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Johns Living Nightmare


John's Living Nightmare
Version 1.1
By Daphne Xu
Copyright 1999

It was time to head off to school -- School, where everyone bugged him
and picked on him. Reluctantly, John finished his last bowl of cereal
and took his dishes to the sink. He scraped them before putting them
in the dishwasher, as Dad always told him to. He stepped into his
boots, put on his coat and gloves, slipped his knapsack over his
shoulders, and said goodbye to his mother as he stepped out the door.

"Have a wonderful day, John," replied Mom, busily typing away at her
computer in the living room.

John sighed. A wonderful day? At school? School never made for a
wonderful day. He slowly trudged the half-mile walk to school.

The walk to school was along a trail leading across an undeveloped
weedy field that separated the neighborhood he lived in from the town
proper. To the right as he walked to school was his neighborhood and
the street that connected it to town. To the left, the field extended
out into the prairie, all the way to the dark hills visible about ten
miles away. Everything was covered with half a foot of dazzling snow.
The sun was bright in the clear-blue sky, and John had to squint to
avoid blinding himself. He stomped through the thick snow, following
a trail of footprints, and not really caring if he stuck to the path.

He reached the bridge that crossed a large creek. Beyond that, just
across the street and a block down to the left, was the school

He arrived with ten minutes to spare before the bell rang. He was
nine years old and in fourth grade. He walked around the playground,
which had been shoveled off to expose the asphalt surface. One
section was painted with bases for kickball or softball. Another
section had a few basketball nets. A slide was nearby, with a set of
monkey bars to the right. He felt bored. Perhaps someone would start
up a brief game of kickball before the bell rang, but he feared that

"Hey, there's Alice!" called a voice behind him. It was Bruce, the
leader of a bunch of fifth-graders who had been picking on him all
year. "Hey, Alice!" John tried to ignore him. "Hey, you deaf or
something, Alice? I'm talking to you!"

John felt so frustrated, so angry, so irritated, that he finally burst
out, "My name isn't Alice! I'm John!" Why couldn't Bruce just accept
that and stop tormenting him like that? His name most certainly was
NOT Alice!

Everyone laughed. "Oooooo," said one of Bruce's friends. "That
girl's feisty, isn't she. Come-on, be nice. Talk to us, Alice."

"I'm not Alice! I'm not a girl!" John screamed.

"You look like a girl. Doesn't she?" asked Bruce of his friends.
"Oh, how did you like Wonderland? Wasn't it cute? Cute just like a
cute girl like you?" He sang in a sneering, mocking tone, "Alice in
Wonderland. How do you get to Wonderland?" His friends took up the
song, the title song from the Disney cartoon.

"I tell you, I'm not Alice, I'm John!" John burst into tears and ran
off. He muttered to himself, why couldn't he simply ignore the big
kids? Why couldn't he come back with, "Sticks and stones may break my
bones, but words will never hurt me," as Grandpa told him? They were
just doing it to bug him he knew, but it tormented him terribly that
anyone might think he was a girl.

How long had it been going on? When did it start? John couldn't
tell. The "Alice in Wonderland" business had only started just after
they showed the Disney cartoon Alice in Wonderland at school. Two
months ago, perhaps. They only started calling him Alice after that
film, but they'd teased him about being a girl earlier on. When
school started, perhaps? John was in fourth grade. This hadn't
occurred last year. His hair was bright yellow, almost exactly like
the girl's hair in Alice in Wonderland. It was shorter, though; only
about eight inches long.

Off and on in the past, John had tried again and again to explain,
calmly and clearly, that he was not a girl, and his name was not
Alice; he was a boy, and his name was John. But Bruce always
continued to pick on him and call him Alice. All his friends did too,
and eventually all the older kids did -- no matter how hard he

The bell rang shortly, to John's relief. John dashed around the
corner of the school with the other students in his class to the
classroom door. Their teacher, Mrs. Prune, opened the door and they
filed in quietly and sat down at their desks.

After lunch, a bunch of boys got together to play touch football.
Football was fun; John loved to play football, so he went up to join

Unfortunately, Bruce was there. "Hey, Alice, you can't play. girls can't play football."

"I'm not a girl!"

A friend of Bruce's continued, "Go away, Alice," and the others boys joined in: "You can't play." "You are a girl." "No girls allowed."
"We don't want girls here." "Girls can't play right." "Girls can't
throw footballs." "Girls can't catch." "Girls are sissy." "Go away,
sissy!" Even some boys whom John thought were friends joined in, to
John's dismay. He turned away in humiliation, with tears in his eyes.

As he walked away, a girl ran up to him. "Hey, come play with us."
It was Joyce, a girl in his class and, although he was slightly
embarrassed to admit it, one of his friends. He usually didn't like
playing with girls -- at least not publicly -- but he followed her to
the monkey bars, where she was playing with several other girls.

They were playing tag on the monkey bars. As soon as John touched the
metal bar to climb, a girl tapped him on the head. "You're it!" she
giggled and climbed away. John clambered up as fast as he could after
the girl, but was too slow. However, another girl appeared just below
him and he tapped her. He jumped up to the next-higher bar, escaping
the girl but bumping his head against another girl.

He stopped and caught his breath. The bars were cold, and John was
glad he'd worn his gloves to school today. He watched the girl chase
another girl round and round the monkey bars -- they were going too
fast, and the girl chasing was too close for the girl being chased to
grab a bar and climb up.

The other girl was caught right underneath John, and she clambered up
to chase him. Within moments, he was having such fun that he forgot
that he was the only boy playing with a bunch of girls. A couple
times, he noticed that he could look up the dresses of the girls, but
they were all wearing tights, so he couldn't see much. They didn't
seem to notice it or to mind it, so he stopped thinking about it.

Before he knew it, the bell was ringing for class to start up again.

The school let out at three o'clock. Fortunately, Bruce and his
friends were nowhere to be seen, as John left the school building and
headed home. As he walked along the sidewalk toward the crosswalk
leading across the street to the creek and the bridge, he passed a
younger boy, a third-grader, heading in the same general direction.
He said, "Hi," as he passed the boy.

"Hi, Alice," the boy returned the greeting.

John started in surprise. He froze, resisting the urge to strangle
the boy. "My name's not Alice," he told the boy, trying his best to
remain calm and patient. "My name is John."

The little boy looked puzzled. "But Bruce told me that you're Alice."
After a short pause the boy continued, "And John's a boy's name."

"I AM A BOY..." John spoke in a loud whisper, trying to avoid shouting
out in anger.

"But Bruce said--"

"Bruce is a liar. Bruce is a meanie. You should never listen to
anything Bruce says." Seeing how confused the boy looked, John tried
to explain clearly. "I'm John. My name is John. My mom and dad have
always called me John. They named me John. Bruce is just a liar."
John kept trying to explain, but the boy looked simply more and more
confused. Exasperated, John finally gave up and continued home.

Joyce, riding by him on her bicycle, called out, "Have a nice day!"
She was on her way to ballet lessons, he knew. Her mother and his
were friends, and her mother often proudly mentioned Joyce's
involvement in ballet. Typical girlish stuff, fine for a girl like
Joyce, thought John. He'd seen pictures of ballerinas, and had
occasionally seen Joyce dressed up for ballet. It was almost
indecent. He would never dare show himself in public like that; he
would just as soon wear a dress.

No, John would never do ballet. He hated sissy things like ballet.
He liked games like football and kickball -- games that real boys played. Ah, yes. Football. Now there was a true man's game. He was
going to grow up and play football all his life. He would never do
anything else. Any real boy would want that. And he was a real boy;
no question about that, despite what Bruce and his gang might say.
Bruce was a meanie.

But how could Bruce make everyone else bug him as well? What kind of
wicked warlock was Bruce, anyway? What kind of magic spell did Bruce
cast over all the other kids, that they would also pick on John? John
just couldn't understand it.

John so desperately wanted to play football; why didn't they let him
play? Then he remembered how he'd played with the girls. He flushed
at the memory. How could he have done that? And how could he have
enjoyed it so much?!? Now everyone was going to call him a sissy, a

John got home and set his graded schoolwork on the table. His parents always insisted that they see his schoolwork after getting it back
graded, so he always left it on the table for them. He took his
schoolbooks up to his room, went back downstairs to get a glass of
milk and some Oreo cookies, and went outside to play.

The next day after lunch, John got off the bus returning to school.
Everyone had to line up in two lines, boys and girls. As usual, John
got in the boy's line.

"Hey, Alice," came a voice all too familiar, behind him. "This is the
boy's line! You belong in the girl's line over there." It was Bruce,
again. John gritted his teeth and tried to ignore him. Bruce called
out to the teacher monitoring them. "Mr. Biggs, Alice here is in the
wrong line." Bruce gesture toward John.

