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Author's Chapter Notes:

Although initially concerned about his grandma's friend, they begin The Nutcracker and Sam begins to gradually warm up to her.

Removing the cassette from its cardboard sleeve, I inserted it into the VCR, making it produce that satisfying clunking noise that it always did. This time, written on its label, was 'The Nutcracker'.

We had finished Swan Lake on my previous lesson yesterday. I was a bit hesitant to call it a lesson though as I felt that my grandma was a lot less involved in it compared to my first one.

This had primary been because of Judy. Listening to their conversation throughout it, Judy had been a childhood friend of my grandma and they had actually done ballet together when they were girls. Because of this, they spent a lot of time speaking about the nostalgia they had for it. This was interesting to listen in on at first, but as it continued, I had wished that they put a little more effort into my lesson.

They hadn't completely forgotten about me though. With both of them observing me, they were quick to praise me when I did certain movements correctly. Despite this being pleasing to hear, I also wanted them to point out the opposite too, so I could attempt to improve upon it. It was clear that my performance was far from flawless.

I suspected that this may have been due to the fact that neither of them wanted to appear to be harsh to me in front of the other. I could understand this from Judy, being a guest, but didn't feel this should have been as much the case as it was for my grandma. Looking back on it, I probably should have spoken up about it but I suppose that it didn't matter now.

I didn't expect to see Judy again, with it just being the two of us for this lesson.

When she had first walked in yesterday, I was a bit worried about yet another person knowing about this secret of mine. It had seemed to me that every time I wore these clothes, someone new would have a chance to find out about it, yet, as if they were bewitched, I found that I was unable to resist temptation.

I was actually sure that Judy honestly believed that I was a girl at first. Two of the compliments that I had received from her were; “good girl” and “pretty girl”. Although she appeared to say these very naturally, I couldn't help but glance at her when I heard this for the first time, trying to gauge if she was being sincere or not.

My grandma noticed this and grinned at me in such a way that led me to believe that Judy was actually being earnest, unaware of my real gender. This caused a large surge of energy to rush through me, knowing that I was genuinely able to pass as a girl this way. This did wonders to my dancing, making me strive to hear it again.

I was thankful that my grandma hadn't corrected her. I felt that I would have died if she had done but I was sure that she knew how important this was for me to hear.

I was also very glad that I had elected to choose the leotard with the skirt back at the store, although if I had known that a stranger would have been watching me so closely, I probably would have asked for one of those baby pink ones instead, just to appear slightly more girlish. It was an awkward thing to think about though.

My drink had finally caught up to me and to keep up appearances of being a well brought up girl, I asked politely if I could be excused to use the toilet. “She's very well-mannered.”, I heard Judy say to my grandma as I walked out of the room. It was a bit of a strange sensation but my heart swelled hearing this. It was the first time I had ever been referred to as 'she', removing whatever doubt I had left of Judy knowing that I was really a boy.

As I hadn't needed to remove my tights entirely, getting back into my uniform wasn't as much trouble as I thought it would be. After tugging them from my knees up to my waist, I pulled up my leotard over them, adjusting its sleeves a little to fit snug, putting it back to how it was.

It was the little things like this, something as regular as changing clothes, that I found to be amazingly blissful these last few days. It really hadn't been anything different since when I had first stepped into that bathing suit back at the beach, what felt like putting a coat of girlishness around me. Despite filling me up with shame and disgrace back then, it had now been replaced with pleasure and pride.

I felt like such a girl this way, taking not a pinch of shame thinking so. It made me wonder if actual girls, such as my sisters, could ever admire this sensation as much as I did. I supposed that most girls took it for granted how lucky they were to have clothes like these.

Before returning to the lounge, I decided to stop by her spare bedroom to use her mirror, ensuring that my uniform was correct, although, to be honest, I had wanted to spend a moment admiring myself this way again too.

Once I was back in the lounge practising, after a few minutes, I couldn't help but notice that it felt like the atmosphere had changed. It wasn't obvious at first but as time went on, I realized that Judy wasn't as active in conversation as she had been previously. She still gave me praise here and there but she just didn't seem to be as lively as she had been earlier. I was worried. Could it have been that my grandma had told her and she now found me to be shameful?

I didn't want to think about it and tried to keep my focus on the TV and my performance, avoiding facing her. I really had hoped that I was just imagining things, causing a seed of doubt to sprout within me without any merit. I decided that when she left though, I would ask my grandma about it.

