The people have spoken, and the next Edith Bellamy story is none other than "The Avon Lady." I could go into my own synopsis of the story but Edith was kind enough to include one in the original posting of the story so here it is:
A well-to-do suburbanite errs in spurning his wife's Avon Lady; as a result, he becomes an avid consumer of her wares.
And without further ado, here's the story...
Lia Carmichael, our Avon Lady, had the highest gross of any Avon Lady in Zenith, if not the whole state. Lia's customer list was at least twice as big as her nearest competitor's, and her nearest competitor, Francie Gardella, was earning somewhere in the mid six figures. Francie drove a late-model midnight blue BMW automobile on her rounds; Lia, a long pink Mercedes, purchased new every year.
Lia Carmichael had carved out an exceptionally lucrative territory for herself, to be sure, including Pioneer Heights, on the bluffs overlooking the Lemoyne River, the poshest of Zenith's neighborhoods, inhabited mainly by professionals and businessmen—lawyers, physicians, wheat brokers, land developers—a gated community of puffed-out, oversized houses on one acre lots, with pretentious faux-colonnaded facades, lots of fan windows and three car garages.
Lia Carmichael was an execrable driver—she was incapable of backing out of a driveway without wrecking the grass. As she usually made her deliveries in late morning just after the timed sprinklers had finished their cycle—when the ground was invariably soft—her heavy Mercedes always left the lawn deeply rutted.
This added insult to injury. Not only was I nettled by my wife Angela's monthly Avon bill—charges might run as high as $800 some months, for Angela would practically fill the whole bathtub each night with one "rejuvenating, moisturizing" bath gel or another—but I was forever repairing Lia Carmichael's lawn depredations. No sooner had I filled in the ruts, re-seeded and rolled it out than she would come by with another delivery and spoil the lawn all over again. I had already received two written notices from the homeowners' association landscape committee to the effect that my rutted lawn was a standing violation of the subdivision's restrictive covenants.
I disliked Lia Carmichael for reasons besides her poor driving skills: she was an obnoxious, dyed blonde female who favored flashy pantsuits and heavy gold jewelry. Almost six feet tall, she teased her frosted hair in late 60's fashion, spoke in a brassy Broadway leading-lady voice and called people by their first names at first acquaintance. In her late forties or early fifties, she was an avid user of her own products, so it was next to impossible to be certain of her age, though the skin on her neck was plainly beginning to sag, evident even under her heavy application of makeup. Worst of all, she always rang the doorbell three times in quick succession, sending our two wire-haired fox terriers, a high-strung breed to begin with, into cascading frenzies of high-pitched, hysterical yelping.
As much as I disliked Lia Carmichael, I surely would have disliked her even more—and would have stayed out of her way—had I known she was a certified witch. I was blissfully ignorant of this crucial bit of intelligence, however, until it was far, far too late.
One summer morning after returning late from a business trip, I was awakened by the doorbell—followed by the usual hysterical barking of the terriers. The clock read seven-thirty. I had planned a leisurely day off to recuperate from jet lag—Angela and the girls were gone, visiting her folks in California for three weeks, so I was home all alone, hoping to sleep late and have a pleasant day of light yard word relieved by spells at the pool. So I was rather annoyed to have been awakened so early.
"Must be the pool maintenance chap," I muttered to myself. "Why doesn't he just let himself through the side gate and go around to the pool?" I rolled over to try to get back to sleep. But the bell rang again—three times in succession—and the dogs erupted in a new rash of hideous shrieking. So I reluctantly got out of bed, felt for my slippers, put on my bathrobe and shuffled through the house to the front door, cursing under my breath.
It was not the pool maintenance man: through the sidelight I could see it was Lia Carmichael, standing there in a painfully bright fuchsia pantsuit, grinning evilly. Her hair-sprayed coiffure glinted in the early sunlight with the luster of burnished armor plate—an assault with a ball-peen hammer would not have displaced even a single hair. She was holding a gigantic Avon shopping bag in one hand.
"Hi-i-i-i, Virgil!" she blared like a claxon the moment I opened the door. "Angela told me last time you'd be home today, so instead of leaving her package outside the door, I rang."
"What for?" I snarled. "You could have left it outside. Hopefully, someone might have walked off with it."
Lia again smiled evilly, displaying, it seemed, twice the normal number of molars, and, as if I had said nothing at all, plowed on:
"Avon has introduced an absolutely fabulous new line of men's products this month," she brayed. "I've thrown in a few samples for you with Angela's order. You might find you like them. Everything in the new men's catalog is 10% off on your first order. I highly recommend the new line of Avon men's products, Virgil."
Lia snatched a catalog from the Avon carry bag she was holding, and flicked it open with one hand to display the men's products page. "I see you need a shave," she continued, like a late-night commercial, (I had not shaved for two days), "so why don't you try out our new, absolutely fabulous after shave conditioner and gel? You'll find some in the bag."
"Listen, Lia," I returned, with as much dignity as I could muster—unshaven, in my rumpled pajamas and none-too-crisp looking terry-cloth bathrobe—"It'll be a cold day in hell before I use a free Avon product, and an ever colder one before I put out a nickel for anything in your absolutely fabulous new catalog for men. I spend enough as it is keeping Angela in lipstick, eye shadow, skin conditioner and God knows what else you sell her every month without my contributing to your income as well."
Lia blinked slowly—a chill, reptilian sort of a blink, her pupils momentarily constricting to pinpoints. She opened her bag of goods, peered into it and blinked slowly again: it was really quite curious to see. Then, as if nothing unusual had happened, she closed the bag and handed it to me. It was quite heavy, portending that the monthly bill would be at its usual summertime high. Lia's idiot smile, like the rictus on the face of a corpse, did not alter in the least.
She continued as if I had said nothing at all:
"I know you'll love our fabulous men's products, Virgil. Just give them a try. I hope Angela and the girls are having a wonderful time in California. Tell her I'll be by again in three weeks to take her next order. Goodbye, now, Virgil. Stay out of mischief!" she said in mock admonition, waggling a finger at me and never dimming her smile by even a single lumen.
"Good-by, Lia," I grumbled, "Don't hurry back."
Still unflustered, she turned and strode down the walk to her Mercedes, her high heels clacking over the flagstones with the sound of billiard balls striking together. I stood in the doorway to watch her leave, wondering how much damage to the flora she would inflict this time.
Once in her car, she flashed me an even more hateful grin, wrenched the pink Mercedes into reverse, and, hardly even glancing behind her, lurched out of the driveway, maiming the lawn on both sides and taking out three prize azaleas.
"You evil bitch!" I muttered, instantly resolving that the next time I found her car in the supermarket parking lot, I would key it—sides, hood, trunk and, if possible, all the windows as well.
Feeling too angry to go back to bed, I slammed the door shut and carried the white Avon bag into the kitchen, placed it on the table, set up some coffee and turned on the coffeemaker. Sliding out the cereal drawer, I saw Angela and the girls had left me a stunning choice: Count Chocula or Froot Loops. "Wonderful!" I thought. I selected the latter, emptying some of its day-glow contents into a bowl. I covered them with milk, but they floated like bits of fluorescent Styrofoam, refusing to become even the slightest bit moist. By the time I had whipped up some Tang, my coffee was ready—at least the coffee was real—but the Froot Loops still bobbed gaily on the milk's surface like miniature iridescent life preservers.
I poured my coffee and sat down to eat. A benignant, hydrocephalic toucan officiated on the back of the Froot Loops box, inviting the cereal eater to engage in various challenging games, such as "what's wrong with this picture?" displaying a grotesque little cartoon boy with mismatched socks, a third eye and an upside-down nose. As this failed to rivet my attention, I upended the white Avon bag, spilling its contents into a respectable heap on the table.
