The dress came up in my hands easily. It wasn't heavy. The material was cheap.
It wasn't a uniform of course – that wouldn't have been appropriate in these climes... or at this stage – but it had the air of one. The material was plain, thin and figure-hugging, cut to drop to just below the knee. It had a little white Peter Pan collar and matching cuffs on the short sleeves which gave it a suggestion of being the outfit of a maid. It had been inexpensive to buy; practically free; and it was the opposite of what I would normally wear.
Now that I'd reconciled again with this path I got a finger-trace of arousal that floated around the vicinity of my crotch in a pink cloud rather then caressing it as it might normally do. The corners of my lips quivered.
I set it back and undressed, noticing by contrast the quality of the garments I was removing, wondering how long it would be before I felt clothes that well-tailored again. In the dirtiest depths of my heart I fantasised about never wearing things like that again; of taking Melissa's life in its entirety for the rest of my years; becoming just as fat as she was; even going home to England to live her life. The fantasy went on for some distance until I noticed how detached I was being from the present scene and remembered Melissa's presence.
“Sorry,” I said. “Just thinking.”
She smiled, almost smirked, back at me.
There was a new bra for me, again something cheap that wouldn't normally have reached my hands. This one was different though; a size larger. Since I'd put on weight I hadn't bought any new underwear but the extra curves had made my bosom enlarge; not enough to be noticeable to the eye really; but enough to make my current bra uncomfortable. I put the new one and noticed in juxtaposition the unfamiliar fabric as well as the relief of a good fit; the acknowledgement of what that signified about my changing shape.
I noticed in my peripheral vision Melissa fiddling around with her contact lenses; removing her glasses. I was still wearing the corrupting contact lenses that matched the current frame of spectacles I'd trained myself to wear. I'd have to do the opposite switch myself in a minute.
I picked up the dress again and unzipped the back, stepping into it and pulling it up. It fit snugly; a little too snugly; and I realised that, though I'd chosen one bigger than my old size, it was still on the snug size with the bulk I'd put on so far. The cuffs of the sleeves were a little tight and the stretch fabric showed the exact contour of my body. It didn't disguise anything. It felt strange and psychologically uncomfortable to have the amount of fat I'd gained so far on display. Never before I had I really put on weight. In the rare post-Christmas occasions, I had carefully used the cut of my clothes to disguise it for the short time it took my exercise regime to eliminate it. Not now. Now anyone who looked ta me would think me... a little overweight. It wasn't excessive yet but no one would have pegged me for a model anymore, especially with this hair and outfit.
I glanced at Melissa. She was looking excited, maybe even impatient. I smiled nervously and went into the bathroom. I took a look at myself in the mirror, the transformation almost complete, then I worked on taking out the contacts.
When they were gone I used cleanser to remove my make-up. Even subdued as it was, it was still too much for “Melissa” to be wearing. Without it my skin looked pale, my lips almost colourless, my eyes less defined.
The glasses were on the little glass shelf there. They were the last part of my new costume. My vision was just a little blurred now but I could see the mass of them, the questionable fashion of the thick round frames.
Put them on and never take them off again. Become Melissa. Or start to.
She wasn't here now with me to offer counsel or encouragement. It was down to me. My choice and mine alone.
I wanted it. I did want it. And I admitted it was crazy and didn't care. What did I care about craziness? I was rich. I didn't have anybody to answer to anymore. My parents were dead. My brother was... gone too. Even Katherine. I only had Melissa left now and she didn't judge me. She only wanted me to be happy.
I could do this right now and let it go on for as long as I wanted to. There was nothing to stop me.
I picked up the glasses. I looked at my reflection. I slowly lifted them to my face and slotted them into place. I blinked, clearing my vision, then I looked at myself.
I looked like a different person. More than ever before. Alongside the hair and the clothes, the glasses pitched me into a different persona, as did the softening of my angled cheeks. It was so much more complete than it had ever been before. I didn't look exactly like Melissa had before. Of course I didn't. She was several stone heavier than me. But I looked enough like her now for someone to think us sisters perhaps.
And in a way I supposed we were. Had anyone ever shared so much? Touched one another's lives so closely?
All that remained now was to swap names and exchange the other items of identity; to relinquish control to her as I submitted to my new persona.
I looked at myself once more then took a reaffirming breath. Then I turned and left the bathroom.