Bike 1–50

Easy As

Falling Off A Bike

Parts 1–50

by Angharad

If you wish to make a comment please go to the original part by part posting on BigCloset TopShelf.


Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 1

“Come on,” I said to myself, trying to encourage my weary legs to go faster, but the hill was unrelenting and the sky looked ominous. It was mid afternoon but looked like late evening as the clouds darkened and thickened. Cars began to drive with headlights on and I began to wish I had lights on my bike. The first drops of rain began to fall, or so I thought.

The wind which had been in front of me for the past hour seemed to drop away and my speed increased. However, I began to seriously worry about the weather, as the atmosphere was growing heavier by the minute.

Here I was in the middle of nowhere, on a race bike with no waterproofs, lights or mudguards. I did have the obligatory spare tube and puncture kit and a mini-pump, otherwise it was zilch beyond the clothes I was wearing, a cycling shirt, helmet, shorts, gloves socks and shoes. I felt something touch my back, then one on my arm. It was rain and I cursed my luck and the misleading forecast. “Rain tonight,” it had said; this was the middle of the bloody afternoon.

If it was possible the sky darkened even further and it became like night. A flash in the sky caused me to worry some more as I waited for the rumble which would soon follow it. A few seconds later the sky roared and I’m sure I felt the ground tremble. Next came the hiss of rain as it deluged me and all around me. In seconds I was soaking and my eyes were stinging as the large drops of water lashed into them despite my supposedly protective eyewear.

I neared the top of the hill; leastways I thought I was near it—I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me through the curtain of water and the road had disappeared, replaced by torrent of dark fluid, with ripples in the middle caused presumably by the cat’s eyes. I was becoming cold as well as wet and yet I had at least an hour’s ride for home.

Looking for a place to pull over and wait out the storm became a priority, except I couldn’t see anything beyond the hedgerow on my side of the road and that was of no use for shelter.

The rain intensified and a flash of lightning struck somewhere not far ahead; my bowels grumbled in fright. Cars may have a Faraday Cage effect with lightning, but not bikes. If I was struck I’d probably be killed.

I could hardly see anything now, except the outline of the hedge the rain was so hard and my speed was irrelevant, I couldn’t read the computer anyway. Suddenly my thoughts were wrenched from my control as I was one moment sat on my bike, the next flying through the air. My brain went into hyperdrive and everything seemed to happen in slow motion. I was flying, wow! Then reality kicked in, “Oh shit!” followed by the shock of being lashed by the twigs and branches of the hedgerow, and I felt myself falling through it. Amazingly, nothing was hurting. Well, just then it wasn’t, and I even had time to hope there were no wires, especially the barbed variety or trees nearby.

Then I hit the ground, a soft muddy ditch. It felt cold and slimy as I lay there. My bike seemed to bounce past me and fell a few feet away and I saw in detail the damaged rear wheel, with tyre flayed off and spokes pointing in all directions. I was still alive; I asked myself the major question, “How the bloody hell am I going to get home?” I don’t remember any more.

“Are you okay?” came the voice, female from some distance away. “I said, are you okay?” This was almost shouted at me and getting nearer, followed more quietly by, “Oh fuck; oh fuck, I didn’t see you in the rain.”

I heard the next clap of thunder and saw another flash, the cold and the wet made me realise I wasn’t dreaming. I managed a groan.

“You’re alive, thank God,” came the female voice.

“Yeah, I think so. Where’s my bike?” My prioritisation was faultless even under duress, it was valuable or had been I hoped it still was.

“Can you sit up?” I shook my head but she pulled me into a sitting position and before long I was standing, shivering and wanting my mother.

“Look, let’s get out of this rain, my place is not far away and we can sort things out from there.”

By taking off the front wheel, I managed to stuff the remains of my pride and joy into the boot of her car and I almost fell into the front passenger seat.

The rain continued to hammer down on the roof and windscreen of her car and I could still hear the odd rumble of thunder as we drove towards her place, wherever that was. I wanted to go to sleep and wake up with this having never happened, but I knew I couldn’t. I was shivering uncontrollably, my helmet was in my hands and broken, and I had scratches on my arms and legs and probably on my body as well. I was so cold I couldn’t feel anything except my coldness and I felt sick.

“Not far to go now,” she said hesitantly.

I seemed to be in a trance, it was probably the beginnings of hypothermia because I couldn’t seem to focus on anything, it was like I was inside myself rather than looking out, it was weird and unpleasant.

The next bit was hazy to say the least, I think she parked in a garage and manhandled me into the house, up to the bathroom where I threw up in the washbasin then sat down on the toilet. She must have run a bath because she began to help me to stand and undress.

“Oh!” she said, as she pulled on my ripped shirt my breasts were wrapped in a crepe bandage. “I thought you were a b…”

“I am sort of,” I replied and grabbed my shorts as she was about to pull them down.

“It’s okay, I’m a nurse so you won’t have anything I haven’t seen before.” There was an apprehensiveness in her voice which belied the words.

I held on to the top of my shorts, she pulled at them and I resisted. “Look, I don’t care what you are let me help you into the bath to warm you up.”

I was still shivering and wanted to sit in the warm water, but somehow my embarrassment held sway.

“Come on, drop ’em,” she laughed and I laughed too. I was too tired to resist any longer and reluctantly stepped out of the torn and muddied shorts, my hands dropping to cover my genitals, all two inches of them.

The bath soothed my aches and pains although it hurt at first, feeling like I was being boiled. Gradually my body came back to normal temperature and I began to function mentally again. Now things were beginning to hurt as bruises and scratches made themselves known, but the mud was washing off as I stood in the shower and rinsed off the dirt and dried blood. It was all superficial stuff, I was going to be okay my worry now went to my bike, four grand of carbon fibre and high tech engineering. I wanted to cry.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 2

The shower had returned me to some degree of normality and I was beginning to recover from the hypothermia or shock, or both. I grabbed the yellow bath towel and began to gently pat myself dry. I was covered in bruises and scratches, none were too deep and I’d suffered more from falling off the bike on earlier occasions.

The bandage I’d worn around my breasts had protected them. I dried them carefully. They were still relatively small but I was proud of them, all my own work plus some help from conjugated oestrogens. I wondered how I was going to talk my way out of this discovery by my hostess.

Hardly anyone knew of my preparation to eventually transition as a woman. My doctor did, she’d given me the hormones on the advice of a local psychiatrist. That was six months ago, and at last the effects were beginning to happen apart from the initial morning sickness, which had now passed. I was growing boobs, my waist was smaller and I think my bum was a bit bigger, but that could be wishful thinking.

My university professor knew about things and was pretty laid back about it, provided it didn’t interrupt my studies. I had a bachelor’s degree and was reading for a masters. I planned to change over after that when I found out the uni would alter the name on the degree diplomas. Then I’d need to find a job.

As I finished dressing a hand holding a towelling robe came around the door. “This might be useful,” said the voice from outside. I took it with a muted thanks.

I looked down at my painted toenails and blushed. It was always a risk that someone would see them, now it was a certainty. My shaven legs, well I’m a cyclist—they all do it. I drew on the robe and tied up the belt, it emphasised my relatively small waist and protruding chest. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

“Like the colour,” she said.

I looked confused and asked, “What?”

“The toenails,” she smiled. I just blushed to the roots of my long fair hair.

“Cuppa? I’ve just made one.”

I nodded and she led me down the stairs to a comfortable dining room.
As we sipped the tea, she smiled at me and said, “I suppose I’ll have to do a claim form for your bike.”

“Yes,” I agreed.

“I’ll need you name and address,” she continued, “and the value and damage to the bike.”

“The bike’s worth about four grand.”

“What!” she exclaimed, “A bloody push bike, four thousand. You’re joking?”

“’Fraid not,” I replied, “It’s a top of the range Scott carbon fibre.”

“Christ that’s more than my car is worth!”

“Sorry, but I didn’t ask you to hit me off it.”

“Well I couldn’t see you in the rain, it was so dark and you didn’t have any lights on.”

“It was day time and sunny when I set out,” I argued, “I didn’t need lights, besides if I had been using them, they could have hiked the repair bill up a few more hundred.”

“I don’t believe this. Your stuff is dearer than a car’s.”

“Depends on the car, but yes it can be, depending on the bike of course. Top of the range Trek is worth nearly six grand. My racing skins are about a hundred quid, too.”

“What for a bit of lycra?”

“Well lycra in the team strip of Saunier Duval, yeah!”

“Bloody hell!”

“Sorry,” I piped apologetically as I could see she was working out what things would do to her insurance premium. “I know the back wheel is smashed and the tyre is wrecked but until the bike has been examined, I won’t know what the damage is and how much your insurance is going to have to pay out.”

Now she blushed and looking at the table she said quietly, “I might have a slight problem there.”

“You are insured?” I asked feeling a sudden coldness sweep over me.

“Not exactly,” she said so quietly I could hardly hear her, almost lip reading it. Then she began to sob and I felt helpless, so I cried as well.

“What are we going to do?” she asked eventually.

“I don’t know, but somehow I’ve got to get home and I can’t go like this.” I pointed to the bath robe.

“Your cycling stuff is all wet and torn, you can’t wear that.”

“If I can use your phone I might be able to get a friend to bring me some stuff.”

“The line is out of order and my mobile is out of credit.” She shrugged her shoulders.

“So what am I going to do?”

“You’ll have to borrow some of my stuff, we’re not too different in size. I get the impression it won’t be the first time you’ve worn women’s clothes.”

Now it was my turn to blush, and I went a deep scarlet and felt very warm.

She nodded at my chest, “I don’t know many boys who have a cleavage,” I glanced down and drew the edges of the robe together. “Hormones?” she asked and I nodded.

“We had a student nurse who was a trannie, used to turn up in drag at any opportunity. A bit over the top with his makeup and clothing, miniskirts and white stilettos, looked a bit of a tart.”

I felt myself blushing again, “I’m not a transvestite,” I said trying to keep calm.

“No, why you growing tits then?”

“I’m transsexual and eventually I’m intending to live as a woman.”

“What? Have a sex-change operation?” she said, her eyes growing larger.

“Eventually.”

“You won’t be able to ride your bike for a few weeks then,” she said deadpan.

“What?” I said and caught the twinkle in her eye, then began to chuckle. She did too. “No, you’re probably right,” I said as we both laughed.

After talking some more she suggested we find some clothes for me to wear. She led me to her bedroom. “What size are you?”

“Twelve,” I answered.

“Crikey, you are the same size as me. Do you wear a bra?”

“Depends on what clothes I’m wearing. I don’t under my boy stuff.”

“No I saw the bandage. I don’t have any boy clothes, so maybe you’d better try one of these,” she handed me a black bra. I turned my back and after removing the robe put it on. “Wow, a man who can put on a bra properly, most of them can’t get them off let alone on!”

I blushed and said, “I don’t actually see myself as a man.”

“No, perhaps not. Let’s see then.”

I picked up the robe and held it covering my waist and below.

“That’s a B-cup, you nearly fill it, here pop these foam pads in they’ll help.”

I took them from her and asked, “Do you have any knickers I can borrow,” and coughed.

She laughed and said, “Oh yeah, course,” and pulled a black pair out of a drawer.

I thanked her slipped them up my legs and tucking myself between my legs, pulled them up tight. I then positioned the pads in the bra, my breasts nearly filled the cups with their help.

“Jesus, if I didn’t know, I’d think you were a woman,” she said looking at me critically.

“I am,” I replied, “It’s just the plumbing that needs fixing.”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 3

We stood looking at each other for a few moments. “Plumbing?” she said looking puzzled.

“Yes, my plumbing. It sticks out when it should go in.”

“Ah!” she said, “I have a sharp knife in the kitchen.”

“I think I’ll wait for the NHS if you don’t mind, but thank you for offering.”

She smiled at me and blushed very slightly. For the first time I actually looked at her. Normally my perusal of women was to absorb information, how they spoke or moved; gestures, their clothes, their make up and hair styles. Okay, I did take their overall appearance in as well and could admire a pretty face; I could do the same with men, acknowledge someone had a nice face or body. She was certainly in the category of pretty.

I looked a bit more carefully, her short dark hair was well cut, layered into her neck and with a fringe at the front. Her face was small and heart shaped and she had the most amazing brown eyes, like melted chocolate.

“What do you want to wear?” she asked breaking my reverie.

“Whatever you’re prepared to loan me, how about some jeans and a top?” I began to think about how I would get back into my flat, well all right, bedsit. I had made the odd sortie out at night and once or twice during the day when I thought it was quiet.

“Hmmmm,” she said looking at me, what size shoe?”

“A six usually,” I have relatively small hands and feet.

“I have a pair of boots that might just fit you, I only take a five.” She went off to the wardrobe and began to dig in the bottom of it. “Here they are, try them on. Oh use these;” she threw me a pair of pop socks and passed me the boots.

“Wow, they’re a bit high compared to what I usually wear.” I’d slipped on the thin socks and then the boots, they were red with three inch heel, a rather narrow pointed heel. I stood unsteadily, feeling very naked in the black underwear and the red boots.

“Walk about a bit, you’ll get the hang of it,” she emphasised the fact by shooing me away from the bed I’d been sitting on to put on the hose and boots.

I stepped carefully around the room and after a few wobbles began to walk almost normally, except I was on my toes much more than usual. “I don’t know, they are quite high.”

“Sorry, that’s all I have in your size. They were an impulse buy in a sale and they’ve never fitted me, even with thick socks on, so you can have them as they seem to fit you better.”

“You’re very kind, but I’m not sure…”

“You will be once you’ve walked a bit in them, now what can you wear with them, a skirt I think. I know…” She reached into the wardrobe and pulled out a patterned skirt with a red background and patch pockets on the front. It was a close match to the red in the boots. “Here,” she said handing it to me.

I accepted the garment, stepping into it and drew it up around my hips and waist. It fell below the tops of the boots and I liked the pockets in it; somewhere to put my hands. Whilst I was putting on the skirt she found a black tee-shirt with a vee neck and short, capped sleeves. “Try this,” she said as she offered it to me. It fitted as well as any I have worn, moulding itself to my enhanced breasts and small waist.

“Jesus,” she shook her head, “With the right hairstyle and make up, you’d have all the boys chasing you. I can’t believe you’re, I mean used to be a boy.”

“I don’t know if I want all the boys chasing me, they’d probably want to beat my head in or something equally nasty.” I remembered one or two episodes when my small size and pretty looks had me identified as a ‘homo’ and on the wrong side of a beating. I tended to be rather wary of boys after that.

“Oh, into girls are we?” she teased as I caught sight of myself in the mirror.

“I haven’t really thought too much about it. I suspected I might end up on my own, so it wasn’t a priority.”

“What, you’ve never had the hots for anyone?”

“Not really. It doesn’t really surprise me as lots of transsexuals have low libidos and the oestrogen doesn’t exactly do much for it either.”

“Oh!” she said, “So does that mean you’re a virgin?”

“Can I take the fifth amendment on that?” I replied, blushing furiously.

“If we were in the states you could, but we’re not, so answer the question.”

“I also heard that nurses are over-sexed and notorious for multiple relationships,” I changed the subject rapidly, throwing it back into her court.

“Huh?” she said looking at me, “Would you care to restate that in plain English?”

“They sleep around,” I said feeling very uncomfortable.

“Oh that, yeah some do.” She blushed after looking as if she was recalling some memory, then she laughed. She pointed at the ladder-backed chair in front of her makeshift dressing table, “If Modom would care to place her derriere on the receptacle provided, we could explore the suitability of certain coiffures.”

“What?” I asked.

“Sit yer arse on the chair an’ we’ll have a butchers at yer barnett.”

“What?” I asked again no nearer understanding what she meant.

She pointed at the chair, “Barnett fair, hair. Cockney rhyming slang, don’t they teach you anything at that bloody university? Now get your bum over here.”

I stepped cautiously over to the seat, the boots were becoming almost comfortable or perhaps I should say, I was getting used to tottering about on my toes. She picked up a comb and began to comb back my hair, I began to enjoy the sensation. In a few moments she had deftly combed any knots out of my tresses and parted it in the middle.

“You’ve got nice thick hair,” she combed it once again, “but it could do with a trim.”

“Probably,” I said half in a trance, “I haven’t had much time recently.”

“Want me to do it?” she offered.

“Erm … I, erm.” I was on the spot and felt a rapid onset of cowardice.

“I used to do hairdressing before I went nursing, I won’t mess it up if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I erm, um, okay;” I mumbled.

“Okay what?”

“Okay, you can trim it.” I felt myself getting very hot.

“Wait there, let me get my cape thingy.” She left the room and returned within a couple of minutes. She had obviously run up the stairs because she was breathing quite heavily and looked red in the face. “Can we do this in the kitchen, otherwise I’ll never get all the bits up from this carpet?”

I nodded my agreement, and followed her to the stairs where I remembered I was wearing potential death traps on my feet. I stepped down the stairs with careful deliberateness, she watched my lumbering descent but said nothing simply smiling at my efforts.

Then I sat on the dining chair, while she slipped a smock thing around me. She moistened my hair with a spray and began combing and brushing again. Once more I went into my little trance, I loved having my hair touched it did things to me. I could feel almost like a buzzing sensation that travelled up my spine and ended at the top of my head. I was aware of the pull of the comb and the snipping noise of the scissors but not much else from outside myself. I was too preoccupied with internal sensation to even notice she was talking to me.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 4

I was lost in my own internal world of sensation, the gentle tugging at my hair, the snipping of the scissors and this strange buzz that emanated somewhere from my spine and finished on the top of my head. I wondered if it was my chakras that were being charged up, but dismissed that idea as I wasn’t sure if there was such a thing as a chakra. There was another noise too, but it seemed very distant—then suddenly it got very loud.

“Hey Missy Muppet, I’m talking to you,” she said fortissimo alongside my ear.

I jumped as I was wrenched back to the real world from my world of feelings. “Oh, I’m sorry I was miles away.”

“Tell me something I don’t know, you getting off on this? You are aren’t you?” she teased me.

“What d’you mean?” I blushed profusely.

“This is turning you on, isn’t it?” she laughed from behind me still playing with my hair.

“Not exactly.”

“Go on, I’ll bet something is straining against your knickers.”

“If it is it must have disconnected from the rest of me,” I replied dismissively.

“Oh!” she said, “don’t you find this stimulating?”

“Not in that sense, I find it very relaxing and I was nearly asleep,” I lied.

“Oh, I thought all you cross-gender types, found the dressing up bit very exciting.”

“You’ve been misinformed,” I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue the conversation in this vein, I felt a little threatened and was becoming defensive. I was also a bit peeved that she had stopped touching my hair.

“Well that guy I used to work with, he was always turned on by his dressing up and make up and stuff. Put a dress on him and he was anybody’s.”

“Sorry but I’m not.”

“So I see,” she began to brush my hair, turning it under at the edges.

“Look, I’m no expert but we’re all different. Some experts describe it as a continuum of gender identity. Personally I think it may be more complex than that.”

“Go on,” she said spraying some stuff on my hair.

“This is just my opinion, we are all unique and the things that make us who and what we are, are the forces that mould us. No one knows why some men are macho and some are sensitive, or why some are gay and some aren’t and so on. There are plenty of theories about why I think I’m female and as to why your friend used to get turned on by wearing dresses, but no one knows for sure. All I can say is that wearing a skirt doesn’t make me feel sexually excited, it feels okay insofar as it feels right, but clothes and make up don’t turn me on.”

She had moved to stand by the side of me and held the brush with both hands up near her throat. “So what does turn you on then?”

“Dunno,” I said blushing like a stop light.

“So nothing turns you on?”

“Look this is getting very personal and I’m not sure I want to continue this conversation.”

“So if I dropped all my clothes and stood here naked, it wouldn’t do anything for you?”

“Look, can we change the subject?” I was still blushing and feeling very uncomfortable.

“I find that fascinating, are you gay?”

“No I’m not fucking anything, all right?” I felt tears form in my eyes as I shouted.

“All right keep your hair on, I’m only trying to learn, that’s all. No offence and all that.” She stood still for a moment as I began to feel the tears form rivulets down my cheeks. She must have noticed because she handed me a sheet of kitchen roll and apologised. “Don’t cry,” she exhorted, “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“But you wouldn’t stop your silly questions,” I wailed and sobbed.

She put her arm around my shoulder and squeezed me against her body, my head was pulled against her breast and I could smell her perfume or soap. “I’m sorry,” she said. She hugged me again, “I find you fascinating,” she said, “you are just so girly.”

“I’m sorry,” I sniffed, wiping my nose on the kitchen paper.

“I don’t mean that in a nasty way,” she explained, “You don’t have any make up on, yet no one would think you were a boy. Facially, you have soft features, your body is female shaped and..”

“I like cycling,” I interrupted, “the same as most women.”

“Ah, yes.” She frowned at me, “Lots of women do ride bikes, my mother does.”

“Do they build their own?”

“I have no idea; I expect some might; I have a girlfriend at work who does her own car servicing and repairs.”

“Strange people nurses,” I quipped.

“Nah, she’s not a nurse, she’s a radiographer. I reckon it’s all that radiation, does something to their brains.”

We laughed for a moment and I had to wipe my runny nose again. “So what do you do that’s a bit different?” I asked her getting her away from the subject of my sexuality.

“You mean apart from prettying up transsexuals I knock off bicycles?”

I blushed as a response but nodded my reply to her nonsensical question.

“I gave up astrophysics to do hair dressing, they’re not very compatible, all those cosmic rays play hell with a rinse. Then I drifted into nursing because they managed to find someone else to run the UN. In between times, I’ve been a fighter pilot, a deep sea diver and a brain surgeon, not to mention writing a best seller which has been translated into nine hundred and seventy three languages. I’m very big in the Indian sub-continent;” she joked doing a little curtsey.

“What was the title of your book?” I asked, captivated by her silliness.

“Yak breeding for beginners,” she said and we both laughed until tears formed.

“Big in Tibet?” I added, and we laughed some more.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 5

“So where did you do your Yak breeding?” I asked tongue firmly placed in my cheek.

“Oh that?” she almost casually dismissed, “in a yak nursery, we used to have one but swapped it for a microscope.”

“For a microscope?” I asked in amazement.

“Yes, my fiancé used to treat testicular cancer in ants.”

“Ants have testicles?” I asked, the conversation was surreal but it was fun.

“Where do you think baby ants come from?” she demanded.

“A queen, she lays them all most of which become female workers, some are soldiers and others are like drone bees, fertilise the queen in order to set up a new colony.”

“So you know all about ants then?”

“No but when I did biology in school, we had a formicarium in the lab. I found their activities fascinating. Some of the boys used to steal the eggs and feed them to the goldfish we also had in the lab.”

“You weren’t amongst them?”

“The boys, good lord no, I used to sit on my own at the front next to the girls.”

“Next to, not with?”

“Sometimes the girls let me sit with them, sometimes they wouldn’t. The same was true at lunch times and break times. There was one particular girl who didn’t like me, don’t know why. as far as I know I didn’t do anything to upset her, not deliberately anyway.”

“She didn’t fancy you then?”

“Meeeee? Ha, that’s a laugh. Why would anyone fancy me?”

“Because you’re quite pretty, or would be with a bit of makeup.”

I felt myself blushing. I had been described as girly or ‘pretty-boy’ throughout my school days, something which had carried over to university. It hurt me some days, other days it made me feel proud because someone was seeing me as I really was, a girl. But were they, or was it my fancy? Now someone was saying I looked like a girl and I should be delighted, but I’m embarrassed maybe even scared.

“Do you use makeup?” asked my hostess cum hairstylist.

“I have some at home,” I answered feeling uncomfortable. The truth was I had odd bits and pieces I’d acquired from various places, supermarkets and so on, usually in places far from where I lived. I didn’t use it much because it didn’t always come off easily and may lead to my discovery and because I wasn’t much good with it.

“Come on,” she said, I’ll give you a free lesson.

“What for?” I asked more in defensive manoeuvre than anything else, I felt that I was losing all control of the situation.

“Because you’re a girl, isn’t that good enough? Or aren’t you, are you telling me porkies?”

“What do you mean?” I asked now feeling very threatened. If she was to turn funny, here I was stuck in the middle of nowhere wearing women’s clothes and high-heeled boots, with a broken bike and no money or means of transport. How would I get home, and dressed like this?

“Well, are you really a woman or have you lied to me?”

I paused before answering and swallowed loudly. I felt choked and my eyes began to glaze as water gathered in them. “I haven’t lied to you at all. I’m transsexual that doesn’t make me anything at the moment, so I’m a nothing.” The water escaped over the top of the dam and I burst into tears.

She walked up to me and hugged me. Part of me wanted her to hug me as tightly as she could because no one ever did, I was pretty well an ‘untouchable’, but there was a part of me which didn’t really trust her. Was she playing with me and why?

“You silly goose,” she said hugging me tighter, and a warm sensation spread slowly up my spine. “You are not a nothing, never believe that. You might not yet be who you wish to be, but believe that you will be one day, and it will happen.”

“I wish I could believe you,” I sobbed allowing her to squeeze me even harder, the warm sensation diffusing out from my spine to engulf my whole body.

“It’s not me you have to believe but yourself, now come on dry your eyes and let’s get some make up on them, better make it waterproof mascara, don’t you think?” she chuckled as she grabbed my hand and pulled me up the stairs.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 6

Climbing stairs in heels is slightly easier than going down. The heels tilt you forward so there is more chance of falling up than down. However, none of this was going through my mind as my hairdressing hostess dragged me up the stairs.

I staggered back into the bedroom and she shoved me into the ladder-backed chair once again. I almost felt glad to be seated, the heels were higher than anything I usually wore, though I had bought the odd pair of silly ones from charity shops when I was younger. Younger, I was all of twenty-three!

My tormentress was stood with her back towards me, laying out her instruments of torture on her makeshift dressing table. “What colour are your eyes?” she asked without turning round.

“Green, I think.”

“Yeah, that’s okay, we can use browns then.”

“Sorry?” I queried.

“If your eyes had been blue or grey, we’d have needed different colours of eyeliner and shadow and stuff.”

“Oh,” I said feeling out of my depth, “I usually bung on some green shadow and black mascara.”

“Does it usually look a mess?” she asked still fiddling at her shelf and her back still to me.

I felt myself blushing, “Erm, I erm, didn’t think so.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it to sound quite that brutal. Usually young girls and others who don’t have much experience of makeup, tend to look very amateurish. They use too much, have no idea of blending or subtle use of colours. They often have so much pearlised eye shadow on that they could be used as cat’s eyes.”

“Oh,” I sighed feeling dejected; how did she know I had pearlised eye shadow?

“You okay?” she asked glancing back.

“I suppose so,” I said with more than a hint of resignation.

“We don’t have to do this,” she added.

“What’s taking you so long?” I asked.

“I’m trying to get the old mascara off my eyelash curler;” she replied waving said instrument in the air.

“Eyelash curler?” my voice felt as if it was trembling, “won’t that hurt?”

“Only if you catch your eyelid.”

“Catch my eyelid? I’m not sure I’m ready for that degree of femaleness,” I quivered. I had this flash of her tearing off an eyelid with the torture tool.

“What!” she gasped, “I thought you were lined up for a sex change?”

“As far as I know, sex reassignment surgery does not require me to have my eyelids torn off. It’s my testicles they remove not my eye-balls.”

“You wimp!” she declared shaking her head.

“I am not,” I declared back, “I’ve fallen off my bike a few times and…” I paused thinking about the times I’d fallen off my bike. It bloody well hurt and I shared that with anyone who was prepared to listen. This recollection prevented me suggesting how brave I was, because it wasn’t really true. I might have gender identity disorder or whatever they call it, but I’m not a liar.”

“Yeah, and what?” she asked.

“I know what pain is,” I threw in, saved by the bell.

“Try a bad period or childbirth, then you’ll know about pain,” she threw back.

“I once came down hard on the crossbar, was black and blue for weeks.”

She stopped and looked at me obviously thinking about something; then asked, “Is that why it’s so small?”

I gasped in shock. What a personal thing to say, but on reflection realised I had provoked it. “No, I was always small. In school I refused to use the showers because of the insults.”

“Awwwwwwww,” she said rubbing my shoulder. “Right let’s get on, shall we?” Then before I could say anything in reply, she asked,” Do you usually use any sort of foundation?”

“No,” I said because I had never worked out what sort I should need.

She placed her fingers under my chin and lifted my head up, “You don’t shave do you?”

“No.”

“You are very lucky missy, you don’t need to wear skin make up, especially in the day time. Your skin is as good as most women.”

“It is?” I squeaked, “I mean is it?”

“Yeah, it is. She looked at me and said, “What are you going to call yourself when you go through with things?”

“Catherine,” I said blushing like sunburst.

“Right Cathy, let’s get busy.” She held a pot of cream and began rubbing it on to my skin. “A quick cleanser.”

I nearly said that I’d had a shower not an hour before, but thought better of it. What did I know?

She wiped my face with a wet wipe thing, then told me to close my eyes.

There was a sudden pain in my eyebrow, “Ouch!” I yelled opening my eyes.

“Hold still, and keep quiet, I’m only pulling out one or two straggly hairs.”

“God, everyone will notice,” I protested.

“Don’t be such a baby,” she chided; “nobody will notice, they can’t see them anyway, they’re so fair.”

I sat still and sulked, the way things were going I was going to need a sex change by the end of the week to balance my eyebrows. maybe I could tell anyone who noticed that I’d had an attack of symmetrical alopecia. Yeah that sounded good, makes your eyebrows very thin but doesn’t make them disappear entirely. It’s very rare so you won’t see it in any medical textbook, only affects trannies and transsexuals! Maybe I won’t say the last bit, I thought to myself.

“There that looks better,” she said rubbing some cream into my damaged face.

“I look like a plucked turkey, I’ll bet.”

“Chicken!” she riposted.

“Plucked chicken, then.” I wasn’t going to argue about scale.

“You big chicken, I stopped because you sounded like a cat having sex and I couldn’t take the noise anymore.”

I blushed with embarrassment and indignation. I once had my legs waxed before a bike race and I sat bravely silent, mind you my eyes watered. I decided not to offer this example of my courage in case she decided to wax my eyebrows. Maybe I was chicken?

So engrossed was I that I didn’t notice she had put some sort of crayon on my brows, until she had finished. I hope all this stuff comes off, I thought to myself.

“Eyes shut,” she barked and I felt a blunt stick or something being run across my eyelid near my eyelashes. “It’s only eyeliner, so keep still and eyes shut, no don’t screw them up like that, relax Cathy.”

“I didn’t ask your name,” I said wondering why I hadn’t asked for it at the site of the accident.

“I’m Stella,” I heard a smile in her voice.

“If your surname is Artois, I won’t believe another word you say.”

“That’s rather an old joke,” she chided me.

“Well I thought it was funny.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” she continued rhetorically, “And if you tell me I’m a star, just remember I’m moving across your eye with a sharp applicator stick.”

“Okay, okay I surrender!” I thought discretion the finer part of valour.

I sat with my eyes closed and felt her rub something blunt and cold onto my eyelids, which was then rubbed with a finger, obviously eye shadow.

“Open them and look up,” she commanded as she drew lines under my eyes. Then came the dreaded eyelash curlers.

“Watch out,” I squeaked, “you’ll have my bloody eye out!”

“You’ve got another one, keep still.”

“Ouch, you’ve got my eyelid.”

“Well stop blinking then!”

“You try sitting still while somebody is prising your eyelids off.”

“You big baby, keep still.”

This banter went on for several minutes because she followed the eyelid curling with mascara, and once more I feared for my sight. Eventually, she stopped endangering my visual organs and put some blusher and lipstick on me.

“There, pretty well finished. I see you’ve got pierced ears, took Valium for that, did you?”

“Ha ha, very funny. That didn’t hurt one bit compared to you poking my eye out.”

“I’ve got a piercing gun, shall we do a couple more holes?” she said calling my bluff.

“Nah, I think it looks common,” I retorted before I noticed she had two in each earlobe. Oh bugger! “On some people,” I quickly added, knowing it was too late.

She gave me a dirty look and I was about to apologise when I heard a door shutting and a male voice called, “Stella.” I froze in shock.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 7

Stella waved me to stay put, while she went out the bedroom door and I heard her call back, “Hi Simon, back already, is it still raining?”

My heart was pounding, I wanted to quieten it in case Simon could hear it downstairs. Compared to this, the pounding in my ears from a hard hill climb, was nothing. I felt really frightened, who was Simon?

I tried to rationalise things. Why am I worried? Well for one, I stood here dressed in women’s clothes, in a relative stranger’s house, with no money and no easy means of escape and no one else knows I am here. What if they were hostile? What if Stella was telling Simon all about me and arranging for him to kill me? My heart was pounding so hard now that I thought for a moment I was going to have a stroke or something.

Standing up, but scared to walk about in case it brought Simon up the stairs, I caught sight of someone in the mirror. I nearly jumped out of my skin, there was another woman here I hadn’t seen. Shit, there’s three of them!

I spun around, but there was no one there. God, I’m seeing things now. There was nowhere for her to go. I turned around again and I could see her in the mirror once more, but I couldn’t see myself. Was I already dead and this some fantasy as I left my body, lying inert on the roadside somewhere?

There was no one there, then I looked once more in the mirror and this time raised my hand, so did she. My God, it’s me and I didn’t recognise myself. Jesus, Mary and Joseph what has she done to me?

Momentarily, I forgot about the couple downstairs so absorbed was I in my change of appearance. Christ it was different from my usual attempts. My hair was so different, which made a huge change to my overall visage. I shook my head in disbelief and she did too. I was stunned, not to put too fine a point on it.

Somewhere many miles away a voice called but I hardly registered it, I was looking at my makeup, wow, it was so, so erm, good. Yeah, good it was obvious but subtle at the same time unlike my usual clown stuff. Wow! It was all I could say.

“Cathy are you all right?” called Stella and this time I heard it.

My voice, it’s going to give me away, oh bugger! I walked towards the landing and almost whispered back, “I’m okay.”

“What?” called Stella.

“I’m okay,” I whispered again.

“What did you say?” she yelled.

Oh fuck it, here goes, “I’m okay,” I called back deciding that whoever Simon was he knew I was there anyway and probably knew all about me, especially if he was going to kill me.

“Come on down and meet Simon,” called Stella from the foot of the stairs.

Why is it that there are never any handy weapons lying around in the average British household? I mean if Stella and Simon inhabited one of those huge country houses they always have in Hitchcock films, I could snatch a sword from a display on the wall or from a suit of armour stood at the foot of the stairs and do a Douglas Fairbanks, seeing off the villain and getting the girl.

I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror, there were a number of flaws in my scheme, not least the lack of weaponry and with the mirror’s reminder, I was the girl. Shit, where is Douglas Fairbanks or Errol Flynn when you needed them? Forget that, given their womanising reputations, I might actually be more at risk from them than Simon.

Who was Simon? I mused he must be the fiancé who did surgery on ants. Yeah, sure he does. Stella was standing at the foot of the stairs watching my descent, not made any more elegant by the boots.

“I’ve told him you’re a girl I ran into,” she hissed at me.

“He doesn’t know…?” I gestured at myself.

“No, why should he?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “Okay.” My stomach did somersaults killing half the butterflies that were flying around it at Mach 4. What am I doing, trying to con some strange bloke into thinking I’m a girl? If he’s blind and deaf, I might have half a chance otherwise he’s going to spot me in seconds.

My life seemed to flash before me, or my previous escapades in my preferred role. There weren’t that many, just as well as I was only a couple of stairs from the hallway.

My first starring role was discovering my cousin’s clothes when they came to visit when I was about three, she was a few months older. I got some laughs from that, although my dad didn’t take too kindly to it.

Then in school at the Christmas nativity play, the girl who played Mary went sick just before the performance, I was an extra angel but seemed to have all the lines off pat ’cos much of the time I was an unofficial prompt. I was dragged off stage, dewinged, rewrapped in dress and headscarf and whipped back on the stage before I could say, “Angel Gabriel.” I took some stick for that, I can tell you but my delivery was excellent. Mind you I only had three lines.