There were lipsticks in several shades, including Peach Supreme, Crushed Plum and Tawny Shimmer; two narrow bottles of Perfect Wear Concealer; several tubes of Face Lifting Moisture Firmer; two bottles of Beyond Color Vertical Lift Foundation; a pump dispenser labeled "Anew Clearly C: 10% Vitamin C Serum;" a jar of Anew "Night Force" Vertical Lifting Complex (claiming anti-gravitational properties to prevent sagging skin); Liquid Talc in four "flavors;" and Vanilla Soft Musk Trio.
These items were only the scree at the base of the mountain: the massif itself consisted of several pint-sized plastic containers of Milk Made "soothing milk bath and shower oil" (fortified with vitamins A and E); bottles of Avon "Techniques" shampoo and conditioner; little cylindrical containers of brush-on hair highlights (in Flame Red, Golden Bronze and Shiny Penny); two phallus-shaped bottles of Mega-Hold Styling Spritz (Tri-Nutriv Formula); a box of Frizz Treatment Capsules; an eight-ounce bottle of Hair Volumizer; four shades of eyeliner in tiny bottles; mascara in black, brown and navy; and a new pedicure tool set.
This represented only part of the cosmetics Angela would consume in a two-week period, for she bought her nail polish, custom-blended face powders and blushers at Klopfeld's, Zenith's premier department store. "What idiot creatures these women are!" I thought to myself, "and we men, no less, for not objecting more strenuously to such senseless fripperies, and paying for them, to boot!"
But I had almost overlooked one item, which now caught my attention. I was surprised I had not noticed it earlier, for it seemed to glow with an inner light of its own. It was an electric blue cardboard box, like the sort of box expensive chocolates come in, its edges defined in crisp gold striping. Elegant gold letters across the top proclaimed, "Mesmerize—For Men."
"This must be the junk Lia was babbling about," I mused, as I finished my Froot Loops. I then picked up the bowl and slurped down the remaining milk, which by this time had turned a lurid shade of day-glow pink. Putting down the bowl, I opened the box. It contained a dark blue Mesmerize Soap-on-a-Rope, a container of Mesmerize Deodorant Body Talc and a tube of Mesmerize After Shave Conditioner.
My hand automatically went up to my cheek to feel my coarse and unpleasant stubble. I felt disreputably male. I had a sudden urge to shower and shave. I gulped down the dregs of my coffee, put the dishes in the dishwasher and, despite my previous resolution never to touch an Avon product, grabbed the box of Mesmerize stuff and headed off to the bathroom. Once there I placed the box on the counter, removed the soap-on-a-rope, turned on the shower and jumped in even before the water ran warm.
I had to admit the soap-on-a-rope was strangely invigorating—it lathered up unusually nicely and, after rinsing it off, my skin felt as if it were glowing. I got out of the shower, dried myself, and opened the Mesmerize talc—I also had to admit that it had a strangely attractive scent. I sprinkled myself liberally with it. Towel wrapped around my waist, I whipped up a lather in my mug and shaved off my two-day growth of stubble. I was astounded at how clean a shave I got, and this was with a ten-day old blade, no less!
I opened the bottle of Mesmerize after shave lotion and daubed some on my face. Suddenly, time seemed to stop and an odd buzz filled my head, such as the buzz one gets when one stands up too quickly. I paused with both hands on my smoothly-shaven cheeks and stared into the mirror without moving, without really knowing why I was staring at myself. Something was awry with my reflection—as if my features had altered ever-so-slightly. The perception was like deja vu: It felt as if something had shifted in the seamless continuum of existence, but I was unable to define precisely what had shifted.
I was now seized with an urgent desire to take a bath—not to bathe, mind you, but to have myself a good, long soak. I could not remember the last time I had taken a bath—decades ago, perhaps. I took daily showers, of course, sometimes twice daily—but baths I considered a waste of time as well as a waste of hot water. Now here I was craving a bath and actually turning on the taps and filling the tub! And not only that, but an image of the bottles of Milk Made bath oil flashed through my mind. I found myself irresistibly drawn back to the kitchen to fetch one of them.
Back in the kitchen, I grabbed various items from the heap on the table and examined them with unaccustomed interest, attracted by their unusually pretty colors, which had not struck me before, as well as by the containers' rather interesting shapes, which induced me to hold and feel them. I opened several to smell their contents—all of them had a most delightful scent. I must have spent almost five minutes at this pleasant diversion, then suddenly remembered the bath!
Snatching up one of the bottles of Milk Made, I hurried back to the bathroom, getting there in the nick of time to avoid a flood. I shut off the taps, and drained out some water so it would not overflow when I got in. Then I read the label on the bottle of Milk Made. "For the most invigorating bath of your life," it began, "add one or two capfuls into drawn bath water. Swirl with hand to disperse. Breathe in the aromatic molecules with pleasure and exhale worries and frustrations! If stress symptoms persist, consult your physician or gynecologist."
"'Consult your gynecologist?' More twaddle for soft-headed females," I snorted. Then, on an inexplicable impulse, I emptied the entire contents of the container into the tub, bent over quickly and stirred it in with my hand and forearm. The bath water swirled and fizzed effervescently—a lovely scent arose from the tub, a scent I could not resist. I set foot in the tub and gingerly lowered myself in, submerging myself up to my chin. I dunked my face forwards several times, extended my neck and swept my hair back with my palms. The bath water was oddly calming; it seemed to induce a sense of placid serenity. I closed my eyes and lay back, cradling my head on one of those soft closed-foam bath pillows with suction cups on the back.
I must have dozed off, for I awoke with a start—and with the unmistakable perception that something was terribly wrong. The level of the water in the tub was quite a bit lower and I felt somehow more buoyant. But why had the water level fallen? Was the drain leaking? I held my breath and listened for the tell-tale sound of water slowly trickling down the drain—silence. The tub was not leaking. There could be only one explanation: there was less of me in the bath! With sinking heart, I saw that my feet were no longer pushed firmly up against the face of the tub! I protruded my toes from the water—there was now a good six inches to spare between my feet and the tub's face!
I sat up abruptly, only to feel the water run off me along entirely new bodily contours—I had breasts! In sudden panic, I ran my hands down my sides, feeling my rib cage taper to a high and narrow waist, then my hands flared outwards again as they traced my unmistakably female hips. I brought my hands behind me and felt an equally unmistakable female behind.
My heart stopped for what seemed like five seconds. I brought my hands up through the water's surface and stared—horrified—at my delicate feminine fingers, their manicured nails perfectly enameled in a shade I instantly recognized as…as Red to Remember—though I knew nothing whatever about nail polish, nor the names of its hues.
I turned my tiny hands palmwards and back several times, gazing at them stupidly. A wave of nausea swept through me as I thought of what I now had—and what I no longer possessed. No! It could not be! It must not be! I shot my hands beneath the surface to verify the impossible. And the impossible had happened—my new fingers detected a sickening vacancy between my legs, a vacancy down the midline of which coursed the familiar soft, fleshy cleft—familiar on other women, that is, not on myself—a soft, fleshy cleft with its intricate and exquisitely sensitive double set of… of…labia. In other words, I now had a…
No! No! No! How hateful and disgusting! Against all laws of science and nature! My mind would not, could not accept the word, much less the concept of what my fingers had most plainly felt. As much as I desired to deny it, I now wore the perforate badge of femininity between my milky-white thighs! I choked. My mind balked and stuttered and my jaw dropped slackly open. I stood up in the bath and looked over my dripping wet—and utterly female—body, transfixed by how the hair on my new little mound was wicking water off my belly along a tiny, dark agglomerate wisp, pointing daintily downwards, a wisp wetly adherent, the drops from its softly curlicued tip plinking languidly into the tub. I looked down only to confirm that I had … I had indeed become…a woman.
