We Girls – Chapter One
“Peter! The postman’s brought you a new dress,” Kate called out from the foot of the stairs. That she spoke Swiss German was no longer a problem. Peter had quickly picked up the local dialect in the six months since he arrived in Luzern. That she drew attention so openly to his dressing as a girl was more of a problem. Not because it was a secret. It wasn’t. But having it blared for all to hear embarrassed him.
The girls, who had free run of the house with the owners Lydia and Klaus out, peered over bannisters and out of doors as if prompted by Kate’s call, laughing and calling out, watching him hurrying down the stairs two at a time. Some smart Alec whistled the tune of Oh, She’s a Pretty Girl and the other members of the Lost Girl’s choir took it as a cue and broke into song, the stairwell resonating with their voices amid giggles and wolf whistles.
“Thanks,” Peter said, pulling a face as he took the parcel from Kate. Brown paper, trussed up with string, stamped with her Majesty’s crest and a label listing the contents in English, it was surely from England. “Did you put them up to that?”
Kate’s expression was all innocence as she took him by the arm and ushered him into the study, closing the door on the final bars of the song.
Peter was upset. The all-girls choir didn’t usually single him out as different or apart. He lived amongst them as a girl amongst girls. At least, that’s how he saw it. By singing about him as a girl, were they celebrating him? Or had they been mocking?
“I’m sorry,” Kate said, contrite as they unpacked the dress. “It’s your birthday. I thought you’d enjoy being serenaded as a pretty girl.”
“I do. I’m flattered.” He made a show of curtsying. “But I can’t rid myself of a nagging suspicion I’m being made fun of.”
With the dress was a card and a photo of him in the dress. Fi had her arm slung around his shoulder and was kissing his cheek. She was flushed with excitement while he was just as flushed, but with embarrassment. He remembered the occasion well. It was the first time his new parents had seen him decked out as a girl.
Turning over the card, he read: Found this photo in the pocket. Thought you’d like to have both as keepsakes. Hope we see you soon. Happy birthday. Do write. Miss you.It was signed, Christina and John. His adoptive parents. Fi’s mum, Christina, had taken him in when his own mother and sister had threatened to kill him. Both had to be locked away in a mental institution.
Peter chose not to show Kate the photo or the card for fear they’d upset her. He laid them face down on the table. She must have recognised the dress though because she said, “Let’s see if it still fits.” She held it up in front of him as she returned to their earlier discussion, “The girls do accept you as you are, you know.”
He slipped out of his blouse and skirt and she helped him pull the dress over his head. It was pale green and flared out at the hem, reaching to just below his knees. “Maybe you should change your name,” she suggested. “Being called Peter does make a statement. As if you were holding back. What was that girl’s name you adopted in England?”
“Wendy.” Saying the name made him shy. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt vulnerable. The name also made him sad. Like the card and the dress, it reminded him of Fi with all her gay colours and her boyish airs. She’d encouraged him to be what she called a ‘pretty boy’. Poor Fi. He shuddered. She’d been killed by an angry youth, despite Peter and Kate’s desperate efforts to save her.
“Ah yes. Peter Pan and Wendy,” Kate continued. “And who am I? Tinker Bell, here to sprinkle fairy dust over you and turn you into a girl?”
Was that irritation? It would be understandable. He too would be irritated if he were taken for somebody else. “For me, you are Kate.” He wrapped his arms around her. “You’re my soulmate.”
She nuzzled his neck. “You remember the first time we met?” she said. “You’d travelled to my world and were in my head. You thought you’d become a girl.”
He remembered well enough. How could he forget that initial shock? “What about the time you wore this dress,” he replied. It had been one of Fi’s. She was always encouraging Peter to wear her clothes. “You were in my head and I let you take over my body for the evening.” He’d wanted to console her, miserable as she was at no longer having her own body.
“But now we are two separate people.” Stepping back, she held his shoulders and smiled. It made him want to kiss her. “Do you ever yearn to be a part of me or me of you?” she asked.
Her question took him by surprise. He did regret those long conversations when he was in her mind or she in his. He also regretted no longer being able to feel her body as if he were her. They hadn’t lost the ability to ‘travel to minds’ as they called it. They just didn’t do so any more now they were together. “I do miss not feeling how you feel. I have to rely on your words, your expressions to guess.”
