Brigid's New Uniform
by donnylaja

Brigid's bare pubic lips, legally covered with the single thread, shone in the light for the benefit of the grown-ups.

Then Mr. Charlton said, "Of course, there's one more . . . area . . . to concern with."

"Yes," Ms. Kleinfelter said. "Um. . ."

"Ms. O'Dierna," Bernie Brophy said, "can you turn yourself around on that chair?"

Brigid, perched on the sousaphone chair with the precariousness of the grip of her fingers and toes, looked to her sides and down below. She first stuck her crotch out, her pubic lips almost in everyone's face . . .

"I could never wear one of those thong things," Danica said, two closed doors behind them. Which made Sammy laugh. Rod shut his eyes. What the hell was going on back there in that practice room?? They had no idea the Board Vice President, and the district physician, and Ms. Kleinfelter, the Fashion Design teacher, were standing here, within earshot. Before they know it they'll say something that can't be ignored by these folks and then they'll be in trouble.

The majorette looked behind her and ungripped one hand from the sousaphone bell. She turned her upper torso around, her breasts bouncing as she abruptly switched hands on the bell. Her knee twisted out toward them.

"No, bikini bottom is the limit for me," Lynn said. "Nothing less." "Me neither," said Sammy. "Whoa, whoa!" said the girls. "No, I mean on hot babes!" he said, laughing. "Really!"

Brigid's delicate shoulder blades were now facing them. Bracing her weight against the bell, she brought her feet flat onto the seat of the chair, then spread them apart. She stuck her butt out to the extent she could.

"Is this O.K.?" she said, turning her head to them and looking down over her bare shoulder. Rod looked lovingly down her spine, her visible backbone, the back muscles narrowing down to the inward slopes of her narrow waist, the cute dimples over the hard glutes, the Y-shaped indentation over her butt crack. If her body was part of her uniform, it was by far the most beautiful part!

Mr. Charlton looked up at Brigid's bare buns.

"No, spread your legs a little, Ms. O'Dierna," Ms. Kleinfelter said. "We can't see the, uh, rest of the uniform bottom."

"I hate seeing thongs on the beach," said Sammy, who probably had never actually seen one there. "Keep your flabby butts to yourself!" "Ewww!" said Lynn.

Brigid's taut, trim butt cheeks separated a little as she brought her toes up to clasp one of the arms of the sousaphone chair. Now, she did the same with the other foot. Something green could be seen up inside there . . .

"Could you get a little higher?" Ms. Kleinfelter said.

Brigid looked down at the sousaphone to see what she could climb further up on. Her breasts probably blocked her view a little. Now, she brought her right foot up to the sousaphone's valves. Her hips tipped and her right butt cheek moved higher . . . With uncertain toes she clasped the tops of the valves, and hoisted up her right leg. Her hips were tilted away from them now and she could stick her butt up more. "How about now?"

Her tight little butt cheeks were now separated enough to reveal a green button-shaped thing in between. "Yes," Ms. Kleinfelter said. "That's good, thank you."

Brigid looked down at her toes, then up at the wall in front of her. Her shoulders and arms moved slightly as she adjusted the clutching of her fingers on the top of the sousaphone bell. She was perched like a cat that had scampered up the front of the sousaphone, about to pounce up to the ceiling.

Ms. Kleinfelter pointed to the green button as Mr. Charlton peered in closer. "What's that?" he said.

"It is a braided part of the wisp, we call it the 'snowflake'. It covers the anus."

Mr. Charlton said, "Hmmm. How does it stay . . . on?"

"The end of the wisp is a knot that goes inside. That secures it and anchors the wisp from the lower end."

"Won't it . . . pop out?"

"No, it expands once inside. It doesn't come out until extra lubrication is applied."

From the practice room, Lynn said, "You wouldn't catch ME wearing one of those. I like my butt covered."

"Yeah," Danica said in a cutting voice. "Those girls who --" Their voices were blocked out by some trombone playing. Rod guessed it was Jaycee, in the third practice room, probably showing off for Nilda. In fact he was certain about that -- Jaycee was playing Beyonce's "Sweet Dream" with corny slides going up and down.

"Trust me," Brigid said, turning around with a little smirk, "it doesn't pop out." She smiled down at Rod and shrugged her shoulders.

"The design of the snowflake is very individualized," explained Ms. Kleinfelter. "The braiding pattern is, again, in the crochet style, and it is based on six radiating aspects, and many different designs are possible, hence the name, snowflake. See the work that Brigid did." Ms. Kleinfelter's finger pointed, practically stuck in between the majorette's butt cheeks. "A very pretty design, wouldn't you say?" Indeed it was, delicate and intricate, like a real snowflake. And even around her butthole Brigid was beautiful -- the clear, white skin in the valley between her butt cheeks.

"Try this," Bernie Brophy said, giving a large magnifying glass to Mr. Charlton. Dr. Brophy's attache case was equipped for everything.

The old man took off his glasses and peered through the magnifier. Rod was so close that he could see the enlarged image. The green snowflake was pretty, even in such a place. He could see the darker color of Brigid's sphincter skin through the tracings of thread. A contrast with the whiteness of the rest of her. He had always thought of that area of the body as dirty, of course, but Brigid's was pretty. It was odd to think that, but it was true.

"Yes . . ." Mr. Charlton said, his wide-open eyes straining as he tried to focus. "Good work, Miss O'Dierna."

Rod could tell that Brigid, facing the wall again, was blushing with pride. "Thanks," she said. Her toes readjusted their grip on the valves. They were pressing nos. 2 and 3. Rod tried to remember his two lessons with Brad. What would that note be? C? F sharp? He suddenly imagined Brigid placing her anus onto the sousaphone and farting some low notes. He suppressed a giggle.

"Isn't it uncomfortable?" the old man said. "And is it safe?"

Bernie Brophy said, "Provided the proper precautions are taken, and it is inserted and taken out gently, it's perfectly safe." Rod suddenly remembered the enema bottle in the bathroom of Brigid's house . . .!

"And . . ." Mr. Charlton turned back to Henry Cross. "Compliant?"

For the first time, Henry Cross leaned forward to take a closer look at Brigid's all-but-bare body. "The anus must be covered. Again, to the extent the area is contiguous with and not separate and distinct from the surrounding skin, we believe it cannot be called part of the prohibited, uh, body part. The creases of the sphincter, and the differently colored skin, are in Miss O'Dierna's case probably about half an inch across, and the braided 'snowflake', as it's called, adequately covers that, uh, area."

Brigid had taken little breaths while trying to remain still. Now, she took a deep breath and straightened her back. She looked up at the ceiling. Rod thought he saw her butthole twitch, and the snowflake with it. He saw that freckle that Jamal had pointed out, on the inside of the left cheek, a little above and to the left of her butthole, the freckle that he and all the other trombone players had watched at that last football game, as icy rain washed over it . . . Brigid's clasping toes changed position and now they were on valves 1 and 2. E flat? G?

Mr. Charlton shook his head with wonder. "Amazing, what you've done, Miss Kleinfelter. Again, you deserve congratulations."

"Thank you."

Brigid turned and looked down on everyone.

Ms. Kleinfelter looked up at her and said, "Ms. O'Dierna, you can come down now. Thanks very much!"

Rod saw his chance to help. He stepped forward so that the tasseled shoulder of his jacket was pressed against Brigid's bare hip. She put her arms down around his neck. As he helped her hop down he felt the bottoms of her breasts press against his face. They were warm and soft. Heaven!

The majorette's bare feet slapped against the floor and now she stood before them, shaking her muscles out, bits pointing back and forth.

"It might be interesting," Bernie Brophy said, "to show how that snowflake, and the knot, how they get braided."

Ms. Kleinfelter got out the pencil from before, and the tiny envelope. This time the thread she pulled out was about twelve inches long. Brigid held the pencil between her thighs, the eraser end sticking out behind, below her butt. With quick fingers she braided the thread around the sharpened point in front. The point, Rod realized, represented her clitoris. This used up about three inches of the thread. Brigid tugged on the remainder. Amazingly, the braid stayed grabbed onto the point. Then, she pinched off three inches of thread and her fingers began to shoot in and out, around and around, forming a web and then shrinking it tight, then another web . . . In less than a minute she had made a "snowflake".

This left four inches of the thread. "Now the end of the wisp," Ms. Kleinfelter said, "is a special knot, related to what's called a 'monkey fist' knot. Ms. O'Dierna has to sit . . ."

The Fashion Design teacher and the majorette looked at the sousaphone chair. It was obstructed by the sousaphone itself.

"I can sit on the floor," Brigid said. Before anyone could say anything, she had placed her bare buns on the cold tiles. She stretched one leg out, then leaned forward with the almost-completed wisp in her fingers. She spread her toes and looped the end of the thread around her second toe, and went to work with flying fingers. The remaining thread was wrapped into a netting that covered the top of her toe, down to the base of the painted toenail. Now she slipped it off her toe, wrapped one final loop of thread around, and pulled on the snowflake to tighten the netting into a round knot.

Brigid got up energetically, feet slapping on the floor, breasts bouncing, and handed the finished wisp to Ms. Kleinfelter.

