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Silken 1 (Tentative title, WIP, third variant)

4 years 7 months ago #10059 by hueloovoo
hueloovoo created the topic: Silken 1 (Tentative title, WIP, third variant)
Silken 1

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 7, afternoon

Waves of heat shimmered in the humid air above the street between densely-packed brick buildings on The Slope. The late summer heat wave did its best to turn the urban sprawl into an oven, and the neighborhood seemed lazy and sleepy in response. And yet, calm as the afternoon appeared, a few rebellious teenagers felt a need to disturb the peace with shouting and activity.

"Hey, get back here you fucking fag!" Jack, the lead runner of a group of boys demanded as he chased a smaller boy down some of the many scattered steps leading in and out of alleyways, sidewalks and between the small yards of the houses that lined the street.

Eddie Katzman, the small boy leading the procession, decided that Jack did not have his best interests in mind and thus ignored the bigger boy's advice. Ducking under a railing, he slid down a gravel-lined slope, then ran into a short chain link fence. With a moment's pause to gain sure footing, he vaulted the fence, catching his jeans on the jagged top and leaving a ragged tear down the inseam. A line of burning sting told him the jeans did not save his leg from harm, but he didn't have time to stop and check.

"You fuck..." Jack gasped, running out of breath. "You better watch your... back tomorrow at... school!" He skidded to a stop at the fence, but Eddie kept running. Several blocks away, gasping for air in the thick muggy heat, he finally stopped in a little alcove between two houses. After a moment catching his breath he looked down at his jeans, left pant leg torn wide open to show his pale, skinny hairless leg with a line of red welling up in tiny drops amid a wide smear of blood. It was a mess and he could sure feel it, but seemed at least not to be bleeding much anymore.

Knowing better than to try and go home with Jack and his minions likely watching his house, Eddie groaned and sat down to do his homework in the relative safety of privacy. The Chemistry went quickly enough, as interesting as it was, but Algebra was mind-numbing. Why even make him write out all the steps when it was so simple? At least it was better than History.

"Is that today's?" Eddie jumped like something had bit him, dropping all of his things as he turned to face the speaker. Erin Matthews, he didn't remember seeing her in class today.

"Umm, y... yeah?" Heart still pounding, he stood there awkwardly half-turned, paralyzed like a deer in headlights.

"Hey, cool. I hadda stay home, Dad's at the hospital so..." She trailed off. "Anyway, mind sharing your book? I don't wanna get behind, but all my stuff's at school and I didn't get any of today's assignments." Eddie nodded, his mouth dry as salt flats. Erin bent down and collected his books and papers, and he finally managed to convince his body to respond to something.

"Th- th- thanks." Used to not talking much, Eddie kept his words short. It was already embarrassing and terrifying enough to be cornered like this, but by a girl, and one who was pretty to boot? He'd be lucky if he could get three words out at all, and he knew it.

"Oooh, what happened to your leg?" Horrified, Eddie desperately prayed for the ground to open up and swallow him. "Hey, come inside, let me put some peroxide on that or something. Don't worry, I know first aid. Come on!"

She beckoned with a hand, and he struggled to get his body moving again. He wanted to run, this was almost as scary as Jack chasing him, but his traitor body followed Erin's lead instead. Eddie didn't really have many friends, he was used to surviving school by being as close to invisible as he could manage. People, especially teenagers, were dangerously unpredictable, and it was safest and easiest to keep to himself. But trapped by her concerned eyes, he could do nothing but obey in spite of the humiliation.

Erin led him in the back door of a nice house, noticeably cleaner than his own. She directed him to the bathroom, where he sat on the toilet lid and waited for shame to end his life. Instead, Erin collected some cotton swabs and a bottle of peroxide and knelt next to him.

"Ummm, don't be embarrassed, I promise I'm not gonna make fun of you or anything. But your jeans are screwed, you might as well take them off."

Eddie froze. He was pretty sure his heart was going to give out, pounding like it was. A pretty girl was kneeling next to him, looking at his very exposed lower half, and telling him to expose more. It was obvious she wasn't trying to get into his pants or anything, but... Suddenly he was hyperventilating, gasping for air as his face went numb. On top of it all, he was pretty sure he was crying.

"Hey, hey! Eddie! Calm down! Here." She handed him a glass of water from the sink and put a soft, delicate-looking hand on his shoulder. "Drink, slow down, just relax. You're safe here and I'm just trying to help. Do you have asthma, need an inhaler or something?" He shook his head, trying not to spill the water with his shaking hand, and took a careful drink.

"Now listen. I'm not gonna give you shit, but you need to clean up, and you can't walk home with your jeans like that. It's okay, alright? I know what I'm doing." It took several long minutes, and he didn't really remember most of what she said, just that she was soothing and calm. Then he was sitting on the toilet in his tighty whities while she smeared cold peroxide on his cut with careful strokes of a cotton ball. How could she seem so... grown up?

"It's not so bad... but your underwear is ruined too." White spots danced across Eddie's vision. "Let me grab you something, okay? Stay right here." Not that he could move if he wanted to. It was almost always like this, fear was paralyzing.

"Here. The bleeding is stopped, you can change into this." She handed him a neatly folded pile, a pair of jeans with briefs on top, and closed the bathroom door to give him some privacy. He spent a long moment staring down at the clothes in his hands. The jeans were jeans, except with a little extra stitching on the pockets. But the briefs... While simple white cotton, honestly not far from what he was wearing right that moment minus the bloody smears, they were softer, thinner fabric. They were panties. He blushed hotly, at once afraid of touching them but at the same time... Well, she seemed to think it was no big deal, right? Even so, he quailed at the thought.

"Are you dressed yet?" Erin's voice through the door startled him out of his reverie.

"U-um, no... Ju-ju-just a sec." he shut his mouth with a click of teeth, spent another long moment staring at what was in his hands, then gave in to inevitability. It's not like anyone would ever notice him except Erin, and it was her idea. He was good at being unobtrusive after all. The underwear felt soft, so much nicer than his bloody, torn ones. The jeans he tugged on quickly, as if to hide the shame of wearing panties, but he couldn't help noticing the softness of the jeans too. Were all girls' clothes so much softer and nicer?

"So hey, you gonna come out and work on homework? It's less awful if you're not doing it alone. And you can tell me how you ended up hiding by my house all cut up." Exhausted of freaking out, Eddie sighed and stood up. The kitchen, like the rest of the house he'd seen, was clean and tidy. Erin sat at the table, penciling in her Algebra work with neat, smooth handwriting.

"Th... Th-thank you. I, u-um..." He paused a moment to gather his thoughts and plan out his words. "I... didn't mean to... come here. I was just... running... from Jack Mik-mik-mikowsk...ki. I d-d-don't know what I d-did to piss him off."

"He's an asshole. Treats girls like shit, picks on whoever catches his eyes... He was talking in Art the other day about how he killed his cat because it scratched him. I hope he gets arrested for smoking pot or something." Eddie just nodded, not trusting himself to put together words.

