My mother Susan and I had never been very close, in my oldest memories she was a mum, she did all the mum things, she didn’t push me to be a little her, there was affection there. We had a difficult family life, we where different people who often argued and came into conflict over many things, but there where also times where we came too understandings. It was never a tv relationship like she wanted but it had its moments. Even ones where it was more just comic battle rather than outright ones.
Around puberty this became more the rule than the exception, she’s cleaned up her act, I was free to be a girl, then a young woman rather than the adult, she went back to her ideal social group, and I had finally ‘matured’, as she called it.
The effect of puberty on me was, like everyone dramatic, I’d denied my femininity for most of my life but when my body started to change I was pleasantly surprised. I went from being a long haired stick figure to a filling out, I grew a girls bum, nice boobs and even my face got more womanly. I’d been secretly dreading this but when it started to happen I was secretly, then less secretly relieved, I’d had this fear that I’d morph into something gross, that I’d ballon, or grow cankles like some girls did, but where I gained, fortunately was in just the right places.
I’d always been vain in my way but now I found myself spending a lot of time looking at myself with a warm smugness I’d never really felt before. The thing that really unnerved besides the inevitable, it was that I would have to eat humble pie that susan had been preparing for years. For moths I had been in denial, but as I took shape the feelings in me grew more pleasant and leas foreboding. There are times in a persons life that they must admit that they where wrong, perhaps not out loud but I knew that that time was inevitable for me.
As the hormones reached critical mass in me I had expected an explosion, what actually happened was more gentle but nonetheless dramatic. I’d discovered to my alarm that my prudish, geeky friends had been lying all along, it wasn’t righteous superiority that they felt towards the Alpha females it was just plain old jealously and I had a choice so despite them I finally took it.
As I said this had not been sudden, some few months ago during late winter and spring – which in Melbourne, weatherise is almost the same thing I’d decided that my self inflicted isolation from the normal social life of an adolescent was unsustainable, I think that if my mother hadn’t been so overbearing in her panic that I hadn’t reached puberty as early as she had I might have arrived at this juncture earlier, but as I said spite for her was my reason for being for a long time.
On a summers night one saturday I had been doing what I always did, doing my homework late into the night in front of a music video program while mum and her husband slept and I began to really look at all those women shaking their tits at the audience in next to nothing. I’d always had the average girls shit taste in music, so thats the sort of thing I used to watch, ironically it was Susan who had good taste in music, irritatingly Susan had very good taste in everything other than humanity. I hardly realised that I had given up work and was staring at these sluts as I was inclined to think of them and realised that there was a lot about them that I envied.
Not the overt, cheap way they behaved but they where not ashamed or self conscious of themselves, I didn’t feel that way about myself but there was something else, something the popular girls at school had that I didn’t. It was pride and a kind of celebration as opposed to the denial and morose suffering that my mates had. I loved those girls, my friends, but they resented me, they tended to leak their jealousies when insulting the other girls to hints that I was a traitor by virtue that I could have easily been one. Not a huge revelation, I think I’d always known that. But I was tired of it, I was also tired of the loneliness, I had no physical relationship to anyone, my friends where not given to displays of physical affection and even though on occasion my mum and I would air kiss, my relatives and I would sometimes actually touch when we met I hadn’t had that since my father died, half a life ago almost.
My brilliant and purely mechanical solution was simple, boys. During that winter I had mapped out my re-entry into humanity with some if I might say brilliant thinking, boys liked girls, I was a girl, I was quite ok for a girl, I was also not a dick like other girls so this should be easy. I had all the weapons, I was skinny, smart, mum had bought me five times the amount of clothes I ever needed since I was born, I was not only allowed to behave like a girl my mum openly begged me to be like the popular girls, there where only barriers I had erected.
Susan had even bought me make up, shoes, bags, given me an allowance which was so far beyond what I ever spent that it piled up so fast I’d get worried about having that much on me. I never made use of any of this for no other reason – other than I didn’t need it than to shit her. I had, for as long as I could remember been a surly shadow on her excessive shopping trips, it had always frustrated me that she never gave up buying me ludicrously expensive clothes I never showed the slightest interest in and lots of them. This was her form of torture to punish me for my lack of interest torture of her. I had long since mastered the art of making a disinteresed display even if I loved what she made me try. Susan wasn’t an idiot though I know she knew I was playing a act and about half the time I did like the outfit, I just refused to wear it for spite. She knew, I knew that she knew and that pissed her off even more. Win.
