Well, the proofreading of Painted Ladies is done. As expected there were a few changes to make but I learned why some novelists don’t look at their work again once it’s been published. Every time I read it I want to make little changes here and there – not necessarily for the better. Anyway it is now over to the good people at Troubador to turn it into a real book. The promotion work now has to get going to get word out there that Painted Ladies is a good read.
I attended a number of writers’ events this week – there’s an awful lot of us, many hoping to see books published and purchased. It makes me realise even more how important it is to get oneself and one’s work known – and how much hard work is involved in that. I’ve really got to make Jasmine Frame a stand out character.
Anyway in the spirit of promoting Jasmine Frame, here is the second excerpt from In the Frame – the novel that never was. This predates the start of Painted Ladies and the characters and experiences of Jasmine and Angela are a little different. They do however reflect the manner of the development of the story of Painted Ladies in which Jasmine is a little further along the path of gender reassignment.
In the Frame – part 2
She drove slowly home relieved to find a parking spot right outside the decrepit “low-rise” block of flats. It was still hard to think of this place as home but the rented one bedroom flat stretched her finances as it was. She climbed the bare concrete stairs carefully, not wanting to catch her heels on the narrow treads. On the top floor she glanced out of the window at the car down below. It was as safe there as anywhere on this rundown estate and took her bag off her shoulder to rummage for her key.
There were just a couple of circulars on the floor which Jasmine picked up and shoved straight into a waste bin by her desk and pressed the start button on the computer that took up most of it. She shrugged off the mac and hung it behind the door then reached into her bag again to pull out her mobile. She’d left it off to avoid receiving a call at an awkward time but now it winked “message waiting” at her. She tapped in her code.
‘Jim, it’s Angela,’ as if I couldn’t tell, she thought, ‘Why don’t you keep your phone on since it’s the only way of getting in touch with you. Anyway I was just checking that you’d sent the divorce papers off. The solicitor can’t do anything until you have. Please do it.’ There was silence. Jasmine looked at the small pile of papers alongside the computer. They would have to be done, she supposed, but the marriage felt as if it was part of another life now so it seemed strange having to fill in forms addressed to Mr James Frame. Angela, though, still couldn’t get used to him being Jasmine now.
She looked at herself in the large full length mirror that took up most of the wall space alongside the front door. The effect of the shiny boots and miniskirt and the lace blouse was quite something. She even felt a stirring in her own redundant penis but dismissed the old feelings. She lifted a hand to her forehead and gently pulled off the wig of long black hair and looked closely into the mirror examining her make-up. Her short fair hair was cut in a reasonably feminine fashion but she liked to wear a variety of wigs depending on the style of dress she adopted.
Jasmine turned from the mirror and sat at the computer. Her internet mailbox revealed no messages for Frametecs but one for JasmineF which she opened. It was very brief – a reminder from Harriet her psychologist about their monthly meeting tomorrow morning.
‘How could I forget it,’ Jasmine said out loud. The memory of their first meeting six months ago was etched on her memory.
Harriet Black had told her to come ‘as Jasmine’. The name had come to Jim Frame out of nowhere years before when he had begun dressing and making up. Gradually Jasmine acquired a personality and increasingly he/she felt that it was her true personality. Even three months ago, soon after she had begun her new life, she felt that she was Jasmine and didn’t have to act the part. Nevertheless Harriet had begun the meeting addressing her as Jim and joking about his “dressing up”. She criticised his dress sense, his make-up, his deportment, poured scorn on his attempts to be accepted as a woman, dismissed it as a masturbatory fantasy. Her laughter and fierce questioning hurt, but Jasmine knew that Harriet was just testing her. Her jibes about Jim could have been about a different person; she knew she was female despite the physical appearance of her body beneath the skirt, tights and knickers. After an hour of the onslaught Harriet had softened and began to question her as Jasmine. She complimented her on her appearance but wondered if there had been any “incidents” when people had realised her state. Was she having any problems in settling into her new persona. As Jasmine was still sharing the house with Angela at the time there were plenty of problems but she needed the psychologist’s reports to support her in establishing a new home, new bank account and new career. In the end Harriet proved to be very supportive and now Jasmine looked forward to their meetings. Harriet still put her on the spot to test her resolve and it would be some time before she gave approval to start the sex change treatment, but for now her observations and suggestions were helpful and encouraging.