"Note that this knot is spherical, with air inside, like a hollow ball," Ms. Kleinfelter said, crushing the knot between her fingers like a little grape. " Once inside, the natural action of the internal, uh . . ." She looked to Dr. Brophy.

Bernie Brophy said, "The moistness of the internal membranes act so as to expand the size of this threaded sphere. This makes it more secure and also more comfortable."

"IS it comfortable, Miss O'Dierna?" Mr. Charlton asked.

Brigid thought for a moment, as if picking her words carefully. "I feel it at first, but then I don't notice it, except with some types of throws. It's O.K., really."

"Afterward," Brophy said, "with vaseline, it comes out, and can easily be rinsed and cleaned and put away until the next parade."

Ms. Kleinfelter held up the newly-braided wisp one more time for Mr. Charlton's benefit, then put it away in the tiny envelope.

"Again, my congratulations," Mr. Charlton said. "So . . ." He looked at Brigid, who was standing next to him, at her bits and down at her crotch, where he knew the wisp was in there somewhere. "This is a . . . green uniform because she'll wear it tomorrow at the St. Patrick's Day Parade."

"Yes, the new uniform is event specific," said Ms. Kleinfelter. "Let me show you something. And Miss O'Dierna too. . ." From her bag she presented an elegant black-felt case, a foot long, an inch wide, that looked like a case for a necklace. She opened it up, carefully. "I've made these in one piece, to be cut up by the majorette for braiding."

On a bed of plush, shiny white satin there lay a golden thread, eleven or so inches long. She dangled it gently from her fingers. "This, Ms. O'Dierna, is for next month, the End of Winter Carnival Parade up in Vermont, I forget the name of the town. This is the uniform you will wear."

Brigid pinched the thin thread between her thumb and forefinger and draped it lovingly over her other hand. It was hard to see the fine, shiny thread but it did look gold, once you detected it. "Oh wow. . . it's beautiful!" She showed it excitedly to Rod. He nodded; yes, he supposed the gold thread was beautiful.

"And this," said Ms. Kleinfelter, introducing another thread, "is what you will wear for the Memorial Day Parade."

Brigid held it up to the light. "Oh, red white and blue stripes. I see!" She placed both uniforms, both slender threads, back into the case, careful to line them up next to each other. "Thank you very much, Ms. Kleinfelter!" She looked like she felt like hugging the older lady but resisted.

Before Ms. Kleinfelter closed the case, she let Brigid look at the threads a little more -- all that would be covering her body at the Winter Carnival, and all that would be covering her body in the big Memorial Day Parade. "Can I wear them as an earring before I cut them, like I did with this?" She motioned down to her bits and wisp. Rod thought: one-hundredth of one percent of her body . . . the rest of the band wore 9,600 times as much as their majorette wore . . .

"Of course," Ms. Kleinfelter murmured benevolently. Smiling, the old lady closed the little case.

Now, suddenly, back in the practice room, Danica and Lynn were practicing again, playing arpeggios together. And Jaycee was practicing too, that hard passage from "Manhattan Beach". Rod had a sense of what that meant --

A moment later, Sarge opened the door, in his usual business suit. He looked a little surprised.

"Hello, Mr. Watson," Ms. Kleinfelter said. She introduced Dr. Brophy and Henry Cross. Mr. Charlton nodded.

"I was just showing them the new majorette uniform," Ms. Kleinfelter explained, motioning to Brigid's breasts and crotch.

"Ah yes, the bits and wisp," Sarge said tolerantly. "It doesn't matter so much what the uniform is, but who's in it." He smiled at Brigid. "We've never had a better majorette than Brigid here." He put his hand on her bare shoulder. "She's the best. . . Hi Rod. . ."

"One more question," Mr. Charlton said, looking down. "What happened to the shoes?" They all looked at Brigid's bare feet, next to their own feet equipped with shoes and socks.

"We took them away," Ms. Kleinfelter said. "They were interfering. You remember that last game in December, when they got stuck in the freezing mud. She did fine after she kicked them off."

Mr. Charlton said, "Yes, I heard. I don't know how you survived that speech by old Roddington," he said, smiling at Brigid. "That man could always talk the sun down. . ." He looked down again. "But on a parade . . . Won't the road hurt her feet? What if she steps on something?"

"She's been told to toughen her soles," Ms. Kleinfelter said. "And I thought you knew, but --" She looked at Sarge.

"I only march if I make sure the street's just been swept and cleaned," Sarge said. "It's not just the majorette. The rest of the band wears boots, but oil or grease can trip up anyone."

"I see." They were all still looking down at Brigid's pretty feet, the evenly painted toenails.

"It lets me do more moves," Brigid said with a hint of enthusiasm. "Let me show you?" She scampered back to the practice room where her things were. Before Mr. Charlton could finish saying, "What? In here?", she was back with her baton.

In the small space, before the five grownups and Rod, Brigid did what she showed Rod in her back yard, that little back-throw where she slapped the baton back with her upturned soles. Then she did it again, and the trick where the baton snaked over her shoulders. Finally she tossed the baton in front of her, kicked up, caught it between her big toe and her second toe, and spun it back into her hand.

They could only clap at that one, Rod clapping the hardest. Brigid bowed deeply, her breasts dipping down with the rest of her.

"Thank you very much for your time, young lady," Mr. Charlton said. "Let us get you to the office so you can get a hall pass."

"No, I can give them passes," Sarge said.

The four of them, Ms. Kleinfelter, Dr. Brophy, Mr. Charlton and Henry Cross, left with goodbyes. As they went down the hall, out of earshot or so they thought, Rod heard Henry Cross say, "The conference room? They're waiting."

As Rod and Brigid stood there in the big instrument room, Sarge took out his pad and signed the hall passes. Then he went to one of the lockers to work on a sticky valve on a bass trombone.

Back in the practice room, Rod and Brigid waved through the window to Danica and Lynn, and further down to Jaycee and Nilda. Then sat down and started getting their things together.

They were no longer private. Rod sighed, knowing the opportunity to kiss Brigid was lost. But he sensed that sometime soon he would get another chance. He looked at the majorette and said, "You were great! And those tricks! I never saw that last one before!"

Brigid smiled and looked down. Then she said, "I have a couple more."

Rod looked at her, puzzled. She stood up and looked through the windows, making sure no one was watching. "Look."

She threw her shoulders back, standing straight up and perfectly still. Then one breast jumped up!

"Whoa!" he said. "Wack!"

She smiled down at him and did it again. And did the same with the other breast! It was like they were attached by strings that someone was yanking from behind. Like she was a marionette.

"How did you do that?"

She caught her breath. "Practice. It's exhaustin'." Now a conspiratorial smile and another glance through the window to make sure the coast was clear.

"Here ("heah") . . . Look at my wisp."

Rod looked at the little thread between her pussy lips. He was sitting down, so it was just a little below eye level.

The wisp jumped up! And then twice more! It was a quick, little jump, like it was winking at him, pulling up the tops of her bare pubic lips with it.

His mouth opened in astonishment. "That's so . . . weird . . . and amazing," he said, picking a better word. He didn't want to call Brigid "weird". "What . . . what was that I just saw?"

"Well, I just pull up with my . . . clitoris." Like before, she seemed uncomfortable saying the word, mispronouncing it. "Funny, right?"

Rod looked up at her with admiration. "You are a prize, Brigid. A treasure."

Brigid smiled and helped him up. Of course they could not kiss now, people would see, Danica especially, and it would be all over the school by eighth period. But Brigid brushed very close to him as they passed out of the practice room, down the hallway, and then started off to their sixth period classes.

The two Tunemasters in their uniforms walked down the empty halls, his marching boots clip-clopping on the terrazzo floor. They were waiting for the ever-present Mr. Poznik. That little old guy appeared around a corner; he must have some kind of radar. He wordlessly checked the kids' passes and let them go.

"Is today your body conditioning class?" Rod said. He wanted to peak in on her . . . He almost laughed when he realized why. He had gotten so used to seeing her in her skimpy uniform that it would be interesting to see her in something more substantial, like workout clothes.

"No . . . I'm goin' to extra help math," she said, shifting the bookbag on her shoulder. The bottom of it bumped rhythmically against her butt. As her hard bare heels softly thudded on the floor, her breasts jiggled gently with each step.

"Oh . . ." Rod really couldn't go to with her there. He was good at math and everyone there would know it.

Rod's Woodworking class was usually pretty interesting to him, he always liked working with tools. But he knew his mind was still on the intimate show Brigid had been asked to give to those grown-ups. He could hardly think; he kept running those scenes through his mind. So he stayed away from the power tools and anything else that required too much concentration.

Fifteen minutes into class, the public address system came on. It was Sarge. "Attention, this is a brief announcement. At tonight's all-district concert, Tunemasters are not to wear their marching uniforms. Repeat, do not wear your marching uniforms. Come to the concert in concert dress, something nice, as usual. It will not be 'uniform day' tonight. Save your uniform for tomorrow's parade and game. Thank you."

Rod, in his Tunemasters uniform under his apron, looked up at the loudspeaker, then over at Lorenzo, and Lorenzo looked at him. They both shrugged and went back to their projects.

