Marlboro Country, Part 5: Stephanie

(by, 16 February 2003)

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Marlboro Country
Part Five: Stephanie

Steven settled down in his favorite seat in the library, the one next to a 
window that faced the smoking area.  He was in luck today, he had a clear 
view of Donna.

Every day at lunch, she could be found out there, faithfully smoking away 
her break.  He watched her, rapt as always.  There was just something about 
her, about the way she stood, the way she held her cigarette, the way she 
put it in her mouth and hungrily dragged on it, the way she blew the smoke 
out, a thin stream directed up to the sky.  Steven had been admiring her for 
a long time now.

Always from afar.

Thing was, no girl like her would be interested in a guy like him.  He 
wouldn't even register on her radar.  She was gorgeous: tall with long, long 
red hair.  She could have her pick of any guy in school.  And, if the rumors 
were true, probably did.

But that didn't matter to Steven.  All he wanted was a chance.

He considered hanging out in the smoking area of course, but he would never 
have the courage to do that.  For one thing, he'd probably have to smoke, 
and he couldn't do that!  What if his parents found out?  They were dead set 
against smoking and would ground him for a decade if they ever caught him!

She looked his way, and he reflexively turned away, pretending to read his 
book.  The sun was bright out there anyway, she probably couldn't see 
inside, so it really didn't matter.  But it just proved to him he was just 

* * *

Steven wasn't sure exactly where the idea came from, but it grew from a 
strange idea to a plan.  It was probably the craziest idea he'd ever had, in 
fact.  But...

It might, possibly, just be crazy enough to work.

It started when he went into his sister Caroline's room, looking for her old 
Bio text.  He was taking the same class she had, and her notes in the 
margins of books were always good, so he wanted to borrow it.  She wouldn't 
mind, especially since she was away at college.

He was poring through the boxes at the bottom of her closet, feeling her 
clothes above him.  A dress of hers almost covered him, he felt the fabric 
around him, and it felt almost as if he were wearing it.

He wasn't entirely sure why he did it.  It was just an impulse, a wild, 
strange one.  He took the dress off the hanger, and stood in front of the 
full length mirror behind Caroline's door, and looked at himself wearing it.

He'd been told more than a few times he had somewhat effeminate features.  
He'd even been beaten up for it a time or two.  And he'd watched Caroline 
put on make up often enough, how difficult would it be?

Nah, I couldn't...

Why not?  his mind asked.

He keep asking, but not doing anything about it, into the summer.  Caroline 
had taken a summer job in the town where she was going to school, so she 
wouldn't be home all summer.  His parents were going out of town for the 
weekend, to a wedding at some old friends of theirs.  He had managed to talk 
them into letting him stay home all by himself...after all, he'd never been 
anything but trustworthy before.  They agreed, but still called every day.  
That's when he said he was going to go to the movies later that night.

Actually, though, he had other plans.

He'd gotten lunch at the Pizza place the other day, and sat in a booth 
behind Donna and her friends.  They were talking about going to a club that 
night.  A dark club, one where any flaws that make up couldn't cover would 
probably hide quite well.

Steven couldn't believe he was actually going to go through with it.

* * *

It took him all day to get ready.  He found a dress in Caroline's closet 
that fit him very well, and with a bra and some carefully rolled up socks, 
he looked pretty good in it, he had to say.  He'd been letting his hair grow 
out for a while, but it didn't seen quite long enough to be convincing...but 
he did find some extensions that Caroline had used once...back when her hair 
was it's natural color, luckily the same as his.  It worked well enough.

The make up was a bit trickier than he thought, but he managed to get it 
right, after a lot of trial and error.  He had to say, pressing his lipstick 
covered lips down on a piece of toilet paper as he'd seen Caroline do many 
times before, he looked pretty damn good.

Not as good as Donna, but he'd pass.

He snuck out the back door, hoping none of the neighbors would see him...and 
crossed a couple of yards until he came out to the street.  It was harder in 
Caroline's pumps than he thought, but he did it.  He got to the bus stop, 
not the closest one to his house, so not one he usually went to, and waited. 
  A guy he didn't know was already there, and he noticed him checking him 

Steven smiled.  He felt more and more like a girl.  As he got on the bus, 
and sat with Caroline's purse in his lap, he began to create his new 
persona.  By the time he got off the bus and approached the subway into 
town, he was no longer Steven.  He was Stephanie.