This time had come roughly ten minutes later when my grandma said, looking at her clock; “Oh, nearly time to go, Sam. Your sisters will be finishing soon.”

She had previously explained to Judy that while I was doing ballet, I had two sisters doing gymnastics. Judy got up to leave as well. If she hadn't supported what I was doing, it was still pleasant to hear her say that “It was very nice to meet you, Sam.” with a smile. Although I wasn't sure if it would had improved things, I responded with another curtsey. Watching her face, it was a relief to see her smile grow a little with it.

After she had left, I changed back into my regular clothes and we were shortly both in the car, on our way. During the drive there, my grandma had asked me about what I thought about Judy and if I had minded her watching in on our lesson. I hadn't for the most part and stated that I thought that she was nice enough. Although I kept this to myself, I did wish that they had spent less time talking between themselves. As I didn't expect to be seeing her again, I figured that it wasn't worth mentioning.

This would have been a good time to ask her if she had told Judy that I was really a boy but I found myself to be hesitant. I was reminded back to the trip home from yesterday when my sisters were in the car. If I were to ask her this, it felt a bit like saying that I couldn't trust her with this secret, despite her helping me so much with it. It was such an awkward question to bring up and, more importantly, I wasn't sure if I had actually wanted to hear the answer anyway.

No matter what though, I suppose that it was a bit futile to think that I could ever hope to pass as a girl. I was really a boy after all. I felt that a wig, a leotard, and tights could never be enough to hide that. I suppose that if Judy hadn't known now, she would have found out eventually.

I was a bit worried if Judy would tell anyone else though, but thinking it over, I suppose it didn't matter. Even if she were to profess it, I couldn't see how anybody I knew could have found out. I suspected that anyone she spoke to would be around her age. It just didn't seem possible that it could spread to anyone that I knew personally.

We had arrived at the gym a short while later. This time my sisters were both at the entrance waiting, chatting happily with two other girls there. I recognized one of them as Alice, a friend of Faye from school, but I couldn't pin down the other one who was a clear bit shorter than the other three.

Although Alice had a jacket over top, none of them had gotten changed yet, still in their uniforms, with the other three clutching plastic bags containing their regular clothes. Despite it being quite dark, I suppose they weren't in a hurry to get dressed after their draining gymnastics, although the hot summer's air probably didn't help things either. The majority of the other girls waiting there hadn't gotten changed either.

From the car's window, I took the time to admire the many leotards that were on display, although, to be honest, what I found most fascinating was the simple fact that these girls were able to wear them so casually here. They were all acting so naturally, as if they were all just wearing their regular clothes, like it were a common occurrence, which I suppose it was for them.

Little did they know that I, a boy, was watching them with a spiteful envy. What would have been so normal for them, to the point that they probably never thought about it, was something that was entirely off limits to me, or any other boy for that matter. My heart sunk knowing that there was absolutely no way that I could be blessed with such an opportunity.

My sisters noticed our arrival and after saying goodbye, the two of them hurried over to the car. Just as April was about to open the back seat's door, I quickly remembered that the bag containing my new leotards, tights, and wig was there. I promptly turned around and snatched it near milliseconds before it would have been noticed, hiding it below my seat.

I made sure not to leave the car with it when we arrived home, only going back for it once I knew my sisters had settled down in front of the TV for the evening. My grandma had noticed this but she didn't say anything, thankfully. Like a spy, moving as softly as possible to prevent any crackles from the bag's plastic, I returned with it to my room, pleased that they hadn't noticed. I felt a lot easier with them now safe within my room.

I placed my tights within my sock drawer. As for my leotards, I found a spare hanger for each of them and proudly hanged them up in the middle of my closet, placing my wig upon the top shelf. Once they were all in place, I took a step back and took a moment to admire them all hanging there.

Despite my regular clothes easily outnumbering them, with my five vibrant girls' leotards right in the middle, they clearly made a big difference to my closet, as well as the room in general. I felt that if a stranger were to ever open these doors, they could be excused for thinking that this was a girl's room.

Although I honestly did enjoy the sight of them there, knowing how much fun they were, I still had a worried doubt in the back of my mind that someone, probably my sisters, would eventually discover them.