Five minutes later, the public address system came on again. This time it was the principal, Ms. McPherson. "Attention Tunemasters. You WILL wear your uniforms tonight. Please disregard the previous announcement. The Tunemasters WILL play the concert tonight in their uniforms. Thank you."

his time the look Rod and Lorenzo gave each other was puzzlement. What was going on?

Seventh period was his French class, which he hated. The teacher was Mr. Pierrepont, an old boring geezer in a beret. Not a bad guy, but he just talked . . . so . . . s - l - o - w! . . .

He caught up with Brigid after the bell, and walked with her toward the new wing for their last period, Chemistry. But they didn't get there because Ms. Kleinfelter stopped them. She seemed nervous and rushed.

"Miss O'Dierna, sorry for imposing again, but . . . new uniform . . . changes . . . why don't we go into my office here. It will only take a minute."

Ms. Kleinfelter whisked Brigid into her office. Rod waited in the hall, looking at the fashion teacher's door, photos of stick-thin high-fashion models in flowing dresses.

The door opened and it was Brigid, without her bookbag. "You come in too, Rod."

This teacher's office was cluttered. Clothes hanging from hooks and rods and hangers, a mannequin in the corner, stacks of magazines. A full-length mirror only made the clutter seem doubled. In the midst of all the fabric, Brigid looked even more naked as she stood there in her bits and wisp, waiting for Ms. Kleinfelter to say something.

"We've devised a cover-up for you, to wear over your uniform, for non-parade settings, such as tonight's concert, and going to and from the parade location. . . Something to put on when you're not actually marching." Ms. Kleinfelter reached up behind a hanger. "It can also afford some protection from the cold."

The hanger she brought down looked a lot like the hanger for Brigid's old uniform, from the bits of material on it. "To start from down up, here are the sandals. They're just like before."

The flat, leather-bottomed sparkly flip-flops dropped onto the floor. Brigid obediently slipped her feet into them.

"Now, to go over the wisp, we've devised this elastic covering, we call it a mini-breech."

Actually only the string part was elastic. It had tan flaps in front and rear, each about two inches across and six inches long. Brigid held it up. She looked at Rod with bewilderment. The flaps were shiny but leathery. Nice, but weird, like a tiny loincloth of animal skins.

"It just slips on. Go ahead."

Brigid's breasts and bits dipped as she bent down to pull the string around the flip-flops. She shimmied it up to her hips, then straightened it out so that the front flap was in line with her wisp, covering it. She looked in the mirror, turning her butt to it, to check that the rear flap was O.K. It just did cover her butt crack, ending right below where the "snowflake" would be.

"Now, the most interesting part, not that I'm not modest," Ms. Kleinfelter said, with a little smile. From the top hook of the hanger she slipped off two white things that were like shallow cones with holes in the middle. They reminded Rod of the muzzle his neighbor put on his dog when he walked it, only much smaller.

"These are an adaptation of the old circlets," Ms. Kleinfelter said, poking her index fingers through the holes as the cones slid on like rings. "The lattice work of the bits is too delicate to have something put over them, so these circlets -- we call them gromlets, because they are similar to grommets -- fit around them without covering them. And they have a ratchet mechanism that keeps them securely on."

With one hand she made a screwing motion around one of the shallow cones. The hole got smaller. Then, turning in the other direction, the hole got bigger. It reminded Rod of an old-style camera shutter.

"Let me demonstrate," Ms. Kleinfelter said. She slid her glasses down her nose so she could work at close quarters, and carefully placed one of the "gromlets" on Brigid's breast, so that her nipple poked through the hole. She pressed a little bit, so that Brigid's areola bulged through. Then with the other hand she carefully twisted the inner part of the gromlet. Brigid looked down with curiosity and a little bit of concern. Slowly the hole closed, one inch shrinking to half an inch.

The Fashion Design teacher took her spindly hands off the gromlet, which now was more or less firmly grabbed onto the end of the boob. "Hmmm . . ." She looked at it with a furrowed brow, the white gromlet, the inner pinkish ring around the nipple, then the green bit on the very end. It looked like a target, with the bit being the bull's-eye. "Part of the areola is still showing." She tightened the gromlet a little more, down to about a quarter of an inch.

Ms. Kleinfelter turned Brigid to the side to get a profile view. "The nipple is still showing." Indeed Brigid's nipple, except for the very tip covered with the delicate, tiny bit, was still exposed. "That can't do." Rod wondered why that should be such a big deal -- after all, according to that strange lawyer guy, Henry Cross, all Brigid needed to be legal was just to have the bit on.

"Breathe in, dear," the teacher said. Brigid inhaled, causing her round, firm breasts to rise and stick out even more. Carefully Ms. Kleinfelter adjusted the gromlet and turned it another quarter turn until a little clicky sound came out. As the hole got smaller the gromlet grabbed Brigid's nipple and pulled it out. Brigid exhaled a bit more, suddenly. There was now a tiny part of nipple showing between the inside of the gromlet and the bit. Another eighth of a turn, with some effort, another click . . .

Brigid exhaled and then inhaled between gritted teeth. Her nipple had disappeared behind the gromlet; only the green bit appeared at the center, a green topping on a little white cone. In the process, the nipple had been stretched out and elongated. The gromlet made the bit push out maybe an inch further than without it.

Now Ms. Kleinfelter carefully applied and tightened the gromlet on the other breast, this time it being a quicker process.

When this was done, she turned Brigid to the mirror in profile. The majorette's breasts stuck out a lot more than before. They certainly were a lot pointier, as if the gromlets and bits were guns shooting out at the world.

"How's that?" Ms. Kleinfelter said.

Brigid tried to control her breathing, her concave tummy heaving in and out over the string that passed well below her cute belly button. "They're . . . stretchin' me out."

"Do they hurt?"

"Well . . . not really . . ."

Ms. Kleinfelter was satisfied with this answer. "I'm sure it's better than the old circlets, with the clips."

"Oh G -Gosh yes. *Anything's* better than those horrid things!"

"Now let me take them off." Ms. Kleinfelter unscrewed the grommets and they fell off into her spindly hands. Brigid exhaled with relief. Her nipples bounced back into her areolas, her areolas returned to their normal flatness at the ends of her breasts. She looked down and soothed them with her fingers, touching only around the bits so as not to disturb them.

"Let's see you take them on and off."

Brigid gulped and did what she was told, only on the left breast. She tried to get the gromlet on straight, but after a couple of tries, she said, "I'm comin' at it from the wrong angle. I can't see."

Ms. Kleinfelter looked at the gromlet in Brigid's hand. "Maybe a friend can do it."

Rod felt the hairs on his scalp prick up as both females looked at him. "Yes, Rod," Brigid said, handing it to him. "Can you put this on?"

His mouth was dry and his hand shook. Like an idiot he dropped the gromlet. It bounced off Brigid's toes and hit his boot. He carefully bent down to retrieve it, hoping he wouldn't somehow step on it.

Now he faced Brigid's glorious, firm breasts. His dick hardened in his Tunemasters trousers as she raised her arms over her head to make her boobs stick out even more. In this tiny room they almost hit his nose. He could feel her body heat. Tucking his tongue into his cheek with concentration, he placed the gromlet over her areola. He touched her warmth.

"Oohhh!" Brigid laughed, her boobs shaking. "Your fingas is cold!!"

Rod smiled and pressed the gromlet against her boob, so that the bit, and most of the areola, stuck through. Now he turned the inner part, steadily . . . There were tiny clicks he could feel as it ratcheted closed. He watched closely as the white area enclosed around the nipple. He wanted to be as gentle as possible. Slowly, click, click . . . he felt like a safecracker in an old movie. He could not avoid pressing against her breast with his fingers, a little. It was both soft and firm at the same time. It was a turn-on, his black fingers against her pale white skin that seemed luminous in the brightly lit office.

There was no avoiding it. To get the gromlet fully closed around the bit, he had to tighten it so that it grabbed the nipple and stretched it out. Stretch, stretch . . . he could feel the resilience in Brigid's firm, tight nipple, it became harder to turn the gromlet once it grabbed her. He looked down and could see Brigid's flat tummy and navel, framed above the delicate hip bones, heaving in and out with the stresses of her shallow breathing. It was now so hard to turn the gromlet, his finger almost slipped off trying to crank that final eighth of a turn, achieving that final ratcheting click.

When the gromlet finally closed in tight against the bit, no nipple showing, he drew his head back. He looked up at the majorette and their eyes met -- his in sympathy, hers in discomfort but determination to endure, and also thankfulness in the acknowledgement that he had performed this procedure in the least painful way possible.

He looked down at the pointy white cone with the threaded green dot in the center. Then drew his attention to the other breast. He finally got the other gromlet on too, with a final, forceful twist.

When he was finished, Brigid looked over at Ms. Kleinfelter, then at herself in the mirror. She drew her shoulders back, standing straight up, which made the pointy cones stick out even further.

"There -- your cover-up," Ms. Kleinfelter announced.

"Well thanks, Ma'm," Brigid said, looking down as she began to slide the sandals off. "I'll be sure to be wearing' this -- "

"No no," Ms. Kleinfelter said quickly. "You wear this in the hall, the rest of the day, for 'uniform day'. And tonight at the concert."

Rod thought he saw Brigid begin to blink back tears. But she controlled them and said, "Um . . . O.K."