Not having anyone my size at home, I didn’t really have much chance to borrow clothes until I was big enough to use my mother’s stuff. There I was at fourteen dressed like a thirty five year old, nah, not good memories. I was also still screwed up about what I was not helped by my small appendage. In high school that was going to give me a hard time—no pun intended.

Then finally, my escape to uni, I managed to build up a small collection of things mostly uncoordinated because I was so nervous that I’d be caught buying them or wearing them, or simply hiding them.

After three years, shortage of cash and fright meant my wardrobe had grown very little, it was still minuscule compared to a biological woman of my age. I reached the bottom step.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 8

I felt all trembly as I reached the hall. I knew nothing about Simon but going on the information divulged by Stella, which I know is a dangerous thing, I had to assume he was her fiancé. The problem was she had joked about so much earlier that I didn’t know what was and wasn’t true. But then again, if Simon didn’t know about me then I was also a deception or should that be deceiver? What a time to consider syntax?

I had a funny idea flit through what was left of my mind; I was being taken out to be shot by some hostiles, don’t ask me who. I was female, so maybe it was my take on Mata Hari, I don’t know but as I’m walking to face the firing squad I wonder what they will put on the death certificate. Will it be, “Death by firing squad,” Death by misadventure,” “Executed,” if they weren’t legit, would it be, “Unlawful killing,” or even, “Murder by person or persons unknown”?

My mind was firmly under control, of what, is the obvious question because it wasn’t me? Its attempts to play delaying tactics to stop me being done to death by Stella and the homicidal Simon weren’t working: I was now about to enter the same room my possible murderer was waiting in. Surely he could hear the beating of my heart; I was sure it was bouncing between my ribs and bra strap.

Stella gripped my arm and hissed, “It’s okay, I told him about the accident so he might think you’re a little shocked.”

Shocked was okay, ‘little’ was a word I could take issue with but there was no time, perhaps we could go back upstairs and discuss it? Stella half-dragged me into the sitting room. I staggered with buttocks clenched afraid the slightest movement would cause me to fil … no you don’t want to know, suffice it to say, a cough could be dangerous.

I caught my first glimpse of Simon, which given I was looking at the floor most of the time while experiencing a force ten blush, was difficult.

He was tall, dark and handsome. That’s it, he was. Okay, he was about six feet tall, with dark curly hair and a smile that could melt steel. I blushed some more as Stella said, “Simon this is Cathy, Cathy, Simon.”

“Honestly Stell, you could have told me your friend was beautiful?” He held out his hand to me.

I almost felt like looking around to see if he was talking about somebody else, me—beautiful? Ha! Maybe he would spare my life if I recommended a good optician?

With reservations, I proffered my hand, while blushing and half looking away. He gently took my hand in both of his and said, “Delighted to meet you Cathy, are you staying for dinner?”

Staying for dinner? Or should that be staying to dinner? What’s the name of that cannibal doctor in ‘Silence of the Chickens?’ Hannibal, he has a friend for dinner. Oh my God, they’re cannibals. They’re not just going to kill me, I’m on the menu too!

“How do you do?” I said politely thinking I sounded like Minnie Mouse having a strangulated hernia catch in her knicker elastic.

“How very formal, please do relax, I’m not going to eat you, you know.”

That was it, he’d confirmed my suspicions, who else but cannibals would think about eating people? Well cannibals and their prospective victims in that context—damn my brain. That bloody university has something to answer for, or should that be to? Oh sod it!

“A glass of wine, or something stronger?” asked Simon.

“Wine is fine,” I said almost poetically. They couldn’t poison me in case I was no longer edible, so I felt safe. I took the glass of red and after sipping it thought, but it could be laced with sedatives to make me easier to kill.

I glanced again at Simon who was pouring a glass for Stella from the same bottle, he was about six inches or more taller than I was and probably half as broad again. He wouldn’t need sedatives, I’d be a push over.

I glanced again, goodness his eyes were blue! Didn’t that maniac monk in the Leonardo Code, have bright blue eyes? Or was it, the Righteous Men? Damn I was mixing my novels as well as my drinks.

“Sorry to hear about your bike, I hope it can be repaired.” he smiled at me. “I’ll run you back to your place after dinner.”

“I’m always telling Simon that I’ve bumped into old friends, this time it was true,” Stella’s eyes were laughing as she spoke. I wished I were as pretty as she was.

“Yes but usually they’re frumpy old nurses not beautiful cyclists. She says you’re doing a master’s?”

“Yes, in Forensic Anthropology.” I was lying but I thought I’d make him think twice about killing me.

“My goodness, you must know Ruth?” he smiled and I looked blank. “Ruth Randall, she teaches on your course.”

Oh bugger! “I do?” (cough) I do, of course I do.”

“How is she?”

“Fine as far as I know?”

“So her cancer is in remission?”

Talk about digging my own grave, I was making it very deep. How do I get out of this one? I did wonder about simulating an epileptic fit except I’ve never seen one and I’d need something to make me froth at the mouth. A heart attack? Keep going and I’ll have one for real, maybe a simple faint?

At this point fate took a hand in the proceedings, he offered me a chair and in stepping forward my heel caught in a thick rug and I went sprawling—in his general direction.

Red wine flew everywhere, his went over him and I landed on top of him knocking us both over. Amazingly, I didn’t get any wine on my clothes. I was so embarrassed and in trying to get up, kept stepping on the hem of my skirt and falling back down again.

Simon, to give him his due, lay there laughing, “First time a girl has fallen for me,” he kept saying and chortling. Stella was giggling helplessly and I was making a bigger fool of myself by the second.

“If you’re going to have your wicked way with me, can you hurry up? This stuff is going to stain my shirt if it dries.” He chortled some more and I blushed as hot as a nuclear reactor core.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 9

Eventually the shenanigans on the floor stopped, Stella helped me to my knees and then to my feet. I felt extremely stupid and embarrassed and was blushing like a stop light. Simon still lay on the floor convulsed with laughter. Stella was also chuckling. She looked at me seriously for a moment and said, “Now you’ve lain with him you’ll have to marry him.” This brought a further fit of guffaws from the floor and she dissolved into giggles at her own joke.

Sadly, I didn’t find it very funny just managing another pulse of blushing. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t know where to look, certainly not at Simon, who was still prone and laughing. He was wiping his eyes where the tears of laughter had flowed. I had tears in my eyes too, but not of laughter. I wished I had a car. I could have gone home, but a broken bike and high heeled boots—no way, nor could I afford a taxi. I was therefore stuck with my two hosts until one or other took me home.

I walked away and sat down. I’d helped myself to a couple of tissues from Stella’s bedroom and I dabbed at my eyes and wiped my nose. Simon stood up at last; he noticed me weeping and came over to me.

“Hey beautiful, don’t cry,” he said holding on to both my wrists.

“I feel so stuuuuuuuuuuupid,” I wailed. I could cry as well as any natural woman.

“It was an accident, nobody’s hurt and no damage has been done.” He patted me on the shoulder, “Come on, dry those tears.”

“I feel such a foooooooool!” I said before blowing my nose. I expected the mascara to be all down my face by now.

“Honestly, you’re not. Well you can’t be, you’re doing a master’s, so dry those eyes and tidy yourself up, I’ll go and shower and change and we’ll all go out for dinner.”

“I can’t go out for dinner,” I wailed, the tears flowing again, “I haven’t got any money with me.”

“You’re my guest, my treat,” he smiled at me. “Come on girl, calm down before you get hiccups.” How did he know that?

He rose and went to shower; Stella came over to me. “I’m sorry we laughed, but it was so funny. We weren’t laughing at you, just the silliness of the situation.”

“I found it embarrassing, not at all funny.”

“You certainly made an impact on Simon,” she said smiling.

“Yes quite literally,” I said almost absent-mindedly, thinking, she’ll be wanting to kill me messing about with her fiancé. “It was an accident, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea,” I said trying to avoid any jealous reaction.

“Wrong idea?” she looked puzzled.

“Well, he is your fiancé,” I said expressing my surmise.

“Fiancé?” she said loudly, “Good Lord no! He’s my brother.”

“Oh! But I thought you said about a fiancé and I thought it must be him and now I’ve made an even bigger fool of myself and wish I was dead…”

“Cathy, stop!” she said loudly enough to halt my monologue.

“What?” I looked at her in surprise.

“You don’t have to make apologies or justify anything, okay? Nobody thinks you’re stupid, it was an accident, we had a laugh and now it’s finished, okay?”

“But I…”

“No, stop, stop right there. It’s finished now let’s get your make up sorted and I’ll lend you a coat or jacket and we’ll go for something to eat, after which Simon can take you home.”

“What about my bike?”

“We can put that in the boot, he’s got a big Volvo thing.”

“But I don’t have any money with me,” I protested.

“He’s already answered that, he’s taking us out for dinner and don’t worry he’s not short of a bob or two.”

“But I like to pay my own way,” I protested and it was true. I didn’t want to be indebted to anyone, least of all strangers.

“You’re too emancipated girl, you’ve got to learn how to make use of your looks. Men are all putty in the hands of a pretty girl.”

“But I’m not, am I?” I felt embarrassed by the charade I was being almost forced to play.

“He doesn’t know that and what his eyes don’t see his heart won’t grieve over.”

“But I’m deceiving him,” I complained.

“Only with the bit between your legs, otherwise you’re all girl.”

“I don’t know if I can do this?” I said feeling very frightened.

“If you don’t then he’ll want to know why.”

“Maybe I should tell him.”

“Why? Why spoil his evening? Once we sort out the damage to your bike…”

“But you said you weren’t insured,” I was more confused than ever.

“I am, but not on my own policy, it’s all done through Simon, it’s his car. That’s why I couldn’t do anything until he came in, he’s got all the paperwork.”

“Oh!” I leant back in the chair and the relief felt palpable; at least it looked as if my bike would be sorted.

“Better now?” Stella stood beside me, her head crooked at an angle.

“A bit,” I confessed, “but I’m terrified about going out in public like this.”

“No worries, once we get your face cleaned up, no one will know anything other than you’re a pretty young thing.”

“But what if they do?”

“How will they, unless you go in the gents’ toilet or something?”

“But I’ve never been out in public like this before.” It wasn’t strictly true, but Stella didn’t know it.

“Well it’s about bloody time you did then, so get upstairs and I’ll help you sort your face.”

Stella was not going to brook any dissent from me and she practically frog-marched me up the stairs and redid my makeup. Then while I was sat on the chair in her bedroom, she began stripping off. I felt my eyes widen and my mouth open. “Do you want me to leave?” I offered, although I didn’t want to go.

“Don’t be silly, girls watch each other change all the time. No you can stay and talk to me.”

I watched as she disrobed to her bra and panties, she sorted through her wardrobe and pulled out a navy blue dress which fitted her like a glove. She had a splendid figure, especially compared to mine. “You look lovely,” I told her.

“Why thank you Cathy, you look pretty good yourself.”

“Only because of your skills,” I threw back.

“Nuh uh,” she protested, “I only enhanced what was there, the raw material is good. Here have a squirt,” she handed me a bottle of Opium eau de toilette.

“Oh, I like that,” I said smelling my wrists.

“And a bit down your cleavage,” she said pointing at my chest, “It’ll get Simon going, he loves it.”

“Oh,” I blushed, not sure if I wanted to get him going or anybody else for that matter,

“You two ready yet?” called Simon from downstairs.

“Nearly,” replied Stella, “Come on, let’s find you a jacket and a bag.” With that she scoured her wardrobe for the required items.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 10

Stella led me out to the driveway, Simon was loading my broken bicycle into his boot. “Cor this is light isn’t it?” he remarked about my bike, “carbon fibre, I suppose?”

I nodded my response and smiled. Let him think me stupid and himself clever, because if we get into the finer points of bike construction, I might give myself away. I saw my battered Mavic rear wheel, still with flailing spokes, as he shut down the boot lid. It had taken me a week to build those wheels, and seconds for Stella to destroy one of them.

“Nice bit of kit, do you race?” Simon turned towards me wiping his hands of any oil or water from my precious velocipede.

“Occasionally, sometimes I ride with the university club and mostly I ride on my own. It helps me to think as well as keep me fit.”

“It certainly does wonders for your figure, maybe I should try it,” Simon tapped his belly. He actually looked in good shape, so I think he was making small talk, or worse starting a chat up.

I looked at him, he was quite good looking, his dark curly hair drooped over his one eyebrow after he’d bent to stow my bike. Were I looking to be chatted up, I could do worse. Then I realised what I was thinking to myself. My God, what was happening to me?

“It’s unlocked,” he said before he got in the driver’s seat. Stella, got in behind him. I walked around the back of the car and opened the passenger door to sit beside Stella in the back and was told to go and sit in the front with Simon.

I took a deep breath and got in the front, smoothing my skirt as I sat on the plush leather upholstered seats. I pulled on the seat belt and sat as close to the door as the seat and belt would allow me to.

“I don’t bite,” smiled Simon and recollections of my thoughts of them as cannibals came flooding back. I smiled back at him, but stayed where I was. He sighed and started the car.

I can drive but don’t have a car: they cost too much money to buy and run. Instead I choose to use bikes—a MTB for running about the campus or town on, and my thoroughbred, presently lame and lying in the boot of the car. The car was an automatic—I’ve only driven one of those once. It half frightened me to death—I kept stepping on the brake with my left foot.

Simon reversed out of the driveway and eased the car into drive and off we went. The purring of the engine was barely noticeable and the coldness of the leather was becoming warm under my bum. “Nice car,” I said and smiled at the driver.

“Yeah, a change from Beamers, I’m quite pleased with it.”

Generally speaking BMW drivers, along with several other high performance makes such as Audi plus the Chelsea tractors*, are not viewed by most cyclists as friendly. My own experience would bear that out, having nearly come to grief at the hands of an Audi driver only last week. Somehow, they expect you to disappear or get out of their way, so they can continue on their self-absorbed journeys. Our usual term for such morons rhymes with anchor!

So Simon was a reformed BMW driver. I wasn’t sure if that boded well or badly for him, because Volvos can be just as badly driven, especially the old estate versions which handled like tanks.

Again I had to stop and tell myself off. What am I thinking? I might be a girl inside, but at the moment under all these feminine items and makeup, is a bloke with tits. I shook my head at my own folly.

Simon saw me and asked me what I was thinking. I blushed and lied, “I’m wondering how I’m going to get my bike repaired.”

“Look I pass a bike shop on my way to the office each day, why not leave it with me and I’ll get it sorted for you?” He beamed a smile at me; unfortunately, this wasn’t really what I wanted to hear. The sixteen pounds of alloy and carbon fibre lodged in his boot was my baby—I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted someone else messing with it. But how do you tell that to someone who thinks they are doing you a favour? Or was it his sister he was protecting?

“No it’s okay,” I said, “there’s a shop not far from my place, I’ll get him to check it out. But thanks anyway.”

“I insist,” said Simon, “after all we caused the problem.”

Why do men always want to argue? “Please,” I said looking him straight in the eye, “but I’d prefer to have it go to someone I trust.”

“So you don’t trust me?” he said looking hurt.

“Not if she’s got any sense,” came from the back seat.

“Pipe down Stell, this is none of your business.” He scowled at her and she poked out her tongue back at him. Now I was sure they were siblings. “You have lovely green eyes,” he said to me and I nearly choked.

“What’s that got to do with her bicycle?” Stella called from behind.

“Never take your sister with you on a date,” he said smiling at me then snarling at her.

“I wasn’t aware we were on a date,” I said feeling very worried, “we’ve only just met.”

Simon looked out the front of the car and went very red. Stella laughed loudly on the back seat, “She’s got you there Si, ha ha.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” blustered Simon, but neither of us believed him. “It’s just a figure of speech.” He was still red in the face.

“Figment of your imagination, you mean,” called his sister.

I was beginning to feel a bit concerned at their antics and also what would happen if he managed to drop Stella off before he took me home. I would have to stay alert to all possibilities and stay one jump ahead. In fact, I had decided to ask Stella to stay with me until he took me home, that way I should be safe, or at least safer. This was all new to me and I felt a bit out of my depth.

Anyone appearing to fancy me was a new experience, as a girl being fancied by a man was almost too much, my senses were in danger of overload processing all this new info. It was all right for Stella to laugh, she was safe from this predatory male plus she had her whole life experience to fall back on. I had about two hours.

* Chelsea tractor a pejorative term for 4×4.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 11

With all the banter and suggestive remarks being made during the drive, I had no idea where we were as we sped through the countryside. Had it not been for my distrust of Simon, I could have found the journey pleasurable. The seats were very comfy and supported me in all the right places, there was very little wind or engine noise and the CD player was excellent. Simon had a copy of Madeleine Peyroux on his player, and it was wonderful bluesy, jazzy, and just brilliant.

We actually talked about it without any fencing and without him trying to ‘pull.’ It seemed we had one thing in common, which I suppose was better than nothing.

Eventually he steered the car into a car park belonging to The Jolly Roger public house and restaurant. It seemed Pirates of the Caribbean had a lot to answer for. Despite the fact that it was early evening and getting cool there were children playing in the themed beer garden, racing around and screaming like demented souls, one or two of the boys waving plastic cutlasses.

It took me back to another memory, where instead of identifying with the hero of a film I found myself cast as the heroine by some friends who were boys. Their intention was to humiliate me as well as give them a focus for their game, and I suppose it played into my hands too. I had no taste for being Indiana Jones or James Bond, I was happy to fantasise I was Barbara Bach or Michelle Pfeiffer. However, if it wasn’t my idea, then I bore no responsibility for being ‘coerced into the role,’ it was a nice loophole. I was just a wimpish kid who was forced to pretend he was a girl because of threats of violence from his peers.

One of the boys, Malcolm Bragg, who was always called, ‘Melvin’ after the writer and broadcaster, threatened to bring one of his sister’s old dresses and make me wear it but he either never remembered or it was an empty threat.

“We’re here,” said Stella nudging me out of my reverie. She helped me out of the car and arm-in-arm we walked across the car park, our heels clicking on the tarmac. “Thought you might like some support in those boots,” she whispered as we walked. I nodded an emphatic yes.

Simon held the door open and we went into the “Davy Jones’ Lounge” the atmosphere was placcy and tacky, with plastic beams everywhere and windows made up as portholes or gun ports. Stella and I sat as he asked what we wanted to drink. I was tempted to ask for red wine, but decided after the previous episode I’d have something different. I went for a Bacardi and Coke, Stella asked for a Buck’s Fizz, Simon went off to get them.

“Don’t take too much notice of my brother, he thinks he’s God’s gift to women. He also fancies anything in skirts.”

“He’d get a surprise under mine,” I smiled back, then blushed at the thought of it.

“I’m not sure that would put him off, if he got that far although he might have to improvise.”

“He wouldn’t be the only one,” I whispered back.

“Talk normally, you have a light voice, it’s quite okay, perhaps if you raised the pitch at the end of a sentence, like the Aussies do, it would sound even more feminine.” Stella then gave me an example and I promised to try it as the evening wore on.

“I’ve ordered a table for 8.00pm, they’ve quite a good menu here and because my bonus came through last week, you can order anything you want.”

“Oh yummy!” said Stella licking her lips, “can I have scallops then?”

“I just said you could,” reiterated Simon raising his eyebrows, “sisters! You don’t have any do you Cathy?”

“No, I have a brother, they’re even worse,” I threw in as much for devilment as anything. I didn’t actually have any siblings, which now may not be such a bad thing as it would be someone else to explain things to.

I’ve been told that men like to talk about themselves, and that they are better at talking than listening—ring any bells? So I thought I’d run a little experiment, I’d prime Simon with the odd question about himself or his opinions and see what happened. I wondered if I could get him to talk all night. I was tempted to involve Stella in my little game, but then I’d need opportunity to bring her in, so maybe I’d use it as a test of my feminine ingenuity and work on my own.

I got him to talk about his job, a commodities buyer for a merchant bank, whatever that was. It paid handsomely even if he’d had to sell his soul to get it. He talked and I kept him going on what was nearly a monologue. I noticed Stella watching us and smiling to herself.

My plan was working and she was aware of it, or I thought she was. Simon went to get himself another pint. “This is the first time you’ve been out in company?” she asked looking perplexed.

“Yes, why? Don’t you believe me?”

“You are charming him out of his socks, you do realise that don’t you?”

“I’m just trying to keep him happy,” I offered back.

“Oh he’s happy all right, and he’ll want another date with you.”

“Oh my God!” I felt myself growing hotter and redder, “He won’t will he?”

“I’m willing to bet a tenner that he asks for your phone number.”

“Oh Jeez!” my heart felt like it would stop with embarrassment.

“Would you like to come through to the restaurant ladies?” said the man in the dinner jacket. I presumed he was the headwaiter or something.

With some difficulty I rose to my feet, my legs and back were stiffening up from the accident. I picked up my glass of drink and Simon who was coming across the room, stepped well away from me. I blushed again.

Stella came to my rescue and we strolled arm in arm into the, ‘Captain’s Table’ restaurant. She felt me stiffen as we went through the door, “You okay?” she whispered.

“Those two over the other side, they’re on the same course as me.” I felt my legs growing heavy and had difficulty walking.

“Come on, they won’t recognise you like this,” she smirked.

“What if they do?”

“Tell them it’s a practice run for next week.”

“What happens next week?” I asked, still feeling queasy.

“You come out of the closet and get a date with Simon.” She sniggered at my discomfort.

“If they find out, I’ll just die,” I whimpered.

“Carry on like this and they’ll notice something odd about you, act like you own the place and they’ll fancy you but leave you in peace.”

“You sure?”

“Trust me, I’m a nurse,” she sniggered.

“Oh shit, why did I have to ride out this way today?” I almost appealed to the gods, but they were on supper break, knowing my luck.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 12

Somehow we made it to our table, Stella and me that is, Simon had stopped to talk to some bloke near the entrance. “You won’t mention those two to Simon, will you?” I asked, almost pleaded with Stella.

“No, I’ll just go and ask them to join us,” she joked. “Look I might only be a nurse, but I do have some functioning brain cells.”

“I’m sorry,” I blushed again. I’ve always blushed quite easily, especially since this afternoon. “I’m just so nervous, and them looking at us as if we were on the menu, makes me feel worse.”

“You’ll have to get used to it young lady, it’s what men do—undress you with their eyes. It’s when they do it with their hands you know how limited their hand eye coordination is, and that they can’t multi-task at all.”

“What?” I gasped.

“Most of them take so long to get a bra off that if you’re serious about sex, don’t bother wearing one because by the time they get it off, you’ll have either fallen asleep or gone off the idea.”

I squealed with laughter, drawing further attention from my course mates. My response was to blush again.

“It’s not funny, it’s tragic,” chuckled Stella. “’N’ if they are kissing you at the same time, they have difficulty remembering what their tongues and lips are suppose to be doing, let alone their hands. For a man, multi-tasking is breathing and walking at the same time.”

“You are so funny Stella,” I said laughing out loud again.

“What’s so funny here?” asked Simon coming over to the table.

“Oh I was just telling Cathy about your previous conquests.” Stella smiled at him and he looked away, his face as red as a radish.

“Oh,” he said rather too quietly and sat down dejectedly.

“Don’t believe a word she says,” I declared trying to cheer him up, “she was telling me jokes.”

“Yes, his sexual prowess,” she snorted.

“No she wasn’t,” I insisted, “your sister said nothing whatsoever about you while we were joking.”

“Ooh but I did,” she clamoured, winking at me, “who did you think I was talking about?” she winked again, but I’d already got the point. It seemed they teased each other mercilessly for a pastime.

“Remember two can play at that game,” cautioned Simon, “and I have at least as much material as you.”

“Hah!” she exclaimed, “you make most of it up. Besides, I’m a nurse and we’re expected to be sexy.”

“Only in pornography or ‘Carry On’ films,” riposted Simon. “Most of the nurses I met when I was in hospital, were only desperate because they were so ugly and the sister on my ward had a better beard than I did.”

“Don’t listen to him, he’s only lying because none of them would go out with him.”

“Well you told them I had Herpes, what else could you expect them to do?”

“You didn’t did you?” I gasped at Stella.

“I can’t actually remember,” she blushed.

“No but I can,” Simon said authoritatively.

The waiter arrived with the menus and stood ready with his little pad as we perused them.

“Do you mind if I just have a starter and a sweet?” I asked.

Simon looked pathetically at me, “You don’t need to lose weight,” he protested.

“I’m not,” I responded, “I’m not that hungry.”

“But this is my treat, please have a main course.”

“Honestly Simon, I couldn’t do it justice.”

“I’ll let you off on one condition,” he offered.

“And what’s that?” I asked coyly.

“That you come out to dinner with me again and finish the meal.”

“Tenner please,” said Stella holding out her hand to me.

“What?” gasped Simon.

“I bet Cathy that you’d either ask for her phone number or another date. I have to admit your chat up lines are getting better.”

“But I didn’t accept your bet,” I protested.

“Stella, you get worse if that’s possible,” said Simon in mock disgust. He began to say something else but changed his mind.

I glanced across at my two course mates, they were watching us as if we were the entertainment for the evening. They weren’t the only ones, half the restaurant was doing the same.

“Erm, half the tables are watching us,” I said slowly and quietly. I noticed the waiter fidgeting, but he knew he’d be onto a good tip, so he stayed, standing impassively.

“Shall we order?” asked Stella as if nothing whatsoever had happened.

As she said earlier she ordered scallops and some Italian pork dish. Simon went for pâté and swordfish; feeling less than hungry with all the excitement, I had a stuffed tomato. As I ordered, Simon instructed the waiter to bring me two of them. I protested angrily at Simon, but he held firm. I was determined I wouldn’t go out with him if that was how he was going to behave, nor would I have a sweet.

He ordered the wine and I had no argument with his choice, a nice Rioja. I may be a poor student, but I do like a decent wine.

As we waited for our meals, the waiter poured the wine and being so tense, I began to sip mine immediately. It wasn’t very long before Simon was topping up my glass. I felt myself hot and bothered but couldn’t decide if that was the wine or my temper.

My university colleagues finished their meals and left, as far as I was aware they had no idea about who I was, and why should they?

My plan to keep Simon occupied had wilted to nothing very much at all. My mind was less than sharp after two glasses of wine and a Bacardi, and Simon was filling my glass again and ordering another bottle of plonk. When the waiter brought it I asked for a glass of water to try and dilute the booze. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, no wonder I was getting a bit tiddly.

At last the food arrived and I tucked into mine with more gusto than I anticipated. They were rather nice and I easily ate both of them.

“Sure you don’t want to change your mind about a main course?” asked Simon. He was persistent if nothing else.

“Yes I will,” I mused, “I’ll have a Spanish omelette.”

Simon called the waiter and he accepted my late order. “Good job it wasn’t an Italian restaurant,” teased Simon.

“Why?” I asked walking deliberately into whatever joke he was setting up.

“They wouldn’t know how to cook it?”

“Ah,” I answered, “but this is a pirate establishment, and they should know how to cook a Spanish omelette on the Spanish Main.”

“Ha ha! Very good Cathy, ha, she’s put you in your place, bruv.” Stella spoke a little too loudly for my comfort, and once more we were in the public eye.

“Well I hope you order something that’s actually on the menu for dessert,” he sulked.

“I haven’t looked at puddings yet,” I said smiling innocently at him.

“One of these days Simon, you’ll get your desserts!” Stella offered her speech becoming slightly slurred as she washed down her third glass of wine.

I began to worry that my protection was going to be rather drunk at this rate, and therefore ineffective. I would have to keep to soft drinks from now on.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 13

“Would you like some more?” asked Simon of his sister as he held the second bottle of wine.

“Hmm,” she said and nodded rather enthusiastically.

“Cathy?” he proffered the bottle.

“Can I have it in a doggy-bag?” I smiled back at him.

“What?” he said looking astonished.

“Well, I don’t want it now, but I might later.” My explanation could have referred to anything from fresh air to sex.

“So you might want one later?” he smirked and raised his eyebrows a couple of times trying to imply some double entendre.

“I think she means the wine, shtupid,” commented Stella.

“So did I,” declared Simon pretending to be indignant.

“No dear, we’ll get another bottle to take out.” Simon winked and called the waiter.

When he came, Simon slipped him a tenner and made his request for a take away bottle of the same wine. The waiter nodded and was about to go and fetch one when I called, “Could I have some more water please?”

“There’s wine here,” said Simon shaking the bottle.

“I’d like water, thank you.”

“Certainly madam,” said the waiter and went off behind me somewhere. It felt strange to be addressed as ‘madam’ at the same time it gave me a warm feeling, although that could have been the wine. No dammit, it was real, and it felt good. Maybe I might be able to eventually realise my dreams and become a real woman—well as close as I could given my starting point. Part of me wanted to dance about and part of me wanted to cry with happiness.

Lots had happened today but despite the damage to my pride and joy bike, the rest of it was really good. Here I was realising a small part of my dreams, having dinner with two complete lunatics, wearing borrowed clothes and make up and having fun. Well if I could stop worrying it would be fun.

The problem is that I’m only being treated to all this because Simon fancies me. What do I think of him? He’s all right I suppose, he’s good looking and has a good sense of humour and thinks I’m a girl. I hope he still has a good sense of humour if he ever finds out I’m not quite, yet!

“A penny for them,” came from Simon, somewhere far away.

I jumped, realising I’d been in a little trance thinking about things. “Ooh, you made me jump,” I squealed.

“The dessert trolley is here Cathy,” smiled Simon, “and your water.”

“Thank you, I was miles away.”

“So we noticed.”

“Sorry, I was worrying about my bike.” I was becoming increasingly proficient at telling porkies, normally it would worry me, tonight it didn’t. That in itself should have told me something, but tonight it didn’t.

“We’ll get that sorted tomorrow,” said Simon reassuringly. Sadly it had the opposite effect; it concerned me even more for umpteen reasons, not least, it gave him a reason to see me again.

How would I cope with that? Badly, I suspected including the fact that I wouldn’t have Stella to do my makeup. I need to ask her to teach me. Damn, that would give him access to me as well. There has to be an answer, I simply can’t think of it tonight.

“Fresh fruit salad, please.”

“What?”

“I’ll have the fresh fruit salad,” I repeated.

The waiter scooped some up and put it in a dish, then gave it to me followed by a small jug of cream.

Simon had Pavlova and Stella opted for cheese and biccies; what’s a few more crackers?

My worries about Stella abated, as she seemed to get a second wind after a fourth glass of wine. However, she needed to go to the loo and asked if I need to as well. I was familiar with women going out in herds, but had never experienced being one of them before. I wanted to speak to her privately anyway, so agreed to accompany her.

“I dunno,” said Simon to no one in particular, “how is it that all you women have synchronised bladders?”

“Don’t be crude,” chided Stella, “besides, how do you know we’re not lezzies going out for a quick grope?” she said very quietly.

“Now who’s being crude?” he hissed back.

“You’re just jealous!” she hissed back.

“Damn right,” he said back, “can I come too?”

“Sorry sweetie, you’re not my type.” With her parting shot, we staggered off to the ladies, her through a little over imbibing, me because of the heels on my boots. We were also giggling.

Once we got inside the door and found we were the only ones in there, I began to worry a little—what if Stella wasn’t joking and she was…? I was no safer in here!

Normally, going into such uncharted waters as a ladies’ toilet would have freaked me out and I’d have needed someone to tell me what to do. Instead tonight, I just slipped quickly into a cubicle and shut the door. “Sorry have to go quickly,” I quipped as I slammed shut the door.

Sitting to pee was something I often did at home when in my feminine role, so it was no problem. It was what was going to happen when I opened the door and went out that was worrying me. I could be piggy in the middle here, pursued by both parties and not sure which one if either I wanted to catch me.

I thought about Stella. She was certainly a very attractive woman, with a splendid figure, which I’d seen very close up. She was a dangerous driver, but apart from that and being ever so slightly crazy, she was nice.

But so was Simon, as I’d already conceded. The problem was, I didn’t know who I liked in that sort of way, which tended to indicate maybe neither, was the answer. Why do these things always seem to happen to me?

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 14

“Are you all right in there?” called Stella, knocking on the door of the cubicle.

My first time in a ladies’ loo since I was a small kid; my mother used to take me in with her. Potentially a rite of passage, and here I am hiding from my protector. Could she be a rabid lesbian? She didn’t seem the type, but I hear it’s rife amongst nurses. Maybe it’s just a rumour and maybe she was joking with Simon? Hmm?

“Cathy, are you okay?” she was starting to sound a bit worried.

“Yeah, I’m fine just changing my tampon,” I replied.

“Oh, okay… WHAT?” she called back.

I chuckled, “Just wanting to check how awake you were.”

“You gave me quite a turn for a moment. You were joking?”

“You saw me with no clothes on, so you should know.”

“Yeah but it was only a cursory glance, hardly anything to get me going without a microscope.” She paused and laughed to herself, obviously savouring the memory of my inadequacies exposed to all the world. “For a moment, I wondered if you were hermaphroditic, with a big clit, the sort lesbians are supposed to swoon over.”

The last bit filled me with some hope that she had been joking with Simon, then she went and killed it.

“But it’s not true, I wouldn’t fancy someone with a deformed clitoris.”

My heart sank as I tried to work out what she had just said, and I still couldn’t make any sense of it. Surely, common sense would tend to mean that she wouldn’t try anything on in a public place, even if she were gay? My fears were all based on reading silly stories on the Internet. I’d never knowingly met any female who told me they were gay, and what did it matter anyway? Oh bugger, why do these things always happen to me? That statement contradicted what I had thought a moment before, so I went into analysis mode to understand what I was thinking or saying, let alone anyone else.

“Come on, hurry up or I’ll need to go again. Come on Cathy, bring that deformed clit out with you, let’s have another look at it. This was followed by hoots of laughter.

“It’s common to laugh at your own jokes,” I said through the closed door.

“Ooh, ’ark at her, you sound like Lady Bracknell,” she laughed.

“A handbag!” I said in as outraged a voice as I could, but it sounded nothing like Dame Edith Evans.

Then I heard the door open and a new female voice. It exchanged pleasantries with Stella and I opened the cubicle door and stepped out. She stepped back, as I washed and dried my hands, thankfully on paper towels, I hate those air drier things, though I suddenly recalled a cartoon I’d seen years ago with the caption, ‘Save toilet paper’ and featured a woman with one leg raised up the wall near one of those driers. I chuckled to myself.

“You took your time,” said Stella accusingly.

“Well I thought the big bad wolf was going to blow my house down,” I offered by way of explanation. She gave me a very strange look and rolled her eyes upwards, implying I was bonkers. Talk about pots calling kettles black! I humphed and checked myself in the mirror. Despite eating a meal, my lipstick looked okay.

Stella held the door open and I sallied out towards our table. I heard sniggers behind me, but decided to ignore them. Anyone who knew I was a boy had to be psychic and there was nothing I could do about that.

A few paces further on and Stella caught me up and grabbed my arm, “I hate to say this Cathy, but you have your skirt caught up in your panties,” she sniggered.

I stopped dead, went bright scarlet and asked her to stand aside as I ran back into the toilets. She was telling the truth, I went back into my cubicle and burst into tears. How could such a thing happen to me? I was beginning to think I had become accident prone, but something else was pressing for an answer even more than that. How the bloody hell, had I managed to run in those boots without breaking an ankle or my neck?

“Cathy, are you in there?” she knocked on my door again.

“Go away,” I sobbed, “you could have told me.”

“I did as soon as I could.”

“I don’t believe you, go away.” I blew my nose in some toilet paper.

“Okay, we will, but it will be rather a long walk home in those boots.”

Damn, I hadn’t thought that through had I? I felt like saying, “I’ll manage,” but we both knew it would be a lie and I’d probably end up in more trouble than I was now.

“Come on, don’t be silly just walk out normally and brazen it out. We’ve all done it.”

I thought to myself, but normally I’d be wearing jeans and trainers with a sweat shirt top. This was my maiden voyage and I’d sailed straight into an iceberg, what a mess. Now to make matters worse, I was likely to have mascara all over my face. I began to wish I could fall down the toilet and flush myself away. It would have been apt, I felt like shit!

