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Leslie To Lesley

by LJ Jacobs


She sat on the small stool in the hotel room and looked into the grimy mirror of the dressing table as the reflection looked back.


It was that man again.


The one she always thought of as the imposter. The one who’d been following her around since she’d developed self-recognition.


An image of a man looking into a broken mirror with a sad reflection on his face.
Image credit: Milan Popovic on Unsplash

Damn him. If only she could have slipped him off as easily as the clothes that now lay on the stained carpet. Life could be easier then…


The stains could have come from anywhere, and each one probably had its own story. She looked at them with a puzzled look, like a psychologically challenged patient might look at an ink blot.


She slowly started to get a mental picture of the previous occupants of the room.


There were food stains, oil stains, blood stains, piss and shit stains and semen patches. It would be a police forensic department’s nightmare if a murder was ever committed here. The semen wasn’t visible, so hardly a stain, but the stiffness of the carpet on her bare feet proved its presence.


This is definitely a sex worker’s office, she thought. I’m probably being cursed right now for keeping an employee and their client on the rainy streets below.


The smell was as bad as a teenager’s bedroom mixed with a gymnasium toilet and just as nauseating.


What a lovely world we live in, she thought. But adults can do as they please - as long as no one is seriously hurt. The last thing she herself wanted was judgement, so she tried to keep negative feelings under lock and key. We’re all human at the end of the day - we’ve all been there…


On the creamy brown bed spread behind the man in the mirror, she saw the sparkling evening dress she’d brought along. It was complemented by a circle of light that shone from the bare bulb above. She thought it was the most beautiful thing in the whole wide world. It’d been purchased last year but never worn. She hadn’t the nerve to put it on in public.


Her eyes moved back to the man’s face, and it was a stark contrast to the gleaming attire. She’d just shaved, but the skin still looked in need of immediate care and attention - maybe even a miracle if a higher power was willing.


Image of a red dress on a mannequin.
Image credit on Canva

That isn’t me, she thought dismissively. It never has been and never will be. I’ve always known it, always felt it, even from childhood. Why haven’t others? Why haven’t they ever noticed the real me?


She constantly saw herself as a Leslie with an i e and never one with an e y, even back in the day when being around the so called rough-and-tough guys at school.


Those guys could never understand how someone could be imprisoned in the wrong body and feel differently on the inside to what was on the outside. They’d used derogatory words like ‘faggot’ or ‘bender’ towards her. There’d been an assumption she was a homosexual, but she wasn’t gay, though, any more than she was a man, but they still threw around the insults, and sometimes, even their fists. All because she looked like a man but acted like a woman.


The scars were plentiful.


She’d been pinned down and spat on, punched enough to tear and bruise, kicked like a bundle of rags which kept an overcharging dentist happy.


Her parents didn’t want to know. She thought that they more than likely sided with the scum who’d made her life a living hell. They didn’t deserve the title of mother and father. They were nothing to her now. She hadn’t seen them in years. They, too, couldn’t understand why she acted like a woman.


It wasn’t an act, though - she was a woman, plain and simple (even if the packaging was different). A woman with the same feelings and desires as any other woman on God’s green earth. But she was trapped inside the body of another and unable to live beyond others’ expectations and to be herself. Trapped inside the body of the weary man staring back at her now.

Black and white image of a person laying on the ground with only their feet and legs visible.
Image credit on Canva

And what a horrid sight he was. The mirror was dirty and old, but so was that man who stared back with the saddest eyes - even though she was still relatively young and not long out of college.


If you don’t act now, she thought, you may end up like the guy downstairs who served you at the front desk this morning.


He was unkempt, dishevelled, dirty and overweight. She had seen the souls who have given up on life and he was one of them, just waiting around to die, picking up a pay packet as he went. Maybe he was living in the wrong body, too?


He’d taken her payment then disappeared into the back office.


A woman then appeared and gave her the key. She was the exact opposite of the man.


Was she his wife? Doubtful. But who can tell?


She was far more presentable and seemed the happiest of the two. She looked as colourful as a butterfly as she emerged. There’d been more than a slight feeling of envy from the lost soul standing in front of her at the counter.


That lost woman now opened a small bag at her feet and took out some make up to rectify the rough and patchy areas of skin causing her disgust.


There were still tear stains on the cheeks from yesterday when she’d snapped. When she’d reached the end of her tether. The same bigotry that’d been so prevalent in childhood had started to show its ugly self again in adulthood and enough was enough.


It was Mike the manager’s vile comments which’d been the straw that broke the camel’s back. She didn’t know people in authority, the ones who are supposed to know better, could be so cruel.


