Boy on the Towpath

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 25

That evening we all had the opportunity to talk things through. One of my last concerns was that I wasn't entirely convinced that Hiro wasn't manipulating Mae in a way as to recreate an image of his late wife.

I'd tried to dismiss this as absurd but yet I had to ask the question as delicately as possible.

"Can I ask you a question Mae?"

"Yes please Stu. Go ahead."

"How long have you felt like this, I mean you wanting to be a girl?"

"This is not easy to say but I have all my life known that in my head I wasn't really a boy.

I would look at other girls knowing that I was like them in every way except my body. I wanted to dress like a girl, grow my hair like a girl and act like a girl but in Japan I cannot do these things and always I am very sad.

My father was very angry when I told him but after some years he realised that my feelings had not gone away and he would talk to me about this. Then he took me to see a special doctor in Singapore and after some tests he told my father that I should have been a girl and I was very happy!"

"So it was then he agreed to let you come to England for the treatment?"

"No not right away. First he talked to many people and only then did he agree."

"So you're happy then?"

"Very happy! The best day of my life!"

With that question answered and the broad smile on his pretty face was all I needed. He wasn't being used in any way, this was indeed something he really wanted and needed.

My next suggestion caught him off guard.

"The other day when you and Tom were playing football, I had a visit from Kenny the harbourmaster. He made some comment about you and I referred to you as 'she', like yes she's very pretty so I was wondering if away from school you would like to maybe dress as a girl. We could get your hair styled better and let it grow so you can get used to your 'new you'.

What do you think? You don't have to if you would rather not Mae?"

Poor Mae could hardly believe his ears, almost as if he'd not understood me. Then the realisation of what I'd said hit home! His eyes fairly lit up and suddenly I could clearly see the feminine side of him as he skipped about the boat punching his little fist into the air.

"Oh yes that would be so good thing to do! I want now!"

Tom pitched into the conversation.

"At eight in the evening the shops will be shut but Stu? We could go into Warwick tomorrow couldn't we?"

"Sure, if you want. Why not but first we must make a list of what we have to buy and honestly I don't know where to start!"

Tom, ever the resourceful one came up with an idea.

"Why don't we look on line? It would give us some sort of idea at least and anyway Mae probably knows what she would like to wear. What do you think Mae?"

With that suggestion I lost them to the computer for the rest of the evening. Tom's idea was brilliant and made even better when he told me that he would go onto sites which had high street outlets so not only could we get ideas but also with the possibility that we could actually buy exactly what they'd chosen the following day.

I elected to leave them to it and take a walk to the pub, after all they were probably more fashion conscious than an old fart like me and I'd only get in the way. Well that was my excuse anyhow!

A couple of hours later I returned to find the kids sitting round the table looking at a sheaf of papers obviously printed off the websites. Tom told me that they'd only chosen items that were available in store and that he'd double-checked that either the store in Leamington or the one in Rugby held stock thus guaranteeing that our trip wouldn't be a waste of time.

Seriously impressed I asked them to get cleared away and show me what they'd picked out.

I'd been right to leave them to it. None of what they'd decided on would have been top of my list, well not initially but when I saw how they'd colour-co-ordinated things, chosen items that could be mixed and matched, I could see just how well they'd thought things through. Funny though, even I was rather looking forward to the shopping trip now!

I was rudely woken at six-thirty the following morning by the noise of the shower pump running. Then I remembered the planned shopping trip and no doubt the excitement of this had woken the kids earlier than usual and so with the prospect of anymore sleep well and truly out of the question I got up and put the kettle on for very early morning tea!

Mae came out of the shower room wearing only a pair of briefs and started talking about the trip. This gave me the chance to study him physically as he talked as this was the first time I'd actually seen him wearing so little.

Aside from being unbelievably pretty, his body also had female attributes.

His legs were shapely rather than just skinny or muscular, a bubble butt to die for and broad hips and shoulders. All in all, even having not yet started any hormone treatment, he had at least got the nice beginnings of a natural hour-glass figure, another indicator that this was indeed what he desired.

One other thing struck me during our chat and that was how much and in just so shorter space of time, just how much more relaxed he was around me.

This had always been the case around Tom but I'd never seen him so animated with me and I was not just a little relieved.

Mae went back to the cabin to dress only to be replaced by Tom.

"Tell you what Stu? You scored a direct hit with your clothing idea! He was rabbiting on and on for bloody ages about it last night, I hope we didn't keep you awake?"