Mr. Biggs turned to John. "Young lady, get in the girl's line!" he

"But--" started John.

"Now!" John jumped and dashed over to the girl's line. "That's
better," approved Mr. Biggs.

The girl's line went in first. John barely held back the tears as he
walked in with the girls. The line headed straight for the girl's
restroom. John balked at entering the girl's bathroom, even though he
had to go pretty badly. Instead, he waited outside with a couple
other girls, and watched as the boy's line went in and went to the
boy's bathroom across the hall.

He spent the lunch recess and the afternoon class squirming until
restroom call just before afternoon recess. When Mrs. Prune, the
teacher, called his row of desks, he walked quickly but steadily to
the boy's room.

Inside, a boy turned to him abruptly. "Alice, you're in the wrong
bathroom. The girl's room is across the hall there." John brushed by
him and entered one of the stalls, latching the door. He had no time
for this nonsense. Ahhhhhh, he sighed as he relieved himself.

At recess, Joyce and her friends asked him to play again. He wanted
to, but he didn't want to. He wanted to have fun with the boys, not
with the girls. It embarrassed him how he'd enjoyed it yesterday.
Yet he'd enjoyed it so much that he really did want to do it again.
He felt confused.

One of the girls said, "Oh, come on, Alice. Play with us."

John froze in dismay, then shouted, "Don't call me Alice! My name's
John! Why is everyone calling me Alice?!?" He ran off to a corner of
the playground and spent the rest of the recess sulking. A couple
people tried to get him to play; but as they called him Alice, he just
grunted and sulked further. Except one time, when he burst out, "My
name isn't Alice! I'm John!"

Back in class after recess, Mrs. Prune had the students read a
paragraph or so out loud from the Reader. Everyone else was supposed
to follow along. John was daydreaming, and only vaguely noticed when
Mrs. Prune thanked the boy in front of him and called out, "Alice."

"Alice!" repeated Mrs. Prune, sternly. John raised his head up to see
Mrs. Prune standing directly over him. John shrank back, intimidated.
"If you would be so kind as to pay attention, we would like you to
read for us, Alice."

Even Mrs. Prune was doing it now! John didn't dare talk back -- no,
no, not with Mrs. Prune. He sat up abruptly and began reading out
loud. Mrs. Prune kept him reading for three paragraphs.

"Very good, Alice," commended Mrs. Prune. "Larry?" John lay his head
down on the desk as the rest of the class finished up the story. He
quietly cried, feeling hopelessly lost and confused.

It took forever, but that last hour of school finally let out. John
sighed with relief -- it was Friday! No more school until Monday!

As he waited to cross at the crosswalk, Joyce rode past him on her
bicycle. "Hey, Alice. I'll seeya Monday!"

"No!!" he shouted, but too late for her to hear; she was away on her
bike by then, leaving John behind both outraged and puzzled. Joyce
was a nice girl, even though she was a girl. She never teased him or
picked on him. Sometimes they played at each other's house. What was
going on here? Even she was calling him Alice now!

He walked on home, mumbling furiously to himself, occasionally yelling
out at nobody in particular.

The next morning, John got up early to watch the Saturday morning
cartoons on television. After breakfast, mom and Dad insisted on
taking him shopping.

At the shopping center, as John was walking with mom and Dad down the
hall, a younger boy came up and greeted him. "Hi Alice."

Oh, the mortification. He simply couldn't bear to have someone call
him Alice in front of mom and Dad. The last thing he wanted was for
his parents to know how everyone called him Alice and thought he was a
girl. Anything but that! The younger boy asked Mom, "Her name is
Alice, isn't it?"

"Yes, she is indeed Alice," answered Mom.

WHAT?!? John started in surprise. It was the ultimate betrayal. He
turned away, just barely holding the tears back; the only thing worse
would be for him to cry in front of everyone.

After the boy left, mom scolded John, telling him how rude it was not
to greet the boy. "You were very impolite. He was being nice to you,
and you embarrassed him."

John was tongue-tied. What about people embarrassing ME? he wondered.
He sniffed a couple times, and a couple tears dripped down from his
eyes; other than that he managed to avoid crying. He wanted to ask
why everyone was calling him Alice, why even his own parents were
joining in picking on him. What was going on? But he was frozen.

Mom was still talking to him about rudeness and politeness, when she
suddenly turned and hugged him. "I'm so sorry, dear. We didn't mean
to make you cry." John hated being hugged -- in public, especially --
and being called dear. mom had never done that to him before, at
least not for a long time. He tried to pull away.

They walked down the mall. After making a left turn and a couple of
right turns, mom stopped at a dancewear store. John wondered what was
going on. They'd never stopped at a place like this before. He had
walked by it often before, and it always embarrassed him when he was
with his parents, because of all the pictures of girls dressed
indecently and strangely on the windows.

The girls all wore variations on the same type of garment. The
garments fit snuggly on the girls, outlining every feature. In one
picture, the girl wore a pink garment, the top of which had short
sleeves, and looked like a tee-shirt. But at the bottom, it was
shaped like a pair of underpants. Her legs stuck out of a pair of
holes, and were completely bare; not even a hint of pants covered her
legs. She was squatting low, her legs spread apart exposing her
crotch covered by a strip of cloth running between her legs, knees
pointed outward but her heels together. She was wearing some kind of
pink ballet shoes.

Another girl wearing a similar black garment with long sleeves, and
additionally wearing white tights, stood next to a bar about as high
as her shoulders. She stood up straight, and her left foot was hooked
over the bar. Her left leg was as straight as could be.

In yet another picture, a girl was bent so far back that her head
peered between her ankles, which she held tightly with her hands. How
could those girls bear to expose themselves like that, and let
themselves be photographed like that? It was shameful! He'd seen
Joyce dressed like that once or twice, when he was over at her house.

John felt antsy looking at those pictures with his parents alongside,
and wanted to move on. But to his surprise, mom insisted on going
inside. Dad said he'd wait outside, and John said that he'd wait too,
but mom said, "No, dear, you have to come in with me. We need to get
you some new equipment." What would he ever need from this place?
John wondered, as he followed mom into the store.

There were more posters of girls inside. The girls were in various
poses, all wearing the same kind of garment. A few girls wore tights,
while others' legs were bare. One picture showed a girl sitting down
with her legs spread so wide that they pointed straight out to the
sides in opposite directions.

John waited nervously while mom talked with the salesman. He blushed
and turned his eyes away when he saw a little girl walking out of the
store with her mother, dressed just like the girls in the pictures,
her legs completely bare.

The salesman presented him a pair of shoes for him to try on. They
were strange shoes, made of some kind of soft green material. Except
for the soles and toes, they were almost like slippers. The toes were
tough and hard. The soles consisted of two separate pieces, one for
the ball of the foot, one for the heel. They didn't have shoelaces;
instead, there were straps which he had to wrap and tie tightly around
his ankle, to keep the shoe on. It took a couple minutes, with the
salesman's help to get the shoes on finally. The shoes were quite
tight, and they felt strange to walk in. "They're for ballet and
dancing. They have to be tight."

"Dancing? Ballet?" John felt queasy.

"Yes, dear," answered his mother as John took off the shoes. "And now
we'd like you to go to the dressing room and try this on. We think
it's your size." mom handed him a bright green garment just like the
ones the girls wore in the pictures, with short sleeves, holes for his
legs, and a narrow strip going between his legs. The garment was made
of soft stretchy material, and looked much too small for him. "Then
come out, and we'll see how it looks on you."

"WHAT?!? I can't wear that!" John looked in desperation at the girls on the posters. "What's going on?"

"Don't you remember, Alice? You're starting ballet next month.
You're going to be in Joyce's class; won't you like that?"

It was just too much. John threw the green leotard down to the floor.
"Everyone picking on me!" He kicked the shoes away. "I can't do
ballet; I'm a boy!"

"Now, Alice --" started Mom, as she grabbed John's shoulders.

"Don't call me Alice!" John furiously twisted out of Mom's hands and
pushed her away hard, almost causing her to fall down. "Why is
everyone calling me Alice?" Spotting a shelf of various types and
colors of dance shoes to his left, he jumped up and kicked it -- ow,
his foot twisted! The pain only infuriated him all the more, and he
pushed harder, knocking the shelf over, spilling the shoes and
everything on the shelf. "I'm not Alice; I'm John!" He kicked
another shelf over on the right and spilled dozens of packages of
leotards. Then he picked himself up and ran screaming toward the

He only vaguely noticed others stopping and watching him, and only
vaguely heard mom call out, "Alice, stop that this instant!" He
nearly collided with a girl and her mother coming in the doorway, but
he ran around them as the mother shouted, "Hey, watch where you're
going!" He ran out of the store and dashed down the hall, dodging
people who scrambled to get out of his way and cursed him out.

