A Change Of gender And Beyond
Chapter 7
by F.W. Hinton
          Maureen's husband John,  a  nonplussed  man  of  sixty four,
          owned a run-down thousand acre farm and tried hard to keep a
          home going for himself and two unmarried daughters. From the
          local Hotel he  bought  a bottle of scotch, a carton of beer
          and a bottle  of  sherry, and had another idea which was not
          very good.

          To cheer up his wife, a cause he had not yet abandoned, even
          after  six  months   of   married  life  and  her  continued
          depression. He decided  that  this year they would all spend
          Christmas at home. He invited his family, and wrote to Shaun
          pleading with her,  for  the  sake of her cousin to come and
          stay over the  holidays.   She  refused  at first, but after
          learning of Maureen's melancholia changed her mind.

          Maureen had been  all right most of the morning, even though
          her husband had forced her to attend early morning mass.  On
          her return from  church  she  began  cooking  the  Christmas
          dinner. John's two  daughters,  who were a few years younger
          than their stepmother, refused to help, believing that their
          father had only  married  Maureen to look after them and the
          house.  She looked  out  of  the lounge room window when she
          heard a car stop and watched her husbands relations pour out
          of the car.  Seized  by sudden panic she ran upstairs to the
          bedroom and locked  the  door.   John told his three sisters
          and two brothers that his wife, whom they had never seen had
          a headache and  hoped  she  would  join  them  later  in the
          evening,  perhaps  mistakenly,   trying  to  minimize  their

          He thought that  if  ever  the  news got out that his second
          wife tried to  commit suicide on Christmas eve, as his first
          wife had on  Christmas  day seven years ago. That both women
          had tried to  gas  themselves  by  sealing  off the kitchen,
          putting their head  in the gas oven and turning on the taps.
          He would never  be  able  to  hold his high again. His first
          wife he put  in  a  nursing  home  where she died six months
          later.  Maureen he  had  managed  to save and threatened her
          with a similar fate.

          Shaun arrived during  the afternoon.  John told her that her
          cousin was in  bed  and could not be disturbed.  He answered
          his relatives unspoken  question,  telling  them  that Shaun
          Maclaren and his  wife  had  been very close for a number of

          " All right  if  I  go  up?" she asked when he offered her a
          glass of sherry, which she refused.  " She'll come down in a
          minute," he mumbled,  not wanting to be left on his own with
          his family who might ask awkward questions.

          Shaun sat down  and  waited. When John went into the kitchen
          she ran upstairs and knocked on the bedroom door.

          " Maureen It's me," there was no answer, " Maureen, open the

          " Go away Shaun. I don't want to see anyone."

          " Why? What's wrong with you?"

          " I'm frightened."

          " You Frightened?  I  don't  believe that-who are you afraid

          " His relatives.  He  threatened  to  put me away, said they
          would help him, same as they did with his first wife."

          " They can't  put  you away. I wouldn't allow it. You know I

          " You don't know what I tried to do."

          " Then open  the  door  and  tell  me.  You don't have to go
          downstairs. I'll look  after  you." Shaun heard bare feet on
          the wood floor,  the  key turn in the lock. Maureen was back
          in bed by  the time she opened the door. She sat high in the
          bed, a blanket  around her shoulders shivering with the cold
          or fright, Shaun was not sure which.

          Maureen told her  she  was being treated more like a servant
          than a wife.  That  he  had  hit  her a number of times, and
          showed her cousin  the  deep  weals  on  her back thighs and
          chest " He  wants  me  to see a special doctor. He says that
          anyone who attempts  to  do away with themselves ought to be
          put in a  home."  Maureen  pulled  the blanket tightly round
          her, as if it were a form of protection.

          " I'm here  now,"  Shaun  told her, kissing her, rocking her
          back and forth  as  she cradled her cousin in her arms.  " I
          won't let anything  happen  to  you.  You're not losing your
          mind, you're not  mental. Although looking after that lot is
          enough to drive  anyone  off  their head. I can't understand
          you letting anyone  hit  you like that.  You were always the
          one that was tough."

          " About ten  days ago he came home drunk.  He swore at me. I
          told him I  was  going to bed. He dragged me down the stairs
          and took his whip to me."

          " What about his two girls?"