* * *
Stephanie scoured the line into the club, but could not find Donna or her 
friends.  Patiently, she waited a bit back, until she finally did see them.  
As they got in line, she got in behind them.

She kept watching all the girls in line, and tried to mimic their actions.  
She kept it subtle, so as not to attract attention, but she was beginning to 
feel more confident.  She had even tried to figure out an excuse to talk to 
Donna. She opened her -- Caroline's -- purse, to see if anything there could 

She was surprised to find a pack of Marlboro Light 100s in there.  Caroline, 
smoking?  If mom found out, she'd kill her!

But, it did give her the perfect excuse.  She opened the pack, it was 
practically full, and took one out.  She put it in her mouth, exactly as 
she'd watched Donna do a thousand times, and tapped Donna herself on the 

"Got a light?"

She'd been working on the voice.  She knew a high-pitched falsetto would 
sound fake, but if she kept her voice low enough, spoke almost in a loud 
whisper, it would sound close enough.  Especially, she now realized, if she 
were a smoker, her voice would sound a bit rough anyway.

(How long does it take for smoking to affect the voice, she idly wondered.  
Nothing she could worry about now.)

Donna smiled, and took out a pink Bic lighter.  Stephanie moved forward into 
the flame holding her hand back behind it as she'd seen Donna do before, and 
sucked the flame toward the cigarette.

She wasn't sure exactly what she'd been expecting.  The smoke to taste like 
burning leaves or something, maybe, but it wasn't like that.  It was almost 
sweet.  Kinda nice, actually.

Donna lit one of her cigarettes herself.  "Have you been here before?"

"No," Stephanie said, blowing smoke up to the sky.  She felt a cough coming 
on, but stifled it.  She didn't want to look like an amateur smoker.

"It's a great place.  Lots of great looking guys!"

"That's what I heard," Stephanie said.

Oh! My! God!, she was thinking.  I'm actually talking to Donna!

"Here's a tip, be sure to flirt with the bartender Bruno.  He's actually 
gay, but doesn't really want to admit it, so he plays all macho like he's a 
super stud.  He'll serve you without carding you."

Stephanie smiled as she drew on her cigarette again.  "Good to know."

She kept to Donna and her friends all night.  They seemed to like her well 
enough, and they all sat at tables and smoked all night long.  Stephanie 
knew the other girls from school, but not very well.  Rachel kept hanging on 
her boyfriend, an older guy, who went to college somewhere, and she was a 
bit shocked to see Robin, someone Steven once had as a lab partner back in 
junior high, snuggling close to another girl from school, Suzie.  She'd 
never seen lesbians before.

Then again, who am I to talk, Steven's voice came from inside Stephanie's 
head, I'm a transvestite.

(Already she found her voice and Stevens becoming different.  She wondered 
if they were becoming schizophrenic or something.)

But it was Donna she stayed closest to.  It was the first time she'd ever 
gotten the courage to talk to her, one on one, and get to know her.  All it 
took, she mused, was to be a girl too!

Oh yeah, she said as she lit another cigarette, and a smoker.

Donna was guy crazy.  All she talked about were hot that one was, 
how much she'd like to scoop that one.  It was hard for Stephanie to relate 
to, but she kept up her end.

Part of Steven had wondered, now and then, if he were gay.  He looked the 
part, others told him, and it was true he'd never had a girlfriend.  But he 
figured that was shyness, not being gay.  That, and his obsession with 
watching Donna (and the occasional erection that produced).  He'd always 
heard transvestites were gay...but here he was dressed as a woman, and he 
felt more straight than ever.

She watched herself in the mirror.  She saw her own hands, long and slender, 
with long painted nails (courtesy a pack of Press-On Nails she'd bought at a 
drug store way on the other side of town), a long white cigarette smoldering 
in between her fingers.  She saw the ring of red lipstick on the cigarette 
itself, and watched as her red lips closed around the cigarette. She 
inhaled, and blew the smoke out slowly through her lips, as some wafted out 
her nose.

Underneath her dress, she hoped Caroline's tight panties were tight enough 
to cover up her erection.

Donna was going on again about some guy, and Stephanie watched as she got up 
suddenly, grabbed him, and took him onto the dance floor.  The girl the guy 
was talking to looked on with white anger.

"Does she always do that?" Stephanie asked.

Rachel took one last drag on her cigarette and crushed it out in the 
overflowing ash tray.  "Yeah, pretty much."

This was the girl Steven had been watching from afar?