He was grabbed and picked up from behind. It was his father. He
struggled in vain, kicking out at nothing and screaming. His father carried him tight under his arm out to the car. He barely heard and
saw mom catching up with them and walking beside them out to the car.

Dad sat down in the front passenger seat of the car, and turned John
over onto his lap, face down and rear end up. Dad yanked John's jeans
and underpants down to his knees, grabbed a hairbrush, and slammed his
rear end with the bristle side. John screamed in pain, and Dad
slammed him again, and again a third time. Through it all, John
continued screaming and yelling, "Stop it!!"

Dad told John to pull up his pants, get in the back seat, and remain
silent. "If I hear a peep out of you, you're going to get more of the
same when we get home." John slid his pants up as quickly as possible
and crawled between the backs of the front seats into the back seat.
His rear end still stung from the hairbrushing. He buried his face in
the seat cushion and quietly cried. Everything was so unfair, why
were they all doing this to him? What was going on?

John didn't notice that they'd arrived home until Dad opened the back
door of the car. "Get out, Alice. Get inside and go straight to your
room." mom was already up at the front door, unlocking it.

"But Dad--" John started, wanting to tell Dad what had happened.

"One!" barked Dad. John screamed and ran up to the front door as Dad
barked, "Two!" nearly tripping over a dirty, hard pile of snow. He
quickly opened the door and dashed around mom up to his room. John
knew from past experience that if Dad got to three, he would get
another hard spanking with the hairbrush. He jumped onto the bed and
bounced up and down angrily a couple times before flopping down

He had no idea how much time passed, when mom entered the room. John
couldn't bear to face Mom, and pressed his face down in the pillow.

John pressed his face down further, so that he could barely breath,
and pressed the pillow up against his ears.


John suddenly jumped up and shouted, "What's going on? Why are you
calling me Alice?"

"Alice, are you feeling okay?"

"No! I'm feeling just awful! Everyone's like Bruce, picking on me,
calling me names, calling me a girl, calling me Alice! I can't stand
it any more! Why is everyone doing this to me?"

Mom looked perturbed and distressed -- as though she were about to
cry. John momentarily felt sorry for her, and embarrassed at all the
trouble he was causing. mom continued, "You really are disturbed."
Mom felt him on his forehead. "There's no sign of a fever or

"I'm not sick! I just hate everyone picking on me!"

"Now, calm down. Calm down, Alice."

"I'm telling you, my name's not Alice!"

"Now Alice, you're getting hysterical. You must calm down, so that
you can think clearly. Just hold tight; I'll be back in a minute."
Mom went out, and returned shortly with a glass of water and a bottle
of pills. She gave him one pill and the water, saying, "You must
sleep. You'll feel better later on." John wondered if he really was
going crazy. Reluctantly, he put the pill in his mouth and chased it
down with the glass of water.

His mother quickly bent down and kissed him on the cheek, before
leaving as John cringed in embarrassment and disgust. Kissing, yuck!
he thought. Why did mom do that?

John lay there for awhile, fuming over everything, but slowly strange
feelings began to creep over him. He began to feel sleepy, but it was
not mere drowsiness. He felt like something was buzzing through him,
making him itch to move about yet making him sleepy at the same time.
Eventually, he fell asleep.

He woke up that night. He had no idea what time it was, but it was
pitch-dark outside the window. He tossed and turned in bed, unable to
get back to sleep no matter how hard he tried. After awhile he got
up, turned on the lights, and got out a book to read.

A few hours later, the sky began getting light outside. John went
downstairs to watch television.

His parents came downstairs while he was in the middle of Davy and
Goliath. "Alice," exclaimed Mom. "We didn't say you could come out
of your room. Go back upstairs to your room. We'll call you down
when breakfast is ready."

"But, Mom!" started John, realizing how hungry he was, having missed
supper last night.

"Go to your room. Now!" barked Dad. "One..."

John screamed and immediately ran up to his room, slamming the door.

"Alice, don't slam the door!" called mom from downstairs.

John jumped on the bed a couple times, but he eventually quieted down
and lay in bed.

Mom called him down to breakfast about half an hour later. He ate in
silence and humility, and mom and Dad didn't say anything about his
behavior. He thought about bringing up the subject and asking why
they were calling him Alice now, but he was too scared to bring it up.

So, after breakfast, he went back up to his room. He spent the rest
of the day in his room. mom let him out only for lunch and dinner.
He spent part of the time reading, and the rest of it grumbling and
griping to himself about how unfair they were treating him. He wasn't
Alice, dammit, he kept telling himself. He was John!

The day last forever, but it finally ended. mom made John swallow another sleeping pill that night.

Monday morning, as John got up and got dressed, mom came up and told
him that he wouldn't be going to school today. "Alice, your Dad and I
have talked this over, and we've agreed that we have to take you to a
doctor this morning. Something really appears to be the matter with
you, and you seem awfully disturbed."

"Mom, please!" begged John, near tears again. A doctor? Was
something really wrong with him? What could it be? John was quite
scared. "Why is everyone calling me Alice?"

"Yes, you really are confused and disturbed," said Mom. "Come along,
let's go." John just didn't know what else to say, so he followed mom out of the room.

"Did mom tell you?" asked Dad in the hall, at the top of the stairs.
John nodded. "You do realize, don't you, the trouble you're causing?
Because of this, I have to miss half a day of work."

John said nothing, and followed his parents out to the car.

John didn't know where they drove, except that they were somewhere in
the city, downtown perhaps. They stopped and got out at an imposing
building. John looked the building up and down, before following mom and Dad into the building. They rode up an elevator, and then walked
down the halls, turning left, then right, then right, then left again.

They stopped at a door. Dad knocked, before opening the door, and
they entered some kind of receptionist's office.

Mom told him to sit down, while they settled things. John got a
magazine from the table and looked through it. The pictures, mainly
of adult women in makeup and jewelry and all sorts of clothes, all
looked weird to John -- was everyone going to make him dress like that
as an adult? The articles that he tried to read were

Mom and Dad sat down next to him, and got magazines of their own to
read. About half an hour later, a woman called out their last name.

Dad said, "Well, that's us now. This had better be good." They
followed the woman down a short hall, and into an office. A
white-haired, kindly-looking old man stood up and came out from behind
his desk.

"Thank-you so much for seeing us today, on such short notice,"
breathed Mom. "We're so worried; this was so sudden and unexpected."

"That's quite all right, Ma'am. Please come on in, both of you." The
man smiled down at John, as he added, "I hope you won't mind waiting
outside just a few minutes. I have to talk to your parents, first."

"Okay," answered John. Even though the man seemed rather nice, John
still felt scared of talking to him.

Mom and Dad went in with the old man, and John sat down on the floor
outside the door. He could vaguely hear them talking inside; he even
picked up a word or two. He thought he made out the word Alice a few
times, but he wasn't sure. He fumed, just thinking about it.

After a few minutes, mom and Dad came out, with the doctor appearing
behind them. mom told John to go into the room with the doctor.
"This is a very nice man, Alice. You can trust him and tell him

John resisted the temptation to reply, and instead just went into the
room with the doctor. The office had a desk at one side, a couple
chairs in front of the desk, and shelves of books covering the other
three walls.

"Have a seat." The doctor took a clipboard with a notepad, and wrote.
"My name is Terrance Jones. Do you know what I am, what kind of work
I do?"

"You're a doctor," answered John.

"That's almost correct. I'm actually a psychiatrist," answered
Mr. Jones. "Do you know what a psychiatrist does?"

John wasn't sure; he'd only seen one on the tv show "I Dream of
Jeannie." John answered, "I don't know. You're like Dr. Bellows?"

"Ah, you've watched `Jeannie.'" The Doctor wrote something on his
notepad. "That was a funny television show. However, its portrayal
of the psychiatrist is quite inaccurate. We aren't so... well, how to
put it? Confused, bumbling,..."

"Stupid?" asked John.

"Well, I wouldn't put it that way. Anyway, I am a doctor of sorts.
I'm a doctor of the mind. Sometimes, someone's mind gets sick. You

"Well, sort of." John didn't really understand; he was a little
confused, afraid that his mind might be sick.

"And when their mind is sick, we help make them well again. But
enough about me. Tell me about yourself, Alice."

"First, my name isn't Alice! Why is everyone calling me Alice? My
name is John. I'm a boy, not a girl!"

"Oh, I see. We have a major problem here." Dr. Jones wrote something
on his notepad. "Tell me about it."

"Well..." struggled John. He couldn't think of what to say for a
moment. Then, "It's Bruce. He and his buddies, they always picked on
me. They've been calling me Alice -- `Alice in Wonderland,' they
always said."

"`Alice in Wonderland'? That's very interesting."

"Yes. You know, the movie. They showed that Disney movie at school.
Bruce and his gang started calling me `Alice in Wonderland' after we
saw it."