          " When I  asked  them to help me, they said I deserved all I

          On Boxing day  John's  two  daughters  went  away with their
          aunts hoping to  stay  with  them  for  the remainder of the
          holidays, leaving Shaun  alone with Maureen and her husband.
          Feeling extremely tired  Maureen  went  to  bed  immediately
          after tea.

          Shaun cleared the  table,  washed  the dishes and sat on the
          settee in the  lounge room intending to discuss her cousin's
          attempted suicide.  Although  she  felt  that  the  problems
          between Maureen and  John  were  really none of her business
          she could not  allow  her cousin to be so cruelly treated by

          John sat next  to  her  and when she mentioned her cousin he
          told her that  what  went  on  between  husband and wife was
          nothing to do  with  her,  that Maureen was a lazy bitch who
          did not look after his two girls properly.

          Shaun became irate.   Told  him  that  an  attempted suicide
          should be reported  to the police.  That Maureen should have
          been taken to the hospital or at least have been examined by
          a doctor. Her  eyes now blazing with anger, she stood up and
          told John that  she would be leaving in the morning with her

          For an older  man Maureen's husband moved quickly. He caught
          Shaun by the  arm,  slapped  her across the face grabbed her
          around the waist and pulled her down onto the settee.

          " I'll teach you who is boss here," he shouted.

          This was the  first  time in years she had worn a skirt, and
          had only bought it to pacify her mother. Now she wished like
          hell she had stuck to wearing slacks.

          " Let go  of  me!" she screamed as she fell on top of him, "
          let go you rotten bastard."

          Shaun struggled, trying to prize herself off him. The weight
          of her legs  and  hips  excited  him, he pushed himself into
          her. She wrestled,  violently. It seemed that everything was
          happening so fast. With one hand he gripped her wrists. With
          the other he tore at her skirt and wrenched it upwards.

          " No!" she  screamed,  her  body  writhing. She got one hand
          free and hit him in the face.

          " Stop it!  -  Stop it," she gabbled, fighting for breath, "
          Maureen! Maureen-she's coming down the stairs."

          " Scream again  you stupid cow. She can't hear you. I spiked
          her drink," he laughed, " she'll be out for hours."

          Too frightened to  cry, Shaun gritted her teeth as he tugged
          at her skirt,  pulling  it higher. His hands seemed suddenly
          extra large, but  he still found it hard to hold her wrists.
          Wishing she had  half  his  strength, she bit his hand, here
          mouth tasting the  blood  as she broke free. In one move she
          was by the door.

          Blood pouring from  his hand he caught her again. She kicked
          him in the  shins  and broke away. He swore with the pain of
          the blow. Breasts  heaving  Shaun  ran  across the room. The
          settee between them, she screamed and pushed it into him. It
          served only to increase his anger and determination.

          She looked around  for something to hit him with, could find
          only a few  books. She threw them at him. He crouched as the
          books rained down  on  him. Shaun made a break for the other
          door at the  far  end.  His agility amazed her as he grabbed
          her again and she tried to smash her fists into his face.

          He lifted her  up  as  though  she  weighed  no  more than a
          cushion and threw  her  onto the settee.  All fire and fury,
          Shaun flung herself  upwards  almost breaking away.  His arm
          shot out stopping her. He pulled her head up onto the arm of
          the settee, pinned her shoulders down, ripped her skirt slip
          and panties and started stroking her thighs.

          Now that her legs were free of her skirt, she struggled more
          vigorously than before.  Seconds  later  she  brought up her
          knee with all the force she could muster, hitting him in the
          groin. He screamed with the pain of the blow and fell to the
          floor writhing in agony.

          Shaun moved quickly  she forced open the locked door and ran
          upstairs to her  cousin's  room.  Once inside she bolted the
          door and wedged a chair under the handle.  Maureen was still
          fast asleep.  At first Shaun thought she was in some kind of
          a coma. She lifted her cousin up, screamed at her, shook her
          then slapped her face as hard as she could.

          Maureen opened her eyes, there was a silly look on her face,
          Shaun in her  panic  dragged her from the bed and walked her
          up and down.   Dawn was breaking when her cousin was at last
          able to understand.  Shaun told her her husband had tried to
          rape her.

          " That's hard  to  believe,"  Maureen  told her when she had
          recovered, " he  can't  even  satisfy  me.   We've only been
          together twice since we were married ."