"He just took Art for an easy grade anyway. He keeps just throwing crap together and calling it his masterpiece, but he doesn't really put any thought or creativity into it. Miz Ellington just gives him Bs, probably to get him out of her class. Anyway, I'm glad he didn't catch you." She looked up from her work and smiled, and Eddie's stomach twisted with an emotion he didn't know how to name, something between terror and hope.

"The, uh, jeans fit okay? They're some older clothes that don't fit me anymore, so you can keep 'em if you want." For some reason, that twisted his stomach again.

"Y...yeah. Are... all g-g-girls' clothes so... s-s-soft?" Eddie realized too late what came out of his mouth, felt his face go sunburn hot, and looked down at his homework like it had the answers to all of life's mysteries.

"Well, yeah? I mean, why would anyone wanna wear clothes that aren't? But yeah, girls' clothes are usually softer than boys'."

“Wh... why?" Eddie wondered what was wrong with his brain, that he felt a need to ask these kinds of questions when normally it was hard to even make himself talk at all. Still, something about the situation was starting to make him feel... strangely relaxed. Maybe just the absurdity of it all.

"Well, I mean I guess girls have softer skin? And maybe boys have something to prove, about how tough they are. I dunno, doesn't make any sense to me." Eddie sighed resignedly.

"I'm n-not tough. I-I-I'm just a s-s-skinny w-weakling with a st-stutter. I don't h... I don't have anything to p-prove." He focused on his work again, only kind of afraid of what she might say to that. A long moment of silence followed, broken only by the scritching sound of his pencil.

"You know, being all big and macho isn't the only way to be a man. Some girls actually don't like big macho guys. Some girls like the sensitive, intellectual types." Eddie looked up and found Erin had decided it was her turn to blush.

"Maybe..." Eddie swallowed nervously. "Why is it s-s-so easy to t-talk to you? I... I-I-I c-can't talk almost at all in s-sch... school." It was getting bad again.

"Hey, relax, okay? We're just doing homework, remember? How'd you do number twenty-six?" Doing his best to stay calm and not paralyzed, Eddie looked back at his paper. He decided the complicated questions could wait, Algebra was so much easier than people.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 8, early morning

The morning air still thick with the heat of yesterday, sapped Eddie's energy as he walked to school. He'd figured out after the first few days that the bus was a great place to be trapped and the driver really couldn't do anything to help, so he started walking to school instead. At least the park offered lots of different directions to run if he had to. Unfortunately it also had plenty of places for someone to wait in ambush.

"Hey ya, faggot. Told ya I'd catch you today." Eddie immediately turned and sprinted when Jack stepped around a bush in front of him, but an arm shot out from behind a tree just when he started really getting traction and clotheslined him. Everything spun and spots filled his vision as he slowly realized he was on the ground.

"Holy shit, he's wearing girls' jeans! There's hearts on the pockets! Bwahahahah!" Mark Hinkler broke out laughing directly above him as Eddie struggled to roll over and hide the telltale pockets. He'd grabbed the jeans Erin gave him this morning without thinking! Before he could really lament that oversight, Jack's clunky combat boot knocked the breath out of his lungs, and he was pretty sure he felt a rib crack.

"Fucking piece of shit, I bet he stares at your junk in PE!" Mark helpfully suggested an excuse for continued abuse.

"Don't you fucking ever look at me, you goddamn cocksucking pansy!" Another kick prompted a new fireworks display in Eddie's eyes, and everything went dim. An annoying high pitched ringing filled his ears, but on the plus side he didn't really hurt much anymore. Everything seemed far, far away, like a dream. As the sparks faded, a crosshatch of shimmering lights filled his view, a neat pattern that pulsed in time with his heartbeat and warped as he watched. Pattern after pattern flew by, each one more complicated and hypnotic than the last, mostly blocking his dim view of the grass and tree next to which he lay.

Long minutes later his vision finally started to clear. The ringing in his ears faded some, though the ghost of the sound lingered, and the aches in every part of his body grew into stark relief after the prior numbness. He groaned, rolled on his side and pushed up to his knees. It seemed Eddie's attackers felt it necessary to add insult to injury, and dumped his backpack in the grass before they left. He achingly collected it all, stood up, and started walking towards school again. He had to go, he knew he would be alright once he made it to class.

The early bell ringing in the distance let him know he had precious little time to make it, so he hugged his arm tight against the side that was starting to cramp up, and sped up to a jog, then to as fast a run as he could manage. The tardy bell rang out just as he slipped into his first class, History, and Miz Clark spared him only a glance before going to the board and writing down notes. He cautiously sat down, took out his pencil and notebook and started writing.

“Holy shit, Eddie, your face!” Erin’s voice startled Eddie out of his distraction. He dropped his backpack next to his chair and slumped into his seat.

“It’s n-nothing.” He really really hoped she wouldn’t make a big deal of it in class, Algebra was one of the high points of his day.

“You’re still wear… Hmmm. Hey Eddie, why don’t you come by after school again today? We can work on homework together some more. I-” She cut off as Mr. Sanderson entered the room and the general buzz of conversation died off. But she did keep looking across at him, one eyebrow raised questioningly, until he nodded a little.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 8, after school

Eddie cautiously crept toward the bus. He didn't for a second believe Jack was done with him, in gym class the bigger boy had glared hatefully at him all class long and only Coach Reynolds' continuing presence kept him from being attacked in the locker room. It was funny, he mused, that they accused him of being gay, when Jack was the one staring at him. In any case, peeking around the corner of the building, he recognized Jack leaning next to the bus stop sign and grimaced. Walking home was going to be a real trial, as much as he hurt. And if Jack caught him again, he might just be killed.

And still, not one teacher had stopped to ask about the bruises, or the grass stains. Clearly no one cared what happened to him. Even the slowly growing black eye didn't get any attention. But it was probably for the best, after all, what could they really do about it? Calling parents, detention, suspension... those all just made it even worse the next day. Turning back, he carefully slinked back around the building and back inside. Maybe he could stay after with one of the clubs.

After a moment's thought, he walked into the auditorium and sat down, watching the theater kids work on set pieces and lines. No one paid him any attention there either, but he knew he could live with that. For over half an hour he watched kids painting grass and mountains on a big screen, letting his mind wander. It didn't take long, now that he had time free from having to take notes in class and survive being hunted, for his mind to be drawn back to the jeans that got him beat up that morning.

Girly or no, they fit well, had a little bit of stretch to them and were soft. They were the most comfortable jeans he'd ever worn. Maybe if he cut out all the stitching on the pockets no one would know? But then, they weren't really his. He should return them to Erin. After all, she was nice to him, and it wouldn't be right to tear up her stuff in return. Maybe he'd go over there after school like she said. If he made it home.

"Hello there. Are you interested in drama club? You're welcome to join in next time." He was snapped out of his reverie by a teacher's voice. He struggled for a response, and ended up sort of shrugging. Most teachers knew better than to ask him questions, but he didn't know this one.

"I-I-I don't think, I'd d-do w-w-well on stage," he finally managed to say.