"After you saw Alice in Wonderland?"


"Kids can be very mean like that," explained the Doctor. "After
seeing a movie like Alice in Wonderland, they will tease a girl named
Alice about it. They do that all the time, and you can't really stop
it. It's best not to be bothered by it too much -- if you can help
it, that is."

"You don't understand! My name isn't Alice. Bruce and his friends
called me Alice ever since that movie! Now, everyone's calling me
Alice. The teachers... and now mom and Dad!"

"So tell me about this Bruce," suggested the Doctor.

"Well," John didn't know what to say. He could barely think of
anything. "He's in fifth grade, in Mrs. Hayley's class. "He, uh, his
hair is short. Very short, like a crewcut. It's black, and it stands
straight up. He's a bully."

"A bully?"

"Yes, a bully. He always picks on me."

"Do you think that Bruce might have a crush on you?"

"A crush? What is a crush?" John didn't know what crush meant, but
he had the nervous feeling that he didn't want to find out.

"Well, Alice ---"

"Don't call me Alice!"

"Calm down, now. You mustn't get hysterical. Now --" The Doctor
hesitated. "What did you say your name was?"


"Okay John," he smiled. "You wanted to know what a crush was? Well,
sometimes a boy is attracted to a girl." John heart sank. This was
very embarrassing, to have an adult talk to him about such girlish
things. "The boy will sublimate his feelings, perhaps due to peer
pressure and the instinctive feeling that everyone will call him a
sissy. He instead acts out his feelings through certain behaviorally
unapproved acts like pulling the girl's hair, stealing her cap, or
calling her names."

Most of that went completely over his head, although he understood
some of it such as "call him a sissy" and the last part of pulling
hair, stealing cap, and calling names. He thought a moment. A boy who likes a girl would call her names? And pull her hair? He
couldn't understand that.

"But what does that have to do with me?" asked John, puzzled.

"Well, as I was saying, John, he might have a crush on you."

"But you said he would have a crush on a *girl*. I'm a boy!"

"Ah, yes. I think you said that before. That is indeed a
difficulty." The Doctor paused a moment, and then changed the
subject. "Your mother told me that you had some kind of breakdown
Saturday morning. Is that true?"

John blushed at the memory. Why did mom tell the Doctor about that?
John had made a real spectacle of himself, he recalled. "Mom and Dad
were mean!" he declared.

"Tell me about it," suggested the Doctor.

He tried to explain, stammering horribly. "Well, to start out, they
made me go with them to the mall, that morning. And then, we were at
the mall, and someone from school called me Alice."


"No-no, not Bruce. Not one of his gang, either. A third-grader, I
think. I didn't know him much. Anyway, he called me Alice. mom and
Dad were right there, even! And then, he asked mom if my name was
Alice, and mom said that it was!" John shivered at the memory of the

"I understand. Please go on."

"Mom got mad at me, because I wasn't nice to the boy after he called
me Alice." He said that last bit quickly, stammering a little.

"Oh? What did you do?"

"I didn't do anything?" John said quickly, thinking that the Doctor
thought he'd done something bad.

"Then why was your mother mad at you?"

"I think it was because I didn't say hi back to him after he called me
Alice. And then, we stopped at a --" John hesitated, embarrassed to
say it, "-- dance store, and we went in."

"A dance store? Interesting."

"They sold, you know," John hesitated. "The kind of clothes girls wear for ballet. mom made me try on ballet shoes, and then she wanted
me to try on one of those ballet things!"

"And that's when you lost it?"

John was too embarrassed to reply.

Your mother told me that you started kicking things, and then ran out
of the store. Is that right?"

"Mom was going to make me get ballet clothes and make me do ballet!"
John complained. "I can't do a girlish thing like ballet!" He
immediately blushed at saying girlish to an adult. It was such a
girlish thing to say. "I'm a boy! Boy's don't do ballet! I like
football and kickball!"

Dr. Jones nodded sympathetically. Encouraged, John continued to tell
his story. He wondered whether he should tell about the hairbrushing.
But it embarrassed him too much, that he just couldn't bear to mention
it. He left it out.

After some time, the Doctor asked, "Well, Al--- I mean John, you are
certain that you are a boy?"

"Yes, I'm a boy! I'm not a girl! I've never been a girl! I always
use the boy's room at school. I've always been a boy."

"Are you sure your name is John?"

"Yes! I've always been called John!"

"Are you sure? You're absolutely certain that your parents haven't
always called you Alice?"

"Yes! I remember!" John struggled mentally. He suddenly couldn't

"Do you actually remember a time when your mother or your father actually called you John? A single time?"

John struggled in panic and confusion. He tried to think back to the
many times he talked with his parents, but he just couldn't for the
life of him recall the details of any one specific time; it was all
just a blur of random memories that he could not seize upon.

"Just one time?" pressed Dr. Jones.

John had to admit. "No, I can't remember any. I just can't

Dr. Jones said, "Well, I think that this has been enough for now. Go
out, and call both of your parents in for me, if you will."

John left and called mom and Dad. After the door closed behind mom and Dad, he stood in front of the door, and put his ear next to the
door. He listened as well as he could. He only heard mostly isolated
words and phrases: "Paranoid ... she actually thinks ... John ...
paranoia ... sanitarium ... medication ... Alice ... schizophrenia."
He backed away in fear, thinking to himself. He's crazy! He's a nut!
They're going to put him away! Put in him in a mental hospital, an
insane asylum! He returned to the waiting from and sat down on one of
the seats, feeling sick with terror.

After an eternity passed, his parents came out with the Doctor. mom and Dad both had a nervous expression on their faces. The Doctor
shook John's hand, and said, "It was good talking with you. I hope to
see you again in a few days."

On the way home, John remained silent in the back seat. He wondered
what was going to happen, but was too scared to ask. mom and Dad were
also silent.

When they got home, John was about to go to his room, but mom told him
stay in the living room. "We're going to have to have a family Council now," she said soberly. They'd never had a "Family Council"
before; John didn't know what one was, but it sounded serious.

In the living room, Dad sat on the rocking chair, mom on one end of
the couch, and John on the other end of the couch. They waited in
silence a moment. Then mom spoke, "We have a serious problem here.
Dr. Jones suggests that medication may be necessary, or even

"No," Dad replied. "That will not be necessary, I'm sure. As I told
the Doctor, we can handle our own problems on our own. Alice is not
crazy, none of us are. All she needs is a little proper discipline."

"But Dr. Jones says that Alice actually believes that she is a boy named John. She actually believes it. If she is truly so, uh -- I
think that the Doctor used the word delusional -- then, perhaps she
needs some help."

John broke in, "But I am John. You've always called me John, Mom.
Always!" He tried to keep from whining.

His mother answered, "We've never called you John, Alice. You've
always been Alice. Seriously, what is happening to you?"

"But..." John was near tears. "Until Saturday, you called me John.
Don't you remember? Dad?" he pled in desperation, struggling to
remember. He remembered when the Doctor challenged him to remember a
particular time they'd called him John, he couldn't. He still
couldn't even now. Was it possible that...?

"Young lady, as your mother said, you've always been Alice. Your
mother has never been wrong, and it's wrong to challenge your mother.
Now, we realize that you've been having some problems. The Doctor
said that you were confused and suffering from delusions and paranoia
and skits--, uh, skits--"

"Schizophrenia," completed Mom.

"We don't use such fancy words. They don't mean anything anyway,"
continued Dad. "We'll show the Doctor that you are perfectly fine,
and don't need to take drugs, don't need to go to an insane asylum.
You're not insane, Alice." Dad reached over and ruffled John's hair.

"We will keep you out of school this week, as the Dr. Jones suggests,"
continued Mom. "We have another appointment with him Thursday
afternoon. Basically, you need to rest and relax." That, at least,
sounded nice to John. He didn't like school.

"But you have to show us and the Doctor that you are indeed properly
sane," added Dad. "That means none of this `John' business. We don't
want to hear any more complaints or crying, you understand?"

John look back and forth at Dad and Mom. They both had earnest,
serious expressions on their faces.

"Now, Alice, I think you should go upstairs, get in bed, and rest,"
said Mom. "You may read in bed, if you want."

John quietly went to his room and got in bed. He fell asleep before
he knew it. He woke up late in the evening. He lay in bed, feeling
awfully bored, and eventually started tossing and turning. He
couldn't get back to sleep. He thought about the events of the day
and the weekend, and got angrier and angrier.

That spanking in the car on Saturday had hurt badly! His mind
replayed it over and over again. It was so unfair! Why were they
doing that to him? Hitting someone to hurt him is wrong. It's bad!
His name was John, not Alice. He was a boy, not a girl! He tossed
and turned and flopped up and down in fury.

