An old hotel in South England houses a peculiar guest, who gives a new twist to sibling rivalry.
Chapter Description: See story summary.
A growing experience
"Give me back that hairbrush you little brat!" A door swung open to a narrow, shady corridor and a skinny blonde girl, about ten years old, came running out like the devil was chasing her... which might not be much of and understatement judging by the furious look on the face of the taller, late teenage girl who was right on her heels.
"Mom said I could use it!" the smaller girl screamed, not slowing down for even a fraction of a second. Although she was running away at top speed, the girl would have lost the race instantly if the older girl’s skirt hadn’t got caught between the closing door right then. The safety of another open door lured. She dashed in and slammed it shut behind her, instantly turning around to push the tiny button in the faded brass doorknob, locking the door.
Not a minute too soon. Even as she let out a breath of relief, the smooth metal started twisting furiously in her hand, and a few chips of white-ish paint came off the dry old wood as the door rattled in its hinges. Frustrated screams erupted on the other side, barely muffled by the door or the paper-thin walls. "You open up that door right now, thwirp! I want that brush back!"
"Nuh uh!" the little girl shouted back, sticking out her tongue to the bladdered paint on the wooden surface and instantly retracting it when she realized how silly that had to look.
"Just because you’re bigger doesn’t mean you have a right to everything, Carly parly!", she taunted. Calling her sister that resulted in more screams from the other side, along with a few words that would’ve earned the girl outside a mouthwash with soap, seventeen or not, if their mother had witnessed her using them.
A loud bang, accompanied by a dangerous creaking of the wood and more falling paint chips signalled the end of Carols attempts to get inside. She must have kicked the door very hard.
Stamping footsteps gradually faded to a muffled sound and were followed by another bang, as Carols door slammed shut. Then, silence returned to the darkness of the dusty hotel room and at last Stephany was able to catch her breath and turn around.
The curtains were closed tightly, but the once thick fabric was old and a little ray of sunlight shone through a spot where it was worn so thin that a hole had formed. Slowly, Stephany’s eyes adjusted to the darkness and she took a step forward. Wooden floor boards creaked underneath her slippers and dust thwirled up, making her sneeze. "Hachoo!". The way her voice had broken the newly fallen silence almost made her cringe. "Bless you", rasped an old woman’s voice.
The ten year old let out a startled squeek and her vision darted to what she had though were a bunch of old rags, thrown carelessly on the ancient carved oaken bed.
"I... I’m sorry ma’am" she stammered in a shy, high pitched voice. "I didn’t kno.. didn’t know someone was in here!"
"That’s all right child." The dark shape began to move and Stephany heard the woman groaning as she struggled to sit up. She took a step forward, intending to help the old lady. Her mom had always tought her to be helpful to elderly people.
The words were bitten short, almost angry and Stephany froze in mid-step.
"You don’t want to see my face like this, you know..." the woman spoke a little more friendly. "All old and withered. However, I would like to see you a little better. Would you step into the light for me please?"
Stephany obeyed and stepped aside, to where the one ray of sunlight could shine on her face. It made the woman in the dark across the small room even more difficult to see.
"My.. my..., you’re a pretty little thing, aren’t you?" She sounded almost grandmotherly.
"You remind me of my daughter when she was your age. I miss her. She died, you know. Left her old mother all by herself to grieve."
"I’m sorry ma’am", whispered the little girl, impressed.
"Don’t worry about it honey. It’s been almost twenty years now since her accident. Seeing your face now only brings back happy memories."
"Oh..." Stephany didn’t know what to say.
"It’s nice to have someone here to talk to. Normally it’s just the hotel owner, and he just comes in to bring me food. He’s a good man, though. Lets me stay in this room for free. What’s your name then?"
"Stephany Lewis, ma’am."
"Well then, Stephany, would you be a dear and fill this glass with water for me?" The woman stretched out a bony arm, holding up an empty glass in her hand, which was shaking slightly.
Stephany turned her head away, remembering that the woman didn’t want to be looked at, and took the glass, then turned around towards the door. She hesitated. If she were to go out there to the common bathroom, Carol would hear her and give her a beating. She turned back.
"It’s all right honey. The woman’s voice creaked. Your sister is very fast asleep."
The ten year old girl frowned, wondering why her sister would go to sleep at this hour of the day, or how the woman would know such a thing, but somehow the creaky voice had a reassuring sound in it and she was suddenly quite sure that the woman was speaking the truth.
Holding on to the smooth metal of the doorknob, Stephany peered out into the hallway and, tip-toe?ng, made her way past her and Carols room and mom and dad’s and into the small bathroom. No sound suggested that Carol would come out. Carefully holding a full glass a moment later, Stephany sneaked back along the corridor and, curiously, put her ear to the rough wooden surface of Carols door. She heard a faint snore. So she wás asleep!