Eventually, she cajoled me into opening up the door and coming out. As I was about to step out of the door, I heard the other woman’s voice and shrank back into my cubicle and slammed the door.

“Is your friend all right?” I heard her asking Stella.

“Yes, we get this all the time, she’s pathologically shy spends much of her time hiding under the bed with her teddy bear.”

I could hear the woman saying something but couldn’t make out what.

“I am not a psychopath!” I said loudly.

“No one said you were,” called Stella.

“Well if you can manage her… I’ll leave you to it,” the woman said and I heard the door shut.

“Come on out you idiot and stop pissing about or I’ll get Simon to come and drag you out,” she hissed at me.

Her words had a miraculous effect and I gingerly slid back the catch and eased open the door, Stella was watching for it and pushed hard against the door, whereupon it bashed against my head nearly knocking me out.

“Come on get ou … Oops! Cathy, I am so sorry,” she laughed with embarrassment, I didn’t mean to (giggle), honest I didn’t.”

With her help I staggered out and slumped against the washbasins. I couldn’t stand properly and she helped me back into the cubicle where I sat on the loo again. The room was spinning and my head began to throb. Stella wet some paper towels with cold water and held them against my head.

Despite all this I heard the outer door open and footsteps come into the toilets, “Oh Christ get outtah ’ere quick, bloody lezzies in there!” The footsteps receded rapidly and although my head throbbed dreadfully, both Stella and I began to laugh.

“That’s the second time you’ve tried to kill me,” I joked.

“Third time lucky,” was her rejoinder.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 15

I sat on the toilet seat nursing my head and reflected on the past few hours. Stella had nearly killed me when she knocked me off my bike during a thunderstorm. She took me back to her house and discovered my little secret—I’ve been taking female hormones for some time, under medical supervision, and have grown a small but significant sized pair of boobs which I keep hidden by strapping them up with bandage. She loaned me some of her clothes which amazingly fit quite well, including a pair of boots with high heels. Add all this together with a new haircut and makeup and I look as near as dammit to the real thing, enough for Simon, her brother to make overtures. She pretended, I think, to be gay and we went off to the ladies’ loo. To cut a long story short, I panicked and she opened the door on me, half-braining me in the process. I am now sat here waiting for her to return with some ice to put on my aching head.

The injury is to the top of my head, so there’s no bruising on my face, but I have a nice egg coming up on the top. Boy does it throb, I hope the ice will help.

Stella returned with the nice girl from the bar and they have a plastic bag of ice cubes and a towel with them. I don’t know how long we sat there, but the ice certainly helped and before long I felt able to walk back to the table. There Simon insists I have a large brandy to ease the shock; he has one as well, in case he feels shocked too? They are both crazies, but so far harmless as long as I’m not cycling, although I did wonder a bit at the beginning. Am I naturally paranoid, no, my experience of life is that they are out to get me?

It is nearly eleven pm and Simon and Stella are over the limit for driving. I suggest we get a cab; they however call the manager who produces a breathalyzer. It supports the view that they are too drunk to drive.

“Come on Cathy, you try” urged Simon.

“Don’t be silly, I’ve just had a brandy as well.”

“Shove this in your gob and blow,” insisted Simon pushing the machine into my hand. Reluctantly I put the paper tube in my mouth and blew a sustained breath through it. I handed it back to him.

“Look at that, just under the limit, you can drive.”

“Don’t be silly, I can’t drive your car, I never drive cars that big and it’s an automatic, I learned on a manual gear thingy.”

“That’s fine, you’ll get the hang of it.”

“No I can’t, besides that brandy is yet to get into my bloodstream, I might have concussion,” I held my head to emphasise the point.

“You’ll be okay, I’ll navigate and we don’t have to go too fast.”

“But you were supposed to be taking me home,” I wailed in genuine disappointment.

“First thing tomorrow,” said Simon nodding his head as he spoke to make it look as if he was confirming his words with actions.

“I’m supposed to be in lectures tomorrow,” I said suddenly realising that I probably looked a total mess with mascara over my face.

“That’s okay, I’ll take you straight to your classes.”

“But I need to go home and change, and what about my bike?”

“Stella will loan you something won’t you Stell?” he asked and she nodded, looking very fed up.

Obviously, I could hardly tell him the truth, so I couldn’t protest about the clothing bit too much. I therefore had to concentrate on the bike or the driving.

“I honestly don’t think I could drive your car,” I said trying to sound as sincere as I could.

“That’s what Stella said, isn’t it Sis?” he looked over to her and she nodded. “Then just a few miles and she took to it like a duck to orange sauce.”

“Don’t you mean water?” I challenged his metaphor.

“No way, I prefer my ducks in orange sauce.”

He was as mad as a ‘cut snake’ to quote an Australian friend of mine and fixated on the idea that I should drive his wretched car. Normally, the boy racer in me would have jumped at the chance. Tonight, however, I felt under the influence and in no mood to get myself disqualified before I’d even bought a car of my own.

“I’m not insured to drive your car.” I played my trump card.

“It’s an open policy, anyone I give permission to use it can drive it.”

“Oh,” I thought, “Can I borrow it sometime then?” It was a joke but I thought it might provoke some negative response.

“If I think you can handle it, perhaps, if I’m not using it of course.”

My heart sank, how do you get through to these jokers? I did not want to drive his bloody car, especially in these boots. I could hardly walk let alone drive.

“I don’t think I can drive in these boots,” I said pointing down at them.

“Take them off then.”

“I can’t drive in bare feet,” I hoped I sounded as indignant as I pretended to be.

“Well keep the bloody things on then.”

I noticed a waiter standing alongside us with a tray of coffees complete with after-dinner mints.

“How am I supposed to get home from your place?”

“I told you, I’ll take you tomorrow or you can borrow Stella’s car.”

“No she can’t, I need it tomorrow,” said Stella abruptly.

“What about tonight?” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, the implication of being given a lift tomorrow hit home. I was going to have to spend the night in the loony bin they called, ‘home’. No way, I thought to myself, hoping my reflexes or brain cells, or whatever, were more alert if I did eventually drive.

“I can’t stay overnight, I don’t have anything with me…”

“Lend her a nightie, Stella?” His sister nodded.

“Fixed,” he said reaching for a coffee.

I drank mine down in two huge gulps, thinking it would wake me up, probably in about two hours when I wanted to sleep. But did I want to sleep? Not with a predatory Simon lurking about like a great white shark. I grabbed a second coffee and gulped it down. Stella looked reproachfully at me, I’d drunk hers. Too bad! I was now likely to be awake most of the night, which suited me fine.

“What about a toothbrush? I can’t sleep unless I clean my teeth,” my protests were probably sounding pretty feeble to the few diners who remained in the restaurant, but I was trying to act on principle, fear! I was terrified.

“I’m sure we can find you a toothbrush,” reassured Simon, “in fact I think there’s one in the guest room. We have quite a few visitors during the year, don’t we Stell?” She agreed again, and still seemed to staring at me for drinking her coffee. Suddenly she reached forward and grabbed all the mints and ate them one after the other. I smiled at her, she scowled back.

I began to wonder if all that caffeine was such a good idea now, providing of course the bedroom door had a good lock on it! One way or another, I seemed set for a sleepless night.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 16

I collected the jacket I had borrowed from Stella, from the back of my chair, and slipped it on. My head was throbbing, although the ice pack had reduced the egg from duck-sized to bantam. At times, it felt as if the chicken were still attached to it.

Stella and Simon had gone through the door; he waited holding it open for me, for which I thanked him. He nodded in response. He then escorted me over to his car, holding my arm as I tottered out on the heels, clicking my way across the car park.

I kept telling myself that it was just a car and I could drive it, interspersed with less heartening things; if you crash it he’ll kill you. I could barely walk on the heels, so how was I supposed to drive in them.

“Remember, you don’t need to move your left foot at all,” tutored Simon.

“But I’ll either fall over or walk round in circles,” I replied not appreciating his comment or its context.

“No you silly girl, once you start the car. Just pop it in drive and off she goes, use the right foot only.”

“I’ll never remember,” I wailed.

“How can you forget, right foot only, accelerate or brake, what could be simpler? They make automatics for people with disabilities to make it easier not harder to drive their fucking cars!” Simon snarled at me.

“There is no need to swear,” I said to him, but thought he would probably have every right to in a few moments.

“No, you’re right, I shouldn’t swear in front of two such lovely ladies. I apologise unreservedly.”

“Apology accepted,” I smiled back at him; some elements of being a woman were easier to acquire than others. I noticed his arm brushed against my breast several times as we walked. I didn’t make an issue of it because it was sending pleasurable little electric shocks right through me.

“Come on you two love birds, let’s get home,” called Stella as she stood by the car.

Simon used the remote key and the indicators came on, Stella then got in the back seat, wrapping herself in her shawl like a disgruntled mummy—Egyptian version. I got to the driver’s door and felt like changing my knickers, my heart was thumping nineteen to the dozen.

“Here,” Simon said, shoving the keys in my hand. He then grabbed me by the shoulders and kissed me on the mouth. I went to push him away and tried to protest, but it’s difficult when someone’s tongue is halfway down your throat. So I did the only thing I could—shoved it out of my mouth and pushed my tongue into his mouth. He moaned and grabbed me tighter. I wondered what to do next.

People say that nature takes over in the heat of the moment. It doesn’t with me, I need painting by numbers or join up the dots. A checklist would be useful, though difficult to read in the dark. I made a subconscious note to eat more carrots.

I guessed Simon was getting rather excited when he began humping against me as he kissed me. I didn’t hear Stella get out of the car, I suspect Simon hadn’t either, his mind was on other things, mainly my other things. I would possibly have bruised tits in the morning.

“For Chrissake Simon, you’re like a couple of dogs on heat. This is a public car park, now put her down and get in the car!”

We were so taken aback by this exhortation we jumped into the car, him in the driver’s side and me in the front passenger seat. Simon automatically started the car.

“I thought Cathy was going to drive?” said Stella.

“Nah, that’s okay,” I offered hoping to wriggle out of it.

“You are absolutely right Stella,” he opened the door and got out.

“What did you say that for?” I whimpered from the front seat just before Simon dragged open my door and offered his hand to help me out.

“Remember, only use your right foot,” Simon advised as I walked around the car. I did think of hopping, but in these boots I’d probably fall over. However, I gave a trial hop and found I had to use my left foot or I would have fallen.

“Just get in the fucking car!” I heard Stella muttering in the back of the Volvo as I opened the door.

The engine was already running, so I sat and strapped myself in after adjusting the seat, Simon was quite a bit taller than me. I slid back and fore, the seat refusing to find a locking spot. Stella was becoming apoplectic behind me as she muttered herself into a fury. I was feeling rather glad she wasn’t lesbian and hadn’t made a move on me. She seemed to have a nasty temper.

I adjusted the mirror and familiarised myself with various controls, beeping the horn accidentally as I did so. It was rather loud and sent Stella into new heights of paroxysm.

Finally, I released the handbrake and stalled it. On went the handbrake, I turned the key, into drive, handbrake off—stalled it again.

At the eighth attempt, I had got as far as ten feet, when Stella did an impression of Vesuvius from the depths of the back seat. “For Godsake, Simon, take over will you? She can’t drive a fucking car!”

I curled up in the seat and burst into tears. It took Simon ten minutes to calm Stella down and get me out of the car. We switched seats and I sat sniffing noisily in the front passenger seat, while Simon got in the driver’s side.

“At long bloody last, let’s get home, Si,” piped from the back seat, making me sniff even louder in my angst. Simon turned the key and nothing happened.

Well actually that isn’t true, something did happen, the alarm came on, then off, then on. It was very noisy. It seemed to get even noisier after ten minutes. Stella was incandescent inside the car while Simon tried to get far enough away from the noise to call out the AA on his mobile phone

Simon went towards the pub to beg some more coffee while we waited, and Stella fumed in the back of the car—I could still hear her muttering over the car alarm, I wondered how we could stop the noise. Lights were beginning to come on in neighbouring houses.

I’m no engineer, except for tinkering with bikes, but even I could eventually work out that without power it should stop the noise. I found the bonnet release and popped the catch. I found the battery easy enough and managed to disconnect one of the leads. The noise stopped and the lights went out on the car.

“What did you do?” called Stella from inside the car.

“Disconnected the battery,” I called back.

“Oh!” she said, “Of course, I should have thought of that.”

“Yes, but you didn’t,” I said quietly to myself.

Simon arrived with a tray of coffees, three steaming mugs. “Here, while they’re still hot, oh and Cathy, one of these is for Stella.” He winked at me as he held the tray towards me, “What did you do?”

“Clever clogs disconnected the battery,” said Stella.

“It was Stella’s idea,” I lied and she grimaced at me.

“Well done the two of you,” you’re both cleverer than I am,” said Simon looking quite content with his lot.

“How long will the AA be?” asked Stella.

“They reckon about half an hour.”

Stella and I drank our coffees and went back with the empty mugs, heading for the toilets. I thought I’d better use them, as it was getting cooler and I had drunk quite a lot of fluid since my previous visit. I stood in front of the washbasin to rinse my hands and caught sight of myself, mess did not begin to describe it.

Grabbing a paper towel I began to wash the rings from around my eyes and the pink mess from my lower face. I washed and wiped and it eventually all came off. I began to recognise my face but it looked different with the change of hairstyle. I still looked like a girl albeit a less attractive one than Stella had created.

My heart gave a little leap, then crashed! Part of me loved how I looked; reality suggested that life could get very complicated rather soon looking like this.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 17

I stood watching the face in the mirror, it was mine, I knew that but with the new hairstyle, it felt so different. It was definitely a girl looking back at me, transfixing me with some sort of spell.

I gazed at her features, somehow although familiar, they didn’t seem to be mine any longer, they were now those of Cathy, my sort of alter ego. It’s easy to say, you are really the opposite sex inside, but difficult to prove. Suddenly, it seemed the reverse was happening, I could have problems proving I’m still physically male apart from one particular place.

My girlish features which had got me into such trouble at school and occasionally since, seemed emphasised by the haircut, my large eyes and small retroussé nose all seemed even more girly. Was Cathy now the real me and the person I was before now my alter ego, the imaginary character? I was fearful and at the same time fascinated.

I might have problems going back to uni looking like this, even in the cheap shapeless clothes I tended to wear. I would just look like a girl wearing cheap shapeless clothes. The haircut had made an amazing difference to me, I would never have believed it possible, but the evidence was there in front of me. Okay, it was nighttime and I was very tired and stressed, and I needed to see things in daylight after a good night’s sleep. I consoled myself with that thought, although I knew I was kidding myself.

I imagined the university telling me to stop messing about and dress properly as a girl. However, I knew that with all the anti-discrimination laws, they couldn’t tell me any such thing. I could wear what I liked as long as it didn’t endanger my health or offend anyone else. But it would have been nice to say I was wearing these clothes because I had to. Then I thought again, no it wouldn’t be nice at all, I should wear them only because I chose to do so and for no other reason.

I nodded at my image in the mirror, she agreed with me despite the fact that I was wearing these clothes because I had to, my own had been damaged. I hadn’t chosen them, but the way they fitted and felt, I might have done given the chance. Yeah, I could live with that and my image nodded her agreement again. She and I got on so well together!

“Come on Snow White,” one of the dwarfs had obviously shown up, in the form of Stella, “the repair man is at the car.” I followed her out across the car park, our heels clicking loudly despite the diesel engine of the AA van rumbling away. The flashing amber lights had a stroboscopic effect, making the car park seem like a dance floor, the images jumping about before my eyes.

Simon was stood beside the car, his precious Volvo, his face set in a worried look. From the under the bonnet, I could hear another voice emerging. “I think I’m going to have to relay you home, can’t tow an automatic.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Starter motor looks burned out,” said the voice from under the bonnet.

“But it’s only two months old,” Simon raised his hand to his forehead, “It’s ridiculous!” he exclaimed clenching his fist.

“Don’t get the quality of build these days,” offered the voice, “See all sorts of expensive cars breaking down through cheap parts or poor manufacture, even had an Aston last week.”

“What an Aston Martin?” said Simon in disbelief.

“Yeah, they’re machines, they breakdown just like any other.”

“So what would you recommend, for reliability?” asked Simon.

“A bicycle,” said the voice. I knew at once this man was one of uncommon taste and ability.

“Got one in the boot, doesn’t go either.” Simon seemed to enjoy disagreeing with the man.

“Let’s see,” the voice said as a figure in overalls emerged from the front of the Volvo. He was at the boot and opened it before I got to the car and my pride and joy. “Oh, very nice, carbon fibre, light as a feather. Oh dear what happened to the wheel?”

“My sister,” answered Simon, “the bike is her friend’s, she bashed the wheel.”

“A nice ladies’ bike,” said the man examining it.

“How can you tell?” Simon seemed to be intent on learning some arcane knowledge about sexing bikes.

“Shorter top bar, but it also says, ‘built for women’ on it.”

“Does it?” Simon seemed surprised by this revelation, so was I. I built the machine around the frame and I’d never seen it there.

“Nah, only joking,” said the man, “reckon I’d better call up a relay wagon.” So saying he went off to his van.

“Hello my lovelies,” he said to Stella and me as he passed us, “sorry can’t fix it tonight, gonna have to relay you.”

“Why don’t you leave it here for the garage and we’ll get a taxi home.”

“Sounds good to me,” Simon agreed looking at me.

“I don’t mind,” I had to accept the majority verdict.

“Make your mind up,” called the man,” relay will be at least an hour.”

“Taxi?” Simon looked at Stella who nodded and then to me, what else could I do.

“What about my bike?” I suddenly realised it would stay with the car and be taken to the garage with it.

“I’ll ask them to be gentle with it,” Simon said smiling at me.

I had imagined him killing me, if anything happened to my bike, I would swing for him, of that I was sure. In fact, I’d probably kill them both!

So there we were waiting in the pub car park waiting for the taxi to arrive, Simon and Stella standing close to each other while I harboured very unpleasant thoughts about the future of each of them. I made sure the car was locked and strutted around it, watching the disappearing lights of the AA van as it went down the road.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 918b (18)

Have you noticed how time seems to hang when you’re waiting for something, like a bus or a cab or Christmas, or time to knock off from work. Because you have time on your hands, you start to notice things that have always been there but had escaped observation.

I watched my breath in the cool of the night air, pulling my jacket, or I should say, Stella’s jacket tightly around me. I observed my two companions, they were stood fairly close together which I realised indicated a state of familiarity. People who don’t know each other well, give each other loads of space.

I became aware of the way the boots and their high heels altered the way I stood or walked. They too were familiar, and while I couldn’t class them as comfortable, they weren’t uncomfortable either. I had to bend my knees very slightly and lean back to stay upright, if that doesn’t sound too Irish, and I could feel the narrowness of the toes although they weren’t pinching. My feet were probably the only part of me that felt warm.

I listened to the noises of the night, leaning against the car to ease the strain on my legs. I could hear traffic in the distance, noises of locking-up from the pub and then to my right a funny noise, like someone pulling up grass gently and a snuffling noise. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end as I could see nothing to account for the noise. I wasn’t really scared as Simon was standing only three yards away as was Stella. I decided to investigate.

I walked on my toes over towards the noise, which as I neared, grew slightly louder. I peered over a bush and could see nothing. Then I saw the culprit and began to laugh.

“What is it?” called Stella and she began to walk over towards me.

“Come and see for yourself,” I replied giving nothing away.

Simon began to follow her. I continued my monster watching. They arrived a few seconds later and both began to laugh as well. “We get them in the garden, but I rarely see them,” said Stella chuckling.

“Ah, Mrs Tiggeywinkle,” added Simon. He laughed too then said, “Why did the hedgehog cross the road?”

Playing his straight man, Stella repeated his line, “I don’t know, why did the hedgehog cross the road?”

“To see his flat mate,” smiled Simon.

“Hedgehogs don’t live in flats Simon,” I said not seeing anything funny in the joke.

“Flat, mate, flat mate,” said Simon, “geddit?”

“No I don’t.” I felt perplexed by it, even Beatrix Potter didn’t have hedgehogs living in apartments, did she? I was sure she didn’t.

“Flat hedgehog, flat mate, crossing the road.” He then began to do a sort of mime except it had sound effects. He used his hand to signify something small walking, then the other hand plus a ‘vroom vroom’ noise to indicate a car. Then he combined the two with a ‘splat’ sound, which he found very amusing. Stella rolled her eyes in feigned disgust and I shook my head.

“Geddit now?” he asked like a naughty schoolboy who had just told a dirty joke he didn’t fully understand.

“I understand it, I simply don’t see how a cute little critter like this can be seen as funny after being flattened by a car. It’s cruel.”

“It’s only a joke for god’s sake,” he walked away muttering something about ‘women’ under his breath.

I glanced at Stella and she was smirking, I did too. She began to chuckle and so did I. Then I began to giggle and she followed suit. Simon looked over at us and shook his head, “You two are nuts,” he said then walked over by the car.

I remembered something and called to Simon, “Do the garage have a key for your car?”

“Nah, I’ll leave it in the car, under the mat.”

“What about my bike?”

I heard him mutter under his breath, “Geez, that bloody bike,” followed by, “What about it?”

“If the car is open, someone could steal it.”

“They won’t ride it very far,” he laughed.

“No but they could carry it away and I don’t have four grand to replace it. I hope you’re well insured.”

“Four thousand?” he said disbelievingly.

“Yes, it’s pretty well top of the range,” I replied.

“I’d want Lance Armstrong to come and pedal it for me at that price.”

“He rides Trek, that’s a Scott.”

“As if it matters,” he dismissed my remark with a wave of his hand.

“It does to the team they race in and their sponsors.”

“You women take everything so literally.”

“Do we?” I appealed to Stella.

“Yes, because we don’t tell lies like men.”

“Ouch!” said Simon, so I concurred this related to a previous conversation in which she had found him out.

“You’ll never forget that or forgive me, will you?”

“Only as long as either of us live,” said Stella with a hint of a barb in her tone.

Oh, I thought, this could get very interesting. Just then a car pulled into the car park bearing a taxi sign.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 19

The taxi drew up and Simon held open the door whilst Stella and I got in, then he jumped in the front, issued an instruction to the driver and off we went.

In the dark, the alcohol and getting into a warm car, all conspired to make me sleepy. The more I fought against it, the harder it seemed to be to stay awake. I knew I was going, but I was unable to prevent the tidal wave of sleep which smashed over me. I have vague recollections of Simon talking to the driver, and the smell of Stella’s perfume or was it mine?

I found myself lying in Simon’s bed and he was lying next to me with a grin on his face that spoke reams. I knew now that he knew, but his shit-eating grin went deeper than that and I had to work out what else he knew.

I felt for my knickers, or should I say, Stella’s knickers. I still had them on. My chest was bare and the wetness on my nipples suggested they had been sucked or nibbled. I felt angry for a moment, my first female sexual sensation and I had slept through it! Doh! There seemed no hope for me. I touched my nipples and they were wet and cold, but very erect and hard, like two large allen screws!

My goodness, I was having some sort of sexual feeling contrary to my previous belief that I was asexual, and it was with a man—shock horror! I could see me being drummed out of university for… they’d think of something disgusting. Was that what I was now, disgusting? I no longer knew.

Simon’s hand stroked my face and I kissed his fingers, he gently eased one into my mouth and I sucked upon it, like a baby on her bottle. His face came towards mine and my mouth, lips pursed, prepared itself for my first real kiss.

Suddenly the earth seemed to move under me, and I was jolted into wakefulness. Confused, I forced open my eyes and discovered I was slumped in a car seat with several people talking at once. There was a cold draught on my face and legs and I pulled the jacket around me once more.

Gradually I realised what was happening, I was still in the taxi and my nipples were like two bullets but dry inside my bra, I had been dreaming. Reluctantly, I got out of the car and staggered to see what the others were looking at.

I gathered that the nearside front wheel had had a blow out or some other catastrophe, the car had swerved and hit the bank of the road and done something to the steering. It would take us no further and to make matters worse, we were in a dead zone for radios or mobile phones. My luck that day was not improving!

“Someone is going to have to walk up to the top of the next hill and call for help,” said the driver.

I could see Simon thought it should be the driver and by the determined look on his face, he thought it should be Simon. I knew it wasn’t going to be either Stella or me, no I was going to remain extremely girly on this one and sit it out, let the boys do their chivalry bit. Besides my heels would never allow me to walk that far anyway, so I got back in the car. Stella joined me moments later and we listened to the boys arguing about why the other should go. Stella looked at me and I began to chuckle, so did she.

Eventually, the men decided they would go together so after locking us in the car, with hazard lights flashing they set off on foot.

“Well you are certainly having an interesting day for your first one as a woman,” said Stella.

“Looks like, wasn’t what I planned. I should be fast asleep in bed now having finished an essay I’d half written last week.”

“So what was your essay on?” said Stella sounding as if she was making the best of the limited opportunities for amusement.

“Nothing very interesting,” I replied, not sure I wanted her to know any more about me, she already knew too much.

“Have you enjoyed yourself?” she asked changing the subject.

“Sort off,” I said, “you’ve been very kind to loan me the clothes and things, but part of me would have preferred to have got home and started sorting out my bike.”

“You can keep those,” she said touching my skirt and top, “I’ll need the jacket back though.” She paused, and all I could see of her face was in the occasional orange flashes of the hazard lights. She was smiling.

“Simon doesn’t know does he, I mean about me?” I felt myself get suddenly hot as I spoke.

“Nah, course not, he wouldn’t have been drooling over you all night otherwise.”

“I hadn’t noticed,” I said unsure of what I should have seen.

“What!” she exclaimed, “Those funny little glances you’ve both been exchanging all evening, you mean you don’t fancy each other?”

It became very hot in the car as I listened to her, oblivious to what had been apparently happening.

“My goodness, you are an innocent aren’t you?” I caught sight of a smirk rather than a smile in the flash of the orange light.

“In many things yes, certainly as a woman dealing with men, very much so.” I felt like cringing as I spoke, this was so embarrassing.

“What’s going to happen?” I asked as much out of terror as any other motive.

“I’ll sink Simon’s libido when we get back, so unless you want something to happen, nothing will.”

“Thank you,” I said meaning it as sincerely as anything I had ever said.

“That’s okay,” she smiled more genuinely this time.

“I’m really worried about my bike, it’s a lot of money to me.”

“I got the impression it was more than just money, almost an affection from you for it.”

I felt myself getting hot again, “Erm, is it that obvious?”

“Like me with my first pony, if I could have slept in the stable, I would have done.”

“What was your pony like?” I asked preferring to get her talking than answering embarrassing questions.

“She was lovely…” For the next five or ten minutes Stella told me about her first horse. Part of me felt jealous, I’d have loved a pony when I was a girl, no correction I’d have loved to have been a girl who had a pony, but would settle for being the girl.

When my thoughts didn’t go off at wishful tangents, I listened to Stella’s story with attention because it was interesting and I was jealous of having no girlhood I could talk about.

Lights came from behind us and within a matter of two minutes a mechanic from a breakdown truck was examining the front of the car and shaking his head. A further two minutes later a second taxi arrived to take us on our way. Stella told him where we were going and we set off in the direction that Simon and the driver had taken although we didn’t actually see either of them before we got home. The strangeness of the day it seemed had not yet ended.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 20 (I think)

We got back to the cottage and Stella paid off the taxi, she then offered me another drink, unwisely I accepted a small bottle of lager not thinking of needing the loo in an hour or two. However, I enjoyed it while it lasted and was nearly tempted to a second.

We made up a bed for me in the spare room, which looked quite comfortable then, Stella produced a nightdress I could borrow and she gave me a toothbrush. I had all I needed until the morning once she had showed me a towel I could use, in the bathroom.

The front door opened and Simon called out. My stomach jumped over and I fled for my bedroom hissing apologies to Stella and slamming the door shut. To my great relief it had a functioning lock, which I turned. I was safe, for the moment anyway.

I cleaned my teeth at the washbasin in my room, and rinsed my face and hands remembering too late I had no towel. Nothing was going to make me open the door until I had to and certainly not tonight.

I turned off the light in case it showed under the door, and changed into the nightie, it felt comfortable. I often wore them in bed at home, in the privacy of my own place—that sounded so grand, especially for a bedsit. I slipped into bed and prayed that Morpheus would attend soon and bring me a peaceful sleep. It was a wasted effort.

The bed was comfortable and I lay back and switched off the light. Suddenly, I was in pitch darkness save a small glow under the door from the light on the landing. As my eyes grew accustomed to the dark I found I could only see the glow under the door and my hand if I moved it before my face while looking at the door.

I was used to living in a town where streetlights meant there was no darkness unless there was a power cut, so this was very different. I’m not scared of the dark like lots of people are, I just can’t see in it and in a strange house, that could be dangerous, I could fall down the stairs or trip over something.

For a while I could hear voices and movement downstairs, then they came upstairs and my heart began thumping. All I could see were shadows passing my door from the glow underneath it, when eventually that ceased, I was truly in the dark, in all senses of that expression.

I lay there looking at the ceiling, well if I could have seen it, I would have been looking at it. Things went quiet and I thought I could relax, but then my mind went into overdrive.

Why is it that when our bodies malfunction or ignore us, we cope. We change things, eat more or less, exercise more or less and so on. When it’s our minds that malfunction there is absolutely bugger all you can do. I know thousands of psychiatrists who would disagree, as would most psychotherapists and counsellors and Uncle Tom Cobbley an’ all, but my experience is different. Once my mind latches onto something, it worries it and me to death, examining it inside and out, upside down, microscopically and deconstructively (whatever that means), analysing and speculating until I am exhausted and my mind is bored or aching.

I tend to think that mind and brain are separate things, my brain is the motor and control box for my body, my mind is the driver and it should have had its licence rescinded years ago. If it had, I’d have been asleep, instead I was analysing and rerunning the day’s events.

On one hand, I was lucky that Stella hadn’t killed or hurt me more than a few cuts and bruises, I’ve had worse injuries telling next door’s cat where to go—he’s a huge marmalade thing who rules the area like a territorial lion. If there were sheep and cattle around, I’m sure he’d be hunting them instead of the pigeons and seagulls and occasional child, he kills and eats now. You interact with him at your own peril—even the postman won’t deliver there, the cat’s had him twice.

I remember seeing a big orange tom cat, like my neighbour’s, on YouTube, which chased a bear up a tree in the States, then when the bear came down, the cat ‘treed’ him again. When I saw it, I laughed out loud, which was incidentally a couple of weeks before I met the cat from hell when I moved into my ‘apartment.’

He followed me in and unknown to me curled up in my suitcase and went to sleep. I was busy doing something else and when I went to pull some clothes out of my case to hang them up, the orange-peel demon nearly took my hand off. It was two hours before he decided to leave, and I had to wait it out. I did think about finding some sort of weapon and fighting him, but he’d probably have won in any case unless it had been a cycle race. How do I get him to accept that sort of challenge? I’ll bet he’d know how to beat me then, the swine! Ach so, Englisher pig-cat!

I felt my bladder becoming fuller than was going to be comfortable before long. I tried to distract myself, then the nightmare began. I started to worry about my pride and joy and the logistics of getting it fixed together with wondering how I was going to get home, changed and into uni. It certainly distracted me, in fact I was almost driven to distraction!

I would have to be awake early enough to borrow some more stuff from Stella, maybe a pair of jeans and a top, and at the same time be able to find out what Simon was going to do about getting his car fixed and more importantly, my bike.

Given my luck so far, I was well worried. I played out scenarios that worked well and everything was fixed with minimum fuss. Why they were always subsumed by ones where it all went pear shaped, I don’t know, but that seemed to be what happens in real life.

My bladder niggled and I tried to think of something else. I worried about being seen by others on my course or who knew me. All my neighbours knew me, seeing me out on my bike or walking about, hiding from the pig-cat or running away from him. If I went home with the new haircut and those boots, there would be some funny looks and perhaps remarks to accompany them. Then horror of horrors, how could I run away from the demon moggie in those boots? Even though he is grossly overweight for a hippopotamus, he has a fair acceleration on him, like a Ferrari on steroids! Okay, so he can’t maintain it more than thirty or forty yards, neither could I in those boots.

My bladder niggled again. There was no doubt about it, I needed to pee and very soon or there would be an accident. I wondered about doing it down the washbasin. I can hear everyone groan from here, but people do it in hotels all the time if they don’t have an en suite.

I thought about it even more seriously, then realised the washbasin was too high for me, I’d spray it everywhere. I tried to visualise the washbasin, because I wondered about sitting on it and weeing down the plughole, but the configuration meant they would have to call a plumber to get the tap from up my bum!

There was only one thing for it, I’d have to go to the bathroom and soon! I shuffled out of bed and my bladder felt even more full, it was now verging on emergency. I stood up and holding my hands out in front of me like a sleepwalker, walked straight into the bedside cupboard and bashed my little toe. God, it hurt! I felt my eyes water and I was nearly sick.

I gingerly found one of the walls and edged my way around it until eventually, I found the door. In my haste to unlock it, I knocked out the key before it was undone and had to feel about the carpet for the cold piece of metal, then by feel reinsert it and open the door. I made it, bladder now reaching critical and close to exploding.

I remembered where the bathroom was and after bumping into a chest of drawers on the landing and knocking down something on top of it, I eventually found what I deemed to be the bathroom. After bashing my good foot on the pedestal of the toilet, I knew I was correct. My relief was immense and I quietly rinsed my hands and dried them, all in the dark. Then it was back to my room and back to bed.

I stole across the landing once again, and almost silently opened my door, locked it equally quietly and carefully moved towards the bed. I thought I had left the covers open, but in my haste, I was obviously wrong. I stepped into my still warm bed and felt another body already there. I froze in panic as the sleeper began to stir!

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 21

I shivered as the sleeper stirred, then we both gasped. A light was suddenly switched on. “What the hell are you doing?”

I don’t think I have ever felt so embarrassed in all my life, although the way things were going since being knocked off my bike, it could well happen.

“I erm,” I was now blushing so much I was in danger of spontaneous human combustion, in some ways I’d have welcomed it because it would have changed the subject—‘Oh dear have to go, I’m on fire!’ I tried to activate my vocal cords again, “I erm, seem to have come into the wrong bedroom,” I blushed even redder to emphasise the point.

Stella was now sitting up in bed looking at me very suspiciously. “I don’t know whether I believe you or not,” she said tersely. “It’s one a bloody clock.”

“I’m sorry, it was an accident. I didn’t put any lights on to try not to disturb anyone.”

“Simon, you mean,” she sniggered.

I blushed even hotter and felt close to swooning, except I didn’t have any corsets to loosen. I nodded, unable to speak for the moment.

“I suppose I should believe you after you ran away from me in the pub,” she said smiling as she remembered my panic. “Next time you go to the bathroom put your light on.”

I was already withdrawing towards the door, blushing and nodding agreeing with everything she said. If she had accused me of mass murder or starting the First World War, I’d have agreed just to get out of her room in one piece.

“Goodnight,” she said as I undid the lock and opened the door as quietly as I could. I mumbled something in response which could have been anything. I couldn’t understand it, so if it meant anything to her she’d obviously had more imagination than I thought.

I found a light switch on the landing and clicking it gently examined the two remaining doors. I wasn’t out of the woods yet and I certainly didn’t want to get the wrong bedroom again.

I stood outside another door and listened, I thought I could hear snoring from within. I went to the next door and thought I could hear snoring there too. Oh shit! I prayed that Simon locked his door, but it was unlikely in his own home. Then again, in this house anything was possible.

I went back to the first of the two doors, there was a definite noise emanating from behind the door. Then the noise changed and I knew which door was mine. I confidently opened it and put on the light, then nipped out and switched off the landing light. Back inside the room I locked the door again. I listened and in the relative quiet heard the noise from Simon’s room again. It was unmistakably a man’s room, the noises were farts! I chuckled to myself and went back to bed.

It was impossible to sleep, my heart was racing and in the emotional tension I felt, I began to laugh quietly and uncontrollably. My eyes were streaming with tears as I giggled myself into virtual insanity. The whole thing was ludicrous I would have told myself, except I couldn’t stop laughing and was now holding the bedclothes in my mouth to stop any noise. If I had been observed by some shrink or mental health professional, I’m sure they’d have sectioned me there and then.

