The Cedar Chests, Finale!

| Jun 1, 2020
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[Chapter 1][Chapter 2][Chapter 3][Chapter 4][Chapter 5][Chapter 6][Chapter 7][Chapter 8][Chapter 9]

Mary Jo said we had to go the Lexington on Monday to have photos taken of me in the dresses for the program so they can get them to the printers on time. I had to be in Lexington Monday morning anyway for a meeting with a client and asked if we could do it after my morning meeting. She scheduled us both a facial and this time a manicure for Sunday afternoon.

I dropped off Mary Jo at the Hyatt and headed to my meeting. Afterward, I headed by to meet up with MJ. The big issue was that I was in a suit for my meeting and to find a place to change. MJ booked us a day room at the hotel for me to change. Mary Jo did a quick fix of my hair, applied minimum makeup, and painted my nails. MJ had an A-line skirt and white button-down blouse laid out on the bed for me. We next headed down to meet the photographer and makeup staff. Makeup and hair took forever. Why I needed so much makeup, I don’t know since ladies in the 1800s certainly didn’t wear any. I don’t think Max Factor invented makeup until around 1914 or so. Mary Jo put a couple of period looking wigs on me that had a lot of curls. The male photographer was extraordinarily courteous and extremely professional. He kept saying, “Miss Jennings, please do this or that, or turn a certain direction or smile.” MJ stayed near to him the entire time and helped me change. She took photos with her camera, too.

Between one of the wardrobe changes, Mary Jo said, “The photographer said you are great to work with and very good to the camera.”

“What’s that mean?” I asked inquisitively.

“It means that you look fantastic, easy to photograph. Maybe he’ll ask you to model swimsuits.” As I turned my head toward MJ. She quickly said, “I’m just joking. You do look fantastic and are doing great, Claire. Oh, I just found out from the historical society they dated the dresses from pre-Civil War to no later than the early 1880s. Just like Miss Stella said.”

I wore my skirt and blouse home and was relieved the day was over.

Several days later, Mary Jo showed me the proofs of the photos that had been sent to her via email.

“Is that me?”

“No, silly, it’s Claire Jennings. Don’t you think you look terrific? I certainly do. If I already didn’t know, I’d swear you were 100% female.”

“I’ll never be as beautiful as you, Mary Jo.”

“That is so sweet of you.” Said Mary Jo with a big smile.

Late afternoon the following Thursday, Mary Jo and Claire headed back to Lexington. Most of Friday and some of Saturday morning was relaxing, and I needed it from my long workdays. I slept a lot. Mary Jo booked us both in the morning to get facials and for me fake nails at the hotel’s spa. She recommended I get a massage. All I wanted or needed was several double shots of bourbon to calm my nerves, more than I needed a massage. Two-hours before the event, I had to head off to makeup. I was still baffled why it took two-hours for them to make me look natural. I guess I’ll never know. After Mary Jo cinched, and re-cinched, my corset, she helped me into the first gown that I’d wear at the dinner before the show. After introductions, Mary Jo and I sat at the head table with first lady Martha Sullivan and several heads of the Kentucky Historical Society. I read over the program. The only thing about me on the program was, ‘Historical outfits owed and modeled by Miss Claire Jennings.’

I chatted the best I could during dinner (same old hotel conference chicken). It was almost time for the show. Mary Jo and I excused us to head backstage. A nice gentleman in period dress tipped his hat and was kind enough to offer his hand to help me up the stairs. I lifted the long skirt of my dress and petticoat and ascended the stairs. Before the show began, Mary Jo told me to take ten slow deep breaths to relax.

“Deep breaths? Are you kidding? I can hardly even inhale an eighth of a breath with this corset on!”

The show began I did what Mary Jo trained me to do and had done in endless practicing at home. I would walk a short ten-foot-long runway and stop and turn while the emcee would talk about my outfits. I only had about three minutes to change. It was strange having another lady in the dressing room with us. Many outfits had a lot of buttons and hooks to fasten and unfasten. It also took a while to put all the hatpins in too. While I changed, the emcee would talk more about my outfit or what happed during the time period in the 1800s or about the Historical Society in hopes of drumming up new members and donors. I didn’t expect to see so many news and professional photographers in the crowd or at the foot of the stage. Truthfully, I didn’t expect any at all.

On some occasions, I would descend the stairs with the help of the same gentleman who was in period dress. He would escort me since ladies of that era were never left unattended or unescorted. I carried a parasol on my shoulder as he escorted me around the audience. At the same time, I held his arm, and we would stop for a few pictures with some of the audience. I blew kisses to some of the men, and one time I wore a shawl and had fun teasing a few men in the audience. As I walked around one bald man, I leaned over, I kissed him on the top of his head, and everyone laughed. Of course, ladies of that period would never do such a brazen thing. I looked up at Mary Jo, and she smiled with approval back at me.

