mom.

I couldn’t see using male pronouns, there was not a male visible. We had ordered when her Mom showed up. Nikki stood up, apprehensive about how she would be treated. The huge hug her Mom gave her was just what she needed. Everybody enjoyed the dinner, her Mom sneaking glances of her new daughter all through the meal.

After dinner I told her Mom about the day, that Nikki had done all of this herself, after participating in a class a few days ago. She has a natural talent in this and the salon wants to find and develop these talents. Then I stopped, looking at Steph first then Francine looking for some direction or help. Francine took over, we are staring a new stylist training class, to be taught by Casey. We would like Nikki to be involved. All of her expenses will be covered and a job at the salon will be awaiting upon her graduation. To give you some idea, most of my stylists make close to eighty thousand a year, so it is a viable career choice.

“This is a gift certificate for both you and Nikki to be used here in the salons. Give Casey a call when you decide and she will tell you where and when to start. We encourage our male stylists to dress as a female, not a requirement but an option if they so desire. I am not sure if you are aware of our customer base, but eighty percent of our customers are males wishing to look like females. If either of you have more questions here is my card and you can call anytime and I will answer your questions.”

Nikki and her Mom left receiving lots of hugs and kisses. I got a big hug from Nikki and a thank you whispered in my ear. Steph later told me that Nikki’s Mom would call tomorrow and arrange for her to take the classes, her just letting Steph know her decision. She is already seeing the difference in her child, the new attitude much better than before.

We stayed and talked some more, this time discussing my new job at the salon. They had a building a couple of doors down from the salon for my classes, Steph to be my supervisor, getting me what I needed to run the show. I would hold the searches for the new employees every few weeks, taking the best into my classes. No time limit on their class participation, when they knew the material and could get their license they could move to the job at the salon.

When we got back to the house Steph led me to Francine’s study. I was set in one of the chairs in front of her desk with Steph sitting next to me. Francine appeared with a tray of soft drinks and after each of us getting one she started. “There is one other matter left to discuss tonight that is you gender. You have had enough time to experience the female gender, some of its requirements and its joys. I think you are grown up enough and level headed enough to be able to pick what gender you want to pursue in life. Recently you have embraced the female gender totally, that is fine but continued living in that gender without being grounded some in real life can be damaging to yourself.”

“I want to talk to you about your choice, and then make sure things develop as they should in your life. So tell me everything about how you feel, about the proposed job, about your mother and sis, about how you see yourself, in your mind when you close your eyes. I want every thought you have had in the last week out in the open, where it should be, not repressed in your mind. Now spill.”

It took me over an hour to let everybody know how I feel. Even though I have lived as a male for many years that is not how I see myself. I connect with the female, I can be happy at accomplishments, can cry at disappointments but being of the female gender is the only option for me. Now that I have had a taste, even if all of this was taken away from me I will find a way to continue as the female I see when I close my eyes.

I went and sat on Francine’s lap, her having to slide her chair around so that I could fit in the narrow space. As I plopped my butt down she giggled some, but did allow me to lay my head on her shoulder. I looked up into her eyes and thanked her for being so good to me, “I don’t think I deserve all you have done for me and my family, but am so appreciative that you have done so. I will try and repay you for your kindness the rest of my life, a labor of love, to a person that I so admire. Now that we have handled this gender thing can we have some ice cream now?” Everybody reacted, giggling and laughter could be heard all the way to the kitchen.

I loved my friends, that had made my life have meaning for the first time in years, I now looked forward to the next day eagerly, such a change from days gone past. The phrase Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be, now seems to fit perfectly.

Story Complete For Now

© 2016 thru 2021 Fran Cesca Walker

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