          Shaun, her faced  flushed  with  anger pulled off her skirt,
          slip and panties.  "  Here!"  she  said throwing them at her
          cousin, " do  you  think  I  ripped  these  myself?  I can't
          understand you. He's  beaten  the  hell out of you. Tried to
          rape  me. Drugged  you.  Through  him  and  his  two  bloody
          daughters you almost  killed  yourself,  and you still won't
          believe me."

          Gradually Shaun's words  began  to  make sense.  It was then
          she realised why  her  husband  sneaked  out  of  bed in the
          middle of the night when he thought she was asleep. Why both
          his daughters were  always  fussing  him, why she was always
          the butt of their jokes.

          By midday Shaun  and Maureen were back at the cottage on the
          coast. Shaun argued that they should have gone to the city.

          " He'll come down here, drag you back and have another go at
          me. I still think we should have told the police."

          " What can  they  do?"  Maureen  asked her.  " I'm his wife.
          It's your word  against  his.  Then it will come out that we
          were living together. Think of the problems that will cause.
          They could even lock us up."

          "What about his daughters? Don't they call it incest?"

          " We've no  proof of that. They have never complained. We're
          safe here. No one knows about our cottage."

          " Do you think he'll try and find us?"

          " No Shaun.  He'll  just  assume  we've  gone away together.
          Eventually, maybe in a year or two I'll get a divorce."

          The Sandwood Hotel  was  full on New Year's Eve. There was a
          dinner, a fancy  dress  party  with balloons and funny hats,
          all, Shaun thought  a  little  archaic.  Different  kinds of
          people were there.  Middle  aged  men  and girls with glossy
          switches in their  hair,  that seemed to be the wrong colour
          for their skin.

          There were families  who  appeared  to  have more money than
          sense. Girls in  long  dresses with long-necked men who wore
          glasses and tried  hard  to look sophisticated. Barrel women
          in mink capes, with gastric-mouthed men who had been told by
          their doctors it  would  do them good to let their hair down
          before they passed on.

          Shaun recognised a  few of the regulars. The Colonel and his
          Lady. The Cabinet  Minister  who  tried hard not to be seen.
          The lady who  broke her hip two years ago and the old man in
          the wheel chair with a nurse who appeared to be very fond of
          him, but kept  going  away,  to  somewhere in the hotel that
          that no one seemed to know about.

          Then there was  Robbie. An older man, who had never married.
          Most of his  life  had  been spent pouring over accounts for
          various companies. Now  he  had  decided to become a writer,
          and had arranged  a life style to get it in perspective from
          a writer's point of view.

          This was the  first  time  Maureen  had  been  out since her
          marriage and was delighted her cousin had suggested it. They
          danced together as  always,  with  no funny looks or remarks
          from anyone, and they knew they were safely back home.

          It was almost  midnight  when  Robbie spoke to them. Maureen
          seeing he was on his own, thought it would be a good idea if
          the three of them were to see in the New Year. Shaun agreed,
          and on the  stroke  of  midnight  she  kissed  Maureen  then
          Robbie, who thought  it  was  something more than just a New
          Year kiss. It  made  his  heart  beat  faster than ever. The
          lights dimmed again.  He  closed  his eyes.  thought he must
          have been dreaming.  When  he  opened them Shaun and Maureen
          were gone.

          All his life  Robbie  Cockran  had been a spectator of other
          peoples joy and sorrows. Now, all at once, he was the actor.
          He was aware  of  individuality  and  sudden personal wishes
          that  were  almost   passionate   in   their   strength.  Of
          rose-coloured dreams, not for others, now for himself.

          It seemed like  an  incredible,  absurd fairy tale, that he,
          Robert Edward Cockran,  who was getting to regard himself as
          an elderly man,  should  have found a woman. A woman, who he
          wanted, a woman he was determined to make his wife.

          He sat in  his study gazing out of the window thinking about
          her.  He turned  back  to his typewriter, hammered out a few
          sentences, ripped the  paper from the machine, screwed it up
          and threw it  into  the  waste  basket.  It  was no good. He
          couldn't work.