I was happy there were no wardrobe malfunctions or that anyone suspected I wasn’t a girl. I was slowly enjoying this. I beg you, please don’t tell Mary Jo I said that. The entire show lasted under one-hour, mainly because of the outfit and hat changes.

Numerous people came up to talk to me and Mary Jo after the show, I noticed to my right a cute little girl wearing a canary yellow sundress walking toward us. She said, “Mrs. Taylor, you and Miss Claire are the most beautiful ladies in the world.” My heart sank. I stooped down like I’ve seen Mary Jo do many times when talking to youngsters and held her hand.

I said, “Thank you. You are so sweet. I know you will grow up to even more beautiful than both of us. What is your name?”

“Mattie! Mattie Alexander, Ma’am.” No one ever called me Ma’am before.

Mary Jo stooped down to, “Are you Jamie Alexander’s daughter?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Jamie walked up to us.

“Jamie,” Mary Jo said. “How are you and Bill doing? “You have the sweetest daughter. Oh, let me introduce my friend, Claire Jennings. Claire, Jamie Alexander.”

Jamie said, “Claire, you were amazing tonight. What beautiful vintage outfits.”

“Thank you. That is so very nice of you.” I replied.

“Where’s Tom?” Asked Jamie.

“Working as usual. You, John and Mattie, need to come and visit us for a weekend.” We talked for a while, and Jamie and Mattie departed.

“No has ever told me I was beautiful before or called me Ma’am,” I said to Mary Jo.

“You are beautiful. That was so sweet of Mattie. She is a darling little girl. You handled that well, Claire. Let’s get you changed.” We headed backstage to my dressing room.

Not much longer after we arrived, Mrs. Sullivan and some of the ladies from the society came into my dressing room as Mary Jo was unbuttoning my buttons on the back of my dress. They all thanked me for modeling the sharing my beautiful period outfits and then presented me with a bouquet. With the corset off, I put on the skirt and blouse I arrived in. MJ and I headed back to the room.

“Claire, you were nothing short of sensational tonight. Thank you so much for doing this. Everyone loved you. I am so proud of you. Did you enjoy it?”

“No one has ever given me flowers before. I was scared the first time out on stage, but it became easier each time out. I would have never made it through it without your love and support. I am glad it is finally over, and we can go home tomorrow. I need a bourbon.”

“Do you want to go down to the bar for a nightcap, Claire?”

“No thank you, I’ve had enough attention for one day.”

MJ went downstairs to the bar and brought me a double shot of Knob Creek on the rocks.

The next morning, I wore a business jacket/skirt with a button-down white cotton blouse that Mary Jo packed for me. We headed to the elevators to go down to the lobby to check out and have breakfast. We weren’t ready for what we met when the elevator door opened. Flash, flash from cameras, and a few people were slamming questions at me. Thankfully, Mary Jo bailed me out and said I had a sore throat and couldn’t speak. I just smiled and nodded. We finally escaped the deluge of questions and pictures and decided to check out and have breakfast on the road.

Monday after work, mom came back down to our house. I was in my male drab. She was holding the Lexington newspaper and said, ‘Mary Jo.” And she handed her the Monday morning paper showing her my pictures. “Isn’t this your friend I met awhile back?”

“Yes, mom, that’s my friend, Claire.” She joined me at the Historical Society event this weekend. You should have been there. It was an amazing evening.” She saw the bouquet on the table.

“Are those from Tom.”

‘Yes, they are. He’s always so sweet and thoughtful.”

“Well, the next time your friend Claire visits, please invite her up for dinner. She is beautiful. I’d love to meet her again and know more about her.” As usual, mom turned and departed as quickly as she arrived. Dinner with me dressed as Claire with my parents would never happen. I hoped.

The next two-weeks, Mary Jo, was swamped with calls and emails. Before dinner, she showed me some of the emails.

“What? No way! No. No. And no. These are all for interviews on talk shows and modeling offers.”

“Well?” Asked Mary Jo with a raised eyebrow and leaning slightly towards me.

“You promised remember — no more public events. I am holding you to it. I plan to stick to what I know best – loving you, construction, and growing tobacco.”

“Really? We’ll see.” Mary Jo said with a smile.

The End.

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Category: Fiction


About the Author ()

This story is not like other stories that I’ve read saying that the author has always know they were a girl — I think I discovered being one.

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  1. wendib123 wendib123 says:

    I have enjoyed the whole series. Let’s have some more like this only a little more