"I don't know, you might surprise yourself. But there are other ways to be involved too, if you're interested. There are people who run the lighting and rigging, design props and sets, costume designers... Just something to think about, since you were interested enough to watch today. I'm Miz Parker, by the way."

"Eddie K-K-K... K-Katzman."

"Well, it's very nice to meet you, Eddie. But we're finishing up now, so it's time to head home. Are you on the late bus schedule?" Eddie shook his head, standing up.

"I w-walk. It's not far." He sighed in relief, at least that sentence hadn't fought him.

"Okay, well, we meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday after school. It gets a little crazier when a play is coming up. Feel free to come by anytime, even just to watch, okay? Or to get away from whoever’s after you." She looked pointedly at his still-throbbing eye, then smiled warmly and offered a hand, which he shook.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 8, late afternoon

Eddie stood at the front door to Erin’s house, paused with a hand raised to knock but still working up the courage to move. Her house was third out of 8 houses packed tightly into one block, each very similar to the one next to it with the same red brick and windows in the same places, lined up neatly down the hill. Finally, he felt even more awkward standing there than he felt nervous about knocking, so he rapped lightly on the door. A few moments later, Erin answered.

“Hey, Eddie, come on in!” She held the door open and gestured.

Once again entering her home, he tried not to be overwhelmed by how different it was than his own home. Maybe he should clean a little when he got back…

“Dad, I got a friend over, we’re gonna study in the kitchen for a while!” Erin shouted up the stairs in front of the door. It was a split-level house, common for The Slope probably because it was easier to build them that way, and the kitchen was in the lower section. She led Eddie to the table again.

“Is your d-dad okay with you having a b-boy over?” He marveled at how easily the words had come out.

“He’s… He trusts me. He’s been sick for a while now, so he probably won’t come down at all tonight. It’s okay, and it’s not like we’re gonna do anything to get in trouble. So, what happened? Your eye looks awful. You’re gonna have a nasty black eye. At least it’s not all swollen…”

“D-d-damn it! Th-th-th… th-that’s the l-last thing I n-n-n-n-need!” Eddie groused, knowing it would draw attention and just make him a bigger target.

“Jack Mikowski again, right? Before school? And that’s why you don’t ride the bus. I saw him hanging out at the bus stop, but he never got on.” Eddie just nodded, it was so much easier than talking.

“Shit, that sucks. I’m sorry he’s such an ass.”

“He s-saw me w-w-wearing your jeans and s… said I was g-g-g-g… said I was gay. K-kicked me.” It was embarrassing, but it also felt kind of good to tell someone who was actually listening. “St-stupid black eye, l-l-like blood in the… water.”

“I have an idea, but… I’m not sure you’ll like it.” Eddie looked at her with a quirked eyebrow, but didn’t answer.

“You… could use makeup to hide it. You know, like actors on stage?” She pushed on quickly, like she was afraid he was going to get mad at her or something. “I mean, I swear I’m not trying to turn you into a girl, and I don’t think you’re gay or anything, just like you said a black eye is gonna draw even more attention, and not the good kind, but you could cover it up if you wanted and no one would even know, and it’s not like some boys don’t wear eyeliner in school and stuff anyway…”

Eddie just stared. He’d only really talked to her a little the day before, hardly even knew her, but he was fairly sure she was acting nervous about talking to him of all people! It was almost surreal. Then he realized she looked scared, and almost in tears.

“I…” He swallowed and held up a finger to buy a moment to think carefully and prepare words.

“A-a-are you af… afraid I’m gonna be m-m-mad at you? C-c-cuz I’m not. It’s j-j-just k-kinda weird… I stayed after t-to www… watch drama club to-today. Makeup could… could work?” Well, that wasn’t something he’d ever thought he’d willingly agree to, but… It really might help, it wasn’t so unusual, and most of all, it couldn’t really make things much worse.

“Really?” Erin sniffled, confirming to Eddie that she really was close to tears. “I mean, I don’t have a lot of friends at school, I miss a lot of it and I have to work pretty hard when I am there to catch up. I like you, and I feel like I can trust you, so I wanted to help but most boys would yell at me if I gave them girl jeans and suggested they try on makeup…”

Eddie struggled to keep up with the stream of words coming from her, it always confused him how people could say so much so easily when he struggled for every word. But he did know he wasn’t mad at her. She really was trying to help, and it could work.

“L-l-l-let’s do our A-algebra first, okay?”

“Okay, you have a little bit paler skin tone than me, so you can use this concealer. I never used it because the darker works better for me. If that doesn’t work, I have some even lighter stuff, to counter how dark that bruise is.” The bathroom looked exactly the same as it did the day before.

Eddie paid attention, though he had to wonder what she had all of this for, she didn’t have anything to cover or hide. Her face was perfect. As she gently, carefully touched the stick of skin-colored stuff to his eye, he winced. It felt like she’d poked him hard with it, even though she didn’t.

“Sorry. Here, you try it. You can control how much you press on your skin better than I can. Now, watch yourself in the mirror and I’ll guide you. Start by your nose, just under your eye…” She leaned against him to point where and he felt adrenaline surge, locking his muscles in paralyzation. Sweat broke out and he tried not to hyperventilate, as his heart slammed painfully into overdrive.

‘I’m not having a heart attack. I’m not dying.’ He focused on the thought, like a mantra.

“Hey, are you okay? Damn. Here, it’s okay, just relax and breathe, okay?” Erin took the concealer stick from him gently and set it aside as his stomach boiled. His clothes felt rough and hard as a plaster cast around his body, but her soothing voice slowly cut through his anxiety.

That’s right, calm down, it’s okay. You’re safe here.” She slowly stood up and filled a glass of water from the sink, just like the day before. “Here, take a drink when you can.”

Jack pushed past the paralyzation by force of will and accepted the glass, though it was difficult not to slosh it around, and took a drink. As his pulse slowed down to a more bearable pounding, she tried to set it off again.

“What happened? Does that happen to you a lot? Did I do something to set that off?” He knew better than try to answer, the anxiety and the shame would ruin his words beyond understanding. So instead he shrugged and sort of nodded. Her face went through several contortions, expressions beyond his understanding, before she blushed. Now that was an expression he recognized.

“Ummm, sorry. How about we try again, but this time I’ll be a little more careful, okay?” She moved back into view in the mirror, guiding him to look again and showed him how to use the makeup, but this time she was careful not to lean her chest against him. He kind of regretted it.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 9, early afternoon

School passed fairly swiftly. Eddie had somehow managed to avoid Jack and his minions, no one noticed his eye or the makeup hiding it, and Erin gave him a thumbs up just before class began in Algebra. But now it was gym class, and Eddie braced himself for the every-other-day horror.

The locker room was strangely quiet as he changed into his shorts, but no one caused any problems, in fact they almost seemed to be avoiding him entirely. If the rest of the year went like this, maybe he’d even start to like gym!

“Right, today it’s kickball in the gym. You bunch are red team, you are blue, Take a flag.” At least Coach Sanders didn’t have them pick their own teams, it was always humiliating to be the last picked. He collected a red flag from Coach and stuffed it through a belt loop.

