It happened one day at the mall. I was there because I needed something new to wear; my wardrobe had been all boring grey shirts and black jeans for too long already.
Now there had been rumors about this mall. That it had been built on the location of a demolished cabaret that apparently had just been a front for some secret government projects, that had mysteriously burned down after its employees had seemingly been captured by aliens, the cabaret itself having been built over a wizard cemetery.
As for whether that had any link with the womanly ghost that had dragged me into the mirror of a fitting room and was currently eyeing me up and down… Eh, 50/50 probably.
The ghost had an irate look on her face like that of a pissed grandma that had a reputation as a kind old lady to half-heartedly uphold, which only strained her menacing traits further. Her face was littered with signs of age that had been partially masked by makeup in spades, her eyebrows were thin and permanently frowning, her eyes had an uncomfortable piercing gaze, and her lips plumped by a red lipstick managed to show a scowl behind a permanent o-shape, contrasting with the otherwise incorporeal blue the rest of her was. The only thing more opulent than her makeup was her jewelry, gigantic tear-shaped amethysts dangling from her earlobes, a ridiculously intricate collar littered with glimmering stones over a long side-cut dress, bracelets dangling in pairs on each of her arms, and a long, ornate feather sticking out of a headband.
“Urgh, is this really what I have to work with?” she muttered aloud, making it very clear it was less that she didn’t want me to hear and more that she didn’t care if I did.
I looked behind me at the only source of light in this pocket dimension, the mirror I’d just passed through. Standing back up and approaching it, I tried to pass my hand back out to no avail. I was stuck in there with the incarnation of disdainful opulence. “What the hell do you want?” I asked, turning back towards the ghost.
“I AM THE SPIRIT OF FASHION!” she replied, melodramatically lifting her left hand above her head, while her right one settled near her belly button. “And I have fifty-three more idiots like you to rescue from your own pathetic presentation before I’m allowed in the afterlife, so you better be grateful,” she continued, pointing an accusatory finger in my direction. “I mean, really? Apple green shirt on jogging pants? Puh-lease. It’s like you specifically went for the most drab items in this entire mall.”
I scoffed. “I am trying, okay? This stuff’s hard. And boring. And all of the good-looking clothes are so uncomfortable. At least I didn’t go with black this time.”
“Right, right, spare me your life story.” She gestured for me to shut up. “I don’t care. I’ll just take a look at your soul and bring out your inner aesthetic. Much quicker that way.”
“Now, what does mister boring have in store beyond drab rags and lifeless eyes?” Her gaze on me intensified, her eyes shifting to a much deeper, saturated glacial blue.
“What’s wrong with my eyes?” I replied with a step back, feeling hurt by the comment.
As her eyes stopped glowing, she showed an expression of pure, utter disgust, the corner of her mouth unevenly creeping up. “What even is this monstrosity? Is this one of those new fangled Oriental looks? What else have those Asians ruined...”
I gasped in outrage. “Oh my fucking god, the thirties were so racist.”
“I can count no less than four different aesthetics in this hotchpotch. How the hell do you expect me to work with that? You’re lucky I don’t get to choose who I help or not, because I’d otherwise refuse. And oh my god, such a gigantic mismatch between your inner aesthetic and your appearance - you’ll never be able to pull it off, sweetie. Not without me.”
“Look, can I just… go…?” I replied, turning my shoulders and pointing to the mirror with my index, while keeping my face towards her.
“Oh no no no. Now that I know what you want inside, as terrible and oversaturated it is, we are doing it.” She theatrically pointed her open palms towards me, and I felt my feet lift off the ground.
“Hey! Put me down!” I exclaimed, my legs waddling in thin air as my brain failed to grasp the idea I wasn’t in free fall.
“Let’s start off with a first layer.” Her hands started weaving around with an invisible energy, fingers pulling and reshaping my clothes from a distance. My short sleeves lengthened all the way to my hands, the shirt splitting into two different layers - the lower one turned purple and covered all my torso, while the one above became a pure black and opened into a v at my neck, lengthening ever more at the bottom until it fell down to my hips.
“Hey, I’m trying to get rid of the black, here!”
“Not according to what’s inside you, you’re not,” she uttered in an angry tone, her fingers looping to spin me around.
I felt my hair lengthen, bangs drooping over my face, and saw its color turn from brown to black. I gasped, bringing my hand up to my head to grab a strand to observe. I noticed the complexion of my hand was lightening at a frightening pace, and realized, catching a glance at the mirror, that this was the case for my entire body, and that my face had been made even worse by a layer of makeup - black lips and eyeshadow over ghoulishly white skin. I only had the time to utter an “ow” as I felt a piercing traverse my lower lip. My pants followed, turning into a tight fitting black jean I was certain had been pinched from the women’s section from the way it accentuated my butt. In fact, I was surprised to even fit it at all… So surprised, it made me finally notice that my features had been weirdly touched up too. I seemed so… androgynous? I was the perfect image of the brooding, genderfucking goth.
“Now what in the hell…”
“Why would I know? It’s your own internal aesthetic, not mine,” the ghost replied, rolling her eyes. “And what’s next is even more of an eyesore.” Her hands went back to their careful act of weaving and molding.