But now, as I lay in bed the terrible truth dawned on me, I was going to have to surrender. I’d done a fabulous job of meeting boys, being picky and not trampish, I’d even kissed a few, nothing great, nothing dramatic none of them had been really much good but by now I really wanted some form of relationship with another human being that wasn’t based on mutual contempt or a lie. Oh shit I thought, what the hell do I do? I didn’t want to be those girls, I didn’t want to be susan either, there was a difference, like all adolescents I had no idea who I actually and what I was. Life as a girl was straight forward, study, learn, shit Susan, turn my nose up at the tramp girls and bitch with my friends – boys? What boys?
Boys, even the word now made my tummy swim. I slept on it, at that point in my life I slept like a hibernating animal. I woke up, as I always did when I didn’t set my alarm late in the morning, it was already hot. I lazily got in the shower, and spent the next hour in a bathrobe, Godzilla slippers and a towel wrapped around my head. I watched those sluts again on the tv, those shows went all night and all weekend. Mum as usual would be out all day with her tedious friends, her husband at gold with his wanker mates. Bliss, the house to myself, – only it wasn’t bliss, I felt terrible, awkward and small in that huge old place. What a life, it was a beautiful sunny, hot saturday and I had nothing to do but slob around the house. Fuck this shit, fuck my life. I went back to my bedroom, the burrow of my world and threw off the the rest of my clothes and sighed in front of the mirror. It occurred to me that I should do something different today so I went to my vast, mostly abandoned wardrobes and opened it and sat cross legged on the mat in there, surrounded by the neglected spoils of Susan and my wars. Half those things where still untagged, most I had little recollection of actually trying on, there was a small strip in the middle of uniforms, jeans and simple, functional clothes I actually wore.
I scanned the tightly packed rows of clothes with a slightly more interested eye than usual, this was a crime scene of waste, Susan really was a determined cow, and I felt bad for the gross display of waste surrounding me. the inside of my main wardrobe was supernaturally silent, all that fabric had the effect of sucking out the sound it was almost frighteningly empty in there. I was lost for where to look, where to start, so I did what I always did and avoided it. I went to my bathroom and looked for inspiration. I decided to go nuts, I took out curlers, I took out all my styling equipment and pugged it in along with an A frame mirror in the wardrobe so over the next hour or so that it would take to style my hair I could choose my clothes. I’d done this before a few times, usually for things like weddings, but never put too much effort into it, it was always a half arsed job and that had annoyed Susan too. This time I really went to town and my huge head of hair got the treatment of its life, I managed to pull off a spectacular job of long loose ringlets which managed to stay put because of the amount of product I applied.
I was chuffed at the result, I though, damn! Mostly I wore my hair in either tails or up in a mass on my head. This I had to admit was all the way down awesome street. I went to my nickers draws and found something decent as opposed the usual cotton bright stuff I wore, not that I didn’t like nice undies, I did wear them just not often. I chose a black lacy set not exactly slutty, I didn’t own anything slutty then, it was pretty with silver rosettes on it and the bra pushed my small booblets into an approximation of a real set of boobs, no cleavage but some shape. I went back to my en suite and gulped, oh yes I am a woman after all I grinned.
Back to the wardrobe I thumbed through until I cam across a mini dress. it was a set mum bad bought me recently, a set of dresses, one was a very dense mesh almost to the point of satin, it was a tight princessly looking thing with thick wiggly piped hemming, it looked like it was modelled on one of those 1960’s little girl outfits but it wasn’t skirted like a tutu it was fitted but flowing its its skirting with apex cut sleeves that with the hemming reminded me of an anemone or something from the sea. It was way too low cut at the bodice for me to consider without the dress that went over it. It was a pale slivery grey colour. The dress that went over it was odd, again it was tightly fitted, somewhere between a tunic look and a 50’s suit cut, it had big mini mouse buttons on it and it was a dark rose, almost marone colour of burnished cotton that felt almost like velvet and had a matt look about it, it had a razor thin darted collar that ran up the 10cm wide straps, the lining and the colour under them was the same as the kind of shift under it. it was tight to the hips then very loosely skirted something like drapery, the effect was catwalk like and way too flamboyant for someone like me. Fuck it I thought, I know it looks over the top but no one I know will see me today.