          " Shaun!" he shouted, " Shaun Maclaren," wanting her to hear
          him, knowing she  could  not,  "  why do you torture me?" he
          asked.  He thought  she  was more than attractive, he wished
          it was as simple as that. She had vanished, entered his life
          for a few brief moments and vanished.

          She had kissed  him  on the cheek. He touched the spot where
          her lips had  caressed his skin, it was as if he could still
          feel them.

          The barman at  the  Sandwood  Hotel told him they lived in a
          cottage somewhere along the beach.

          " Is she married?" Robbie asked.

          " The thin  one,  Maureen-I think so. She used to work here.
          Before my time."


          " No, she's  not married.  Nice sort of-person. Someone said
          she writes books-you  know  what  a weird lot they are.  Two
          women-on their own, always together. You saw them. They even
          dance with one  another. Sisters I suppose-could be cousins.
          I once-."

          Robbie not wanting  to listen to any more gossip gulped down
          his drink and left.

          He woke late  the  next morning, lay on his bed listening to
          the sounds in  the  house.  He heard his housekeeper calling
          him for breakfast, someone in the distance chopping wood. He
          felt reluctant to move. Most of the night he had lain awake,
          Shaun Maclaren on  his  mind.  He  tried to grasp the hidden
          meaning behind the  barmans  remarks.   This  was the day he
          made up his mind to see her.

          He got up,  shaved  carefully,  dressed, and after breakfast
          sat on the  beach,  near  to  what  he  assumed  to be their
          cottage.  In the  late  afternoon  he  saw  her.   His heart
          skipped a beat.   With  Maureen she was walking towards him.
          He started to panic, wanted to run, hide, anything except to
          sit there on the beach waiting for her to come up to him.

          He saw her  in  a  haze  of  special beauty that her strong,
          almost unfeminine physique  subtly  increased.  With  a  low
          forehead, long eyebrows,  straight  nose  and  a  neck  that
          appeared to be  a  little  thick,  he  thought  her head was
          ancient Greek. Her breast was almost flat. Dressed in slacks
          and shirt she did nothing to pull in her waist. Even when he
          saw her at  the  Sandwood  Hotel  she  wore  no  make-up  or
          jewellery, although he  remembered  seeing a pearl necklace.
          He walked along  the  beach  next to Shaun, after her cousin
          invited him to join them.

          " What do  you  do for a living?" Maureen asked breaking the
          uncanny silence.

          Shaun blushed, squeezed her cousin's hand.

          " You shouldn't ask things like that," she whispered.

          " It's all right. I don't mind. I used to be an accountant."

          " And now?" Shaun asked, trying to show some interest.

          " I've gone back to writing-full time."

          " Successful?" Maureen interrupted.

          " Well-yes. I suppose I am really. I have been published."

          They reached the  gate  by  the cottage. Robbie told them he
          had to get back.

          " I'm going  to  the  Sandwood for dinner tonight.  I'd love
          both of you to join me, around eight. I've booked a table."

          " We'd be delighted. Wouldn't we ?"

          After lunch Maureen  told  her  cousin  she  felt  sick, and
          really didn't want to go out to dinner. Shaun wanted to stay
          and look after  her.  Maureen  argued that it wasn't fair to
          let Robbie down, that she should go as arranged.

          " I'm not going on my own," Shaun told her cousin crossly, "
          I don't know him, and what's more I don't really want to."

          " He's booked  a  table.  It wouldn't be right not to go. He
          seems nice."

          " Most men are-on the surface."

          " It is you he's interested in."

          " I don't  want  his  interest. I don't like being with men.
          You know that. Look what happened with your rotten husband."

          " Forget that bastard. Not all men are like him."

          " Most of the ones I've ever met," Shaun interrupted.

          " That's all behind us," Maureen told her angrily, " I think
          you should at  least  go to the Hotel, tell him I'm sick and
          you have to get back to look after me."

          All afternoon Shaun  thought about Robbie Cockran. Trying to
          put him out  of  her  mind  she picked up a book, read a few
          pages. Found it  impossible  to  concentrate  and went for a
          walk along the  beach  on her own.  It seemed that no matter
          what she did,  he would not go away.  She decided her cousin
          was right. That if she did go and see him, it would at least
          get him off  her  mind. all she wanted out of life was to be
          with Maureen. If  she  couldn't  have  that, then she didn't
          want anyone.