I grew dizzy. I partly collapsed, ending up sitting side-saddle on the edge of the tub, gasping in shocked disbelief and clutching the towel bar for support.
At this point Dear Reader, poor Virgil has so very much to contend with—a complete transmutation into a female no less—that we should spare him all further embarrassment and pain of being constrained to tell his own story, especially in his new feminine voice, which he has not yet even tried out for himself! Thus, it is now time for me, the Narrator, to preempt this story. I have been hovering nearby the whole time, of course, watching the trap Virgil was walking into, but narratorial ethics forbade my interference until after the moment of transition, which, quite obviously, has just now occurred.
Yes, Lia Carmichael was a witch, a certified and very powerful Hibernian Witch, born in the year 1502 in Balivanich, on the Isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides. She wangled a passage to Boston in 1668 on, of all vessels, the Rose of Avon. You can still see her name inscribed on the passenger manifest—"Leah Carmichael, female domestick, age 17 yrs." The Rose embarked from Portsmouth on May 17th, according to the captain's log (preserved, along with the ship's manifest, in the Boston Maritime Archives), with a crew of eight officers, fifty-six seamen and thirty passengers—all women and girls—most of them sailing under articles of indenture to the families of well-to-do Boston merchants.
When the Rose arrived in Boston on August 3rd, the quarantine officer's log (also preserved) reflects a glaring discrepancy: the crew was two officers and six seamen shy, and there were now eight more passengers, all of them female. The discrepancy was never resolved, nor do records exist showing what role, if any, Leah Carmichael had in the affair, but it is a near certainty that she was working her transmutations even then.
The quarantine records indicate that the eight supernumerary females were placed in the care of Leah Carmichael—who settled them all within quick walking distance of the docks at "an inner for unattached females" in Maiden Lane, where they earned their keep on their backs. They must have done well, for a deed dated October 18, 1670 shows that one "L. Carmichel" purchased the building—a renovated chandler's shop—for "the summe of ninety-five poundes sterling English money." Chandler's Inn, as it became known, served as a popular tavern and whorehouse until it was torched by General Burgoyne's redcoats in 1775.
Leah Carmichael's career over the next two centuries is but imperfectly known. Her name shows up, with several variations of spelling, usually on the fringes of American expansion—frontier settlements, mining towns, burgeoning Midwestern cities and the like—and not infrequently, we are afraid to say, in connection with houses of ill-repute. But not always: records of the War Office in Washington, D. C., reveal contract payments by the Army of the Potomac, of some two thousand dollars, to a Miss Leah Carmichael, payments made throughout 1862 and 1863 for the recruitment of "troop consorts and companions."
The record falls silent until 1942, when, according to USO archives, periodic payments were made by the New York USO division to a Lee Carmichael, Broadway theatrical agent, for the procurement of singers and chorus girls to entertain Allied troops in Italy and, later, in France. The archive contains a yellowed newspaper clipping from the New York Journal-American showing a smiling Lia Carmichael, unmistakable because of her height, waving from the railing of the newly converted troop ship Normandie, flanked by a bevy of 1940's beauties, all smiling and waving white hankies as the ship leaves the Pier 74 on the Hudson.
Precisely when Lia Carmichael came to Zenith, and how she became involved in Avon cosmetics, is unknown. One may assume, however, that being an Avon lady afforded the witch ample opportunity to perfect her tradecraft of turning men into women.
But I digress! We have left poor, newly transmuted Virgil, panting and stunned, perched on the edge of his bath tub, wondering what hit him. So let us return to him now.
The soft female creature trembling on the rim of the bathtub bears but little resemblance to what Virgil had been. She (for we may use that pronoun, even if Virgil cannot yet bring himself to use it)… she is much younger, no more than twenty-five or twenty-six, Her complexion is pale, her features small and regular. She has light brown hair (still dripping wet), cut in a medium bob. Though she is not standing, we can guess her height to be about five feet four inches, perhaps five-foot-five.
Supporting herself on a low towel bar to the right of the tub, her ample but not oversize breasts, with brick red nipples and areolae the size of small coasters, appear firm and undrooping. As she leans forward, her pale womanbelly creases horizontally, just above her delicate navel. Her ample derrière is indented by the ivory porcelain of the tub, only a shade or two paler than her smooth, flawless skin, skin devoid of a single hair save on her scalp and her demure little love-mound. She radiates unselfconscious feminine grace, like a Renoir nude at her bath, but slimmer and with shorter hair.
At length Virgil, having sat so long on the rim of the tub, her head in a whirl, feels chilled. She slowly arises, takes a towel from the bar and, in a trance, begins to dry herself off with delicate pats, amazed at the sensitivity of her new integument and at the alien—but delicious—thrill she feels as the soft nap of the terrycloth towel brushes lightly over her nipples, which promptly stiffen in response to the fabric's stimulus. Through a marvelous and new neural connection, she feels a sudden twinge of rare pleasure in that unnamable place, as yet unexplored, between her white thighs. Virgil gasps—first at the sensation, and then, once again, at the sound of her own, unexpected girlish soprano.
Rushing to the mirror on the back of the door, she beholds her full-length reflection for the first time, a reflection still swirling in mist from the bath, a reflection of a soft, pink creature with pretty features, a few lingering freckles, and a voluptuous figure well-proportioned in all its dimensions—reasonable breasts, a high waist, full hips framing a broad and fertile belly, and shapely legs. She turns her back to the mirror and looks over her shoulder, to regard the unblemished expanse of her back and the graceful curves of her buttocks. She turns several times in one direction, then the other, looking over alternate shoulders, mesmerized by the perfection of her body.
Turning frontally towards the mirror again, she cups her warm breasts and at the same time extends her neck languidly backwards, eyes closed in rapture. She moans. She snaps out of her trance, opens her eyes—which are irresistibly drawn to her demure little mound, its hair no longer wet and matted, but soft and wavy and sparse enough to reveal the furrow that runs downwards to disappear between her thighs. She widens her stance, opening herself slightly. She gasps disbelief to see the flash of her pink penetralia. Her diminutive hands abandon her breasts to descend, slowly down along the smooth expanse of her belly, until the tips of her splayed fingers rest on the baby-soft lips of her furrow.
By now the man entrapped in this lovely young woman's body is aroused in ways he never thought possible; he feels a hot moisture well up inside him and start to flow; he becomes dimly aware of a new internal geometry of organs that flutter and ripple within him in pulsating wavelets. Very slowly, he runs a finger down along his new groove, shivering in delight at its gradual passage into the moist cleft between his labia, until, quite unexpectedly, it plunges, without friction, into his….his…aperture—an aperture ludicrously wet, copiously lubricated with his urgent and intimate secretions.
Virgil thinks he will swoon—but at that very moment the doorbell rings three times in familiar succession and the terriers instantly erupt in their hysterical yelping.
Startled back to reality—to an unfamiliar female reality—Virgil instantly panicked at the chime of the doorbell and the shrill yapping of Angela's wire-haired fox terriers. She scrabbled for Virgil's old terry robe on the brass hook near the shower and threw it on, though it was now laughably oversized, draping over her slight frame like a tent. Brushing her wet bob back from her forehead with a flick of her hand, she made for the front door, instinctively obeying its summons; she floated through the house leaving dainty small little moist footprints on the large quarry tiles in the hallway.
Suddenly, the hateful little dogs fell uncharacteristically silent, as if shot through their heads with a Luger. By the time Virgil reached the door, she saw two life-sized stuffed Stieff toy fox terriers, poised on either side of the entryway. Frozen, gazing nowhere with unseeing glass button eyes, they were poised in perfectly adorable canine postures, clipped tails erect, pink felt tongues protruding as if in plaintive expectation of a treat. A white satin label protruded from a seam along left rear leg of each, just below the haunch. It read, "Stieff GMBH, Germany." As pleased as Virgil was at their sudden muteness, their appearance nevertheless made her feel queasy. She averted her big brown (and long-lashed) eyes.