The game was pretty okay, there were big mats for bases, and the rules were simple enough. Eddie could have done without the dodgeball aspect of running bases, but with only one ball being thrown and headshots being penalties, it couldn’t be too bad.

His turn to kick came up, and of *course* Mark, one of Jack’s cronies, was pitching. He rolled the ball hard, but Eddie knew he was actually pretty good with his legs, and kicked it hard. It flew right at Mark and bounced off his chest, as Eddie ran. He knew it wouldn’t take long for Mark to collect the ball, so he glanced back as he ran. He saw Mark winding up for the throw and tried to jump the incoming ball. He didn’t make it, the ball hit low on his legs and flipped him mid-jump.

Landing on his back would normally knock the breath out of him, but he must have landed on the mat or something because it was a pretty soft landing. He lay there for a second trying to get his bearings, then sat up.

“Katzman, you okay?” Coach called out over the humiliating laughter. Eddie nodded and stood up to walk back to the bleachers since he was out. Mark smirked at him as Eddie threw the ball back along the way.

At the end of class, he filed back into the locker room, looking forward to once again not being noticed. But when he found his locker, it was empty and the lock gone. The search for his stuff didn’t take long, it had been buried a few towels down in the dirty towel bin.

He trudged into the shower area, looking anywhere but at the other boys. He figured the last thing he needed was someone thinking he was checking out naked guys. Which was why he never saw the towel that popped hard against his bare back, eliciting a yelp of pain.

“Fuckin’ fag.” He turned around and there were several guys clutching towels, and no sign of which might have done it. And he was alone and naked in a shower with nothing to protect himself but a towel.

A sopping wet towel splatted against his back again, rather more painfully than the last. The bunch of guys spread out around him and chuckled darkly as he backed up against a tile wall so no one could get him from behind again.

A towel flicked in from the right and he blocked it, his own towel wrapped around his arm like a shield. Another came in from the left and he managed to block it too. The towel slipped easily into his hand, and desperately, he swung it around trying to scatter his attackers. By some stroke of luck, he managed to catch all five of them, right in the face. Just a little flick, but enough to make them all jump back.

“Hey, break it up! Get the hell out of my locker room before you all get suspended! Katzman, you okay?” Coach Sanders appeared through the crowd, looking honestly concerned as Eddie wrapped his towel around his waist in a hurry.

“F-f-f-fine…” Damn, he should have just nodded.

“Alright, well listen. You gotta learn to stick up for yourself, okay? Don’t let those thugs push you around.” Coach Sanders seemed to suddenly realize he was standing in the shower entrance and Eddie was not dressed.

“Finish your shower and get on to your next class, hustle it.” Coach turned and headed back to his office.

Once again, Eddie exalted in managing to give Jack the slip. The makeup trick worked, and he even managed to get in a hit on some bullies! Maybe his life really was getting better! He’d actually cleaned some of the house the night before too, and that felt oddly good. It sucked, the cleaning part, but he felt better once it was done. Maybe once he had it all clean, he’d invite Erin over to his house!

Then again, his dad was never home until late, he worked long hours or something. Eddie didn’t want Erin to think he was trying something, though the thought of getting intimate with Erin had definitely been wandering around his brain lately. Not that he’d ever have that kind of courage, but the fantasy was persistent. Especially since she’d leaned against him the other day!

Eddie considered going to visit her again, maybe do homework together or something, but he thought better of it. He didn’t want to make a bother of himself, after all. Plus, he picked up a new book from the school library, a fantasy novel about stepping between worlds, and it was calling to him.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 9, late at night

Eddie closed the book, thinking how cool it would be to step between worlds like that and find himself a master of some strange form of magic His dad hadn’t shown up yet and he’d skipped supper, but neither of those things was unusual. He went to bed thinking about drama club tomorrow, maybe he’d help with the costumes and makeup, since Erin had shown him how to do some things…

And there he was, in Drama Club. There were kids all around and they all seemed to like Eddie. He went from actor to actor, fixing little things with the costumes, touching up their faces, and everybody was so grateful and smiled at him! Then the lights came on, and he was onstage still! But the kids swarmed around him, and he found himself in costume and makeup! Just as suddenly he was alone on the stage, with a full audience of people staring. But somehow, he didn’t tense up. Somehow instead, he started to move. He said some lines, though he couldn’t for the life of him remember what, then started dancing. His pretty blue dress flared with every movement.

He was wearing a dress, and everybody was clapping, cheering. And that was when he realized, he wasn’t wearing a dress, she was! The audience crashed in waves all around, lifting her high into the air, where other actors appeared, just long enough to hug her, congratulate her, cheer her on and lift her higher up!

Suddenly she was flying, in yellow and red spandex just like she came out of a comic book! She was an adult now, beautiful, curvy and powerful, and she wasn’t afraid of anything. She swooped down to save a baby falling from a random window high in the sky, but it was her baby, and a shadow was flying over. An alarm klaxon went off and she knew she had to save everyone before the shadow could get them!

Then she was blinking blearily at her clock radio that was blaring the annoying buzzing sound she chose specifically to keep her from sleeping in.

She climbed out of the bed and skinned off her tights to go get a shower, before realizing, she didn’t actually own tights and she wasn’t she, she was he. What a wild dream that was, so real he could almost still hear the cheers and feel the wind in her hair. His hair. Damn.

And yet, he couldn’t get it out of his head. That dream had felt better, happier than anything else he could remember.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 10, about lunch time

Eddie ate his salad thoughtfully, book sitting next to him on the table almost forgotten. As usual, he’d chosen an out-of-the-way spot to eat where people were less likely to notice him. The table was sparsely populated, but enough he hoped to not look like a lone target. He still couldn’t stop thinking about the dream. So much so, that he couldn’t pay attention to the book and had given up for now.

Since his eyes weren’t buried in the book, he could clearly see the moment Jack caught sight of him and sneered, turning toward him. Eddie’s pulse skyrocketed and his body seized up again.

“Hey, Eddie, you ready for the Algebra test?” Erin plopped her tray right next to him out of nowhere, and sat down. “I think I’m gonna ace it. Oh wow, you like Anne McCaffrey? Her Pern books are amazing!”

Eddie couldn’t answer, eyes stuck on Jack, who noticed he wasn’t alone and turned to sit down with his entourage of bullies.

“You okay?” Erin’s voice was quieter, as she put a hand on his shoulder.

“I-I-I-I-I… Th-thanks.” It was all he could manage, as his heart slowed to something less deafeningly pounding. The remainder of his salad taunted him, he loved salad but he didn’t dare finish with his stomach like this.

“Saw Jack turn this way and thought you could use some backup. Little trick girls figure out early, assholes like him are a lot less dangerous if you’re not alone.” Her expression turned dark as she looked over at Jack’s table.

“I’m… j-just glad it’s Fr-fr-fr… Friday. Drama c-club, then the-the weekend.”

“Yeah. Hey, I missed you last night. Kinda thought you’d come over to study again. Wanna come over after Drama? It kinda gets boring a lot, I have to stay home in case Dad needs stuff most of the time.” She said the last part quietly, looking a little sad, Eddie thought.