I detested myself for it but I had to admit, it was much too dangerous. I felt that I had taken far too many chances already, pushing my luck too much. Like a balloon that was close to popping, I knew that I was being too careless with it. I grabbed them all and moved them to the left of the others, ensuring that they were hidden behind them. Although I was a bit gutted that I could no longer view them, my common sense was telling me that I had done the correct thing.

They were still hanging up like my grandma had requested, exactly where they were meant to be, however I could discreetly remember that she had used the word 'proudly' as part of her deal with me, hearing her voice say it in my head. Feeling a bit of guilt, I supposed that what I had done couldn't have been constituted as pride, however I didn't feel like she would have checked, rather that she could trust me.

Knowing that I was now betraying her trust, put a very heavy hole within my heart. Therefore, I made a promise to myself that once I became more comfortable with them being there, I would put them back in the middle.

Going back to our present lesson, the beginning of the Nutcracker. Once again, my grandma helped me with my wig, putting it on and tying it up into another ballet bun. As she was doing this, we heard the doorbell ring. She quickly finished it off and got up to answer it.

I was surprised to hear Judy's voice from the door, which probably meant that she would be here again. Although I suspected that like last time, my lesson wouldn't be as involved with her here, I did feel a little pleased knowing that if she had been aware of what I actually was, she hadn't been entirely put off by what I was doing.

On the other hand, if she still believed that I was really a girl, I suddenly realized in horror that I hadn't gotten changed into my ballet uniform yet! Looking down at the clothes I was wearing, a green T-shirt and light grey shorts, these weren't exactly girlish. Just like when she had entered yesterday, there was no time to run. The best that I could hope for, is for her to think that these were regular unisex clothes. I suppose that I was lucky enough to have my wig on at the very least.

Since we didn't need to stop at the leotard store this time, I hadn't had the opportunity to change yet. It had crossed my mind when I was getting dressed this morning, wearing one underneath my clothes, however at this point, I disliked the idea of wearing one, only to hide it. Along with that, the day had been simply too hot to wear tights throughout it, amplified by the fact that I would have needed to wear pants to cover them.

When our grandma told my sisters to get ready, after they were in their rooms, I headed to my own to get changed as well. However, when I realized that I would need to put my tights on, changing out of my shorts, it would have been a little too suspicious. As they didn't need tights for their gymnastics, they would certainly be ready before I was too. Instead, I picked out one of my leotards and a pair of tights, folding them up and placing them in my shorts' pockets. I was very impressed that a complete uniform was able be stored in such little space.

I then realized that I needed my wig as well. Well, to be honest, I didn't really need it, but it seemed to do wonders to my confidence, really making me feel like I was an actual girl. As my sisters would be emerging from their rooms shortly, I quickly grabbed it and hastily walked to the car, where I hid it below my seat.

“Hello again, Sam.” Judy said walking in.

Like before, she surveyed me up and down. It may have been the doubt within me, causing me to imagine it, but I was sure that I saw her lips curled slightly as she was doing this, as if she was in disapproval. Her voice on the other hand was still just as polite as it had always been.

“Hello.” I responded, trying to keep my voice girlish, preforming another ballet curtsy to her. It felt very lacklustre to do one without a skirt though, I immediately discovered. Actually, I wasn't sure if they should even be done without one, making me feel a bit foolish.

“I have a surprised for you.” she said with a very bright smile upon her face, holding up a plastic bag she was carrying, pulling out its contents.

“It's an old uniform that my daughter no longer needs. You can have it.”

Opening her fingers, the garment she was holding rolled out, falling open. It was a baby pink ballet leotard with puffed sleeves. Written on its front, in a very curvy neon pink typeface coated in glitter, were the words; 'Ballet Princess'. Even with that though, the most stunning thing about it was its attached skirt; a very ruffled classical tutu. Each layer of it was slightly transparent but with so many of them - too many to count at a glance - it made for a very neat effect. Along with that, the hem of its top layer had a shiny rose gold strip surrounding it. Needless to say, it was very pretty.

Automatically, my mouth dropped open in awe. My grandma, noticing this, moved to my side to inspect it as well.

“Wow, that's cute. Good thing you haven't gotten changed yet, Sam. Why don't you try it on now?” she asked.

She hadn't needed to as I'm sure that the expression on my face was enough of an answer, but I honestly felt that I could have begged to try it on right at that moment, even if I was already my uniform.

“Yes, please!”

Judy handed me the bag and I hurried, almost running, to the spare bedroom to try it on, intensity wishing that it fitted me well. Opening the bag and lifting the leotard out of it, I was merrily surprised to find that underneath it was also tights, a hair clip, and some ballet shoes as well.