I felt a churn in my gut as my torso was pinched inwards, the outer layer becoming tight like a corset. The two shirts fused back together as the white one became mere frills on the cuffs and collar. I gasped in awe at what was happening, a slight blush sneaking out despite the pale makeup on my face. “No fucking way…” I said in shock.
The churn from earlier returned in force once more and I felt like I could almost vomit. All at once I heard my bones badly crack and I screamed at the top of my lungs. When the feeling dissipated, I had lost a good one and a half feet of height. I was tiny. A perfect 5’. And another glance in the mirror… I almost wanted to panic. I looked either like a teen, or like a very youthful early-twenties girl. My hair had lengthened up to the point some strands were tickling my butt, and two hair ties were busy styling them into twin tails.
My pants ripped in two, exposing my boxer shorts for all to see as the rough jean fabric softened into pale dark blue thigh highs. My boxers swiftly turned into a pair of panties, and I caught a glance at what I was packing in the mirror. It was still man junk, but the bulge was so incredibly small, I felt a worry. Not a worry at seeing it so small, but at feeling good about seeing it so small for some mysterious reason.
Fabric left over by the undershirt quickly shaped itself into a bra, the shirt booming at the front to give some space for the cups to settle in, while it lengthened some more at the bottom into a puffy dress that stopped at my thighs. A voice at the back of my head, almost like background noise, felt crushed at the idea the bra wasn’t filled by flesh, and that it instead was merely placed on top of my torso.
It was as my unremarkable sneakers turned into weirdly oversized black platform shoes that I couldn’t help but let out a nervous laugh. I could only suppose the second aesthetic the ghost had seen in my mind was Lolita, and it left me ever so confused about myself. Like, yeah, sure, I liked the idea of goth and lolita… But in carefully crafted photos and convention costumes, not on myself in daily life, right?
“Wipe that smile off yourself kid, we’re not done here,” the ghost barked, my gaze snapping away from my changed body back onto her.
“W-wait a minute,” I tried to reply with my voice sounding both high-pitched and insecure compared to usual, “I’m not sure if I can handle more of this…”
“I. Don’t. Care. Third layer,” she answered, exertion starting to appear on her face, like she was having difficulty holding the spell all together. The weaving resumed after a short break for her fingers.
The hair ties on my head morphed into black ribbons, a white fabric coming to bridge between the two into a frilly headpiece I inquisitively touched. The fabric then greatly extended and snapped off, coming to wrap itself around my torso into an apron. Fabric broke off my cuffs to become silk wrist-length gloves, my dress continued its descent down to my ankles, the puffiness mercifully toning down just so slightly to provide better freedom of movement.
And to go beyond the added accessories… Yeah. The biggest changes were to my burgeoning femininity, suddenly crashing down like a gigantic wave upon me. Just a hurl, a whirl of sensations as if I were thrown around, and the bra found itself something to latch onto, the bulge in my panties became a smooth mound, and the rest of my features softened to a new level.
“You- you gotta be kidding,” I uttered with no real intent to the protest beyond just getting to hear my voice. Did I even need to hear my mind say the word of my third aesthetic element? No, I didn’t. I knew perfectly well. So I let it say it anyway, Maid. I felt incredibly embarrassed at the idea that my inner aesthetic was something so incredibly specific and, well… no better word for it, weebesque. I failed to care about the embarrassment when I just looked so cute and unique. My smile had become a full-on silly grin.
“Tssk. Modern people and their desire for exoticism,” the pissed-off ghost said. ”What’s wrong with Western culture that people in this decade are all defacing it like that and preferring Asian?”
“You all stole from all over the world while hating the places you stole from. This was shared with us instead, at least,” I replied without glancing up, too busy twirling around in my dress and getting a feel for the fabric of my gloves.
The ghost gave a dismissive hand wave before wiping her brow of non-existent sweat. “Whatever. And the last bit isn’t stolen from animals or whatever, if that gives you the moral high ground.” Her hand made very precise, plucking movements, and I felt immense pinching at my ears.
I turned them in confusion, then, at realising I could turn them and they had moved to the top of my head, I twirled myself towards the mirror, spotting in there two giant cat ears as black as my hair. And while I was busy carefully prodding them, I felt a third pinch just above my butt and the fabric on my back just slightly shifting to create a hole through which a matching tail snaked out.
Just as suddenly the force surrounding me gave out and I fell on my face on the ground. After taking a few moments to come to, I realised every single change had stuck through and been pinned down onto me, made permanent. I ran towards the mirror, and a goth cat girl in a puffy maid outfit greeted me back.
I… eventually pinpointed the happy feelings I was having. That was gender euphoria or something, right? I’d learned about it after one of my friends came out two years ago. He’d just had testosterone and surgeries though, no berating ghost to help him.
“Are you done checking yourself out? I need to go find the next goon. Get outta here.” I felt a kick on my butt and yowled, my face coming into contact in the mirror and traversing it like it was jelly, the rest of my body following suit. As I hit the wooden floor of the fitting room, I turned around and was greeted only by a mundane mounted mirror.
I dusted myself off and stood up, tried to look for my wallet and car keys, and in horror, made an awful realisation.
“THIS DRESS DOESN’T EVEN HAVE POCKETS!”