I’m not sure how long my hysterical episode lasted but the clock by the bed showed two in the morning. I was going to be a wreck. I was exhausted but not sleepy and as well as my minor injuries, my fractured skull from the toilet door, my stomach muscles ached too from laughing and my nightie was all wet from sweat and tears. Life was not getting any easier.

I lay on the bed and must have dozed a while because it was getting light and the clock showed six. I wondered what time they woke or got up. I yawned and closed my eyes because they were so tired and prickly and must have slept again.

I was dreaming, I was in a prison and there was a huge troll loose in the place. My door was locked and I could hear him beating on different doors and walls and calling in a deep voice for the occupants to open the doors. Suddenly the door on my cell resounded with bangs and knocks, I nearly shat myself. I cowered down as low as I could hoping it would go away and leave me safe. Instead the knocking continued…

“Cathy, there’s a coffee out here, wake up if you want a lift, I’m off in forty minutes,” said Simon’s voice. It relieved me to realise it wasn’t a troll, but I was still nervous as I tried to get my sleepy brain back into working order.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 22

I sat up in bed and tried to wake myself up. If Simon was leaving in forty minutes and I wanted to grab a lift I needed to hurry things up a bit. I stopped and thought, ‘whose car is he going to use?’ maybe he would borrow Stella’s or she’d run him to work or to the pub or whatever? Maybe I was crazy and should lie low until after he’d gone? Then I remembered my bike, shit! I needed to stay with my baby until it was somewhere safe. Whatever the siblings were going to do, I needed to know and get to my bike.

I nipped across to the bathroom and washed quickly, my hair was a mess compared to last night, but it would do—I still looked vaguely female.

As I shot back to my bedroom, wondering how I could impose on Stella for a clean pair of pants, I found some on the bed. I was really beginning to like my mentor, or her foresight. I gave the bra a quick sniff, I could wear that again.

I borrowed a quick squirt of the deodorant spray that had miraculously appeared on the washbasin while I was in the bathroom, alongside a hair brush I hadn’t seen before. “Bless you Stella,” I muttered as I brushed my hair into a tidier mess. I had a lot to learn about being a girl.

I jumped at the door being knocked, standing there in my bra and pants, then I heard Stella’s voice calling me from the other side of it. I gingerly opened the door and she handed me a fresh tee shirt and some jeans. “I think they’ll fit, you’ll have to wear the boots again. I thanked her profusely and withdrew to dress.

The jeans were stretch ones and fitted well enough for me feel comfortable, they were however tighter than any I’d previously worn and sitting down was going to be a learning experience especially with a certain redundant appendage tucked back somewhere near the main seam. I wondered if I wore them for more than a few days if I would still need surgery. Yes, they were that tight. They did however, fit well over the boots and I felt quite reasonable in my appearance.

Grabbing the little bag I been loaned the night before, I carefully went down the stairs. Stella made me do a twirl and nodded her approval, we exchanged smiles.

Simon looked up from behind his paper and nodded ‘hello’. He looked me up and down and asked, “Are those the clothes you were cycling in?”

“Good lord no,” I laughed back, I just borrowed them from Stella.

He dipped his paper again, “I thought they might prove challenging on a bike,” he then folded up his paper adding, “They look better on you than they did on Stella.”

“Huh!” was said loudly from behind me, “that’s my brother, ever the diplomat! Bastard!”

“Come on you two, Stella I need you to run me to the garage and we need to get Cathy and her bike home. Cathy, get yourself some cereal or toast for breakfast.”

At the mention of that magical four letter word, I suddenly began to like Simon much more. Maybe he wasn’t such a predatory cad.

“I might be too busy to take you,” pouted Stella.

“And I might just be too busy to pay your tax and insurance next time,” Simon voiced in irritation.

Stella made a great play of consulting her diary, “Oh what a surprise, it’s my day off.”

“You told me that last week,” riposted Simon.

“Well sometimes they change my shifts,” she argued back.

“They haven’t for the past two years,” Simon called back.

“Bastard! Why has he got such a good memory?” she complained to me.

I shrugged my shoulders and poured myself some cornflakes.

Not many minutes later, in a borrowed denim jacket, I sat in the back of Stella’s car as she drove us to Simon’s garage. I kept quiet, listening to the conversation between the argumentative pair.

“Why can’t I pick up Cathy’s bike and run her home?” argued Stella.

“Because I said, I’d do it.”

“You’re just trying to get her alone so you could ask her out.”

“Nonsense, I can ask her anytime I want, can’t I Cathy?”

“Erm, what?” I replied intelligently, my attention having been taken by Stella nearly running down a milkman. She was a bit reckless with a car.

“Simon thinks you are waiting for him to ask you out.”

“Erm, does he?”

“You lying minx, I didn’t say that at all, I said I could ask you out anytime and that I didn’t need to get you alone to do so.”

I began to feel rather hot again, there was that other four-letter word beginning to raise its ugly head again, and I was anxious. I cringed as Stella just missed a cyclist, maybe it would be safer to let Simon drive me.

“So would you like to go out with me Cathy?” Simon turned and looked directly at me.

“I ah, erm I um.” At times, my verbal fluency was astonishing.

“There, see she has some sense!” sneered Stella at her brother.

“She didn’t say no, did you Cathy?”

“Erm, um…” I stumbled to get my brain and mouth coordinated to do more than eat and drink. Part of me was flattered and part of me was terrified. Yet beneath all of it was this frisson, I actually felt more alive than I had for a million years. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift. I blushed even more than when I’d got into the wrong bed last night, if that was possible. Part of me thought Simon was at times quite the gentleman, it was the other times that worried me.

“Well?” asked Stella loudly above the screech of tyres as she swerved to avoid a group of school kids on a zebra crossing, “stupid place to put a crossing outside a school!” she said equally loudly.

“I erm, don’t know…” I mumbled, “I erm … haven’t got anything to wear.” I said feeling in my present guise I could legitimately use that old standby.

“Wear what you did last night,” Simon offered casually.

“They were borrowed from Stella,” I said defensively.

“They’re in the boot of the car, you can keep them.” Stella said making me wonder whose side she was on.

“There we are that’s settled, tomorrow night, I’ll pick you up.” Simon beamed at me, then snapped at Stella, “That was the garage back there as you know damn well.”

“Oh sorry, it was such a riveting conversation I must have missed it,” she said laying the sarcasm on with a shovel. She then did a handbrake turn which frightened me half to death and after spinning the car around screamed into the garage forecourt. I felt myself go quite pale and my breakfast attempted to escape by the same route it had entered my stomach.

Simon exited the car and went to talk to some bloke in the office. “So you wanna date my big bruvver?”

“I erm don’t really know, I hadn’t thought about it as being a remote possibility a day ago.”

“Nah, I suppose not. He’s got his good points, his salary being most of them. So make him take you to a really expensive restaurant or theatre or both.”

“That sounds a bit mean and excessive,” I whined back.

“Cathy, you’re a girl now, exercise all that power you have, give him the run around, they love it. It’s man the hunter bit, capturing his female. If this was the Stone-age, he’d be bashing you on the head and dragging you back to his cave.”

“Erm, if this was the Stone-age, you wouldn’t have knocked me off my bike in the first place,” I corrected her anachronistic metaphor.

“Duh!” she squealed and then we both laughed.

“Thanks for the offer of the clothes again,” I said smiling at her.

“Oh it’s not a loan, you can keep ’em, they did look better on you so do the jeans, so you can have those too. Simon was right, but don’t let him know it.”

“I don’t know how to thank you,” I said feeling embarrassed at her generosity once again.

“Make him work for his date,” she smiled at me.

“I’m not sure I know what you mean,” I blushed back at her.

“Oh I think you do,” she said as Simon walked back towards us.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part woman, part goddess, part 23

“They’re going to loan me a car and collect mine from the pub,” said Simon poking his head through the open window of Stella’s car, “So if Cathy would like to come with me, we’ll go and get her bike before the garage gets there.”

What could I do, he had me by the sprockets? I began to get out of Stella’s car.

“Don’t forget the stuff in the boot,” she called.

I opened the boot and there was an overnight type of bag in there. “What’s in here?” I asked.

“Your cycling stuff, what’s left of it and the stuff I told you about earlier.”

I lifted it out, it felt full and heavy. Simon grabbed it from me and walked off to another Volvo parked nearby. Stella got out of the car and we hugged. I thanked her for all her help, she shoved something into my hand. “Give me a call sometime and I’ll help you with your makeup.”

I nodded and mouthed “thanks” before walking to the car which Simon was in the process of starting. It was another modern Volvo, a different colour to Simon’s and not quite as plush but being a hatchback should carry my bike. I noticed Simon’s attaché case on the back seat, we’d have to move that to put the back seat down.

As we drove off, Stella waved and returned to her car. In the mirror I saw a mechanic get into a breakdown truck and I wondered if he was coming to get Simon’s car. He had a boiler suit on, but the top half was tied off at his waist by the sleeves. I saw some sort of message on the tee shirt he was wearing but couldn’t quite read it.

“So where do you live?” asked Simon as we flew through the countryside. He drove even faster than Stella, but he inspired more confidence in his calm handling of the car. I wondered if it was the size of the car that made the difference, feeling safer in a bigger car. Is size important? I considered and began to snigger to myself oblivious to his question.

“Care to share your joke?” he asked a little abruptly.

Of course I went beetroot, how could I tell him that, he’d think I was as horny as he was. “I was thinking about last night,” it was worrying, I was becoming quite a liar.

“Obviously something funny?” he remarked indicating my laughter.

“It made me smile,” I said, “probably silly, but I thought it was funny that Stella knocked me off my bike, then smacked me on the head with a door. I was beginning to think she didn’t like me,” I joked chuckling to myself.

He laughed too, “If she didn’t like you, you’d be in a body bag by now instead of here with me.”

“Has she always been such a reckless driver?”

“God no!” he exclaimed, adding, “She used to be worse,” then his straight face broke into a smile and he began to laugh. “She is pretty terrible, I usually refuse to ride with her, but I needed the lift today.”

“Has she had many accidents?” I asked passing the time as we drove, if he was talking about her he couldn’t ask me questions.

“No amazingly, you were the first, which was to my great good fortune.”

I nearly fell off my seat, what did he mean by that? Unfortunately if I asked him, it would only demonstrate my ignorance. “Good fortune, do you realise how much those wheels cost?”

“I expect we’ll manage,” he smiled back and then to my horror touched me on the leg, patting it as if to reassure me. I jumped. “Goodness, you are jumpy,” he said looking at me. I just felt stupid. “I’m not going to rape you on the way to collect your bike, you know.”

“No I know,” I lied, although the tight jeans and my lack of suitable orifice could have posed a challenge.

“You do trust me, I hope,” he said quietly as if to reassure me.

“I’d like to Simon, but I hardly know you.” As the words came out of my mouth, I wondered what I was saying, was my treacherous gob, going to drop me further into the mire. I needed to get my brain and mouth coordinated a little more than my apparent current performance.

“There’ll be plenty of time for that, starting tomorrow evening. Ah, here’s the pub.” He steered the car into the car park and alongside his own car. Then jumping out he unlocked his own car and lifted up the boot lid. “Oh no,” he shouted, “It’s gone.”

I felt a dreadful sinking in the pit of my stomach, as if the flying pigs competing with the butterflies for space, had suddenly taken up freefall skydiving without parachutes. I threw open the car door and on wobbly legs tottered to his car. With a sense of impending horror, I looked into his boot… there was my bike, broken wheel and all.

“Oops!” he said smirking, “I didn’t see it there. I’ll bet that worried you, the look on your face was priceless.”

I was fuming, had I safely been able to stand on one leg, I would have kicked him hard, somewhere very personal. Instead I used psychological warfare. “I think tomorrow is going to be difficult,” I said curtly.

“Oh, and why is that?”

“I only go out with men with a good sense of humour, and yours isn’t. Can we take my bike to the shop, so I can go home.” I then wheeled on my high heel and got back into the loan car, leaving him to put my bike into its boot. I was seething, and nothing he could say would redeem him in my eyes ever again, he’d be lucky to survive the journey, I felt so angry and something else too. I felt disappointed and hurt.

As Simon struggled with the bike, the breakdown truck pulled up alongside us and the young man with the boiler suit got out; Simon gave him the key. He walked around the car in which I sat and smiled at me. His blue eyes twinkled and I pretended to ignore him, but my treacherous mouth smiled back. Then I saw the message on his tee shirt and gasped.

‘My pen is
huge’,

it read with a picture of a biro alongside it. At first glance it only seemed to comprise of three words, then I realised there were actually four. It was my dirty little mind which transposed the message—what was I becoming?

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 24psi

by Angharad & Claude Butler

Simon continued to struggle with my bike and the rear seat; he needed to put it down to increase the space in the boot. The good-looking lad from the garage winked at me and pointed at the telephone number on the side of the truck. He glanced at Simon who had his back to us, muttering and cursing at his inability to get the seat down. Then he pointed at the telephone number again and pointed at me and pretended to be writing something down. He pointed at me again. My God, he wanted my phone number! In less than 24 hours of appearing as female, I had two men wanting to date me. This was getting silly.

“Kev, can you get this bloody seat down for me, it seems stuck,” Simon called.

Kev noticed the bike with the shattered wheel, “Some bike Simon, didn’t know you were into racing.”

“I’m not, it’s young Cathy’s.”

“Oh yeah, I can see now, it’s a woman’s bike.” He manoeuvred Simon out of the way, and leant into the car. Within two seconds he’d unclipped the seat and laid it flat. Simon busied himself with putting my Scott into the boot. “So, do you race?”

“I have done once or twice,” I replied casually, not sure I wanted to engage in conversation with another predatory male. It was true, I’d ridden in one or two events organised by the university bike club.

“Which club?” he asked. I wasn’t sure I needed this interrogation and pretended not to hear him.

“I think she rides at the university,” offered Simon, not helping me one bit.

“Do you know Neil Flanders?” asked Kev.

My stomach did a backflip causing the remaining flying pig to go into a tailspin. I knew Neil all right, it was his fault I hadn’t ridden more than two races at the university. He told me I wasn’t good enough and should maybe try the ‘girlies’ team. Neil was an oaf, a big muscle-bound hairy-arsed, oaf and I despised him. It was because of his insults and tauntings I bought the Scott and did some serious training. All this flashed through my mind as I shook my head and said, “No, I don’t know him.”

“Oh,” Kev scratched his head, “I thought he ran the uni bike club,” he shrugged his shoulders.

“He might,” I replied realising I needed to weave a slightly more tangled web, “at this uni, I raced at Sussex where I did my bachelor’s degree. I haven’t raced here,” I lied.

“Ah, that would explain it; you need to talk to Neil.”

Talk to Neil, I’d rather French kiss a crocodile! “I’ll see,” I said non-committally. “Until the bike is checked out and the wheel fixed, I won’t be riding, period.”

Before Simon could shut the boot lid, Kev was looking at my bike. He had it out of the boot and was checking the rear forks and frame. “It looks as if it’s only the wheel, Campag, that’s gonna cost you.”

“We’re on our way to the bike shop now, Stella ran into Cathy, so to speak.” Simon attempted to take the bike back from Kev.

“Which one you going to?” asked Kev.

“Which one Cathy?” asked Simon.

“The little one down past the anatomy school.”

“Oh Paget’s, look tell him you’re a member of Hunter’s CC, he’ll do a better job and give you a discount. Tell him Kev sent you, I’m the club secretary.”

“But I’m not a member, am I?” I muttered, “I can’t tell lies.” May God forgive me, I’d done nothing but lie for the past twenty four hours.

“Why not, I do it all the time?” joked Simon, until I cast him a withering look. I was beginning to get the hang of this being a girl business.

“Raise your right hand,” instructed Kev. I did as I was told.

“Now say after me, I promise to uphold the rules and regulations of Hunter’s Cycle Club, to race safely and cleanly and to the best of my ability.”

I sat astonished as my mouth did exactly as he instructed me. Where was this leading?

“Okay Cathy, is that with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’?”

“A ‘C’,” I answered.

“Cathy what?”

“Yes, how did you know?”

“What?” he scratched his head again.

“Yes,” I smiled back.

He looked completely and utterly confused. “Does she do this to you Simon?”

“She could do anything she wanted to me, dear boy.”

I gave Simon another withering glance and saw him flinch. That felt good. “My name is Cathy Watts,” I said, wondering if I should have used a different surname from my real one.

Kev started to laugh and his blue eyes sparkled. He was so good looking. My God, what am I saying?

“Right Cathy Watts, you are hereby accepted as an honorary member of Hunter’s CC, you’ll need to join properly some time and I’ll need a deposit.”

I blushed, “I’m sorry, I erm haven’t any money with me,” God this was so embarrassing.

“I’ll take a kiss in lieu of cash,” he said and before I could blink had kissed me on the lips. I froze. “Here’s my card,” he shoved a piece of cardboard into my lifeless hand. Then he shut the door and proceeded to move his truck to tow Simon’s car away.

Simon shut the boot lid with more force than was necessary, he slammed the car door as he got in, “The nerve of that bastard, you okay?”

I nodded silently in complete and utter shock, I had just experienced my first orgasmic feeling.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part XXV zzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

Simon started up the borrowed car, “I shall have something to say to his boss when I collect my car!” he fumed and grunted.

I was unaware of what he was on about, sat in my post orgasmic stupor I had only one thing on my mind and it wasn’t bikes. How soon could I do this again? That was the burning issue. I almost jumped out of the car, as Simon screamed out of the car park, nearly colliding with the brewery dray. He swore again! I obviously registered what was going on around me but in my little trance, I really wasn’t interested, not in the slightest. I had just discovered sex, or maybe it was the other way around, but it was soooooooooo goooooood! And that was only from a single kiss—wow! I think I was in lust.

“You can wipe that stupid smile from your face,” Simon said to me, “bloody women, always go for a piece of rough over quality.”

“If you say so, Simon,” my mouth was on autopilot, my brain having turned to mush. I suddenly thought of the game, ‘Simon Says’ where one has to do what the leader, who is called Simon, says. The object being that one tends to follow his actions not his voice and are then eliminated. It’s for kids which is just as well because I felt like telling Simon to belt up. In fact I did, “Belt up Simon,” I said loudly.

“I beg your pardon,” he retorted standing on his dignity.

“Belt up,” I repeated.

“There is no need to speak to me like that young lady!” he snapped back.

“Your seat belt, you’ve forgotten to put it on, so belt up.” I exhorted.

“Oh, sorry, I thought you meant something else.” I enjoyed his embarrassment and while he struggled to pull his seat belt around himself he forgot about the other issue, at least momentarily.

“You know this bike shop?” he asked me.

“Yeah, just down past the university, by the medical school anatomy department.”

“Is that the dead centre of the university?” he asked laughing at his own joke.

“If you say so,” I repeated disinterestedly.

“Or is it the main body of the campus?” He chuckled away to himself, my mind ‘floated lonely as a cloud’ that gets shagged on vales and hills. “Cadaver-boompty-eh,” he sang to himself, whilst laughing at the same time. It was a horrible noise not unlike a stoat falling into a shredder. Don’t ask me how I know, but we zoologists get up to some horrible things, ‘all in the best possible taste!’

I daydreamed, wishing like Wordsworth I was laying on my couch in pensive mood, but with Kev alongside me. Of course Wordsworth didn’t know Kev, he only had Dorothy his sister to play with, and by all accounts… nah, it’s not nice.

“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry, bones…” Simon was now on a roll. I tried to ignore him and think about other things, like Kev. We eventually drove through the city centre and five or ten minutes later were near the university, and soon after the medical school and its imposing five-storey buildings. The zoology department by comparison was a tin shed with a few tame rats and a freezer for putting said rats in when they ‘helped us with our enquiries.’ I was okay dissecting them, but I always had to get one of the technicians to do the messy business of killing them, I was far too squeamish for that. It was a standing joke amongst the technicians, especially as two of them were women.

We drew up outside Paget’s Cycles—it sounded like something you got from an oscilloscope. ‘Established 1976′ it said above the door, in my calendar that made it pretty ancient but I suppose it meant it was a stable sort of business, somewhere safe to leave my favourite possession.

As Simon parked the car, I got out and waited for him to get the bike out of the boot; suddenly I seemed able to walk in the boots and they were no longer hurting either. I held open the door while Simon did the dirty work, he got some oil on his shirt, but I’d let him find that out by himself, hopefully later.

“Hello Miss, Sir,” said a cheery looking middle-aged man. He was wearing a tee shirt and jeans, and had some oil on his hands which he was wiping on a cloth. He saw the bike, “Oh dear,” he reached out to take it from Simon. “Campag, that’s going to cost a bit I’m afraid, new rim, hub looks okay, cassette possibly okay. I’ll need to check the frame, what happened?”

‘Some loony in a car,’ I was about to say when Simon interjected, “A car hit her, driven by my sister. Can you fix it?”

“Sure, but it will take a few days, need to order parts and things and check the frame.”

“How long?” asked Simon.

“Most people ask how much,” observed the bike shop man.

“I don’t think that’s an issue,” said Simon almost frostily, “how long will it take?”

“A week if I’m lucky with the parts, I do have other jobs on as well.”

“I appreciate that,” said Simon, “can you loan her a bike while you do it?”

“I don’t know, the hire bikes are nothing like this quality.”

Simon produced a twenty pound note and placed it on the counter, I began to feel embarrassed, he was buying cooperation, tantamount to bribery. “If you can assist in this matter, and another when the bike is fixed.”

The man pocketed the note, and nodded. “I think I can let her borrow one I’ve not long finished servicing, the owner is away at the moment. Just take care of it.” I nodded and smiled and he disappeared into the back of the workshop and came back with a titanium framed ‘Litespeed’ and it was in my size too, albeit a men’s one so would feel a bit larger, but I’d cope.

“I’ll need some details,” said the man and Simon gave his business card then waited for me. I didn’t want him to know where I lived, but there was nothing I could do about it. So I gave my address and fumed silently.

Naturally, I had nothing to confirm my address so agreed to come back later with some ID and a letter or bill with my name and address on it. I had planned for such a contingency and had a second student’s union card with a blurry photo on it, and I also had a letter from a mail order company I’d bought some of my female clothes from, so I was all right.

We thanked the man and left the shop; Simon made a call on his mobile to say he was held up in a meeting and would be in later. “What about you, are you missing lectures or do you want me to drop you home?”

I was caught in a dilemma again—he knew where I lived already, but I had to get in without being seen by anyone. My heart started to thump loud and fast. My place was about a mile away, too far in these heels and I had the bag of stuff from Stella.

What should I do? It seemed pretty obvious, except I couldn’t remember how I’d left the place. Was there much that could be seen as male lying around? I couldn’t remember. I tended to keep Cathy’s stuff well hidden for obvious reasons although I didn’t have many callers, so I’d become a little sloppy recently. So there may be tights and knickers, maybe a bra hanging in the bathroom, were there any of my boy clothes there as well? Probably!

“Let’s go for a coffee, I’m parched,” suggested Simon, “You look all in,” then before I could say anything he linked his arm through mine and half dragged me into a tea shop about a hundred yards up the road.

We ordered coffees and a toasted teacake. I was glad he felt as peckish as I did. “So, are you going be okay with that bike?”

“The Litespeed, yeah, it’ll be fine, thank you.”

“What happened in the car with Kevin?” he looked a bit jealous.

“Nothing, he pecked me on the cheek. It surprised me, that’s all.”

“Are you sure? If it upset you, I’ll get his boss to kick his arse.”

I found myself blushing, “No honestly, it was nothing; please don’t get him into trouble.”

“You seemed a bit distant afterwards, are you sure he didn’t upset you?”

“I’m fine, just a bit tired. I don’t sleep too well away from my own bed.”

“I still think I’ll get his boss to give him a rocket.”

“Please don’t,” I pleaded aware I was getting redder by the second.

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“Because I asked you not to.”

“If you come out with me tomorrow night, I won’t say anything to the garage.”

“That’s blackmail!” I exclaimed, feeling angry.

“I’ll tell them he assaulted you and get him sacked.”

“But that’s a lie,” I protested.

“All is fair in love and war, Sweetie. Ah here’s our coffee.”

We ate and drank in silence, my appetite had been affected by Simon’s games but I managed to force it down. When we finished, he asked, “So what’s it going to be?”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 26 (and who said it wouldn’t last?)

by Angharad & Winnie the Pooh

“I don’t think I like you Simon,” I said to myself. I still had to get home and a lift with him was easier than walking in these boots. They may be comfortable for the moment, but walking a mile in someone else’s boots is not recommended by podiatrists, especially ones with three-inch heels.

I was trying to think quickly and so far wasn’t having much effect, a bit like my cycling. After all my training I was still crap, but better crap than I was before, so it was all relative. If I could get Simon to give me a lift to my flat, change my shoes, grab the bits I needed to borrow the bike and then get him to take me back to the shop, or to the university. I won’t go to my lectures but he doesn’t know that.

“I don’t want you to report Kev, because nothing happened and it would be pure malice on your part.”

“Absolutely,” nodded Simon, “malice of the purest form. I saw you first, end of story.”

“I am not some product on a supermarket shelf, Simon. I’m a woman and I have feelings.” I almost simpered at this stage although I knew he wouldn’t fall for the old tears trick.

“All of them good, I hope.”

“I beg your pardon?” I said in bewilderment.

“Your feelings,” he gave me a beaming smile. He was running rings around me and it should have been the other way about. I’m the woman here, supposed to be in charge, wrapping him around my little finger and he does this to me. I’ll bet Kev wouldn’t do that to me!

I had now forgotten what I was going to say, what item of scintillating wit I had been saving to destroy him. Okay so I’m lying, but he doesn’t know that, if all else fails make some disparaging remark about his masculinity.

“What do you care about my feelings?” I came back with a stormer.

“Very much.” There was that beaming smile again.

“Very much what?” I asked having forgotten what we were talking about.

“I care very much for your feelings; look Cathy, if you’re going to argue with me at least remember what you are saying otherwise it gets very confusing. The way things are going, you’ll be attacking my masculinity next. If you do, I could hit back by mentioning the small size of your breasts. But being a gentleman, I wouldn’t dream of saying such a thing.”

“You just did!” I wailed, folding my arms over my small breasts.

“No sweetie, I said I could not would, say it.”

“Could, would, who gives a shit, if my tits are too small why are you wanting to date me anyway, are you into boyish girls, is that it, are you a repressed homosexual?” That should have hit him right between the eyes, let’s see him laugh that off, question both his masculinity and his sexuality—both barrels, woooooooo!

To my astonishment Simon roared with laughter. “That is very good Cathy, boyish girls, repressed homosexual, that is so funny.”

I stood there absolutely gob-smacked, why isn’t he reeling under my deluge of blows, or is he going to laugh himself into a coma?

“Most men I know wouldn’t find it very funny,” I pouted.

“That’s their silly fault then. I can assure you I am a normal, heterosexual bloke, who finds you attractive partly because of your naiveté, but also because you are a very pretty girl. Okay, I’d prefer it if you had bigger breasts but it’s not that important. I can’t help who I fancy, it’s all to do with brain chemistry or something. As for the gay sex bit, I had plenty of opportunity at Millfield, believe me, and it wasn’t my scene at all.”

So he went to a public school, rich bastard! “Did Stella go to a public school as well?” I asked changing the subject for a moment to buy myself some time to think.

“She went to Millfield as well, I hate to think what our education cost my parents, especially with flying lessons and ponies and things.”

“So why are you interested in a flat-chested prole like me? It amuses you does it, bit of rough?” I felt a bit out of my depth and was hitting out wherever I could; maybe I should just let him report Kev and get the hell out of it? But then I rarely did what was good for me.

“Let’s go back to the car shall we, as this is getting rather personal?”

We walked in relative silence back to the Volvo and got into it. “It’s limited parking here, so I’m going to drive somewhere with less restrictions and which is a bit quieter, is that okay?”

“I don’t know,” I mumbled, for all I knew he was going to drive somewhere very quiet and attempt to rape me or worse.

“Is there somewhere you’d prefer to go, bearing in mind that this is costing my bank a couple of million pounds an hour. So sadly, I don’t have all day.”

“Take me home,” I said, shocked by what he had just said, “maybe you’d better go to work and save the economy.”

“Not until you promise to come out tomorrow night.”

“Let me think about it.” I felt very confused, well I didn’t really, to go out on any sort of date with a randy bloke was risking being murdered.

“What is there to think about? You have something to wear and it looked fine. I shall collect you and take you back home, your home that is.”

“I erm, I don’t know Simon.” I blushed and was close to tears. I was terrified.

“Look I’m only asking you out for dinner, I’m not asking you to sleep with me or to marry me for God’s sake.”

“I don’t do sex on a first date,” I said, which was true, never having had sex, it had to be. “And last night doesn’t count as a date.” I covered myself there.

“Despite finding you extremely attractive, I don’t actually know whether I’d want sex with you anyway,” he said diffidently.

“Why? What’s wrong with me? Tits too small, is that it?” I shrieked. I was disgusted.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 27

Simon gave me a very strange look, “Not all men are predatory animals wanting to rob young women of their virginity.”

“How do you know I’m a virgin?” I said sniffily.

“Shall we say it’s fairly obvious,” he softened his look into a benign sort of smile.

I sat pouting. I was so confused by the speed at which things were happening. I mean this time yesterday, I was in lectures thinking about my research project and my bike ride. Now look at me, dressed as a woman with two men wanting to date me and possibly have sex with me. Despite Simon’s reassurances, I’m not convinced that he is as genuine as he says.

Yesterday, the idea would have made me ill for days, now I want to excite them, but of course I don’t want them to go any further than being excited. That’s the hard bit, well they’d have their own hard bits, but you know what I mean, being something of a cockteaser.

Most of my life I’ve been ignored as a weed or a nerd; the boys think I’m too girly and I suppose, so do the girls. They come to me for help with assignments but that’s it. Suddenly, I have two men who find me interesting and while I’m not at all sure about sex, I find it exciting. That stolen kiss by Kev, was the most sexually exciting thing that has ever happened to me—sad or what?

I used to think I wasn’t interested, but now I’m not at all sure. I tried to wind Simon up, but he put me down instead talking about my boobs; it made me cross to think I thought I had him excited and then he puts me down—no wonder I was indignant! Humph!

Then reality breaks into this living fantasy I’m in and suddenly it’s quite scary.

“So where do you live?” asked Simon pulling away from the kerb.

Reluctantly I told him, and we were on our way. “I’m not sure I want to talk right now,” I told him, I had loads of thinking to do.

“Okay,” he nodded as he spoke as if to reinforce his agreement, “We can talk tomorrow evening, where would you like to go?”

“I erm, don’t know, I erm don’t usually have much time for dates,” I lied.

“Okay, I’ll choose somewhere with good food, bring an appetite.”

“I erm, I’ll try.” I blushed profusely again.

“You don’t do many dates do you?” he said pulling up by my flat.

I stared out of the windscreen and felt tears blur my vision, then shook my head. I felt warm fluid run down my cheek.

“You ought to,” he said touching my hand, “a pretty girl like you should never be short of a date.”

“I have to go,” I managed to splutter.

“Seven thirty tomorrow, I’ll pick you up here. Be ready.” He leant over to kiss me but I slipped out of the car and ran to my door.

“You forgot your bag,” he called from the car.

“Shit, shit, shit!” I mumbled to myself, how to make a complete fool of myself in one easy lesson. I stumbled defeated back to the car, where Simon was standing by the open boot lid holding the overnight bag. I took it from him, and resigned myself for a kiss on the cheek. It never came. “Damn!” I swore under my breath, that’s twice he’s upstaged me.

“Thanks,” I said taking the bag, “for the lift and organising another bike,” I felt grateful, just unsure of what to do next.

“That’s okay,” he said smiling.

Then an impulse came over me and I leant forward and pecked him on the cheek. I stepped back and blushing, turned and ran off to my door again.

“Tomorrow then,” was called after me but I kept going. I had noticed my door key in the little handbag Stella had given me, so I let myself into my bedsit.

I was relatively lucky, the building was owned by a trust which was so inter-related to the uni, that they were hard to separate. However, it meant that rents were reasonable and I hadn’t had to borrow as much as I thought I would. Actually, that’s not true, I had borrowed the full amount—some of it was lying awaiting repair in the bike shop. Well most of my peer group use their student loans to finance local breweries, mine is bike shops and the odd dress shop, mostly online.

I sat in the chair waiting for the kettle to boil, my heart was thumping from running up the stairs, thank goodness no one else was around. I had to take stock, how had I got myself into this mess? By getting knocked off my bike and being discovered as having boobs despite my best efforts to hide them. Then being encouraged to borrow clothes and have my long hair cut and shaped and some makeup.

Part of me thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world, all my aspirations had come together at once, pity they couldn’t do the surgery as well, then it would have been the jackpot.

But, on reflection, it was all too quick. I can’t suddenly transform into this ‘pretty girl’ without preparing for it. Apart from the logistics of the wardrobe I’ll need, I also need time to prepare myself mentally for it and those who need to know as well.

My experience of being out and about as a girl was limited to one or two TG meetings, where they all seemed like drag queens or men in dresses and the odd trip to post a letter, usually after dark. Okay, once I spent a weekend in London in role, but it was a mixture of scary and boring.

I remembered I hadn’t taken my pill. I went to the bedside cupboard and pulled out the Premarin from the drawer and swallowed it. I’d had my boost of femaleness. The kettle jug boiled and I made tea in the mug, burning my fingers squeezing out the tea bag. I nibbled on a digestive biscuit as I thought about things.

I’d missed the entire morning session, but I thought if I skipped lunch I could make the afternoon one. I started to undo the jeans, then remembered I had to get the bike while still in female mode—oh bugger!

I fiddled about for my ‘fake’ union card. I’d been an officer of the students’ union last year and was responsible for issuing membership cards. I did one for my alter ego while I was at it, then a fuzzy digital photo and I had proof of existence, sort of. I picked up an account for a mail order catalogue I’d used. It proved where I lived.

I sat down relieved I could find these bits and bobs, usually when in a hurry they remain hidden only to reappear as soon as the urgency has gone. I planned my next move. I would have to walk to the bike shop and collect the bike, then bring it back here because to go on to uni would mean I’d still be in Cathy mode. That was a no, no, much as I’d love to do it.

Then I’d have to change and take my clunker, my old mtb, to uni. I would never make it. I would have to call in sick, saying I’d had a bike accident or something. Well it would be telling the truth, just say I’m a bit shocked and shaken up. I wasn’t missing that much and I could always do some work on my dissertation, ‘On the breeding viability of dormice in sub urban environments.’ I know that both the County Council and Department of the Environment were interested in the outcomes of my study, so there could be a job at the end of it. Things felt a bit more positive.

I needed to swap these jeans for something I could ride in. I had some thin trousers somewhere, which were unisex and if I swapped the boots for trainers… damn the bike had clipless pedals.

I tore open the overnight bag and found my cycling shoes—they were still wet. Too bad, I’d have to wear them. I only had one pair; they were in a plastic bag and didn’t smell too attractive except to flies. I pulled out the remains of my racing skins—they were wet too and torn. Oh well, my David Millar impressions were over. I chuckled at the thought: he was six feet tall or more, I was only five foot seven. He rode the Tour de France, I was knackered after a forty miler, but I was getting better.

I pulled on some socks and my trainers, and for the hell of it used the lipstick and combed my hair. I grabbed my little handbag and popped the ID stuff inside, picked up my cycling shoes and stepped out of my door, I remembered to pack my key so I happily shut the door and as I did so heard one shut behind me. My heart sank!

“Hello darlin’ who are you?” came the voice of my neighbour. He was bound to recognise me. Life was about to end, big time.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 28b

by Angharad & Enid Blyton

I froze like a chicken caught in the headlights of a Juggernaut. I wanted to run around in circles but stood still instead.

“So who are you?” asked the voice.

