Sugar & Spice

byAngelCherysse©

This is my most difficult story to date; difficult to write, difficult to read. The sex is intense; the violence, more so. Most men will not have the patience to sit through it; it takes too long to get to "the good parts". Most women will not have the stomach for it; in places, it hits too close to home. I don't know whom that might leave as an audience, but I felt it was a story worth telling. While this may be a work of fiction, its analogs – and the social dynamic that shapes and propels them – happen in this country every day.

God help us all.


**********

Like any nine-year-old, Sharon Brennan wanted a best friend, someone she could play with, confide in, and entrust with her deepest, darkest secrets. There were other girls at school, of course, and the assertive, engaging young girl made friends easily. But she never had the opportunity to spend time with them outside the classroom. The other girls all lived in Aurora; Sharon, along with her mother and brother had moved to a lavishly-appointed home outside the city limits, owned by her mother's friend and co-worker. That alone would not have been fatal, but Sharon had to take care of her younger brother every afternoon until her mother returned from work. That meant she usually had to hurry home on the bus – with her brother in tow – after school. Even if she wanted to stick around to be with her friends, what would she do with him? It just wasn't fair!

It wasn't that Sean was loathsome or hateful to her; far from it. He was only a year younger and really kinda cute. Sean had been a "preemie" who, physically, had not caught up with other boys his age. He was small, with a slender build and delicate, symmetric features. He had also inherited their mother's thick, satiny copper-colored hair and emerald eyes. Sharon envied him more than a little. Unlike Sharon, Sean was painfully shy and insecure, unable to make friends easily. He adored his big sister and would do anything she asked.

Sharon took advantage of that. By default, Sean became her playmate and companion – on her terms, of course. She chose how they would occupy their time together while awaiting their mother's return. When they played together, it was usually with her Barbie Doll. She had him help her dress and undress Barbie in different outfits according to the different scenes she had imagined. Sean seemed not to mind such girlish pursuits in the slightest. If it made Sharon happy, he was happy. To Sharon, it was almost like having the girlfriend she wanted. Still, he was a boy – unless....

Inspiration hit the mischievous girl. One day, upon returning home from school, Sharon told Sean they were going to play "Dress Up" in a new way. She took her brother's hand and led him to the bathroom. She filled the bathtub with warm water, to which she added some lilac-scented bubble bath. Stripping the school clothes from the expectant boy, she helped him into the tub and washed him head to toe, allowing him to soak a while. She helped him out of the tub, patted him dry, then applied lotion to his hands, arms, feet, legs, and torso. When she had finished this task, Sean's entire body was smooth, fragrant, soft to the touch.

Leading him next to their shared bedroom, she dressed him in a pair of her panties, dress, pantyhose, and shoes. After dressing him up, she sat him next to her at their mother's vanity table. She polished his fingernails with her mother's deep red nail polish, then his lips with the matching shade of lipstick. Sharon had tried it on herself and didn't like the way it looked, but her mother had described it as her favorite shade. She had remarked that it flattered her auburn hair and made her feel sexy. The young girl had to admit; it did flatter her mother – and looked just as good on her red-headed brother! She played with his longish tresses, brushing them this way and that until they looked just so, fixed it in place with hairspray, pinned a bow to one side to make him look even more feminine. A final spritz of her mother's favorite perfume, and voilá! She and her 'girlfriend' were ready to play.

They spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Sharon's Barbie doll. Sean was a little unsure of himself at first, but took readily to his sister's direction. By the end of the afternoon, Sharon had coaxed Sean into becoming the giggly, confident, and outgoing 'best friend' of her dreams! Sean, in turn, felt closer to the sister he adored than ever before.

Their mother returned home to observe, unnoticed, her two children engaged in their rapturous new mode of play. In a matter of moments, she ran through the gamut of emotions from shock to horror to bewilderment to curiosity to wonder. She presented herself to the playmates, assuaged their fear that she perceived this new game as "something naughty", and joined in their play. Before long, she allayed her own fears as well. She determined neither child was being hurt, physically or emotionally. This was something they both enjoyed, and in which she could perceive no harm being done to anyone. In addition, her little boy, as a little girl, possessed a sense of self-confidence, poise, and joie de vivre he had never displayed as a male. Searching her own emotions, Nora Brennan couldn't help but feel a twinge of bittersweet rapture. She knew Society would see this as wrong, an aberration. Her heart told her otherwise. For the first time in a long time, something seemed to be working out for the better....