He was going crazy. That was it, he realized. Everyone was driving
him crazy! They were out to destroy him, and they weren't going to
stop until he was completely, totally destroyed. He decided right
then and there, he wasn't going to cooperate any further; he wasn't
going to let them do that to him. He wasn't going to let them destroy

He slipped out of bed, and opened his door a crack. mom and Dad were
still up -- Dad was watching television downstairs, and mom was typing
away at her computer -- so he quietly closed the door and got back in
bed. He lay there quietly fuming, and then again started twisting and
turning, and then bouncing around on his bed. He was mad.

Dad opened the door, and stuck his head in. "Alice, behave yourself."
John immediately froze. Dad closed the door again, and he lay still
for some time, and listened while mom and Dad retired to bed.

No, he thought to himself again. Tomorrow morning, he would put a
stop to it. He would get an explanation about this, or know the
reason why. With that, he turned over and fell asleep.

He got up early the next morning, and went downstairs to watch
television. He was watching "Tennessee Tuxedo," a cartoon about a
walrus and a penguin, when mom and Dad came downstairs. "Alice!" mom exclaimed. "You're supposed to stay in your room and stay in bed."

"Dad and Mom," John tried to articulate, clearly and calmly, his
words. "Mom. Why are you doing to me?" He tried to eliminate the
whine from his voice. "Why are you picking on me? Why are you trying
to drive me crazy; why do you want to destroy me. Please stop it."

"Alice!" mom exclaimed in apparent surprise. "What is this all about?
You promised that you would be good, and show that you aren't insane
and deluded. You don't want to be sent to the mental hospital, do

"But, Mom!" John wailed. He didn't know what to say.

"Now Alice," continued Mom. "The Doctor may be right after all. You
seem to be thinking strange things. You may be paranoid. Now, if you
want to prove that you are healthy and sane, then you must be good.
Now go to your room, and we'll call you down later for breakfast."

"But, Dad..."

"Go to your room. Now!" barked Dad. He held up his hand to count
with his fingers. "One... Two..."

Screaming, John turned and ran upstairs to his room. He slammed the
door, and dived on his bed crying.

About half an hour later, mom opened the door and came in. "Alice,"
she said. John buried his head in his pillow. "I'm saddened that you
could even think we are trying to destroy you," she continued in a sad
tone. "We love you. We would never do anything to harm you."

Even with his head buried in his pillow, he could still hear his
mother clearly. As she continued talking, John began to feel guilty
at causing all this trouble. He had disappointed his mother. He'd
caused lots of trouble by his behavior, he realized. He vowed to
himself that he would be good, and not be bad any more. His mother talked for another fifteen minutes. John didn't react to her words,
but he listened to them.

Finally mom told John that he could come down for breakfast when he
wanted, and left the room, closing the door after herself.

John stayed in bed all day, only coming down for meals.

He didn't go to school Wednesday either.

John didn't mind not going to school, although he felt like he was
doing something wrong. But mom made him remain in bed. He cringed to
himself whenever mom called him Alice, but he managed to be good and
not react.

Around three Wednesday afternoon, mom told him to get up, take a bath,
and get dressed. "We are going shopping this afternoon." John was
surprised at that. Why would they go shopping if he was sick? mom continued, "We have to get you some new clothes and other things."
John wondered what was going on. How could he go out shopping if he
was too sick to go to school? He didn't ask, though.

They went to the same mall that they'd gone to on Saturday. "You will
be good this time?" asked mom pointedly. "You won't make a ruckus
the way you did Saturday morning?"

"No, Mom." answered John. He wished he could put the memory of last
Saturday out of his mind.

They went by a small store dedicated to makeup, and a little later on
by the jewelry store. "We won't get you any makeup or earrings,
Alice," commented Mom. "I won't allow you to wear makeup or earrings
until you're thirteen years old." Thank-you, Mom, for small favors,
thought John.

Mom first took John to a shoe store. They had him try on all sorts of
strange shoes. He was surprised at the variety of girls shoes there
were. John complained that they were all tight on his toes, but mom said that's the way they are. Ultimately, mom got him a pair of clear
pink "fisherman sandals" and a pair of hard black dress shoes. The
shoes didn't have shoelaces; instead, you had to slip your foot in
then tie a strap around your ankle. They were awkward to walk in too.

Then they went to a large department store, and went to the girl's
clothing section. mom led John to a shelf carrying girl's panties.
"We've got to get you some new panties. Let's see now, you want
medium girls. These look lovely -- yellow and blue pastels with pink
flowers and pink hearts."

John almost screamed, but caught himself just in time. "No..." he
said in a stretched high-pitched tone. "I, uh, don't think they're
quite... right," he stammered.

"Oh, I'm sure they'll do wonderfully." mom put them in the shopping
cart, and picked out several other sets. "And how about these
bright-colored panties? And these white Winnie the Pooh panties, and
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, and -- oh, this is so cute." John's
heart sank. "Barney! We'll get them all."

"Moooooooooom, not Barney. Please! I'm not a baby."

"Now, Alice. You promised you'd be good. We're here not only to get
you new clothes, but for your health as well. Dr. Jones says that you
need to learn to become as a little girl." She tossed the panties into the cart.

They went into another isle, where mom got John a few blouses --
white, pink, and light blue. They also got a dozen pairs of tights.
Through it all, John remained silent and grudgingly followed mom around.

Then mom said, "Oh, there's Mrs. Kirshner and Joyce, over among the
dresses and skirts. Let's join them. We have to get you some new
dresses anyway."

Mom and Mrs. Kirshner embraced in greeting, then Mrs. Kirshner looked
down at John. "My my, Alice, it seems like you've grown enormously
every time I see you. You should come over more often." It was true,
John thought. He hadn't been over at Joyce's house for quite some
time. Darned if he'd ever go over again, he thought angrily.

Joyce said to John, "Hi! You weren't in school. We thought you were
sick. I'm glad you're okay!" She smiled.

"Alice had a rather severe nervous breakdown Saturday morning,"
answered Mom. "It happened here at the mall. Monday morning, we took
her to the psychiatrist. Somehow or other, she thinks she's a boy named John. Isn't that bizarre?"

John looked angrily up at Mom. Why was she telling everyone about him
now? And he WAS a boy named John, dammit! But he said nothing.

"Well, you never can tell with the paranoid and the maniac. They'll
imagine the darnedest things." Mrs. Kirshner sighed. "How strange
life is these days. Things were so much simpler when we were growing
up. Then, boys were boys, girls were girls, and everyone knew the
difference. Not like today, when girls try to do all sorts of boy things."

"Alice is recovering rather well now, I think. We hope to show the
psychiatrist that she doesn't need to be committed to a mental

"Oh my! I should hope not."

"This shopping trip is actually part of her therapy, the educational
process to remind her that she really is a girl. Also, I thought that
she should get some nice new clothes. You know," she lowered her
voice almost to a whisper. "We have been quite lackidasical about the
kinds of clothes she wore. I think that was part of the problem; she
dressed too much like a boy." She turned to the dresses, and picked
out a few. "These should look lovely on you," she told John. "Here,
go to a dressing room over there and try them on. If you'd like,
Joyce could go and help you with them."

John grit his teeth. Change clothes with a girl in the room? No way!
"No thanks. I think I can do it myself." He took the dresses and
blouses and made his way to the dressing rooms, which were a
considerable distance away, between the boy's and girl's clothing
sections. He started into the boy's entrance, when he heard Mom's
voice projecting loud throughout the store. "No, dear. That's the
boy's rooms. You want the girl's dressing rooms." Sighing, he went
into the girl's fitting rooms. Why did mom have to let all the world
know about his problems?

He entered one of the rooms, and pulled the curtain closed. Alone at
last, he sat down and mumbled to himself. Why, why, why? What was
going on? Was he really a girl after all? Was he mistaken all this
time? But they'd always called him John -- had they really? He
recalled how he couldn't remember in the psychiatrist's office. Of
course, they had always called him John! What was going on? Had
something happened to his mind?

There was a long mirror on one wall in the room. He stood up and
looked himself up and down. Was that a girl in the mirror? His hair
was bright yellow, not too long, perhaps about eight inches at the
longest point. It was somewhat ruffled at having been outside in the
cold weather. He wore faded jeans and a multicolored green corduroy
long-sleeved shirt. On his feet he wore white athletic socks and
white sneakers, both turning gray from use and exposure.

John tried to pretend that the person in the mirror was not he, but
some random kid he might meet on the street. He studied and pondered
that person. That person in the mirror could very well be a girl. If
he'd met the person on the street, he just might think him or her a
girl. He shook his head. The hair of the person in the mirror flew
up and about briefly, before settling down again. Could it actually
be true? Was he actually a girl?

He took off his shoes and undressed down to his underpants and socks.
He looked at the dresses hanging on the hook, and picked out the dress
that looked like the easiest to put on. It was a plain, bright red dress, with short fluffy sleeves and a loose strap encircling the
waist. The dress had a collar, and a slit went down the front partway
to the waist. A couple laces, at the collar and halfway down, would
close the slit up when the dress was worn.

