© Copyright 2014 - AmyAmy - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-F; FF/f; clothing; store; display; fitting; panties; corset; dress; shoes; bond; cuffs; collar; bdsm; paddle; punish; majick; spell; transform; cons/reluct; X
It happened a few years ago. I had walked past the shop many times. I preferred to pass by on the opposite side of the street. It would be in my view for longer that way. The whole time, my eyes would be glued to the window. I could see better close up, but I daren’t stop in front of it. If I walked on the same side of the road I would only get an instant to stare.
The shop sold clothes in Japanese fashion styles, mostly Lolita outfits with a gothic bias, but it was not limited to just that. The only rule was that their clothes were always extreme and instantly recognizable as non-western. The window always held a triple display with three manikins that were never dressed the same two days in a row.
While I rarely allowed myself the luxury of examining them up close, from a distance I would admire the intensely coloured concoctions, with fancy details, corsetry, lace and ruffles. Black, red and white predominated, with baby pinks and blues taking a second place. There were tartans, there was over-the-top embroidery. There were even patent leather, blocky platform “Mary Jane” pumps in outlandish colours. It was a kind of pornography for the clothes fetishist. I didn’t put myself in that category of course.
To say those strange foreign clothes fascinated me would be an understatement. I loved the way that they broke all the rules of what was right, practical or allowed. I loved the way they looked like nothing else on the city streets. I loved them, but they were out of my reach.
Sure, there were plenty of modern Goths around, but when it came to it, most of their clothes weren’t remarkable at all. I felt the bold days of western style had ended with the New Romantics. Well, that was all before my time; New Romantics were a thing only to be seen in pictures on the internet, but they had been brash, awful and amazing at the same time.
I’m pretty sure that even if I’d been a teenager back then, I still wouldn’t have dared to be out there on the boundary. I would have wished to dress that way, but even though others were doing it, I would have been afraid to do it myself.
Often, I wondered why nobody seemed to buy anything from the unusual shop. Nobody was dressing that way. Almost nobody. Sometimes I’d see a girl who looked like she could have bought something from there, but I might go weeks without seeing one. I never saw a guy into that style, but the shop didn’t seem to sell men’s clothes anyway.
A couple of years later, the whole steampunk thing would get super-popular and a lot of people would be wearing crazy clothes. But when this happened, that sort of thing seemed unlikely. I guess the Lolita thing was also fresher in Japan back then – though they’d had it for years – it was only just becoming known in the west. Reading this you might wonder why it matters. I realise now that I’d built the whole thing up into something forbidden and impossible in my head. Looking back at myself, I seem a bit nuts.
So I waited until the morning of Halloween before I dared to go in there. I’d come up with a way I could finally wear those clothes that had been obsessing me for so long. I would buy my party costume from that shop and spice things up with a little blood and injury make-up for a broken zombie-doll look. One night of the year I could dress any way I chose and I would make the most of it. I wouldn’t let this chance pass me by.
When I stepped through the door, the first thing I noticed about the interior of the shop was how beautifully finished and lit everything was. The counter was real wood, polished to a glorious shine. Little square, cubby-hole shelves lined the walls, randomly populated with shoes and accessories. The floor had white marble tiles; the air scented with new clothes and sandalwood.
While I was impressed and entranced, I wondered even more about how the place stayed in business. The shop was in an expensive location, and seemed to always be changing its stock. How could they make a profit unless it was busy?
I stood just beyond the doorway, paralysed with anticipation and a kind of nervous fear that somehow I would be found out, that I would be judged unfit, that I would be unacceptable as a customer.
Ahead of me were several manikin displays in front of a floor to ceiling partition. I could see that beyond that lay display tables and the usual racks and hangers that one expected to find in any clothes store. The shop seemed to go back for some distance and I recalled that some of the shops in that block went back all the way and were very large. I had always assumed that this one was not of that kind, and was small, but I began to wonder.
I could spend an age describing those manikins. They complimented the window display, which also contained a trio of outfits. One of the displays was very close to the exact thing I had been dreaming of. It was a knee length dress, with a sweetheart neckline worn over a long sleeved, high neck blouse with a black and white embroidered corset over the top.
The skirt was somewhere between an A-line and a circle skirt, knee length, smooth, not pleated, supported underneath by ruffled white petticoats that held the skirt out at a shallow angle. The blouse was white satin with puffed sleeves, bursting with lace at the cuffs, and there was a matching hairband. The boots had an Edwardian style that was interesting, though I still preferred the idea of Mary Jane look platform pumps with the oversized round toe.
While I stood there frozen, the girl behind the counter looked up from her glossy magazine and noticed me. Behind her were the numerous shelves of a glass-fronted display built into the wall. Dozens of beautifully detailed little vinyl figures in fashion outfits were arrayed and lit with numerous tiny spotlights.
A second assistant emerged from behind the partition and I found myself pinned by their dual gazes, unaccountably blushing. The idea of myself really wearing that outfit had made me a feel a kind of sexual thrill inside, and now I was filled with odd certainty that they could tell… That they knew how shameful I really was.
The girl from behind the partition came closer, putting herself directly in front of me. The whole time she was walking, her gaze never released mine. I registered peripherally that she was wearing a long, black, embroidered skirt, a cream satin blouse and a black suit jacket like some kind of gypsy executive. Her hair was a mass of huge permed curls, glistening black. She wore large squarish glasses with thick, dark frames.
“Welcome. Can I help you with anything today?” She said. She paused to smile. Even smiling she seemed serious, not to be trifled with. There was a mixed race look to her face, a combination of Eastern and Western, I guessed. Her accent had a hint of Russian or at least, something Slavic about it. I was so fixated on the details of the clothes, so wrapped up in my own fantasies that it took a few moments for her words to register.
Flustered, I tried to respond but found my tongue tied; a nonsense of word salad came from my mouth. Embarrassed, I laughed pathetically. She stared at me as if I were some kind of idiot. Only further unsettled by this I started again, my voice hardly above a whisper. “I’m looking for something like that display next to you,” I said. Even though I spoke quietly, it sounded like it was still too loud, too stupid … too coarse. In this place of pure, pristine colours and perfect lighting, I should sound sweeter.