Nora was a still-stunningly-beautiful redhead with a 'past'. She had left that life behind over a decade before; gone back to school, earned a nursing degree, gotten a good job at the clinic in Aurora, gotten married and had the two children that had become her life. Her past had caught up with her just before the birth of her second child. The moment had been ugly. Nora's husband walked out on her, claiming she had deceived him and that he wouldn't remain with a 'woman like that'. If she had deceived him, it was a sin of omission; she hadn't told him everything about herself for fear of losing him. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.... Whatever her sins, Nora Brennan was suddenly alone with one child already, another on the way, and an ex-husband who wanted nothing to do with her, much less provide financial support. She coped as best she could. When she was finally backed into a financial corner and faced with losing her home, she and her children had moved in with her best friend who, in turn, began pulling some strings to help her obtain child support. Even so, the stress had caused her to give birth six weeks early. She had almost lost the baby altogether – almost.

Nora had believed her second child was going to be another girl. She had even picked out a name she adored for Sharon's new sibling. Nora had not been disappointed when Sean was born. She loved her son just as much as she loved his sister. She was especially taken with his uncanny resemblance to herself. Yet her instincts told her something was not right, not the way it had been intended to be. As the years passed, she grieved for his obvious lack of self-confidence and inability to make friends - other than his sister. She would observe him wistfully, and wonder what might have been. She was also keenly aware of the burden she had, necessarily, placed on her daughter. Nora felt guilty about cutting Sharon off from other friends by having to take care of her brother. Seeing them together this way, happier than they had ever been before, she knew she had found an answer to both problems, if only until Sean was old enough to take care of himself. Perhaps, just perhaps, it was a way for Sean to find himself at last, to enable him to open up freely to others. No, that probably wasn't a practical notion. Still, Nora Brennan was elated with even this much.

From that moment on, Nora nurtured their game of "Dress Up" in any way she could. She had convinced Sharon that just dressing Sean up would not be enough; it would only confuse him further, possibly making the painfully shy, retiring boy even more so. While dressed, he should be a she as completely as possible – with a feminine identity and personality. The name Nora had originally chosen for her unborn second child – the one she had altered to reflect his unexpected gender - came back to her now. She suggested it to Sharon, who was just as thrilled as her mother.

Together, they sat down with the newly-feminized Sean. They suggested, since he was having such a good time playing "Dress Up", wouldn't it be fun to pretend to be a girl like his big sister? He could be 'Shauna' and wear all kinds of pretty clothes, just like Barbie. This would be their little secret; they wouldn't tell anyone outside of "family". Mama and Sharon would just adore that; wouldn't she? The child's reply had been as enthusiastic as it had been predictable.

Mother and daughter patiently, lovingly, trained 'Shauna' to dress, walk, speak, act, and think like a girl, until it became second nature to her. The older sibling especially took to the task. No plastic doll could ever hope to compete with her walking, talking, interactive 'Barbie'. Gradually, "Dress Up" became any time Shauna was not in school. The 'game' became pretending to be 'Sean' and fooling all their teachers and friends at school into believing she was a he. Nora allowed Shauna's hair to grow out and took her with Sharon and herself to have it trimmed and styled, reinforcing the child's perception of herself as a girl. Nora delighted in taking her two daughters out with her. This all made sense; it was as it should have been in the beginning. In a lifetime of bad choices and unintended consequences, this one thing was very, very right.

Nora was not alone in that perception. Evelyn Rossi, a magnificent blonde beauty, was entranced with the development of her new "goddaughter". Since before Sean/Shauna's birth, she had been an integral part of the Brennan "family". It had been Evelyn who had taken the struggling, expectant mother in when all other avenues had been closed to her. Her home had been their home as long as Sharon and Shauna could remember. The siblings enjoyed having two mothers to look up to. They both admired Evelyn's strong, self-assured personality and take-charge attitude.