"You two should be going," Ms. Kleinfelter said, putting her glasses back on her nose, the eyeglass chain around her neck sparkling in the light. "It's almost eighth period."

In a moment they were out in the hall, hiking quickly to Chemistry class. The bell rang just as they got in the door, Brigid dashing in first, her flip-flops slapping against the floor, the rear flap of the mini-breech swaying back and forth with the motions of her hips, her butt crack peeking out as the flap swayed.

Naturally Brigid's new cover-up got everyone's attention as she went to her lab table. But Mr. Santosky took no notice. He was a likeable teacher who looked like he might be Denzel Washington's father. "Today is the big day," he said. "The lab where you try to make a bar of soap. Let's try to do this right this time, O.K.?"

The kids got the aprons from the hooks on the wall and returned to their tables. It was a contest, no doubt about that. They had tried it last week with disastrous results, but were ready to go for it again. Who could make the soap bubbles appear first? Not like most labs, this one was fun.

There were six lab tables in this big room, Rod and Lorenzo and George and Star at one, Brigid and Millie and Debra and Susie at the next one. They all got busy, mixing things into the big tube in the sink in the middle of their table, then lighting the Bunsen burner. Rod looked over at Brigid, whose totally bare backside was facing them. Well, no, not totally bare. Beside the string from the mini-breech around her hips, she now had that heavy black apron on, and from the rear you could see the loop around her neck, and the apron string tied around the small of her waist. And that flap that swung around her butt crack. She looked downright covered up, for Brigid.

Now, she moved to the side of the table, and Rod got a view of her in profile, the sides of her breasts pressing out against the apron. And now she moved opposite him, and she looked weird, covered with that apron, just her bare arms and legs sticking out.

The whole class was excited and there was an air of fun and competition. Of course, being the last period of the day, everyone was geared up anyway.

Lorenzo turned up the flame and it bubbled! The guys cheered, being the first. Brigid and her friends looked over. Mr. Santosky patted Rod and Lorenzo on the shoulder and said, "O.K., guys, not so loud. We don't want Mr. Poznik coming in here and shushing us. . . Good work!"

"Oh sh*t! Sorry!!" Millie exclaimed and then covered her mouth, laughing. She had knocked over their tube, spilling proto-soapy fluid all over the table. Brigid and Debra jumped over to the supply closet for some paper towels, Brigid's leather flip-flops sliding and smacking against the floor.

When they cleaned up the mess the girls came over to Rod's table to see bubbles. Brigid stood next to him and he got a quick look at her profile. Heavy as the apron was, it did not crush Brigid's braless breasts in the least. And the conical gromlets poked the apron out so much, it looked like she was carrying around a sideways tent on her chest. He thought of making some kind of comment but couldn't think of one that wasn't crude.

Rod thought of her nipples, stretched outward by the gromlets. They must still be uncomfortable. Maybe she's gotten used to it by now. . . The apron was rough fabric, meant to be worn over clothes. . . it must be rubbing and frictioning her nipples with every movement she made. Surely she must feel that keenly, through the single-layer thread of the bits? He thought of the night of that ski resort parade, with Mr. Tucker and Ms. Lee rasping poor Brigid's nipples with sandpaper, thinking they were smoothing out adhesive used to keep those "T's" on. Wait, that was a dream . . .

The boys cut the flame and everyone wandered around to the other tables. Sharon, Lawanda and Lucia, working one of the rear tables, got their soap bubbling after Rod and his friends but ended up with a bigger yield. Well, call it a tie then . . .

Some words from Mr. Santosky, and it was back to the equations. Everyone put their aprons back on the wall and got to their notebooks. Rod looked over at Brigid, sitting on a stool facing away from him, her sandals dropped onto the floor, her toes gripping the cold metal of one of the lower struts of her chair. A big contrast to Millie next to her, in her jeans and sneakers and white socks. Now Brigid stretched out her left arm, pencil in her hand, and as she turned Rod could make out the half-moon of one breast.

The bell rang. The school day was over.

He packed up and went out into the hall. Brigid was showing her cover-up uniform to a circle of friends and other curious people, including a few teachers. Smiling as if proud of the new outfit, yet secretly uncomfortable. She must be. Her nipples must be on fire!

She was going to extra help math. He obviously couldn't go. The all-district concert was four hours away, and the Tunemasters, the last act, wouldn't go on until an hour and a half after that. So he'd be going through a few hours of "Brigid withdrawal".

He knew she had younger brothers and sisters. Were any of them in the elementary school band? Those bands were first on the program, followed by the middle school band. If so, then she'd be there early. Should he go early too? Maybe they could sit in the audience with her parents and listen. Would she be wearing her cover-up outfit?

She'd be in that extra help class till about four. He'd been with her most of the day, yet he couldn't get enough of his dear Brigid, the brave Tunemasters majorette. Maybe, around five, it would be time for another bike ride . . . What would she be wearing? . . . !

* * *

Young Rodney Sykes sat on the couch in the living room, ignoring the basketball game on the TV, staring out the window at the sump across the street, then past it in a vague eastward direction, over the distant house tops toward where the girl lived that he couldn't get his mind off, young Brigid O'Dierna.

Daughter of a cop, oldest of five kids. . . and the perfect girl. Well, maybe not perfect. She wasn't that smart in math, or in science either. She had the occasional zit -- like most. She tended to ignore other people when she got into one of her concentrating moods, practicing something on her clarinet, her baton throws, studying. Though that last one wasn't really a flaw. It was part of her charm.

And her "charms", like an old book might put it. Her face and body really were perfect, in the contemplation of Rod and no doubt many others around the school. What good luck that it was she who was the Tunemasters majorette, walking through life in that little uniform. He thought of that whole school day, "Uniform Day". Everyone's shoulders were hidden in full-length uniforms, except Brigid's -- and Brigid's bare shoulders were beautiful, delicate, right back to the shoulder blades, yet strong, the hard biceps and triceps on proud display to the world. Every girl in the school had boobs, of course, more or less -- but only Brigid's were on view for everyone -- flawless, round and firm, standing straight out from her chest, the pink nipples poking out at everyone, capped only at their very ends by those tiny, green-threaded "bits". Only Brigid had an exposed tummy, but it was flat, concave even at times, like when she stretched her arms up. . . a smooth expanse of white skin, with the cute navel in the middle, framed above by the arched cathedral of her ribs, and at the bottom, by the gentle inward "V" of her hip bones. She was the only one with bare butt cheeks, but they were tight, firm, well-shaped. The only bare-legged student in the school, but her legs were straight and lithe. And the only one going through school with exposed feet . . . and even her toes were cute!

Rod took a deep breath. I'm getting obsessed here. Chill, man.

He looked down at his hands, thinking of how his fingers pressed against her boob as he fitted those "gromlets" on. The click, click of the ratchet, getting harder to turn as poor Brigid's unseen nipples were compressed and stretched. He put his hands over his chest. Oww. . . Then looked at the black fingers again. Such a contrast with the white girl's boob.

She was the first white girl he had ever been hooked on. It was strange new territory. Good thing it wasn't like in the old days, like he heard his parents and uncles talk about, the busing riots, all that ugliness. So many white folks had left. Their place had been taken by Mexican immigrants, mostly. According to his dad, things had actually gotten better when they came in. Brigid's family had stayed, and Millie's and a few others. Maybe Brigid's dad, being a cop, knew that things were working out all right. Maybe because they were Irish and they had been in the area for like 150 years. Rod's own family had moved here after World War II.

Rod looked over at the pictures on the wall, Dr. King and President Obama. Not photos that Brigid's family had on their wall. What if she became his girlfriend? Would they have anything in common? Would their parents clash? Interracial couples at the school were pretty rare. But Brigid was so good-hearted, and from what he had seen of her family, they seemed like good folks.

He thought again of cranking her nipples out with those gromlets. And the rest of that "cover-up" uniform, that weird little loincloth thing, and the return of footwear, minimal as it was. And her crying jag on the stairs, what she overheard the parents say in the Main Office. Then, the meticulous inspection in the big instrument room, with the doctor and the lawyer there, convincing the Board V.P. that Brigid, exposed as she was, was still "compliant" with indecent exposure laws. The conflicting announcements as to wearing uniforms at the all-district concert. Ms. Kleinfelter's nervousness when she got Brigid into the cover-up uniform, her insistence that Brigid wear it . . .

Rod could piece together what had happened behind the scenes. Parents had complained about the majorette's uniform being too skimpy, the Board of Education wanted assurances that it was legal, and the cover-up outfit was thrown together to pacify the parents, as a compromise. While still leaving Brigid freer with the smaller uniform to do her baton moves on the actual parade tomorrow, and during the football game. He was sure Brigid preferred just the bits and wisp, to those nipple cones!

And Sarge? Sarge was surprised to see those grown-ups in the big instrument room. He was probably above it all, or maybe trying to stay out of it. All he cared about was the well-being of the kids and putting on the best show possible.

Rod was proud he'd figured things out. He just hoped Brigid would be all right. That crying on the stairs really shook him. But she recovered pretty quick, by demolishing everyone at dodgeball. Strong girl. And in the practice room, she had actually invited him to poke his fingers into her rock-hard butt muscles. "Feel my glutes!" Any guy would be lucky to be with her.

