This needs a adult content notice, and that’s only because it kinda builds up to a point where everything comes crashing down… although I won’t spoil any more of the plot!
“How did it turn out, then?” asked Evan.
“The memory wipes were fine,” said Lawrence, yawning. “There shouldn’t be any after effects. I’m just worried that they may suffer a relapse.”
“Who, Jerome and Austin?”
“Yeah,” said Lawrence, crossing the small room to get to the coffee. “I don’t think they’re going to remembering this place for a while. But then we can’t let come back – I didn’t get time to properly wipe the subconscious.”
“I suppose so. What excuse did you come up with?”
Lawrence pushed the button to get a shot of coffee. “I told Ms Tandy that my mother had a heart attack. That’s going to have to do for now.”
“Oh, seriously? I bet even Ethan could come up with something better than that.”
Lawrence stirred the coffee absentmindedly, taking a seat on the glass table. “Well, it would certainly work, wouldn’t it?”
“I suppose it must.” Evan drained his cup in a single gulp. “I’m going to check on Control. Do me a favour and preoccupy Ethan for a moment, why don’t you?”
“Why? You don’t want him?”
“No, not really. Not tonight, anyway.”
Evan cocked his head mysteriously. “I’m not going to be here tonight.”
Lawrence just shrugged as he drank the steaming coffee.
“So he just ditched me for the night?”
“Yep,” said Lawrence, nodding.
Ethan slammed his fist down on the table.
“Now how I am going to get entertained for the night?”
“Lawrence, are you sure that you want to run the assembly like that?”
“It would make such a laugh, don’t you think?”
“I suppose. Who’s going to do that, though?”
Lawrence simply winked. “I’ll sort that out. We’ll beat the other houses easily.”
Every house in the year was expected to host at least one year assembly. This time, it was Lawrence’s form’s turn – which meant that they had to come up with something remotely interesting to capture the attentions of one hundred and twenty adolescents.
“Who’s going to design the dresses?”
“Oh, I know someone who might do that. They owe me a favour. Talk about the moment! Hilary!”
Hilary stuck her head in questioningly, hearing her name. She looked around, and her eyes fell on Lawrence. “Oh, hi, Lawrence.”
“Hey, you wouldn’t mind designing the dresses for our assembly, would you? Thanks!”
“I’m not really supposed to help another house – oh, fine, then,” she said, beaten. “Okay.”
“There. That’s the dresses sorted. Now I just have to worry about the people.”
“You’re going to what?” spluttered Ethan, the juice spraying out of his overfilled mouth.
“Yeah, you probably heard right.” Lawrence leaned back in the chair, folding his arms.
“Okay. Let me say that again,” said Ethan, looking disbelieving at Lawrence. “You’re going to… you’re going to…”
“Run a cross dressing competition, yeah.”
Ethan burst out into laughter. Lawrence smiled, but he waited for Ethan to calm down before speaking again.
“What’s so funny about that?”
“I’m trying… to imagine you… in a dress,” choked Ethan.
“Shut up. I’m not going to do it.”
“I don’t know. Now eat your damn fish.”
“There’s fish?” piped Ethan, his ears prickling up.
“Yes, go get it yourself, you seafood-obsessed teenager.”
“Evan’s obsessed with seafood too.”
Lawrence yawned as he stood up. “Not as much as you.”
“So, who’s doing that cross dressing thing of yours?”
“I actually don’t know,” admitted Lawrence in a whisper. “I know who I want, but I doubt that they’d accept.”
“How about Jerome?” asked Hilary quietly, scribbling in a few words in her technology workbook. “He’d look nice in a dress. Here, I’ve already got the plans sorted out.”
Lawrence took the small sheet of paper and looked at it. On it was a small, quick sketch of a dress, complete with pencil annotations all over the place. Gleaming through the silvery pencil marks was a royal purple dress, with a high chest band, holding the material together.
“Explain this to me,” said Lawrence thoughtfully.
“It’s a straight long dress, made of pure royal purple silk, with an empire silhouette. It would actually look pretty good on Jerome, you know,” she finished, folding the note back and sliding it in her jacket pocket.
Lawrence glanced at the now fighting Jerome. “The problem is getting him to wear that, Hilary.”
“Oh don’t worry,” said Hilary lightly, “I have a plan.”
“Hey, Lawrence. I’ll do it.”
“You’ll do what?” asked Lawrence blankly.
Jerome looked at Lawrence breathlessly. “I’ll take the dress for the competition thingy.”
Lawrence blinked three times before he realised that his senses weren’t deceiving him.
“Oh, okay. Ask Hilary for your dress then.”
“What? Oh. Okay.”
“You’re good,” said Lawrence minutes later.
Hilary simply looked confused as she walked into the room. It was break; everyone was chattering wildly about their lessons. Lawrence was the far corner of the room, where it was the most dark, observing everything quietly. He felt like an owl, a watch guard- looking over everything and making sure that trouble didn’t break out.
“Oh, Lawrence. Yeah, Jerome said he’d do it, wouldn’t he?”
“Yes. How did you manage to do that?” asked Lawrence, his lips barely moving.
“You act like me,” she replied.
Lawrence just raised an eyebrow, stomping over to her face.
“Okay,” she whispered, “you threaten him into doing it.”
That was enough for Lawrence; he nodded, then whispered in her ear. “Can you do Aussie?”
Hilary thought about it for a while, then, “Yes.”
Lawrence smiled in satisfaction. “Good luck, then. I’m waiting.”
“According to Ethan,” said Evan, “your house assembly is going to be about people cross dressing?”
Lawrence put down his spoon. “Yeah, why?”
Ethan and Evan exchanged dark looks. “We always suspected that you might be homosexual.”
Lawrence laughed, helping himself to more tart. “No, I’m not gay, okay? Talk about yourselves, Evan and Ethan. What do you do when you think I’m not there?”
“You made your point,” said Ethan quickly. “Let’s not talk about who does what when we’re alone, shall we?”
Lawrence shrugged, spooning more tart into his mouth. “It’s going to work out anyway… especially since I have Hilary on my side. For once.”
“I want to see that cross dressing competition,” said Evan matter-of-factly.
“Turn up then.”
“How? It’s a school, Lawrence… not the sushi place we went last. I can’t waltz in as a public citizen… unless you’re expecting me to?”
“I don’t know. Find your own way in, Evan.”
“I guess I have to.”
“I swear that Jerome actually looks good as a girl,” said Hilary.
Lawrence looked up from the book he was reading – A Little Prince – and saw Jerome wearing the dark purple dress that Hilary had fashioned for him.
At first, he was stunned by the sheer awkwardness of the entire situation. Then he looked closer, and Jerome actually… well, he was never going to say it, but Jerome actually looked good. Somehow the dress outlined his features… enhanced them in extraordinary ways. Lawrence wanted to applaud Hilary for her outstanding ability… and was about to until Austin walked into the backstage area.
“I look so weird, don’t I?” he asked.
Lawrence took a sharp breath. Austin was sporting a large, wide, satin-like red dress, which flowed behind him, a train of differences and laughter. It was so awkward, the entire situation, so surreal… but then realism had quite literally blown out of the window years ago.
Hilary nudged Lawrence and nodded at the two boys. Lawrence pointed at himself, surprised, and then jumped as Hilary pushed him out of the seat, sending him flying and landing softly on the shocked boys.
Jerome and Austin fell, Lawrence again ending up on top of them.
“Oh, shit,” swore Lawrence, his logic telling him what was bound to happen.
Something touched his lips.