I knew perfectly well who he was and I was sure the moment I turned around he would recognise me. However, the longer I stood there the more suspicious it would be. I slowly turned around.

“So has our resident nerd got a girlfriend?”

“Maybe,” I answered coyly and blushing, “excuse me, I have to go.” I brushed past Big Mac. We called him that because his name is Macmanus and he’s huge. It is also appropriate because he is so full of shit that it reminds one of… oh, I suppose that could be libellous, but you get my drift.

“Just a minute darlin’, haven’t we met somewhere?” he pushed his arm out in front of me preventing my escape.

My heart nearly stopped, how was I going to get past this oaf, without him working out who I was. At a glance he might mistake me for a stranger, but with a few minutes to look at me, he’d surely twig.

“I don’t think so, I’m sure I would remember,” a gorilla like you. I ducked under his arm, and was down the stairs before he could react. The problem now was whether or not his brain was switched on. The answer to it, I wouldn’t know until I met him again. Could I claim to be my own sister? I shook my head as I walked along towards the university and the bike shop, this was beginning to sound like one of those stories I’ve seen posted on the internet.

As I trundled through the streets, I was trying to make up contingency plans for all eventualities. There were quite a few, including Simon killing me if he found out, Big Mac killing me, Kev killing me, me committing suicide, and then…

“Hello, young Watts isn’t it?”

I stopped as if I’d stepped on a garden rake and the handle had smacked me in the face.

“Professor Agnew,” I replied to the older man.

“Two questions,” he paused to gain my assent, “Can we expect to see the new you in classes from now on, and why are you not in classes now?”

I swallowed hard, if he could recognise me would Big Mac? Part of me just wanted to tell him where to go, the other part wanted to get my MSc and I’d need his support for that.

“I don’t know,” I replied and he nodded.

“And my second question?” he asked.

“It’s a long story.” I blushed.

“It’s just as well I have plenty of time then, there’s a coffee shop over there, shall we adjourn there for your answer?” He held out his arm and I linked mine around it, feeling even more like a headless deer. “It does an old man good to be seen with a pretty girl on his arm.”

We found a quiet table and my host ordered two coffees and Danish pastries. “So is this the real you, Miss Watts?”

He knew about my gender identity problem, but had treated it with the confidentiality it deserved. He was close to retirement, over sixty-five and had been allowed to stay because he was still as sharp as a pin and had one of the most respected reputations in vertebrate zoology in Europe, and was probably nurturing a dozen top research scientists towards international acclaim. Sadly I wasn’t one of them.

“I don’t know,” I told him and went on to explain my past twenty-four hours. He smiled, laughed, nodded and shook his head at my story.

“So how do you feel about this Simon?” he asked as we sipped our coffees.

“I don’t know that either, he’s so far been very kind and claimed to find me interesting rather than sexy,” I related, pouting as I said it.

“You seem disappointed?”

“In a way, I suppose I am. All my life I’ve been tolerated rather than accepted or wanted. When Stella had finished her magic on me, I thought I looked better than I had in my whole life before.”

“You still do, Cathy wasn’t it?”

I nodded and thanked him.

“If I wasn’t your Professor, I would be asking you for a date myself,” he said smiling.

I laughed at him, “Don’t be silly Professor, you know too much about me,” I chuckled implying my true legal sex.

“I do now young woman, and I have never seen you look happier or better.”

I blushed and looked at the table avoiding eye contact.

“When you first told me about your little problem, I could see that you were quite a feminine almost pretty-looking boy, but I’ve met other such young men as students and most had no such problems. Given your inclinations, I suppose your appearance would become an advantage when you got around to transitioning, is that the right word?”

I agreed that it was.

“However, I have been told all sorts of things by students over the years, sometimes as a way of protecting themselves against poor results, but yours have not been affected and your research is looking good. I think DEFFRA (government department) might be persuaded to fund a doctoral research programme, with EU monies. The European Union likes little furry animals, thank God.”

I smiled wondering where this was leading.

“While I don’t want to rush you into anything, I should very much like to have a pretty young research assistant on my staff, if only because it makes the departmental photos look so much better. So I suggest you finish your dissertation and apply for funding to do a research degree for a doctorate. You would be Doctor Dormouse,” he said laughing.

“Wouldn’t the agency find it funny that I changed my name in between the two degrees?”

“It’s nothing we can’t deal with, but of course if you were to make your change over, sorry transition, sooner rather than later, it wouldn’t arise, would it?”

“What, are you suggesting I make my transition now?” I gasped.

“Looks to me as if you already have, and it’s a remarkable improvement, if I say so myself. Should I ask Mrs Miller to make the appropriate alterations?”

Mrs Miller was the departmental secretary; she was a mature woman of forty something who everyone liked, although she protected the prof like a Rottweiler.

“There she is.”

I cringed as I recognised the voice of Big Mac.

“The nerd’s girlfriend, c’mon, let’s go chat her up… oh Professor, I didn’t see you there.”

“Is there something I can do for you boys?” he said firmly. I just wanted to die; I couldn’t see who or how many there were. “I am having afternoon tea with Miss Watts, how can I help you?”

“Miss Watts, what Charlie’s sister?” said Big Mac.

“Yes Mr Macmanus, I am trying to persuade her to finish her brother’s research project, he’s been injured in a cycling accident and might not return for some time.”

“Cool, I erm mean, I’m sorry to hear about Charlie, but if I can help you get to know the place…”

“I think her fiancé may feel a bit put out by that Mr Macmanus.”

I found myself swallowing hard, and heard a similar reaction from Big Mac, but the prof was dealing with them better than I could—I did say he was as sharp as a pin.

“Right oh, Miss Watts, if I can help, just let me know,” he said making a tactical withdrawal, “I’m next door to Charlie’s place.”

“Thank you, Mister umm…”

“Macmanus, Alistair Macmanus, and you’re welcome.” He left to a few hoots from his friends.

“It seems they didn’t recognise you,” he smiled at me and ordered tea for both of us.

“It’s very kind of you Professor, but I’ve imposed upon your time too much already.”

“Nonsense, I’ve ordered the tea now, surely you don’t expect me to drink it all by myself?”

I sat back down. A sudden and very frightening thought occurred to me, “Are you expecting me to turn up as Cathy, from now on?”

“As your brother is injured and can’t, I don’t see why you shouldn’t, do you?”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 29

by Angharad & Barbara Cartland

Author’s Note: I can’t believe I’m still writing this: originally I was going to do a blog about being caught in a thunderstorm whilst cycling. Instead I decided to turn it into a story, then to write the story directly to the website as a test of my imaginative skills and fast editing. Nothing written is planned beforehand, and it is quick checked afterwards for obvious errors. Then I post it.

I’m delighted it is read by so many, some of whom actually say so in comments. I don’t know where it will go or for how much longer—it doesn’t get any easier to write something each day that makes sense with what has gone before. If you think it is, why not have a try.
Thanks for all the comments and encouragements.
hugs,
Angharad.
==================================================

I slumped down in the chair in semi-shock. The professor was arranging cups and saucers together, “When you are ready, you can be mother,” he joked, indicating I should pour the teas.

Somehow my hand wasn’t shaking as much as I thought it would pouring two cups of tea from the silver tea pot. I passed him the little milk jug.

“You seem surprised at my suggestion?” said my learned host.

“Surprised doesn’t quite cover it,” I gasped back.

“What else was I supposed to do? I meet you walking around the town dressed as a woman, then a short time later our tête-à-tête is interrupted by a group of students whose collective IQ could be measured in single figures. Should I have told them the truth, or reported you for missing lectures?” He took a sip of tea and waited for me to answer.

I went to pick up my cup and this time the shakes got to me and I needed two hands to safely return it to the saucer. I looked at him, his eyes were sparkling with mischief, normally that would just egg me on, now it annoyed me.

“This isn’t some game Professor Agnew, this is my life we are talking about. If I turn up to lectures in skirts and makeup, there will be no going back. I don’t know if I am ready to commit to that yet.”

“So why are you walking about as a woman now? Surely you could have made some other arrangement to pick up a bicycle? You already have another one in your room, so it wasn’t essential to do today. Instead, you could have changed and come to lectures this afternoon.”

I had no answer to his question; why was I still walking around in Stella’s clothes? I picked up my cup in both hands—the tremor had gone. I took a sip of the tea and tried to think about what I was going to say.

“I don’t honestly know why I was walking to the bike shop, except I thought I’d better get the bike while I was in this mode because Simon is sure to ask me about it tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to go on this date with him, you know, he has no legal way of coercing you into it.”

“I suppose not, but I gave my word I would go.”

“Under such pressure, I’m sure a change of heart is allowed.”

“I try to stick to my promises, however unpleasant or unwise they are, it’s the way I was brought up. My parents might not have got much else right, but I do understand the concept of honouring my word.”

“Very laudable in normal circumstances, but aren’t these just a bit different? Didn’t you say that Simon is probably unaware of your previous status?”

I was becoming increasingly embarrassed and unable to speak. I felt his eyes boring through the top of my skull as I looked down at my feet. I nodded to answer his question as my eyes filled with tears.

Little rivulets of scalding water began to dribble down my cheeks and my companion handed me his handkerchief, a large Persil-white, men’s one. I dabbed at my eyes, then remembered I had no eye makeup on, so I wouldn’t mark his hankie.

“Are you all right Miss Watts?” he asked in a very caring way.

I nodded and continued weeping.

“I am concerned for you, believe me. I don’t care what you wear or call yourself as long as your work is consistently good and on time. However, to try and live this double life, especially in the goldfish bowl we call the university, sooner or later you will be discovered and what happens then, who knows? The rabble like that earlier will delight in having a laugh at your expense. It might also get a bit physical. We have had the odd ‘queerbashing’ incident on campus despite our efforts to prevent such things. I don’t want that to happen to you.”

I continued to wet his handkerchief with tears and nodded my understanding. “I just don’t know if I am up to making this commitment yet. It’s all happened so quickly and I’m not prepared for it.”

“In what way are you not prepared for it?” he asked, offering me his empty cup to refill with tea.

“All sorts of ways,” I blustered back desperately trying to think of excuses.

He sat and sipped his second cup of tea, while I tried to crank up my brain.

“I don’t have enough clothes or makeup,” I gushed, my brain was beginning to function—sort of.

“Most of my female students wear jeans and tee shirts in summer and jeans and jumpers in the winter, just like most of the boys.”

“What about social events?” I countered, “women have to have much bigger wardrobes for that.”

“Really? Not from what I’ve seen around the campus and there is nothing to stop you from buying more clothes, in fact I’d have thought it was easier being able to go into shops and try them on.”

“I’d need more makeup,” I said realising how weak that was as an argument.

“Well, all you’re wearing at the moment is lipstick, and you look fine to me.”

“I’m not prepared mentally,” I said looking at the floor.

“I was led to believe that transsexualism is an inherent condition in certain individuals and incurable. From what I have read, most transsexuals claim to have a female brain in a male body. Some research evidence, albeit controversial, may uphold that view. If it is true, how can you prepare something you were born with?”

“I erm, I erm don’t know.” I wept again, totally defeated.

“Are you trying to tell me you don’t know if you really are transsexual?”

I couldn’t speak, I was so choked up, but managed to shake my head vigorously.

“So is it that you don’t want live as a woman?”

Again, I shook my head vigorously.

“So what is it then, cold feet?”

At this I burst into tears and nodded, I wished I was dead.

A waitress walked up and asked us if everything was all right. The professor told her we were discussing a family matter and thanked her for her concern. I felt even more stupid.

Here I was doing what I had dreamt of doing ever since I was about eight or nine years old, living as a girl. I was being offered the opportunity to continue doing it indefinitely and with official sanction, it was beyond my wildest dreams. So why the bloody hell was I making excuses?

Okay so there would be some awkward questions eventually as people twigged, especially on my course, but that would have happened anyway unless I’d disappeared and turned up somewhere completely new and even that has risks. At least here I’d have help to face down the dissenters, and high status help at that. So what was my problem?

Maybe it was because it wasn’t my decision, or at least it wasn’t at my pace, I was being forced along at someone else’s pace. It felt uncomfortable and I wasn’t in control of anything. This thing was assuming its own momentum. What I didn’t know was if that would happen anyway, once it began even if I had started it? I could only know that by experience.

As I sat leaning forward, the vee neck of the tee shirt was giving the prof a good view of such cleavage as I had. “You’re taking oestrogens?”

I suddenly looked up and nodded, “Yes, for about six or eight months.”

“I see they are having an effect.”

I blushed and sat more upright, pulling the denim jacket closed around me.

“It was meant as a neutral observation. However, if you are having hormone therapy, doesn’t it mean your transition and life test is imminent?”

I nodded. I felt the world was over and all my elation had gone flat. Was this what real life would be like rather than the fizz of the past twenty-four hours?

“I think you had better collect your bicycle and get in touch with the doctor who prescribed your pills. Call me later and let me know what you are going to do. You know what I think, but it must be your decision that you go with.” With that he rose from the table, paid the bill and left.

“Was that man bothering you?” asked the waitress.

“No he was trying to help me,” I said, my eyes still leaking tears.

“Man problems?”

“Something like that,” I said, wiping my face.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 30

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Joan Jones, otherwise known as Darla Raspberry, a sister writer, who died suddenly.

The waitress stayed with me for several minutes; it was kind of her but made my recovery even slower than it would normally have been. I wasn’t even sure what I was crying about, but then I wasn’t sure about anything much at that moment. My whole world was in total chaos and disarray and I needed to make some very important decisions. Maybe that was what I was crying about, or perhaps it wasn’t.

I was having my absolute and total dream handed to me on a plate and I was upset about it, not only that but I was wondering if I was going to accept it or not. I mean, how bloody stupid can you get?

Perhaps I was so insecure that I needed to feel in control, except when I let go and trusted to Stella’s guidance, I had a wonderful time. Was there a lesson there for me? If there was, I seemed unable to learn from it.

I needed to do a few things and sitting there feeling sorry for myself was achieving none of them. I went to the ladies’ loo and washed my face, trying to reduce the red-eyed look. My head was pounding, probably caused by a fluid imbalance in my head, all the tears shed had dried my tiny brain out. I also had a wee—all that tea and coffee had filled my bladder and the knickers I was wearing were growing a little tight in places.

I set off for the bike shop and a short time later I had taken possession of the ‘Litespeed’, it was a joy to ride. The man there had also said he thought the frame on mine was okay, so it was only the wheel which needed replacing. It would take about a week. Taking his card, I promised to phone him in a week’s time.

Next, I cycled off to a quiet corner of the university campus and called my shrink. Of course she was with a patient, and her secretary promised to get her to call me back as soon as she could. That left me feeling anxious for two reasons: I needed to speak with her and obviously needed somewhere quiet to do it, but I also needed to do some shopping and wandering around ‘Top Shop’ or ‘Next’ is probably not the best place for a private telephone conversation. Why do these dilemmas always happen to me?

In fact they didn’t, the good doc phoned before I got to the shops and I was able to jump into a phone box to take the call on my mobile. Okay, so it might be cheeky, but it was private.

“So Cathy, you said you needed to speak with me urgently, what’s the problem?”

“Yes Dr Thomas…” I then gave her the edited highlights of the previous twenty-four hours.

“Goodness, that sounds wonderful, so are you going for it?” Her voice beamed with such enthusiasm, it nearly melted the phone.

“I erm…um…erm, don’t know.” I felt my voice wavering and growing fainter.

“Oh!” she said, “I think I’d better see you.” I could hear her muttering under her breath. “Shit!” she said to herself, “it would be tonight, sodding medical committee,” all of which was supposed to be out of earshot. “Look Cathy,” I have to be out tonight and tomorrow I’m absolutely full. I can give you maybe twenty minutes at the end of my session this evening, can you get here by five forty?”

“Thank you doctor, I shall be there.” She rang off and I went off to the shops feeling a little relieved I could get her opinion, which I much valued.

En route to the shops, I realised I had no lock for this bike and being quite valuable, it would also be quite vulnerable. I turned around and headed for home. Once there, I had to make some further decisions.

I decided against going shopping, instead I went and showered, drying my hair very carefully. It was nowhere as tidy or effective as when Stella had done it, but it felt clean and still looked feminine. Next I dressed in the red skirt and dress, and tried on the boots again. Could I walk to the doctor’s in these, I doubted it? So reluctantly, I switched for a pair of black low heeled pumps, they looked okay. I had a black jacket already, so with Stella’s bag it looked quite tidy.

My makeup, I kept very simple, some pinky-red lipstick and mascara, nothing else except a squirt of smellies here and there. I was going to sit down and catch my breath for an hour, maybe check my emails when I saw the bag Stella had packed with my stuff. I hadn’t used my cycling shoes to ride the bike, the little I’d ridden I managed with my trainers, so I stuffed the shoes with newspaper to help them dry.

I thought I’d better look at my racing skins and see what could be salvaged from them, they were in a plastic bag and I could see the yellow shining through it. The rest of the overnight bag was full of other stuff. How I hadn’t noticed it before I couldn’t say, except my mind was elsewhere and hadn’t really returned back to base yet.

I emptied the bag. Besides my cycling stuff, and the skirt and tee shirt I was wearing, which had been on top of everything else were a black skirt and top of matching material, some toiletries, a white bra and matching pants, some tights and a note.

‘Cathy,
A few bits and pieces for you which are surplus to my use. I have a few more bits and pieces you can have but will need to sort them out for you. I hope we can see each other again, don’t let Simon have things all his own way.
Stella.’

I called the number on the note and was delighted when Stella answered it. She was pleased I’d rung and we chatted for about fifteen minutes. I told her about the professor’s offer and she was excited for me, telling me to go for it. I told her about Simon’s insistence about tomorrow night and she offered to come and help me with my makeup again. I accepted her offer gratefully.

I managed to find space in my wardrobe for my new acquisitions. It was really difficult, I had two jackets and a pair of male trousers hanging there along with my two good shirts. Otherwise, it was all my female clothes, two skirts, a dress, a coat, a blouse and the black jacket I was wearing. I had other bits and bobs in my chest of drawers but just to dress around my flat didn’t really require a great range of clothes and also didn’t make it too difficult to hide if anyone came to see me.

My makeup was all kept in a plastic bag in an old shoe box under my bed, and my shoes and now the boots were in bags in the wardrobe. I wasn’t ashamed of any of it, but it seemed sensible to keep things quiet until I was ready to go public. I’d had nothing more than a nebulous idea of that date, always about six months ahead and had moved it three times so far.

I was aware that I couldn’t be referred for surgery until I had lived for a year in role, but that was another nebulous thing, so dates were irrelevant. If the truth be told, it was a case of one day, sun- day, some day never! I was a moral coward.

I glanced at my watch, only a cheapo thing but I liked it and saw it was about an hour before my meeting with the doctor. I collected my key and popped it in my bag with my purse, picked up my little folding umbrella and set off at a gentle walk to her rooms.

Once away from my own room, I felt happier, less chance of being identified and my whole demeanour relaxed. It stayed that way until I got to Dr Thomas’ consulting room at the clinic.

She was a psychiatrist who was based in the acute psychiatric clinic. This was in a pair of large Victorian town houses, the upstairs contained some rooms for inpatients, the downstairs were offices and consulting rooms. I knew my way to her room quite well.

I’d had a bout of depression following years of suppression of my gender problem, culminating in a row with my parents when they found out what it was all about, and my attempted suicide when I got back to uni. Everything got too much and I took an overdose of paracetamol but was discovered. I’d forgotten to lock my door and the caretaker found me. He was doing his annual electrical check.

Because it was within twenty-four hours, they gave me methionine the antidote to paracetamol poisoning and thus saved me from liver failure. At the time I was too ill to argue but I threatened to do it again and ended up under the care of Dr Thomas in the acute psych ward at the clinic. She eventually discovered what the cause of the problem was and had helped me enormously in dealing with the ramifications. I owed her my life, because she had made me see that I wasn’t some sort of freak, encouraged me to read and research the subject and plan for my future, albeit in a vague and nebulous manner. I suppose her idea was that if one is planning for a future there is less chance of ending the present, suddenly.

One of the good doctor’s conventions was to refer to me as Cathy, rather than by my male name, but she had never seen me as such so I felt a bit apprehensive about our appointment today. I mean what would happen if she was revolted by me, or thought I looked dreadful. I would never cope with rejection by her, I would die quite literally.

I entered the reception area and the butterflies revved up for some action. “I have an appointment with Dr Thomas,” I said to the receptionist.

“You can’t have, she finishes at five thirty today,” snapped the receptionist.

The butterflies were scrambled and airborne in a split second.

“I spoke to her about two hours ago, she told me to come and see her.”

“Hold on,” she went off to speak to someone else and I could hear the mumblings but no detail. Five minutes or maybe it was several years later, she returned. “We had no record of your appointment, however it seems Dr Thomas is expecting you,” she looked up at the clock, “in about five minutes, please take a seat.” With that, I was dismissed to sit in the waiting area.

I looked around before deciding where to sit. There were a handful of other people waiting, some were probably patients like myself others could have been friends or relatives of patients waiting with them or for some who were in with the various doctors and psychiatric nurses.

I watched the clock. I was restless and nervous, too much so to try and read the out-of-date National Geographics or Good Housekeeping. Usually I flipped through She or Marie Claire, but I’d read them all some time ago and had even taken a cycling mag with me a couple of times. She had challenged me on it as not being very girly, and I had defended myself as saying that female was not necessarily feminine in a frothy, frilly manner and that my role models were Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendleton, real women not the sort of cardboard cut out bimbos who marry rich footballers. She had laughed and agreed with me, it had been her way of probing my idea of gender stereotypes.

“Cathy Watts,” was called; I stood up and walked towards reception, “please go to Dr Thomas’ room, room four.”

“I know where it is,” I said and walked towards it. The butterflies were doing their impression of the Red Arrows, flying at each other at speeds in excess of five hundred miles an hour. It didn’t take them long to get across my stomach.

I knocked on the door and a woman’s voice bid me enter.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 31 The Larch, the larch

My sweating hand grasped the handle of the door as it had several times before, only I don’t think I was as frightened as I was now. Maybe the first time, when I asked her if I was crazy, her answer was, “Why, would it make you feel better if I said you were?” When I replied that it wouldn’t, she said, “Well we’ve got that out of the way quickly.”

I pushed open the door and she glanced over her spectacles at me, “I think you might have the wrong room young lady, I’m expecting a patient in a moment so could you close the door again, thank you.”

I stood there absolutely astonished and unable to move.

She looked a little irritated that I was still stood there. She rose from her desk and walked towards me. “Can I er, help you Miss?”

“It’s me Dr Thomas, Cathy Watts.”

She stopped and did a double take, “Good Lord, so it is, come on in.”

She made me stand in the middle of the room while she prowled around me, making almost purring noises. “I’m impressed,” she said finally. “You make a very convincing and attractive female. So what’s the problem?”

I was gobsmacked and it took me a moment to get my brain back from its orbit somewhere out around Alpha Centauri. I sat down and gave her a potted version of the past twenty-four hours, up to and including my visit here.

“So where’s the problem?” she asked looking slightly bemused.

Maybe it’s not me that’s crazy, maybe it’s her, I wondered as I prepared to list the problems. “I’m being asked to start transitioning, now, without any preparation or help.”

“Sounds to me as if loads of people are helping you.”

“But I’m not ready,” I protested.

“Doesn’t look that way to me.”

“How can I be ready, yesterday I was walking around in trousers!”

“So was I,” shrugged the doctor.

“But you don’t understand,” I was close to tears, no one seemed able to understand what I was trying to say.

“Help me to then,” she tossed back to me.

“It’s all been so sudden…”

“Has it? You’ve been taking hormones for how long? Eight months…”

“You know what I mean,” I countered.

“Do I?” she threw back at me.

“I need time to prepare,” I protested.

“Why, how long does it take you to get dressed?”

“I don’t mean that, I mean for my transition.”

“Looks to me like you’ve started.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No I don’t Cathy, but let me tell you what I think you mean. I think you are frightened because things have happened beyond your control and you have become scared that you won’t get control again. It’s an illusion, we none of us have any control over our lives until we let go and find that we control everything.”

I glazed over as she got all existentialist on me and shook my head.

“I see a very attractive woman sitting opposite me but what I’m hearing is a whining boy who thinks he wants to be a woman but is shit scared of taking the plunge. So he puts all sorts of obstacles in his path to stop it happening. Yesterday and to some extent today, something very Jungian happened…”

By now I felt very defensive, how dare she speak to me like this, calling me scared or cowardly?

“He, Jung that is, suggested that when internal issues are unresolved the universe externalises them to force you to resolve them.”

“I didn’t know you were into Jung,” I gasped.

“I’m not, he was a total flake, but it sums up your position beautifully.”

“What about this being found sexually attractive by men?”

“Enjoy it like most women do, or wish they could.”

“What? But wouldn’t that be having homosexual relationships?” I was horrified.

“It depends upon how you saw yourself and how your partner saw you. So the answer is yes and no. He might see you as a desirable female but you see yourself as male, so technically he’s having hetero sex and you’re having a gay old time.”

“Do you see yourself as male?” she asked.

“Course not, but I still have the dangly bits,” I blushed as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

“Only for about another year or so, depending upon whether you actually start your transition now or not, and what the waiting times for surgery are when you qualify for referral after a year’s life test.”

“I erm… um, erm I, erm.” I panicked and seemed unable to speak.

Dr Thomas signed a piece of paper and gave it to me. I looked at it.

‘To whom it may concern,
The bearer of this certificate is a male to female transsexual patient attending this hospital. She is currently undergoing assessment for gender reassignment and thus needs to integrate as female. Your cooperation is appreciated.’

“This implies I’m doing my real life test?” I gulped.

“It does, and you are.”

“Don’t I get a say in this?” I whined.

“You did.”

“What do you mean?”

“You called me a couple or more hours ago. Instead of going home and changing into your best skirt, which incidentally looks very smart, you could have changed into the grungy things you usually turn up in.”

“But I thought I’d better show you how far I’d got in my preparation.”

“Far enough I’d say.”

“But I’m not ready,” I whined.

“You never will be, so your unconscious took control and here you are, the real McCoy.”

“What do you mean, never will be ready?”

“If we left it to you, I’d still be waiting for you to take the plunge when I retired, which incidentally is not for at least another thirty years. You were too scared. So somebody else made the decision for you. Useful bit of synchronicity, if you believe all that crap Jung wrote.”

“So that’s it then?” I said defeatedly.

“It’s the end of one part of your life; you can expect to feel a sense of loss, it’s what is after all familiar to you. However, it’s also the start of a brave new world, and that world is your oyster. Get out there and have some fun before you get too old to remember how to do it.”

“So you’re not going to stop me?”

“Stop you doing what?” she looked aghast at me.

“Doing this,” I pointed to the clothes.

“Why should I?” she asked bemused.

“Because I’m crazy.”

“Oh we’re back to that old chestnut are we? You were depressed and anxious and desperate. You made an attempt at suicide to ease your distress. In the circumstances understandable. Since seeing what was going on and a bit of medication which you no longer need or take, you are dealing with the core problem, your Gender Dysphoria. You are neither crazy nor stupid, scared maybe, but nothing else.”

“You keep accusing me of being scared,” I pouted, “doesn’t coming here like this, count for anything?”

“Okay, it’s very brave of you, if you’re so brave why do you keep protesting you’re unready?”

“Because I… um, I’m scared.” I looked at the floor and felt the tears well up inside me. “I’m scared,” I repeated to myself still looking at the floor. Then I watched the wet spots fall on to the carpet.

“Cathy, Cathy look at me,” came the gentle but firm voice, “It’s okay to feel scared, it’s a big scary world out there especially for a new girl on the block, but it’s what you have been telling me you wanted since you were a kid. Embrace the fear, it’s part of being alive and life is all about risk. Go and enjoy yourself, be yourself, your true self.”

I sat and watched her mouth moving but I wasn’t sure about the words she was saying. I was shocked, I had no one to help me resist what everyone else was wanting me to do, she was the same as all the rest. I knew I wasn’t ready, and yes I was scared, but only because I wasn’t ready.

“Look Cathy, I have to go on to a meeting, give me a call if you get stuck or have too many problems, though I don’t see why you should. Enjoy your date with, Simon, wasn’t it? Make an appointment to see me next week and we’ll review your progress. Oh, and if I were you, I’d pop into the ladies and sort your mascara. Take care.”

She held open the door for me and I staggered out like a condemned man. I found the loos and wiped off my mascara and in a sort of stupor wandered home.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 32

James Bond was on the telly but I wasn’t watching it. I was sat nursing my misery and a cup of instant soup. I had seriously thought of killing myself with an overdose, but it was the last of the chicken and vegetable left. The irony of ‘chicken’ wasn’t lost on me.

So I was officially a coward, it would say so on my medical notes—wonder if they just glued in some white feathers, rather than writing it. I was sort of ashamed of myself for being such a wimp but probably more angry with others for not understanding me. Yes they were offering me things on a plate, but shouldn’t it be my decision not someone else’s no matter how well meaning they were.

It was so bloody stupid, I could see that, to be arguing about the colour of the menu when the food on offer was all my favourites, so to speak. But it really rankled with me.

Then I had the problem of talking to my parents. I ran through the evening when the matter was raised for the first and only time. I had been staying at home for a weekend and was rather listless. I had taken some embroidery home with me, having been teaching myself how to cross-stitch from a book and from the instructions in a kit thing I bought. It was all quite small and fitted in a small bag, and it was something I could do in my room when I went to bed, especially if I couldn’t sleep.

My Dad is a man’s man, whatever that means. Personally, I suspect it means insensitive, homophobic arsehole. He often made anti gay remarks if someone who looked camp appeared on the telly, and I remember him railing on and on about a pair of gays he saw in a pub one night. I had to go to bed before I said something.

Anyway on the night it all happened. I had been doing some embroidery and in rushing to hide it all before my mother saw it, managed to drop a couple of the silks on the bedroom floor. From the bed they weren’t visible but they were from the doorway, and of course she saw them when she came in to ask if I wanted a cuppa.

“What’s that?” she pointed at the floor.

“My shoe, I expect,” I replied unaware of what she was on about.

“No, it looks like…” and she walked forward and picked up the little skein of silk, “…I thought so, an embroidery silk. How did that get there?”

“Dunno, maybe it apported here,” I tried to act stupid.

“What is that?” she asked.

“You know when things are transported from another dimension or place, that Indian holy man does it with ash all the time. Maybe my bedroom is a portal to another dimension.”

“Don’t be so silly Charlie, now where did it come from?”

“How do I know?” I huffed, “Honestly Mum, you’d think you had just found half a joint.”

“What has a cut of meat got to do with anything?”

“Not that sort of joint, a spliff, you know pot or dope.” I rolled my eyes in disbelief, surely she had heard the expression, it appeared she hadn’t.

“You mean marijuana or whatever you call it?”

At last daylight, “Yes, what did you think I meant?”

“I didn’t know what you meant, since you went off to college you’ve been a different boy.”

“Boy, I’m nearly twenty-two Mum, in case it passed your notice.”

“So where did this come from, it isn’t a girlfriend’s because I know you haven’t got one. You worry me to death, you’re not gay are you, because I heard about these weird parties at universities?”

“No, Mother, I am not gay.” I felt indignant as well as undecided, I didn’t know what I was except a girl inside.

“Your father wouldn’t like it if you were.”

“Who cares what he likes?” I said as a throw away and regretted it as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

“Oh, how can you be ungrateful? He paid quite a lot of money to help you through university for your bachelor’s degree.”

“I’m not ungrateful, but it’s not as if he’s exactly short of money is it?”

“He’s got a good job,” she agreed.

“For a homophobic moron,” I muttered.

“That’s unfair, he just thinks it’s wrong for two men or two women for that matter, to be together. It says so in The Bible.”

“I don’t think there’s any mention of lezzies in The Bible,” I corrected, “but it also says, ‘Jesus wept’ and he’d never met Dad.”

“That is both blasphemous and disrespectful of Jesus and your father.”

“What are you on about? How can you be disrespectful of some old Jew who died two thousand years ago, if he ever lived in the first place?”

“Charlie, may God forgive you, of course he lived, it says so in The Bible, and Reverend Peabody believes in him, and he’s nobody’s fool.”

“That silly old fart, honestly Mum, he’s a senile old git who wouldn’t know Jesus if he gave him communion on Sunday.” The image of that happening almost made me laugh out loud.

“Just because you have a degree doesn’t mean you know everything, Mr Peabody has an MA from Oxford, which I’m sure is better than a bachelor’s from Sussex.”

“Shows how much you know, they used to sell them at Oxford and Cambridge once you got a BA. Mine’s a science degree, worth two of his. I had to work for mine, not just punt down the fucking Thames.” I blushed, I never swore in front of my mother.

“How dare you use language like that in front of me? I shall tell your father.”

I hung my head sheepishly, she was right, I shouldn’t have sworn. “I’m sorry Mum, I got carried away.”

“Too late Charlie, I shall tell your father. Now where did this come from and I want the truth this time?”

“Okay, it’s mine. I’ve been teaching myself to sew, okay? It’s no big deal.”

“This is embroidery thread.”

“So?”

“You don’t normally sew with embroidery silk.”

“I do, okay?”

“Charlie, I can see you’re lying, what are you embroidering?”

“All bloody right, this, I’m embroidering this, okay?” and I pulled out the sampler and threw it at her.

“Your grandmother made one of these.”

“Whoopee, did you tell her father?”

“I’ve had about as much of your cheek as I can stand.” With that, she turned abruptly and left my room, shutting the door not too quietly. She still had my sewing.

I heard words down below and knew that before long my father would be up ranting and raving at me. It took half an hour, longer than usual.

“Right young man, or should I say young lady?” he spat throwing my crossstitch on the bed.

“Please yourself,” I said back.

It was the wrong thing to say and he walked over and picked me up by the collar of the shirt I had on and half-strangling me, pushed me against the wall.

“Who do you think you are talking to?”

“A big bully, that’s who!” I managed to croak before he almost completed the asphyxiation, and dropped me on the bedroom floor.

“What sort of unnatural creature have we raised?”

“What are you on about?” I croaked, peering up at him through watering eyes.

“You’re supposed to be a man, not some bloody nancy-boy who does sewing when she’s not playing with her dollies.”

This was a reference to the fact that I had several ‘Action Man’ toys which I played with when I was about twelve or thirteen. I just used to dress them up and carry them around; he called me, “a sissy” and never forgave me. I still had them until I went off to uni, when they all mysteriously disappeared.

“It’s better than beating people up.”

“At least real men do that!” he glared at me.

“Yeah fucking Neanderthals!” I sneered back and he delivered the first kick.

The beating went on for some little while, it had been years since he’d given me one so thorough but I had managed to keep my face from damage.

“You bloody big queer!” he spat at me.

“I’m not,” I protested tasting blood, so I must have bitten my lip.

“What are you then, nancy-boy?”

“If you must know, I’m gender dysphoric.”

“Gender what? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I have a female brain in a male body.”

“I have female brain in a male body, I need a sex change doctor,” he mimicked and adlibbed in a falsetto voice. Then his whole face turned as dark as thunder and he said in his normal voice, “I’ll give you a sex change,” and kicked me hard in the groin. I passed out with the pain.

I left there that night, and had not been home since. It took days for me to get over the beating and it would possibly take a lifetime to forgive my father. At the same time I wanted to please him and part of the cycling thing was to achieve something physical just to prove I wasn’t a girly-boy. However, I was and the cycling club, or more correctly the men’s cycling team, rejected me for being too slow and girly on hills. It was after that I got the Scott and the serious leg muscles.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 33

I reflected on the beating my father had given me; it was one of many such reflections. I hadn’t hit anyone since primary school, when Mary Smith took the doll I was playing with, so I decked her. In the jungle that was primary school, it seemed much more acceptable. Besides, she got her own back. After I pulled the wheels off her pram, she whacked me over the head with a toy guitar. I think I still have a small scar somewhere near my crown.

I enjoyed school so much I used to truant at every opportunity until one of my form masters discovered that although I was small and weedy, I had a brain. With his encouragement I began to get more interested and show what I could do.