“Is that so? Very good. You like this style?” She asked, staring at me intently. She indicated the display, turning her body slightly towards it, though her eyes remained locked with mine. Her eyebrows raised a fraction too high, as if sceptical of my honesty.
“Oh yes, very much,” I gushed.
“This one is excellent quality, beautifully made. Refinement comes at a cost of course, but I’m sure you are prepared for that?” She said.
I could hardly say no. On rare occasions I’d seen the prices on the window displays. A complete outfit might cost more than a thousand pounds. It was a huge amount of money to me, but you can’t put a price on your dreams, or so I told myself.
I answered her with a weak acknowledgement. “Of course,” I said. “It won’t be a problem.” I daren’t actually ask how much it would be. As the old saying goes, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
The woman smiled again. I felt myself relax just a little at this tiny sign of her approval. “Perhaps you’d like to take a look around first though?” She asked. “Perhaps you will find something even more to your liking?”
“Oh no,” I said. “Well… I would like to look but the display is almost perfect, apart from the shoes. It has to be shoes, not boots, and I’d like something a bit more modern. I was thinking-”
Interrupting, she cut me off, “Black patent leather pumps with a heavy platform sole, in a style evoking the childish Mary Jane, yes? Contrasted with a white stocking. Or maybe with additional strapping detail reaching up the ankle?”
I nodded, taking a while to find the courage to answer properly, “Yes. Yes, that would be perfect. You read my mind.”
The girl merely smiled. An awkward silence persisted for a few seconds, before she broke it. “Perhaps you’d like to try something on? Shall I see if we have your size? You do know your size, don’t you?”
I flushed again. Sizes were such an awkward thing to gauge. No two companies seemed to follow the same guide. “I was thinking, maybe a six, probably an eight?”
The woman tilted her head slightly to one side, a tightening around her eyes hinting at suppressed frustration. “I see. There’s nothing for it then, you’ll have to be measured.”
“Is that… Really necessary?” I asked tremulously. “I mean…”
“You do want your clothes to fit properly, don’t you? I couldn’t permit a customer to walk out of here in ill-fitting clothes. I would be an insult to both you and the shop if I allowed that to happen. You understand completely don’t you? You must look perfect.”
I nodded again. “Of course,” I agreed. “It’s not as if I’m in a hurry. I do appreciate the attention to detail. I just don’t want to be a nuisance.”
“Very good,” she said. “If you would please come this way…”
It excited my whole being when she took my hand to lead me to the changing rooms. It was not something I had expected and I didn’t know how to react. Of course, I was reacting despite any plans I had in that direction. My hand was the one sweating and trembling. Hers was a perfectly normal hand. I found myself following without complaint or comment.
That was how I lived my entire life, always paralysed, trying to decide how to react to life happening around me – finally responding badly and too late. Whenever I wasn’t hesitating I was actively making a fool of myself. I felt that I’d got my degree and my job by accident. I seemed unable to do anything but stumble into one thing or another, just as I had stumbled into the shop.
She led the way around, behind the partition, and then back through the racks of clothes to an opening obscured by a white curtain. We brushed through that and down a brightly lit corridor all painted white, then through another curtain.
There was a space about six feet by ten with two curtained changing alcoves down the long side of it. The opposite wall was covered with a single huge, seamless mirror. The far end had a couple of white leather chairs of the kind found in up-market waiting rooms, reception areas, and displays of kitchens you’ll never afford. The lighting, as in the hallway, was intensely bright, the walls and curtains, flawlessly white.
“Your bag please,” the assistant said. There are many places where there is a bag policy but it seemed redundant here as I wasn’t browsing the store. I didn’t want to let go of it, but nevertheless, I handed it over without complaint. I couldn’t imagine arguing with her. What would I do? Walk out of the shop? I was completely trapped by my own fevered desire.
She gestured to the nearest changing room, then pressed me forward with a gentle pressure in the small of the back. It seemed the assistant was a very hands-on sort of person. I wasn’t used to that sort of thing, but it seemed as if it would be rude to complain about it. After all, I was the one being neurotic about everything.
“Undress down to your panties please. I’ll return momentarily.”
“My bra?” I asked; confused.
“Remove it please. I must measure the bust properly, and it would get in the way. I don’t suppose that your bra fits very well anyway. Department store items almost never do,” she said.
I squirmed at that. I wanted to tell her how rude she was being. Of course she was just being direct. What she said was entirely true. My clothes were department store clothes and my bra wasn’t terribly comfortable and didn’t make a good shape. I glanced down at my Gap jeans, nondescript two-tone white pinstriped blouse and light beige Harrington jacket. At least I didn’t dignify her unintended put-down with a reply.
I pulled the curtain of the changing room closed behind me. The opposite wall was a mirror. There were several hooks and a bench to place clothes on. Feeling rather nervous at being measured naked by that touchy-feely woman I nevertheless stepped out of my practical pumps and stripped off my clothes, carefully folding them and placing them on the bench.
I was just hesitating over where to put my bra after removing it when she returned, barging in without any warning. She swished the curtain sharply closed behind her in a business-like way and took the bra from my hand, hooking it over the curtain rail so it dangled half outside the alcove. I edged away as she dominated the space. It was about five feet long by three feet wide, and with the bench, only four by two of that was really usable, there was only one spot I could stand now that she was with me.
My experience was that measurements were always taken from behind. Perhaps this is a practical thing, or maybe just a matter of good manners. The glasses-wearing assistant seemed indifferent to either concern, though she seemed confident of her business. She didn’t allow me time to turn around, and began her measurements with me still facing her.
Her eyes seemed directed straight at my breasts, though that had to be an illusion. It was predictable for men to look there but women never did; she had to read the tape after all. She wrapped it around me in various places, tutting and hmmming as she did so.
I felt even more awkward when she knelt down to take measurements around my hips, of which she seemed to need several. Her face was at the height of my crotch and it seemed like I could feel her breath on my sex. Could she smell the arousal that was growing inside me from anticipation at dressing in those clothes?
She stood back up, and it felt like practiced ease when she span me around to take more measurements under my breasts. She even measured around my neck and my head. Well, that made sense. I could easily imagine the outfit accessorised by a choker or a hat.