"Only for a bit but don't worry about it, I can have a late morning tomorrow when you buggers have gone to school."

"I thought you were going to London tomorrow? Harley Street, to see the doctors?"

"Oh fuck! I'd forgotten. Thanks mate! Anyway I'm pleased he's happy and maybe that's why he seems a little bit more comfortable with me."

"Well as I said, you really gave him a boost last night. I thought he'd never shut up! Still I'd better get showered. Lots to do today!"

Maeori, now dressed joined me in the galley. "Stu? Can I say something to you please?"

"You can talk to me anytime Mae."

"I want to say big thank you please. Before I not so sure but now I know. You very good guy so please thank you."

With that Mae stepped over and wrapped his arms around me, the first physical contact since I first shook his hand. I thought it might be just a quick hug and away but then I could feel him trying to suppress tears. I held him close to me and said "Just let it go Mae. We have no problem with crying here and just remember, both Tom and I are your friends and we will take care of you."

He looked up at me and smiled, a few tears rolling down his cheeks.

"Not sad crying. Happy crying!"

I leant down and kissed him on the forehead. "Good Mae. You're happy, Tom's happy and I am happy!"

"And you kissed me. My first ever kiss!"

"What? Nobody's ever kissed you before?"

"No only you kiss Maeori ever. I am happy this!"

Tom reappeared from the shower.

"No that's no good Mae. Let's find you something better to wear. Something a little tighter, that way you will look more like a girl when we go to the shops. Okay?"

Mae looked up at me and grinned. "He the boss I think! I go now Stu."

Tom had gone a terrific job in kitting Mae out for the shopping trip. Sure everything was a size or two too small but it did show off his figure and nothing but a real close examination would make anybody think differently.

Both of them held my hands as we walked through town and the looks we got differed from the 'What the fuck?' to one lady who actually stopped us and said "That is just so nice to see. Children rarely hold their father's hand these days."

Tom found that hysterical! "God! Was she blind or what? How could she take Mae to be your daughter?"

"Well does it matter mate? Anyway you just said daughter. Did you realise?"

"Shit, so I did! Hey but when she walks out of the shop she will be! Okay a girl but not your daughter if you know what I mean."

"And she? You've really come to terms with this haven't you?"

"Yes I think I have but I've got to remember to be careful at school though."

"Well Mae won't be dressed as a girl then so maybe that'll help remind you!"

"Good point but come on shopping!"

My wallet took a pounding but nothing could have made it more worthwhile than the look on not just Maeori's face but also Tom's. Basically Tom took charge in helping Mae to choose the garments whilst I took a back seat.

The last outfit was a blinder! Mae looked absolutely stunning, the whole outfit, short-shorts, a nice tight singlet top and ballet-type shoes and I was so taken aback that I would've defied anyone to spot the male in him.

I insisted that she wore them back to the boat for she it was from now on with the one exception. School.

I did notice heads turning as we wandered back again hand in hand but our mood had lifted to an all-time high and didn't care about what people thought but I could only think that they were just admiring a very beautiful young Japanese girl. Who knows but I know I was very aware that we'd made a first big step in helping Mae and also aware that it been mostly driven by Tom and that his obvious commitment to Mae was absolute.

It could've been easy to be jealous of their relationship but following the talk with Mae earlier in the day it became clear to me that whilst I could offer something to the situation, Tom had perhaps an even greater role to play, that of keeping Mae happy.

Back on the boat, the kids went out to play footie but this time Mae went out as a girl. I cautioned Tom to remember how to refer to her in the event someone talked to them but my remarks were met with rolling eyeballs!

"Stu I'm more cosy with this than you are. Trust me will you?"

He was right of course. Such is the flexibility of young thinking, it's easy to remember the old days of prejudice for someone my age but to be able to rely on younger attitudes is a God send.

I knock on the roof and Kenny came on board. "Hey Stu. Tom told me you were here and I just thought I'd tell you that Doc's in and decamped if you want a sneak preview of his boat."

"Give me five minutes Kenny. Where's she berthed and I'll see you there."

"She's on west 4, the brokerage berths oh and by the way, your little Japanese girl's going to break some hearts later isn't she? Gorgeous or what!"

"Down boy! She's a very undeveloped twelve year old. Time enough yet!"

"Yeah but anyone can see beauty even in a girl so young and I wasn't being a perve honest!"

"Don't bother yourself mate! I fully understand where you're coming from. She is beautiful and you're right. She will be a boy magnet for sure."

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