He wondered, should he step into the dress or pull it over his head?
He pulled it over his head, slid his arms through the short sleeves,
and let the dress flop down. He tied the strap around his waist tight
in a bow knot, and tied the laces as well.

He looked at himself in the mirror. It didn't look right at all. He
never recalled seeing a girl wearing a dress with a slit down the
front. The dress felt awfully weird too, and tight about his
shoulders. Then he realized: he had it on backwards. So he untied
the strap and the laces, pulled the dress up over his head, and pulled
his arms out of the short sleeves. turned it about, and pulled it over
himself again.

He was slipping his arms through the short sleeves, when a voice from
outside called in, startling him. "What's taking you so long, Alice?
Do you need help?" The curtain moved aside suddenly, and Joyce
entered the room.

John bent over in surprise, covering his underpants with the front of
his dress. Relieved that he hadn't taken his underpants off, he
quickly slipped his arms through the sleeves, and flopped his dress
down. "No-no, I'm okay," he answered breathlessly as he tried to tie
the strap about his waist behind him. His hands all of a sudden
became totally clumsy, and he couldn't do anything.

"Here, let me help you with that," offered Joyce. She stepped behind
John and tied the waist strap of his dress quickly into a bow knot.
Then she tied the collar lace and the middle lace. "There," finished

"Thanks," answered John, still flushed from having been seen partially
undressed by Joyce. He turned and looked into the mirror at himself.
The dress skirt spun about him as he turned, before settling down.

He studied himself in the mirror carefully. He asked himself again,
was that a girl in the mirror? His dress, when relaxed, reached about
halfway down to his knees. When he moved, even slightly, the dress
rose up slightly. He just didn't know. He pondered his bright yellow
hair, and briefly shook his head. His hair flew up before settling
down again. Perhaps that was a girl, reflecting back at him.. Maybe
he was a girl after all. It did have a certain similarity to the
girls he knew and played with at school.

He looked at Joyce's reflection, behind and to the left of him. She
wore a sky-blue dress, that otherwise looked remarkably like his. Her
pigtailed hair was a dull yellow, rather than his bright yellow, and
much longer than his. She was a girl, wasn't she? He looked as much
the girl as she did.

"You look wonderful, Alice. Here, let's show mom and your mother."
Joyce took his hand and pulled him out of the fitting room. He
stopped as they emerged to the store, realizing that everyone would
see him wearing a dress. "Come on, your mom wants to look at you!"
Joyce tugged at him, and he reluctantly followed her out.

John kept brushing nervously at his dress, trying to keep it as low as
possible. He felt uncomfortably exposed as Mrs. Kershner looked him
up and down. "That looks wonderful on you. Why, you could almost be
a twin of Joyce even! Almost. Is that right?" She asked Mom.

Mom said, "Yes, that will do perfectly fine." mom and Mrs. Kershner
talked some more about Joyce and him, and John just stood and
listened. Then mom sent him back to try on the other dresses. Joyce
went along to help him. John didn't want anyone to see him change
clothes, but he didn't say anything. And it turned out that John did
need Joyce's help. Some of those clothes would have been darn near
impossible to get on otherwise.

They got John several dresses, and some skirts and rompers as well.
Mom insisted that John wear one of the dresses the rest of the day at
the mall. It was a dark-blue long-sleeved dress suit, with a
light-blue blouse. mom also told John to take off his sneakers and
his white socks, and put on one of the pairs of shoes that they'd
bought today. She said they looked better on him.

Joyce said she wanted to see the swimwear. Mrs. Kirshner said, "It's
not that time of year, dear. It's winter; we don't swim during the
winter. It's snowy outside now."

"I know, Mom. But they'll be cheap this time of year." Joyce smiled
winningly at her mother.

Mom said, "Alice needs some new swimwear as well. We might as well
get it now."

"Very well then," answered Mrs. Kershner. They started toward the
swimwear, and mom and John followed.

Joyce was looking at the bikinis. "There really isn't much of a
selection here. This looks nice, though. And this one here." She
held it up to John. "It would suit you well, Alice," she giggled.

Mom said, "I don't really approve of girls wearing bikinis that

"She'll be ten by summer. That's old enough, isn't it?" asked Joyce.

"Well, maybe," hesitated Mom.

"I can't wear a bikini," exclaimed John. "I -- uh, I've never worn a
bikini before."

"It'll look so cute on you," declared Joyce enthusiastically.

"No!" John started, then paused, remembering. He didn't want to be
sent to a mental hospital; he'd better not say anything.

"All, right. We can get it," said Mom.

There was still one other thing to get. They went to the dancewear
store, the store where John had gone crazy last Saturday. Joyce and
her mother went with them. He flamed anew at the memory of how he'd
gone berserk. As they entered, the storekeeper demanded assurance
that this time, he would behave. He had caused some damage the last
time he was there. mom gave him assurances that he would be have.
"She simply had a nervous breakdown. We took her to the psychiatrist,
and he said she'll be okay."

The salesman got out a packet containing a garment. "Here, this
should be about your size. Go try it on if you want." John looked at
Mom, and she nodded yes. John sighed, and entered the fitting room.
Joyce followed to help him, because mom thought he might not know how
to put on a leotard. There was only one fitting room in this store,
because the store was so much smaller. Also, John thought with a
grumble, boys didn't do such girlish things as dancing and ballet.

In the fitting room, Joyce helped John remove his dress and the dress
shoes. John was by now used to Joyce seeing him in his underpants,
but when Joyce said, "You should take off your panties, Alice," he
answered, "No, no, no, no!" Enough! He wasn't going to let Joyce or
anyone see him bare naked.

He opened the package, and pulled out a green leotard. It looked like
a girl's bathing suit, except that it had short sleeves. The leotard
had no legs whatsoever; just holes for the legs to pass through, and
it looked much too small for John.

He said as much to Joyce, who replied, "These bodysuits are very
stretchy. They're supposed to fit tight to your skin." John was
skeptical, but he had to try it on, he felt. Better than being sent
to a mental hospital. He looked the garment over. There was no
zipper or buttons anywhere to be seen. The hole for the neck looked
awfully big; maybe he was supposed to go in that way.

He put one leg into the leotard, and tried to get his foot through the
proper leg hole. Joyce helped unhook the garment from his toes and
heel, and he pulled it partway up his leg. This felt weird on John;
the elastic was tight around his leg. Then he stuck his other leg
into the leotard and pulled the leotard up. The leotard hooked for a
moment over his knees, but he quickly got it free. When it was almost
up to his crotch, Joyce told him to stick his arms through the short
sleeves. He did so, and the leotard automatically pulled itself up
tight over John's crotch and shoulders.

The leotard felt weird on John; he'd never felt anything of the sort
before. It felt snug all over his skin, but not too tight. He could
still move around without restriction. His legs were completely bare,
and the elastic band about the very top of his legs pulled his
underpants up and caused them to lump up slightly on his legs. That
did not feel very comfortable.

He put his shoes back on, and walked out with Joyce to show mom and
Mrs. Kershner. He never felt so exposed in his life; not even wearing
a boy's swimming suit at the pool. He kept pulling at the sides of
his leg holes, trying to keep them from riding too high. He felt even
sillier than before, when wearing the dress. His dress shoes didn't
help, either. For some reason, they just didn't feel right with his

He showed himself to Mom, Mrs. Kershner, and the salesman.
Mrs. Kershner said, "Aww, it's so cute. You'll look so pretty in
ballet, Alice dear." John winced at that, and pulled at his leg on
the leotard.

The salesman smiled down at him. "It looks pretty on you. It's just
your size."

They got him three girl's leotards and matching tights. One of the
leotards had a tiny transparent skirt attached, about three or four
inches long, around the waist or hips just above the tops of the leg
holes. They also got him the ballet shoes that he'd tried on last
Saturday morning.

As they separated at the parking lot of the mall, Joyce asked if John
would be back at school tomorrow.

Mom answered, "Not this week. She has to see the psychiatrist again
tomorrow afternoon. Probably next Monday, if the psychiatrist

"Oh well, seeya Alice. Hope you get better." Joyce and her mother went off.

John and his mother went home. mom let him play quietly inside the
house until supper. She didn't let him go outside or invite friends

That night, as he lay in bed unable to sleep, the thought of what was
happening to him and how he was being treated flooded over him again.
It was so unfair, what they were doing to him. Why couldn't they
simply accept that his name was John, and that he was a boy? He
thought back to the hairbrushing with a renewed burst of anger. Dad
wouldn't treat a girl like that, would he? And the way Dad yelled at
him, and counted, "One! Two!" with the implicit threat that if he
reached "Three!" there'd be a hard hairbrushing.