“Sure!” He dully hated the way talking was so hard for him, he dreamed of being able to actually carry on a conversation. A thought which brought to mind the actual dream of being able to recite lines with hundreds of people watching. It still made him feel good to think about it.

“Cool! Well, lunch is almost over, we better hurry up and finish, huh?” She mentioned, though her food was mostly finished already. Eddie tried a bite of his salad and discovered his stomach had in fact settled down.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 10, after school

Eddie walked up to the stage shyly, the activity on there was not unlike the buzzing of bees around a hive, but Ms. Parker turned to gesture him up the steps with a smile.

“I thought you’d be back! You interested in helping out? We’ve got most of the set already painted, but there’s always more to do.” When he hesitated, Ms. Parker continued. “Why don’t you look around, get to know people. We have a really nice bunch here. Just don’t touch the rigging ropes or lighting gear, okay?” She pointed him backstage, then turned back to directing something arcane about the lighting.

Eddie wandered, noting that while most of the kids were quick to smile, they were mostly really busy too. He found himself poking through a rack of costumes and props, curious about the wild variety. There was even a plastic suit of armor that looked really realistic!

“Hey, how’s it going? You lost back here?” A boy Eddie didn’t recognize peeked around the rack he was looking through, grinning at him.

“Pretty cool stuff, huh? We make most of the costumes for every play, and these are left over from like, every play for the last twenty some years! Oh, I’m Brian by the way…?”

“I’m Eddie. Th-th-there are so many! I hadda t-t-t… take Home Ec in s-seventh grade, and I was p… pretty g-g-good at sewing.” Brian was tall, attractive and surprisingly buff. Also, Eddie was a little surprised Brian didn’t try to finish his words for him, and instead just patiently listening.

“Cool! You could definitely help out with costu… Hey, your eye! Are you okay?” Adrenaline hit Eddie like a freight train leaving him stunned, heart hammering as Brian leaned in close and cupped a hand to his cheek. Anyone looking might have thought they were about to kiss!

“Oooh, that shiner looks like it hurt… You’ve been covering it up so no one would know, huh? I totally get that. Hey, come on, let’s go say hi to the girls and see if we can get your eye fixed up again, okay?” Still stunned by the fear adrenaline, Eddie couldn’t resist the gentle pull of Brian’s hand as he guided him to a brightly lit changing room with a big mirror across the wall over a long desk lined with an impressive array of cosmetics Eddie couldn’t name if he tried. Three girls looked up from painting something on a fourth’s face.

“Brian, calm your shit, don’t you see you’re scaring her?” Eddie recognized Mindi Hart as she grabbed Brian’s hand and pulled it free of Eddie’s. “Don’t worry about Brian, he’s harmless.” Then she did a double take.

“Oh, umm, sorry, him.” She blushed a little, but Eddie was pretty sure he was more embarrassed though he wasn’t really mad. It happened sometimes.

“No I’m not, I’m totally dangerous! Grrr!” The laughter filling the room at that drained most of Eddie’s tension away, though it left him feeling exhausted and shaky. “Seriously though, you guys wanna fix him up with some concealer? Our new member here has a bit of an eye problem he’d like to keep private. You know, like me most of last year?” Eddie looked up and caught the wry sort of half-smile.

“Yeah, some guys used to pick on Brian a lot last year, and he was always coming to school with bruises and black eyes. And that kinda stuff just encourages bullies, so we got a lot of practice helping him cover ‘em up.” The girl sitting and looking in the mirror at the work her friends had done interjected.

Eddie settled into another chair at the guidance of the other girls, bemused at the level of similarity to the dream… He wasn’t sure if he was terrified or thrilled at the thought they would turn him into a girl somehow. But that wasn’t really possible. When one of the girls started toward his eye with a stick of concealer, he held up a hand to stop her.

“Um, I c-c-c… I can do it myself. It h...urts when s-s-s-someone else t-touches it.” Glancing at the desk, he noticed one just like the one he’d used that morning, and picked it up. The whole group watched as he carefully applied it and smudged around the edges with his finger to make it almost invisible.

“Wow, you’re not bad! You should totally help out in makeup!” Mindi gushed. Eddie looked up from the chair at the amazed faces in the mirror and shrugged.

“I think I… l-l-like this club.” Everybody laughed at that, and started talking about how they did makeup for different plays, and how Eddie totally had the right kind of skin tone for this blush or that eyeshadow. It was clear they were just accepting him and having fun, rather than picking on him, and Eddie felt some of the tension that never left him ease away for a while.

“Hey, look, it’s the little cocksucker!” Eddie didn’t even bother turning to find where Jack’s voice was coming from, he launched straight into a sprint. He’d been in such a good mood, he forgot to pay full attention to his surroundings and apparently the bully was still hunting him.

Mark’s arm appearing from behind the tree didn’t surprise him this time though, and he smoothly ducked under and kept running as the surprised minion clumsily turned to join the chase.

But something was different this time. The bullies couldn’t seem to kill his high spirits with their insults and threats, and he ran faster than he remembered ever running before. It was like something was guiding his movements lifting him weightlessly with every step. The yelling voices quickly faded.

Eddie ducked through a big playground in the park, vaulting over a long railing then diving through the chains of a low-hanging play bridge into a roll that put him right back on his feet! The wind in his face felt like freedom, from fear and hate, from the constant uncertainty and self-doubt.

“Mommy, look, a superhero!” The little kid’s voice cut through Eddie’s excitement, as did the mom’s answer.

“No, honey, he’s just a hooligan showing off.” Then Eddie tripped.

The ground rushed up to meet him like one of Jack’s kicks, except all over his body. The air rushed out of his lungs and sparks danced around his vision.

“Oooh, hey, are you okay?” That same mom appeared above him as he carefully rolled onto his back to try and breathe. He felt tears of pain gather in his eyes, and humiliation filled him with its unique brand of paralysis.

“I-I-I-I-I… ‘mf… f...fine…”

“I’m gonna call 911, that looked like a really bad fall.” Eddie wasted no time getting to his feet at that, still a little dizzy and gasping from getting the wind knocked out of him.

“I’m okay! I s-swear, it’s n-n-not so bad!” Before she could start dialing, he made a break for it, this time not nearly so gracefully. But as he put one foot in front of another, his breath slowly came back. The woman called out to him to stop, then to at least be careful as he hurried away.

He stopped by his own house to shower and ditch his clothes, which had surprisingly come out of the fall undamaged, but were definitely filthy. He took a quick shower too, and cleaned up his room some.

And there were the tights.The same light blue sort-of-but-not-really-plaid as his sheets, the tights were soft but stretchy, a whole suit complete with hood-slash-mask, styled perfectly if he ever wanted to be a superhero in generic sheets color.

“What the hell?” Eddie held up the offending garment, and remembered what it was like in the dream. Lacking any logical explanation for their existence, he instead wondered what it would be like to put them on again. It took three whole seconds to decide.

