This is a new occasional series that takes its basis and some of its storyline from the cancelled Tokyopop Manga, Yubisaki Milk Tea by Tomochika Miyano. It's a great series and well worth looking out, it's a mystery why they cancelled it. For my version I've changed the setting from Japan to England and of course the names, then I've added some new characters and situations to produce Jamie and the Peach . The original series was cancelled before completion but I intend to take my version somewhat further!
Maddy Bell, February 2010
"I wish I was as beautiful as that." Sally sighed.
"I'm sure you will be as long as you don't follow in my sisters loose woman footsteps."
We were stood outside the photographic store that I work at part time. Its not like I get paid or anything but in return for helping out for a couple of hours I get to use the studio and borrow a camera. Dan Jones' business is mostly family portraits but the reason my sister's picture is in the window is that he wants to break into the lucrative wedding business. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that my slapper of a sister is wearing a wedding dress, not hers of course, she'll never marry oh and the other thing is that it's not my sister in the photo.
Six months earlier....
"I'm off James, hot date with Ryan! See ya later!"
With that the door slammed and I went back to my homework. Barely five minutes later the doorbell rang...geez that girl will forget her head one day not just her keys.
"What've you forgo...oh sorry I thought it was my sister."
"Is she here? She's modelling for me this afternoon; I said I'd pick her up on my way to the studio."
She really is a dozy moo, this is the third time she's let someone down on a modelling job, it's not like we're rolling in money either since Dad skedaddled.
"Erm, she er got called away on a family emergency, could you reschedule like, she'll be back tomorrow." I had to try and cover for the daft mare.
"No can do, the stylist and hairdresser will have to be paid for today even if we reschedule, and I was so looking forward to working with Jessica. I guess I need to find someone else, you don't have a girl friend by any chance?"
"Er not really."
He looked at me kind of weirdly, "hmm, how tall are you?"
My height has long been a bugbear; I'm not exactly a basketball player.
"Five feet four and a quarter, why?"
"Eight stone two, why?"
"Hundred fourteen pounds, I think it might work."
"What might work?"
"If I have to cancel I'm minded to charge your sister the two thousand it's costing me."
"You wouldn't would you, we're already pretty skint."
"Well there is a way but it's up to you."
"You take your sisters place, you'd even get paid."
"No way! Reality check mate, I'm not even a girl!"
"Guess I'll just have to make out a bill then."
"Whoa, whoa, what is this job?"
So that's how come the picture in the window is of me and not my skanky sister. No one knows of course, well apart from Dan and the girls that did my hair and stuff and definitely not Sally, my thirteen-year-old next-door neighbour!
"One day I'm gonna have rich boyfriends and designer clothes."
"You really don't want to be like Jess, she's been out with three different blokes this week!"
Maybe I should tell you more about Sal.
Sally Morgan is my next-door neighbour in Acacia Gardens, her family moved here five years ago, that's her mum Anna and her dad Gavin. They were the perfect young family, Gavin works in some kind of office and Anna was a nurse at the Royal. Notice I said was, three years ago she was taken ill, cancer. The only good thing was that it was over quickly; just three weeks after falling ill she was gone. Of course this affected Sal tremendously, gone was the chirpy little thing with more interests than you could shake a stick at replaced by well not a hermit but a much more introverted character.
Anna's death didn't really impact on me directly; my sister however was devastated as the pair had become very close. For me, well I guess I spent more time with Sal one way or another, she was always included in anything my family did and the Morgan's would often eat with us. Of course back then we were both at the same school so there was nothing weird about walking there together, it was like she was my little sister.
Of course things changed when I started high school two years ago. For starters it's not exactly hip to walk with the junior kids and secondly I made new friends so although we still do stuff together we aren't so 'involved'.
"Ah Jamie, didn't think you were working today."
"I er have a project I want to work on if that's okay?"
"Sure, you're girlfriend joining you?" Dan gave a wink.
"She's not my girlfriend!" I huffed.
"If you say so."
"Well I'll see you later." Sal sighed, not getting the invite she had hoped for.
"Yeah, I'll come by to check your homework right?"
Dan doesn't bother me when I'm in the studio - he's one of only three people who know the truth about 'that' photo and the only person who knows what I do in these all too short sessions. The truth is that I take pictures of myself, not my Jamie self but rather a fantasy me - except it doesn't seem to be fantasy if its real. Okay, I'll admit it; I dress up like a girl. There I've said it, it's not anything weird but I was fascinated by how I looked in the photo shoot, how a wig, makeup and a dress changed who I was - well not who I am but who I appear to be.
I borrow clothes from my sister - she'll never know, Dan gave me the wig and I've er accumulated some cosmetics. I guess I'm fairly lucky on that score i don't have the usual teenage boys problems of spots and hair but its still been a challenge to get it right. My sister has been useful for that, being a part time model she knows all the tricks and I've been studying her techniques, not openly of course!
"Geez, you sure you're not really a girl?"
"Don't do that!" to be sure, I nearly had a heart attack.