          Robbie Cockran was  seated  at the bar waiting for Shaun and
          Maureen. He stood  up  and greeted her when she came through
          the swing doors.  In  slacks  and  close  fitting jacket, he
          thought she had  dressed  with  a  neatness  that to him was
          beautifully chic.

          Shaun told him  that her cousin had developed a cold, was in
          bed, and she  had  to  get back to the cottage to look after

          " Have you called a doctor?" he asked.

          " Not yet,"  she  answered sheepishly, feeling it wasn't any
          of his damn  business  anyway,  "  Maureen was asleep when I
          left," as soon  as  the  words were out she realised she had
          said the wrong thing.

          " Please stay,"  Robbie  asked,  " a table has been reserved
          for us. I hate to eat alone."

          The look in his eyes made it impossible for her to refuse.

          " If your  cousin  was asleep," he continued, " I'm sure she
          will be all right. Sleep is often the best cure."

          He took her  hand in his. She wanted to pull away. There was
          something in his grasp, his smile that stopped her.

          " I should be getting back," she said weakly.

          The Maitre'D showed  them  to a table by the window. Minutes
          later a waiter began serving the meal. Robbie apologized for
          not having consulted  her,  and  hoped the meal would please

          " My tastes are simple.  I spoke to the chef," he continued,
          trying to explain, " he told me you were a frequent visitor.
          I ordered as he suggested."

          During dinner, Shaun  found  it  easy to put all thoughts of
          her cousin out  of  her mind as the relationship with Robbie
          Cockran grew. She  had  sudden  bursts of humour about books
          that amused and  delighted  him.  He encouraged her in every
          possible way as he turned on his charm.

          He saw her  every day for a month. Away from her cousin, she
          had abrupt whims,  which at times, he felt were absurd, even
          though he respected them. There were exactions on his energy
          that left him  baffled,  miserable,  joyfully  expectant and

          His restlessness gradually  wound  up  like  a coil that was
          about ready to spring. He found it impossible to work. Threw
          his half-finished script  across the room, believing that if
          he did not marry Shaun Maclaren he would go out of his mind.

          Without her knowledge he told Maureen of his intentions, and
          swore  her  to  secrecy  when  he  showed  her  the  diamond
          engagement ring. With  her  blessing  he  took  Shaun  to  a
          special dinner at the Sandwood Hotel. Over coffee and brandy
          he proposed.

          Disgusted, Shaun rose from the table intending to leave. She
          sat down only  after  he  begged  her to stay.  She told him
          that the mere thought of an engagement, followed by marriage
          was outrageous and  abhorred her.  He pleaded with her, told
          her how much  he  loved,  how  she  had  ruined his life. He
          begged her to give his proposal consideration and eventually
          persuaded her to accept the solitaire diamond ring.

          An hour later  Shaun  was back at the cottage. In the safety
          of her cousin's  they  talked  late  into the night and made
          love. The following  morning  Maureen told her that marriage
          to Robert Cockran was the obvious way out.

          " It will  stop a lot of gossip, and solve a few problems of
          my own," she told her.

          "  What  do  you  mean,"  Shaun  asked  tearfully,  "  we're
          together. How can  you  have  any  problems?  You-it's you I
          love. Nothing else matters."

          " We've got  to  be  honest with ourselves, and each other,"
          Maureen continued, tears  flowing  down her cheeks, " I love
          you, as you love me. But Shaun darling I need much more."

          "  More!  What   more   can   I   give?  Isn't  my  love-our

          " How can  I  tell  you-I  need  the  wonderful feeling of a
          man-deep- deep inside  me,  that  will  bring me to complete
          fulfilment. I know we make love-a wonderful love.  It's just
          not the same.  I desperately need the satisfaction that only
          a man can give."

          " I'll get an operation-there has to be a way."

          " That's ridiculous-It just isn't possible."

          " I don't  believe  that,"  Shaun  argued,  "  men turn into
          women-surely-there is a  way.   I  know there is. One day it
          will  happen. I'll  make  it  happen.  Then  I'll  show  you
          love-real love." Shaun  began  to  sob as if her heart would
          break.  Maureen held her close, stroked her forehead.