I felt butterflies in my gut when her hands cupped my breasts. I almost imagined that she squeezed my nipples but a moment later the tape was in position and she was taking various additional measurements of my bust size. Very thorough measurements. Very business-like.
Then she stopped touching me. Had the measurements stopped? Tentatively, I turned to face her. She was standing uncomfortably close, her flower scented breath warm on my face. I could only hope that mine smelled as sweet. My mind drifted, wondering what it was she could eat to get that floral smell.
Her gaze met mine, freezing me in place, rabbit in the headlights. I had the awful fear that there was a slack jawed, stupid, startled expression on my face. “Do not move,” she said after a pause that seemed to drag on for far too long.
I went to reach for my bra, hanging over the curtain so that anyone could see it and then froze. No. I wouldn’t let myself worry about it. I wouldn’t let her intimidate me with something like that. I wouldn’t show her my embarrassment. I let the plain white thing dangle exactly where she’d left it.
I glanced sideways and caught sight of myself in the mirror, my body in profile. My legs were in good shape but my tummy looked a little pudgy. I ought to get more exercise but it was always so hard to find the time. Moving up, the light roundness of my figure added a little size to my boobs. They were a classic C-cup I thought; quite firm and well-shaped without the bra. My long blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail. It had a hint of a natural wave but blow drying was enough to straighten it out.
I looked again, noticing the uneven tips and an untidy haze of split-end frizz. I should have got my hair done for the party. As for the split-ends, I’d have to cut my hair short to get rid of them entirely. It wasn’t an option. A good hairdresser could reduce it of course, but I couldn’t really afford to pay that kind of money for every trim. A fancy salon cut was something I could only afford occasionally. In comparison with the shop assistant I felt frumpy and poorly maintained. Her hair was absolutely perfect; not a curl out of place, like a forceful and demanding doll.
I was shocked out of my introspection by the return of the assistant. She was now carrying a bulky armload of clothes. My heart bounded in my chest. I had to resist the urge to chew on my lips. I was almost afraid to move in case a bead of wetness broke free from between the lips of my sex and made a visible spot on my underwear. I could feel it inside of me.
“You have a good figure, I think,” the assistant said to my surprise. “Here. Put these on first.”
Her words had a firm tone to them, but I needed no encouragement to comply with a request to put those clothes on. I took the garment from her hands, only to realise that it was a pair of outrageously ruffled, silkywhite panties. She expected me to strip completely in front of her?
I could hardly back out now. The hardest part would be stepping out of my existing underwear without bumping into her in the constrained space of the changing room.
Slipping my panties down, I could feel her eyes on my crotch. My face was as red as a tomato as my plain cotton briefs dropped to the floor. Whether she was really looking or not, I couldn’t tell, but I felt sure that she was judging my bush as too scruffy and wild.
I’d never been one for waxing or depilating down there. I let everything grow as nature intended, and in the summer heat it was still itchy enough. I had a friend who shaved hers once and deeply regretted it. She said that once you go that way, you either have to keep it shaved or put up with weeks of awful itching as it grows back in.
I balanced awkwardly on one leg and then the other, stepping into the pretty new panties she’d handed me. Even inside, they were all satin apart from the gusset, which was lined with a patch of soft, fluffy material. I couldn’t swear it, but there seemed to be a small amount of some white floury dust there; maybe it was just an illusion of the powdery fabric. They were obviously brand new and smelled clean, so whether it was my imagination or not, it was nothing to worry about.
As I pulled them up and into place I could feel that not only were they heavily ruffled to give an impression of larger hips and bum, but they were also thick, the material dense, almost padded. The ruffles gave them a lot of bulk. They would show absurdly under anything close fitting. The crotch and gusset were actually padded, but weren’t quite smooth; there was a little crease outside in the middle that seemed like a minor defect to me.
The pants had a high waist and fit snugly. They seemed to have some stretch and control, especially in the wide waist band, helping to pull my tummy in. Though they were much more girly than anything I would have chosen, there was a nice feeling of security and they were really very comfortable despite the ruffles being completely too much. I instantly took a liking to the feeling of everything below the waist being gently held-in from every direction.
I’d imagined wearing clothes like this over and over. I’d dreamed and fantasised. Though the experience was less magical than inside my imagination, it was still far nicer than I’d expected the reality to be. I’d been completely prepared to be disappointed and to feel ordinary or silly, but it was nothing like that.
The assistant examined me with a critical eye. “At least those are a good fit on you,” she said. She handed me a short, scoop-neck slip in delicate white satin. It felt gorgeously smooth and cool as I pulled it on. It was quite close fitting but left my chest bare.
I was taken unawares as she stepped close and reached her arms around me to put the corset on. To my surprise, it was already laced up at the back and open at the front. I had imagined it would need to be fitted and then laced from behind but I’d completely misunderstood. Only once she’d clipped the front closed did she spin me around and begin tightening the laces.
I’d never worn a real corset before, and my ideas of what it would be like were formed by stories of fainting Victorian ladies. I expected to become breathless as she tightened the laces, but it wasn’t so. Even though she seemed to be pulling the laces tighter and tighter, I felt only a gentle pressure holding me in. It was really quite pleasant and supportive as long as I didn’t try to bend.
“Lift your arms up,” she ordered. When I complied I found it had nothing to do with getting the corset tight and everything to do with getting the creases out of the slip beneath it, and a nice line around my arm pits.
It wasn’t until she tied off the laces that I suddenly understood how firmly I was held. It wasn’t uncomfortable while I held myself straight but I couldn’t bend my waist at all. I had to breathe higher in the chest than I was used to, and though it was no trouble at all standing still, I did wonder if it would mean I might tire easily when walking or running. Not that I planned to do any running, but dancing might be a possibility.
I surreptitiously adjusted my boobs in the over-bust cups, flushing red when I could see that she was watching me closely in the mirror.
“No. Like this,” she said, reaching in and re-adjusting my breasts for me. Her hands weren’t cold or rough but it still felt intrusive for her to be handling me like that again. However, when she was done I had an awesome cleavage and a feeling of confidence and support I’d never had from a regular bra. It was nice not to have a weight dragging on my shoulders.
“Oh, that fits really well,” I exclaimed. “How did you do that?”