He looked at the clock. Almost supper time. He wasn't going to bike past Brigid's house after all. Well . . . he could deny himself the sight of Brigid for a couple hours. He didn't want to seem like he was stalking her. He knew she liked him but past that, he didn't know how she felt about him.

At supper he tried to find an excuse for going to the concert early.

"I'd like to hang out with my friends."

"You just want to hang with that white majorette girl," his younger sister Myeka said. "In her itty bitty uniform." Myeka enjoyed being a pest.

Rod's face flushed. "Jamal and Lorenzo and I like to sit and watch the kids play."

"Yeah right," Myeka said. Myeka was a grade below Rod; to both of them, the elementary school kids were now little more than babies. "Hear them rag up 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. Something to go early for."

"Stop," their mother said. "Myeka stop. I keep telling you this."

"Don't be mean," their father said. "You've got to straighten out, young lady."

Rod thought of saying something but didn't want to spoil his advantage now that he was "up" in contrast with Myeka's "down". "So . . . O.K.?" God, how he was counting the weeks until he got that driver's license!

"Well Rod . . ." His mother thought for a moment. "I wasn't going to take you until nine . . . I have to go shopping."

"You can do that tomorrow." Rod kicked himself. Why did he get sassy like that?

"Rod!" his father said sharply.

There was an uncomfortable silence. Then: "Okay, Rod. But I'll have to take off and come back for the Tunemasters."

"We should be on a little before ten."

Rod's father said, "Babe, I'll go." They had been to so many all-districts by now, they took turns. "Rod, I'll pick you up after the concert ends, in the parking circle."

"Some of us were going to go out for pizza later."


* * *

Rod bounded out of the car with his trombone case. It was not very cold tonight; there was a crowd of parents and kids outside the main entrance. For once, Hank had all the doors open. Rod snaked his way through to the inside and started looking for Brigid. As always, she would be easy to spot.

The halls were packed with what seemed like hundreds of little kids, some middle school kids too. He had miscalculated. The concert wasn't starting for another fifteen minutes. He ended up sidling along the walls, past the posters for student elections and club meetings. Whoa, posters for the junior prom. They're putting them up early this year.

He quickly figured the most likely place to find Brigid would be the band room. Which was even more crowded than the halls. And lots noisier, with a constant shower of out-of-tune squeaks and toots and oom-pahs, as little kids started warming up their clarinets and flutes and trumpets and --

There was a flash of white skin across the room, glimpsed through the jungle of suits and black concert dresses. Looked like a bare thigh. It had to be her!

"Hey Rod," Lorenzo said, working his slide. "What are YOU doing here so early?"

Momentarily distracted, Rod to be polite gave him a moment. "How about you?"

"My brother, he's in third grade." Lorenzo pointed his slide to a tiny kid in a black jacket and trousers and clip-on tie, ostentatiously but with clumsy fingers assembling his trumpet in front of proud parents.

"Cool," Rod said. "Later." He dodged through the crowd. Now another flash of white skin, this time a bare back. Definitely Brigid.

She was standing in her cover-up uniform, string around her hips, little leather flap covering her butt crack, toes wiggling in her dressy flip-flops, looking down at a little girl and an even littler boy, both with blond hair and all dressed up, squeaking through a scale on their half-size clarinets. To the side stood Brigid's father, a big beefy Irish kind of guy with a red face, out of uniform but wearing his police badge. He had a tiny girl in his arms, just out of diapers, her hair the color of Brigid's, done up with a little bow. The girl had the sniffles. Next to them was a boy about 9 years old, with freckles and darker hair, in jeans and a little baseball jacket. The family resemblance was so striking, these white kids with the same noses and eyes and blond eyebrows, that Rod almost laughed.

"Wrong note," Brigid said as Rod came over to her side. She had her own clarinet in front of her and showed the fingering. "Try again."

This time the squeaks were less frequent and the notes were more recognizably a major scale.

"Good!" Brigid smiled and the little kids smiled too. "Oh hi Rod. This is my dad, and Chrissy and Johnny. They're in the elementary band. And this is Sean, and this is Jessy, she's our baby."

"Hi." Rod smiled, trying not to make it look too forced. He thought: well, I'm not going to get much "alone time" with Brigid tonight.

Brigid's dad shook his hand and looked at Rod's big case. "You're not a-playin' clarinet, I gather." Sounded like "gatha". His accent was like Brigid's, of course.

"No," Rod smiled.

Now from across the room, Mr. Henderson, their old teacher from elementary school, clapped his hand. "Get ready, boys and girls! Line up!!"

Braving the wave of kids brushing past her, Brigid said, "Hey Rod, want to sit with us?"

"Sure." He was hoping she'd say that. Though now he'd be in the middle of a crowd of O'Diernas.

Brigid and Rod stowed their instruments in the big instrument room, under the sousaphone chair. Brigid took Jessy from her father and Rod followed all the remaining O'Diernas down the hall, Brigid smacking the floor with the "shoes" of her cover-up uniform, her almost total nudity a contrast with the fully clothed wave of grown-ups and kids, her hips and the flap on her butt swaying as she carried her little sister Jessy on her hip as naturally as if she did it all the time.

They got in near the back of the auditorium, like row Z. Unfortunately Rod ended up with Brigid's father between them, with Jessy and Sean on the far side. The place was full. It was a big school district, not well-off but with an active music program. First was the elementary school chorus, doing unison versions of "Wind Beneath My Wings" and a sanitized "Sweet Georgia Brown", with the kids stepping right and left with the beat. Really cute, got a big ovation.

Now the elementary school band. Brigid and Sean and Jessy chatted with each other. Sean quickly pointed out where Chrissy and Johnny were in the clarinet section. Jessy said out loud, "Look! Look!" and pointed and waved, impossible to be seen from the stage of course. There were a lot of little kids in the audience so there was a general murmur which only slightly decreased as Mr. Henderson raised his baton. Brigid shushed Jessy as the band started. Of course they were terrible, out of tune, rushing and slowing down. But no one got lost and Rod thought it was probably no worse than when he was in that band. They finished their tunes more or less at the same time.

Rod pretended to listen; the whole time he was fighting his intense urge to look across at Brigid. But to do that he would have to look past her father. He dare not, fearing the father catching him looking. Finally he stood up for a second, making a pretense of straightening out his Tunemasters jacket -- this uniform was designed for marching, it was uncomfortable to sit in -- and got a quick glance over. But the father's sweater blocked his view of Brigid's bare skin entirely. All he could see were her nipple cones sticking out as she turned to put a tissue to Jessy's nose.

Now in the little break before the middle school kids started, the O'Dierna family got up. Rod followed. Out in the hall, Brigid's father said, "Let me say hi proper. John O'Dierna. Good to meet you, Rod. I heard you had a spill yesterday."

Rod remembered falling off his bike, and being tended by Brigid, and her talking on the phone to her father. "Same here." John O'Dierna's handshake nearly dislocated Rod's fingers.

"Have to go. See you in a bit, Rod." Brigid picked up Jessy and she and her father and Sean went to the band room to collect Chrissy and Johnny.

Rod found himself alone in the hall, standing in the middle of the swirling crowd, feeling out of place in his Tunemasters uniform. He thought of following Brigid but didn't want to seem like a stalker. I have to be careful about that. . . Can't look like I'm obsessed with her . . . even though I am. . .

"Hey man!" Lorenzo slapped his back with such force that Rod almost tipped forward into a clutch of passing second-graders. They got to talking and soon Rod found himself wandering the halls with his trombone buddies, while most everyone else was in the auditorium listening to the middle school acts.

"Whoa this is up early!" Sammy said. They had hooked up with Jaycee and were in the back hallway, looking at one of the junior prom posters.

"Who you taking?" Lorenzo said.

"Pfft!" Sammy said. "No girl will look at me."

Rod and Lorenzo both thought: Well, you're so obnoxious, no wonder.

"You going with Nilda?" Lorenzo asked Jaycee.

Jaycee bit his lip. "Well . . . I'm trying to get up the nerve to ask. We're not that . . . serious yet."

Rod thought: dare I ask Brigid? She's out of my league, we're not even going together yet, let alone "serious".

"You don't have to be serious, it's just fun, man," Lorenzo said.

Rod thought: at least I have time to work on it. The prom's almost two months away.

"Yeah. Nilda seems like fun," Sammy said. "She has such big . . . eyes."

"Ohoho!" Lorenzo said. Jaycee smiled and looked down. "F**k you!" he said playfully.

"Shhh!" Sammy said. "They're between songs!" They were right near the stage door.

"Think they heard that?" Lorenzo whispered.

"I don't know . . . let's get out of here!" They dashed toward the band room as softly as their marching boots would allow.

When they got there, they found it empty. A bad sign!

"Oh sh*t, we're late!" Sammy said. They dragged out their trombone cases and put their horns together as fast as they could. They dashed out into the hall, working their slides, half laughing, half scared of Sarge's wrath.

They got to the crowded backstage and it turned out they were not late. It was near the end of intermission. On the other side of the heavy, soundproofed curtain, the high school chorus was filing onstage.

The backstage light was so dim it was hard to see. The Tunemasters uniforms were white but it was still like wandering in a sea of ghosts. Then a couple of the ghosts parted and Rod spied the bareness of the majorette. Her body stood out clearly, her white skin luminescent in the weak light.

