A Short Story
Sarah rested her elbows on the polished wood of the ship’s rail and stared across the rolling expanse of the Atlantic ocean. As a representative of a national tour company it was her job to experience first-hand potential new holiday packages before they were given the firm’s approval.
She had been looking forward to this particular trip as she had always enjoyed cruises, but her enjoyment was marred by her boss’s decision to accompany her.
Mark Collins was a pest in the office, where he constantly lived up to his nickname of ‘Mr Hands Everywhere’, but he had become even more of a nuisance since they boarded ship together, taking every opportunity to force his attentions upon her.
As though her thoughts had conjured him up, Sarah’s boss appeared by her side and she straightened as his hand grasped her buttock with a familiarity that she had not invited.
“Don’t touch me,” she ordered sharply, and firmly pushed the offending hand away. She had long since given up trying to put him off politely, but still her words bounced off his thick skin.
“Just being friendly, my dear, nothing to get upset about,” he responded with a patronising smile that Sarah would have dearly loved to slap off his face.
But he was her boss. Gritting her teeth in frustration she turned away and again stared out to sea. She wished fervently that there was some way she could retaliate without fear of losing her job, some way in which she could pay him back for his habitual mistreatment of her and the other women in the office.
On the horizon another ship was heading towards them, it’s running lights burning brightly in the evening twilight. She concentrated on its progress hoping that he would take the hint that his company was not welcome. As she watched, the distance between the two vessels narrowed, and she could see that they appeared to be on a collision course.
“That one has to give way,” he said, but the other ship showed no sign of diverting course or even slowing.
It was not until it was close enough for Sarah to make out the face of the men on the bridge that the deep throaty sound of their own ship’s siren rent the air. Simultaneously she heard the sound of the engines change as the liner, recognising the danger, tried to take evasive action.
Slowly, the ship began to turn, but the manoeuvre cam too late and Sarah was thrown to the hard deck as the two ships collided. Immediately it was apparent that serious damage had been inflicted on their ship. As the sirens continued to sound Sarah headed quickly for the nearest rendezvous point.
“Sarah! Sarah!” She heard a voice calling her name and turned to see her boss running towards her, panic evident on his face. “We’re sinking,” he said when he reached her. “They’re calling for everyone to go to the lifeboat stations!”
“Well, let’s go then,” she answered patiently.
“They’re calling for women and children first,” he told her, “I don’t want to be left here!”
Sarah started to reassure him that although the ship was obviously damaged it seemed in no immediate danger of going under, and there would be plenty of time to get everyone off, but she stopped herself. An idea was quickly taking shape in her mind…
“Come with me,” she told him, and at the same time grabbing his arm to make sure he followed.
Mark went willingly. He had no wish to stay on a sinking ship and if she could think of some way to smuggle him off then he was happy to let her lead him back inside the ship. In less than a minute they were back inside Sarah’s cabin.
“Get undressed,” she ordered and opened some drawers to take out a selection of clothes. “If it’s women and children first then you will have to be a woman.”
She turned to face him and dropped the clothes she had chosen on the bed. Mark hadn’t moved.
“Do you want to stay here and drown?” she asked pleasantly.
Mark hesitated for a moment longer before his fear overcame his embarrassment. Quickly he stripped off his clothes until he stood in just his underwear, but Sarah refused to let him keep any dignity at all.
“The ship is sinking…” she reminded him.
Heat suffused his face as Mark removed the last garment and stood naked before her.
“Put this on,” she instructed and handed him a lacy bra. His fingers fumbled with the catch at the back, then he padded out the cups with tissues. Next he stepped into the panties she had picked out for him and folowed these with a pair of thick woolly tights.
“We don’t have time to shave your legs,” she explained, “but those cover them well enough.”
Mark put on the skirt she offered him without replying. It fitted well. Hugging his hips and buttocks closely, the hem stopped several inches above his knees. A satin blouse completed his outfit.
“A scarf should be enough to hide your hair, then we can go,” Sarah decided, But as she spoke the ship’s sirens stopped and a calm voice announced that the crew had been able to contain the damage caused by the collision, and that the ship would be able to make the nearest port unaided.
“Thank God for that!” Mark said grinning, happy now that the danger was over. He began to undo the buttons of his blouse.
“Not so fast,” Sarah told him. Before he could guess her intentshe had scooped up his clothes and thrown them through the open window of her cabin into the sea below.
“What…” he began angrily, but Sarah interrupted him.
“Suppose I call the captain,” she suggested. “What do you think he would do seeing you like that? Have you arrested perhaps, or at the very least tell the press. I bet you’d lose your job.”
“Blackmail!” Mark said in disgust. “How much do you want?”