Virgil saw Lia Carmichael leering through the rippled and distorting glass of the sidelight, still in her bright fuchsia pantsuit, but this time she carried a little blue Samsonite valise instead of a white paper bag. Without so much as a second thought, Virgil unlocked and opened the front door.
"Hi, again, Virgil!" brayed Lia, in her brash, metallic voice, "I see you've tried out the samples I left! Well," she continued, shoving the door fully open with an aggressive swing of the blue valise, "I dare say you won’t be needing the Avon men's catalog any longer, dear. You came out far better than I had hoped, quite lovely, indeed! (My work is always improving.) And, Oh! I see you got a mighty close shave, too, which you will find to be ever so long-lasting! That Milk Made Soothing Milk Bath works wonders, doesn't it? But the whole bottle, Virgil? One capful would have been more than sufficient, but you had to go overboard. Whatever possessed you? Well, in any case, Virgil, my sweet, you look awfully well-smoothed and well-soothed. So tell auntie Lia: How do you feel? As good as you look?"
Without waiting for a reply, Lia barged into the house, grasped Virgil firmly by her elbow, and conducted her into the bedroom, thrusting her forward like a lamb being driven to slaughter. Virgil went numbly, without the least resistance, for she now knew she was outmatched—keeping vividly in mind the converted toy fox-terrier dogs in the entryway (a conversion for which she was nonetheless grateful, as the dogs were now effectively silenced). Evidently, Lia knew her way through the house, though she had never been further inside than the vestibule.
Once in the bedroom, Lia plunked the little blue valise down on the unmade bed, undid its catches and threw open its lid. It was filled with frilly and diaphanous feminine undergarments in soft pastel shades, with clothing in rich, darker fabrics lurking beneath, like a promise of greater treasure. Upon seeing its contents, Virgil quivered involuntarily, like a compass needle in a magnetic field, then stood stock-still at the foot of the bed, mouth slackly open, gazing dumbly at the valise and its contents in abstracted wonder, though not without longing.
The garments rippled ever so slightly, like beach grass in a faint summer breeze, but Virgil failed to note it.
"Virgil, honey, these are for you," Lia announced, "But first you must take off that hideous bathrobe; it deserves to be burned!"
After a substantial pause, Virgil looked up from the shimmering garments, having already, in her feminized imagination, put them on—having imagined their silkiness against her smooth, hairless skin. "Yes, Miss Carmichael," she replied, speaking for the first time in her new, yet already well-modulated soprano, "You are right, of course. It's a horrid old thing! Here, it's off! Burn it if you like. Now show me my proper garments!"
So saying, Virgil, with her white, delicate hands, undid the tie of the disreputable terrycloth robe and let it slip from her shoulders and drop to the floor, where it fell in a shapeless heap at her feet, leaving her standing fully revealed in new-minted female glory. Lia shrewdly regarded the nude transmuted female with approval; she slowly nodded her head and finally removed that awful smile from her lips, then glanced at her wristwatch for the briefest of moments.
"All right, Virgil," she began in a far more natural—and less strident—tone than she was wont to use, "We don't have much time, so let us get right down to brass tacks. First, the name Virgil hardly suits you any longer, so henceforth you shall be known as Virginia and you shall begin thinking of yourself as a female from this moment forward. Indeed, you already have begun. Secondly, memories of your former existence are already rapidly fading, though you shall, while a woman, retain a feeble male remnant, deep in your psyche, by which you shall remember your pitiful manhood, the better to value what you now have become."
Lia had dropped her Broadway leading lady facade, and, weaving her spell ever more tightly about the transmute, was speaking urgently and rapidly. Her eyes—pupils again only pinpoint in size—bored directly into those of the lovely new girl standing unclad before her.
"Thirdly…" and the doorbell rang once again—this time not followed by barking.
"Ah!" exclaimed Lia, "If it's who I think it is his timing could not be better! You wait here, Virginia—I'll get the door." Lia strode purposefully from the bedroom to answer the door.
Virginia, having by this time discovered her reflection in one of the bedroom mirrors, was content to stare at her unclothed self with renewed fascination the moment Lia left the room. She heard the front door open, heard a man's voice followed by a brief altercation from the direction of the entry foyer, then an ominous silence. In a few moments a slightly overweight man, in his late twenties, shuffled, zombie-like, into the bedroom followed by Lia. He wore a vacant expression on his none-too-intelligent features and a light blue work uniform jumpsuit—the emblem above the breast pocket read "Zenith Pool & Spa Maintenance," and below, in red embroidered script, "Warren."
The pudgy young man advanced to the center of the room and, apparently unaware of the presence of a nude female, stood stock still, slouching slightly, hands dangling limply at his sides.
"Come here, Virginia," Lia commanded, "I think you know Warren; he's been coming to your house every week for two years, after all, to service your pool. Take a good, long look at him, dear, for you and he are about to become rather intimately acquainted."
Virginia obeyed without hesitation, floating across the room until she stood facing the pool maintenance man, who, although immobilized by Lia's spell, displayed a sheen of glistening perspiration on his forehead. His eyes now clearly took in the lovely nude girl standing before him, for, though they did not move, they registered terror. Nonetheless Warren remained speechless, not stirring a muscle, as if rooted to the carpet.
Lia, constricting her pupils yet again, glared at the man, who at once began to wobble and waver, to flicker and blur. Suddenly, like a heat mirage on a highway, he became indistinct, insubstantial, translucent, dimensionless. With a long and trailing-off sigh, he appeared to deflate; his skin, hair and eyes assumed pastel shades of light blue, like his uniform. An instant later, what was left of him sparkled briefly in pinpoints of brilliant white light like a heap of raw gunpowder burning—and he completely dissolved. A bolt of soft and shimmering sky-blue fabric materialized in his place, suspended three feet above the floor in defiance of gravity. The bolt languidly unfurled in the air, quivered, fluttered and swirled, spun off into four distinct fragments, glinted brightly in one or two places. Then, assuming all-too-recognizable contours, wafted softly to the floor, one after the other, in agonizingly slow motion, where they lay, softly palpitant, in a shimmering puddle of silk—silk trimmed in ivory lace.
Yes, Dear Reader, I am constrained to report that Warren, of Zenith Pool & Spa Maintenance, had been transformed by our Hibernian witch into a matching ensemble of costly French lingerie. The stunt with the two fox terriers had been impressive enough, but to transform a man into four matching items of women's fancy silk lingerie was more frightening yet; the white peach fuzz on the back of Virginia's neck prickled and her entire skin became covered in gooseflesh. Her jaw dropped, and she turned in horror to Lia, who was smiling with complacent satisfaction at her latest accomplishment.
Neither woman spoke for fully a minute. Then Lia broke the silence.
"Those are your proper garments, dear; you may pick them up now," she said, indicating, with a toss of her head and a negligent sweep of her hand, the expensive lingerie now softly heaped on the carpet between them, and still almost imperceptibly fluttering. "They'll fit you like a charm—custom-made, you know. We can save Howard, over there (your former neighbor from down the block, who also took frequent offense at my driving skills), for some other occasion, perhaps," Lia continued, turning to point in the direction of the open valise on the bed. Virginia's gaze followed Lia's finger only to see the lingerie in the suitcase momentarily quiver, as if trying to rise of itself. It was most likely merely a trick of the light—Virginia could not be sure—but she felt hideously queasy to see the fabric faintly flutter, for there was no current of air in the room.
