No rant this week, just the observation that the Labour Party have got themselves in a muddle over their pink minibus to attract women voters. It’s set off another round of ‘why pink for girls?’. The slotting of any and everyone into a stererotypical hole is wrong but is a practice encouraged by the internet, particularly Amazon, Facebook and Google deciding what your preferences should be.
As it happens in this week’s episode of the Jasmine Frame prequel, Discovering Jasmine, I’ve given her a pink vest. As it happens I quite like pink – or rather magenta. Here it is.
Discovering Jasmine: Part 10
James was eager to begin his transformation into Jasmine as soon as he reached home. The clock on the mantelpiece in the lounge told him it was nearly five. He had about two hours to get ready. He called out but the house was silent. Holly was not back from work yet. James ran up the stairs stripping off his clothes as he went. Everything was dumped in the floor of his bedroom as he went into the bathroom to run a shower.
Washing the stale sweat from his body reminded him of the stresses of the day. Meeting Cleo, caught by Nicko and his mates, interrogated by Stash, inducted into the Crew, escaping and finally being interviewed by DC Bartrum – and it wasn’t over yet. After all that had happened seeing that Cleo was safe was still uppermost in his mind. He spent longer than usual under the water shaving his face, and arms, legs and armpits using Holly’s razor. If he was to pass examination by the Crew as a girl he mustn’t give himself away by being hairy.
At last he was satisfied and after washing the last remaining blonde hairs down the plughole he stepped out of the cubicle and began to dry himself off. That was when he remembered that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast and he was conscious of a black hole where his stomach usually was. Wrapping the towel around himself he went down to the kitchen and made a thick cheese and salad sandwich. He was munching it hungrily when he heard the front door open. Moments later Holly walked into the kitchen. Her eyebrows rose when she saw him clothed just in the towel.
‘What are you up to James?’
‘Eating. I missed lunch.’
‘Couldn’t you have got dressed first?’
‘I was starving, and I will be getting dressed soon, as Jasmine.’
Holly’s eyebrows went for another climb. ‘Oh. What are you up to this evening? Another attempt on the clubs? Wasn’t last night exciting enough?’
James took another bite into his sandwich. His words came out through lettuce and dough. ‘Last night was exciting in the wrong way. I would like to visit the clubs again, but not this evening.’
‘OK, so what are you doing?’
‘Going out with the police.’
‘The police! What for? What have you been doing all day?’
‘It’s a long story.’
‘Well if we sit down, you can tell it to me.’
James followed Holly to the lounge, sandwich in one hand and the other grasping the towel around his middle. They sat down at each end of the sofa.
‘Now tell me what’s going on,’ Holly said.
‘I went to see Cleo,’ James began. He told the story of his day out while Holly gasped and sighed in appropriate places with occasional interjections of ‘really?’ and ‘you idiot.’ When he had finished, Holly bit her lip and looked thoughtful for a few moments before speaking.
‘So, let me get this right. You are going out with this policewoman.’
‘Right. To watch this wild gang attack the home of the transsexual you tried to help last night.’
‘Why? You’ve given the police the story. They know what to do.’
‘I want to be there when it all kicks off to make sure Cleo is safe. I feel responsible.’
‘The police are happy for you to be there?’
‘Well, I wouldn’t say happy, but they realise that Cleo doesn’t have friends around her and as we’ve met I may be able to calm her when it’s all over.’
‘Hmm. I’m not sure I like it and if Mum and Dad were here I think I know what they would say.’
‘They don’t know anything about Jasmine, they wouldn’t understand why I have to be with Cleo.’
‘I’m not sure I do but I don’t suppose I can stop you.’
‘No, you can’t.’ James was firm.
‘This Bartrum woman will look after you?’
‘Yes, she’s picking me up in a police car and I have to stay with her all evening. She’ll keep me out of trouble.’
‘Why are you going as Jasmine?’
‘So that the gang won’t recognise me from today and it will help Cleo if she sees me as a girl.’
‘Hmm. I suppose so. I better give you hand to make you look as convincing as possible.’
‘Thanks.’ James glanced at the clock. Time was moving on and he had a lot of getting ready to do. He stuffed the remainder of his sandwich in his mouth and went back upstairs.
He had been thinking of what to wear. He didn’t have a large stash of female clothes, a few special items he had bought, some charity shop stuff and the clothes he had ‘borrowed’ from Holly and his mother. Usually he wore clothes that were feminine but practical and not too showy if Jasmine was stepping outside. This evening though he felt he needed to be as girly as possible to contrast with the ‘lad’ he had been earlier.