It was clearly a professional uniform and part of me actually felt that it was well outside my league, as if Judy had given me a Ferrari, but that was overpowered by the simple fact that I couldn't wait to wear it, undressing as if my clothes were on fire.

Unlike my other tights, these were pink, slightly lighter than the leotard. Once I had them on, still giving me trouble as they always did, I noticed that it contained a number of small frills just above my ankles.

Getting to the main course, the leotard, I held it up to me. This was something I found myself doing every time I received the opportunity to wear a new one. It was like admiring a meal, eyeing its texture and absorbing its scent, before I sunk my teeth into it. I almost couldn't believe that I was about to wear this, causing my heart to flutter.

Stepping into it and pulling it up, I spent a few seconds on its sleeves, puffing them up. It seemed to be a pinch tighter than my other leotards, however I felt that being in one as glamorous as this... well, it was an easy sacrifice to make.

Looking down at my skirt, I found it to be the most striking. On the previous leotard I had worn, the skirt was very basic, falling down with gravity. It was in stark contrast to this one, which flowed out from around my hips, producing a pleasant pink hazy circle surrounding me. I felt that this skirt was the superior one as it would always be visible when I looked down at it, instead of only appearing whenever I performed a pirouette.

With the leotard in place, I seated myself down on the corner of the bed, being careful to avoid creasing my tutu as I did so, to put on the ballet shoes. Unlike everything else, these were beige. I was pleased to find that they fitted very well.

All that was left was the hair clip, a laced pink rose. I had to inspect it first, to see how to use it, as I had never worn one before. My sisters had a few but it had never crossed my mind before now at how they put them on. I felt a bit stupid finding out that, exactly like their name, it was just a clip, similar to a clothes peg with a spring. I clipped it on to my wig, just above my right ear.

I had consciously selected this room to change in due to its mirror in the corner, however I had purposely avoided it until now, only wanting to see myself once I had my new uniform fully on. Filled with both worry and excitement, eagerly awaiting to see my reflection, I took a leap in front of it.

Gasping, clutching my hands over my mouth, I once again found myself in disbelief. I clearly hadn't gotten used to seeing myself like this yet, although I sincerely didn't want to either. It was fascinating to find myself looking nothing like I usually did, making me feel as if I had just swapped bodies with a pretty girl my age. A large smile broke out across her face, causing me to be overcome with a few seconds of ecstatic laughter.

I stood there staring at my new uniform in admiration. As much as I sincerely did love it, I had to admit, the words 'Ballet Princess' written across my chest in hot pink was a bit jarring and I would have preferred it having something else, anything else, in its place.

However, looking myself up and down, I suppose that it didn't matter as I was very pleased to find that I didn't look anything like a boy this way, somehow even more so then when I was in the same position yesterday. I suppose that this was due to this uniform being the far more girlish one.

I had been a bit worried that its skirt wouldn't cover up my boyishness as it flowed out, rather than fall down, but because it was so ruffled, it managed to do so surprisingly well. I was very thankful for this as otherwise it would have been difficult to leave the room wearing it. In the case that Judy believed that I was really a girl, that would have made for a very shocking and awkward moment, I envisioned. I probably would have just stated that it hadn't fitted me, only to avoid it.

Turning around, looking at it from other angles, it was no doubt the prettiest thing that I had ever worn. Actually, thinking it over, it was probably prettier than anything my sisters had worn, possibly combined. I could see them in envy of me, or any other girl, wearing this.

Needless to say, I was very satisfied with it and hurried over to the door, being very eager to show it off, actually surprising myself. Turning the handle and stepping out, I cheerfully skipped into the room.

“How do I look?” I asked with a twirl.

They both stared at me, stunned, causing their responses to be a bit delayed it seemed.

“Absolutely adorable, Sam.” my grandma replied.

“Like a ballet princess.” Judy stated jokingly, making us chuckle. Although it was the part of my uniform I was least fond of, I did find her response amusing and took it as a complement.

“Thank you.” I replied to each of them with a curtsy, being a lot more fulfilling now that I had a skirt to go with them.

A moment later, we began The Nutcracker. It was a bit different from Swan Lake in that it started off with a spoken synopsis by a narrator, describing the characters and events of its first act. It was about a famous toymaker called Drosselmeyer who was about to leave for a Christmas party, bringing toys and gifts to the children there. One of them being a Nutcracker doll, the title of the ballet.