It took him several minutes to figure out how to put them on. They didn't quite fit right, they were loose in the hips and chest, but really tight in the crotch and around his stomach.

Because the last time he wore them, he was a woman. Did he pull them out of his dream like in that old slasher movie? Still, they seemed harmless enough, and Erin was probably wondering if he was getting beat up again or something, so he folded them as best he could and left them on the bed, got dressed and headed down the street.

“Hey, I was starting to think you got lost! How was Drama?” Erin gestured him into the house, and he followed the by-now-familiar route to put his books and papers on the table.

“It was p-pretty fun! Brian said they make all of the c-c-c… costumes by hand and they’re really good! And M-Mindi said I was really good at m-makeup.” It was a little weird talking about these things, they were the exact kinds of things that would get him beaten to a pulp with most of the school, but he mostly felt safe telling Erin.

“Brian Nadeau? Kinda big and buff, but not an asshole like most of the big and muscly jock types?” Eddie nodded, thinking that was a pretty good description.

“I didn’t know he was in drama… Last year he was kinda quiet and shy, a lot like you, but over the summer he must have had a growth spurt because this year he looks like a Greek god or something! Maybe I should join Drama!” Eddie was pretty sure she was teasing him, but at the same time it still kind of hurt. He would never be the muscly type, and he kind of didn’t want to either. Though, he had to admit Brian was sorta perfect, in that way girls really seem to like.

“Anyway, he’s good people, and totally non-threatening, except to bullies… Holy shit, it was Jack picking on him last year, but I bet now that Brian’s not a good target he…” She trailed off, but it was too late, Eddie knew exactly what she was saying.

“Aww, man, don’t get all mad, it’s not Brian’s fault, I’m sure he didn’t mean-” Eddie cut her off.

“J-J-Jack’s such an a...asshole! I hope he g-g-g-gets h-hit by the b… b… bus!” Erin stared at him like he’d grown horns and fangs.

“Wow, don’t hold back, tell me how you really feel!” Erin suddenly started giggling. After a few seconds, Eddie couldn’t help giggling too, it just bubbled up out of him taking a lot of tension and anger with it.

“Anyway,” Erin continued after they both settled down some, “you think you might try costuming or makeup? I could give you tips for both. I bet you could do some really creative work with either.”

Eddie shrugged a little. He did kind of like the idea, though he couldn’t really figure out why, they were both so… girly? But then, so was that dream…

“Oooh, whatcha thinkin’ about with *that* look?” Eddie froze. Was it that obvious really?

“I h-h-had a weird dream l-last night. Like, people l-l… liked me, and I could t-talk on stage, and act… Then I could fly and I was a s-s-superhero… and a-a-a-a... girl.” Eddie blushed even saying the words, but it also just felt weirdly right. He couldn’t seem to grasp what that was about, but figured dreams were just weird like that.

“Th… then I woke up in those t-t-tights. That was so weird, really. Like, superhero t-tights!”

“You liked it huh?” Erin cut through to the real issue, the one that had Eddie so confused. “I mean, what’s not to like, being popular and powerful… and a girl?”

Eddie’s adrenaline surged at that, again paralyzing him. Blood pounded in his ears and his vision went dim. His stomach lurched in counterpoint to the way gravity seemed to rotate, and he found himself in soft arms.

“Eddie! Eddie, are you okay? Hey, don’t check out on me! Come on, it’s not that bad! Just relax. It’s okay.” He felt her hand stroking his hair as she rocked him in her arms and it was amazingly soothing. “Come on, you’re safe here. It’s okay, you know you can talk to me, right? You’re my best friend, I’m on your side.”

As his senses slowly came back to him, he realized he was hyperventilating and his face had gone numb. He focused on breathing more slowly and keeping his lunch in, but even so the thought wouldn’t leave his brain.

What would it be like to be a girl? It felt awesome in the dream, and thinking about it now felt good too. At least, when could think past the panic attack. But it wasn’t really possible. Boys were boys and girls were girls and that was just how it was. Right? But somehow, he was starting to think it wasn’t right. It wasn’t that simple. Because all his life he’d felt somehow out of phase with everyone. Tense and uncomfortable in his own skin and alien from all the other kids.

But for the first time he could remember, during that dream, he hadn’t felt like that. He’d been calm and relaxed and free in a way he’d never felt before. He still kinda felt that way just remembering. Was that how things were supposed to be?

“W-w-what’s it like? I-I-I-I… I mean, being a g-girl? Are you... happy? I d-d-d-don’t think I… ever h-have been. Not r-really…” He was crying. She just kept stroking his hair and he cried until his throat closed up and made him start to gag. A few coughs cut the sobs short, but broke him out of the paralysis too.

“Eddie… I can’t really tell you what it’s like to be a girl, but I can tell you what it’s like to be me. Will that help?” He nodded and she looked at him with an expression he didn’t really understand, and continued.

“Well, I mean, it’s pretty okay. I’m pretty busy a lot of the time, school’s kinda a bother and sometimes I kinda wish I had more friends… But I like who I am. I like helping people, I do some volunteer work, and I spend a lot of time playing GEO. You know, Good and Evil Online? It’s the best way to make hours and hours of your life disappear. And I have a really great friend now, too, so yeah, I’m pretty happy.” Erin giggled at that, and Eddie kind of smiled. “Does that answer your question?”

Eddie sat up, suddenly feeling a little awkward with her holding him like a little baby. “Ugh. I need t-to go c-c-c...clean up.” A short trip to clean up from the ugly cry mess and a less awkward couple of feet between them seemed to lighten the mood a bit.

“Ummm, we should do some homework before it starts getting late. But if you want to know more about makeup and costuming stuff… or girl stuff, I’ll help. In fact, I bet it’d be a lot of fun!” Eddie blushed at that, he could feel his face burning, and looked down at his homework. He was pretty sure he wasn’t hiding the grin from Erin at all, though.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 10, late evening

“Whoa, that smoky look eyeshadow makes you look really mysterious and kinda badass! Check it out!” Eddie looked in the mirror and giggled, she looked like some sort of high-class vamp ready to seduce some poor unsuspecting victim!

“C-come into my v...veb, Meester Bond.” Erin broke into giggles too at that. “That heavy eyeliner l-l-l… looks really intense though. L-l-like that woman who s… who sings those old vvvv… vampire songs.”

“Amy Lee, from Evanescence. Yeah, I kinda copied her look from a picture. I like it, but it’s maybe, umm, a little dark for me. I dunno.”

“Y-yeah, but you s-said that was the p… the point of messing around, right? Wild l-l-l-looks that you c-can’t get away with in s… school, or wouldn’t normally w-wear?”

“Right. So you wanna try the deep red lipstick, or the black?” Erin grinned and held up two tubes.

“How d-d-do you even keep track of the c… colors? Like, coral, f-f-f… fuchsia, salmon, straw...berry… They’re all p-pink!” Eddie questioned confusedly, as she took the deep red and tried wiping it across her lips. It seemed to work better this time than the first several tries.