He approached her from behind, looking down at her tight butt cheeks bifurcated by the thin flap of the "mini-breech", the bare toes against the floor, the thin straps of the sandals . . . up to the bare back, the delicate shoulder blades, the white shoulders, the bare white arms.

The Tunemasters majorette was working the keys of the clarinet in front of her and having a whisper conversation with Debra and Virginia.

"So how does the 'cover-up' uniform feel?" Debra said.

"Well . . . oh hi Rod . . . it's weird ('wee - ud'). . . feelin' this thing flappin' against my butt." She turned around behind her.

"Those . . . cones are something," Virginia said.

Brigid shrugged, the stretched-out nipple cones poking up and down in their faces. "She said this 'cover-up' is for warmth. Ha!"

"Well it's supposed to be nice out tomorrow."

"Finally!" Brigid said. Rod had never heard her talk about the weather like that. Even though as the majorette she always felt it more keenly than the rest of the band.

Now there was a little commotion. They turned and it was Sarge, in his best business suit, his baton in the pocket of his jacket.

And next to him was Dr. Jeffers, the Superintendent of Schools.

And they were headed right toward them.

The approach of Sarge, with Dr. Jeffers to boot, coming at them so quickly, made the four Tunemasters -- Rod, Brigid, Debra and Virginia -- a little nervous. Did someone do something wrong? Then they looked at each other and shrugged. No, no one was in trouble. How could we be? We're all good kids. Well, mostly.

The two men in their business suits soon stood in front of them, then the men both looked around, as if suddenly remembering to survey the whole band in the dim backstage light.

"Looks like another fine night for a show," Dr. Jeffers whispered, aware of the chorus getting into position on the other side of the curtain. He was a rather young guy for someone in his position, maybe 40? He was new this year. He liked to visit classes and introduce himself and crack a few jokes.

Everyone jolted as the chorus launched into a fortissimo version of "Somebody's Coming", an old folk tune about steamboats apparently. Then the Tunemasters, scattered among the folding chairs, looked at each other and suppressed a collective giggle. They could picture Mr. Grundschein, the chorus teacher, out there waving his arms wildly and ostentatiously as he conducted.

As they were listening, Ms. Kleinfelter appeared from the other direction.

"Hi," Dr. Jeffers said, able to whisper more loudly now, with some voice, now that there was gospel-style wailing going on out in the auditorium.

"Hello," Ms. Kleinfelter said, shaking hands across the fronts of Rod and Brigid, being careful to duck her hands under the majorette's protruding nipple cones. The grown-ups looked at the three Tunemasters who had the full coverage uniforms, out of politeness, then looked as casually as they could at the one in the majorette uniform. "Well . . . what do you think?"

In this light Brigid's uniform was a lot less visible than Brigid herself in her white skin. Surprisingly, Ms. Kleinfelter brought out a penlight and shone it onto Brigid. "Just a moment --" The brief flash of light, the glimpse of pink, told Rod what the problem was. Parts of Brigid's nipples were peaking out around the braided green "bit". "If you don't mind, Miss O'Dierna, you need a little adjustment -- "

Before Brigid could say anything, the spidery old hands were twisting the inner ratchets of the nipple cones. With some effort Ms. Kleinfelter could get one click to register. Rod was standing right next to Brigid and could hear her tiny gasp and see the twitch of her navel, the little jump of the mini-breech flap down below, as her nipples were clinched and stretched out to new lengths. Debra and Virginia, who he supposed knew about the inner mechanism by now, winced, Debra starting a reflexive motion to cover her own nipples, buried under three layers of bra and blouse and jacket.

Some nipple still showed in the flash of the penlight. Ms. Kleinfelter used both hands on one cone now, one hand to steady it and the other to anchor her forearm, seeming to put her entire old lady's weight on to apply enough torque. "Mmmph . . . mmmph . . ." she said. "MMPH!" Finally, a second click. She breathed deep and heaved her weight onto the cone on the other breast. When that clicked too she stood back and caught her breath. "There . . ." Another flash of the penlight. Brigid, catching her own breath, looked down at her breasts. Thankfully, the white cone was now flush against the green braiding, no pink showing, no more ratcheting needed. Between her breasts, her clarinet quivered as her fingers gripped the keys tightly with her suppressed feelings.

The cones now seemed to stretch so far out in front of Brigid, to her right and her left, that she would have to watch where she was going as she steered them around.

"Is that all right?" Ms. Kleinfelter said to Brigid. Brigid waited a second and then nodded silently. At least these cones weren't as bad as those old clipped-on circlets. Or were they?

"Very good," Dr. Jeffers said. "I think this . . . addresses the . . . situation."

Sarge seemed to be trying to hide impatience. "It's unusual for the Tunemasters to play a concert in their uniforms," he said to Dr. Jeffers in a loud whisper, "but I think you'll see that they are just as good as a concert band as they are marching." He patted his reassuring hands on Debra's braided shoulder and Brigid's bare shoulder and smiled broadly, his teeth almost glowing in the dark.

"Somebody's Coming" ended. Now they all stood still, Sarge's hands still on the girls' shoulders, waiting for the next song. The chorus flung into a show tune and they all felt free to move and whisper again.

"Are we done?" Sarge said. "We have to get into position." Actually it seemed early to Rod. The chorus must have another song to go. He guessed that Sarge was trying to get rid of Dr. Jeffers and Ms. Kleinfelter.

"Break a leg, as they say," said Dr. Jeffers.

And a few seconds later it was just the Tunemasters and their leader Sarge, signaling everyone to find their seats.

Rod smiled at Brigid and started poking his way to his section, his trombone held high up. Brigid said a few more things to her buddies and they sat down near the front, in the second row of clarinets.

Rod took his place between Lorenzo and Jaycee. They worked their slides out of nervousness. They sat through the chorus's last song and now the great moment was at hand.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Dr. Jeffers intoned from somewhere, "boys and girls, students, let me introduce Mr. Lucius Watson and The Tunemasters."

The curtain parted, and the show lights went on, almost blinding to eyes that had gotten used to near-darkness. The white and black uniforms, with gold piping, were resplendent. And so was Brigid's white skin, gleaming in the lights. From where he was Rod could see only the bare shoulders, between the braided jackets of Debra and Virginia, and a bare hip next to Debra's pants, and the toes of one foot next to Debra's boot. It looked like Brigid was totally naked and Rod cherished the fantasy. He tried to catch her glance but she was looking offstage with everyone else, waiting.

A loud cheer went up as Sarge walked onstage and bowed. Now he stepped up onto the podium and raised the baton. Instruments were brought up in one movement, mouthpieces to lips.

The loud trumpet run was tongued perfectly, as they began "Captains and Kings".

Rod's thoughts of Brigid scattered as he focused on his playing. His "game face" was on. It was only after the tune was done, and the loud cheering began, that he thought of her again. Again he tried to catch her glance between songs and this time her eyes found his and they smiled at each other. His heart skipped a beat.

He imagined himself in the audience, the view they had. Not much of one, probably; they would see part of the scantily-clad majorette in profile but she would be mostly hidden by Virginia. Then he thought of what Brigid must be feeling, the pain of her elongated nipples, that she tried so hard to hide from Ms. Kleinfelter and everyone else. It must be a constant soreness . . . but she smiled and kept on playing. During that long rest in the middle of the next tune, "Toccata in D Minor", he figured it out. To her, performing in discomfort was part of the challenge of being a majorette. Like smiling and doing her moves and throws while damned near naked during those windy, snowy winter parades while everyone else was in winter coats with thermals underneath.

The Tunemasters bopped through "Son of a Preacher Man", then roared through the finale, "March Grandioso". "Always end with something loud", Sarge had often said. It worked. There was a standing ovation, lots of hooting and shouting.

Sarge motioned to the band and they all rose, Brigid's cones bouncing. Did that hurt more? . . . Sarge left the stage, and the ovation continued. Rod tried to recognize people in the audience but it was always useless, it was so dark out there and the lights so bright. Now Sarge came back, and now Brigid put her clarinet down and vigorously clapped, cones pointing all over. Like during a march, the rest of the Tunemasters followed her lead, putting down their instruments and applauding Sarge. He bowed to the band. . .

"Good performance!" he said back in the band room, happy and covered with sweat, five minutes later, as the Tunemasters milled around and talked, not yet wanting to put away their instruments. Rod found himself in the back of the room with Jaycee and Myron, the sousaphone player, as he positioned his big instrument back onto the special chair. Rod thought of Brigid's toes pressing down the valves . . . F sharp? G?

"You were great!" Nilda said, bouncing up and giving Jaycee a hug. "Let's go for pizza!"

"Where? Giraldo's?" someone said. That was a place down the block, a favorite for jocks and jockettes after a game.

Brigid was next to them, it turned out, talking with Lucia and Debra, their clarinets already in their little cases. Funny he hadn't noticed her. "Can you go?" Rod said, knowing full well he couldn't, not with his father about to pick him up out front of the school.

"No, I have to go home," Brigid said. "My Ma's not feeling well."

"Oh -- is she O.K.?"

"Well she has these spells now and then."