          " The truth  is  Shaun  Maclaren,  there is nothing like the
          love and feel  of  a man.  You-you're still a virgin. You've
          never been loved  by  anyone-except me. You need a man. It's
          something you have got to experience.  It will put an end to
          all our problems-with me.  Your brother George, Aunt Rachel.
          It will put  an  end  to the gossip, and speculation of that
          bloody barman who took my job at the Sandwood Hotel."

          " What would  I  do  if  I  suddenly  got pregnant? It could
          happen-couldn't it?"

          " Don't be  silly.   You know what the doctor told you after
          your operation, that  you  can't have any children. Besides,
          even if anything  did  go  wrong,  I'm  here.  Didn't I look
          after you when you came out of hospital last time?"

          For hours that  night  Maureen  lay  awake  listening to her
          cousin sobbing in her sleep. She stroked her forehead, tried
          to soothe her,  blamed herself for causing someone she loved
          so much misery.  This was the second time she had caused her
          cousin pain, and Maureen vowed it would be her last.

          When Shaun awoke the sunlight coming through the window hung
          shadows on the  wall, and everything seemed to have changed.
          Maureen told her  Robbie was waiting to see her.  She looked
          at the ring  on  her finger, turned it round and round. last
          night the mental  process  that  warned  her not to get more
          ensnared was completed  by  the  relief  of  knowing  he was
          waiting downstairs.

          Robbie Cockran stood at the foot of the stairs.  He found it
          impossible to sit  patiently  waiting in the lounge room any
          longer. He stood  feeling  the excitement, that anticipation
          of seeing her always stirred.

          The discomfort, the  restlessness  was only part of it. This
          morning-she would give  him  an answer.  He knew it would be
          'No' he prayed  it  would  be a whispered 'Yes'.  His dismay
          vanished, enthralled, he watched her walk down the stairs on
          her left hand she was wearing his ring.  There was something
          -almost magnetic about her that drew him to her.

          " I will  marry  you  Robbie  Cockran," she whispered, " but
          please I don't want a long engagement."

          The whirlwind events  of  the  following  weeks  swept Shaun
          along, almost unthinking.   It had become a dream, something
          beyond her wildest  imaginings. She thought about Morris and
          Sons.  Never again  would  she have to run the presses or do
          boring jobs like  collating.  She  wouldn't have to continue
          trying to please  her  mother,  or put up with her brother's
          disparaging remarks.

          It was Shaun  thought  a  chance to enter a society that she
          could never attain  on her own. He was after all a published
          Author.  Marriage to Robert Cockran, Shaun knew was going to
          give her a life of security a life of complete happiness.

          Robbie arranged the  church,  the  hall and catering for the
          reception, and Maureen  bought  her  a  white  wedding gown.
          Shaun pleaded with  her  to  be Matron of Honour. Rooms were
          booked at the Sandwood Hotel for her mother, two sisters and
          brother George.

          The  wedding breakfast  went  off  to  perfection.   Pauline
          decided that she  wanted  to make a speech. She had consumed
          more wine than  normal  and  ignored  her mother who pleaded
          with her to be quiet.

          " He's married my sister, that bloody fool. She's a Lesbian,
          don't think he  knows it. That's the reason Maureen left her
          husband.  I wish them both luck. They're going to need it."

          The silence that fell over the reception was deadly as Shaun
          felt the cold  air  of reality awake in her the nightmare of
          her sister's remarks.

          She took Robbie's  hand,  smiled at him, determined that the
          ghosts of her  past  would  not haunt her future, and begged
          him to leave the hall immediately with her.

          The coldness which had ascended through her sister's efforts
          to spoil the  reception  remained  to  ruin  the rest of the
          night. The dream  that  Shaun  had  lived for the past weeks
          should have become a reality, but the past had intervened.

          Alone with her husband in the bedroom of his cottage, Shaun,
          trying to forget  the  past made up her mind that everything
          would be perfect.  That  this,  their first night, her first
          time with a man would be a success. She tried hard to please
          him. Wore the  new nightgown Maureen had bought her, similar
          to the one she had bought her cousin a long time ago. Shaun,
          wanted to look beautiful, only for him.

          Even with the  distance  that had now come between them, she
          thought he was disturbingly handsome.

          She watched him  undress  with  a shiver of anticipation. He
          looked at her,  his  eyes  seemed  shadowed, his expression,
          arrogant, unforgiving.