Although this removed surprise from its story, it did however make it a lot easier to follow along with and since ballet lacked character speaking roles, I didn't feel that this would make it any less enjoyable.

It quickly felt a lot more like a play than Swan Lake did. The scenes we had seen so far were made very clear, the first being Drosselmeyer's toy shop and then the following being an old fashioned London street complete with snow. I was very impressed with the set designs, looking like pages straight out of a picture book. It was neat to see characters walk, or in many cases dance, over to their Christmas party.

Along with that, the few songs we had heard were very good too, being very catchy, something that I wouldn't have otherwise thought possible for music without having lyrics to sing along with. Somehow I felt that I had heard a few of them before, although I couldn't quite pin down where, probably from a movie or TV show, I thought.

Judy and my grandma were talking between themselves like last time, being more invested in the video than me, reminiscing about their own days of ballet, much like before. However, since I had gotten such an amazing uniform out of it, thanks to Judy being here, I couldn't be bothered by it at all.

The next scene was a large golden hall with an impressive Christmas tree right in the middle, clearly being the party. However, what stood out the most though was that along with the adult performers, there were also a number of kids as well, roughly my age.

The boys, like the men, were wearing old Victorian era costumes. The girls though where wearing flashy silk party dresses. Despite them being all the same style, each was in a different bright colour, being as vivid as a bowl of Skittles. They quickly reminded me of gymnastics leotards. Thanks to the limelight beaming upon them, they all had that familiar shimmering glossy shine coating.

Some of the girls were very pretty and they all had their hair stylized. However, I found myself more focused on their dresses rather than the girls themselves.

“Those are pretty dresses, aren't they Sam?” asked Judy. I suspected that she had seen me staring at them.

They were, very much so, however I was a bit troubled in thinking that. Had I now gone full circle? Had I reached the point where I was not only envious of bathing suits and leotards, but now of dresses too? What was most worrying was that before I had ever stepped into that bathing suit back at the beach, I had absolutely no interest in girls' clothes, yet here I now was, staring at a dress, wishing that I could wear it.

It got me thinking, if I knew that I could have the opportunity to wear dresses like those or a uniform like this, looking like I did now, disguised as a girl, I don't think that I would have minded taking up real ballet lessons, even if the classes were made up of actual girls. Perhaps if I did well enough, maybe my grandma would be willing to en-roll me in one. It may have been wishful thinking but she might have thought about this already. I wouldn't put it past her.

After all, it had been quickly apparent that her lounge wasn't the best place for these lessons, being far too small for them. Also, my sisters were having real gymnastics lessons and yet I had the same amount of leotards than they did. Actually, come to think of it, I now had two more.

“What?” I heard my grandma ask, clearly directed at me.

I discovered that a smile had overcome me as I thought this which she must had noticed.

“I just realized that I have more leotards than my sisters.” I replied with a touch of pride in my voice.

A couple of seconds later, it had suddenly dawned on me that what I said was remarkably foolish! It wouldn't have been something that an actual girl would have said, at least not in the tone that I used. I should have used their names or, better yet, had said; 'I have the most leotards out of all of us'. Despite being correct, using 'my sisters' really sounded like it had excluded me.

It wouldn't have mattered to my grandma but Judy I was still trying to keep up appearances for, and my reply made a lot more sense in the context of me being a boy. With that bombshell, I felt like it would have been a miracle if she hadn't picked up on this by now.

“If you were my daughter Sam, your closet would be filled with leotards and dresses.”

I didn't quite know what to expect from Judy's next words but it certainly wasn't that, taking me by surprise. It may have been the doubt within me but I felt that there was a trace of a deeper meaning within it, making me think that she knew what I actually was. After all, if she somehow did still believe that I was a real girl, her statement would have been a bit out of place, especially with the inclusion of dresses.

Putting aside my over analysing of her words, no matter its context, it was still some form of a complement. I suppose that at the very least, it was to say that I was able to pass as a girl this way.

I didn't quite know how to respond to it though. I tried to think of something to say in reply but I couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound awkward. Although it felt a bit lacking, I instead just resumed my dancing with a small smile to her, hoping that would be enough of an acknowledgement.