He thought back toward that noon-time instructor, Mr. Biggs. That man never barked at the girls, only at the boys. But he'd barked at him!

An idea occurred to him. mom and Dad had his graded work assignments.
Whenever the teacher returned the graded schoolwork, he always took it
home and left it on the table for his parents. That way, his parents could monitor how he was doing and make sure he kept up and did all
his work.

He always put his name on his homework. He could have mom and Dad get
out his old homework, and show that his name was always John. Nobody
had complained about his name on his homework assignments before, so
that would prove that his name was really John.

With that happy thought, John turned over and fell asleep.

The next morning, John woke up full of optimism about his latest plan,
to have mom look at his old homework. That would prove once and for
all that he was John, not Alice. When he was ready to get dressed, he
discovered that his dressers and closets didn't have any of his
regular clothes. They only had the new clothes that they'd bought
yesterday. So he stayed in his pajamas.

Sometime after Dad went off to work, John approached Mom. He was
excited, yet scared. Finally, he thought, he would settle the matter
once and for all. "Mom?" he started nervously.

"Yes, dear?"

"I want to see," he hesitated. "You know, you have my old homework.
Could I see that?"

"Sure, but what's the problem? You're doing fine with your

"Yes but, well, they have my name on them. They will show my name is

"Now, Alice," exclaimed Mom. "You promised you were going to be good.
Don't you want to be healthy? You don't want the Doctor to think that
you are sick, do you?" John didn't reply, and mom continued, "You
might even be put into a mental institution. You don't want that."

John looked down at the floor in embarrassment. He couldn't say

Mom hugged him. "I know you want to be good, Alice. You are good
most of the time. We just have a little problem that we have to work
out, and everything will be back to normal. Now run along and play.
I have to get back to work." mom sat back down at her computer, and
resumed typing.

Humiliated at his failure, John walked off and went downstairs into
the playroom. He'd expected and hoped so much that it would work.

He spent the rest of the morning sitting down in the playroom,
trembling in fear as the visit to the Doctor got ever closer and
closer. Inevitably, the time arrived. mom called to him to take a
bath and get dressed. "Mom, I can't find my pants. Do I have to wear
a dress?"

"Yes, dear."

"Out in public, even?"

"Yes. We want you to dress well, whenever you go out. We want the
Doctor to understand that you are fully cured, too. We've been too
lax about the way you dressed, Alice. It's okay to wear jeans
sometimes, but not all the time. And we feel, and the Doctor feels,
that that's part of your problem. When we are absolutely sure that
you are completely cured of your delusion about being a boy named
John, we may let you wear your old regular clothes again."

John sighed as he went upstairs to take a shower. After the shower,
he put on the bright red dress and a pair of blue panties. He
couldn't even wear his own underwear? Well, at least nobody would see
his panties. They felt good, even -- soft and smooth, silky-like.

He was able to tie the strap around his waist behind his back okay,
and managed to tie the strings in back of his neck into a bow-knot
with some trouble. But he couldn't manage the strings in the middle
of his back. He put on some yellow girl socks, because he couldn't
find any of his regular socks in his dresser. The socks went
three-fourths of the way up to his knees, leaving one-fourth of his
legs bare below the knees, and one-half bare above the knees.

He hesitated for a long time, before going out of his room and going
downstairs. He didn't want mom or anyone to see him wearing a dress.
But finally, when mom called for him, he went downstairs.

Mom retied the string at his neck, and tied the string on his back.
"There. You look lovely in that dress. But go and put on your dress

John went back upstairs and changed into the girl's dress shoes that
they had bought yesterday. Then off they went to the Doctor's.
John's stomach sank lower and lower, the closer they got.

As he walked with mom from the car to the Doctor's building, John
looked around nervously, wondering what everyone around him was
thinking about a boy wearing a dress. Some men definitely were
glancing at him differently from when he wore his usual boy clothes.
What would they do to a boy wearing a dress? he wondered. However,
most people simply walked by them with no more than a glance.

Mom checked in at the desk and, after another long wait, took John
into the Doctor's office. Now, John was going to have to actually
interact with someone, wearing a dress. What would that be like? He
felt terribly self-conscious.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Harrison. Hello, Alice, you look lovely in your
dress. So how are we doing now?" asked the Doctor after closing the
door and having them sit down.

"We're doing quite well, thank-you," answered Mom, glancing down at
John. "Alice has improved greatly, I think. It shouldn't be
necessary for her to use drugs, or to go to a psychiatric hospital."

"I most certainly hope so," answered Dr. Jones. "But we shall see.
Does she still suffer from these delusions? Alice?"

"Yes? I mean, no, Dr. Jones." John thought of the slogan he'd read
in the "Little House on the Prairie" books -- least said, soonest

"You understand now, Alice, that you are indeed a girl, and that your
name is indeed Alice?"

"Yessssss," hesitated John.

"I sense some reluctance. It's important that we be absolutely
certain. It's a good sign that you wore a dress today."

"Keep your knees together, Alice dear," said Mom. John snapped his
knees together, suddenly realizing that someone could look up his
dress when he sat.

Dr. Jones asked John, "You realize now that you are not a boy?"

"Yes," answered John.

"That you're name is not John?"


"That nobody has ever called you John?"

"Yes." John thought again of his homework, and wondered if he should
bring it up. But he didn't. He remembered Mom's reaction this
morning, and thought that the Doctor's reaction would be even worse.

The questioning continued. John was very uncomfortable, but he
affirmed everything that the Doctor asked. The Doctor finally said,
"Thank-you, Alice. Now, if you would, please go out and wait while
your mother and I talk things over."

John waited nervously out in the waiting room for what seemed like
forever. Then the Doctor called him back in.

"We've decided that you are mostly okay. You can go home now.
Monday, you can return to school. However, you still need to
reinforce your progress. Therefore, every morning when you get up,
and every night when you go to bed, after you say your prayers, you
must say out loud, `My name is Alice. I am a girl.' You can say it
other times as well. That will reinforce the truth for you. And
always, be sure to wear a dress every day, even on weekends.

"I'll see you again in two weeks time."

The Doctor dismissed them, and they returned home.

That night, as John was going to bed, mom came in. "Have you followed
the Doctor's instructions?"

"Not yet," answered John.

"Do it right now, Alice."

"Okay. My name is Alice. I am a ... girl." It mortified John to say

"Very good, Alice."

The next morning was Friday. As John woke up and got out of bed, he
remembered the Doctor's instructions, and said out loud, "My name is
Alice. I am a girl." He spent all day at home, reading and sleeping.

When he woke up Saturday morning, he repeated his twice-daily chant,
"My name is Alice. I am a girl." He sighed as he said it. Then he
went downstairs to the playroom, to watch Saturday morning cartoons.

Later in the morning, mom made John get dressed. He put on a skirt
and a plain blouse. Since nobody would see them anyway, he decided to
wear a pair of Mickey and Minnie Mouse panties. He was feeling
perverse; let's get them over with, he thought. At least they weren't
Barney. He was never going to wear those Barney panties.

Then the doorbell rang. To John's surprise, Mrs. Kershner was
dropping Joyce off to play for the day. mom told John that it was
okay for Joyce to play with him inside the house, but he wasn't well
enough to go outside and play with his other friends.

"Hey, Alice," greeted Joyce. "You look cute in that skirt."

They played a couple games of Clue. John always lost at Clue. In
fact, he almost always lost at any game he played, be it Chess,
Checkers, or I Doubt It. It didn't really matter who he played with,

John sat Indian style, as he always did. He was consciously aware how
short his skirt was, and at the start, he kept pushing it down between
his legs to keep people from looking up it. Near the end of the game,
when he knew that Joyce was zeroing in on the suspect, the weapon, and
the room, he was concentrating on his own deductions. Joyce always
won Clue, and this looked like it would be no exception.

Joyce recited, "Colonel Mustard did it with the Wrench in the Hall,"
and pulled the cards out of the packet and displayed them. Then she
giggled. "Hehheh, nice Mickey panties, Alice." John slammed his
knees together. "Aw, it's not bad," continued Joyce. "No, not at
all." She leaned over and whispered in his ear, "I'm wearing Mickey
panties, too," and giggled again. She lifted her dress up and showed
him her panties. Indeed, her white panties were decorated with
pictures of Mickey Mouse. John stared in semi-shock.

After the second game of clue, which Joyce also won, John asked Joyce
how she braided her hair, and asked if he should braid his hair as
well. So they went upstairs to John's room to play hair fix-up.

Joyce sat down on John's bed in front of him, and removed the bands on
her braids. Her hair fell down her back into a volumous mass. She
told him to divide her hair into three handfuls, and then switch outer
handful with the middle one, and repeat alternating sides. John
quickly got the idea, and soon, low and behold, Joyce's hair was
braided into one long braid down her back.