          He got into bed took off her nightgown, wanting them both to
          be nude. In the frenzy of first holding her to him his hands
          moved everywhere. He  had  not  touched  a woman's body in a
          very long time.

          Shaun put her arms around his neck. After a minute his hands
          returned to her hard nipples but he found no softness behind
          them. From the waist up he thought she was almost a boy, and
          he so much wanted a woman.

          He forced her  legs apart and entered her, his kiss stifling
          her  cry  of   hurt-disappointment.   He  closed  his  eyes,
          untouched by her  response,  oblivious to her pain.  She lay
          with a sense  of  appalled  detachment,  as  though  it were
          happening to someone else.

          He grunted and move off her.

          She was left  with overwhelming feeling. Is that all it is?.
          Is that what  they rave about? Is that what Maureen seeks so
          desperately? Is it  for  this  that her cousin forced her to
          marry Robert Cockran?.   If she had not felt so let down she
          might have laughed  at  the  absurdity  of  the moment.  She
          wished  now she  had  listened  to  her  own  intuition  and
          remained, as she had wanted to, a virgin.

          " Well-did you?" he asked.

          " Did I  what?"  His  question took her unawares. She had no
          idea what he  was  talking about. He lay beside her, looking
          pleased with himself, stroking her with a leisurely hand, as
          one might have stroked the cat.

          She pushed him  away  abruptly,  drawing  a hand through her
          hair, staring at nothing.

          " Is this  all there is?" she said at last, her voice barely
          audible. " I-gave up my freedom-for this?"

          He sat up,  moved  closer,  pulled the bed sheet off her. He
          kissed her, lowered  his  lips  to  her  breasts.  His hands
          caressing the soft skin of her back.

          " Is Pauline  right?  Are  you one of them? Would you rather
          sleep with your cousin, and make love to her?"

          " Do you believe her?' she retorted.

          " It's obvious you have never had a man."

          He took her  by  the  shoulders,  stroked  her arms.  As the
          sheet fell lower he began to fondle her thighs.

          " No! Not  again,"  she  protested,  "  It's too painful. It
          gives me no pleasure."

          For a frightening  moment  she  thought he was going to rape
          her.  There must  have  been  something  in  her  eyes  that
          convinced him she  was in pain.  Angrily, he pulled back the
          sheet and stared, his eyes transfixed by the scarlet stain .

          " You bloody  fool,"  he muttered, as he turned away, pulled
          on a dressing gown and stormed out of the bedroom.

          It was raining  when Shaun awoke. She lay on the edge of the
          bed  remembering she  had  cried  herself  to  sleep,  cold,
          uncomfortable and bleeding. She had been hurt beyond belief.
          Her sister had  shattered  the dream.  All romance had fled.
          She knew he believed the things Pauline had told him.

          She dressed went  downstairs  expecting  to see her husband.
          She wanted to  explain  about  Maureen,  anxious to tell him
          they could put  all  that  behind  them.  That if she really
          tried they could live happily together.

          In every room she searched for him. When she turned the door
          handle, she knew  he  would be there. She sat in the kitchen
          expecting him to  walk  in. She set the table for breakfast,
          waited, not wanting to eat alone.

          The shed! She  remembered the shed at the end of the garden,
          knew he would be working on his book. He had told her it was
          his haven, his  refuge,  a  quiet place where he could work.
          She decided to  go  to  the  shed, go to her husband. Smile,
          smile dangerously, throw  her  arms  around  him,  tell  him
          everything would be  all  right. Plead with him to teach her
          how to love  him.  Teach  her  how to be a good loving wife.
          from the hall stand she pulled on a raincoat and hat.

          There was a window next to the door of the shed. Shaun stood
          for a moment  trying  to look in, her hand on the door knob,
          the rain dripping  down  her  neck.  She knew he would be in
          there working, and  pressed her face against the window pane
          trying to look  into  the  room.  Something stopped her from
          turning the door  handle.  She  thought  it  was  stuck as a
          shiver ran down her spine.

          A bed, covered with a blanket was in one corner. Someone was
          lying on it.  She  assumed  it was Robbie and wondered if he
          had been there all night.

          She stepped back,  wiped  the  drops  of rain from her face,
          then leaned forward,  flattening her nose against the glass.
          It was like looking into a fish tank.