Dan picked up another of the contact sheets from this evenings session.
"You're getting pretty good with some of these poses, I can't believe you do it all yourself."
"You know I don't want anyone else to find out, if it got around at school my life wouldn't be worth living."
"So you're never going to do any of this outside of my studio then?"
"I've never thought about it."
So of course for the next few days that's all I did, think about shots, poses, outfits and what I'd need to have for a location shoot. I covered everything except my courage to actually do it, could I actually dress and go out in public? Dan seems to think I pass muster but what if someone recognises me? I guess I could go across town where nobody knows me.
"Hey Jamie, you seen my suede dress, you know the beige one?" Jess demanded.
"How should I know where you left it, maybe its still at your boyfriends."
Why did she want that particular one out of all the dozens in the closet? I thought I'd been careful in picking it out, I've not seen her wear it for months but today of all days she wants it.
"I guess it'll turn up, so what are you up to today?"
"Thought I'd go to the library, I've a history assignment that has to be in on Monday."
"I won't be back till late, Mark is taking me to the coast."
"I told you the other day, he's in that band?"
I really can't keep up with her boyfriends, its a different one every week.
"Don't forget to get something for Sal's birthday, its on Tuesday remember?"
"I know, I'll get something nice."
I wasn't ready to expose my female self to my own neighbourhood so I took the borrowed photographic kit and a backpack and headed into town. I'd decided to go to Markwood Park so I got on the local train for the thirty-minute ride out to the rolling parkland. There was another reason for this; I headed straight into the toilet to facilitate my transformation.
“Excuse me miss, would you mind taking our picture?”
In my nervousness in being out and about in my female guise I almost froze when the woman spoke.
“I ah er sure.”
“I wouldn't of asked except I can see you are a bit of a photographer and we so rarely manage to get a decent picture together.” She motioned to what I presumed was her mother.
“N…no that's fine, I don't mind, where do you want it?”
“Could we get the house in behind us? Sorry I don't even know your name? I'm Janet and this is my mum Mavis.”
“Its erm,” I could hardly admit to Jamie then I saw inspiration in Mavis's hand, “Peaches.”
“Like the Geldof girl?” Mavis asked.
“The same, mum ate a lot of them when she was expecting me.” I ad libbed.
“It's a good job she wasn't partial to kippers!” Mavis laughed.
“I'll have to introduce you to my sister, Mars Bar ® !” I couldn't keep a straight face at my own joke.
“Is this okay?” Janet enquired.
I spent a few minutes posing them and took several shots on their camera and (with their permission of course) several on my own borrowed kit. It was kinda fun working with them; I can see why my boss likes the job so much.
“So I'll send you copies of these when I've printed everything up.”
“We should give you something towards the cost.” Janet pressed.
“I really don't need anything, its good practice.”
“Look take this,” she pressed a note into my hand, “and if you are ever in Bishop's Cleve pop into the shop.”
“Okay I will, bye.”
The chance encounter had somehow allowed me to forget about being ‘outed' and I had just about forgotten how I was dressed. The park wasn't that busy being a football day and Disney on Ice® was playing in town too so I managed to find several spots to take my self portraits – and a few scenic shots. Altogether I used six rolls of film before I started the trip back home, ‘film?' I hear you cry. Well that's down to Dan, he insisted that I learn how to take ‘real' photos before getting into the digital format. It can be a bit of a pain but he takes a lot of pictures so I bow to his experience.
It was a lot different shooting outside, the light was constantly changing for one thing and even the way my hair and clothes moved was different. I think I got some good stuff.
I'm not sure quite why I was still wearing my sisters clothes when I got back into town but I rationalised that I could get changed at the studio, after all no one had pegged me so far today had they? I was still a couple of streets away from Jones Photographic when the day took an unexpected turn.
A group of kids were having a kick about in the school yard, a mixed bunch of youngsters, boys and girls all giving it some in their enthusiastic play. I found myself drawn to watch, I used to play myself in junior school, Jonno and me formed the core of the school team that took the division title my last year there. Since then Jonno has continued with his sport whilst I've well, not.
“To me, to me!” Sal's voice rang out and the ball sailed towards the slight figure below me.
The tackle was brutal, all the more so as it was a hard surface and it was on a girl. Sal took a bone crunching impact and landed hard. I don't know what moved me but I rushed round to where she sat nursing her now bleeding knee surrounded by her teammates.
“Sheesh girl you need to take more care.” I announced taking control of this situation.
“Its only a little scratch.”
“But even little scratches can scar and it doesn't look good on a girl.” I carefully cleaned the wound of blood and grit.”
I finished up then realised what I'd done, presented myself directly to Sal dressed as a girl.
“Well I um should get going, take care of that and get some antiseptic on it as quick as you can.”
I made my escape but before I was safely away she called out.
“What's your name?”
Well what harm can it do?
“I'm Sally, thanks Peaches.”
To Be Continued
Maddy Bell 08.02.10 © 2010
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