I was easy meat for the predatory bullies and quite regularly got punched and kicked. So much so that I began to stop feeling it, almost as if I could detach from my body and it was someone else who was getting pasted. Despite the number of times I got duffed, I never gave in and eventually they got fed up with a punch bag who wouldn’t scream for mercy or do what they wanted me to, so in the end I won and they left me alone.

At home, my education caused more trouble with my parents; we would argue over politics and religion. I believed that my education gave me a freedom to think that they had missed out on, they believed what they were told to. As a teenager, with everything in black and white, we had tremendous rows but usually I would apologise to keep the peace and plan to escape as soon as I could.

In lots of ways my parents were good to me; they were strict but I wanted for little in a material sense and they were pleased when I got accepted to do biology at Sussex—I was the first to go to university from my family and they were proud of me.

Maybe I did change. I matured in some ways and certainly academically I blossomed, I got a first in Zoology and was tipped to go on to do a doctorate. However, while I liked Sussex, I wanted to explore things a bit more. My nascent transsexualism was beginning to emerge from its chrysalis and although Brighton wasn’t too far away, where almost anything goes—the sort of San Francisco of Southern England, only we have the Royal Pavilion rather than the Golden Gate—I didn’t think I would be able to do anything about it until after I got myself a job somewhere either teaching in a university or perhaps researching in a laboratory.

I’d seen an article in ‘Nature’ by Professor Agnew about squirrel biology; he did a lot of work on red squirrels on Brownsea Island and the Isle of Wight. It caught my imagination and I emailed him my impressions of his work. To my astonishment, he asked me come and see him and then offered me a place to study dormice at Portsmouth University. No we don’t have them there, well only a few in a captive breeding programme, but we do have them around places in the South of England and although secretive and hard to find, I became something of an expert on them. So here I am in Portsmouth, wondering what the hell to do with my life.

Bristol were sounding interested in my small mammal work; they have one of the foremost experts on foxes and badgers in the country if not the world, but I came from Bristol and it had too many past associations. Besides, what if I did transition, who would want me then? Prof Agnew said he would but maybe he was just being nice to me, he knows a bit about my history and is a friend of Dr Thomas. I did give her permission to discuss my case with him, I suppose at the time I needed a father figure for reasons I have already mentioned, or she thought I did. He certainly helped.

It makes me smile that whenever I seem stuck in the present with a dilemma or awkward decision to make, my mind wanders down memory lane as if it’s delaying me having to deal with the pressing problem. It was certainly happening now.

The train of thought started with wondering how I would tell my parents that I was going to live as a girl. I still didn’t know and I suppose because contact was minimal at the present, I didn’t need to for the moment. If I didn’t make the change, then I wouldn’t have to tell them anyway. It was one reason for not doing it.

I made some tea and sat at the small table in my room with a sheet of paper. I drew a line down the middle and put a plus or a minus sign at the top of each column. Then for the next three hours, I tried to make an objective analysis of whether it was a good idea to change over or not.

Of course I could find far more negatives, but then we always do when we are analysing ourselves, it’s one of the reasons there are so many psychiatrists. Our self-esteem is usually in negative equity, unless you are a dangerous egomaniac or a half-wit.

I was desperately trying to think of some more positives to make it at least seem as if I had tried to be fair, when there was a knocking on my door. I dropped the pen in shock—who could be calling on me at this hour, it was eight thirty?

I thought about ignoring it, but it knocked again. I thought I’d better open it although I was shaking as I approached the door. I opened it a few inches, Big Mac turned around and looked at me.

“Hi Miss Watts, a few of us are going down the pub or the Union and wondered if maybe you’d like to come with us?”

I nearly fell over. In just about twenty-four hours, I had three men wanting me to go out with them. Two days ago, the most response I’d have got from him was a grunt. I was completely thrown by the change in fortunes.

“I erm don’t know, I’m looking over my brother’s notes and things and was planning an early night.”

“C’mon,” a bit of relaxation would do you good and we’ll have you back here by eleven, how’s that?”

“Who’s we, exactly?” I asked, ignoring all the warning lights that were flashing in my head.

“Me, Tiger, Colin then there’s Tiff and Sally, oh and Bazza and his girl, what’s her name?” he called to the group behind him. “Jessica” came back, “Yeah, I always forget Jessica, dunno why.”

“Maybe you’ll forget mine too,” I said smiling, although it was a polite rather than sincere one.

“If you tell me, I promise to remember forever,” he grinned back at me.

I knew he’d find out within a couple of days anyway, so I decided I’d put him out of his misery. I know it’s a mistake, we should always keep them guessing, but I am new to this business. “Cathy, Cathy Watts.”

“Mine’s really Heathcliff,” he joked and behind him several falsetto voices did a dreadful impression of Kate Bush.

“I presume you’ve read one…”

“…Book, I’ve read many,” he interrupted.

“I was going to say, CD label.” I threw back at him.

“Oh Cathy, you have cut me to the core,” he groaned, his knees buckling in mock agony. “You’ll have to revive me with your gracious presence at the pub, or I shall die as tragically as he does in the book. Will you come knocking my window each night?”

Maybe I had underestimated him, he had read, ‘Wuthering Heights’ after all.

“Knocking your window, I think not,” I said, shaking my head.

“Come on down the pub,” he implored. The cry was echoed from the group behind him.

“I’m hardly dressed for going out,” I said.

“You look fine to me, so come on, have some fun, you can work tomorrow.”

Why didn’t I say no, any sane person would have done so. Maybe I just needed to stop thinking and just be, like the saying, “Men do, women are.” Instead I said, “Give me two minutes to brush my hair,” and shut my door.

My heart was beating nineteen to the dozen, I kept telling myself that it was a huge mistake, but beginners always make lots of those. I prayed they would all be little ones. I brushed my hair, redid my lippy and grabbing my jacket, opened the door to shouts of hooray.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 34

The continuing saga of the perils of transitioning, boys and drink.

I went out into the street with Big Mac and the others, some of whom were fooling around or joking. There was a sort of party atmosphere which was unusual for a Thursday night.

Mac kept wanting to put his arm around me, and I was unhappy with this, he had no rights of ownership to me, I was one of the group not his girlfriend. It didn’t stop him however, even though at one point I actually said, “Please don’t.”

I know boys try it on and attempt to push boundaries from infancy onwards, whereas girls are less encouraged to do so. Despite being raised as a boy, I wasn’t as adventurous as I might have been perhaps because much of my life had been busy with reinforcing my boundaries. I wasn’t pushy with others, but neither did I let them push me around. So I got lots of hidings, but kept my inner self secure and my integrity intact.

Mac tried to put his arm around my waist and I spun away from him, “Please,” I said, indicating I didn’t want arms all over me.

“C’mon girl, lighten up a little,” the others weren’t exactly egging him on, but he presumably felt a need to put on a show in front of his peers.

I had very different criteria for my behaviour, survival being uppermost. “I think I’ve changed my mind,” I said.

“What about?” asked Mac completely perplexed.

“I want to go back,” I said.

“But we haven’t got there yet, c’mon it’ll be fun.”

“No, I’ve changed my mind, I’m going back.” I turned to walk back to my room and he grabbed my hand. I froze and began to shake, all sorts of things ran through my mind, none of them pleasant.

“Hey c’mon girl,” he said holding my hand.

I turned back towards him and glared at him, “Let go of me this instant, do you hear me?” I could feel my anger rising, driving away the fear, my voice was also rising and attracting the attention not only of his friends but of other passersby.

There was a hiatus of embarrassed silence and with a look of contempt he let go of my hand as if it were contaminated, “Bloody well go back then, see if I care. You’re as stuck up as that dickless brother of yours.”

“At least he thinks with his brain not his testicles,” I retorted and walked quickly away from the group. The silence continued for a few more seconds before a nervous sort of laughter took over.

I was still trembling and now felt cold, although it wasn’t a particularly cool evening. I wanted a hot drink and perhaps something a bit stronger. Near our house is a local corner shop which seems to be open all sorts of hours, okay it can’t compete with the big supermarkets and their ‘open 24’ policies, but it does do well on a Sunday when they have to close at four pm and it somehow doesn’t.

I popped in the shop and bought a small bottle of Bacardi and one of cola. The young Asian man, looked hard at me, “You seem familiar,” he said.

“I have a brother who was a student here until recently,” I lied, it was disturbing how easily I could do it.

“Ah that must be it,” he said without sounding entirely convinced.

“He fell off his bike recently and had to go home.” I continued the fabrication, trying to keep it to half truths, “we’re twins,” I added superfluously, as liars often do.

“Ah yes, the bike rider. Do you ride as well?”

“The whole family does,” I said casually as if every family should. It wasn’t true either, in fact I don’t think my mother ever sat on a bicycle in her life.

“So how come you are here now and he isn’t?” asked the sparkling-eyed young man.

My stomach did its now customary series of somersaults, back flips and piked dives before my heart, which had vaulted into my throat, fell into the void below.

“He was doing some research and they need it finished; it so happens I’m interested in a similar field,” my brain was saying, ‘shut up before you hang yourself,’ but my ears weren’t turned on.

“That’s a useful coincidence,” said the shopkeeper.

“It is for me, I get to earn some money,” I said smiling. This was total fiction, I earned nothing at all, the university did if the government used my research.

“So is he badly injured?” asked the man.

“His bike ride cost him an arm and a leg,” I smiled back, “two fractures,” I indicated the right side of my body. “Got knocked off by a car.”

The man nodded, “You cyclists are very vulnerable to cars, but it is good exercise.”

“It is, I must go,” I said, “I have some more notes to read and put in order.”

“I hope your brother is soon better.”

“Thank you, I’m sure he’ll be back again before too long.” As I left there, I realised that I had now given away information which could be used against me and my lies could also complicate matters.

If I turned up in that shop in my previous incarnation without plaster of Paris casts on my right arm and leg, the man would know I was lying. I wondered if he had seen through me anyway, I could, my cover was as flimsy as rice paper and less palatable. If he could, what about the others in my department? They’d smell a rat faster than a terrier. Why did I allow this to happen?

Feeling totally depressed, I trudged back to my room and I hoped safety. Once there I shut the door and chained it. I also decided to reinforce it with pole I’d made soon after I moved in. Basically, this was a piece of scaffolding with a block of wood on either end and some carpet tacked on to that. It wedged between the free edge of the door and the wall opposite it. A moment to use, they’d need heavy duty axes and time, or explosive to enter. It was one of my better ideas and gave me a sense of security when I was cross-dressing, especially in my experimental days. Now of course I was an expert, having spent a whole day and a bit as a woman! I chuckled at my own arrogance and sat in my comfy chair with a glass and the drinks.

A few gulps and the glass was empty. A repetition and things were feeling warm and fuzzy. I looked at my chart again, I even added the little corner shop as a reason for staying as Cathy, but it was still woefully short compared to the list of negatives.

I was still wondering about it when my mobile rang. It was unexpected and made me jump. I fished it out of my bag and saw it was Dr Thomas.

“Hello,” I said

“Hi Cathy, how are you doing?”

“I’m okay thanks,” I said, thinking, why is she calling me?

“Sorry, you seemed upset when you left and I had to dash off to this meeting, so I didn’t have time to complete things as I’d have liked.”

“It’s okay,” I said.

“Have you been drinking?”

My blood ran cold, how could she know? “Just a little, why?”

“I hope you’re not drowning your sorrows.”

“No, why should I?”

“You were upset earlier; did I challenge you too much?”

“Dr Thomas, you are the most wunnerful person I know, (hic).”

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

“Course I am, besides, I don’t make deshisions about my life do I, it’s all done for me?”

“Can you come and see me tomorrow?”

“I dunno doctor, if somebody tells me to, I could I shuppose.”

“I want you at my rooms at eight, tomorrow morning, can you do that?”

“Oooh, I dunno doc, it’s a bit early for a vegetable.” The gas from the cola rumbled noisily up my gut emerging as a burp. “Oops! Shorry ’bout that.”

“Cathy, please be there.”

“If you shay sho. I always do what other people tell me to.”

“Thanks, take care now girl.”

“I’ll try t … whoops, I dropped my glass, ha, ha, it ran all over my notes, aw what a pity, ha ha.”

“Bye doc, ha ha.”

I finished the bottle of rum and the cola and fell onto the bed still clad in the skirt and top, and my shoes on my feet. I awoke with some bangings on my door, but chose to ignore them. They eventually stopped having woken me up completely. I glanced at my watch, it was two in the morning. The bastards!

I sat up and the room began to spin—not a good sign, staggering to the toilet I just made it before the first wave of sickness assailed me. Sadly I hadn’t got the lid up so it went all over the place.

By the second ‘huey’ it was up and I aimed the contents of my stomach a bit better. I stared with watery eyes into the maelstrom which had been in my gut moments earlier. The butterflies must have sunk, ’cos I couldn’t see any in the mixture of lumps of diced carrot and tomato that always float on the top.

I knew better than to drink, I had a metabolism which tolerated only zero amounts of booze, how I’d survived the night before with Simon was nothing short of miraculous although it was with a dinner, and I was drinking slowly.

I stood up and noticed I had puke all down the front of the skirt and began to cry. It just about summed up my life.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 35

As you puke—so you clean it up, hangovers don’t help the cognitive processes!

It was now nearly two thirty in the morning; my head was pounding as I bent over to clear up the sick—doesn’t it stink? How come we don’t smell so strong with all this stuff floating around inside us? My room was likely to stink for weeks; I resolved to get some strong disinfectant when I went out.

I stripped off the skirt and top and washed them in Fairy Liquid—well it always got the dishes clean—and left them to drip in the shower. I hoped the mark would come out. Doing things had stopped me feeling sorry for myself, but sleep would have been better. At about three, I set the alarm clock for seven and hoped I would hear it.

I was riding away as fast as I could but Big Mac and the others were catching me on their powerful motorbikes. I was getting into such a state, my legs just wouldn’t go fast enough. “C’mon catch the bloody queer,” they were shouting and I pedalled as fast as I could, but it wasn’t fast enough. Mac grabbed me as his motorbike came past and I felt myself falling.

I hit the ground with a bump and heard the sound of a bleeper; somebody had a bleeper. It continued to bleep and I realised I was lying on the floor by my bed, the alarm was beeping at me and my head ached. I rubbed my tired eyes and pulled myself up off the floor. If I was lucky, I’d had four or five hours sleep—no wonder my head and eyes hurt. I walked into the bathroom, well shower room, and the smell of puke still lingered—just what I needed!

My dripping clothes I hung above the washbasin and I started the shower; its warmth and wet helped to ease my aching body, but not my head. I would take an aspirin with my coffee.

After drying and finding a clean pair of pants—the ones Stella had sent me—I switched on my kettle and dried my hair. She had done a very good cut so even I could make it look respectable. Coffee and an aspirin were next. I put bread in the toaster while finding the bra to go with the pants, then donned the black tee and skirt she’d given me. I looked at the boots and although longing to wear them, thought better of it, then changed my mind and zipped them on.

I strutted about the room while eating my toast, probably scattering crumbs everywhere. The boots were awkward, but not too uncomfortable. It was nearly seven forty five, “Shit!,” I needed to get a move on, I told myself.

No time for makeup, but I did throw my mascara in my bag as well as my keys and purse, then a quick coat of lipstick, squirt of smellies and I went to the door. Taking down my door lock was harder than putting it up and I wasted precious minutes, when I got the door open, someone had scrawled, ‘Frigid Fanny, The Ice Queen!’ in felt tip on the door. I shook my head, but that wasn’t a good idea. I banged the door shut hoping to wake them all up, but all it did was reverberate around my still-aching head.

The boots were a mistake; I staggered and trotted towards the clinic, but I knew I was not only going to be late, but also foot sore assuming I didn’t break an ankle as well. It was ten past when I got there; I was hot, bothered, sore and irritable. My head was still someone else’s or maybe just somewhere else, but I was here. The reception wasn’t open, so I by-passed it and went straight to Dr Thomas’ room. I smoothed my hair, my skirt, licked my teeth in case any lipstick had marked them and took a deep breath—then knocked.

“Yes,” called a familiar voice and I entered.

“Hello Cathy, I’m surprised you’re only ten minutes late and you don’t look like the ‘morning after’. Coffee?” She was pouring herself one and I gratefully accepted a cup.

“Crikey, you managed to walk here in those heels, ‘you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din’.” She finished her Kipling quote and sat down. “So how’s it going?”

“I’m still not sure about this,” I said in between sips of coffee.

“Well if you can survive a hangover and still look tidy, you’re doing okay.”

“That’s the easy bit,” I offered.

“Yes but still important; if you look and sound the part, people will be less hard to convince that you are who you say you are.”

“Yes I know, and I understand what you’re saying but it’s all happening too fast.”

“A fact of life Cathy; we can prepare forever and life still takes on its own momentum and direction. Those who survive best are those who are most adaptable and prepared to move with the change, go with the flow.”

I nodded and sipped my coffee. We talked for another half an hour, and I told her about the flash back to my beating; she talked me through it and told me I was my own person able to do what I wanted, not others. We’d worked through it before and she was slightly concerned given my response to the original, but I assured her I wasn’t going to kill myself over a memory.

I talked about how Mac had got me to go out and that I’d become annoyed at his possessiveness. She nodded and asked about the drink, I explained what had happened.

“So you actually told him where to go?” she asked.

“Yeah, I suppose I did.”

“See you can make decisions.” She gave me a warm smile and I felt much better.

“So when do you speak to Prof Agnew?”

“He told me to talk to him today.”

“Have you decided what to say?”

“I don’t know. I spent hours last night trying to work out what was best.”

“And?”

“There was no clear answer.”

“Listen to me: I want you to go inside yourself,” she gave me a moment to relax and centre myself. “Go deep inside yourself and find your heart, tell me when you are with your heart.”

I felt myself shrink into my body and I wandered about looking for my heart, which I found and indicated this to her.

“Now I want you to have a quick chat with your heart and ask it what it thinks you should do.”

I looked at my heart and it became suffused with a lovely warm pink light; I asked the question and received a reply.

Then she sent me up to my mind and did the same. Here I met a white light and conversed with it.

Finally she bid me step outside my body and talk with myself, which I did. Once I indicated I had done all she asked me to, she bid me tell her the answers.

“What did your heart tell you?”

“To be true to myself.”

“Good, and your mind?”

“To trust my own judgement.”

“Excellent, now what did Cathy have to say?”

“She isn’t going back in the wardrobe.”

“Right,” she chuckled, “So does that help you make your decision?”

“No it just confirms what I had already decided.”

“Which was?”

“I’m going to see the Dean and ask to change my records.” My stomach jumped and released a flock of giant condors, who soared and collided with the squadron of pigs that were already occupying the space. I felt quite sick.

“Oh Cathy, I am so pleased for you, I think you’ve made the right decision.” She came over and hugged me, “I’m not supposed to touch patients, but this called for a congratulatory hug.”

“I won’t tell anyone,” I said winking at her.

“It will be our little secret,” she smiled and added, “Okay, well off you go but make an appointment to see me next week. Any problems, don’t be afraid to call me.”

I thanked her, and left feeling much better, and after visiting the loo where I freshened up my lipstick and put on some mascara, I left the clinic feeling that I wasn’t at the mercy of Fate—I was marching to meet it head on. I hadn’t felt this good for days.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 36

Serial boredom for the beginner, easy reading.

I got to the admin offices of the university without realising that I had walked over a mile in the killer heels, mainly because I was floating on air, or my head was. I felt free and was revelling in the feeling although I knew enough about life to recognise its transience. Sooner or later I would hit the ground and the bump would probably hurt; what I needed now was to build up some padding to minimise the impact.

I called into Prof Agnew’s office to see his secretary; she recognised me instantly and smiling asked if I wanted to leave a message as he was in a meeting, with the Dean.

Reality was catching up with my euphoria; it wasn’t nice. More decisions! “Damn,” I said, “I was going to see the Dean afterwards; not a lot of point if he’s not there.”

“You could make an appointment,” she suggested.

“Yeah, I suppose, when is Prof Agnew free?”

“I meant with the Dean, would you like me to ring?”

“Oh,” I blushed, “if it’s not too much trouble?”

She shook her head and picked up the phone, “Hello, it’s Mary from Prof Agnew’s office. Oh I’m fine thanks and you, yes he’s growing up just like his dad, how is your Nicky? Oh good, I’m glad she got the grades needed. Yes to business, I have one of our post grads needs to see the Dean quite urgently on a personal matter. Who? It’s Cathy Watts, yes two pm, be prompt as you’re squeezing her in as a favour. Okey dokey, that’s fine, thanks Phyl.”

“Sorry about the social gossip in the beginning, but if I sweet talk her she’s putty. I hope the time is okay?”

I nodded almost in shock, how did she know my name?

“I hope I got the name right, it is Cathy, isn’t it?”

I nodded still in shock, “How do you know?”

“Prof Agnew told me he had tea with you yesterday and said you might be calling in. I didn’t recognise the name and although I didn’t ask he noticed my puzzled look and told me. Don’t worry, it’s confidential as far as I’m concerned, but I respect you for your courage and hope it works out for you.”

I was lost for words; okay, most of the time she was fine with me but could turn into a dragon in a moment. I hadn’t expected the latter, because I was here on a personal matter of some delicacy, but I’m pleased and heartened by her open and tolerant manner.

“Thank you, you’re very kind.”

“Who me? Nah, I’m a grumpy old bat but I can respect someone who is prepared to risk everything to be themselves. Good on yer girl, anything we can do to help, you know the Prof always does as he’s told.” She kept a straight face and watched my look of amazement cover my whole face before she began to laugh.

I laughed too and hoped I’d made another ally, another useful one.

“So we’re going with the line that you’re your own sister? A bit risky isn’t it, wouldn’t it be better to tell the truth and have done with it?”

“I don’t know, the story line seemed to occur when the Prof saw off some of the other students who were trying it on. I suspect if we had had more time, we would have gone with the truth.” I shrugged my shoulders, feeling a bit queasy—all that bacon flying about in my gut, I supposed.

“So, to your appointment with the good professor.”

“Oh yes please, I’d better tell him face to face,” before I chicken.

“He wants you to see him at twelve thirty at this address.”

“But this is a restaurant!” I exclaimed.

“Yes, I know; so does he believe it or not. He wants you to attend there at that time, oh and wear something tidy like you have now.”

“He wants me to interrupt his lunch?” I gasped.

“No you silly girl, he wants you to have lunch with him,” she broke into a broad smile and shook her head. “Mind you, he did say if a certain young man had turned up instead, they’d have had to buy their own. That’s sexist, isn’t it?”

My eyes bulged and I nearly fell over. I hoped he was just being kind and didn’t have some other motive, but I had to see him anyway so I didn’t have a lot of choice. At least I knew where the restaurant was, next door to Marks and Sparks, so I’d be able to find it.

“Twelve thirty, and two pm?” I checked with Mary.

“Yes and don’t you be late for either or you’ll meet the dragon next time!”

“I won’t, you can be sure of that.”

“Good, nice boots by the way.”

“Erm thanks,” I blundered my way back out to the street. Geez, what the hell was happening? I’ll bet the Dean knows too, the Prof is being just a little premature, I could have jumped the other way last night. Then as I walked towards the town centre, I realised that I couldn’t. You can only jump ship when it’s in port; mine was steaming out to sea at full speed.

I caught the bus into town to save time and my feet. The boots were still just about comfortable but they wouldn’t have been if I had walked much further.

I remembered Simon when we passed a Volvo at traffic lights, damn! I had nothing to wear, only this time it was true, my best togs were hanging up in my bathroom waiting to dry. I’d have to buy something else.

After alighting the bus and a visit to an ATM, I went off on a shopping trip. Really this was my first because what I’d done in London was so hesitant and I was so nervous, I must have looked like a trainee shoplifter.

I was nervous now, but I had a need and a purpose—it gave me some courage. I had a hundred pounds with me, all that I could spare for the moment. It would mean I would have to be careful in what I bought because it would be needed to fit in with what other clothes I had. This was real girl stuff and I didn’t know if that made things better or worse.

It was about ten when I hit the shops, and by twelve I had tried on three skirts and four dresses, two suits, five pairs of shoes six tops and a partridge in a pear tree. I had bought a skirt suit in a lovely deep rose pink, a white top, and some black trousers. I also bought a pair of trainers and some flatties. I had one pound fifty left and that was only because most of the clothes I’d bought were half price or less in the sales. There were so many things I’d have loved to try on or even buy, but I ran out of cash.

When I thought about it, life had given me a better gift than all of those clothes put together, it had allowed me to feel normal for the first time in my existence, doing things a week ago that would have been beyond my wildest dreams. I wasn’t complaining one iota.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 37b cup

More killer of serials stuff and nonsense. Officially the only uplifting thing is a bra—hope you can find one or two others as well!

I strolled to the restaurant arriving at exactly twelve thirty; my feet were growing more tender by the moment and my back was aching. It seemed that real shopping made different demands upon my body than what I had previously experienced. I was aching all over. Clearly the answer was I needed to get into some more training, after all, one didn’t actually need to buy anything to warrant trying it on.

I used to wonder what young women got up to when they went shopping nearly every weekend, especially as they had very little money to spend. But then shopping and purchasing are not necessarily the same and just looking at what’s in the shops—it changes weekly, and trying things on can be fun, especially with a friend. I hoped I would be more successful in making friends as a girl, than I’d been as a boy.

I stepped into the restaurant and looked for Prof Agnew; he saw me and waved from a table in the corner. I wove my way between seats and tables, lifting my bags to avoid knocking diners on the head.

“Welcome Cathy, glad you could make it.” He ushered me into a seat and taking my purchases off me, put them in a vacant chair alongside me. “Goodness, you have been busy. Would you like a drink to start?”

After my previous encounter with alcohol, I decided to stick with a mineral water and keep flushing my system. He had a pint of lager and after taking a good draught of it, he spoke again.

“So, you have decided?”

“I suppose I have,” I answered feeling the nervousness return as things began to become official.

“To you Cathy, may your new life bring you much happiness and lots of research projects.” He lifted his glass to me and winking took a sip. I felt so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl under the table. In my family it was wrong to want to be the centre of attention, so it pushed ancient buttons. However, part of me loved it.

We talked and he got loads of background information on me and my gender identity problem. When I told him about my father and the beatings, I saw him start to look angry and his fist clenched on the table.

“It didn’t work, like they say, ‘it beat one devil out and ten in’ and I’m here as living proof.”

The professor relaxed his hand and his face softened, “I’m glad, violence has no place in a cultured society, sadly those things which should lift us above such abominations, seem to encourage it.” He was well known as an atheist and Darwinist and despised religious bigots and fundamentalists as much as Richard Dawkins from Oxford, whom he knew quite well.

I knew what he was referring to and part of me agreed with him. However, I sometimes liked to walk out at night and just look at the stars and ponder the distances between us and them, the numbers of them, and the age of the universe. It was awesome in the literal sense and it filled me with a sense of wonder. I felt so insignificant and small and the idea of something more than the laws of physics holding it all together, was comforting.

“I suggest you go and see the Dean, young lady and bring him up to speed on your change of lifestyle.”

“I’ve already made an appointment to see him at two.”

“We’d better order then,” he called over a waiter and we chose our meals. I went for a chicken salad as I was supposed to be going out that evening, the professor had a curry.

“He’s expecting you; I explained that one of my researchers was coming to see him about a personal matter and he’d better sort it out quickly and quietly.”

I gasped in astonishment.

“We have known each other for a long time, old friends.” He gave a beaming smile and shovelled in another load of rice.

“I need another answer from you today,” he said in between bites.

“Eh?” I said intelligently, unaware I’d given him any.

“I have been successful in a grant award from the government and the EU for establishing a survey of mammals in England and Wales. I mean of course wild ones. Steve Harris at Bristol is sharing in the bounty and the workload, he’s doing the larger ones foxes, badgers and deer, we are doing the smaller sort—rodents and rabbits, with a particular interest in dormice. I’m assembling a team over the next few months, would you like to play?”

The bit of chicken that was destined for my mouth fell off the fork and landed in a pile of mayonnaise, splattering me liberally with it. I didn’t notice, I was in shock. I felt the colour drain from my face and I couldn’t move.

“Cathy, Miss Dormouse, are you all right?”

I pulled out of my little trance and realised my impression of a goldfish was not endearing, except perhaps to another goldfish. “Yes, I’m erm fine.”

“You seem to have sprayed mayonnaise on your jacket.”

I looked down and nearly died, I was going to wear it this evening, maybe the universe was trying to tell me something? “Oh no!” I squeaked and began trying to wipe it off, making the marks even worse.

“Use the back of a knife,” offered my cultured host. I did, it was more helpful, but I still had marks. I looked at my watch, if I slipped away in a few minutes, I could nip in the dry cleaners and still catch the bus back to uni.

As if reading my mind, he said, “There is a dry cleaners across the street, I think they do a four hour service, we’ll drop it off in a few minutes and I’ll give you a lift back to the university. But I’d like an answer to my earlier question, are you going to join my team?”

“I’d love to but I’m not even finished with my MSc yet, so how can you offer me a job?”

“The job could be offered to anyone with relevant qualifications, so your baccalaureate is sufficient for that, however, I’ve seen the draft of your dissertation and I think it good enough for the masters. This job could get you a doctorate.”

“Wow!” I was speechless and my eyes filled with tears, my dad would be so proud of me—on second thoughts, maybe he wouldn’t.

“Well?” he asked again.

“Yes please, I don’t know what else to say.”

“That will do for me. Shall we adjourn?” He got the bill and went to get his car while I trotted to the dry cleaners with all my bags. He met me outside with his Landrover.

As a cyclist, we tend to feel snotty about 4×4 drivers, gas guzzling roadhogs, but I tried to see him as using his car for his fieldwork and the fact that he did actually live in the country in an old farmhouse.

It felt cooler without my jacket, as one might expect and I felt a bit apprehensive about my meeting with the dean. I’d only met him once before and that took all of ten nanoseconds, as he shook my hand and welcomed me to the university, along with dozens of other students.

“You look worried?” he said as we neared the university.

“I am terrified,” I said feeling the pig squadron scrambling.

“Why, he won’t eat you?”

This reminded me of my first encounter with Simon and I wanted to laugh, nearly as much as I wanted to wee. “But it makes everything so official.”

“Yes, but after that you can begin to move on, can’t you?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know if I can do this,” I kept saying to myself as I got out of his car. “God, I need to wee and quickly.”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 38DD (my cup runneth over)

by Angharad & Mark Twain

Continuing the challenge of raising everyone’s boredom threshold!

I rushed into the admin block and stopped, toilets, I needed toilets. I spotted the sign just in the nick of time, scurrying for the door before I made a mess and a fool of myself.

I dashed into the cubicle, nearly slipping on the tiles and dropped my purchases on the floor, pulled down my pants and sat on the loo. At least I’d remembered to do that rather than stand facing the porcelain. However, I had a slight physiological problem, little Percy was rigid and apart from the fact that I’d have peed over the seat, I couldn’t pass anything anyway. My bladder was at bursting point and my willie was wonky, just what a girl needs, not!

I looked at my watch, it was two pm and I should be at the Dean’s office, instead I’m stuck in the bog unable to pee. Oh shit, nah that’s for another occasion.

Have you ever tried to relax when every cell in your body is squirting panic into your system and the adrenalin is flowing like the Amazon (the river not the bookshop). It isn’t easy. I laid back against the cistern and closed my eyes trying to imagine I was somewhere safe near a waterfall. It was so difficult and not getting me anywhere. Then someone came in sat in the other cubicle and peed, then pulled the flush. At last running water, except it didn’t help me. I was now starting to get a bit worried.

Whoever, the other user of the facility was, she washed her hands and the tap running set me off, at last I could relieve myself. Oh that was so sweet, a sweet pee I thought to myself and chuckled quietly to myself, although my eyes were watering from the pain of the earlier retention.

Five minutes later I was trying to apologise to the Dean’s secretary for being late. “I’m sorry, I got held up,” I explained.

“It looks like it,” she said eyeing my shopping bags.

“No, that was earlier, I was stuck in the loo, a little personal problem.” I offered.

“Oh,” she said smiling, “Why didn’t you say, do you get cramps with it?”

“No just pain,” I replied realising what she thought I was talking about.

“He’ll see you now, would you like to leave your bags out here?”

“Oh thank you,” I said depositing them behind her desk. I tapped on the Dean’s door and walked in.

“Good afternoon Miss Watts, how can I help?”

I apologised for my lateness and explained I’d got held up in the loo, he smiled politely and nodded. I then told him of my situation and how he might help.

“The university has a policy for promoting equality of all minority groups who ask for their assistance, we have dealt with one like yours before, so I foresee no problems from the administration. I’m not sure I like the idea that you pretend to be your own sister, as that is tantamount to deception.”

“I think that was a spontaneous action by Prof Agnew, if we’d had time to plan, I don’t think it would have happened.” I explained.

“You realise that once we start this process and your records are changed, we will not agree to a reversal, you cannot change back. Please be absolutely sure this is what you want to do.”

I sat completely still, the flying pigs were airborne again and I felt sick. It hadn’t entered my mind that I might want to revert back, now it had just crept in by the back gate and the fear began to rise again. I could feel myself getting very hot.

“Miss Watts, would you like some more time to think about it, it is a big step to take?”

I sat dumbfounded, I could neither move nor speak. My mind was racing, what if I want to change back? How long would he give me to make up my mind? Would I have to return to boy’s clothes in the interim? What would Prof Agnew say?

I felt like a juggler tossing all these balls in the air and in danger of dropping all of them. My stress index hit the roof and carried on climbing, I suspect it was closely pursued by my blood pressure.

“Miss Watts, are you all right?” he sounded concerned and far away. I began to swoon but managed to keep conscious. “Are you okay?” he asked coming over to me.

“Sorry, I’ve had a bit of tummy trouble, it made me feel a bit woozy. I’m okay now.”

“Would you like some water?”

“No thanks, I’ll be okay.” I stood up on wobbly legs not helped by the heels on the boots. I needed to stand my ground here and not run away. This was probably the best chance I would ever have to pull this off, if I let it pass me by, it might never return. My head was swimming with the potentials for deciding either way, why do these things happen to me?

“I need to do this now Dr Andrews, and I’d be grateful for your help.”

“Of course, I’ll set things in motion. I’m not happy with the deception but maybe you can do something about that later.”

“I shall speak to Prof Agnew about it at the first opportunity and get back to you.”

“Good, I’ll be in touch, I think you’ll need to talk with the student health people, they’ll need to know and it looks better if you see them before I write to them.”

“Of course, I’ll see them early next week, thank you for your help.”

“Good. Well, good luck Miss Watts, I think you make a splendid looking woman.” He held out his hand to shake and I took it in my much smaller one.

“Thank you,” I said blushing.

By the time I left the admin block it was after three pm. I needed to collect my jacket from the cleaners and get home. I began to be aware of my feet and limped off to the bus stop. I sat on the single plank thing they offer as a seat and decided to change my shoes. I slipped on the flatties I bought earlier and my feet almost smiled they were so happy.

The sky was darkening and the air getting cooler. I was ill prepared for any rain and hoped it wouldn’t happen until after I got home. I tried to send ESP messages to the rain gods, well aware they wouldn’t listen anyway, but I felt I needed to get myself an alibi for when they pissed me off too much and I destroyed the universe. I sent these psychic threats up to the big black clouds and sneered at them to add menace to it.

I saw the bus drawing up and as it did so the heavens opened again, I jumped on board and paid my remaining cash for the fare into town. The journey was interesting, the streetlights came on it got so dark, the rain sluiced down and there were intermittent flashes and bangs. All we needed now was hail I thought, and the weather gods must have heard me, for it arrived moments later. ‘Great,’ I thought to myself.

The bus was nearly empty all the way to town, and I watched pedestrians scurrying for cover from the deluge. I was mindful of the fact that I would soon be doing the same, and in my current outfit would be soaked through to my underwear in a matter of seconds. It reminded me of the origins of my present situation; I hoped Stella wasn’t driving anywhere too close.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 39.7684306

by Angharad & Little Red Riding Hood

In which Cathy braves the elements and Angharad ignores more rules of grammar (and granddad).