“Your waist has reduced nicely. Normally you should drop at least four inches, but as you are only starting out I’ve left it at two. It’s not ideal but the dress will still fit. When you have settled into it, it can be tightened again.”
Then I realised, the display had the corset on over the dress. She had clearly indicated that my dress would go over it.
“Shouldn’t I have put this on last?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the display corset in your size. We only have a few corsets big enough to fit you. The outfit you’re trying is a little different to the display, but it speaks the same language and I am certain that when you see it on, you will love it just as much, perhaps more.”
“Oh…” I said. I felt like I ought to complain, but really, what was wrong? She had been right so far. It could hardly do me any harm to see how it all turned out. Still, she had called me big. It seemed unfair, as she was definitely bigger than me in every respect.
The next thing she gave me were a pair of white stockings. They were a high denier, high thread-count pair – obviously expensive. They pulled up easily and had a lovely smooth snug feeling like the panties. The corset had attached suspenders and so there was no difficulty with that either. I had never worn real stockings or suspenders before but I understood the idea. The gap between their tops and the ruffles of my panties revealed a tantalizing view of a few inches of soft skin, cut through by the verticals of the suspenders.
I wasn’t attracted to women or anything, but I was turning myself on looking at that exposed flesh. There was something iconic about that little patch of exposed flesh. It certainly did speak a language I could understand. The feeling of the elastic stretching this way and that over my skin as I moved was delicious too. I would have to undo the suspenders to get my panties down, but given the design of the corset there was no possibility of fitting them beneath, which would have looked and felt horrid anyway.
Then came the petticoats, and she helped get those over my head and settled them on my hips where they were soon secured with a zip. I was sad to lose sight of the stocking tops, but now I had a new view to feast on. A circular mass of white stuck out all around me. I’d lost all sight of my feet. I could see in the mirror how this cone of fabric blended into the curve of my hips and the falsely exaggerated bulge of my bum to stick out at a forty-five degree angle. Despite all the ruffles, they were lighter than I’d expected, and again, perfectly comfortable to wear, the tulle soft and not scratchy.
She handed me a blouse. Apart from being off-white, it seemed much like the one in the display. I had to be very careful getting my arms in at first as it seemed quite delicate. The fabric was translucent with a pattern of little hearts watermarked into it. The long puffed sleeves ended in a mass of lacy frills that got in the way of my hands as I fastened it up. To my surprise, it closed with tiny hooks at the back and would have been fiddly to do up at the best of times.
The assistant eventually become frustrated at my fumbling with the lace getting in the way of my hands and did it up for me, smoothing it carefully over my breasts. There was a deep plunging vee in the front but it came out over the collar bones to fasten a snug high collar with more lace ruffles, forming a kind of keyhole décolletage. Once fastened, the blouse was close fit over the corset. If I could have pushed out my tummy, it would have probably been too much for the hooks, but of course the corset had limited the size of my waist to a single and firmly fixed size.
At last the most important part: the dress. I couldn’t wait to feel it closing up around my body. I couldn’t wait to look like that… I guess, deep down I was a terribly vain, narcissistic person. I’d just never had the guts to let it show. Was that person the best or the worst of me? Would I just be the same old dull person but dressed up?
Very carefully, I held my arms up for the assistant to help me in. It is surprisingly difficult to put on a dress when you are in a full length over-bust corset, no matter whether you step in or pull over. I realised that it isn’t easy to hold your arms up in a tight fitting blouse either. You’d think I would have learned such lessons years ago, but since I’d left school my clothes had always been slack and casual.
When my head emerged and I caught sight of myself in the mirror, my suspicions were confirmed. This definitely wasn’t the dress I’d been looking at.
“This is rather different,” I said nervously. I wanted to say more, but I just wasn’t sure. So much of the outfit was good – perfect even – and maybe this was too. It just wasn’t what I had been expecting.
The dress was made in two layers. The under-layer was red silk. I was sure it was real silk. The outer layer was black lace and glistening black silk embroidery. The red beneath showed through, setting off the intricate dark designs. It was strapless; the front had a deep vee neckline that plunged to the waist, exposing the blouse beneath; baby pink ribbon laced up this central divide to the level below the bust, pulling it in tight beneath but not closing it. The finishing touch was an enormous black satin bow on the back.
Without asking me, the assistant pulled the ribbons tight and tied them into a fancy bow beneath my bust. I didn’t try to stop her, or to take over. I didn’t even think of mentioning it. My attention was entirely on my reflection in the mirror.
When the assistant placed the shoes in front of me on the floor, I couldn’t see where to put my feet. She guided me into them and I felt her do up the straps. I suddenly felt very tall. I’d seen that the platforms were about two inches and the heels somewhere around six. Six inches is a lot. Though she was taller, I towered over the assistant, but I felt very nervous about moving.
It’s not as if I’d never worn platform shoes before, but never any so tall. Even with one inch platforms the lack of sensation in the toes and ball of the foot made me feel insecure. I always have to think how I’m going to move in platforms because I can’t feel the slip coming until it’s too late.
With my back held so straight, and stacked up on those towering shoes, I felt like a different person. Part of me knew that I looked absurd. Another part of me saw someone with the makings of something... If only the rest of me followed through to match my outfit. I needed hair and makeup. I needed gloves and accessories.
My thoughts were jumping about here and there, incoherently. I went to check my watch, struggling to find it under the lace cuffs. I’d been over an hour already! Where had the time gone? There was no way I’d been so long getting changed… The assistant had taken a long time measuring though, so maybe that was it.
“This is taking a little longer than I anticipated,” I said in a small voice. It seemed terribly loud in the close silence of the changing room.
“I thought you said you had plenty of time. I can’t help it if you can’t arrange or communicate your schedule properly,” the assistant snapped. Then her face softened and she adjusted the big bow at the back. “Almost done. You are happy with the dress.” It wasn’t a question.
I was more than happy, but it wasn’t what I’d asked for. It looked even more expensive than the one in the display. Maybe much more expensive. They’d pulled a switch on me, but I could hardly call them on it. “Well, it’s not what I was expecting. It’s more expensive than the display though, isn’t it? And-”
“I am sorry. You’re just too big. These delicate clothes aren’t commonly made for your big body. The choices were limited. This was the closest thing I could find in your size that is similar to your wish. It is a lovely dress. You cannot find anything bad to say regarding a dress like this. Your fairy godmother could not do better.”