He pulled on a tight pair of pants and tucked his genitals away. Then he fastened the only other bra that he possessed around his chest. It was faded black and threadbare in places but it would have to do. There was knock on his door and Holly entered without waiting for his reply.
‘You’ll need these again, I think.’ She handed two new plastic bags of rice.
‘Oh, yes, Thanks. I forgot.’ James stuffed them into the bra cups. He was beginning to feel like Jasmine. He’d removed the uniform that proclaimed “male” and revealed the inner feminine self.
‘So what are you wearing?’ Holly asked, flopping down on the bed.
Jasmine bent down and pulled a cardboard box from underneath where Holly lay. She lifted up the magazines that were on top revealing neatly folded clothes.
‘This is your secret wardrobe?’ Holly said, dipping her hand in to the box to move items and see what was there.
‘Yeah, not a lot is it.’
‘OK, what were you thinking of putting on?’
Jasmine pulled out a dark pink vest. When she held it she revealed that it had a sequinned heart on the front.
‘I saw it in the Hospice shop. It was only two quid but when I got home I realised I couldn’t wear it because of my armpits.’
‘But you’ve shaved now. Put it on. Let’s see.’
Jasmine pulled the vest over her head and then down over her breasts. It clung to her highlighting her female shape.
‘It fits,’ Holly said, ‘shows you’ve got tits alright. Raise your arms. Let me see your pits.’ Jasmine did as she was told. ‘OK, that will do. What else?’
Jasmine reached into the box again and her hand came out with a black and white striped pleated skirt in a thin satin fabric but a stiffer lining. She stepped into it pulled it up her thighs and did up the zip. The waist was tight making the dress flare out over her hips. It was also short; the hem was above mid-thigh.
‘Give us a twirl,’ Holly said. Jasmine spun around making the skirt float out. ‘It’s decent, just,’ Holly judged. ‘Where did you get it?’
‘Oxfam. Three pounds. I loved it in the shop but again I realised it was a bit too sexy for wearing out in town.’
‘You’re probably right, but if you want to make a statement this evening it will do fine, particularly as you have police protection.’
‘Now, come through to my room and I’ll do your face and hair. We need to make you unrecognisable as James.’
While Jasmine sat in front of Holly’s dressing table, her eyes closed as Holly dispensed eye shadow, liner and mascara she had time to be afraid. Going back to the estate, just being in the vicinity of Stash, Nicko and the gang was enough to make her feel cold and that brought back the memory of the knife slashing at her. Despite the fear she felt excited. She was going out with the police to ensure that Cleo was safe.
Holly applied lipstick, brushed and lacquered her hair, varnished her nails then stood back and surveyed her work.
‘Yep, I think that’s hidden James. You just need some earrings.’
‘I’ve got a couple of pairs of dangly clip-ons but I’d love to get my ears pierced soon.’
‘You’ll have to explain that to Mum and Dad.’
Jasmine wondered whether she could bring herself to do that. She returned to her room, fitted the earrings, put assorted cheap plastic bangles on her wrists and thought about shoes. She was about to put on her high-heeled sandals but changed her mind. Tottering around the place wouldn’t be a good idea so she chose a pair of well-worn, metallic ballet pumps she’d picked up from another charity shop. She stood in front of her long mirror enjoying the image of someone who hardly looked like herself.
Holly came up behind her.
‘I thought you may like to borrow this.’ Jasmine turned and took from Holly’s outstretched hands a small, shiny black bag with a long, thin strap. ‘It doesn’t take much but it won’t get in your way. Oh, and you can borrow this.’ Holly held out her mobile phone. Jasmine took it and looked at it. ‘Keep in touch. I want to know what’s happening.’
‘OK. Thanks,’ Jasmine said dropping it into the bag. She stuffed a few coins in too along with the lipstick Holly had used. ‘DC Bartrum will be here soon. I’d better look out for her.’
‘Take care of yourself, Jasmine.’ Holly hugged her and she felt their breasts, one pair real, one pair false, press together.
‘I will, don’t worry.’
Jasmine went downstairs to the lounge and looked out of the bay window onto the front garden and the road. She heard Holly come down and sit in the sofa but she remained standing, watching. Only a few minutes passed before a Rover 200 drew up outside the house. The driver got out and Jasmine recognised DC Bartrum, dressed exactly as she was earlier.
‘She’s here,’ Jasmine said, running to the front door and then down the path to the gate. Bartrum stood by the car looking at her.
Painted Ladies: A Jasmine Frame Story is available as an e-book and paperback from all booksellers including Amazon