“You can’t buy your way out of this,” Sarah answered. “The only way you are going to keep this a secret is to stay as a woman until we get to port.”
Mark stared at her in disbelief. “You’re crazy if you think I’m going to stay like this!” he said angrily.
“Your choice,” Sarah told him with saccharine sweetness. “You were willing to act as a woman to get off this ship, but if you would rather that everyone knew that…”
She left the rest of the sentence unsaid and reached for the phone by the bed, but Mark stopped her before she could pick it up.
“Okay,” he agreed.
Sarah grinned in triumph, then hunted for the camera she always took with her on foreign trips. “I can’t have you denying everything aftwerwards,” she explained as she made him pose for her. She finished the film and took it from the camera, telling him that she would put it in the ship’s safe once the purser’s office opened again.
“In the meantime, let’s see if we can make you more convincing.”
Mark’s whole body was stiff with resentment as he sat on the small stool by her dressing table. He would have his revenge for this, he thought grimly. Then he realised uncomfortably that revenge was exactly why he was in this predicament.
He gave a small sigh in resignation and watched in the mirror as she first shaped and styled his hair into a more feminine style, then began to apply make-up. With each step he was transformed a little more until he she finally stood back and let him see his new look. A pretty young woman looked out of the mirror at him and Mark swallowed hard, realising that it was his own reflection.
“What do you think?” Sarah asked.
“I don’t know,” Mark admitted. He was surprised that it had taken so little to transform him into a convincing woman, but at the same time he was relieved that he appeared female rather than a man dressed in drag. At least he would be spared that humiliation.
“No one need find out unless I decide to tell them,” Sarah said, and Mark knew that he was being reminded that he was effectively in her power. He watched, feeling self conscious and vulnerable in his new attire as she hunted in the wardrobe for shoes. “These should do,” she told him and held up a pair of plain black court shoes.
Mark eyed the 3 inch heels dubiously, but Sarah would tolerate no objections. “You can hardly tour the ship in stocking soles,” she said.
Mark thought briefly that he would be happy to remain in the cabin until they were safely back on dry land, but he was quickly learning that he was in no position to argue. With a heavy sigh that brought a smug grin to Sarah’s lips he put on the shoes. At least a full size too small for him, they crushed his toes as he stood in them, but after he was told to walk across the cabin several times he found that he could manage it with reasonable confidence.
“Right, let’s go and see what’s happening,” Sarah suggested and led the way out of the cabin.
Mark followed nervously, expecting at any moment to be denounced as a fraud, but all the passengers they met were too busy celebrating the fact that they were now safe to notice anything unusual in the two ‘women’.
Their first stop was at the purser’s office where they joined the crowd of people all trying to find out what was happening. The purser’s own reliefe was obvious as he informed them that the ship was really in no immediate danger, but that it would take several days before they reached shore.
Sarah left her film with him, as she had threatened, then took Mark to the restaurant where food was once again being served.
“Take smaller bites,” she told him as he bit into a sandwich. “Women don’t bolt down their food like animals.”
Mark glared at her, resentful of the criticism, but he did not want to draw unnecessary attention to himself so he continued to eat in what he hoped was a more feminine manner.
“You’ll have to take care with all your mannerisms,” she told him. “They are more likely to give you away than your appearance.”
As he had seen for himself in the mirror that he did indeed make a convincing girl, Mark didn’t doubt her. And, as the last thing he wanted was to be found out, he resolved to study Sarah and learn how to behave.
After they’d finished their snack, Sarah led the way back to her cabin. “You’ll stay here tonight,” Sarah told him. Then, seeing the expression of sexual interest flit across his face, coldly added: “As a woman.”
The Mark of the previous day would have assumed she was simply being a tease and would have tried to force what he saw as a golden opportunity, but it was proving difficult for him to assert his masculinity while wearing a skirt. That simple item of clothing made him feel vulnerable and unsure.
In any case, Sarah still held the upper hand and he was quite sure that, if necessary, she would circulate the photos.
She handed him a nighty and told him to put it on. Mark stripped off his clothes and pulled the flimsy garment over his head. The silky material slid sensuously over his body bringing goosebumps out on his skin. He shivered, then quickly got into the single bed hoping that Sarah hadn’t noticed his peculiar reaction to the garment.
From her grin, however, it was apparent that she had. “Like the feel of it, do you?” she taunted, then laughed aloud as he turned his back to her, hiding his flushing cheeks.
He heard her undress and climb into bed beside him. It was a situation that he would have given a month’s pay to be in only the previous day, but now he carefully kept to his side of the bed and wished for sleep, praying that when he awoke he would discover that it had all been a dream.
But the following morning when he opened his eyes and stretched, he was still wearing the nightdress and Sarah was standing beside the bed, watching him.