“But I’m not big at all. I’m normal sized… I admit it is a lovely dress. It’s wonderful, really. It really flatters me, I think.”
“Yes. It looks fabulous on you,” the assistant added.
I noticed she didn’t say that I looked fabulous, just the dress. I’d sensed hostility from this woman since the start but it was only now possible to identify it clearly. I couldn’t hold her bitchiness against me when she had made me look so…
“How much does it cost?” I asked.
She picked up a bundle of clothes that seemed to be left over for some reason. “I will fetch Tia, she know the prices of these things,” she said. As she was leaving she halted and looked back. “Why don’t you look at yourself in the big mirror? You will like it.”
I waited long enough for her to be gone. Glancing back at the bench I saw that my clothes had vanished. She must have picked them up by accident with the others. I would let her know as soon as she got back.
I walked unsteadily out into the space beyond the curtain. There I was in the mirror, dressed in my fantasy, or something close to it. It was an outfit to gaze at but also to feel my way into. It was full of strange sensations, from the worrying height of the shoes to the snug cling of the panties and stiff-backed hug of the corset.
Even though it echoed a strange fantasy of child’s clothing that never really was, I had never looked as sexually sophisticated – as grown up – as I did in that mirror. I had always felt inadequate in my normal clothes. The other girls at university had raced ahead of me with their easy small-talk, their casual sex, and the confidence they took for granted. They seemed to know secrets I never would; the answers to questions I could never ask. They strode through life indifferently, knowing exactly what to do at any moment, never questioning themselves, attractive to men and comfortable with their sexuality.
With the orbs of her breasts emphasized by the space beneath the high, tight fitting collar above and the pink ribbon below; with cleavage a mile deep; with her tiny waist and flaring hips; with her stockinged legs vanishing into a mass of weightless petticoats; the woman in the mirror had an enigmatic expression that hinted at trials you would never understand, and dark secrets that no words could describe.
She had allure and mystery that would set some against her and make others fall at her feet. She compromised nothing. She was a heady fragrance that left your head spinning, a thicket of thorny roses to pierce your skin and spill your blood, a desolate wasteland where hopes come to die. At least I could pretend for a moment – to imagine myself as that person.
I moved closer to the mirror, then closer still, until my face was almost touching and my breath misted the glass. I stated into the eyes in the mirror with their mysteries and allure. It wasn’t me. It was some looking-glass girl different in almost every way. I had dressed up in her clothes and now she was laughing at me: poor little miss dull, putting on costumes and wishing she was something else – something she didn’t know the half of – she was lucky not to have dreams like that come true. What must a person go through to become something so potent? Surely, such power came at a terrible price?
I blinked, and the illusion faded, and yet it still didn’t look like me in the mirror, except for my shabby hair. The only flat spot in the whole thing was that scruffy hair and makeup. I wasn’t sure exactly how they should be done, but my untidy ponytail would not suffice.
My thoughts hit a dead end at the sound of the assistant returning. This time she was followed by the woman I’d seen behind the counter at the beginning. Apparently, her name was Tia. I still didn’t know the other’s name, even though she had touched me in private places and dressed me like her toy doll.
Neither of them wore name tags. Tia had a terribly look of anger on her face. She started to yell at me. “Ceska says that you can’t pay. You’ve wasted an hour of her time showing you this and that and now you don’t want to buy anything?” She drew uncomfortably close as she continued her outburst. I winced, afraid to draw back fully. “What do you think this is? Your own personal dress-up box? I should have known the moment you walked in that you would be trouble.” Her voice was deep, her furious tone made my muscles weaken.
Nervously, I trembled, clenching my thighs tight together,and I wanted to curl up into a ball. I tried not to panic, though it wasn’t really working. “No, no. I never said I won’t or can’t pay. I never said that. I simply asked the price. I just asked the price, that’s all? Please, Ceska, tell her…” I pleaded. I guess now I had a name to put to that serious, bespectacled face.
“Don’t use my name like that you wannabe,” Ceska snapped back. “I know your sort. I see them all too often. Mayflies. Time wasters. Casuals. Weekenders. You don’t appreciate fashion at all. You think all you have to do is hand over some money and you can be original. You’re nothing at all. You look down on our clothes. You think all we are good for is a Halloween costume. You think we are freaks… Exhibitionists, who dress up so all eyes are on us. You have no idea what we are saying to you because you have nothing at all to say yourself.”
I didn’t know how to answer. I couldn’t even open my mouth. The awful thing was there was so much truth in what she said. I felt guilty more than anything else. What must it be like for them to have people like me wander in and buy their beloved clothes to use as garish spooky costumes, to wear, one day a year? No wonder they hated me. I hated myself. The way she’d put it, I ought to be hated.
“That’s right,” Tia added. “You want to dress up like a slut for fun because there is no consequence. It’s Halloween and all the stupid people have forgotten what used to happen on this night and feel they can do as they please. You think we look like sluts. You think our good customers look like sluts. You think an army of smart girls just dress like this to get fucked by perverts who want to screw an adult dressed up like a child. You disgust me with your filthy thoughts,” she raged.
“No. I never thought that. Definitely not. I wanted to look strong, that’s all…” I said. I didn’t sound strong. It sounded more like I was whimpering.
Tia continued, ignoring me, if she heard me at all. “This is our statement! We are taking back our sexuality. We don’t dress this way for men, and I can tell you now, men don’t like it. It scares them to see a woman who isn’t scared into conforming to the image they want.”
I wasn’t entirely sure that was true, though I guessed part of it made sense. I just couldn’t think with her shouting at me like that. What was I doing to do? Have an argument about feminist iconology with her? She was right about one thing. Normally, I was a coward who would put on a little-black-dress and high-heels to get attention from men going out – because I knew deep down that was the uniform expected of me – and when men saw it, they understood: here is a good girl who is being a bit naughty to attract you, but she is safe and placid, she won’t do anything to surprise you.
“I’m sorry. I’ll pay for the dress, whatever it costs. I’m not like you say. I’m not that bad. I love these clothes. I really love them.”