There was a story on Mike’s phone about a transitioning celebrity and how happy they were to finally be who they wanted to be. The staff were all having a sneaky vape at the time in the alleyway behind the restaurant. The clouds of scented nicotine looked like steam from manhole covers on cold nights. Mike had uttered in disgust, “I don’t believe in this transgender crap. They’re just attention seeking.”


It was now or never to come clean. If a celebrity could do it, so could she. She wanted to do it for the team. For the many out there wanting to break free.


She’d confessed to identifying as a woman herself and he’d blown up, spewing the vilest torrent of abuse - in front of their colleagues as well. How embarrassing it’d been! It seemed that religion and politics weren’t the only topics of conversation to avoid these days.


She’d corrected him about her just being a confused gay man and stated her beliefs regarding gender in a calm tone. He’d shouted, “It’s not enough to be classed as queer, you also want the tits!”


How misguided and ill-informed he was. She wasn’t a gay man and never had been. She was a woman who liked men. There was a difference. She hated that she’d been so honest with the boss, and someone she thought of as a friend as well, because at the end of the shift, he told her not to come back the next night. Gays he could just about cope with, but queer freaks… no way!


In a strange way, there was some social progress in what he’d said, but still not enough for a liberal college graduate. She threw a half-prepared pizza in his face as she stormed out and told him to shove the job where the sun doesn’t shine. There would be nicer restaurants to work in.


Or would there? After all, it only takes one idiot to make life unbearable.


She’d gone home, packed a bag and walked the streets for hours until the first train at the station was ready to depart. She needed to get out of town and go somewhere new. It didn’t matter where. It was all too much here now - everywhere reminded her of a sad past. She’d decided to let fate guide her.


When you don’t know where you’re going, any road was sure to take you there.


The first train that morning had been for the coast and that’s how she’d finally ended up here, at the barely-scraping-a-two-star hotel. It was the perfect place for the lost in society and those on the run.


Or as some would call them, the rejected.


Life couldn’t get any lower than this.


But she was determined to put it right.


Somehow…


Image of a yellow flower on a bed with a beam of light shining on the flower through the window.
Image credit: Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

*

Once the padded bra, lacy knickers and long wig were on, she looked in the mirror again. The wig was too long, but the colour was everything she wanted. She’d never dressed like this before, and it felt fantastic!


The feel of the thong up her now hairless butt felt like a lover’s tongue. It tingled and caressed. The women who wear these garments day in and day out were so lucky. She couldn’t see herself ever moving to the next level of granny knickers. Fuck that!


The delicate grooming, perfectly applied cosmetics and the golden curls worked wonderfully together. She now could pass for a woman on the outside.


She hated to admit it - since it was blowing her own trumpet - but it was as good an effort as any makeup artist earning a living in the films or theatre.


She got up and went over to the bed and stood in front of the glittery dress lying there.


The long hair of the wig touched her shoulders and back and made her itch - it would need cutting but wasn’t a problem since she was now a fully trained hairdresser and beautician - the pizzeria had just been a stop gap. The final style would be as classy as everything else upon her person and worth showing off.


She saw her delicate wrists as she reached for the dress, the pale blue veins and the chunky arteries pulsing. They’d be so easy to open up - just like an orange. She’d tried before and could quite easily do it again.


She thought how nice it’d be to kill Mike the manager for the comments he’d made yesterday in front of her friends. No one should ever be made to feel the way she was made to feel. The others were nice once Mike was out the way, but no one wanted to put their job on the line for her.


Would she have done it? She thought she would. She was going to show everyone what being bullied could create.


I’m not gonna take it anymore, she thought. I’m gonna put an end to all the hurt and misery. I’m gonna be the real me from now on.


She decided to leave the discarded shell of the man she kept seeing in the mirror on the floor of the seedy hotel for good. It was the best place for him. Good riddance.


As she lifted the dress, she smiled, and a glint from the scissors lying underneath fell across her beautiful female face.


*

On a rainy street in Brighton, a fine young woman of maybe twenty steps out of a grotty hotel. It is the last time she’ll see such places.

She smiles a gorgeous smile as she goes on her way, occasionally turning her beaming face to the anointing sky.

Her dress sparkles, her skin glows and her hair is the finest cut you’ll ever see…


Image is of a woman with blonde hair walking away, with her back in view, on a bridge wearing a red coat.
Image credit on Canva

***





LJ Jacobs was born in Chester, England and raised in North Wales. He lives in a small hamlet and enjoys the quiet life. Most of his days are spent working in the aviation industry - it puts food on the table if not an enthusiasm in the heart. He loves music and writing. His heroes are the bluesman Robert Johnson and the author Ernest Hemingway. He enjoys gentle sports and is a player of poker and chess.

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