I was nearly ready for bed when the telephone rang. Hastily smoothing my night cream, I slipped into my negligee and sat on the side of my bed to take the call.
“Is that……?” a female voice asked, using the name I have long discarded.
“Yes”, I replied guardedly after a pause.
“I don’t suppose you will remember me. Elizabeth Price. We were at school together.”
Of course I remember her.
And all her friends. Denise, Maureen, Joyce, Beryl, Margaret, Hilary and the other girls in our mixed class at the local grammer school, more years ago than I care to enumerate. I could remember the desks at which we all sat, the boys on the right facing the teacher, the girls on the left.
Classes were not so large those days, only twenty five in our year. Some of the girls, now mature women with husbands and families, had got together and thought it would be fun to organise a class reunion.
Elizabeth and I chatted for hours on the phone, reminiscing about old times. She gave me the date and time of the reunion and exhorted me to come and to bring me any memorabilia of school life, especially old photographs if I had any. I stalled for time, said I wasn’t sure that I could make it, suggested that I ring her back in a day or two to tell her whether I could come.
Truth to tell I needed time to sort out the implications of taking part in this reunion.
Long after I had put down the phone, I sat on my bed manicuring my nails and thinking about those days long gone by. How I had envied the girls as I sat on my side of the classroom wishing with all my heart and soul that I could be on the left hand side of the classroom. How I would like to have joined in their huddled conversations from which the boys were excluded.
And secretly, I used to wonder what they would have thought if they had known that on occasions, after school when I had the house to myself, I would find my secret hoard and dress for a short time in my long stockings, navy blue knickers, school uniform skirt and blouse and girl’s hat worn provocatively on the back of my head. With a touch of Auntie’s lipstick and a blush of powder I would gaze at myself in the mirror and wish and wish and wish that I were one of them.
I even fell in love. Infatuation would be a better term. But I couldn’t show it as the girls did. He was the most handsome boy in the class. And when he started to take Margaret out and I saw them walking home together from school, or standing in close conversation on the playing fields, I was insanely jealous. I could have scratched Margaret’s eyes out.
There were times when I thought I would grow out of this obsession. But mostly I didn’t want to. And as the months and years rolled by the obsession became stronger and stronger.
After leaving school I went to college in a distant part of the country and lost touch with all my old classmates of both sexes. And it was at college that I was finally able to lead a more satisfying life than anything previously, when in my lodgings I found I could dress and live as I felt my true sexual identity to dictate.
So, back to the present…
Before putting out the light, I got up and surveyed myself in the long mirror. Slowly I removed my negligee and smoothed my long silk nightdress over my breasts and thighs.
No, I thought, this woman is an entirely different creature from the shy wistful youth who had so envied those girls their femininity. They would not recognise him after all these years and she might be an embarrassment to their spouses at this reunion.
Sadly I realised that I could not go to the ball, but like Cinderella would have to stay at home with my memories.