"Well, we don't have all day, Virginia, so let's get you dressed!" Lia said, the sharp edge creeping into her voice once again. "The grand opening's at eleven, and it's already nine thirty!"
The grand opening of what, Lia did not elaborate upon, and Virginia, far too terrified to inquire, obediently approached the lingerie ensemble on the carpet, which, like the garments in the valise, appeared to tremble for a moment or two, as if in hopeful expectation of being gathered up by sensitive, feminine fingers (though, again, it may have been just a trick of the light). She inclined from her waist, easily able to pluck up the items of lingerie lying there without bending her knees, so flexible was she now.
The brand-new lingerie ensemble, formerly Warren, consisted of a bra-and-panty set in pale, sky-blue silk, with matching garter belt and slip. Each article was trimmed in dainty ivory lace (the panties at the waistband and legs). The briefs were full, though high cut at the leg and had two converging, symmetrical panels of ivory lace at the front, running downwards from the waist, to impinge on the gusset, itself blue silk on the outside, but lined with downy-soft white cotton, embossed with a delicate geometrical pattern of miniscule daisies. Six rows of frothy ivory frills adorned the seat of the garment.
Each flimsy item had a trim satin tab set into a seam, stating, in fine script: "Living Lingerie—New York, London, Paris, Zenith—Body: Virgin Silk; Lace: 81% Nylon, 19% Lycra Spandex; Crotch Lining: 100% Cotton. Hand Wash Warm, Dark Colors Separately—Line Dry. Use No Bleach." As Virginia ran the sensuous fabric through her fingers she had the eerie sensation that the garments were practically crying out to be donned. Indeed, they probably would have done so had they been still capable of speech, for, though inanimate now, save for a few dying quivers, they were nonetheless dimly sentient, capable of two emotions only: ecstasy when fondled or worn by a pretty girl, while at all other times they would feel morose and dejected and yearn to caress and cling to the warm curves of a woman's body.
"What a delectable pair of French panties!" thought Virginia, her queasiness having mysteriously melted away the moment she fingered the garments, displaced by a burning compulsion to feel the silkiness of the panties against the superior silkiness of her own flawless skin, to feel her secret parts gently cradled by the soft cotton gusset and to regard her shapely derrière bedecked in lacy ruffles.
Virginia brought the living garments to the bed and laid them out carefully in a row, save for the panties, which she retained in her hand and was about to step into, when Lia interrupted.
"Garter belt first, dear," she admonished, wagging a finger, "or you may find it a bit of a nuisance if you have to visit the powder room and you happen to be in a hurry. Underneath is more practical."
Virginia colored, but did not demur; she simply exchanged the panties for the garter belt, which she fastened on and then straightened by sucking in her tummy and slightly rotating it into alignment. Then she took the panties again and gingerly stepped into them. Lia smiled indulgently as she saw the predictable expression of surprise, then of rapture, pass over the new girl's face as she pulled them on, sliding them up slowly over her smooth legs, smiled to see her response to the intense thrill of fine silk-and-Lycra gliding over female skin, smiled as she imagined what sensations must now be shooting through Warren's rather rudimentary neural network of silk, cotton and nylon fibers, a network infinitely less complex than the nervous system of a roundworm, but now perfectly suited to Warren's new state of existence as four separate articles of women's underwear.
Virginia pulled up her panties as high as her navel, felt the gusset, which, Lia had taken care to make one of Warren's particular pleasure points—the others being the cups of the brassiere and the garters' elastic—Virginia felt the gusset's downy softness against her even softer labia. She pulled them up just a little bit higher, until she felt her groove slightly indented. She released the waistband with a crisp little snap, ran her palms down over her hips and tummy, then felt behind her and fluffed up her frills just as an elegant bird preens its plumage. She tugged down her garters (thrilling Warren anew), straightened them (one was turned wrong side out), and pirouetted several times in sheer delight, the garters swirling outwards, though constrained half-way up by the leg bands' elastic.
Lia glanced at her watch and momentarily frowned, but was she evidently enjoying Virginia's performance far too much to interfere, for she allowed the new girl free rein to finish her ritual lingerie dance. Virginia now approached the bed in tiny, mincing steps, almost sur les pointes, (the lush carpet allowing her to do so without hurting her toes). While fluttering in place, she bent lightly over the bed and plucked up the brassiere, then flitted back to the room's center, where she slipped her arms into the straps, drew them over her shoulders, then reached round her back and took hold of either end of the band. Bowing gracefully forward, she neatly caught her breasts in the cups, then straightened her spine and deftly hooked both ends together in one sweeping movement she ran her fingers under the cups' edges to settle them around her breasts, which she had not, in any event, pinched with the underwire.
Virginia now whirled back for the slip, which she dropped on over her head; she shimmied briefly to let it settle smoothly about her, though, to make certain, she ran her palms downward over it just the same—sides, front and rear. At this point, Lia, enchanted despite her hurry, pulled the blue valise towards her, extracted a pair of taupe nylons—real ones, seamed and fitted, with Egyptian heels and very dark welts—and passed them to Virginia, who, with a blissful smile fixed on her lips, sat on the edge of the bed. With slip slightly hiked, she alternately pointed each leg high into the air, arching her toes, drew on each stocking, expertly fastening the front garters. Then she stood, smoothed them upwards, and, looking over alternate shoulders, fastened the rear ones as well. Her taut nylons, now tented sharply upwards where gripped by the garter tabs, evenly transmitted their tug to the garter belt round her waist, producing a marvelously delectable tension with every least little movement, as if Virginia were a well-tuned string instrument.
Lia now gave Virginia the dress, of dark blue merino wool, finely woven and elegantly tailored, sleeveless and sufficiently light for summertime wear, not too low-cut, with a nicely flared skirt falling to just below the knee and belted with a broad self-fabric belt. (Virginia had no way of knowing, of course, that the dress was, in fact, another "converted" Pioneer Heights homeowner who had had several run-ins with Lia over his precious shrubbery.) Virginia put the dress on over her head, wriggled herself into it, reached behind her to pull the zipper up with a high-pitched whiz, then effortlessly reaching behind her neck, did up the tiny double hooks at the top of the closure.
Lia placed a pair of shoes, side by side, on the carpet—dark blue opened-toed pumps with two inch heels and narrow ankle straps (yet another neighbor)—Virginia stepped into them and buckled the straps. As she straightened up, she now felt herself to be a demure young woman, and one impeccably dressed. She felt confident and serene; she found herself looking forward with placid acceptance to wherever Lia was planning to take her.
So far, not a word had passed between the two women since Lia's admonition about the proper position of the garter belt under—not over—the panties. This time it was Virginia who spoke, in an already well-modulated soprano:
"Now, Miss Carmichael, will you help with my makeup and hair?"
"Certainly, dear," replied the witch, well-pleased with the rapid progress of her—literally—spellbound pupil. She guided Virginia by her elbow to seat her before Angela's vanity, covered with an ample array of Avon products, and continued, "But we shall have to be quick, for we are running out of time. You start with your hair, while I choose the cosmetics."
Virginia seated herself before the mirror, her legs together and tucked slightly behind her to one side, her posture erect as she sat on the stool—spine straight and shoulders thrown back, (which thrust her breasts gratifyingly forward). Her hair, being quite fine, had by now dried of itself, so only a few dozen brush strokes were needed to bring her short bob to burnished perfection, with a little, natural inwards flip at the base of the cut. Lia had already assembled foundation, blusher, lip liner and lipstick, as well as eye shadow and eyeliner—but no mascara: Virginia's lashes were so long and thick that mascara would have been an insult to them, like putting red paint on a rose already perfectly red.