“Too right, you’ll pay,” Tia said. There was an edge of threat in her voice. “You’ll pay everything that you owe us. Don’t blame me if you dislike the lesson because you deserve it. You have a lot of debts to pay off… The way you looked down on us. That wasn’t right. Really you should be looking up. At least we are our real selves. Who are you? Do you even know? Who are you in there?” There was a menace in her tone. I hardly dared to answer her.
“I’m sorry. But I do look up to you. I do. I envy your courage. I can’t help it that I lack confidence. I wish I knew what to do to fix things.”
“You’ll pay will you?” Tia said, some of the anger fading from her voice.
“Yes. Yes. I’ll do it,” I said. I didn’t want to cry. It would be the final shame, but I could feel it starting in my sinuses. If I didn’t sniff my nose would run.
“You’ll pay what is asked? Of your own free will. You won’t go saying you were cheated? That you were ripped off?” Ceska added.
“Yes I will pay. I agree it’s fair. You can even charge me extra for wasting your time. I won’t complain. I’m sorry. I want to make it up to you. You’ve been so tolerant of me. I’m grateful. Truly.”
Tia took my hand, clasping it between both of hers. The look on her face was almost tender. Her mood had changed in an instant. Her eyes were wide, her lips parted, expectant. “You promise. Seriously? Just like that?” She asked.
I placed my own hand over hers, clasping back. We were four hands joined together. Her skin was warm and perfectly soft. Ceska stepped forward and clasped her hands over Tia’s and my own: six hands joined. It was unexpected and strangely intense. I couldn’t say anything against it now; they would certainly be offended. In a way, it felt right – reassuring – to feel my hands in theirs.
I looked into Tia’s eyes and then Ceska’s. She held my gaze. I couldn’t break free without saying something. “Yes. Yes. I promise. Absolutely. I’ll pay. I’ll pay everything gladly. I’m so sorry for upsetting you. I know I’m not much good. I wish I could be more like you. I wish I could live the way you do. I wish there was some way you could show me,” I said, my mouth running away with me. I was genuinely sorry it could never be but I wasn’t listening to my own words.
I’d never be anything but a dull little web designer in a dull little day-to-day world. Still, it felt like a tiny tingle of electricity passed between us as I spoke. I felt a connection to them I couldn’t describe. At that moment I could really understand how they felt. Something changed in their expressions, eyes widening as if they had just understood something.
Tia took one of my hands and Ceska took the other. From that position, Tia smoothly walked around behind me and Ceska then walked around in the opposite direction. Before I could understand what they were doing, my hands were behind my back, just above the bow. They were both standing behind me. It was a little worrying, but I was in no position to complain. I wondered if they were just making a suggestion about posture. I looked across at the mirror. I definitely looked better with my hands held behind my back.
There was a click and they let go of my hands. I held my hands where they’d left them, accepting their suggestion.
“You locked the door, yes?” Ceska said to Tia.
“Of course. I’m not going to let us be robbed,” Tia answered as she reached up and pulled my hair out of its ponytail. “You have done something awful with your hair. A shame, it’s so pretty. A natural blonde, and so fair. You ought to be really popular with that colouring.” She ran her fingers through my hair, her fingers curiously exploring.
Ceska stepped into the other changing room and came out holding some kind of cord or belt. With a smile she reached up to my neck and fastened a white silk choker around it. She clipped the long leather cord to it with a tiny heart-shaped fastener, with the cutest little key-hole in the front.
It wasn’t anything more than a token, but I understood the language. I didn’t ask questions or complain when she led me out into the white corridor and through a door that blended into the wall. Tia closed it behind us.
It seemed almost dark at first, but then my eyes adjusted from the blinding brightness of the corridor. I was in a storeroom. Clothes packed in plastic hung from racks. An array of shelves was stacked with boxes of shoes and boots in different sizes. They seemed to keep an awful lot of stock for a shop I had always imagined to be extremely niche.
“Most of our business is mail order,” Ceska said. She must have read the puzzled look on my face and understood it was nothing to do with what they intended. I couldn’t guess what had planned for me. Even though I was nervous, I didn’t feel it could be anything too awful. I felt strangely privileged to have a chance to find out.
They seemed to want to show me a glimpse of their secret world and I couldn’t reject that. My guess was they meant to scare me a little, then max out my credit card. I was beginning to regret what I’d said earlier, but it wasn’t like I had that big a credit limit anyway. If this was going to be my most expensive shopping trip ever, I wanted to at least get my money’s worth, though it was already unforgettable.
Ceska tugged on the leash, the metal ring clicking against the heart-shaped lock. I suddenly understood, token or not, my neck wasn’t up to fighting a battle against a piece of metal even that delicate. How helpless would I be in even slightly more functional restraints? The thought sent another wave of shivers through me.
I almost toppled off my shoes, even though her tug wasn’t that strong. Reflexively, I made to bring my hands around to catch myself but they remained fixed behind my back. Tia grabbed my shoulder, stopping me from falling.
“She needs a name,” Ceska said. “Do you think she knows what it is?”
“She looks like a Kelly or a Susan to me, or perhaps Kylie?” Tia said, amusement in her voice. “I checked her ID though. It says Karen. I suppose it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.”
Ceska snorted. “That’s even worse than Kylie.” She kept walking, even as they talked, and I followed.
I tried to discover what was holding my wrists together. Feeling upwards with my fingers I found that the layers of lace around the cuffs prevented me from feeling anything. I guessed that the ribbon detail looped around the cuffs above the lace could be used to secure some kind of clip. I could definitely tell now that there was a metal clip. I could feel it through the lace, but I couldn’t work out how to unfasten it. I wasn’t sure I needed to… or wanted to.
They led me into another room. It was dimly lit, almost empty and thickly carpeted. The walls were panelled in rich glowing oak.
Ceska knelt down on the floor, and pulled me down over her knee. She held my neck in place by the cord and leaned around, tipping my chin up with her other hand so that I was looking up at her. “Part of your payment and education will begin with a good spanking. First though, you must pick a name. Not the one you’ve been using. I mean a real name to use now that you are with us.”
“It’s too soon. Give her more time,” Tia said.