She closed the distance between them and kissed him gently on the lips. “I love you, my girlie boy,” she whispered.
He would willingly have kissed her more but she drew back. “So should we baptise you Wendy?”
Why was he reticent? As she moved behind him to button up his dress, he said, “I think I’ve stumbled on something. But it’s not easy to explain. If I were to become a girl I would lose an extremely important part of myself.” He giggled, realising what he’d said. “No I don’t mean that.” He blushed. “Well, that too. Especially that”
“I like you as you are,” she said, running a brush through his shoulder-length hair.
He pressed on, needing to pursue the idea. “When I look at a girl, the girl’s in the choir for example, what strikes me is that being a girl comes natural to them. They don’t give it a second thought. If I were a girl there would be nothing special in dressing or acting as one. But for me there is something special about being a boy who dresses as a girl. I’m attracted to girls, I identify as a girl, I feel like a girl, especially when I’m dressed as one, it makes me feel more alive, but I am not prepared to go the whole road and become a girl. In a strange way, refusing to choose is an important part of who I am.”
“Are you sure you’re not just trying to get the best of both worlds?”
She was joking and he grinned to acknowledge it, but he considered the possibility all the same.
A loud hammering at the front door interrupted his train of thought. Normally Klaus or Lydia would go, but both were out. The insistance of whoever was knocking didn’t bode well. Peter instinctively wanted to hide, but he accompanied Kate to the door.
A man in a dark grey suit stood stiff on the doorstep flanked by two men wearing the uniform of the Luzern municipal police. The man peered over his spectacles at Kate and Peter, his look disdainful. “I am here to fetch a certain Peter McCloud,” he said in English.
“I’m sorry,” Kate said, her English hesitant. With Peter learning Swiss German she had little chance to practice. “I didn’t catch who you are.”
“I’m a bailiff sent from a court to accompany Peter McCloud back to England.”
“Excuse me if I don’t understand,” Kate said, sounding very formal and polite. “Why should the young man need to go to England?”
The man sighed, as if explaining was beneath his dignity. “The boy’s mother sought an injunction to nullify the adoption of her son. The judge ruled the adoption illegal and ordered the court to restore her son to her.”
Peter was seething. His birth mother was raving mad. Had she not threatened to kill him? The police had had to restrain her. She’d been locked away and as far as he knew she still was. If she got free, she would stop at nothing to prevent him parading as a girl. How come Christina and John had not warned him? Surely they would have said. No. These were not the doings of his mother. She would have sent an assassin, not a bailiff. This was the work of someone else, someone more lucid in their madness. He shuddered. He knew exactly who.
“The person you are looking for did live here,” Kate said, as quick thinking as ever. “But he no longer does. He left a few months ago.”
“That’s not what the authorities told me,” the man said turning for confirmation from those accompanying him. The men nodded. “They said he was still registered as a resident in this house.”
“Wendy, would you go and tell the others I will be with them in a moment,” Kate said. “I’ll accompany these gentlemen to the door. They’re leaving.”
Peter wanted nothing better than to flee, but he wouldn’t leave Kate alone with the brutes, even if she was a champion at unarmed combat.
“Now look here, Miss,” the man said, taking a step forward. “I have a warrant to search this house.” He waved an envelope in front of Kate’s nose. “So I suggest you cooperate, or we will have to use force.”
Kate snatched the envelope from his fingers, much to his surprise and annoyance. “Hey! That’s not for your eyes,” he exclaimed, trying to grab it back.
She dodged – easy enough for an expert in unarmed combat – and handed the envelope to Peter. Opening it, he scanned the contents. It was a letter from a judge authorising the man to fetch Peter McCloud. There was no mention of a search warrant. Peter handed it back to Kate, saying mind-to-mind, It says nothing of a search warrant.
Kate was visibly startled by his voice in her head, she’d got out of the habit, but quickly recovered and glanced at the letter as if reading it. “This is no search warrant,” she said in Swiss German, handing the letter to one of the two policemen for him to see. “Why don’t you come back when you have one,” she added in English.
Hearing quiet steps behind him, Peter glanced over his shoulder to see the whole choir massed, the Lost Girls looking none to friendly. The girls had been through tough times, so being menacing came easy.
The man glared at the girls, turned on his heals and headed for the door followed by the two policemen. Peter let out a sigh of relief, but he knew full well it was only a reprieve.
Read Chapter Two