More relaxed now, she continued back into the old woman’s room, shutting the door, but not bothering to lock it this time.
She handed the woman the full glass, looking away. She heard a few gulps as the woman drank from it.
"Thank you so much, dear. I was parched". The voice sounded a little less creaky this time. "Now please, sit down. There’s a chair next to the wardrobe. It’s not every day that I get a nice young girl like you to talk to." "Yes, ma’am". "Oh, and you don’t have to call me ma’am, dear. My name is Alice"
As she sat in the chair, the old woman asked her about all sorts of things: where she was from, how old she was, and if she were enjoying her vacation in Sussex, South England. "You’re American, are you not?"
"So polite... not at all the way I imagined American girls to be. And none of that language I heard your sister use just then. Is she always so rude?"
"Well..." Stephany hesitated.. "She’s not a bully all the time.. Just when mom and dad aren’t there... She pulls my hair and calls me a names a lot. And sometimes she hits me when I say something about her boyfriends..." Stephany nervously played with a lock of blond hair and looked at the ground, embarrassed that the had told these things to a stranger.
"Oh dear, oh dear..." muttered the woman.
"She always thinks she’s better than me, just because she’s older and she’s always hogging the computer and the phone at home, calling her boyfriends and sending them those horribly sweet e-mails.
"Boyfriends, has she?" creaked the woman’s voice, sounding disapproving. "A girl that age shouldn’t be concerning herself with boys so much. And you say she even has more than one?"
"Well... she did have two at the same time once, but that was months ago. Now she just has a different one every couple of weeks. And she smokes too, and threatens to hurt me if I tell mom and dad. One time she even put out a sigaret butt on my arm. Here." Stephany rolled up her sleeve to show the now fading red circle on her forearm.
"Tssk tssk.. That girl should be taught a lesson, now, shouldn’t she.."
"I just wish I was bigger, so I could stand up to her for once! She doesn’t have a right to pull my hair and push me around all the time and hurt me."
The old woman seemed to be thinking, then opened the drawer next to her bed and took out something small and round. Stephany strained her eyes to see what it was.
"Here, my sweet, this is for you. For keeping an old woman company." The bony arm was extended in her direction and Stephany held up her hand. Something smooth and hard fell into it. It was a black, stone disk attached to a cord, she saw, with some kind of markings scratched into the surface. It looked like a necklace.
"Thank you, ma’am, but my mom tells me I can’t accept any gifts from strangers." She moved to return it, but the woman pushed her hand back.
"Keep it, dear." If you will it’s not a gift. It’s a payment for bringing me that glass of water. Or you can just borrow it, and give it back to me at any time" Stephany hesitated. "Well.. I guess that’s all right.." She slipped the cord around her neck and hid the stone underneath her shirt.
"Good girl". Now would you be a dear and leave me now? All this has been very tiring. I need to get some sleep".
Stephany stood up.
"Oh, that stone will give you good dreams. Remember to wear it to bed." said the woman. "Close the door behind you, dear"
When Stephany got back into the room she and Carol shared, Carol was gone. She was probably off to see that boy she’d met in the local disco the other night. Stephany was actually glad that she had the room for herself. She took a book from the shelf above her bed. It must have been left there by a previous guest, but she was sure they wouldn’t mind her reading it. It was titled ’Alice in Wonderland’. ’Alice’, she thought vaguely. ’Just like the old lady’.
Carol didn’t come back for dinner that night. That evening, Stephany took a shower and put on a big white t-shirt of her mother’s which she used as a night gown. It hung down almost to her knees, and fell in loose folds around her back and chest, which was flat and almost so skinny that she could count her ribs. The opening that she put her head through was almost wide enough to slide off her left shoulder. The shirt was far too big for her, but as a night gown it was comfortable enough. Stephany decided to read a few pages of the book before going to sleep. Finally, she turned out the light and pulled the covers over her. Something hard was pressing painfully into her chest as she turned on her stomach and she remembered the necklace. Turning on her back now, she closed her eyes, clutching the stone with her right hand and fell to sleep.
In her dream, she was Alice, falling down the rabbit hole and discovering Wonderland. She followed a white rabbit around and ate some mushrooms that turned her into a giant, then shrank her to the size of a mouse. A giant cat loomed over her, and opened it’s mouth to declaim, in her sister Carol’s voice:
"I’ll be judge. I’ll be jury, said cunning old fury.
I’ll play the whole court and condemn you to death!"