As we neared the town centre, I pressed the bell on the bus and moved towards the door. “You’re gonna get soaked luv,” said the driver.

“Probably,” I said shrugging my shoulders, “It wasn’t raining when I came out.”

“Is that brolly still on the luggage rack?” he asked.

I stepped back and looked, “Yes,” I replied.

“Might as well borrow it, it’s been there all day.”

“Won’t the owner be looking for it?”

“Dunno, we get hundreds left on the buses every year, go on, borrow it, who’s gonna tell?”

I thanked him and holding my bags in one hand grasped the umbrella in the other. The bus stopped and I dashed out, shouted a goodbye to the driver, and ran into a shop doorway. It took two hands to put up the umbrella, and one of the spokes was broken, but it was better than nothing and I wondered if I could repair it when I got home.

The rain eased off slightly and although it wasn’t enough to save my feet and legs getting wet, the brolly protected my head and shoulders. I went to the bank again and drew out some more cash from the hole in the wall. While I was there, I popped inside and spoke to the assistant manager. I explained my situation and that I would be changing my name. She advised me to do a statutory declaration and then bring it into the bank with a proof of identity/ address and they’d alter my bank account. I thanked her and trotted over to the dry cleaners and collected my jacket.

I decided to walk back to my room, it wasn’t necessarily the best decision I’ve ever made. To start with, I had too much to carry with the umbrella. So I was in constant danger of dropping things, mainly my jacket which had just cost me an arm and a leg to get cleaned. Next time, I’d have to stand closer to the trough and maybe I wouldn’t get splashed with my food!

To try to take my mind off the horrible walk home, I began to plan what I needed to buy or acquire for my new lifestyle. As far as my fieldwork was concerned most of my existing stuff could be used. I’d worn girls’ jeans for the past six or seven months and nobody seemed to have noticed. The outdoor gear was too expensive to replace and pretty well unisex anyway.

My cycling kit was ruined, at least the best stuff was; my Saunier Duval outfit had big tears in it. I shook my head in disbelief, how could it be ruined and why was I the loser? It should be Stella. It seemed that it might prove to be the payment I had to make to begin my transition. If so, maybe I got away quite lightly.

As I wandered along, a car drew up alongside me and a familiar voice said, “Would you like a lift, Cathy?” It was Stella, I nearly jumped in shock, I had just been thinking about her and she appeared! If that was the case, I’d have to be careful where I thought about different people or it could prove embarrassing. Imagine bumping into my parents whilst out with the local coven—I’m not a witch anyway, but I sniggered at the very idea.

The choice was get wetter or risk life and limb with Stella’s driving. I got in the car, my logic being it was harder for her to run me over if I was in the car. However, knowing Stella a little, I didn’t put anything past her.

Somehow, I directed her back to my room without showing how terrified I was of her driving. How she hadn’t killed someone yet was in itself, a minor miracle. I was glad I was going out with Simon that night rather than Stella; I might live long enough to eat my dinner.

“So am I going to see your rooms?” asked Stella with some excitement.

“Room,” I corrected her. “It’s essentially a bedsit with a separate bathroom.”

“A bit like the nurses home when I was training, basic but adequate.”

“Yeah, that about sums it up.”

To my astonishment, we got home in one piece. I struggled out of the car with all my shopping, handbag and brolly whilst Stella went to the boot of her car. “Carry on, I’ll catch you up,” she called to me.

It was still raining a bit, so I did as she suggested, opening up my defaced door and putting my purchases on the floor. She followed moments later with a suitcase and dress bag draped over the other arm. Seeing my surprise, she shrugged and said, “I decided to clear out some of the things I don’t want anymore, wondered if you’d like them.”

I didn’t say anything, I was too overwhelmed. I know she had nearly killed me and damaged my bike and my skins, but she had sort of made good the damage and had been more than a catalyst in causing me to break out of my rut.

“Let’s see what you’ve bought then,” she instructed and I obeyed with a degree of enthusiasm, showing off my purchases.

“You’re getting the hang of this, aren’t you?” she said with twinkling eyes.

“I would if I had the money,” I said, the statement being more of a throw away than a fact.

“Get Simon to buy you some clothes, he can afford it.”

“Oh no, he’d expect something in return and I can’t deliver.”

“That’s his hard luck,” she said and laughed.

“No that would be dishonest and I’d prefer to buy my own.”

“More fool you then.” She began to undo the suitcase and pulled out a pile of clothes, plus another handbag. There was a suit, a couple of skirts, some jeans, two blouses and a top, and a beautiful floral dress which I loved at first sight.

“Are you sure about all this?” I asked unused to such bounty.

“Course, what you don’t want dump or take to the charity shop.”

“Can’t I give you something for them, some look pretty well brand new?”

“No, don’t be silly, I’d rather give them to you than the charity shops at least I know you’ll appreciate them and you have a need for some extra clothes.”

“I just love that dress,” I said almost drooling over it.

“Yeah, I did when I bought it, but it never felt right on me for some reason; try it on, let’s have a look.”

Before she could change her mind, I had stripped off and was carefully draping the dress over my body. It was purple floral pattern with ties which came from under the bodice and were to be tied behind. The neck was a vee one and showed a little of my cleavage or would if I had one.

“Wow Cathy, it looks better on you than it did on me; a better bra and some booster pads and it would look even better.”

I did a twirl and felt really good in the silky material. I had decided what I would wear tonight; all I needed was to get Stella to show me some makeup techniques.

“I thought your bike was in for repair?” she said to me.

“It is, that’s one Simon persuaded the shop to loan me while they repair mine.”

“Gosh, how do you manage to pull the brakes? They seem very stiff and too big for my hands.”

“I need to adjust them, they’re too big for mine as well.”

Stella held up her hand and we compared them for size—they were about the same. She smiled at me, “Your hands are far too small to be a bloke, I think my bumping into you was a good thing.”

Who was I to argue?

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 40!

(I knew I shoulda done the blog instead)

by Anghard and Phyl O’san

More trouble for the author as she struggles with her colon and the odd comma! As for the story, if you haven’t got the gist of it by now, take up long-distance knitting.

“What time is Simon collecting you?”

“He said seven thirty,” I replied still swishing about in the dress.

“It’s nearly five, why don’t you have a shower and wash your hair and I’ll make us a cuppa.” I showed her where everything was kept. “Cathy, I know it’s a nice dress, but you’ll need to take it off before you shower.”

I took her gentle chiding in good part and relinquished the dress. Within fifteen minutes I was back from my shower and sat in my bra and pants waiting for her to play about with my hair. She produced some rollers and showed me how to put in the first then made me do the next. It took me about five goes but I got it eventually. The next one was equally fiddly but by the third, I was beginning to get the hang of it. I suppose it took about an hour before we had them all in, then it was makeup time.

Essentially, she did one side of my face while I copied the other. I did point out I could end up with two right eyes, at which she laughed. However, she was a good teacher and I learned more about blending and highlighting in half an hour than I could in a month from a book. I looked and felt quite good.

I spritzed myself with Chanel 5 and slipped on the dress. I thought I was as perfect as I could get, but Stella pointed out that I would look even better with the bust enhancing pads—they helped make mountains out of my molehills. Judging from Simon’s previous remarks about me being small-breasted, I knew that he would realise that I had either been rubbing them with fertiliser all day or had used some artificial boosters. When I told this to Stella she nearly choked with laughter.

“The cheek of it, saying you had small boobs! Huh, then I suppose being a bit of a tit, he ought to know.” We laughed some more at her remark and there was a danger I was going to smudge my mascara from the tears of laughter.

“I don’t think I’d better tell him that,” I said still chuckling.

“Why not? I do it all the time,” she retorted.

“I don’t fancy walking home from wherever he takes me,” I said before the giggles got to me. We were both helpless with laughter like two overgrown schoolgirls.

“I think we’d better do your hair,” she said and I sat down, then the hiccups started. It was something I hadn’t had happen since I was in junior school. Of course, it made her laugh even more.

She persevered with my hair, although my frequent little jumps made her laugh each time.

“I can’t (hic) go out like th(hic)is,” I wailed.

“Why not? I think it’s quite cute.”

“I just (hic) can’t. Oh, what am I (hic) going to do?

“I wouldn’t worry, he knows you’re a boy, so why worry?”

“What!” I squeaked, “He knows, why didn’t you tell me?”

“I just did.”

“Oh Stella, I can’t go out with him if he knows.” I felt absolutely gutted.

“What difference does it make?”

“All the difference, he’ll treat me differently. Oh why didn’t you tell me earlier?” I began to sniff and knew the tears weren’t far away.

“It’s okay, he doesn’t know, all right?”

“But you just said he did,”

“I lied, but it got rid of your hiccups, didn’t it?”

“You sly cow!” I said then began to chuckle.

“Am I forgiven?”

“Of course. I feel almost as if you were my big sister.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said smiling before she resorted to chemical warfare and sprayed lacquer all over my head. It made me cough. “You’re supposed to keep your mouth shut,” she joked.

“I’ll taste that all night,” I grumbled. As a reply she stuck her tongue out at me. So I reciprocated.

“What shoes are you going to wear?”

It suddenly struck me that I hadn’t actually got that far in my thinking. “Erm, I hadn’t really thought about that,” I confessed.

“What have you got?”

I showed her my meagre collection. I know lots of people in my situation would have dozens of pairs, but I didn’t. I had two pairs which were unsuitable, wrong colour and too casual. My recent purchases weren’t any help either.

“Oh dear,” she said, “Looks like the boots then.”

“Oh yes,” I said, “I’d forgotten those.”

I slipped them on and she shook her head, “No they’re too heavy for a silky dress.”

“Oh Stella, what am I going to do?” I felt my little world was about to collapse again.

“Well you could wear something else and the boots, or your other shoes.”

“But this dress is so lovely I can’t bear to take it off,” I sighed, feeling bereft.

“There is one other thing,” suggested my mentor.

“What’s that, anything?” My spirits began to lift even though I knew they could be dashed again.

She dug about in her bag again and pulled out a smaller plastic bag. “I brought these over because they are bit too big for me and I don’t want them anymore anyway.” She opened the bag and handed me a pair of black peep-toe sling back shoes. “They might just fit you.”

I gratefully took the shoes which were hardly marked on the soles; the three inch heels would mean I wouldn’t want to walk too far in them, then I thought about how far I’d managed in the boots and decided I’d cope with that if they fitted me otherwise.

“Come here,” she said wresting them off me and helped me slip the first on to my left foot, which is slightly larger than the right. I felt like Cinderella. It went on okay, so did the second. The moment of truth came with me standing on them and walking about my room.

I rose with bated breath and stepped across the room. They felt absolutely fine, however, given her prank earlier I began to limp and sat down quickly.

“What’s wrong?” she asked concern showing right across her face, “They looked perfect, what happened?”

I sat still for a moment rubbing my toes through the shoes. She looked puzzled until I started to laugh. “You bitch!” she shrieked at me and threw the plastic bag at me.

It was now after seven and Stella decided she didn’t want Simon to know she’d helped me, “Let him think you know all about making yourself beautiful.”

“I know a little more than I did earlier, thank you so much Stella.”

“S’okay, have a good night; order the dearest thing on the menu.” We embraced and air kissed, then she left. “What’s this on the door?” she asked.

“My neighbours I think, they think I’m a bit aloof and snotty.”

“Well if they’re like that, it wouldn’t be too hard to feel superior,” was her parting shot.

I spent the next quarter of an hour hanging up my new clothes and placing those I was possibly not going to need any longer in a bag. Then it was time to make a final check and after collecting my handbag and door key, I went out to meet Simon.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 41

by Angharad & Rin Tin Tin

In which Cathy gets a plateful and Simon gets the bill.

I staggered out on the heels and saw Simon’s car drawing up at the roadside. He leant over and opened the door. “My God,” he said looking at his watch, “pretty and punctual. Are you sure you’re a woman?”

My stomach jumped from where it usually resides up to my throat via my sinuses, or that’s what it felt like. “Do you think I’m not?” I asked cautiously.

“Think you’re not what?” he asked as he drove away.

“A woman?”

“What are you on about, if I didn’t think you were female you wouldn’t be here now, would you?”

“Well you seemed to imply because I was on time that I…”

“Oh for Pete’s sake, why do you women do this to me every time? It was a joke, next time I’ll give you advanced notice, all right?” He shook his head as we drove along.

I sat quietly with my hands demurely in my lap, I almost felt like asking him to take me back home, but I thought he was cross enough already. I should have ignored his remark; it looked as though I had a lot to learn.

He didn’t speak to me for several minutes, then he said, “Look I’m sorry I snapped at you. I don’t know why girls can’t seem to take jokes as well as blokes do, but they always seem to backfire on me. I didn’t mean to be grumpy but it’s been a tough day; my bank lost a few million and no matter how clever I am, I couldn’t get it all back for them.”

“A few million?” I gasped. It was a sum beyond my comprehension and in some ways I was quite happy to keep it that way.

“Yeah somebody in Paris caused a run on the pound, so our shares dropped and so did our profits.”

“Oh,” I said. As far as this was concerned I was a total bimbo; if we got into rat embryos or the breeding habits of harvest mice, then I felt I could contribute to the conversation, otherwise it was a question of keeping him talking about himself.

“Did you collect that bike afterwards?”

“The litespeed? Yes, that afternoon.”

“What sort of ride is it?”

That he could ask an intelligent question about bikes showed that he had some experience of them. It was a little encouraging, although part of me knew there was no future in the relationship because he would eventually want something I couldn’t give him, and of course if and when he found out that would be the end. I tried not to think that far ahead, just go with the day.

I wondered what he was getting out of it; presumably he thought he was going out with a girl. What was I getting out of it? A chance to be myself in a new environment, an opportunity to practise my socialising skills as a woman and to learn a bit about going out with men. I suppose it was a training exercise for me and for him a vague chance he might get his leg over.

Re the beautiful escort, I can’t see that myself, but if he cares to see me as such, that’s his problem. For my part, I could have ended up with that bit of rough from the garage, although thinking about him still makes my toes tingle all the way to my throat!

Back to the bike, “Ride, erm yeah, it’s okay. I haven’t had a chance to go far on it yet, but it feels a bit more forgiving than the carbon but I doubt it’ll be as fast.”

He turned the car into a car park attached to an Italian restaurant which pleased me—I love pasta. On stopping the car, he nipped out and opened my door for me, and offered his arm, so we walked into the place arm-in-arm. Actually, that bit felt quite good; dunno why, but it did.

He’d booked a table and we were shown to it, the waiter presenting me with a red rose when we got to it. I blushed almost the same shade as my botanical acquisition.

“Is this from you?” I asked Simon.

“I suppose so,” he sighed, “it’s an optional extra and I took it.”

My blush continued unabated as I said, “Well I think it’s rather lovely, thank you very much.”

“You’re welcome,” then shrugged as if to say, ‘no big deal’ or ‘don’t get any ideas.’ I felt like saying the same to him, but then that would sound ungrateful and I was intent on having a nice evening if I could.

“Did they fix the car all right?” I asked as we were waiting for our order.

“Yeah, it’s okay but I think I’ll change it soon anyway.”

“Ashtrays are full eh?” I offered flippantly.

“Ashtrays? Eh, I don’t smoke, what are you on about?”

“It’s an old joke which fell rather flat, so shall we leave it?” I felt about two inches tall and wished the ground would open and swallow me.

He sat looking thoughtful for a few minutes, then a big grin broke out on his face. “I’ve just got your joke,” he said.

“It’s not very good,” I suggested wanting to move on to my next social gaff as quickly as possible.

“Au contraire,” he said and was about to explain why when I interrupted him.

“Simon this is an Italian restaurant not French.”

He looked at me puzzled again, “What! I’m well aware that this is an Italian place, they do do better food than Spaghetti Houses, you know?”

“I’m sure they do Simon, I was making a joke, erm never mind.”

“Maybe girls aren’t supposed to do that, which could be why it’s fooling him. Perhaps I should sit quietly and look decorous or something? Probably something, but he wouldn’t get that either.

The food was excellent; I had a pasta bake which filled me before I’d half cleared the plate. It grieved me that I had to leave some. My starter was melon, and I declined the sweet, feeling too full. We had a nice bottle of wine between us, and my two glasses meant I was feeling quite mellow, any more and I’d be ill. Simon offered a brandy as before and I asked for a coffee instead. He reluctantly agreed when I pouted at him.

While he sipped his brandy he said, “I can’t believe you’re not in a relationship.”

“Why?” I asked embarrassed but intrigued.

“Well, to start with you’re quite a looker, and you ride with a bike club, you’re meeting with loads of young men all the time, so how come you haven’t got a steady?”

“I haven’t met anyone I fancy yet,” I answered casually.

“You prefer a bit more maturity and class?” he suggested.

“Maybe,” I replied trying not to let him build himself up, he could be pompous and I wasn’t going to play that game.

“Oh,” he said like a little boy whose balloon has just burst, “So what do you look for in a man?”

It was at this point I began to wish I’d spent more time reading those questionnaire things they have in Cosmo and Marie Claire, then I’d have some answers. Now I’d have to wing it, and also allow him to recognise some of the qualities in himself to keep him happy. I hadn’t got my bike back yet, so I had to keep him on board. That might sound a bit ruthless, but it was the bottom line for me.

“You tell me what you like in a girl and I’ll tell you about men,” I suggested, hoping he’d make some comments I could use back on him.

“I asked you first,” he grumbled.

“Okay, I’ll do one, then you do one, okay?”

He wasn’t entirely happy but my smile charmed away his resistance, I’d have to remember that for future reference.

“A good sense of humour,” I said getting the first one out before he said it.

“That was going to be my first,” he complained.

“I think it’s pretty well universal, most people like to go out with someone who makes them smile or laugh or appreciates their jokes,” it occurred to me as I spoke that was something we weren’t doing.

“Honesty,” said Simon, “I like women who mean what they say, and there aren’t too many of them around.

“I think the same might be said for men, Simon.”

“Generosity,” I volunteered, “I like people who give of themselves not necessarily a money thing. I thought I saw a look of relief before he nodded.

“Fidelity, I believe in only one relationship at a time.”

I couldn’t argue with that, “Kindness. It’s our ability for compassion and empathy which lifts us above our animal cousins.”

“I have some cousins like that, did Stella tell you about them?”

“What compassionate?” I asked.

“No, bloody animals and I don’t mean four legged or furry either.”

“That’s a pity,” I sighed, “I would probably know more about them.”

He chuckled at that and I did the same; at last we were laughing at the same thing.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 42

Simon paid the bill and escorted me back to his Volvo; it was much cooler and I shivered a little. I didn’t really have a suitable coat or wrap to go with the dress, so I had to put up with it.

“You’re shivering,” observed Simon.

“It’s cooler than I expected,” I said feeling rather stupid.

“Come on let’s get you home and into the warm again,” he unlocked the car with the remote and I got in. “It takes a few minutes for the heater to work, works off the engine heat, radiator that sort of thing.”

I knew perfectly well how most car heaters worked, but I kept quiet, he was after all talking to a dumb girl as far as he was concerned. A couple of minutes later I felt my seat getting warm, it felt nice. I looked at him with a puzzled expression.

“Seat warmers, remember it’s a Scandinavian designed car, they’re a bit quicker than the heater. Is that okay?”

“Lovely thanks,” I replied as my nether regions began to defrost.

“I’ve got a blanket in the back somewhere if you want it?”

“No, I’m fine honestly Simon.” In my twisted little mind, blankets equated with beds and I didn’t want to go there. I mean, blankets and bikes? Remember I don’t own a car.

I held on to my rose, it would be a keepsake for a few days. The heater started blasting out warm air and I relaxed in my seat. It hadn’t been as disastrous as I had feared, in fact some of it had been fun.

I wished I’d asked for a doggy bag, my leftovers would have warmed up nicely in the microwave tomorrow. My parents always insisted I clear my plate before leaving the table, and I always had to ask to leave. I got around it by asking Mum to give me smaller portions. She thought I was mad, but agreed. She thought boys were always hungry, I was but not on the scale she imagined. My father had a big appetite, so not following his example felt good. However, not eating everything made me feel naughty.

I was running these thoughts through my head when Simon spoke and almost made me jump, “I’ve quite enjoyed myself tonight, we should do this again.”

I was miles away, and answered without processing what he said until after my mouth had betrayed me. “Yes okay,” I said not thinking about what he’d actually said.

“Next week then? I think they have some sort of barn dance over Havant way, how’d you fancy that?”

“A barn dance?” I squeaked as if he had just suggested alligator wrestling.

“Yes, a barn dance, you know square dancing and stuff to country or folksy type music.”

“I’ve never been to one,” I gasped.

“Well now’s your chance. I’ll firm up on the details and get back to you. Stella has your number I think?”

I nodded in a sort of daze. A barn dance! My God, what do I wear and more importantly what do I do? I hadn’t been to any sort of dance since high school and I didn’t get to dance with anyone then. To me dances were just bad memories of being a wallflower and a male wallflower has no future whatsoever.

“They’re good fun, they have a caller who tells you what to do in the dances, you’ll enjoy it.”

I was still reeling and feeling very negative. My confidence had received a small boost but he had overwhelmed it. “I don’t know Simon, I’m not into dancing.” Which was true, as a dancer, I made an excellent cyclist.

“Give Stella a tinkle, she’ll talk you through it.”

“But I haven’t got anything to wear to a dance.”

“Talk to Stella, she’s got a credit card of mine, go and buy something at the weekend.”

The weekend was tomorrow! I shivered again, but not with the cold. “I can’t do that Simon,” I complained indignantly.

“Which, calling Stella or going shopping?”

“Both, either, oh I don’t know.”

Next thing I know he’s on his mobile as we pull up outside my room, “Stella, I’m with Cathy I want to take her to the barn dance next week and she’s worried she hasn’t got anything to wear, can you take her shopping tomorrow? Yes all right, usual terms you parasite! Great, I’ll tell her. Fine, see you later.”

He switched off his hands-free in-car phone, bloody show-off and turned to face me. “Stella will be collecting you about nine tomorrow, feel free to buy everything you need for the dance.”

“I’m not going,” I said.

“Yes you are, you’ll enjoy it.”

“Simon, it’s kind of you to ask and even kinder to offer to buy me an outfit, but I can’t accept it and I won’t go to the dance with you, I don’t want to.”

“So that’s it then?” he said.

“I’m afraid so,” I said with a tinge of regret. “Thank you for a pleasant evening.”

“Don’t I at least get a goodbye kiss?” he said looking at me with spaniel eyes.

I humphed, then relented, “Okay,” I leant forward to peck his cheek and he turned full face and kissed me on the lips, his arm coming around behind me.

I had closed my eyes, I don’t know why, so it completely surprised me. I went to pull away but the shock caused me to freeze, well that’s what I think happened. Then he kissed me again and I remained frozen except for my treacherous mouth, which pursed its lips and let him kiss me for a third time.

“Goodnight Cathy,” he said quietly from somewhere far away.

“What? Oh, yeah good erm night Simon.”

I got out of his car clutching my bag and my rose, my legs were trembling and I felt completely disoriented. He tooted and drove off.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 43

by Angharad & Elvis

Poor sleep and more surprises for our hapless heroine.
(There will be some more cycling eventually, promise.)

I stood shivering and trembling watching the big Volvo disappear up the road. I felt a total mishmash of emotions. I had just been kissed and and and and, all right I enjoyed it, the bastard! If I hadn’t enjoyed it, I could quite happily have killed him, the rotten swine bent my rose! “He has all the sexual finesse of a mink!” I mumbled to myself. For those not in the know, mink are randy little rapists who think nothing of gangbanging females. Then I thought about what I had said to myself, it wasn’t true, he’d been the perfect gentleman until that last kiss and I could have stopped him if I’d really wanted.

I dragged myself away from the kerbside and up to my room. I was cross with myself; no, make that furious. If I’d kept my eyes open I’d have seen it coming and could have decided whether or not I let him kiss me, but then he might not have done so if he saw me watching him. But then I let him do it again, the bastard! I enjoyed it, stupid cow. Oh bugger I’m all of a twitter.

I cut off the broken stem of my rose and put it in a glass of water. It was the first flower anyone had ever given me and as I stood looking at its battered petals and much-reduced stem, my eyes filled up with tears. Receiving that rose was the most wonderful thing that had happened for a long time. I know people have been kind and supportive, but that rose filled me with something I couldn’t quantify. It was as if I had suddenly received recognition of something inside from someone outside. Soppy cow that I am, I sat down and burst into tears.

It was the story of my life: things start to go my way and I spoil it. I had a man who seemed to care about me enough to take me to dinner and give me a rose. He even offered to take me dancing, plus make sure I have the right gear and I tell him to piss off. What kind of moron am I?

Okay, the worry about what happens when he finds out, that’s why I did it. ‘You bloody liar,’ I said to myself, ‘you hadn’t got that far, you were incensed by the fact that he was organising you without your consent, that he was feeling sorry for you and reached for his credit card. It made you feel cheap and nasty, like some whore. Your stupid pride didn’t want him to think that you could be bought.’

A surge of indignation returned and I felt justified in seeing him off, no matter how poor I was, I wasn’t for sale to some rich wanker, just ’cos he worked for a merchant wank! Oh God, I meant bank. Ever since that kiss yesterday from that ruffian from the garage I seemed to have awakened from my celibacy. It looked as if I may not be asexual after all, but quite what I was I had yet to determine.

I mean did I fancy Simon, huh, that creep, thinks he can buy me, huh! Him and his creepy, dangerous-driving sister, they can both go to hell, see if I care. I burst into tears again; maybe I did care but quite how and what, there lay the problem.

I sat back in the chair; my eyes were stinging from crying and I closed them for a moment. I was dreaming, someone was trying to get me to go out with them and they were trying to break into my room to carry me off. I hated the idea so much I’d unlocked the door and was waiting, but they were still banging and shouting. Stupid cow, I called out in my dream… then I suddenly awoke, it was a woman that was calling and presumably banging on the door. I was still seated in my chair, my neck as stiff as a lamppost, and my bladder full to capacity.

“Cathy, open the door,” shouted the voice through the closed door. I rushed and undid the catch.

As Stella burst in, I ran to the bathroom before something else burst, “Can’t stop need a pee,” I shouted as I slipped through the bathroom door.

I heard the front door close and Stella moving about the room. I hurried as quickly as I could, a wipe over my face and hands with a wet flannel and I was out into my sitting room. Stella was in the kitchenette, “Tea or coffee?” she called. I told her coffee, I needed the caffeine kick.

“God you look awful,” she said placing the mug in front of me.

“I fell asleep in the chair, my neck hurts,” I whimpered.

“Serves you bloody right.”

“Oh!” I said squirming, couldn’t she see I was the victim of a broken heart or something? “What are you doing here?”

“Fulfilling my commission.”

“What commission?” I asked back feeling the warmth of the coffee all the way down to my toes.

“Taking you shopping for a barn dance.”

“Not me,” I said indignantly, “I’m not for sale.”

“You self-righteous twat, get your arse in the shower and hurry up, I’ve got a job to do and no one is going to stop me.”

The ferocity of Stella’s response nearly knocked me off my seat. “No I told him I wasn’t going.”

“He told me you’d say that—I told him I’d change your mind or kill you, either would produce a useful outcome.” She paused to let it sink in, she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Then she reached in a small bag she had with her and pulled out a single red rose, she placed it on the table in front of me. “He asked me to give you that.” I looked at it, shivered, and burst into tears again.

It was about an hour later that we left my room, my eyes were still sore but Stella had managed to disguise some of the redness by using a pink coloured eye shadow. She made me wear a skirt and my boots. I hoped we weren’t going to walk too far.

It took us an hour to get into Southampton and the cost of the car park was astronomical. We got four hours, I paid. I had to pay for something to feel I had a role in this that wasn’t entirely passive.

“So he kissed you then?” she said sniggering.

“You know the answer to that or you wouldn’t have asked,” I said curtly back.

She laughed loudly, and I hissed, “Bitch!” at her, which made her laugh all the more; eventually I was laughing too.

“If he’s not careful, I’ll get back at him through his bloody credit card,” I said as defiantly as I could.

“That’s the spirit girl,” said Stella.

“Shouldn’t you be on his side, he is your brother?” I asked taken aback by her attitude.

“Nah,” she chuckled.

“Surely you should be protecting his assets,” I was totally puzzled by her behaviour.

“What for? I get half of what he spends on you?” she replied laughing.

“What?” I said stopping and looking at her.

“I get half of what we spend on you. So if we spend three hundred on you, I get to spend a hundred and fifty on me.”

“But that’s robbery or bribery or something like that!” I said almost disgusted.

“Blackmail,” she said sniggering.

“Blackmail?” I gasped.

“Yeah, the only way he can get girls is to offer to buy them gifts or to actually buy the presents. He hasn’t got a clue, so I do it for him for a price. Which also buys my silence when he thinks how clever he is.”

“But he’s a lovely man,” I protested.

“I know that, but he doesn’t. And I’m not going to enlighten him! How do you think I can dress so well?”

“I hadn’t thought about it at all. I simply noticed you had a lovely wardrobe.”

“All bought with Simon’s money! Come on! Let’s spend some more!”

After three hours, I had a pair of boots with chunkier heels which being brown would suffice as cowgirl boots, I also had a longish denim skirt with a lace frill around the bottom, a gingham blouse and denim waistcoat. I refused to even look at cowboy hats, I felt enough of a prat as it was and the theme music of ‘Rawhide’ kept going through my brain. This was due to the mother of a friend of mine having a total crush on Clint Eastwood: she had all his movies plus umpteen episodes of Rawhide on video. It brought back memories I’d rather forget.

We stopped for lunch, again, all on Simon. I was more glad of the rest than the need for food, although I’d only had a piece of toast for my breakfast. I settled for carrot and coriander soup with a roll.

After that it was back to the shops and a new coat for me. “But I don’t need a coat for the barn dance,” I’m not going.

“Shush, it might rain.”

“He has a car.”

“Just try it on, he won’t know or care. Come on! We’ve got to get you a decent bag yet.”

Despite my protests, I had a new coat. So did she and her’s was nicer than mine. I couldn’t complain. I had another pair of shoes, boots, the outfit, makeup, combs and brushes, a set of self-heating rollers, perfume and a scarf. She had spent over six hundred pounds of Simon’s money. I was shocked. She shrugged and implied he wouldn’t even notice.

We had just got back to her car when my mobile began to ring. “Better answer it, it might be Simon asking how we got on,” said Stella.

I pressed the button and held it up to my ear. “Hello?” I said as gently as possible.

“Charlie get your arse up here quickly, your mother’s in the BRI and things don’t look too clever.” It rang off.

“You all right, you look as if you’ve just seen a ghost?”

“That was my dad! Mum’s in the Bristol Royal Infirmary and it sounds serious! He wants me there as quickly as possible.”

“Oh my God! I am so sorry! I hope she’ll be all right.”

“What am I going to do Stella?!!” I felt completely gutted—a nice day out and then this happens!

“I think I can find Bristol, but you’ll have to direct me to the hospital.”

“What? I can’t go like this!”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 44

by Angharad & Virginia Creeper

Keep the tissues handy and tighten your seat belts,
Stella is driving!

I sat in the car completely lost in my thoughts. The last time we had met, my father had nearly killed me. If he saw me like this, he’d finish the job if the shock didn’t kill him. What would it do to my mother; he hadn’t said what was wrong with her? If she was ill or injured then I would want to see her, if only to say goodbye. They weren’t bad people, just misguided and prejudiced—some of which I think came from being fed stereotypes and wrong information and a bit too much bible-bashing when they were young.

I was only barely aware that we were moving, which with Stella’s driving might be an advantage. If I’d been able to compare them in a calmer environment, I’m not sure if her driving or my father’s temper would have frightened me more.

I looked around and we were on the motorway; I cringed and returned to my thoughts. What would happen if my mother died? My God, you tend to think of them as always being there. What will my dad do if she doesn’t recover, he’ll be lost on his own? Will I have to go home and look after him? There were plenty of questions, but no answers. Why do these things seem to happen when I’m having fun? It’s almost as if their God doesn’t like me and regularly craps on me from on high. Well carry on, shit only makes things grow, and that includes me!

We pulled into a motorway services. “We need some more fuel, I also need to call Simon and tell him what we’re doing, let’s get a cuppa while we’re at it.” Stella had taken control while I tagged along buried deep in my own thoughts.

Happier thoughts were passing through my mind, of times with my mum helping her do the baking when I was a kid—she taught me the basics of cooking from an early age, as they would be useful if I lived on my own. She was right, they were. She also taught me to clean and tidy the house and to do minor repairs to my clothes, such as darning a sock or sewing on a button. Dad accepted these as useful skills when I went to uni or got my own place. He could hardly boil a kettle but he got by, usually on someone else’s efforts.

He taught me how to fix my bike and a bit of gardening and DIY, so I learned from both of them. They also tried to cram their narrow views down my throat too, until I rebelled during my A-level year. We had a great RI teacher who was an ordained priest and also taught physics and maths. She was one of the most intelligent people I ever knew.

I got to know her when my biology teacher saw I was in a philosophical crisis in trying to reconcile what my parents had taught me and what I was learning from science. She arranged some tutorials for me and we discussed my difficulties.

She fostered in me an attitude that there are very few absolutes, if any and things should be open to reasonable doubt, including the basis of all beliefs. She also suggested that it was acceptable to challenge my beliefs and those of others, providing I did it in courteous way, recognising their right to hold them but also my own in rejecting them.

I learned that faith comes from within, not from bits of dead papyrus or printed books, and that I should follow my heart as well as my head and listen to my conscience. We touched on all sorts of issues and beliefs including things like Wicca and Sorcery. Until then, with the possible exception of Harry Potter and Co., I saw all these things as works of the Devil. So we explored the concept of the Devil as a manmade entity. She was absolutely wonderful, although the gap between me and my parents began to spread. I stopped going to church because listening to some tub thumper was a waste of my time, when I could read Joseph Campbell and begin to understand the world as inclusive not exclusive.

During one of my sessions with Dr Meyrick, the RI teacher, she said to me, “Charlie, talking to you reminds me of some of the discussions I had with my own daughter.” It pleased me immensely and I wished she could have adopted me on the spot.

“I wish I was one of your daughters,” I sighed and she gave me a puzzled look. “I’d love to have a mum as clever and articulate as you.” I covered my exposure quickly and her expression softened into a smile as if she thought, ‘You had me worried for a moment’.

I lost contact when I went off to uni, maybe I would look her up again, to let her know how her advice and nurturing had developed me into a questing scientist, with a deep respect for the planet and all its creatures great and small.

“I’m going to call Simon; get me a cuppa and cake of some sort,” instructed Stella. It brought me back into the real world again a noisy, dangerous place compared to my nice memories. I queued and got the stuff at a rip off price, and took them to a table. Stella joined me moments later.

“He sends his love and hopes your mum will be better soon.” I thanked her for her and Simon’s help. I was close to tears, the nearer we got to home the more scared I became.

At the fuel station, I sat sniffing in the car and Stella got back in with a huge bunch of flowers which she plonked on my lap. “Thank you,” I said blushing.

“They’re for your mother dummy, from Simon and me and you if you want?”
Then she noticed me sniffing. “I didn’t mean to be nasty, and I’m sure she’ll be okay.”

I nodded and she drove off back to the motorway and towards Bristol. “She’ll be all right; you’ll feel better when you’ve seen her.”

I nodded again and then burst into tears. “Look sweetheart, I can’t drive and console you, I’m sure she’s in the best place and that they are looking after her.”

“It’s not that,” I sniffed.

“What is it then?”

“I’m scared of what my dad might say or do,” I sniffed again.

“It’ll be all right, I’ll be there to help.”

“No it won’t, he gets angry with me.” I then explained what had happened the last time I saw him.

“He did what? Jesus, Cathy, if he lays one finger on you I’ll have him arrested.” She spoke with a degree of anger that surprised me. I shivered in anticipation of their meeting: I hated confrontation.

My mobile rang again, “Charlie, meet me at the hospital and hurry,” it rang off before I could say anything.