The younger 'girl' was even more enamored with Evelyn's personal style of dressing and grooming. While she was the consummate professional at work, her personal style was flashier, more provocative, in a very "80's-retro" way. Whatever outfit Evelyn might wear on any given day, whether for business or pleasure, she always wore skyscraper-high-heeled shoes. She appeared to flow, rather than walk in her high heels, hips swaying alluringly. Shauna had been entranced with those stiletto stilts and the alluring woman's grace in them. The reactions of the men who beheld this vision on her 'pedestal' – and Evelyn's subsequent ability to manipulate them to get her way - were not lost upon the impressionable young girl, either. Shauna had seen photos of her own mother - in her "wild and crazy days" before she got married – dressed in the same provocative style. Evelyn had remarked it was what Shauna should expect from two girls who grew up on "the left coast of the Hudson."

Shauna had learned that her mother and Evelyn had been best friends long before their careers in Health Care, but did not know any details of that long-ago existence. Her other 'mom' kept long hours, frequently not coming home until late at night. When she was home, she still worked in the privacy of her study - usually with the door shut. Nora told them such was the life of a Manager; her friend was all but married to her job. For all of Evelyn and Nora's efforts, the four enjoyed a more-than-comfortable, if not lavish lifestyle.

And then Nora Brennan died. Her ex-husband, father of her children, had taken exception to her long-standing efforts to seize his assets and garnish his wages – then taken a semi-automatic pistol to the hospital where she worked. The devoted mother of two died in a storm of point-blank nine-millimeter malice, her beautiful face destroyed, her life force extinguished before her body hit the ground. Her attacker thudded to the floor next to her moments later, felled by a security guard's return fire. Blood, teeth, and gray matter gushed from the gaping exit wound in the back of his skull.

A local television news crew had been in the office next door, taping a human-interest piece on breast cancer survivors. The shocking 'scoop' had been uplinked to the station before the first police car screeched to a halt at the front door. One more human tragedy had played itself out: "Two dead in a shooting rampage at a local hospital. Exclusive film at eleven." Another tragedy had yet to be resolved. Although Sharon was in school that day, 'Sean' - in one of his rare non-school appearances - had accompanied his mother to the hospital for a routine vaccination. He had been sitting at his mother's elbow, reading Highlights For Children, when his father burst in and opened fire. Nora Brennan and her ex-husband had died in a fountain of blood and gore before the terrified child's eyes. The networks picked up the clip of a dazed nine-year-old with lifeless eyes, drenched in the mortal remains of his slaughtered parents. The image haunted the nation for days. There were the predictable calls for more stringent gun control, tighter security, anger management, grief counseling, more protection for the Lazy, Inept, and Privileged. Then, the media moved on to newer, fresher atrocities, as the media always does.

Evelyn Rossi was inconsolable. The two had been best friends since their childhood in New Jersey. Evelyn had also been an integral part of the 'past' Nora had withheld from her husband. In fact, that 'past' had been the reason they had both moved to Aurora those many years ago. To her horror, Evelyn realized she had been instrumental in her friend's assassination as well. A careless reference to their mutual past, intended as an insult to the disgusting slug's manhood, had been the 'loose thread' that eventually unraveled Nora's marriage.

It had been Evelyn who subsequently convinced her longtime friend to pursue the ex-husband through the courts, as much to ease her own guilty conscience as to punish his lack of one. Knowing men as well as she did, Evelyn believed she should have foreseen his reaction. She would have, had they still been on the East Coast. "Evie" Rossi would never have been that careless. In spite of her position of authority, she and Nora both had succumbed to the same small-town complacency as those who had lived there all their lives. That she would adopt and raise Nora's children as her own was little comfort for the loss of the one person with whom she had shared everything.

'Everything' included Nora's unqualified joy in Sean's feminization, and how 'her' personality had flowered so dramatically. All of that now seemed lost. 'Sean' had been devastated by the death of his mother. The trauma had somehow locked the child into that male persona; 'Shauna' refused every effort to bring her forward. The child had become more withdrawn, isolated than ever before – with two exceptions.