"What's the matter?" Rod didn't want to pry but he wanted to sound caring.

"After she had Jessy she had a heart thing goin' on, they had to do a bypass. Remember I was out last year?"

Come to think of it, Rod did remember hearing about Brigid's mother and her heart condition. And Brigid was out for a couple of weeks last year. . . taking care of her younger brothers and sisters, no doubt.

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"She's all right. Just needs some watchin'."

Rod had an idea. Tomorrow was the St. Patrick's Day parade, then the benefit football game. "How about after the game tomorrow, we go for pizza?" He was hoping no one could make it except the two of them.

"Can't . . . I'm on shift at Linda's."

"Oh, right." Brigid waitressed at Linda's Diner. He saw her there once, when he and his dad stopped for a burger. She didn't have their table but she said hi and looked quite foxy as she zipped around in her white apron and little black skirt.

Rod decided to be persistent. Asking her to the Junior Prom still seemed impossibly far away, but . . . "Well why don't I pick you up tomorrow for the parade? I'll come to your house and we can walk here together."

"That's quite a hike!" She was right, it would be a mile over to her house, then another half mile back to the school. "How about I'll meet you at the station?" She meant the bus terminal on Washington Street.


The others were still talking about going out for pizza. "I'm in," Myron said in his deep voice, moving his great bulk away from the sousaphone chair.

"Leave something for us," Jaycee said.

"I'll keep it down to half a pie," Myron joked.

"Sure you're not going?" Nilda said to Brigid.

"No. . . gotta be home. . . I'll be glad to get out of this thing," Brigid said, looking down at her "cover-up" uniform.

"I think the flap is cute," Myron said. They all looked at the tiny flap of fake leather hanging between the perfect white thighs.

"Well, . ." Brigid shrugged her bare shoulders, the cones poking up and down.

"BRIGID!" It was John O'Dierna, across the room in the doorway, holding Jessy.

Brigid waved at him and took her little clarinet case and left, hopping through the gradually dispersing Tunemasters, her red hair bouncing behind her, the rear flap flying up and down over her butt crack, her flip-flops smacking againt the floor. She took Jessy in her arms and was gone.

* * *

Rod got to the station way before the appointed time. Beautiful day, sun shining, blue sky, getting warm even though it was still morning. The Tunemasters majorette would deserve it. Finally a warm nice day to march in.

He stared intently in the direction of her street and smiled as the far-off white girl appeared and drew closer. He could see her smiling too, when she wasn't looking out for traffic. Not that there was much yet. There would be, as people arrived to watch the parade.

She hopped across the street toward him, clutching her soccer team jacket around her, baton in one hand. The jacket came down to her upper thigh, bare legs underneath. And bare feet.

"Happy St. Paddy's Day," he said as she came up to him.

"Top o' the morn', as my granddad would say," Brigid chirped.

Rod looked down at Brigid's perfectly painted toenails. No flip-flops. "What happened to the cover-up uniform?"

Brigid looked both ways as if about to divulge a secret. Then she opened up the jacket, to reveal nothing but the green bits on her nipples, and the green wisp below. "The hell with that," she said. "Too uncomfortable. This is better."

"You look nice," he said, knowing she wouldn't mind if he took in the full length of her beauty, adorned by the tiny uniform.

"You too," she said, fingering the buttons of his Tunemasters jacket. Her bare toes playfully kicked his marching boot.

"I'm feeling a mite like a dork standing here in this thing," he said.

"Nonsense! Be a proud Tunemaster!" Well, she didn't take off her jacket. But he felt proud to walk with her as they made their way to the school.

* * *

Ms. Kleinfelter was almost unrecognizable, happy and relaxed in a flowery dress, glasses off, enjoying the sunny warmth. Rod found himself standing next to her as they waited at the beginning of the route for the act in front of them, girl scouts from Jamaica Plain, to march off. The Tunemasters were the last band in this big parade. They were at the top of the hill and could see down almost the whole route. It seemed like everyone from this part of Boston was out today, lining the streets, carts selling cotton candy, little kids on their parents' shoulders to see better . . .

Brigid, in her new uniform, stood chatting with Debra, idly tapping her calves with the baton. Rod saw that Ms. Kleinfelter was in a good mood, and decided to make conversation.

"Very good design on the new majorette uniform," he said.

"Thanks, Rod." She never used students' first names . . . "I can't take credit for the bottom part though."


"No, it's a design my daughter told me about. She was out on the beach in California and a Mexican girl in a bikini store was modeling it. It's called a 'C-string'."

"Oh really?" He decided not to ask what the "C" stood for.

"Line up!" Sarge called out.

* * *

The first Tunemasters parade since September to take place on a nice day was just joy, joy, joy. It was strange and welcome to feel the warm sun on their backs through their wool uniforms. Fingers and hands were supple, lips were loose, lungs were taking in warm air for a change. This was the right weather to play in. Every note was hit, from the occasional pedal tone up to the high registers. Even Nigel and Gordon, in the row of trumpets behind him, who usually flubbed the high notes, got every one perfectly. Rod and Lorenzo and Jamal and the other trombones, the front row of Tunemasters, played loudly and happily.

No more cold wintry winds. No more torrential icy rains. No more snow and sleet, battering the band from every direction, the cold slicing right through their uniforms even when they had their thermal underwear on. Ahhh -- spring! They deserved it, man!

And no one deserved it more than their majorette, who had had to march through all that without thermals in her tiny uniform. As they passed the crowds thick along the route -- it was so strange to be watched by folks in short-sleeved shirts, instead of all bundled up -- the band seemed to be playing especially for Brigid, whose majorette's smile was really a smile this time, no sense of it being forced.

He could sense as well as see the smiles on the faces of the people, maybe especially the Boston Irish folks -- such an obviously Irish majorette, how fitting for St. Patrick's Day. Her red hair and bright green eyes and white, slightly freckled skin sparkled in the sun. She smiled at them and they smiled back!

Whoa -- Brigid's family! There was big John O'Dierna, and the two little girls, Jessy up on her father's shoulders, and Chrissy and Johnny and Sean, and a lady who must be Brigid's mother. A couple of old folks who might be grandparents. All waving proudly at Brigid, who smiled back during one of her turns.

Now, on to "Our Director". The title made him think of Sarge, who as always, was walking to the side, back next to the saxophones. Rod looked down, remembering what Sarge had said in the big instrument room about making sure there was street-cleaning before every parade. For the first time Rod noticed how clean the pavement was, and how it must have been clean for every parade this year. No oil spots to slip on.

This was an easy tune and Rod could devote more attention to the girl twirling in front of him. The sun brought out the best in her newly-conditioned body, the "definition" in her slender calves and thighs and shoulders, those tight buns, the narrow waist. He got to like those tiny "bits". The green pinpoints in the sun blended well with the pink of the areolas, the pale skin, the red hair, and of course her green eyes. As she carried her breasts to and fro, up and down, tightly on her chest, it seemed like the band was being led by the majorette's nipples.

The warm air must have made the majorette's muscles more supple. Her moves were different today. The freedom from shoes, the freedom from the waist string, the tiny bits at the ends of her nipples, more comfortable than those clipped-on circlets -- Brigid pranced around more loosely now. It was not only those throws kicked up by the soles of her feet, that she couldn't do with flip-flops on. As the barefoot majorette bounced and danced she kicked up higher, did more upright splits. Her legs separated and spread out more. Pumping away on his trombone, watching her to the extent he could while marching in time, Rod finally understood. Brigid was proud of her new uniform and was showing it off, the little wisp in between her smoothly-shaven pubic lips, the pretty strand of shiny green thread, glinting in the sun, that she wanted all of Boston to see. Her skin welcomed and soaked up the warm sun, and now she spun around again, her toughened soles on the warm asphalt, and did another throw. A nearly-naked Irish sprite magically leading them to a land of enchantment.

There was a soft breeze gently at their backs as they began the long slow decline down toward Downtown. The route would take them back to the school eventually, or very close to it. A long, three-mile route, but no chore at all on a day like this.

He loved her, he wanted to be with her, he wanted to kiss her, hug her . . . feel her tight, well-conditioned body against his. Between songs, horn down, watching her tight bare buns jiggle as her bare feet marched in place, toes flexed, he wondered how he would ask her to the Junior Prom. Just do it, he finally decided. Can't be too early though. . . But he didn't want to wait until the last minute. Someone else might ask her first. Two weeks from now -- that would be a good time. He'll ask her out for pizza after school. What was her free day? Tuesday?

Roll-off by the drums, and into "Manhattan Beach". Brigid spun, her breasts seeming to lead the way as they bounced up and out and swung, then a high, high throw . . . She smiled up at the sun and the sun smiled down on her, kissing her body, as she celebrated its warm caress.

* * *

It was halfway down the route when the trombones felt a stronger gust from behind, then the shadow of clouds came over them. A call from Sarge behind, and Brigid turned to the band and marched in place, a sign for them to stop.

Rod had an idea what that meant, and as he marched in place with the others he felt another gust of wind, cold this time. Brigid looked up at the sky behind him and everyone was treated to the first rash of goose bumps along her bare white arms and thighs, the bits poking further out as her nipples hardened. But the majorette, baton entwined in her fingers and folded up against her arm, kept smiling her parade smile, her bare toes flexed against the still-warm pavement, breasts jiggling with every little, in-place step. From ahead, the crowd was treated to the sight of the totally naked back of one of the most beautiful bodies in the Boston area. Facing the band, Brigid smiled, though looking up at something the rest of her band was not in a position to see, and knowing what it meant.