* * *

She gradually gravitated away from Donna and her group.  Somehow, Donna 
didn't seem as exotic as before.  She seemed to treat guys in a very 
cavalier way, almost as if they didn't matter.  It was not how she wanted to 
be treated, not at all.

Okay, how HE wanted to be treated.

Stephanie stood at the bar, alone for the first time since she got to the 
club.  She pulled an empty ash tray closer to her, and took out her pack of 
Marlboro Lights.  The pack was empty.  Had she really gone through an entire 
pack of cigarettes in one night?

"Care to borrow one?"

She looked up as a guy offered her a cigarette from his pack.  They weren't 
the 100s she'd been smoking all night, but so what? She took it and smiled 
her thanks.  He held out a lighter, and she leaned in to light it.  He lit 
one himself as she blew a thin stream up to the ceiling.  She was getting 
pretty good at smoking, she had to admit, she enjoyed watching herself.

"Name's Ben," the guy said.

"Stephanie," she said in return, as she thought Oh my god, he's trying to 
pick me up!

What do I do?

She thought back to what Donna had been doing...and decided she just 
couldn't be the aggressive type, like her.  Besides, well frankly, she 
wasn't as motivated as Donna was.

"I don't think I've seen you here before," he said, as he dragged on his 
cigarette.  He smoked it very shallow, as if he wanted to get as little 
smoke as he had to in him, and then blow it out as quickly as possible.  He 
didn't look like he enjoyed it all that much.

She took a long, slow drag on hers, letting the smoke linger inside for as 
long as she could, and then let it drift out slowly, blowing it in a thin 
column upward for as long as it would last.  Which was quite long, she had 
to say.

"My first time."

"Can I buy you a drink, then?"

"Sure," she said, taking another slow drag.  The beer was secondary, she 
realized...she'd have preferred just sitting there and smoking.

She had learned one trick from Donna, that guys would do anything if girls 
showed them the slightest bit of attention.  Are we really that dumb, Steven 
asked?  Apparently, Stephanie answered.

She convinced Ben to buy her a pack of Marlboro Light 100s from the 
incredibly expensive cigarette machine by the door, and she dug into the 
pack hungrily.  She spent the night talking to him...or, more specifically, 
letting him talk about himself all night, as she continued to smoke.

She found that she did enjoy the cigarettes themselves, of course, but what 
she really liked was watching herself smoke.  She began to realize that it 
wasn't Donna, specifically, that had been attracting her attention all 
along, but Donna smoking.  That must be why she preferred watching her from 
the library, when she was in the smoking area.

Stephanie, Steven came to realize, was one sexy smoker!

Strangely, though, as she continued to listen to Ben and watch herself 
smoke, she was beginning to really appreciate what it was about women that 
made them sexy.  The smoking was part of it, sure...but the way she sat, the 
way she stood, the way she moved her hair.  As she watched the women around 
her and imitated them, she was becoming more and more aware of what was sexy 
about women.

And here Steven had thought putting on a dress might make him gay!  Instead, 
it made him even more straight!

Eventually, though, she had to leave.  Donna and the others had already 
left.  She put away the cigarettes Ben had bought for her, more than half 
smoked already, and bid him goodnight.  On an impulse, she gave him a quick 
peck on the cheek and walked away.  She made it home in a drift of sexual 
feelings, and cigarette smoke.

* * *

Later, in the middle of the night, after the makeup came off and the dress 
went into the wash, and Stephanie disappeared, Steven lay awake in his bed.  
To hell with it, he decided, and got up.  He went into Caroline's room, got 
her purse from where he'd returned it, and took out the pack of cigarettes.  
He put on a pair of pants, and went outside to the patio.

The matches had the name of the club on them.  He took one, lit his 
cigarette with it, and let the smoke drift in the night.

He had decided, just now, that he'd bear the anger of his parents, and smoke 
openly.  He felt more confident with a cigarette in his hand.  He watched 
the smoke drift up, and dissipate in the warm night breeze.  It was more 
than just the dress and the lipstick, he mused.  It released something 
inside of him.  Maybe it was Stephanie, the confident woman his fragile 
young male ego had been afraid of confronting. She wasn't all that 
different, and she wasn't as unattainable as he once thought.

At school, he might say hi to Donna when he went out to the smoking area for 
a cigarette.  Or he might not.  Or, maybe he'd talk to someone else.

He took one last drag, and let the smoke slowly exit from his nose.  Maybe, 
just maybe, Stephanie will go out again some night.

Story continued in  Marlboro Country, Part Six:  Terri

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