With deft pats of her puff Virginia applied face powder, then, with confident strokes of brush, pencil and lipstick finished her makeup, leaning close to the mirror at times and backing farther away at others to assess balance and symmetry, angling her face in different planes the better to catch the light. Spotting small imperfections, she approached the mirror closely and titivated her makeup with the tip of one or the other little finger.
Drawing father away one last time to ascertain that at last her maquillage was perfect, she placed a small gold-studded pearl in the lobe of each ear and a short single strand of cultured pearls around her neck. She then lightly arose from the stool and turned to the wall mirror again—to regard the reflection of a doe-eyed, lovely young woman of confident bearing and mien, impeccably dressed and made up with consummate refinement—dressed and made up precisely as she had been doing since her late teenage years.
Virginia's metamorphosis was now complete, right down to her unwitting self-deception of lifelong femininity. The world was now ready to receive her —a prototypically graceful feminine creature, who only hours earlier had been a man with two days' growth of beard, grumping about vapid females addicted to makeup!
While Lia was busy folding the quadripartite Howard back into his blue valise (for he was an ensemble, too, in lovely champagne-colored nylon tricot), Virginia continued to admire herself in the mirror, striking various poses, turning about, then looking over one shoulder or the other to assess how she appeared from behind. "Oh, dear!" she exclaimed to herself upon detecting one stocking seam to be ever-so-slightly out of alignment. Innately abhorrent of such imperfection, she hiked up dress and slip, and, regarding herself in the mirror, undid the errant garters, straightened the seam and refastened the tabs.
When she turned around, Lia was proffering her a small, oxblood leather clutch purse.
"Take this," Lia said, as Virginia accepted it, "It has everything you'll need for today. You can look at what's in it in the car. Now let's go!" And she tugged the girl by the wrist, pulling her towards the door.
This time Lia went first, and Virginia followed, out the bedroom, down the hallway with the red-tiled floor (her little wet footprints having long since dried and vanished), past the silent stuffed sentinel dogs (which Virginia glanced at with secret approval), out the front door and down the flagstone walk to the waiting Mercedes. This time two sets of heels clacked smartly on the flagstones with the sound of billiard balls striking together.
Virginia found herself aroused by the mere act of walking—the soft tug and pull of the garters' elastic (arousing for Warren as well), making her conscious, with each step, of the long, silky sheath of stocking snugly encasing each leg; of the faint coolness of air moving softly over nylon; of the tautness of her calves induced even by the modest heels she was wearing. No matter she had felt these sensations thousands of times before (for, as I have said, Virginia already imagined that she had been born female)—she would never take them as a matter of course. Being aroused while walking in stockings and heels was, after all, a woman's birthright—something precious, to be savored each time as if it were the first.
She felt her full breasts raised and held caressingly by her brassiere, as though cupped in gentle hands. The sensation of having a broad expanse of exposed skin from neck to décolletage, was always pleasant, a sanctioned semi-nudity allowed only to women. But, above all, her openness to the air below never failed to convey her omnipresent sexual vulnerability, to remind her that she was, in fact and by temperament, a defenseless creature with nothing more substantial than a thin film of cotton-lined silk guarding her soft penetralia from the hard, masculine world beyond the confines of her dress. This constant reminder of penetrability, always slightly unnerving, was highly erotic. By the time Virginia had reached the car, the gusset of her panties was quite moist—a normal state of affairs—(while Warren had been thrown into sensory overload).
Lia opened the front passenger door of the long pink Mercedes. Virginia, lightly grasping the hem of her dress, sat down sideways, legs together, feet still on the driveway, outside the car, then she swung her legs in and smoothed down her dress in an unbroken motion. Lia closed the door with the solid and satisfying "ker-chunk" that is heard only with the most expensive of automobiles, then went around to the driver's side, entered the vehicle, closed her door and switched on the ignition, while Virginia snuggled herself down into the soft calfskin leather of the luxurious seat.
Using only the rear view mirror, Lia smoothly backed the Mercedes out of the driveway, unwaveringly and straight as an arrow, touching neither lawn nor azaleas. Once out onto the road, she spun the steering wheel like a pro, and shot forward with a faint squeal of rubber on asphalt. In a moment, she was cruising at sixty on the quiet residential street, deserted at this mid-morning hour. They drove, without speaking, in the sepulchral silence of the heavy automobile, through Pioneer Heights, then switch-backed down the Zimmerman Trail along the face of the bluffs and onto Riverside Parkway.
Virginia was glad for the quiet, as it gave her more time to savor her voluptuousness, which, ever since reaching puberty, she had done whenever she was able—or so she fancied in her enchanted brain. She wriggled her ample behind into the soft leather seat and repeatedly crossed and uncrossed her legs, delighted, as ever, at the fine whiz of nylon on nylon, and at the increasingly lubricious friction of her labia rubbing together, shooting crystalline shafts of unrefined pleasure up into her tummy. She longed to touch herself lightly again, to feel the subtle inception of her delicate groove, to trace it languidly downwards once more until it deepened into a warm crevasse and would yield abruptly to the gentle pressure of her finger…
But her reverie was interrupted, for, after Lia had skillfully negotiated the entrance from Riverside onto the Truman Expressway, she at last turned towards Virginia and spoke:
"You are no doubt wondering, Virginia, what this morning has been all about. Since I have put you (and several of your more obnoxious neighbors and poor Warren here) through the wringer, so to speak," Lia said, briefly reaching her right hand over to lift Virginia's dress and rubbing the lace hem of her slip between thumb and fingers to assay the quality of her latest handiwork, "I suppose you are entitled to an explanation.
"I must say," she continued, withdrawing her hand as she accelerated past ninety to pass a pokey delivery van, cutting in so close in front of it that the driver mouthed an obscenity, "that is superior lace! The slip alone is worth eighty-five dollars; the whole ensemble twice that. And consider the negligible cost of materials, not to mention the negligible amount of labor—a few magic glances, that's all! Which brings me to the point, Virginia. You see, I have decided to diversify, branch out, go beyond cosmetics. I am taking you to the grand opening of the first in a new chain of boutiques, called All Girl. You are to be the sales supervisor, Virginia.
"All Girl carries the full line of Avon products, of course, but its main attractions are my new lines of Living Lingerie and Living Couture, both of which you are at this very moment wearing. At first, I thought the secret to success in Zenith was transmuting men into women in order to sell them cosmetics. That was rewarding enough, though predictably boring after a while. But I wanted more challenge—uncomplicated transmutations had become quite humdrum after so many centuries. I don't know how many men I've turned into girls—more than a thousand, I'd guess.
"In the course of a botched routine transformation last April, I discovered I could transmute men into articles of female clothing of the very highest quality—a milestone in the annals of creative witchcraft, I can assure you. So I turned this guy into a six-gartered basque, the next into a teddy, the next—a bra, and so on. Within months I had advanced to complete ensembles. though it was a while before I could match the colors perfectly."
Virginia, listening intently, thought she felt her bra and panties quiver for a moment or two, but she could not be certain that it was not she herself who was doing the quivering. She raised her fine eyebrows interrogatively and waited for Lia to continue.
"Transmuted women, it turns out," Lia resumed, "have a very soft spot (no pun intended, my dear) for transmuted lingerie. They are willing to spend a good part of their disposable income on it, and, as my lingerie is designed to crave transmuted women, everyone ends up happy—as long as a girl doesn’t launder with hot water or bleach. Zenith, with the National Hospital for Transmuted Women located here, is an ideal site for my first All Girl boutique. And guess what? The boutique is in the hospital itself, in the main lobby, across from the gift shop. Location is everything, you know.
"Now, I realize that I can be rather off-putting at times—I do not always project the most friendly persona. And, besides, I don't have the time to be at the shop and run my Avon delivery business—what with recruiting new lingerie and other duties as required. That's where you come in Virginia. I needed a demure and elegant girl to run the place (you'll have two assistants, both of them new transmutes as well).