“Alright. I’ll let you choose after your first punishment session,” Ceska said. “Now pay attention to your punishment. You need to fix the right thing in your mind. Let me explain-”
“No. Please let me,” interrupted Tia.
“Alright,” Ceska said. “You can do it. Don’t go on and on though.” They exchanged glances and smiles. They seemed so natural together.
Tia came around and knelt next to Ceska, where I could look up into her face too – in fact I had no choice but to do so.
She brushed my face with her hand, resting her long finger-nail just below my eye. It was kind of intimidating, even without being on all fours over Ceska’s knee.
Then Tia began her explanation. “It’s a fact that any living creature responds to pain. Pain is the tool that the brain uses to teach itself. The brain makes pain to tell itself when it’s done something wrong. This is why the pain of the heart is so much stronger than pain from the body. It follows that application of pain can be used to teach. It is not merely a fallacy of the brutal and ignorant. The stories of transformative pain are not just stories. This is such a simple thing that societies since the stone-age have understood it implicitly. It is frowned upon now, not because it does not work but because it works so well,” she said. Her words were stiff and it felt a little like a text-book recital.
“Pay attention because you must learn this,” Ceska added. “Of course some humans can manage their thoughts so that the pain they receive is twisted to serve their own goals. This is why you cannot control a strong willed person easily by beating them. As you are cooperative, you can help with your education by thinking the correct thoughts when you are beaten.”
“We will know if you are not thinking the right thoughts,” Tia said. “You give yourself away easily. Anyone can read your face like a book. That is why we knew what you were thinking of us. It’s not magic, it is simply that you are telling us.”
Ceska followed on from Tia, without a pause, perfectly synchronised. “When you are being punished this time you must think that you are being punished for disrespect to your older sisters. You must think we are your sisters and that you must always respect and obey us,” she said. “I know it’s much to understand at once, but you are not stupid. You can do it. You will do it for us, won’t you?”
I wasn’t sure if I could, or if I should, and yet I knew that this game couldn’t go on unless I agreed. Also, it was probably true that they could tell if I was lying because I was a terrible liar. “Yes,” I said. “I will do my best.” I was pretty sure I could take a spanking from her. Her hand would probably get sore before my bum, and besides, I had on the frilly panties. They had to be some use as padding.
“You must try very hard because it is easy to be distracted by pain. Don’t let your mind wander,” Ceska said. “Now, Tia, fetch the paddle for me.” She looked down at me. “Don’t’ worry, it’s padded. It won’t do you any harm.”
While Tia was out of the room, fetching ‘the paddle’, Ceska took a couple of hair ties and put my hair up in twin bunches –twin ponytails – then, looking pleased with the result, she flipped my skirts up, then peeled them from my hips. I was plunged into darkness, by the skirt and petticoats coming over my head. It was a long skirt, but it stuck out so much that it didn’t come far down my legs. However, reversed, it hung down right over my head, enclosing me in a small, dark, stuffy space. The air did not pass easily through the layers of rich fabric.
“How many times have you walked past our shop without coming in, even though you wanted to?” Ceska asked me, her hand sliding over my bottom, feeling out the territory she had to aim for.
I struggled to think. I was already red faced and panting for breath. Between the enclosure and the restriction of the corset on my breathing, which was now substantially increased, I was starting to feel light-headed.
It had been about nine months since I’d first noticed the shop. I couldn’t say how long it had really been there. I hadn’t walked past it every working day; only those days that I had chanced to catch the train that went to the north of my work rather than the south. Call it forty weeks. Half that and times by five… A hundred close enough.
“About a hundred days, I think,” I said, my voice muffled.
“Perfect,” Ceska said. She sounded pleased. “A hundred strokes it is then. A hundred days you avoided your sisters. Isn’t that rude, not to visit us even though you were walking past? Make sure you concentrate on why you are getting them. Don’t forget. Sisters. Respect. Obey. For your own good.”
I didn’t even get to see the paddle before she started beating me with it. I could only imagine it. It felt as if she was striking extremely hard. It didn’t matter at all that I was still wearing my ruffled panties. After ten strikes I didn’t think I could take much more. After twenty strikes I was weeping.
There were eighty more strikes to go. Ceska counted each one out. It wasn’t until about thirty that I remembered her instruction on how to think. I guess at that point I’d realised that self-pity wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I wriggled and squirmed on her lap, but I tried to think good thoughts. I tried to imagine Ceska and Tia as my sisters. I tried to imagine growing up with them as children. I tried to imagine Ceska helping me dress, even as a child. I tried to imagine us as adults: Ceska, the serious one, always knowing what to do. Tia, the passionate one, always knowing what is right. Who was I? What was my name? My role?”
Mya, the youngest, always obedient but quietly determined, stubborn as anything in defence of her sisters; always sweet when with them. The mysterious one, hiding her secret pains and pleasures behind her sweet smiles. She tries to be transparent. She cannot help her air of mystery. It’s an only an illusion that comes from her attempts to distract from the guilt of her persistent naughtiness.
Sisters can be cruel, but they love you. Sisters can be cruel, but you’re their blood. If you know your place they’ll always do right by you. It’s you and them, against everyone else, because the world is a hard place, ready to eat up three girls who refuse to depend on men. Men, yes, they only want one thing but if you let them have it they won’t value it.
My head was spinning, the crazy thoughts and dreams flashing one after another. I writhed, I resisted, but I took my beating. My poor bum felt like it was made of fire and my crotch didn’t feel much better. My panties were wet. What was wrong with me? Had I got off on that? I wasn’t sure if it was real or I was imagining it.
I really felt guilty at how I’d behaved towards Ceska and Tia. How I’d stayed away from them when they were waiting for me. The floodgates opened and the tears flowed with a sudden cleansing ease. I would pay, gladly, and be forgiven.
If Ceska noticed anything she didn’t mention it. She pulled my skirts back down and handed my leash to Tia who pulled me to my feet.
Ceska stood and turned to me. I could see the paddle now. It was about eighteen inches long, two and a half-inches wide and padded with a vinyl cushion. Her gaze followed mine to the paddle and she grinned. “So, what is your name, sister?” she said.
“Mya, sister,” I answered.