In time, Evelyn replaced Nora as a mother figure, exuding an aura of strength and confidence. The child bonded with his new protector and had drawn upon this strength, as well as the comforting presence of his big sister. He clung physically and emotionally to both as though they were the last two people on earth. The massacre had taken place in October. As Thanksgiving came and went, the child was still too terrified to leave the house, much less go to school. Often Sharon would return from school to find her brother cowering in a dark closet, shivering in terror in the fetal position under a pile of clothes. The two frantic family members struggled mightily to reach the child and heal his fractured soul.

One thing Evelyn could do was get Sean into therapy. She had a close friend who was perfect for the task. Claudia Rafferty was an M.D. and PhD in Psychiatry. Juvenile trauma had been the cornerstone of Claudia's practice, which now focused on the effects of juvenile trauma on adult identity disorders. Dr. Rafferty used a broad spectrum of medical and psychiatric tools, including hypnosis, to help men and women of all ages in recognizing and resolving their emotional conflicts. Upon learning of Sean's 'duality', the psychiatrist expressed keen interest in his case. That she would be able to return a favor to an old friend sealed the deal. Evelyn had no doubt Sean would benefit greatly from Claudia's care.

The problem was, Claudia Rafferty was in New York. A series of phone calls led to a workable plan. Owing to the tightly-knit bond between the three, Dr. Rafferty decided to approach Sean's case as a family problem, requiring a family solution. Evelyn, Sharon and Sean flew to New York for Christmas Break. They spent two weeks in the city and consulted with Dr. Rafferty every day. First came an exhaustive battery of lab tests. Sean surrendered samples of every conceivable bodily fluid and tissue. While the lab was analyzing the samples, Dr. Rafferty met first with all three together, then each individually.

Sharon recounted the origins of 'Shauna' and how much she had enjoyed dressing up her little brother and turning him into her 'girlfriend'. She added her memories of her mother's participation in the transformation and the delight all three had shared. Evelyn discussed the atrocity that had occurred at the hospital, Sean's proximity to the catastrophe (Claudia remembered well the poignant video clip that had so haunted the national conscience), and her fruitless attempts to salvage the child's withdrawn, morose personality since that day. She related her perception of 'Shauna' as a happy, sociable, well-adjusted little girl who had completely submerged since the shooting. Since that time, only a near-catatonic 'Sean' remained, functioning on a minimal level at best and not at all if Evelyn or Sharon were not nearby. She summarized with Nora Brennan's expressed desires for her child. Almost as an afterthought, Evelyn related Nora's uneasy suspicion that something about her youngest child was "not right", even before they had begun to dress him as her.

As before, Sean was minimally responsive. Claudia was able to elicit happy memories of his mother and sister dressing him up, of being 'Shauna' and loving every minute. When the doctor attempted to draw upon his recollections of that horrible day at the hospital, he shut down. The child expressed no memory of that day at all. The therapist believed him. She knew from past experience the human mind, especially a child's mind, was perfectly capable of, and likely to, repress that kind of trauma; lock it away deep in the subconscious. That way, the conscious mind could cope with living, if only on a diminished level. That process was a double-edged sword; the person could function, but would usually never heal until he faced the trauma head-on and worked through it.

The gifted therapist had dealt with this kind of human misery before and knew what she had to do. Beginning that same afternoon, Sean underwent a course of intensive hypnotherapy. Day after day, the doctor labored to retrieve his repressed memories and sort out the jumble of emotions locked up in the young boy-girl's head. Her findings were disturbing, but not in the least surprising.

Claudia Rafferty met privately with Evelyn and Sharon to review the results of Sean's therapy and tests. One recurring theme established itself above all else; Sean loathed being a boy. Nora Brennan's intuition had been confirmed by the lab results. Sean had been born with Klinefelter's Syndrome, a genetic disorder whereby the subject's genetic code contained an extra female chromosome. Many XXY males showed no unusual symptoms at all. Others displayed any combination of mild learning disabilities, female secondary sex characteristics at the onset of puberty and Gender Dysphoria as they matured.

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byAngelCherysse© 6 comments/ 82760 views/ 4 favorites

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