It was now Joyce's turn to play with John's hair. His hair, Joyce
said, was much too short for braiding. She took out a comb, and
parted his hair along one side. She combed his hair back and to the
side, letting a little hang down above his eyes with a gap at the part
in the shape of an upside-down V. "It would look nice cut right about
there." She pointed to the front of the hair, on the side of the
part, and drew a line with her finger around to the back. John
thought that was weird -- one side shorter than the other?

"Hey, how about this?" She brushed and combed away the part, and
parted his hair again, this time down the middle. She took in her
hand the mass of hair to the right of the part, and slid a rubber band
about it, down to his head. She twisted the rubber band, and slid his
hair through the band a second time, a third time, and a fourth time.
The band was now tight about his hair, and his hair stuck straight out
over his right ear, and then flopped down in a pigtail.

Joyce repeated it with the hair on his left side. She then looked at
him from the front. "It's cute," she giggled. "You look a lot
younger that way."

At the time, mom called them down. "Alice, Joyce, it's time for

When they entered the kitchen, mom complimented John on his new
pigtails: "Alice, your hair looks exceptional. Did Joyce do that?"
You really look younger that way, like a proper little girl. I think
we shall keep it like that. Thank-you, Joyce." Joyce blushed

They had grill cheese sandwiches and peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches
for lunch. After lunch, Joyce and John returned to John's room. John
commented to Joyce that his parents were going to make him start
ballet class soon.

"Yes, I know," answered Joyce. "My mom told me. You're going to be
in my class. Won't that be wonderful?"

No! thought John to himself, but he didn't say it. "Uh, what is
ballet class like?" He could only think of girls wearing strange
clothes, and standing in strange positions.

"Hey, let's try some. I'll show you. Let's change into our

John was feeling doubtful about this now, but he went to his dresser
and got out the leotard that he'd tried on Thursday. Joyce had
brought her leotard -- John briefly wondered about that, but shortly
forgot the matter. He took off his skirt and his blouse, and began to
step into his leotard, when Joyce interrupted him.

"It's better if you take off your panties as well." She'd already
undressed down to her panties, and promptly slid them down as she
spoke and stepped out of them. She showed John the liner of her
leotard at the crotch. It was made of a pale white material, attached
to the bright green fabric of the rest of the leotard. "This serves
as a panty. Regular panties are too wide across the crotch for the
leotard. Either it bunches up and is very uncomfortable, or it slips
out around the edge." She stepped into the leotard and pulled it up
around her.

John couldn't bring himself to remove his panties completely in front
of Joyce, so he pulled his leotard up over them anyway. Joyce said
nothing further about the subject. She had raised her right leg up
and set her heel on the top of his dresser, almost as high as her
head. Her leg was absolutely straight, and her foot pointed straight
out parallel to her leg. Her hands were around her foot, and she was
leaning against her leg.

John tried lifting his leg up, but he couldn't even come close to the
top of his dresser. It hurt when he tried. Meanwhile, Joyce took her
right leg down and lifted up her left leg.

"I can't do that at all," sighed John.

Joyce didn't answer. "Let's go down to the playroom," she said.
"There's more room down there."

John was fearful of mom seeing him in the silly leotard, with his legs
completely bare and exposed, but nevertheless, he followed Joyce
downstairs. He dashed quickly by the half-way level in case Mom,
working on her computer in the living room, could see him.

Joyce was demonstrating various spins and jumps, when she landed on
the floor with one leg straight out in front, one leg straight out in
back. "Can you do the splits?" she asked. She twisted her body so
that she was sitting with her legs spread straight out to opposite

"I don't think so," answered John. He spread his legs apart and tried
to go down spreading them wider. His crotch started hurting from the
stretching, and he didn't get very far before he fell forward. He
caught himself with his hands on the floor. "Very good," commented
Joyce. He tried to inch his legs farther apart, and set his whole
body weight on his legs. The tight pain got worse, yet he still
pushed his legs apart another inch, himself down another quarter inch.

Joyce came up behind him and suddenly pushed down on his bottom. His
legs spread out and collapsed under him, and he yelled in excruciating
pain. He slammed his legs together, and turned around and glared up
at Joyce in outrage. She was looking at him shocked, her hands
covering her wide-opened mouth. "Oh, I'm so sorry," she gasped.

John heard Mom's footsteps, running toward the stairs. "Is everything
okay, down there?" John quickly drew in his legs up to his chin, as
Mom appeared at the top of the stairs. mom was going to see him in
the leotard!

"We're okay," he called up to Mom.

"Are you sure?" asked Mom. "You two are not being naughty, are you?"

"No-no, we're not being naughty," answered Joyce.

"I hope not." mom vanished from view at the top of the stairs, and
John could hear her footsteps returning to work.

Joyce said, "Perhaps we'd better stop this for now. Let's do
something else."

"I know!" said John. He went to the toybox and got out boxes of

Joyce stayed for supper that evening. Shortly before supper, John
realized that they were still wearing their leotards, so they went
back upstairs to his room to change.

Joyce had to go back home that evening, and John had to go to bed.
John lay in bed, excited yet satisfied. That was the funnest day he'd
had in ages. He was too excited to go to sleep, and kept thinking
over and over again about the day's events. Even the attempted splits
seemed fun. He remembered what he had to say every night and every
morning: "My name is Alice. I am a girl."

Monday morning, John went back to school. He woke up early that
morning, scared and nervous about having to face Mrs. Prune and the
class after having missed a whole week.

He went down for breakfast in his pajamas, and asked mom if he
couldn't wear jeans to school.

"No, dear," answered Mom. "You always have to wear a dress to school.

"Do I have to? Can't I wear jeans just this once?" John whined. He
couldn't go to school in a dress, and have his classmates see him
wearing a dress. He just couldn't. "Uh, girls, uh wear jeans to
school all the time!" It sounded like he was admitting to being a

"Most girls don't start thinking that they are boys named John. So
yes, you have to wear a dress," answered Mom. "And remember, you were
going to wear your hair in pigtails, too." John sighed. "And every
morning before school, you have to take a bath or a shower. So go up
now and start your bath."

"But I don't have enough time," wailed John.

"I'll drive you to school, if you're late. But only today. Tomorrow,
Alice, you have to get up earlier."

So John took a shower, and changed into a dress. mom fixed up his
hair, and tied it into a pair of pigtails. She made him wear his new
dress shoes as well. Then she drove him to school.

"Have a wonderful day, Alice," said mom as she stopped at the school.

John sighed. A wonderful day? Wearing a dress to school? With his
hair in short pigtails? No, school would not make for a wonderful
day. He reluctantly stepped out of the car. It was cold.

Few children were at school, and he decided to play on the monkey
bars. He climbed around for a few minutes, until a familiar gleeful
voice startled him from below. "I see England, I see France. I see
Alice's underpants!"

It was Bruce, of course. John realized in shock that, in climbing
around the monkey bars, he was showing his new Winnie-the-Pooh panties to everyone. At that moment, Bruce changed his tune: "Winnie the
Pooh, Winnie the Pooh. Chubby little cubby, all stuffed with fluff.
He's Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh. Willy, nilly, silly old bear!"

John jumped down from the monkey bars, his pigtails flopping in the
wind. He landed on the ground and quickly pressed his dress down
about him. Bruce approached him, saying, "Nice dress, Alice." He
quickly reached out and pulled John's dress up, exposing his panties.
"Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh," he laughed as he walked away,
changing shortly to "Alice in Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland. How
do you get to Wonderland?"

John pressed his dress down again and fumed in humiliation. His legs
shivered in the cold. He walked around, waiting for the bell to ring.

A girl called him from behind. "Hey Alice, you're back! We missed
you last week." The girl ran up to him. She was in his class, and
was also one of the girls who played on the monkey bars with him that
time so long ago. "You look wonderful in your new dress. You should
wear dresses more often."

Joyce and several other girls joined up and gathered around him,
welcoming him back and complimenting him on his new clothes. Then the
bell rang.

As John filed into the classroom, Mrs. Prune scolded him. "Alice,
your legs must be freezing out there! You're supposed to wear tights
or heavy socks in weather like this; you know that. Anyway, welcome
back, Alice. We missed you last week."

The school day went as usual. The only difference John noticed was
that everyone was now calling him Alice. At recess, he played with
Joyce and her friends. After lunch, he lined up with the girls, and
even went into the girl's bathroom.

So, life went on. Every night as he went to bed, he recited, "My name
is Alice. I am a girl." Every morning when she woke up, she recited,
"My name is Alice. I am a girl." Then she fixed her hair up in

She visited the psychiatrist every other week. Eventually, she
realized the truth of the matter, that she had been hopelessly deluded
and confused. She realized that her family, friends, and teachers had
always called her Alice. Alice even began looking forward to ballet



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