Tia gave a sharp intake of breath. “And a hundred… I felt it, but it seemed impossible. Too good to be true.”
“But it sounds right,” Ceska nodded. “Tia, don’t you think so?”
“Wonderful,” Tia said. “Perfect. Unexpected.”
“But it is Halloween,” Ceska said.
“Somehow, I just know,” Tia said. Their tone was in agreement. “I just want to… Oh you know?”
“Please…” I breathed.
Ceska curled the leash around her finger absent-mindedly. “I know it’s exciting, but let’s not get carried away.” She paused, her head tilted, looking at me as if seeing me for the first time. “There are a few details to take care of and then we’ll have time to do your hair. I know rag curls suit you but we won’t have time for that if you want to be ready for tonight. I guess we could use the tongs. Would you like your hair like that? You could keep the bunches too.”
“Yes. That sounds as if it would be pretty,” I said. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant but it would certainly be in the right style. Whatever she did would be fine.
“Good girl. You will definitely be pretty, and unobtainable. When the men look at you, you’ll know they can never have you. With that look you will conquer them completely.”
“Unobtainable?” I said. “I’m terrible. If a man talks to me I won’t know what to say to him. Not that any will. They won’t want me.”
Ceska smiled softly. “Trust me, they will want you, and you won’t need any willpower, we’ll lock your precious flower away. Nobody can touch that but us. That’s alright isn’t it? That way you’ll be safe from yourself and nothing unwanted will happen.”
I felt something falling inside me. Were they serious? The games were going further than I’d intended. They sounded awfully like they meant every word of it. Ceska’s expression was so tender though, I couldn’t question a thing she said. I hesitated, but I nodded. “Y-yes… Wow. It’s a lot to take in. You’d do that for me?”
“Good girl. Right answer. You know whenever you disobey big sis you’ll get the paddle, don’t you?” She said.
“Yes, but…” I said. What did she mean “whenever” I disobey? This was a one-time thing.
Ceska blinked. “But? Don’t pretend you thought this was just for today? Really, Mya… Sisters are forever.”
Tia came up behind me, wrapping her arms around me, fondling my breasts through the corset. I could barely feel her hands, but I wished I could. I wished I could feel them on my nipples. My bum was on fire, my panties wet with my arousal, my sex burning with desire. There was nothing I could do to satisfy myself. My wrists were bound and I couldn’t bend my waist. My crotch was buried beneath thick, padded panties and the business of getting to them under the dress would be absurdly complex. I suddenly wondered how I would pee. I suspected it would be a bothersome procedure.
“We’ve been waiting so long for you to come back to us,” Tia said. “A hundred-”
“Years,” finished Ceska. “So naughty of you to leave it so long. It feels like longer to be so incomplete, but now we are three again. You can feel it too, can’t you?”
I felt a sharp pain in my finger. Something had cut me. Tia squeezed and pinched at my finger. After a few moments of nasty stinging pain she came around in front of me. Her finger was bleeding into an ornate silver goblet with odd symbols etched deep into it, blackened, because they were etched too deeply to polish. I didn’t recognize them exactly but they were familiar somehow. Runes I’d seen somewhere. They had a sense of power. They spoke of trinity.
Tia handed Ceska the tiny knife she’d used to cut her finger – and probably mine – and Ceska cut hers too. The blood flowed plentifully from her finger tip.
Ceska spit into the cup and then handed it to me. “Your contribution is required Mya,” she said.
I spit obediently into the cup. It felt strange to do something so weird. It ought to have felt ridiculous, but in the dimly lit room, my head still swimming with dizziness, my bum still burning from the spanking, my neck still held by the leash and my bleeding fingers still secured behind my back, it all made perfect sense. Everything. The clothes. The place. The women and their strange intense expressions. Their eyes boring into my heart… I thought ‘soul’ but I knew that wasn’t right.
Tia added something from a bottle to the goblet and we each drank in turn, starting with me. I didn’t expect it to taste of anything but rust and cold spit. Instead it was intensely sweet, alcoholic, with hints of chilli, aniseed and lemon. Lemon? I hadn’t expected that.
A burning sensation spread down my throat. I felt my eyes dimming, my vision blurring and going black. I stumbled, Tia and Ceska both supporting me. I was losing consciousness, dizzy, falling, falling forever. It began to ease after a few moments. I leaned against Ceska until it started to pass and the room began to brighten and return to normal.
“Whole once more,” Ceska whispered rapturously, her lips finding mine, the sweetness of her kiss hypnotic in its beauty. Tia was next, a hot fiery taste that left my lips tingling.
“Oh, she tastes glorious. Like absinthe,” Tia said, laughing. “I’d forgotten that. Oh, sweet sister, mistress of lies. Queen of delusions. We are whole again.” I could have sworn she was talking to me.
Much later, when I was ready to go out with them, my snug panties removed and replaced with an equally snug and secure stainless-steel chastity belt, we stopped at the counter. I had forgotten about the display case full of vinyl figures of girls dressed in clothes like those sold in the store.
“We make them from our disrespectful customers,” Tia said, as if it were nothing important.
One of the figures looked familiar. “Is that my face I asked?” But before the words left my mouth, I knew the answer.
Ceska goosed me. “Not you of course. You’re no customer. You’re part of us. You always have been. I think it all might come back to you, but it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t. I can’t wait to begin teaching you. It was a tragedy when we lost you … our little sister. Overconfidence, acting as if we couldn’t be killed. Of course that was stupid. We can be killed easily. Don’t forget that this time.”
“We just don’t stay dead. Not forever,” I added, without knowing why. Would my memories ever return? I couldn’t guess how long it might take, though my memories of Karen already seemed like the story of somebody else.
I looked again at the display of figures. This was something new, I was sure of it. At first I thought they had made models of all the customers as a memento, but then I looked again, understanding. The detail in each figure was incredible. If you looked carefully enough the tiny eyes seemed to plead with you. They seemed to be begging, “Please! I’m sorry, let me go.” I knew that couldn’t be so. How could they beg when their souls had been devoured?
I couldn’t wait to learn how to make some figures of my own. After all, it had been a hundred years since I’d tasted a soul. I’d built up an appetite. But tonight was Halloween. Tonight of all nights I would be able to drink my fill.
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