“Oh wow, you look like you’re twenty and gonna go to some charity ball and drink champagne! Anyway, the names of the colors don’t matter, they kinda change all the time from brand to brand anyway. Just pick ones that look like what you want and try ‘em out! Hey, you wanna try on a dress with that? Jeans and tee-shirt do *not* go with that makeup.”

Just before Eddie could make up her mind to go with it and say yes, a tired-sounding voice called out from another part of the house.

“Erin? Is your friend still here? It’s getting late, honey.” Erin looked over at the clock on her nightstand and actually said “Eep!”

C-c-crap, it’s ten? D-d-dad’s gonna be pissed…” Eddie started frantically wiping at her face with the makeup remover wipe things. “Sh… shh…” She had to stop for several seconds to think. “Shit, w-what am I g-g-gonna tell him?!”

“Eddie, calm down, it’ll be okay. You don’t have to tell him anything, just say we were studying and if he has a problem give him my number, okay? I’ll back you up.” She took the wipe from Eddie’s shaking fingers and carefully wiped at Eddie’s eyes to remove the last traces before handing it back.

“O-o-okay… Umm, thanks. I’ll c-c-call you tomorrow, kay?” Eddie rushed for the front door, as Erin nodded, and ran for home.

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4 years 7 months ago #10851 by hueloovoo
hueloovoo replied the topic: Silken 1
Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 11, morning

It turned out Eddie’s dad hadn't been home before her anyway. She slept soundly and woke up feeling more energetic than usual. More and more she was sure of it: she was supposed to be a girl. As impossible as it seemed, that was the only conclusion that felt right at all.

Of course, it would get her killed at school, and her dad… well, he'd probably be mad too, if he ever came home long enough to notice.

Eddie picked up her room and made her bed, something she hadn't bothered with since… her mom died. It never seemed important, and she was always so tired. But today she had energy to spare, and tidying up made her feel good. Mom had always smiled extra bright when she did her chores. She shook her head, Eddie hadn't thought about Mom so much in a long time…

Once again she was drawn to the folded tights. In the clarity of an early, rested morning, she had to wonder where they came from, she couldn’t push them out of mind any more. No one could pull things out of dreams no matter what old horror movies suggested. Besides, the ones in her dream were definitely better colors. These were clearly the same pattern as her sheets. Which were conspicuously missing the flat top sheet.

Did she somehow make a sheet into a set of tights in her sleep? Was dreamsewing a thing? No, it had to be something else. She idly rubbed the fabric between her fingers as she thought, feeling the texture, the exact weave of fibers that gave it the soft stretchiness her sheet normally didn’t have. Felt it warp and mold in her fingers, the pattern shifting with her thoughts.

Then she realized she was holding a flat top sheet.

She stared at it for long moments. How did she do that? She rubbed at it again, trying to reproduce the effect, but nothing happened. With a frown she tried again, and then in frustration yanked. It tore like tissue paper, a good two-foot rip.

“Well, c-c-crap…” She groaned in frustration and tossed it on the otherwise-made bed. It was a lot to deal with. Was she a girl? She liked the feel of thinking of herself as ‘she…’ She decided to put that firmly in the ‘probably’ column, though the mechanics and philosophy of it stumped her.

Was she a mutant? That also seemed like a pretty solid ‘probably.’ She was almost certain she’d turned the sheet into tights in her dream, then turned it back, and then somehow made it rip really easily. But when she tried to she couldn’t bring back that weird pattern thing.

Was she falling for Erin? That felt more like a ‘maybe.’ It had been so intense when she felt Erin’s chest pressed against her, but was that all there was to it? Damned if Eddie knew.

So. Given the whole weekend, what should she do?


“H-h-hi, Erin, it’s-it’s me, Eddie. Um, are you busy?” Talking on the phone was not Eddie’s strong point, but it seemed maybe more polite than just showing up on a Saturday morning.

“Nah, not really. Dad’s having a good day, so he’s up and around and doing stuff. Whatcha thinkin’?”

“I… I think I-I-I might be a m-m-m-m… mutant.” It was hard to push the words out, they didn’t want to go.

“Whaaat? Holy shit Eddie, are you serious? ‘Cuz, I mean, that’s like the icing on the cake or somethin’.”

“I t-told you the o-o-o… other night I w… woke up in like, superh…. tights?” She just gave up on the hero part of the word. “I th-th-think I made them, f-f-f...from my sh-sheets. In my sleep.”

“Oh man, that’s kinda awesome, but scary too, I bet. Hey, can I come over? You can show me, and maybe I can help you figure it out.” she sounded pretty excited.

“M-m-my d-dad’s not home… He p-prolly won’t be all d-d-day.” Eddie felt it was best to let her know, because it seemed like the kind of thing most kids would love to get away with, but she would probably get into deep trouble for. That was just how her luck ran.

“Aww, come on! I promise I’m not gonna bite! And it’ll just be us girls!” A warm flush filled Eddie’s middle at that. How could she say no?


“Awesome! See you in a few.” The line clicked before Eddie could answer, which was just as well. She hung up the phone and sat down on her bed to try the sheet again.

Only a few minutes later, the doorbell rang, and Eddie went to let Erin in.

“Okay, so you turned this sheet into superhero tights?” Erin held up the light blue sheet with a sort of half smile. “I bet that looked pretty silly. Then you put it back, ripped it, and fixed it. Right?” Eddie nodded.

She was a little uncomfortable, while she’d done some cleaning over the past few days, there were still plenty of things that occurred to her to be embarrassed about. Dusty shelves, dirty clothes and even a couple of dirty dishes still secreted around. Also, the wood paneling made her house seem so much darker and drearier than Erin’s.

“Well, in comics these things mostly happen when people are stressed out, or in a life-or-death situation. But I don’t think anyone’s gonna break in and attack or something. Well, Jack maybe… But no. Umm, strong emotions? Can you get mad?” Eddie shrugged, feeling rather put on the spot.

“I-I-I can do nervous pr… etty easy. Sc-scared too. I don’t think that’s g-g-gonna work.” She couldn’t help feeling like a loser again.

“Hmmm. Well, maybe if you start off with something easy. Don’t try to make a whole costume, just try to make one little change in it. Let’s see if that works.” Eddie nodded and stared at the sheet for long moments, trying to will it to do something, anything. It stubbornly didn’t.

“What about if you- hey, something’s happening!” Erin gasped, staring.

Eddie didn’t even hear her, she was lost in the Pattern. The lines of light crossed over and over each other in her mind, finer and finer, until she was imagining each and every fiber in each thread of every square inch of the sheet, all at once. Her head throbbed mildly as she folded the pattern over, then again, then again, each time weaving the layers of strands together in a new pattern. And again. And ag-


Eddies vision swam for a moment, then she blinked and turned to Erin wondering why she slapped her. Erin looked terrified.

“Wh-what?” Erin hugged her suddenly, tightly.

“You were just staring, like you were in a trance or something, and I kept saying your name and you wouldn’t answer… I didn’t know how to snap you out of it! Are you okay?”