"Fortunately, I remembered that your wife, Angela, was out of town for a number of weeks, and that you were, therefore…um, available, pending certain essential modifications, which, by the way, I don’t notice you are strenuously objecting to." Lia paused, turning once more to glance at the girl, to assess her reaction.
Virginia shifted her legs once more, then smiled, almost shyly. "Why should I object, Miss Carmichael?," she responded, ignoring the reference to Angela, as well as the nonsense about transmutes, "Retail sales is a perfectly good career for a girl, and here you are offering me a supervisory position, no less! I worked several summers—and Christmases, too—at Klopfeld's, in the cosmetics and perfume departments. I should like selling lingerie, for a change. I must say that your brand is the most, ah, comfortable I have ever worn, so I can honestly recommend it to the clientele on a personal basis…"
Virginia did not, of course, realize that she was confabulating—drawing on phantom memories Lia had been implanting telepathically ever since she barged into the house only a couple of hours ago. The witch, after all, was skilled at her craft, and rarely produced shoddy merchandise. Virginia was, indeed, a new girl, no matter that she fancied herself female by birth. What was different, of course, was the intensity of her newly minted female sensations, which, however much she might already consider them familiar, were being felt by her new body and were impinging on her feminized brain for the very first time.
In short, Virginia was delighted to be a girl, thought she had always been one, and planned to savor every moment of her female existence for the rest of her life. She considered herself the luckiest creature on earth! Young, pretty, dressed in beautiful clothes and in a perpetual state of mild arousal, relieved only by intervals of the wildest sexual ecstasy—she was on top of the world!
Presently Lia reached the Stapleton Avenue exit, took it, and within a minute or two had passed through the hospital gates and up the broad, tree-lined approach, flanked by nicely-manicured parklands on either side.
"You even have your own parking space, dear," said Lia, as she pulled into the parking lot and berthed the Mercedes in a space with a newly-painted sign at its end that read: "Reserved—All Girl Sales Supervisor."
"Now, let's get on with the show," Lia said, switching off the ignition, "There're bound to be quite a few customers waiting. The grand opening was announced for eleven, and it's already twenty minutes past the hour."
The two women left the car and clicked smartly across the parking lot and into the grand art-deco lobby of the great hospital—like all great hospitals, a little city unto itself, with what amounted to a small shopping mall. The "gift shop" was a lavish affair, a two-story miniature department store, really. Besides the gift shop were a hairdresser, a dry cleaner, three restaurants in a range of prices, an 80-seat movie theater, a book-and-music shop, a portrait photographer, a florist, and, with a near-frantic crowd of female transmutes knotted expectantly in front of its doors—the All Girl Boutique.
Two very young blonde women, perhaps twenty-one or twenty-two, wearing, not by coincidence, the same dark blue merino wool dress that Virginia had on (as well as the same low-heeled blue ankle-strap pumps), stood nervously inside the glass doors and tried to appear nonchalant, chattering self-consciously to one another and conspicuously ignoring the crowd, which by now was becoming impatient, some talking with great animation, some almost in tears, while others, hands on their hips, looked towards the ceiling as if for forbearance, tapped their toes—and fumed.
The shorter of the two blondes, who was glancing nervously at her wristwatch every ten seconds, saw Lia and Virginia approach. Recognizing Lia, her face registered obvious relief; she took the key she had been holding and unlocked the doors at both top and bottom and swung them inwards. Both blondes jumped back as the mass of transmuted females—shoving (some in not precisely ladylike fashion), twittering and all-in-a-boil—surged into the shop and fanned out to the racks in a frenzy, like locusts descending on a cornfield in August. The lingerie on the hangers, as if whipped up to a high state of anticipation by such an inrush of females, suddenly seemed to sparkle and glitter (and some actually to stir), as if to say, "Over here! Buy me!" And, as if called by sirens, the anxious customers were magically drawn to those very racks holding their proper sizes, in flattering styles and pretty colors they would think most appealing and could not possibly resist.
Though a few shoppers merely looked without buying, most chose at least one garment, so within a very short time, lines had formed at the six changing rooms. Many of the customers, however, certain of satisfaction and far too impatient to queue up, took their purchases directly to the registers, so very eager were they to get home and put them on (but no less eager than were the garments themselves to be taken to their new homes and worn next to a woman's soft skin).
In the midst of this turmoil, Lia managed to introduce Virginia to the two blonde salesgirls—Rose (the taller, with very short, nicely shingled hair and pale blue eyes) and Daphne (the shorter, with straight, shoulder-length hair, brown eyes and an adorable overbite)—both of them "transmutes by Lia", and both, like Virginia, so constituted to believe they had always been women, though, in their last moments each night before sleep finally robbed them of consciousness, they would fleetingly remember their maleness, as if a bad dream. They would thank God that they were what they were, and fall into the special deep, peaceful slumber allowed only to girls.
Rose and Daphne ran the cash registers, while Lia showed Virginia around the boutique, decorated in "Nouveau" Art-Deco style, with "quilted" stainless steel wall panels, elegantly tiny halogen track lights and lush silver-colored carpeting throughout. Vivaldi's The Four Seasons played discreetly in the background. The décor radiated understated opulence; Virginia was quite pleased with the prospect of working there.
By a little after one o'clock, the crowd had thinned, replaced by a steady stream of well-dressed transmuted females of all sizes and ages, from teenagers to matrons. The racks had become noticeably depleted, particularly the two-piece baby doll nightie ensembles, which were nearly sold out. (The nighties were a special consignment from Parris Island, where several platoons of Marines had come up unaccountably missing after unusually strenuous nocturnal swamp warfare games.) The receptacles next to the registers were nearly filled with hangers and the girls had run out of the elegant green foil shopping bags with handles of purple-and-silver braid. Lia ordered in sandwiches for all, which they devoured during a brief lull in the action, then she and Virginia took a turn at the registers while Rose and Daphne brought out more merchandise from the stockroom and replenished the racks.
By the six o'clock closing time, the three young women were exhausted, but Lia, still going strong, was gaily printing out the total receipts for the day. "We grossed thirteen thousand two hundred and fifty-five dollars in less than seven hours, girls!" she exulted. "But, more important, we have placed a great deal of our lonely lingerie in new homes. Most of my silky and lacy little "converts" are probably in ecstasy even as we speak, enjoying the benefits that only such pieces of intimate female apparel can enjoy: being worn by women—it takes so little to please their little fabric hearts now."
The three girls, eyes round with wonder, looked at one another and tittered, not really knowing what Lia was ranting about. They were quite overtired and had therefore become rather silly, as overtired girls often will do. Each was, of course, clad, next to her own skin, in Lia's "Living Lingerie," but their minds were beclouded by Lia's powerful magic, so that they were not aware of the provenance of what they were wearing. Lia found the irony of their ignorance exceedingly diverting—she loved watching the girls' feminine silliness, she loved listening to their innocent, silvery laughter, and congratulated herself yet again on her own marvelous work. Between the generous first day's take and the three perfect girls she had fashioned—who were still giggling almost hysterically in spiraling giddiness—Lia was in an exceptionally good mood.
Lia felt so expansive, in fact, that she took the girls to out to dinner at Le Papillon d'Or, Zenith's fanciest restaurant. Once their tummies were filled with fine French food and wine, Lia drove the girls to the apartment they shared in the Lemoyne Towers—a lovely three bedroom suite (number 928-A), with windows overlooking the great bend of the river. She bade them good-night, and the girls, too tired even to bathe, went straight to bed, where they dreamed girlish dreams and awakened refreshed.
