Cameron watched the clock carefully. Eleven-thirty. Just half an hour more and he could slip out of the office early. He had an appointment today. But not the doctor's appointment that his co-workers thought. Although this did more for his mental health than any doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist ever had. And he had tried them all to rid himself of this compulsion. But in the end, indulging in it occasionally had been the best solution.

He filled that final half an hour with clearing out his inbox. Dumb and pointless emails were about the only thing that he could manage to half focus upon in addition to watching those hands move slower and slower around the face of the clock. It seemed that magic witching hour would never come.

Hmmm...a witch? Halloween was next month. Maybe a sexy witches costume for his next 'doctor's appointment.' He would give it some thought as he sighed and watched the final seconds of purgatory tick off. The hands had magically aligned so that all were pointing straight towards the heavens as he reached for his bag that was much heavier than usual.

He was already standing with bag in hand as a colleague approached. "Hey, Cameron, want to join a bunch of us for lunch today?"

He shook his head, "I have an appointment."

It was a convenient excuse. He rarely socialized with the people from work. He rarely socialized. Period. He never felt quite right around others. It was what had originally sent him into therapy over a decade before. But cognitive behavior therapy had failed to ease his social anxiety. Although he had learned to control it sufficiently that he had progressed to the management team. At times he wondered if perhaps he had Asperger's. But seven years of expensive therapy with only moderate success had given him a bad taste for professionals and labels.

No, this was the best solution he had found. It gave him a small measure of release. Enough to balance the stressors of life and work. Of course, he might wish for more. For the ability to be himself all of the time. But he had learned long ago that society, even mothers, do not accept that which is different. So he kept his secret from everyone. He hid in the proverbial closet.

The drive was intolerably long. Even though he listened to his favorite music for the whole hour that the journey took each mile seemed to drag. He watched the odometer as closely as he had the clock, knowing that each mile brought him closer to the release he needed so desperately. Why was the traffic so heavy this day? Had there been an accident? Construction? The delay wore upon his already fragile mental state.

Once a month was increasingly becoming insufficient for him. He needed to find some other way of getting the release that he needed. He had tried doing it alone of course. Just as he had as a young boy and later as a teenagers in his mother's closet. But that was never quite right. Never the same. No, as odd as it was he craved the attention. The acceptance that he found here. The one place that he could be himself. Herself.

He sighed with relief as he pulled into the parking lot of the club an hour and a half later. He was late. He would have half an hour less with his friends this day. He shook his head as he studied his aging visage in the rear view mirror. He never recognized the man that stared back at him. He never had. It was always some kind of a disconnect. That man was just not who he was inside.

He grabbed his bag and rushed across the parking lot. He was greeted by the club owner. She was an ostentatious and loud women dressed in a flaming red sequin number with a bouffant hairdo. Her boobs could have been beach balls in another life. But all that mattered to Cameron was that he was home. That with this woman and these people he could be himself.

In fact, Sophie had become a mother of sorts to him. His own having long ago abandoned him for his predilections as she called them, his deviancy as she had screamed at him that afternoon when she came home from work early because she was not feeling well. Perhaps that was where his true distrust of the psychiatrist and psychologists came from. She had had him locked in a sanitarium as she politely called it. The big difference between a sanitarium and a mental hospital it seemed was the cost...and for her son she spared no expense. Only loving acceptance seemed beyond her budget.

But not here. Not with these people. Cameron could be who she was...totally and wholly accepted as Kallie. He headed towards the dressing room to begin that transformation. To shed the façade that he was forced to wear daily by an uncaring and harsh society, simply by virtue of being born with a penis.

Not that he disliked his penis the way that some of his friends here did. That had always confused him too. He liked women. Not that he had that much experience with them. Not when you were hiding who you truly were. Dating when you had the level of social anxiety that he did was virtually impossible. But he had certainly never been attracted to other men. His life would have been so much easier if he had been. He could have transformed into Kallie whenever he wanted and had more sex than he cared for.

He looked in the full length mirror in front of him. The truth was that Kallie was as beautiful a woman as he was a plain and awkward man. It never ceased to amaze even him that this lush and feminine creature was hidden within such a plain brown paper wrapper as himself. She squared her shoulders and smiled. Kallie came alive...real and truly alive for the first time in too long.

For the next four hours, she lived. She chatted confidently with old friends. She met new people but rather than being the terrifying experience that would have sent Cameron deep into anxiety, she flourished. She giggled. She laughed. She coyly flirted even with a couple of people. She lived.

Then the lights came up. The party was over. It was time for the freaks to go home so that the club could get ready for its 'normal' Friday night crowd. Kallie slunk off to the dressing rooms with the rest of the 'queens.' She shed her cute little black dress for his austere business suit. She used wipes to reluctantly remove the make-up that completed the transformation from plain old Cameron to beautifully exotic Kallie.

She stared once more in the mirror at the unfamiliar stranger in whose body she was trapped. And as much as she had loved every moment of the past four hours, she hated that man. She resented him for the power to keep her locked inside. A prisoner to be let out once a month for his pleasure, his release. She was the one who was real...not him. Why? Why the fuck did he do this to them?

But even as she hated and loathed him for the weak creature that he was, she knew and understood the answer. Society. It simply would never accept those who were different. It was not fair of course. Was not right. But they had lost enough already.

A big bear of a man wrapped his arms about Cameron from behind. "How about a beer, buddy?" asked Sophie/Mack.

Cameron thought about it. He rarely socialized with these people outside of the club. As a man it just did not seem the same. He retreated once more into the awkward shell that he wore like a ball and chain about his neck, even with them. If it had been anyone else, he would have declined immediately. But because it was Sophie, he considered it.

"Come on. You can't hide away forever, man. You have to reach out, make friends. Otherwise it will eat you alive. I know. It did me for over forty years. Give us a chance. Get to know us. Really know us. We don't bite." He winked and giggled, "Unless you ask real nice, but I know that ain't your thing so I promise you will be safe."

'Eat you alive,' that was exactly what it felt like. Like Cameron ate Kallie alive. These people knew what that felt like. They knew his secret. And they accepted him. And her. "Yeah, a beer sounds good."

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