I picked some dark blood red chunky but not impressive heeled shoes, they where a bit of a let down to the effect, more functional but passable. I couldn’t find a matching bag so I took a string strapped bag that was only tiny and just barely fit my keys, some money and travel card. I did some very light make up, nothing at all fancy, eyeliner, a little smokey eye and transparent lip gloss. Meh, fuck it I thought, go for deep red, so I did.
Ok, done, now to work up the nerve to go out in public. I closed my minds jibberingly frightened words of warning and betrayal and headed out, it was one o’clock by this stage.
I’d actually met a guy a couple of weeks ago and we’d been texting each other stupid notes, the usual thing for a girl my age and a boy a few years older. I’d met him at a friends party ages ago, we’d never chatted but had done the whole not looking at you but looking at you thing. I had tried to walk up close to him but felt like I was going to have a heart attack at the 3 meter mark and not gone any further. A few weeks ago I’d suffered an embarrass attack when mum and I where at Coles shopping and he appeared out of no where and stated talking to me, mum hadn’t shut up about it since. The day later he used the sister of a friend of a brother of a girlfriends younger sister to get my number and I got my first text from an interested boy out of the blue.
So this actually had a purpose, we where going to meet for ice cream at the top of Chapel street, only now I looked like a junior goddess and by all that is holy that boy would bloody well kiss me by days end or I would walk under a tram. I met Adam (that was actually his name, I’m going to keep using Scarlett) there at half one and I had been doing some head turning by that stage so I was palm sweeting like a boss. I was so nervous I was physically shaking and I’d given up trying to hide that. Adam, being a cocky, cute, hot and well practiced boy did an awesome job of both being shocked as all fuck at how I looked and not to overt in his compliments. I had gone way too far in the outfit but I didn’t know what I was doing and this was my first hard stab at sexy and I’d gone for cocktail party rather than cute but hot.
After about an hour or so I asked him if we could leave because I was feeling very self conscious, so we then actually ordered ice creams and walked towards the Yarra river. I chose lemon sorbet, he had watermelon ice cream, we swapped tastes and I admitted his was better, he gave it to me. that alone impressed me, he was charming, talkative, over and over he calmed my nerves by making me snort laugh any semblance of ladylike ness away. He countered my embarrassment buy raucous laughter.
This wasn’t my first date, this wasn’t my first boyfriend but this was my first experience of a boy actually looking after me on a date. As much as he comforted me he also exposed me and minute by minute things melted in me that had been frozen for a lifetime. As confident and arrogant, noncommittal and obtuse as I had been I was being disarmed by superior weaponry. Less than half way past Toorak Road to the Boulevard we’d finished out ice creams and he took my hand. I inadvertently drew a breath so awkwardly that he asked me what was wrong. By this stage I had nothing left but honesty and I told him I was so nervous I felt like throwing up. He laughed so much he made me laugh and I hit him. So this sort of thing went on for a few hours. We sat briefly on the lovely warm grass banks down by the rowing sheds at the bend a few k’s east of chapel and chatted like budgies. then for the rest of the time we moved to the shade, by that stage it was about 35c and I knew if I spent any longer than a half hour in the sun I would go from white pointer to lobster. We sat on a bench for the rest of the time which seemed minutes but was actually half the day.
Eventually an old couple sat next to us and chatted with us for a little while, then I couldn’t hold on for any longer and I told Adam if I didn’t go to the bathroom soon I’d pee myself. He stood guard while I made use of the vomitously public loo, fortunately there was a couple of rolls of paper so I could coat everything in a thick layer of paper before my bum made contact with the outside grubby world. When I came out I told him I’d stand guard for him, which I did. I listened carefully for the sound of him washing his hands that would determine the course of the next stage. He took my hand and we walked towards the track again. Instantly my hand went from semi dry to gushing persperation, I was at a loss as to how to control anything and I felt stupid and reckless in the face of all of these things that where both exotic and out of my control so I thought – grab some caution and hurl it at the lovely warm breeze. I stopped him near a tree and gave him a long silent look.