“Was that him again?” asked Stella.

I nodded, just the sound of his voice made me feel sick. I was beginning to wonder if I could cope with this, whether I was brave or strong enough.

I relayed his message to Stella and asked her to stop the car quickly. She pulled over and asked what was wrong, but I had jumped out of the car and was throwing up on the hard shoulder, he frightened me that much.

I was trembling when she came around to me, “Come on Cathy, you’re going to be all right, I’ll be there with you, he wouldn’t dare touch you in front of me.”

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” I said.

She put her arm around me, “Come on girl, women are stronger than men, that’s why they use violence, but it’s a wasted effort, you can’t kill spirit only the flesh.”

“You sound like Dr Meyrick, my old RI teacher.”

“Me? Come off it Cathy, I’m a born again agnostic.”

I know she was trying to cheer me up but I was fast approaching total despair and I still had to deal with whatever was wrong with my mother.

Back in the car, Stella drove like a demon, and an hour and a half later we were parking at the hospital. I rushed into reception as quickly as my high-heeled boots would allow me. Once I explained that my mother was here somewhere and very ill, the receptionist deigned to help me find her. She was in ICU. I wanted to run to her and away from her and stand and scream.

Stella grabbed my arm and led me towards the Intensive Care Unit. As we approached, I saw my father facing the other way scanning the corridor. “That’s him, oh fuck!” I hissed to Stella.

“Keep walking, he won’t recognise us; come on he won’t start anything in front of your mother.”

Somehow, she was right and we managed to sneak in without him recognising me. I explained who I was, well Stella did. A nurse led us to her bed, she was asleep attached to all these tubes and wires. She looked so small surrounded by all the equipment. I sat alongside her and gently held her hand.

“Mum, it’s me.” I spoke quietly but slowly and clearly, hoping she could hear me. Stella stood behind me, holding the flowers in one hand and gripping my shoulder with the other.

Mum opened her eyes and looked at me, just then my father came in and his eyes bulged but before he could speak my mother did, “Ah I thought I heard my Charlie, but it must have been my imagination, look Derek he’s sent two angels instead. God is good,” she said, gave a great sigh and died.

I think I screamed, because two nurses came rushing in. My father was kneeling on the floor and sobbing, praying to his god. Stella and I were led out of the room and declined to stay and talk to the doctor. I just wanted to get away from there as soon as I could and before my father and his wrath could catch me.

However, Stella was upset too and we had to go somewhere to calm down before we could drive back.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 45

by Angharad & L. Armstrong

Grief and hope? Reconciliation—what do you think?
Read on and see if you were right!

Stella and I hugged each other in the car park, we were both crying. I could not believe my mother was no longer alive. That I had seen her just before she died made me glad I had made the effort, but sorry that she hadn’t appeared to recognise me.

That was all I could compute, I was shocked and hurt all over. In comparison to the worst beating my father ever gave me, this hurt so much more. I didn’t know what to do with the pain or how to cope with it. How could I?

Would she have lived any longer if I had turned up as her son? I didn’t know, nor could I but it gave me an opportunity to beat myself up for a few moments as I thought about it. I probably deserved it.

I don’t know if my dad recognised me, the look he gave me might have been for a number of reasons, including recognition, disgust, shock, plus loads of others too numerous to mention. I wouldn’t know that either because I had nothing left to say to him and I had no intention of going to the funeral which would be run by his cronies and full of things I didn’t believe.

Maybe, if either of us forgave the other we might have things to talk about but not at the moment, we probably both felt too raw. I would like to know why my mother died, surely he hadn’t hurt her? No he couldn’t, could he? I shook my head, these were crazy thoughts and I had to get rid of them. Maybe I would ring the hospital sometime later and try and speak to the doctor or ward sister.

“Come on kiddo, let’s go and find the car,” said Stella putting her arm around me.

As we walked on leaden legs, me still sniffling, a man approached us. “Is everything all right ladies?” He had a kindly manner, I thought, then I saw his dog collar.

“Her mother has just died,” answered Stella.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” he said then after a short pause, he began, “take consolation in your faith my dear, Jesus said, I am..”

“Oh fuck off!” I said loudly and stormed away. How he felt I didn’t much care but as for all that religious crap, he could stick it. I thought I did quite well not to deck him.

After getting back into the car, Stella remarked upon my behaviour to the priestly type. I honestly felt like telling her to F off as well, then decided there was enough hurt about for the day.

My mobile rang and I unthinkingly answered it. “Was that you Charlie, at your mother’s bedside?”

“Yes,” I replied and tears began to run down my face again.

“I thought so.”

“I hope you won’t show me up at the funeral by turning up looking like a dog’s dinner?”

“No Dad, I won’t.”

“Good, I’ll let you know when it is.”

“Don’t bother Dad.”

“What, you won’t even come to give your own mother a good send off?”

“No Dad, I said goodbye to her, now I’m saying it to you. Goodbye.” I switched off my phone and howled. I was now effectively an orphan and it hurt. In one day, my life had changed beyond redemption, and I didn’t give a shit anymore.

“Oh dear,” sighed Stella, and put her arm around me again, “What am I going to do with you?”

“I don’t care anymore, I don’t bloody care.” I howled some more getting myself all hot bothered and snotty. Thankfully, Stella had a box of tissues in her car.

“Where would you like to go?” she asked me.

“Home,” I almost whispered.

“Okey dokey, home it is.” She started the car and before we got anywhere near the motorway I was asleep, exhausted and emotionally wrung out. I don’t know for how long I slept but Stella woke me and switched off the car engine. “We’re there, sleepyhead.”

It was dark and I didn’t really recognise anywhere. I couldn’t see any streetlights. “Where are we?” I asked completely lost.

“Home, my home.”

“But I need to get to my place,” I protested.

“Not tonight Josephine, tonight you need to be with friends and to get drunk.”

“I think I’ll pass on the latter,” I said feeling once again as if people were making decisions for me, but seeing how good she had been to me, I couldn’t be nasty to her. “I just want to sleep.”

“Okay, but first something to eat. I called Simon on the way home and he’s popped a casserole in the oven, so have some grub first. Then you can snooze as long as you like. One of us will run you home later tomorrow.

The smell of food caught me unawares and made me realise that I was hungry and that Simon could cook a bit. We all tucked in with relish and I also put away three glasses of wine ensuring that I would sleep and wake up with a head like a bucket being regularly bashed with a hammer. I didn’t care, all feelings in me were either so dead, or so buried that I couldn’t feel anything anymore.

Simon was his usual civilised self, making all the right noises and saying all the right things to put me at my ease, except it didn’t. I didn’t know if he cared or was well trained. An hour later, I excused myself and went to the guest room, Stella had laid out another nightdress and her kindness made me cry again. I couldn’t compare these relative strangers who had only known me for a few days yet seemed to understand me, with my family, who had known me all my life and didn’t really know me at all. I changed, got into bed and was asleep in seconds.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 46

by Angharad & E. Merckx

“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention.”
‘My Way.’

The sleep I had was heavy, doubtless helped by the exhaustion and the alcohol. I awoke from a dream in which I was flashing my boobs at my father and telling him that he’d ‘never get to touch them now.’ I had no idea what it meant and because my mouth felt so dry, I didn’t linger on its meaning.

I could hear noises from around the house and saw from the clock it was after ten. I jumped out of bed expecting my head to pound and my stomach to churn; neither did, but my bladder needed some relief which I set about organising.

From the bathroom window I could see the sun was shining and I wanted to get home and then try out the titanium bike. My priority would be to get one of the siblings to take me, once I’d had some tea or coffee to slake my thirst.

“Kettle’s on girl,” was called from downstairs and I could smell toast cooking. Food had not been on my agenda until I could smell the bread toasting, then my stomach rumbled and I knew I was hungry.

I went downstairs in the nightdress, and Stella was making toast while Simon took bites out of a piece and poured hot water on a jug of freshly ground coffee. Everything was momentarily forgotten as I inhaled the aromas of food and drink and gave way to my stomach’s desires.

Some twenty minutes later and feeling replete, I was invited to shower and Stella left out some knickers for me to borrow. It turned out she had bought me some. This was getting embarrassing, as I gave little or nothing in return. I dressed in the same clothes I had worn the day before and as I donned them, some of the sadness returned. It was no bad dream, my mother had died and I had told my father where to get off. I had also been extremely rude to some clergyman who wanted to sell me some religion. I regretted what I had said to him and how I said it, simply because it was rude and it wasn’t my normal behaviour. I allowed myself some leeway because I was upset and under lots of emotional stress.

So feeling all this turmoil returning I went downstairs and asked if one of them would take me home. “Why don’t you stay here for a few days?” asked Simon. Stella nodded furiously in agreement.

“I have things to do, not the least of which, a dissertation to finish,” and I needed to speak to Student Health, though I kept that to myself.

“You could finish it here, I’ll take you to get your notes and whatever else you need and…” said Simon enthusiastically until I interrupted.

“I also have some thinking to do, stuff to get my head around. Sometimes I do that on a bike, if nothing else a quick ride would clear my head a bit.”

“We could bring your bike back here as well.”

“Simon, you are so amazingly kind to me that I have no idea how I shall ever be able to repay you.”

“Come to the dance with me on Saturday,” he said smiling, “and I’ll write off all your debts.”

“I don’t know, given what’s happened yesterday, I don’t feel too much like dancing.”

“I suppose not,” he said his face slipping from a smile to a frown. “Can I call you?” He paused as if waiting my permission, “Nearer the day?”

“Yes,” I nodded unable to stop his little boy enthusiasm getting through my defences, “but I’m not promising anything,” I added trying to keep my options open.

“Of course,” he said, his eyes sparkling again.

“Your stuff is still in my car, so I’ll run you home,” offered Stella. I would have preferred Simon to drive, but I suspected that she wanted to talk a little. I accepted her offer.

A close shave with a tractor nearly made me regret my decision and wondered if my dad could get a cheap rate on funerals for multi purchases. I thought about my mother. I hadn’t really said goodbye at all and that felt heavy. Stella noticed my withdrawal and drew me back into talking about my feelings.

“Some people say that if you write something on paper and burn it, the person to whom it’s addressed gets the message.”

“What even dead people?” I asked incredulously.

“So they say. I mean I can’t actually guarantee it works, but it may help you to express the things you need to say.”

“I don’t know, I don’t even know if I believe in life after death stuff. My parents do, did,” I corrected myself, “I suppose Dad still does, but I’m not sure writing a letter to my mother is going to help anything.”

“It would help you to focus on what you wanted to say and in burning it, no one else would be able to read it.”

“Including my mother,” I added feeling another pang of grief, she really was dead and it was beginning to seep through my numbness.

“No, I meant ordinary people, in case you said something you didn’t want anyone to know. You know, personal things. I mean, she sort of met Cathy so I’m sure as Cathy, you have things to say to her, don’t you?”

I felt the tears run down my face as I nodded my reply—I couldn’t speak. I wanted to tell her I loved her and forgave her and hoped that she could forgive me. I was ashamed of how I’d spoken to my father, I should have known better and been more tolerant. I had failed her.

“Maybe you’ll give it a try then?” she asked and I nodded again. I would write to my mother and hope she could receive it, although I was still very sceptical.

Being locked in my thoughts did have the advantage of not being aware of Stella’s driving, although I’m not sure which would be worse on a pain or stress scale.

She dropped me off and collected my purchases from the boot of her car, it was as much as I could carry, but I didn’t want company for a while. I somehow managed to get through the door and into the hallway when I noticed a small parcel with my name on it. Intrigued I rushed upstairs dropped my bags on the bed and popped down for the package. I wasn’t expecting anything.

Back in my room, I tore open the mysterious package and discovered it was set of racing skins in the Saunier Duval, Prodir colours. It had to be Stella and Simon again, I burst into tears and it was several minutes before I could stop crying. Why were they so kind to me? I didn’t know.

I checked the size and of course it was identical to the other, then I spotted something else in the large Jiffybag, a sports bra, again in my size. Now I knew who sent it and that I wouldn’t need to hide my breasts in future.

I stripped off my clothing, adjusted the bra to fit comfortably and donned the yellow racing strip, it felt good. Next I picked up the phone and called the cottage.

“Oh hello Cathy, are you feeling any better?” asked Simon.

“I’m going out for a little ride, is Stella there?”

“Just coming in, here she is,” he said handing her the phone.

“Hi Cathy, is there a problem?”

“Only that of not being aware you’d sent for some racing skins.”

“Aren’t they the right ones? Oh hell, I thought I’d got the right ones. I’m sorry, it was meant to be a surprise.”

“They are the right ones and they fit fine. Thank you so much and also for the bra.”

“Well if you’re going to be riding that bike you’ll need the proper kit.”

“Yes, indeed. I’m absolutely knocked out by your generosity.”

“Simon actually paid for it, but he doesn’t know that yet.” I could hear her laughing down the phone.

“Doesn’t know what yet?” I heard him ask, then a bit of mumbling before he said, “Oh that’s all right, enjoy using them Cathy.”

“See, he’s as good as gold. Dunno what I’ll do if any girl is daft enough to marry him, unless it’s you of course?”

“What!” I choked back to her, “I think it exceedingly unlikely.”

“Oh I don’t know,” came back her response.

“You’re forgetting one fundamental reason,” I said reminding her of my shortcomings.

“It’s nothing that can’t be sorted.”

“Stella!” I said in exasperation.

“Leave it with me.”

“Stella,” I called loudly, but she had rung off. Just what did she mean?

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 47

by Angharad & W. Shakespeare

In which some cycling happens but not a lot else, but you’d better check just in case I’m lying!

I stood bemused by Stella’s last comment. Was it a throw away, a wind up, or did she mean something more literally? I didn’t know and she wasn’t going to tell me. I caught sight of the yellow in the mirror and looked at myself in the skins. The bulge of my breasts was definitely there and so was the outline of the bra both in the front and back of the outfit. I wondered if I should buy a women’s’ set or at least a top. The problem is they’re not anywhere near as good nor freely available. Certainly not in team strips.

I blushed at the outline of the bra, then thought, ‘Bugger it, I don’t have to worry about that any more.’ Instead, I put on some lipstick and mascara and poked my tongue out at the face in the mirror; curiously, it did the same back to me!

Aware that time was passing, I put on my shoes and making sure I had a drink, a puncture outfit and my spare helmet—damn, it wasn’t a Met like Doping Dave’s, but it was yellow, so it would have to do.

I picked up my steed and along with my door key and the other essentials, set off down the stairs. Hair pulled back in a scrunchie, mitts on, and finally the helmet and sunglasses, I was ready to road test this bike. I was about to mount it when I remembered the brake levers were a bit wide for me. I tried them and could just about manage so without further ado, clipped in my shoes and set off down the road.

The road surface isn’t too kind to cyclists, even my MTB with its front suspension is a rough ride along the roads near my room. So on a road bike with little or no damping, it was even more uncomfortable, however, about ten minutes later I was on to better roads and heading out for the countryside.

To give the bike a proper test I needed to see how fast I could make her go on a familiar piece of road and see how hard a ride she was on a known hill climb. I took her out along one of my regular training rides. She certainly felt different to my Scottie, a smoother ride and more comfortable. I settled into my rhythm or cadence as the bikies call it. She felt okay and I was making reasonable speed.

I did a couple of miles along the main road and turned off up a side road which led to a moderate hill climb towards the Downs, if I was comfortable and had anything left in my legs, I might try a real climb.

I clicked down the gears as the hill drew closer, resisting the urge to rise out of the saddle à la Armstrong, although, my little unwanted appendage being tucked back was not entirely happy and I’d had to ease it forwards or risk making it much longer and rather flat! Not to mention making my eyes water in the process.

I tried to concentrate on my rhythm, using the gears to deal with the steepening incline and I felt the pull of gravity as my lungs and legs began to strain.

“Just look at the road in front of you, keep going,” I said to myself, checking every so often that there were no obstructions with a cursory glance. I’d been taught that you don’t look to see how much further you have to go on a hill unless it’s the end of a race and that’s different. It can be dispiriting if you’re not a strong rider, to feel knackered and discover you still have most of it to do, so you concentrate on other things—such as your rhythm.

I remembered the one occasion I’d done this hill with no effort at all. I met a woman tri rider, that’s a triathlete, you know those mad men and women who swim, cycle and run to demonstrate how crazy they are. Anyway, we met on the approach to the hill and got chatting about bikes and rides, it was so interesting we got to the top without me realising it. I haven’t seen her since, she thought I was another girl too. “Charlie?” she asked raising her eyebrows, “Oh of course, Charlotte, right?” I just nodded. She seemed happy with that.

I was at the top of the hill again; thinking about Annie, I think she said her name was, had successfully distracted me and my legs did their bit by themselves. It’s amazing that it works like that: don’t think about it unless you have to and your body gets on with things. I wish I could do the same with my hands and the keyboard for my dissertation.

I rode along the lower ridge for a while, a relatively flat stretch and got my breath back; the sun was nice though the shadows were lengthening. Suddenly in front of me was someone fiddling with a bike.

I slowed down, it was Annie. “Hiya, I was just thinking about the time I rode up here with you.”

She looked me up and down without any hint of recognition, “Did we?”

“Yeah I was riding a Scott,” I smiled, “It is Annie, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I remember the Scott, oh yeah and the Millar outfit, yeah I remember now.”

“Trouble?” I asked and felt a bit stupid, a bit like asking if someone is ‘all right’ after they’ve been hurt.

“Sodding puncture, and I can’t get the sodding tyre off the rim. Useless plastic levers.”

I dismounted and took off my helmet, “Can I have a try?”

“Help yourself,” she said handing me the wheel.

I pulled the small toolkit I always carried, and unrolled it on the roadside. Getting tyres off is second nature to me, and I had one of the special tyre levers that locks on to the hub and whizzes around the rim in seconds. You can get them in plastic—I had a metal one, much better.

In less than a minute, I had the tyre off and was feeling for any sharp thing on the inner side. “There’s your problem,” I said producing a thorn.

“Well I’ll be damned,” she said, “how did you do that so quickly?”

“Lots of practice, my dad used to make me fix my own from when I was about ten years old. He also gave me this,” I showed her the magic tyre lever.

While she examined it, I fixed the puncture and refitted the tyre. It didn’t do much for my manicure but that’s life.

“So what’s with the titanium?”

“The Scott had a bit of an accident: demon driver, bang crash wallop! Bike shop loaned me this.”

“Wow, you were lucky.”

“Yeah, I guess.” I shrugged my shoulders then repacked my kit.

“Wanna do the top climb?” asked the now undistressed damsel.

“Yeah, why not,” I said.

“I’ll buy you a drink at the top,” she offered.

“Where?” I wondered, there was nothing up there last time I got there mind you, my lungs had probably sucked my brain and eyeballs into my chest, it is one awful climb.

“Should be an ice cream/burger van up there on a Sunday, at the view point.”

“Is there? haven’t noticed.” My observational skills were once again registering nil points, like the British entry in the Eurovision song contest.

This time instead of talking about bikes, we chatted about life and things like boys. Turned out Annie was a nurse, so I kept things a bit quiet about the other nurse of my acquaintance. She told me about her latest, a lad called Tim, a houseman just started on her ward. She was trying to get him to cycle with her, but so far without success.

“What about you, any boys in the offing?” she asked me.

“Had a one off with some bloke called Simon, I think.”

“Not ‘simple’ Simon, he’s the brother of a colleague of mine, bit of a plonker, nice but dim, if you know what I mean. No sensible girl ever goes out twice with him. Stella teases him something rotten.”

If I hadn’t been so hot and bothered with the climb, I’d have been blushing.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 48 (geez that’s four dozen!)

More cycling up hills (get fit by reading!) and a surprise phone call.
Read on and see what it all means.

Despite the distraction provided by Annie and her chatter, my lungs and legs were struggling. I wasn’t quite seeing a red haze, but I knew that I couldn’t go much farther. She however, looked much less distressed and relatively fresh. According to the dissenters, biological males have an advantage over females in sports because they have larger lungs and hearts. I didn’t feel very advantaged, males usually have bigger bodies which is why they have bigger hearts et cetera. My body was the same size as Stella’s, well near enough—we were the same dress size.

Maybe Annie was just fitter than I was; I suspect she was lighter and if she turned sideways, you could hardly see her. So maybe this was all about weight? Nah, muscle is heavier than fat, but it also pushes pedals which as far as I know fat doesn’t do. I did have one advantage, I had bigger tits than her, so if we’d been running I could have ‘breasted the tape’ from further out than her, except she’d be half a mile ahead of me.

I managed a smile as these silly thoughts went through my head, and amazingly we were at the top of the hill and there was the van purveying cat food burgers and powdered ice cream. My legs were all twitchy and jellified, so much so that I could hardly get my foot off the pedal. I nearly ran into the van with the combination of this pedal problem and pulling on the brakes. I stopped inches away.

“You’re keen aren’t you?” joked Annie, who had dismounted and was walking across the car park pushing her bike. I looked at her bike, it was a Specialized, I nearly bought one myself except I got a better offer for the Scott. It was prettier than Scottie, but I can’t afford another bike.

“What do you want to drink?” called Annie standing in front of the van’s serving hatch.

“What have they got?” I replied, having managed to get one foot free I was still struggling with the other while standing on one leg. I felt very foolish.

She called out a list of drinks ranging from fizzy ones to plain water. I opted for Ribena, a blackcurrant drink, and a favourite from childhood. We sat and drank, although the way I was sweating, it felt as if the drink was running straight out of me.

The view over Portsmouth and the English Channel beyond was lovely, the sun was beginning to sink in the west and the way it lit things up was incredible. “It’s worth all that effort just for the view, isn’t it?” asked Annie.

“Definitely,” I said when I had enough breath back to speak.

“Ever thought about doing triathlons?”

“Who me?” I squeaked, “You are joking I hope?”

“Why, the other disciplines help with building strength and improve your fitness, which ultimately improves your cycling.”

“If I start doing that, Nicole Cooke will retire immediately.” I managed to say this with a straight face.

“She doesn’t do triathlons.” Annie looked puzzled.

“No but if I get better, she may lose her number one spot.”

“Oh, oh yes, very funny.” She laughed and I wondered why I bothered.

“So do you race?” she asked me after a few moments pause.

“What for, I know how bad I am, I don’t need to confirm it officially?”

“Well you managed one of the steepest hills in the area?”

“Yeah, at about 3mph. I saw some shirts on a US website with the logo ‘Hill Slug,’ I would have bought one except they were expensive.”

“Charlotte Hill-Slug, with a hyphen, sounds terribly posh,” she said and roared with laughter. I had a chuckle too.

“Come on then, better get going before the light fades.” So saying, Annie stood up and grabbed her bike. I stood up on wobbly legs and with difficulty picked up my bike. “Some aerobics or yoga would help with your stiffness,” she suggested almost leaping onto her bike. I thought a hot bath would be far more enjoyable.

It isn’t a straight descent, the road zigzags in places before it reaches the lower ridge and goes level for a while. Annie knew the road better than I did and set off at a pace. I remember once reading somewhere that pedalling while going downhill was a boy thing, girls tend to free-wheel. I hate to question the authenticity of that statement because Annie was pedalling like a demon and I was free-wheeling and I was still going too fast for comfort.

If I say that I was going fast enough for the broken white lines down the middle of the road to become a blur, I think you might get an appreciation of how fast I was going and Annie was going faster still. She began to brake going into the first bend, I heard the squeak of her brakes. I reached forward to pull my brakes and the gap was too large, I couldn’t get enough pressure. I was still accelerating.

On the first bend, I flew past Annie and only just made it around the corner, a car coming the other way blew his horn at me and swore, I don’t know why, I was at least three inches from him.

However, it was the car going down the hill that beeped the loudest, when I overtook him, I was doing over fifty miles an hour at this point and my heart was pounding—with fear. I could reach the brake levers but not pull them hard enough to have much effect. If only I had adjusted them earlier.

My guardian angel must have been on duty, because I stayed on the bike and managed to avoid anything else on the road. On the level stretch it slowed down enough for me to eventually stop it. I almost fell off as I disentangled my feet from the pedals and dismounted. I felt quite ill.

Annie arrived some short time later, “Wow Charlie, that was some ride!”

“I couldn’t reach the fucking brakes!” I said and sat down trembling.

“What, I thought that was deliberate, you showing me how to ride down hills.”

“I have never been so frightened in my life,” I said, clutching my knees to stop them shaking. It wasn’t necessarily true, Stella’s driving possibly had the edge in the fear stakes.

“Can’t you adjust them?”

“I’m going to when I can stop my hands shaking.” I also began to wish I hadn’t had more to drink, or my bladder did.

We talked in a stilted way for ten or so minutes and I felt less shaky. I played with the adjustments on the brakes and they now worked. The rest of the ride home would be hopefully less scary.

We stopped at a lay-by with toilets, back on the main road, taking it in turns to use the ladies’ loo, the other watching the bikes. ‘Relieved’ didn’t quite adequately describe the feeling I had.

We parted soon after, and I went home my legs still a bit shaky. This became noticeable as I climbed back up the stairs to my room, dreading the idea of confronting the two clowns who shared my floor. Thankfully, it didn’t happen.

I nodded off after my shower and jumped when the phone rang. “Hello?” I said with that vagueness you have when newly awakened.

“Is that you Charlie?”

“Dad, I have nothing more to say to you.”

“Don’t hang up, son.” He was pleading with me.

“My name isn’t Charlie anymore and I’m not your son, I’m your daughter.”

“What is your name now then, Charlotte I suppose?”

“No it isn’t.” I paused, wondering if it was a good idea to tell him in case he wanted to cause trouble, but he knew where I lived and it could backfire on him anyway. Publicity would reflect on him and he wouldn’t like that, nor would his churchy mates.

“So are you going to tell me?”

“Do you really want to know?” I asked almost a hint of sarcasm in my tone.

“Yes, you’re still my so… child.” He spluttered his way out of his error.

“It’s Catherine,” I answered hesitantly, for some reason I wasn’t entirely happy that he knew this, as if it gave him some power over me.

“Pretty name, suits you.”

I almost fell off my perch! What did he say? Geez, the lying bastard!

“What do you want Dad, I’m trying to write my dissertation?” I could lie as well as him, I’d been practising.

“I wanted to apologise Char… Cathy.”

“I don’t know if I believe you.” Part of me wanted to cry and part of me felt as hard as flint.

“Can we get together and talk things over, at least give me a chance.”

“Father, the last time we spoke you beat the shit out of me. You want me to give you the chance to do that again?”

“I’m sorry, I was angry.”

“You were angry, is that some sort of excuse? You nearly fucking killed me!”

“There is no need to swear at me.”

“Dad, you just don’t get it, do you? You can do whatever you want, however psychopathic, and that’s okay. I swear because I am upset with you, and you take umbrage. What’s the point of us meeting, we have nothing in common?”

Then he played his trump card, he began to cry on the phone and I cried too. I wanted to kill the bastard and yet I also couldn’t bear to see him in pain. Jesus fucking Christ, I felt so screwed!

“Cathy, you are all I have in the world now your mother’s gone. I need you,” he sobbed, “I need you, please don’t abandon me.”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 49

I switched off my phone; I was so upset I just sobbed to myself for maybe half an hour. I didn’t know with whom to discuss this. Several names went through my mind, including Stella and the professor. I suppose the advice of Dr Thomas would be the most valuable, but she wouldn’t be available until tomorrow. If men are able to compartmentalise their thinking, I certainly didn’t make the grade because I couldn’t switch off.

I kept wondering if I’d done the right thing, but he sounded so pathetic and I couldn’t stand to think of this once proud man reduced to such levels. He was still my father and I know my mother would have wanted me to try to keep some sort of relationship with him. I felt guilty about that too, that I hadn’t really said goodbye to her.

Lots of silly things ran through my mind, maybe I should try and find a medium and see if I could talk to her, but I didn’t really believe in all that stuff. Would she forgive me for being what I am, a disappointment to both of them? I felt so down, so helpless and worthless, a sobbing piece of rubbish.

Reluctantly I went to bed, covering the pillow with a towel in case my tears made it too wet. I knew I wouldn’t sleep, and I didn’t for some hours, but I was resting and horizontal.

I lay there thinking about the brief meeting at the hospital, did he recognise me, of course he did. After all it wasn’t that long since he had seen me, and a bit of makeup and haircut wouldn’t hide my main facial features. I felt sad again and cried some more, I would never see my mother again and that hurt. Thinking about it was like scratching a wound to make it bleed, but somehow the pain felt real, more real than anything else in my life at that moment. I was tempted to cut myself to make the pain physical rather mental, because it might be easier to bear.

The idea of watching my own blood run from my arm or leg seemed to capture me for some little while. I visualised cutting myself with something very sharp, like a razor blade or a scalpel—I had one somewhere. The blood oozed down my arm but it wasn’t fast enough and I cut longer and deeper. It still wasn’t fast enough so I nicked a vein. Now it started to flow, I cut it some more and now it was really flowing. I ran the scalpel up the blood vessel and blood was now pouring everywhere, there was little pain but I felt my life force pooling out on the bathroom floor. I felt a bit light-headed and sat down, blood still running everywhere including all over me.

I was becoming covered in my own blood, it was warm and sticky and I was dying, even in my befuddled shocked brain, I knew what was happening and I didn’t care. It was a release and soon I’d be free as my life force ran away soaking into the carpet and my clothes.

In my stupor I saw my mother standing before me, she was not best pleased. “Just look at this mess Catherine, who is going to clean it up?”

I smiled back, because I was too weak to talk. I felt embarrassed but it wouldn’t be for long.

“What do you think you are doing to yourself? What about all your plans, your ambitions, your romance with that young man? If you die now, how are you going to realise all these things and what is Professor Agnew going to think about you?”

I was dying but her words hit me like red hot sparks and I felt the pain. Yet I was too weak to reply to defend myself. How could she say these things to me, she was my mother and I loved her? How could she hurt me like this?

“Who is going to look after Derek (my father) if you die? Don’t you know it’s a daughter’s duty to look after her father if her mother isn’t there? So Catherine, are you going to disappoint me as a daughter like you did as a son?”

I struggled to stay conscious to listen to what she was saying, desperately fighting to answer her back, to say what I felt and to defend myself. Why should I care for my father, he didn’t care for me? My mouth remained paralysed and I sat there slumped in my chair as the blood flow eased a little, presumably because there wasn’t too much left to leak out of me.

“You know your father and I love you even though you seem to think otherwise? He tried to control himself but you made him so angry, he so badly wanted a son to carry on his name so when he discovered he had a daughter he was angry. He’s angry with himself you know for not controlling his feelings, and we as women should forgive him. Men aren’t as strong as women, they give into their feelings much more easily than we do. But then it’s not going to bother you for much longer is it, because you’re coming to join me IN HELL!”

Suddenly her face changed into that of a skull, the hair and skin peeling off and two monstrous creatures dragged her away, I could hear her screams and their maniacal laughter. It was horrible.

Then I looked up and two of the monsters were coming towards me, they reached out towards me and with one last effort I screamed and flailed away from them. I fell on the bedroom floor and the radio alarm clock hit me on the shoulder as it fell off the bedside cabinet. I was sticky with sweat and my heart was beating like mad.

It took me a few moments to realise I’d had a nightmare, a really nasty one, so I must have fallen asleep. Picking myself up off the floor and returning the radio to its place, I went out on shaky legs to make a cup of tea, boy did I need it.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 50 (Crikey that’s halfway to 100—

Don’t even go there!).

by Angharad & D. Du Maurier

‘Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.’
Nah, wrong dream, wrong story… read on.

It is very difficult to drink a cup of tea when you are shaking, and I was shaking, big time. I began to understand how someone with Parkinson’s must feel and of course the more I tried to stop it, the worse it got.

Trying to understand what I had seen in my dream was beyond me, so I tried to take enough notes to show it to Dr Thomas; writing was no easier than drinking with my tremor. Once the tea cooled a little I felt happier risking pouring it all over myself. Instead, I seemed to calm down a bit and drank it without difficulty. I then managed to make the notes on the dream.

I could not believe that I allowed my mother to be dragged off by demons to hell, although I was paralysed by my suicide attempt, or so it seemed. I couldn’t believe that either. Okay, I’ve had thoughts, who hasn’t? Especially so after my father beat me so badly, I felt really worthless and emasculated by it. However, the pills didn’t work and after some help from Dr Thomas, I decided to fight back by exploring my female side.

It seemed that my suicide attempt in real life was the end of my being a man and from then on, I was reborn to become a woman. Well that’s what I tell myself and it makes sense to me. Stella seemed to have been the catalyst and here I am, living my fantasy.

Then life intervened and my mother dies and I am at a loss as to what to do about it. At least I went and saw her just before she died. Maybe she was waiting for me, I don’t know. I’ve heard stories about dying people hanging on to see a favourite relative or friend, and then croaking.

So what about the hell bit? Was that me seeing her religious beliefs as keeping her suppressed, in a sort of hell of her own making? It’ll do for now, but why was I killing myself? Was that axiomatic of the difficulty I’ve had accepting myself especially through my parent’s eyes?

It was three in the morning and no place for deep psycho-philosophical self examination. I went back to bed after a wee, and it took me a while to sleep again. I dreamt again, this time I was with my father. I was his little girl and he was walking with me holding his hand, I was about seven or eight I suppose, and I felt totally in love with my daddy, he was so big and strong compared to little girl me.

We walked through a park and sat on a bench for a little rest; I sat on my daddy’s lap and felt something hard under my bottom. I thought it was his hand but he had both of those around me. He was holding me very tightly and it began to frighten me, he was breathing very rapidly and making funny groaning noises. I began to cry and he got very cross with me, calling me, “A girly cry-baby.”

I suddenly realised that I had turned from a girl into a boy and was still crying as he called me names, then he was offering to buy me an ice cream if I didn’t say anything to my mother. He also told me that if I said anything, he’d give me something to cry about. I got the ice cream.

I awoke in a sweat, the images were so real, as if I were recalling them from life. I sat up in bed trying to remember, but all I could recall was my dad taking me for walks to the park, what we did there I can’t recall. The realisation of what I was thinking made me rush to the bathroom and I threw up, it was too horrible to contemplate. He was abusive in that he would beat me for little provocation until I got older, but the idea that he was sexually abusive—it seemed wrong. No it couldn’t be true. No I couldn’t accept that, it was my overactive imagination trying to justify my decisions and blame it on somebody else. There was no one to blame, I wanted to be female full stop. No one else was involved until Stella arrived on the scene, other than the professionals.

But part of me wanted to know, did my father do anything underhand or was he pure and simply a bully? I had to know for certain, I needed to know and for that I would have to meet up with him. But whether I could ask him, was another matter.

I wasn’t sure about seeing him at all, not without the agreement of Dr Thomas, but now I felt that I didn’t want to discuss it with her in case it was some form of false memory. If I could get to the truth, then I could discuss it with her.

I made some more tea, resolved I would call my father although I would set the parameters for the meeting. I knew where I would meet him, a small restaurant which had two entrances and I would ask someone to come and meet me there an hour after, whence I would leave whether or not we had concluded the meeting. I would definitely go as Cathy and I would spare no effort to look as female as possible, he would accept me as I am or I would reject him for good and all. Now who to ask? Stella or Prof Agnew seemed the best bets. I would think about it. I wouldn’t call him tomorrow anyway, let him stew for a day or two besides, I needed to get myself sorted out completely and my plans laid.

I decided that what I actually wanted from seeing him was to be seen as his equal, but as a woman equal. I wanted his respect, which was going to be a tough call and of course I wanted to ask about my dream.

I had no idea what he wanted from our meeting. Perhaps he was just lonely, if he wanted me to come back home, he was barking up the wrong tree. I had ambitions of my own and they didn’t feature looking after my father. No siree, I was a career girl! Yes, I liked that idea.

It was now nearly five and getting light. I pulled on my cycling kit and with my bike, keys and kit set off for an early morning ride, there is nothing to beat them. They clear your mind and invigorate your whole body.

The air was cool and I could just about see my breath as I set off towards that hill again, this time I knew I could ride it.

Comments are closed.