“You had better go and shave,” she said, obviously determined to carry out her revenge. “And do your legs and underarms while you’re about it.”
Reluctantly Mark padded barefoot to the small but well-equipped bathroom and did as she demanded. When he returned he was dressed once again in the nightie – it was either that or nothing – but now he noticed the material seemed to brush even more softly against his smooth skin.
Sarah had left out some clothes for him, and supervised while he dressed. Then she sat him down on the edge of the bed and began to apply make-up. Fortunately he didn’t have heavy beard growth, and so didn’t require too much foundation. A little eyeliner, some mascara to accentuate his naturally long eyelashes, some lipstick, and he was ready.
A final touch to his hair, then Sarah was satisfied that he looked his best and they both went to the restaurant for breakfast. As the ship was big with a large complement of passangers there was no problem with a new female face suddenly appearing, and
Mark was able to relax as he found himself treated as any other passenger. Better, if he were honest. The steward serving coffe had practicalli ignored him so far on the cruise but as he filled Mark’s cup he gave a cheery smile.
He found the same reaction from other crew members and from passengers too, until he was prompted to comment on the fact to Sarah.
It’s hardly surprising,” she replied drily, “As a man you were so unbearable that no one would want to spend any time with you. But now you feel more vulnerable than arrogant and it makes you much more approachable.”
Mark began to argue that she was overstating the case, then stopped as he acknowledged that everyone really did seem to be treating him differently. Confident by this stage that he was totally convincing as a woman, he made a determined effort to experiment with his new identity and make friends.
“Enjoying yourself?” Sarah asked as they returned to her cabin that evening.
Her question washed over him like a cold shower, reminding him of the reality of the situation he was in, but he still gave her an honest answer.
“I feel like I’ve been playing at being someone else for a day,” he told her, “and yes, I did enjoy it to a certain extent.”
Sarah looked at him, a shrewd analytical expression on her face. “perhaps it wasn’t someone else,” she said slowly. “Perhaps it was just the more feminine side of your personality expressing itself for the first time.”
Mark didn’t answer. He could hardly agree with her and admit that not only had he discovered that he did have a strong feminine side, but that it was proving infinitely more appealing than his usual male persona. What would life have been like if he had been born a woman, he wondered, as he curled up beneath the blankets and waited for sleep to come over him.
The next morning Mark showered and dressed once more in the clothes Sarah picked out for him. As the sun was shining through the cabin window she decided it would be warm enough for him to wear a summer dress. The one she chose was of a pretty floral pattern. Cut low at the neck, the bodice hugged him closely down to where the full skirt flared out over his hips. The slightest movement caused the soft material to swirl in a teasing caress around his thighs.
“How does it feel?” Sarah asked. Had her tone been taunting Mark might have been able to erect enough defences to deny the pleasurable sensations that were coursing through his body. But her friendly interest lacked malice and he was provoked to reply honestly.
Mark blushed. “It feels nice,” he said in a quiet voice that totally lacked any of its usual brusqueness, “very comfortable.”
“Skirts are much more practical than trousers in warm weather,” she said and told him to sit while she applied his make-up. Soon he was transformed once more into an attractive woman and he felt confident enough to meet the other passengers again.
As on the previous day, he chatted happily with the passengers and crew that he met. One of the stewards in particular seemed to find him attractive and made every excuse to come to their table during the evening meal. “You were flirting with him!” Sarah accused later when they were alone.
Mark opened his lipstick-coated mouth to deny her words but found that he didn’t want to jeopardise their developing friendship by lying. “So waht if I was?” he replied defiantly. “I was just experimenting with my new-found feminine charms.”
“Totally natural,” Sarah assured him, tactfully not reminding him that he was, in fact, still really a man. Mark was silent for several moments. “We’re friends, aren’t we?” he said suddenly.
Unbelievable as it may seem, we are. Although I don’t expect it to last once ‘Mr Hands Everywhere’ returns.” The warning was lightly spoken but nonetheless real.
“Was I really such a bastard?” he asked.
“One of the most unpleasant men I have ever had the misfortune to meet,” she confirmed, and Mark winced at the harsh words. He hesitated before speaking again, knowing that what he was about to say could change his life forever.
“What if…” he began, then nervously chewed his lower lip before continuing. “What if I was to stay like this for a while longer? I mean what if I did not go back to work immediately we got back?”
Sarah raised an inquiring eyebrow. “Are you saying that you want to continue to live as a woman once we get off this ship?”
Mark met her stare. He had already said and admitted too much for things to ever be they way they once were. And he was enjoying the way in which people now treated him. As a man he knew that he would never change, he had caused so much ill-will that he would never be allowed to. But as a woman it was like he had been given a second chance.
His answer was clear and with no hint of hesitation.
“Yes,” he said.