And he did what I wanted him to do but had no idea how to ask and certainly no nerve to do it with. He slid his hand to the small of my back, gathering me gently towards him and softly kissed me. I did a similar movement to his head. Adam was a head taller than me, not very tall but tall, brawny, he felt like a man and he sure as hell knew how to hold a girl. Firmly but gently my body met his body and the shaking came back. Somehow I was suddenly leaning lightly on a tree, I had no recollection of getting there or how his tongue had gotten into my mouth but as far as french kissing went this was all fine with me. I lost all concentration and will do have any.
My heart pounded like I’d been busted doing something unbelievably bad but it was unbelievably nice, the shaking eventually left for a feeling that was like floating in a sea of clouds. Reality turned to goo, I turned to goo, there was nothing, nothing hut him pressing on me and me wanting him to do that.
Time took a holiday with everything else in the galaxy but after a while I recognised that he was starting to rub my bum in a way that meant it was time for him to stop rubbing it and for me and it out of there. So I pushed him back slightly and despite his displeasure with that I said that I had to go. He wasn’t over the moon about that but he wasn’t a prick about it either. We walked down Williams towards Toorak hand in hand and the universe took on a special glow for me. I found and he found it hard to chat like we had before. When he kissed me goodbye at the corner we kept looking back at each other in the opposite way you should. When he was out of eye shot I started to skip, and dance and carry on like a dick, I sang – badly, I stumbled in my heels badly enough to start limping but I didn’t care. I knew this wasn’t love, or anything like it, but the touch of a boy, that kissing, all of it, he cared for me, he wanted me that was so amazing to me, so intoxicating that I was close to vomiting joy all over the world. I skipped past old ladies yelling “isn’t it a beautiful day!” I must have seemed mental.
My bag began to vibrate and chime, I took out my phone and before I could read the summary text I saw the time.
630pm. Fuck me!
It dawned on me that my mother would more than likely be home, I chanted fuck over and over as I went from skipping to as close to a run as was safe in heels. And I stumbled several times. I replied to the lovely text Adam sent but I was terrified by this stage, it wasn’t that I was worried that Susan would punish me, at all it was that I’d be exposed, this is exactly what she was after. If Susan saw me done up like this she’d win, the whole lock stock and barrel. Far from punished, this was her wet dream.
I finally made it into our street and pounded up the footpath towards home.
I noticed that Susan’s car was parked out front of the house and the blood drained from my head, oh fuck me no! Not this, not now, not today, if she saw me done up like this i’d never live it down. Our house was an old victorian place, huge creaky front door, I had every stupid thing imaginable attached to my keys and they would make more noise than father Christmas when I put them in the door. I tired to dislodge the front door keys but I didn’t have the strength. I knew that my heels would make too much noise for me to get down the hall and to safety before I was busted, all I could do was hope that Susan wasn’t in the kitchen.
I stood there until I caught my breath, I composed myself and straightened what needed straightening.
No luck, everything played out exactly as the worst possible scenario could have, the keys and trinkets bashed musically against the door handle, the door latches clicked with an echo in the long hall, the door creaked, then it made a huge closing sound, I failed to avoid the creaking floorboards, my shoes made stomping sounds and as I existed the hall I made a huge grasp as the full horror of Susan looking up to get a full length view of me frightened the living shit out of me.
Susan gasped loudly too, like something had shocked her, like something had walked out of a horror movie in broad daylight, she loudly and convincingly exclaimed, “Who the hell are you and what have you done with my daughter!”
I stared at her, I couldn’t have been more mortified if my clothes had fallen off in public, if my darkest secrets had been made an open joke at school, I had this feeling like I wanted to cover my body, like I wanted the Earth to swallow me up and die, even my face twitched as it desperately looked for an excuse. I was utterly exposed so I did what all girls do when they don’t know what to say, I gave her the finger said “fuck off” and stormed off to my room, locked the door and turned the music up as loud as possible to stew in my shame tinged victory.
For weeks after that Susan gloated, she knew better than to be overt about it, she’d finally got what she wanted, and she was going to do everything humanly possible not to fuck it up. But there was no hiding her joy, despite my best efforts, my most surly displays of contempt I couldn’t wipe that grin off her face for weeks, maybe months. The shift in her manner towards me was tangible, and it turned my stomach, she stopped all criticism, diet, dress, behaviour, social habits, level of music, she even pushed back at that fuck husband of hers when he picked at me, at least for a while. Despite the fact that this was as good as it ever got between us, I had to admit from this point on that I had been at least part of the problem and that she wasn’t utterly without redeeming qualities.