From the corner of his eye Rod saw Sarge had produced the box as if by magic and was passing out the clear plastic ponchos. Rain had not been in the forecast. Sarge really was prepared for everything.

The band had gotten well-practiced with this and the operation proceeded quickly and smoothly. Ponchos for everyone -- except the majorette. Brigid glanced at the band briefly as its full-coverage wool uniforms received yet another covering, another protection from the elements. In less than a minute Sarge's emptying box was next to the trombones as they quickly donned the last of the ponchos.

Now the first drops of rain, and now a sprinkle, and now all at once a cold icy shower, driven by a wind that shot the rain like icy needles, which the rest of the band, protected by ponchos, felt only on the backs of their necks. Brigid felt it full-on frontally, wearing (as Rod had calculated) only one ten-thousandth what the other Tunemasters were wearing -- less now, counting the ponchos.

The earth became dark and ominous, the crowd began to disperse.

Brigid turned around, did a throw, and now the muffled drums did a roll-off and they started into "Washington Post" and began marching again, trying to make up the gap with the girl scouts, who were now in ponchos of their own. The band still sounded good, though it was hard to hear under the ponchos and with the rain making a racket against the plastic, like golf balls on a tin roof.

They marched down the hill, Brigid prancing in front, in bits and wisp and goose bumps, her skin flushing red with the cold, as if trying to catch up with the last of the blue sky that was disappearing in the distance. The crowd was now gone; only a few die-hards were left, who had been prepared for everything, like Sarge was, and stood bravely along the side in their raincoats. Some tried to open umbrellas but quickly realized they would be blown out in this wind.

Brigid turned and her eyes met Rod's. She gave a good-natured shrug as she turned and spun. He smiled back at her. She was a trooper, she was used to the cold, she could deal with it! The band pushed her ahead as if rooting for her.

"Go! Go!" Some women in raincoats were pumping their fists, cheering Brigid on. She smiled at them and winked. The Tunemasters, being led through the wet and cold by their majorette. Go Frigid Brigid!

They were getting too close to the girl scouts so Brigid turned to the band and it halted. Rain was running off her bits, down her concave tummy, onto her wisp. She caught Rod's eye. Now she turned in place. No, not yet. Those girl scouts were slow. She turned back to the band, then did a little playful hip thrust.

When she was sure she had Rod's eye, she thrust her hips again, then he saw a spritz of rain jump up from her crotch. ?? She did it again and Rod smiled as he realized she was doing that little jumpy thing with her clitoris that she had shown him in the practice room. They gave each other a conspiratorial wink.

She turned again, and the band lurched into marching once more.

Now a vicious gust caught the ponchos like sails and almost blew the marching Tunemasters off the road! They quickly recovered and got back into formation.

Another burst of rain and this time it did not stop. As the street corners went more and more slowly by, the temperature dropped even more, the wind blew steadily, first one direction, then another. It turned into a deluge, driving away the few remaining spectators.

The band kept focused on the street as they felt the freezing rain on their faces and the backs of their necks. Little currents of water ran past their boots.

The majorette was now purple.

She pranced more stiffly, did lower and more conservative throws. The water ran off her nipples like a spout. The currents on the road surface swirled around her toes and spun out from them like a lawn sprinkler as she kicked and turned.

They passed a TV truck with cameras that were taking one last shot of the parade before quickly being packed away, the technicians and announcers closing themselves up in the cab to sip their hot coffees. No doubt they had caught a shot of the freezing majorette.

The parade had another half mile to go. The Tunemasters trudged on. The girl scouts in front of them abandoned the route, dashing into the troop leader's van that had driven up along the all-but-deserted side of the street. The only other persons in sight were the Roxbury High School Band, far up ahead, who had given up playing and were now just marching in their ponchos to a muffled drum cadence. The Tunemasters marched faster now, with longer strides, not only to close the gap but to get this damned thing over with. "Let's go, let's finish!" Sarge shouted over the noisy torrent of tain.

Brigid braved on, like a swimmer in freezing water. Perhaps due to the cold, her bare pubic lips closed up around the microscopic wisp and it was now invisible. Rod was ashamed to admit it but the green of the tiny bits capping the rock-hard nipples made an intriguing contrast with the now-bluish areola and the purplish skin of the tight, goose-pimpled breasts. The bits stayed on, a tribute to the ingenuity of Ms. Kleinfelter and Dr. Bernie Brophy.

Despite the cold and wind and rain battering them, the ponchos had an insulating effect. The Tunemasters were actually sweating under them. They could feel the cold and wet only on their faces, and the encroaching wetness on the bottoms of their braided trousers. All the Tunemasters except one, of course.

The majorette was now seriously cold, purple from head to bare toes, shivering with teeth chattering as she strode bravely on. She stopped doing throwing her baton, probably realizing that she was shaking too much to catch it. Her bare feet slapped in the freezing water.

It seemed like forever, but they finally rounded the last bend and got to the end of the route. There was supposed to be a reviewing stand there, but it was deserted, of course, rain dripping from the rickety structure that was swaying in the wind.

The band played their last note for no one and began to make the dash for the school, three blocks away. Rod, his trombone over his head, poncho flopping, stayed close behind Brigid, who could run faster than the others, unencumbered by boots, her bare feet slapping up water behind her. "S - sorry," she shouted, shivering, as some splashed up in Rod's face.

The band dispersed as it dashed across each street, watching out for the few cars still driving through this deluge. Their boots slogged through torrents of water running along the gutters.

As they got to the school grounds word went around that the benefit football game was canceled, but the Dad's Club, being stuck with a lot of food, was throwing a benefit party in the gym.

It was just Rod and Brigid now, having made their way across the street to the stands. They found themselves next to the equipment shed under the stands, under an awning, sheltered from the rain. They watched the desolate scene in front of them, the flooded street, wind hitting the stop sign, seeming almost like night under the almost-black sky. A fire siren skirled in the distance.

Now, a fork of lightning, and two seconds later, thunder.

"W - we'd b - better stay here," Brigid said.

"Yes," Rod said. He looked around and saw they were the last stragglers. Everyone else was gone. And it would not be a good idea to run across the football field to the gym, not with lightning around.

Rod fiddled with the slide of his trombone. Then he looked over at Brigid. "Are you O.K.?"

"Y - yesss." She was shivering uncontrollably, purple and in goose bumps, hugging herself and her baton, one bare foot clasped over the other. She was clearly not O.K.

Rod looked at her and then looked out at the black clouds.

A frigid blast of wind blew in their faces.

"OHHH -- OHHH --" Brigid gasped, doubling over, stamping her bare soles against the wet concrete.

He suddenly realized he had his poncho. Idiot!

"Here." He scrambled as he rested his trombone upright in the corner and yanked off his poncho.

"Th - thanks." The majorette put her baton next to the trombone and with shaking hands pulled the poncho over her head. She shook her head clear, water flinging off her red hair, and hugged herself again underneath it. It was see-through, of course. Her hardened nipples with the bits poked against it. It came down to her knees and did nothing for her freezing feet. Rod noticed that the meticulous polish on her fingernails and toenails had stayed on, even while her fingers and toes had gotten pruny as if she had been in a bath for an hour.

They looked out at the rainy scene. There was no more lightning, and the wind began to die down. It was just rain now. There was nobody around.

They stood there for five or ten minutes like this. Feeling like they were at the edge of the world, just the two of them, the rest of civilization having been washed away.

Brigid exhaled. Thankfully, she was no longer shivering. Her skin had gone from purple to red and now was kind of white again. "Wow," she finally said. "This thing is pretty warm." She stopped rubbing her arms underneath.

"We were sweating out there," Rod said with a smile.

"Well *I* sure wasn't."

"Yes, I know," he said stupidly.

They looked at each other. It quickly became the look they gave each other in the practice room, before the grown-ups barged in. The kiss that never was.

Rod swallowed.

The faces moved toward each other and then, after a final hesitation, their lips made contact.

Then they kissed again, harder.

Now, bravely, they kissed again with mouths open.

"Wait." Brigid shucked off the poncho.

They wrapped their arms around each other, Brigid's bare arms entwining with Rod's jacket, and kissed and kissed. They couldn't stop. Mouths opened more and more, unpracticed tongues clumsily played with each other, breathing got heavy.

Their lips disengaged as they finally had to catch their breath. Still in each other's arms, Rod said, "We can go to the gym . . . eventually."

"I'm not thinkin' about it now," Brigid said. She played with his buttons. "Rod . . ."


"Can you . . . go with me to the Junior Prom?"

Rod looked down at the ground, open-mouthed with shock. The world had raced out from under him. After blinking a couple of times, he caught up with it. "Y - yes."

Brigid's bright green eyes looked up at him. "I'm glad. . . We'll have a good time."

"Oh yes -- "

They kissed again, tongues playing down to the tonsils, more skillfully now.

"Rod -- " she said breathlessly.

"Yes -- "

"Feel my glutes. . ."