After what had seemed like an hour, my grandma announced that it was almost time to leave. I was disappointed to hear this. We were shortly into the ballet's second act and I was very invested within it. From what I had seen of it thus far, it had easily become my favourite of the two ballets. Compared to Swan Lake, I felt that The Nutcracker had exceeded it in several ways, having better music, characters, story, dances, and, I must admit, costumes too.

Along with those dresses from earlier, Clara, the girl in the leading role, had been wearing what appeared to be a cross between a white dress and a nightgown, having long sleeves with many frills and a long flowing skirt made up of numerous layers, all tied up in a large bow on her back. Just like herself, it was very pretty and I was in awe seeing her perform in it.

At one point, she had the whole stage to herself and I was amazed as she fluttered across it, with the trail of her skirt following behind. I tried my best to match her but with the limited space I had, it just wasn't possible. It had made me wish that I was in her position, including in her uniform.

Speaking of uniforms, as Judy was getting up to leave, I thought about how I was going to thank her for my gift. I felt that my usual expression of gratitude with a curtsy didn't come close to what she had provided me, easily the most amazing thing that I had ever yet worn. Looking down at it once more, a thrill rushed throughout me. I couldn't believe that not only was I wearing this, but I was now its owner, a proud one at that. It would certainly be hanging up in the middle of my closet.

Like with my grandma yesterday, I supposed that embracing her in a hug would be a sufficient way of expressing my thanks, however I was a wee bit hesitant. Along with not being much of a hugger, I had only known Judy for two days, almost being a stranger, and the thought of hugging someone after such a brief amount of time seemed a little awkward, maybe for both of us.

On the other hand though, I didn't want to appear ungrateful and I felt a hug would help enforce my girlish demeanour. Despite suspecting that Judy knew what I actually was at this point, if my inkling was correct, it was great to know she wasn't so dismissive of my secret as I had initially thought.

Sensing an opportunity, I gave her a quick hug around her waist and, stepping back, followed it up with a curtsy.

“Thank you very much for the uniform, Judy. It's been a lot of fun to wear.” I stated respectfully.

“You're very welcome, Sam.” she replied, looking at me with a pleased smile.

Once she had left, I returned to the spare room to undress out of it, knowing that it would be difficult, wishing that I didn't have to. As I looked at the girl in the mirror once more, I honestly felt like I could have worn this forever. There was a part of me that had actually wanted my grandma to convince me to continue wearing it as I sincerely doubted that I could refuse that request.

“Almost ready, Sam?” she yelled from the kitchen impatiently, getting ready to leave.

With a sigh, I began to undress.

After collecting my sisters from the gym, we arrived home twenty minutes later. Much like previous times, they asked what we had done with our time. My standard reply to this question was that we had simply watched TV. I did feel a little dishonest stating this, despite it being technically true.

Yesterday I had realized that this had almost put me into a bit of a pinch as if they were to continue the conversation, they would have surely asked what we had been watching, to which I couldn't have provided an accurate answer. To be prepared for it, I thought about looking through the TV guide for one, however I then suddenly concluded that I didn't need it and instead I could just remain truthful.

Sure, they didn't need to know about my practice, nor my collection of leotards that now filled my closet, but I don't think it would have been too much of a shock if they believed that we had turned on the TV to find that a ballet was playing and watched it, especially as our grandma used to do it. Along with that, it would have been a good way to gauge their reaction if they were to find out my secret. Testing the water, so to speak. Now knowing this, it had kind of made me want them to ask.

It made me think, rather than telling them all at once, maybe it was better to slowly build up to it. Perhaps to begin with I could start wearing my ballet shoes casually around the house but I quickly realized that I wouldn't know what to say once my sisters questioned me about them. Although it still seemed a little crazy, it felt like the better and easier choice than telling them right out. It would be something I would have to carefully think about.

However, before that, I needed to see my collection. Like the previous day, I had left my new uniform in its plastic bag under my seat, only going back to the car to retrieve it once I knew it was safe from my sisters' senses. Carefully removing it from the bag, I proudly hanged it up in the very centre, placing my six previously hidden ones evenly between it. The one that I had planned to wear today was still in my pants' pocket but when I took it out, I was surprised to find that it hadn't creased at all. As far as I was concerned, the material of leotards and bathing suits was a magical one.

Taking a step back to admire the view, I was very pleased with the result and now had no qualms about leaving them there. I still couldn't believe that these were all entirely mine, as well as the fact that I had two more than my sisters. It almost made me want to brag to them about it.