Upon arising next morning, Virginia found that her new surroundings met all her immediate needs—her closet was filled with elegant clothing and shoes in her size and favorite colors, and her dresser with fine lingerie, sweaters, shorts, swimsuits, tennis outfits. She even discovered several sports bras and two pairs of special aerobics shoes. Her vanity was covered with the usual gamut of Avon products, all in shades and hues of which she was particularly fond. In her bathroom—each girl had her own—she found not only her favorite dentifrice, shampoo and conditioner, but also the very brand of tampons she used! How could Lia have known! No trifling detail was overlooked, not even the little retractable clothesline over the tub for hanging out her delicate washing, nor the pink-handled Lady Gillette Mach 3 razor.
Virginia ran a long bath and soaked for half an hour, then put on fresh panties and bra—unaware, of course, that they were themselves transmuted men. She carefully washed yesterday's panties in the sink and hung them to dry over the tub, where they moped forlornly—wet and miserable—yearning only for the next time she would put them on again. Rose and Daphne, in their own bathrooms, were, of course, engaged in similar feminine pursuits, for Lia had programmed them pretty much the same. Their timing was such that they all converged on the kitchen at the same moment, each clad in her robe and with a towel turban wrapped round her hair. They bustled about making breakfast—these enchanted former males—chattering animatedly about the previous day's work, about their hair and nails, their boyfriends, their plans for the weekend.
Rose was a bit out of sorts because (she whined), she had started her period this very morning. Daphne was put out because she had broken one of her nails. Virginia, however, had no complaints, as she was of a happy disposition not prone to find fault, nor to dwell upon the unavoidable inconveniences (and humiliations) of daily female existence, especially one such as menstruation—she actually looked forward each month to her period as a perpetual testament to her womanhood. She was, indeed, All Girl.
Lia picked them up at 8:30 (Virginia's company car was still being detailed at the dealer's) and dropped them off at the hospital entrance: this time they were on their own. Business, though nothing like on the opening day, was nonetheless brisk. Before the girls knew it, the day was over and Lia took them home to prepare for their dates. Needless to say, none of the three slept in her own bed that night; Virginia crept stealthily back to the apartment at about six in the morning—and coincidentally bumped into Rose and Daphne doing the same. They all had a great giggle about it over breakfast—and, to be sure, they compared notes on their beaux and their respective sizes and techniques, as girls will do. But, Dear Reader, though I am loathe to disappoint you, their sexual adventures are not the main theme of our story, and shall have to wait for another time to be told.
Thus was established a general pattern of daily work alternating with…well… with evening "relaxation," so that three weeks very quickly passed, at the end of which the girls were all quite as contented as cats. Rose, though she did yet not know it, was pregnant, but Virginia and Daphne (though they, too, had failed to take proper precautions), were not. The three became fast friends and as much looked forwards to their working together during each day as they did to their lovemaking with their boyfriends at night. As far as they were concerned, life was perfect. It was, after all, so grand to be a girl!
On the morning of the fourth week, everything changed—for Virginia.
She was awakened by the doorbell and the familiar, hysterical yapping of Angela's terriers. When she opened her eyes, she was horrified to find herself back in her old bedroom in Pioneer Heights. And, to her infinite dismay, she found herself to be Virgil again! Virgil with a difference, though, a Virgil with all of Virginia's memories intact! And not merely memories of her work in the All Girl Boutique. No, those were almost humdrum, compared to her memories of her warm and comforting female voluptuousness: of her soft curves and smooth, hairless skin; her lovely breasts and how they bobbed when she walked; her cleft little mound; her eternally moist penetrability; her delicate fingers with their ovaloid nails; her fine hair and high cheek bones; her sweet soprano voice; her full and sensuous lips; her wide hips and broad white belly; the trim internal symmetry of her hidden sexual organs; her high narrow waist and her delicate shoulders.
O! What a horrible fate to awaken male once again after having sampled the rapture of being a woman! Virginia felt weak with remorse—as if an epée had been run through her womanheart—to find herself in a dull and uninteresting man's body again—with a hateful two-day growth of beard, no less. How unbearable after the exquisite pleasures of being a woman! How cruel! She would have screamed, except she knew that she no longer could—that any scream would be coarsely guttural, unfeminine, almost bestial, without the refinement of a woman's true scream. And so, she remained silent.
Instead of screaming, Virgil rolled grumpily out of bed, grabbed his bathrobe and lurched from the bedroom, clumsily tying the belt as he made for the door. He felt like shooting the dogs through the head with a Luger—he had liked them far better when stuffed. Through the sidelight he saw…none other than Lia Carmichael, this time in an electric blue pantsuit, with her typical rictus fixed on her face. She held a small, white Avon shopping bag in one hand.
Virgil opened the door.
"Hi-i-i-i again, Virgil!" Lia blared, "Have you tried those samples I left for you last time? That was a nasty crack you made about its having to be a cold day in hell before you would try them…"
"You know I tried them, Lia," Virgil interrupted, "And you know what they did to me. Now get rid of those dogs again and turn me back into Virginia, you bitch!"
Without dimming her thousand-watt smile, and eyes wide with innocent candor, Lia responded, "I have no idea what you are talking about, Virgil. Who is Virginia? What's this about getting rid of dogs? I think Angela would be quite upset were anything to happen to Cuddly and Curley, here," and she indicated, with a sweep of her free hand, the vile terriers, who had ceased their high-pitched shrieking and had reverted instead to less strenuous snarling, with an occasional snap thrown in for good measure lest someone might foolishly think of praising them for exemplary canine behavior.
"You know damn well what I'm talking about, Lia. Just do it!" Virgil now had a wheedling tone in his voice.
"Virgil," replied Lia, "You're getting soft in the head. I don't want to hear another word on the subject! Now, I know Angela's coming home tonight, so I just popped by with the back-ordered items that were missing from the last delivery. Tell Angela Hi, Hon," and, with that, Lia passed the shopping bag to Virgil, who took it. Then she turned on her heel, clacked down the flagstone walk to her Mercedes, and backed out in her usual fashion, deeply rutting the lawn and destroying a newly-planted rhododendron or two.
The loss of his rhododendrons paled beside no longer being Virginia. Virgil stood numbly in the doorway, tears in his eyes, and watched her go. Then he went inside, had breakfast, showered and shaved, using the same Mesmerize soap-on-rope, talc and after shave as he had used once before. He even took a bath again, pouring the entire remaining bottle of Milk Made bath and shower oil into the tub. He knew, of course, that nothing unusual would happen (besides getting a good shave)—and, of course, nothing did.
Later that morning the doorbell rang again and the dogs erupted once more—as usual. It was Warren, the Zenith Pool and Spa Maintenance man. Warren did not meet Virgil's eyes and, miraculously, he didn't appear too much the worse for wear, either (so to speak), though he had a sickly blue cast. He went about his work and left without speaking.
Later that day Virgil tried to visit the All Girl Boutique, but as men are not permitted anywhere in the hospital for transmuted women, he was unable even to enter the building—he was turned away by a statuesque Valkyrie of a transmute in a shockingly tight security uniform with a Glock .44 on her hip. Virgil asked her about the shop—she denied its existence. Zenith Directory Assistance had no listing for an all-girl anything in Zenith. As for Rose and Daphne, Virgil straightaway paid a visit to the Lemoyne Towers, Apartment 928-A, only to find it occupied by an elderly couple who said they had lived there for more than two decades. He didn't even bother trying to find any of Virginia's boyfriends.
Virgil was disconsolate for several months. His marriage was rocky for longer, but regained an even keel after Angela agreed to stop buying Avon cosmetics and became a Lancôme girl—at greater expense. But it kept peace in the family. The following year, Virgil, Angela, the girls—and the two wire-haired fox terriers—moved away from Zenith to somewhere back East.