The cat opened its mouth again, this time to swallow her up but Stephany/Alice quickly took a bite from one of the mushrooms and grew and grew until the cat seemed as small to her as she had been earlier compared to it. Suddenly the cat transformed into her sister, although still small, who looked up at her, gesturing frantically, screaming: "Don’t step on me! Don’t step on me!"
"Yo, Stephany! Stephany!" Stephany woke up as a hand shook her roughly by the shoulder. "Stephany!"
She opened her eyes to see the silhouette of her sister Carol standing over her bed. Another shadow was vaguely visible behind her. A boy! Carol had brought a boy to the hotel!
"Get up" The words sounded a little slurred. Carol was drunk! "Me and M..Matt want t..to be alllone for a sssec, okay? Go outsseyede and wwait in the hhallway untill wwe’re done or ssomething." She felt a push against her shoulder again.
Suddenly Stephany felt angry. How dare her sister bring a boy to their room in the middle of the night! She wasn’t a little girl. She knew what boys and girls did at that age, but to tell her to get out of bed and wait ouside so she could do it?! She wasn’t going to let it happen. Stephany rolled over and pulled the covers up to her nek. "No!"
The sound surprised her. Was it because she’d just woken up? Her voice had sounded differently. Deeper than usual. Maybe it was nothing.
In any case, Carol was too drunk to notice any difference. The next moment, the light was switched on and Carol shouted again: "Get out of the room! Now"
"No, YOU get out!" Stephany furiously jumped out of bed, ignoring the boy and gave Carol a hard push to get her away from the light switch. Carol swayed and staggered back. That was new. Stephany had never been able to push her over so easily. Could her sister be that drunk? It was then that she realized that something was different and she wasn’t just imagining it. The room seemed smaller somehow, and so did Carol. In fact, Carol, who now leaned against the wall, looking shocked and incomprehending, seemed to be the same height as she. The boy didn’t look much taller either.
That was the moment Stephany became aware that the boy, who must be at least nineteen, was staring at her, but not at her face. Instead, his eyes were looking her up and down from chest to bottom. She followed his look and jumped with surprise. Her white t-shirt, which should have hung wide around her, felt almost tight around her chest.......or breasts, actually. She rushed to open the wardrobe door, which had a mirror on the inside, and gasped. The girl she saw looked a little like the Stephany she knew, only way, way more mature. And her breasts! Where she had been as flat-chested as any ten year-old upon going to sleep, now she had a firm, round C-cup. She noticed Carol looking at them envious from the corner of her eyes. Carol only had a B-cup.
Her thighs and hips were also wider, but not fat at all. Just more feminine. She looked like she was seventeen, like Carol, or maybe even eighteen! She felt a cool breeze coming through the half-open window and suddenly realized what Carols ’boyfriend’ had been looking at besides her breasts: now that she was taller, the t-shirt, which had come to her knees, now revealed her bottom, and a patch of almost blonde pubic hair on the front, which hadn’t been there before.
A thought crossed her mind and she looked at her bed. There, on the mattress was a torn piece of cloth which had been her girl panties. She had burst out of them.
In the yellowish light of the room, she noticed the boy still staring and suddenly felt embarrassed for being naked. Nakedness had never embarrassed her before as a ten year-old, but she remembered that Carol was always very touchy about it.
She hid from the boy’s staring eyes behind the wardrobe door and rummaged inside a drawer until she found one of Carols panties. It was black, and all frilled and lacey but it would have to do. When she had put it on, Stephany dared to face the other two people in the room again.
Carol was sitting in a corner, looking as if she were seeing a ghost and the boy just stood there, still staring at her admiringly. Suddenly, looking at him, Stephany got a strange, fuzzy, tingly sensation throughout her body. She noticed now, that he was tall, blond and had a tan and a well-musceled chest which showed through his open blouse.
And a nice ass too... Stephany then had an idea. The perfect idea! Something that would give her a big part of the revenge that she deserved to have on her sister. She knew what her sister and the good-looking boy had been about to do in the hotel room while she waited outside. She knew about sex. Her mom had always been very open about such things. And although she had never really understood why people had wanted to do something like that, right now she felt a strange new desire that put all the missing pieces into place.
"Carol? Why don’t you wait outside for a while...?" She smiled sarcastically at her sister.
Carol looked too baffled in her drunkenness to object and stumbled through the door, sagging down in the hallway.
Stephany closed the door and pulled the t-shirt over her head. It had become too tight anyway. After first getting a good glance at what her own breasts looked like in the mirror, she stretched herself out on her bed and, laying on her back, smiled at the boy, not sure what she was supposed to do. Just a few hours ago, she’d been ten years old, so she’d never even fantasized about this before. Now she was a whole different person. She decided to leave it up to him. "Come on, handsome! Are your going to stand there forever?.."