JULIE, A LONG-STANDING friend of mine, hadn’t been feeling too well, even before we had left for dinner.
And now things seemed to be getting worse.
Our regular Friday night get together had started well enough. Clara, Suzy and Rosalind and I were already in our sacred sanctuary before Julie breezed in about 6:15 PM with a cheery, “Hi, girls!”, and rhetorically asking, “Looking forward to tonight?”
The five of us had been renting this one-bedroom apartment with a large living area over on the east side of town for well over five years, using it as our secret base, our centre of operations as it were. It was a place of retreat, a place of refuge. Somewhere our collective, extensive stashes of female clothes, shoes, accessories and, of course, make-up and wigs were safe from curious or prying eyes. We had arranged mirrors on the walls and added a series of extra lights to give us all space for making up. We’d also added a washing machine and dryer and iron and ironing board and generally made the place as homey and as functional as possible.
The apartment was a place where any one of us could go at any time when the need or urge to dress arose (and could not be resisted) or when we had, as we did almost every Friday, planned a “girls’ night out” to some local restaurant or another. Each of us had 24/7 access courtesy of a digital keypad and finger scanner (plus an emergency override key).
In short, the place was the fall back for whenever one of us just had to dress and needed to get away for a few hours to be ourselves.
Sometimes you could be there by yourself just chilling out whilst luxuriating in being dressed. But, if there was another one of the girls in the base, we’d enjoy a chat, maybe a drink and takeaway. If, like tonight, there was a fuller complement, after eating dinner, usually we’d go on to a bar or club for a nightcap and continuing chat before returning to our unsuspecting families and the realities of our everyday drab lives.