          She remembered standing  for  hours watching the fish in the
          tank at the Convent, getting into trouble for wasting time.

          The shapes on  the  bed-there  were  two  of them. They were
          moving up and  down  rocking, like underwater creatures in a
          funny sort of  embrace.  She pressed her nose harder against
          the glass fascinated by the movements.

          Shaun stared at  the  figures,  but she had no idea what she
          was really staring at. Robbie's face came into view.

          There was flash  of  a  naked  body  as  the barman from the
          Sandwood Hotel stood  up  and  pointed  to the window. There
          were two men. She turned away, wiped the rain from her eyes,
          looked back at  the  figures  and cried out. She covered her
          mouth with her  hands,  then  ran  headlong into the bushes,
          stopping only to regain her breath.  If only her heart would
          stop pounding. She saw the door of the shed open.

          " Who's there?" Robbie called.

          Crouching,  stumbling  she   ran  towards  the  cottage.   A
          blackberry bramble tore  at  her  legs  making her fall, the
          gravel on the  path  grinding  into  her  hands.  Her  heart
          beating as though it were trying to leave her chest. She ran
          into the cottage  threw  her raincoat on the floor. Upstairs
          she lay panting for breath on the bed.

          Shaun had heard  about men dating one another. A girl in the
          Army had said something about her brother.

          " How can they?" she screamed. " A man-with another man?.

          The back door closed with a bang. Robbie stood by the bed.

          " It was you-wasn't it?"

          Shaun nodded.

          " So now  you  know.   There's  no  difference.  Two men-two
          women." there was still that humorous tilt in his eyes, that
          was there when she first met him.

          " Why?" He  shook  his  head.   A  terror,  like a cold wind
          passed through her.

          Shaun felt suddenly alone, abandoned.  Robbie was not-Robert
          Cockran she had married only hours ago.

          " I had  no  idea,"  she said limply.  He laughed.  It was a
          bitter, agitated laugh.  He  went  to touch her. She twisted

          " Don't you dare lay your hands on me," she screamed.

          Her mind began  to work clearly again. Her heart had stopped
          it's pounding. She  knew  what  had  to be done. Maureen and
          her-that was something  different.  A  man-with  a  man? She
          found it almost unbelievable.

          " Shaun, please.   Let's  talk,"  he said softly, " at least
          you must see that Tony is no threat to our marriage."

          " Marriage? What marriage.  Do you really expect me to allow
          you near me when you've put your-."

          She stopped crying.   Her  tears  had  turned  to anger. She
          stared at him,  got  up from the bed and started putting her
          clothes in the suitcase.

          " Robbie!" she said coldly, " tell me if you can why?"

          " Why! Why what?"

          " Why you married me? Why you wanted to marry a female?"

          " I wanted  it to work. I thought you knew how to love. From
          the first time  I  saw  you  at  the  Sandwood  I loved you.
          Everything-everything  about  you.  I  wanted  to  love  you
          desperately. I wanted  you to love me.  But when your sister
          told us I was devastated. I went back to my old ways. Please
          let's start again.  Let  me  love  you  as  you  ought to be

          " We'll divorce.  I'll  give  you the grounds," she told him

          " No! Shaun.   You're calm now. We can stay married. You can
          live with your  cousin.  We  can  still make love.  I can be
          with Tony when  ever  I want to. You can stay with Maureen."
          He began to  cry. He disgusted her.  She threw the remainder
          of her clothes into her suitcases.  " It's really a point of
          view," he said  trying  to  wipe  away  his tears, " in many
          societies it's accepted.  Your  being  with  your cousin. We
          really could live together-in that kind of environment. Lots
          of people like  us  live  that  way.  They  still  love  one
          another. It's not ideal. It happens."

          Shaun stared at  him.  She hated him, wanted to hurt him. If
          only she were a man.

          " You Robert Cockran disgust me," she shouted.

          " Is all  you  have  to say?" he asked taking a step towards

          She picked up  the bedside table lamp. He stopped a few feet
          from her.

          "  I  want  a  divorce.  I'll  get  it,"  she  fastened  her
          suitcases, " that's all I have to say, except I'll never see
          you again."

          She dragged her  cases  down  the  stairs, put them into the
          boot of her car and drove away.