Although I loved them all, it was my new 'Ballet Princess' one from today that really stood out from the rest, with its baby pink colour, puffed sleeves, and a very ruffled tutu. The others couldn't hold a candle to how glamorous that one was, nor could I recall any that did from the leotard store from earlier either. It made me wonder where Judy had gotten it.

I suppose that it was a bad comparison though as the ones I had chosen were selected due to their cool designs more so than anything else. I had strayed away from the really girlish ones, with their pinkish colours and excessive frills, but after finding myself in one, I now didn't mind them at all. That said, I was still very happy with the choices I had made and didn't feel that I would have replaced any of them.

It made me think about which one was my favourite, however I quickly realized that I couldn't quite make that assessment as I had yet to wear the majority of them. It was a little surreal in that I had been given two, with the second one only a day after the first. It made me fancy the idea that maybe I never got to wear them all, as people would constantly be gifting me more. However, I wasn't greedy and with them all laid out before me, I was very content with what I had. Well, for now at least.

As I got undressed, ready for bed, I became conscious to the fact that along with the clothes I had just removed, I had a few leotards that needed washing as well. Being a form of underwear, I supposed that they were to be washed after each time they were worn, much like bathing suits.

Marching back to my closet, I took my three previous ones off their hangers, and carefully placed them into my washing basket. I spied April's old bathing suit already lying in it. Despite it being very ordinary compared to my leotards, I still held it in high regard as if it wasn't for it, this summer probably wouldn't have been half as interesting or enjoyable, to say the least. It was amazing that such a simple mistake could have led to something so blissful.

However, I was a bit concerned that my washing would be grouped together with my sisters', causing my new clothes to be noticed by them. It would be our grandma who collected our baskets in a few days, once there was enough for a load. Thinking about it though, as she appeared to be so keen on me making the confession on my own terms, I suspected that she would put them aside from the rest.

To be sure of this, I suppose that I could have asked her about it, but right now I wasn't too concerned. I guess that it was a gamble that I was willing to take. After all, if it didn't go as expected and they were seen, it would only lead to my secret being released, freeing me from it, finally having it over, awkward as it were.

As I crept into my bed, I started thinking of that previous thought; that maybe it was perhaps better to slowly build up to my confession, rather than blurting it out all at once, and my washing had sparked a bit of an idea for it. Perhaps when our grandma puts our clothes away, she could 'accidentally' give me some of my sisters. Obviously regular clothes at first, T-shirts and shorts that weren't too girlish, and I could start wearing them, pretending not to realize that they were theirs, so that they became used to me being seen in them.

Although I felt like that would be a good start if possible, I quickly came to a mental block. It would be quite a leap to jump from T-shirts and shorts to a skirt or a dress, and putting one in my room 'by mistake' would be quite a stretch.

On the other hand, maybe I didn't need to wear them at all and instead I could pretend to be 'annoyed' whenever I found their clothes placed within my room. As this continued, I would eventually 'find' a dress put there 'when she wasn't thinking', and putting on a very frustrated persona, feigning to be at my boiling point, run out of my room wearing it, shouting angrily at her; “You've done it again! Does this look like my clothes to you?!”

That idea quickly crumbled away as I remember her saying that she wasn't going to lie for me, which meant that even a fib would probably be out of the question. Even so though, I wouldn't have been comfortable shouting at her, acting or not.

That said, I guess that I didn't really need her help entirely and instead I could sneak into my sisters' rooms myself to borrow their clothes for this plan. However, I suppose that I still needed her to blame which felt a bit foul after all she had done for me. I suspected that she wouldn't have approved of it anyway, and after recollecting my thoughts and feelings on it, neither did I.

Along with that, I suppose in that scenario, there was no reason why I would have needed to wear the dress anyway, and could have just brought it out still on its hanger. If my sisters had asked, I could have stated that I was so vexed about it, I felt like I needed to show her 'directly', but it was clearly a concept that had worked better within my head.

With all of my ideas having some fatal flaw, I was forced to sweep them into my mental trash bin. Surely there must be some way to do this without it coming across as a shock or me dying of embarrassment. However, glancing at my bedside clock, I had spent too much time trying to think of one and it was now time to get some sleep. I left the night with some small comfort in knowing that my grandma hadn't placed a countdown on my confession, as otherwise I was sure that I would be spending my nights in a constant state of anxiety, tossing and turning throughout it.

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