“Yeah… But l-l-look!” Eddies held up a smallish sheet of fabric, about a foot square. It was thick but very very soft. She handed it to Erin, who unfolded her arms from the smaller girl and inspected it.

“Well, you definitely changed it. It’s really soft now!” Eddie watched Erin rub it against her cheek. The cloth was still a light blue, but it was so smooth, she couldn’t even see the threads anymore. “It’s stretchy, like *really* stretchy!”

“I think I kn… know how to d-d-do it now. S-sorta. Hang on a s-s-sec.” She stepped across the hall from her room to take another old sheet from the linen closet, then back to her room. Erin was still stretching the square of fabric, standing on one end and holding the other above her head as far as she could reach.

“Okay, sl...sl… slap me again if I g-get stuck, but c-c-careful of the eye, okay?” She stared at the new sheet, an ugly sort of old-yellow floral pattern neither her nor her dad used since before Mom died, with the dust to show for it. She felt the fabric, tried to see and feel the pattern of the woven threads, and again, she felt it. Instead of obsessing over the weave though, she decided to try to change the shape of the whole thing. The yellow threads over here, some green, some white over here…

“Whoa, you made a dress!” Eddie looked down at the dress she made. She already knew what it looked like, but seeing it with her eyes was still just as exciting. She was holding a dress with those thin straps over the shoulders, and moved the yellow flowers down to the hem of the skirt leaving the rest white. Without the dust, it looked a lot brighter, too, and the fabric was soft and light in her hands.

“You should totally try it on!” Erin’s voice brought Eddie out of her reverie. Try it on? She kind of really wanted to! But what if her dad came home? She stared at the dress, locked in indecision. At least, until Erin shoved her hard enough to make her stumble out of her bedroom doorway into the hall.

“Go! Try it on! You made it, you know you want to.”

“B-b-b-but m… my d… my d… dad!” Not that he would show up, he was never home on the weekends. Or during the week. Honestly Eddie was surprised she still knew what he looked like.

“If he shows up I’ll run interference. Go!” And with that she shoved her into the bathroom and shut the door. “I wanna see you in it, okay?”

Eddie rested her head against the door. She did want to wear the dress, but at the same time she was scared. So much was changing so fast, was she even still the same person any more? The dress was pretty, the fabric looked so much brighter, cleaner than the sheet had. And it was exactly the kind of thing that could get her killed. And being a mutant was supposed to give people superpowers to fight bad guys and save lives. But hers was the power to make clothes. How would that help her fight crime?


She grabbed the hem of her shirt and started changing.

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 11, late evening

Eddie’s wardrobe all fit much better now than ever before. She and Erin went through her whole dresser and closet over the course of the day, which embarrassed Eddie to no end. But Erin showed her how to fold things the right way, and helped her clean up, and generally didn’t seem put off by the disarray and hidden messes. On the plus side, her room was much cleaner now.

“Eddie, you have to come over tomorrow and help me with my clothes! I have so many outfits I love that I stopped wearing because it’s too small, but you can help me fix it all!” Eddie blushed a little, still unused to all the attention.

“O-okay. You helped me t-t-today, so it’s only f… fair.”

“I kinda wish we could have a slumber party or something, I haven’t done that in over a year, since Dad… got sick.” Eddie nodded in sympathy.

“I d-d-don’t think our d-dads would be comfortable with that. I mean, as much as I w-w-w… *need* to be a g-girl, I’m not. Not r-r-r-really.” Just saying the words hurt, she wanted to cry. The tendency to cry so easily and often was one of those things that Eddie had long ago learned to try and hide, and choking it back now was reflexive.

“Eddie…” Erin seemed unsure what to say.

“I'm okay. I-I-I j-just wish I d-d-... didn't have to d-deal with all th… th… this.” she hiccupped, “I wish I w-was born a g… a girl, like you. I d-d-don’t know if I c… can do it.”

Erin pulled her into a sniffly sort of hug.

“You can. You're stronger than you think, and I'm gonna help too. Get some sleep, okay? We’ll work on things more tomorrow.”

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 12, morning

A tapping, as of someone gently rapping at her bedroom door drew Eddie slowly to wakefulness, vague impressions of dreams slipping away before she was really conscious.

“Eddie, hey, I was gonna ask if you wanted to go with me to the singles group meeting? We’re playing volleyball today.” Her dad’s voice drifted through the door, bringing with it immediate awareness. Sunday volleyball games were one of her favorite things, when she could convince her dad to take her. She never could fault him for working so much, or spending time with his friends, but the chance to play with them was not to be missed!

“Yeah, Dad, I’ll be ready in a minute!” She rifled through her clothes carefully, wanting to avoid having to re-fold them today. Settling on khaki shorts and a light soft tee-shirt, she hurried to get to the living room before he could disappear without her. It wasn’t exactly the look she wanted, but she didn’t think her dad would go for a more girly look, and it was worth it to keep up her lifelong charade as a boy for today, to not cause a problem and get left out of volleyball!

“Oh, h-h-hey Dad, wait up, I g… gotta call Erin…” Her dad ran a hand through his thinning hair and nodded.

“I’ll wait, there’s no big rush anyway. So who’s Erin?”

Southside, Pittsburgh, PA - September 12, still morning

The singles group had some sort of deal with a high school to use their gym on the weekends, but it was one across town so the drive was a great time to hang out with her dad and listen to music, or sometimes read. Today, however, was awkward conversation day.

“So. You were gonna tell me about Erin?” The smirk on his face told Eddie he’d been waiting to spring that on her when she couldn’t escape.

“S-sh-sh… she’s a friend, she l… she lives down the street. We’ve been d-d-doing our homework t… together. She’s in m-m-my Algebra and Chemistry c-classes.” Eddie knew she was blushing but couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

“A friend, huh? Is that really all it is?”

“DAAAAD!” Eddie wondered if it was possible to actually die from embarrassment.

“It’s my job to give you a hard time, Eddie.” Her dad chuckled. “But seriously, you know I trust you not to get yourself in trouble. Be smart, play it safe.” Eddie didn’t bother answering that one, she just tried to cease to exist. Then she realized her shirt was climbing up her back to her face. Luckily, a moment’s concentration made it stop, and her dad was too busy watching the road to notice.

After a bit, her dad turned up the music again. Some old music about bricks and walls he really seemed to like. It was kind of catchy, and she found herself really listening to a story about some guy walling off his feelings until it all came crashing in on him at once.

It seemed like only moments before the ride was over.

The rest of the day went fairly quickly, volleyball never seemed to last, even when they played all day until it got dark. The trip back home was quiet again, with her dad playing more old but good music. It was always like that, she loved her dad but they never were very good at communicating. Especially since her mom died. Still, just hanging out and playing volleyball felt good, and she knew he was doing his best for her.

She kind of wanted to tell him, about being a girl inside, about being a mutant. But even more than usual, the words wouldn’t come. She couldn’t bring herself to risk what connection they had, on the possibility he might react badly.

“We’re home! Come on, I’m gonna make chili tonight.” Eddie grinned in response, he knew she loved his chili. After all of the weirdness and change recently, a welcome day of calm felt like home.

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