Last Thursday Art and I planned to get together and do a little Christmas shopping. We’ve been meaning to get together for a little while now, but our schedules have been conflicting. I’ve been taking every extra shift the restaurant would give me, and apparently the holidays are busy times at theaters, keeping “Liz” busy as well.
We decided to meet at the CambridgeSide Mall, specifically, the Starbucks.
Like so many things in my life, even what I drink at Starbucks has changed. I now drink a “grande non-fat chai”. I still do a little promotion work on the side, and one day after a gig a bunch of the other girls and I stepped into a Starbucks. Every one of them ordered the “grande non-fat chai”. I guess peer pressure got to me, so I got one as well—It was really good, so I have been drinking them every since.
Art was a few minutes late, so when I saw an empty table I grabbed it.
In my previous life as Jake, I had no trouble eating a meal alone, sitting at a bar alone, or drinking a coffee at Starbucks alone. I didn’t have a problem with it, and the people around me didn’t have a problem with it. As Ashlyn however, I can’t seem to get five minutes peace. No sooner than I sit down than some guy is in my personal space trying to make small talk. I realize I am partially to blame—I dress like I am looking for the attention.
Art walks in as I am getting rid of the second guy who was angling for my phone number. Art waves and gets in line for a coffee. Art was looking pretty good in a red sweater and black pants; I could also tell he had made an effort with his hair and makeup. Drink in hand; he took the seat across from me.
Art takes a long sip of his coffee and you could physically see him relax. “So, you said on the phone you had some big news; did you find out something about your secret admirer? “
I reached into my purse and pulled out a handwritten letter. I slide it across the table to him.
“Actually, no. This is something new. This letter came to me at work two days ago.”
Much to my surprise I ran across your blog on the internet and felt a need to contact you. I called many restaurants in Cambridge area, and through trial and error I was able to find a lounge that had a redhead waitress named Ashlyn. I hope you don’t mind me sending this to you at work.
My name is Jessica and we have something in common. Seven years ago I was a guest at the Trading Post Inn, and I too haven’t been the same person since.
The letter went into details about who she once was and who she was now. She said she sent me a letter because she wanted to talk to others who had the same experience as she did—but didn’t want to make her life too public in the blog. She did say I could share some of the basics—like before the transformation she was also a male, and was a 40 year old police officer. She was transformed into a ten year old girl. She was seventeen now, about to graduate from high school for the second time.
“Wow, that’s rough. Not only having to go through high school twice, but having to go through puberty twice.” Art commented.
The letter went on giving details about how she had grown up and adapted to her new life. There were a few items of interest. Apparently her parents had not accompanied the original Jessica when she went to the Inn. Jessica went with the family of her best friend at the time. When “Jessica” was returned to her parents, the magic kicked in and her new family never thought twice that their little girl was saying she was not as she appeared to be—and even though she had knowledge way above that of a normal 10 year old, no amount of persuasion was able to convince her new parents.
Her “best friend’s” family, also all transformed victims, moved away a few months later, and she had no one to talk about what happened to her. After a while she even began to doubt herself, maybe she just imagined her whole previous life.
Then one day, she got in an argument with her mother—for the umpteenth time she made the argument that she was not really her daughter. For the first time, the woman listened; she still wasn’t totally convinced, but whatever “power” that kept people from believing was gone—in its place was standard disbelief that the impossible was possible. After several more arguments, Jessica was finally able to convince her mother.
Jessica had a theory that people you spend a lot of time with start to build up immunity to the “magic” that kept people from believing the transformed. Total strangers would still never believe you, but given time, friends and family could—with the right convincing.
Unfortunately, to much time had gone by at this point, and Jessica and her mother were unable to find out what happened to the original Jessica. They are still hunting for her.
“Wow.” Art said after several moments of silence.
“Yeah. Made me wonder if we should create an email address for the blog, somewhere where victims of the Inn could email us, and tell us their experiences. Maybe we could help some people.” I say.
“We’d probably get a lot of kooks, and worse, our first instinct will be to not believe them because of the “magic”. But it still might be a good idea.” Art says thoughtfully.
“You know what else this means? If her story is real, then in theory we could tell people who we really are.” I say to him.
We mull on that for a while.
Art changed the subject. “Do you think it is strange that we haven’t heard from anyone else in our group from the Inn? I would have thought when I posted that we might have found a solution to getting our old lives back, we would’ve heard from everyone.”
I thought that was weird as well, and I told him so. “You would have thought we would have at least heard from Jeff. He kept up with the blog for a while.”
“I suppose,” Art says thoughtfully, “It’s possible the others just assimilated into their new lives and lost interest in the blog—or keeping in contact with us.”
I shook my head no. “That just doesn’t feel like what’s going on to me. I’ll admit I’ve gotten pretty comfortable in Ashlyn’s skin—but a day doesn’t go by that I don’t want my old life back. I think something weird is going on.”
Art gives me a look. “Speaking of weird, have you found out anything on that secret admirer of yours? Is there anything to be worried about?”
“Call it women’s intuition, but my gut says there is something going on there. I’m going to swing by Anthony’s strip club. I called him and he said he still had the envelope the gift certificate came in. There’s a return address.”
“He couldn’t just give you the address over the phone?”
“He wouldn’t give it to me over the phone—said he liked seeing me in person.” I shrugged.
“I hope you plan to keep all your clothes on.”
“That’s my current plan, yeah.”
It was my turn to change the subject.
“So…” I start cautiously, “How’s your sex life?”
Art groaned and rolled his eyes. “I knew this was coming.”
“Hell yeah, it’s coming. We’re all girls here right? Let’s have some girl talk.” I was giving him some good natured ribbing, but it was also a subject I wanted to talk about. Funny, as a guy you could have never gotten me to discuss this stuff, as a chick it seemed easier to discuss.
“What’s to talk about? You read the blog, you know what happened.” Art said.
“I want to know if sex is better as a woman.” I decided to be direct. “I’ve been avoiding it. But with you taking the plunge, and the fact I have been reading Ashlyn’s diaries, it’s got me wondering if it is something I might need to experience before we switch back to our old lives. It might be a once in a lifetime experience.”
“Ashlyn’s diaries talk about her sexual exploits?” Art asks.
“The girl was a walking, breathing sexual amusement park. Don’t change the subject. So is sex better as a woman?”
He hesitates. “Some things yes, some things no. Plus, I’ve yet to have an orgasm.”
“Now that’s something I can tell you about.” I think I blushed slightly. “If you aren’t having an orgasm then you are really missing out. I think I mentioned in the blog I found Ash’s sex toys—I’ve gotten fairly proficient at using some of them, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are not having an orgasm during sex, you are really missing out.”
“Are you thinking about sleeping with Josh?” Art asked bluntly.
“I don’t know. I haven’t even decided if it is something I want to do. Josh is a nice guy and I trust him…”
“And he is in love with Ashlyn.” Art gives me a serious look. “Do you remember Kim Swanson?”
Kim Swanson was someone I was in love with a lifetime ago. She was sexy and smart. I had it really bad for her and she knew it. I was blinded by my feelings and did many dumb things—including “loaning” her large sums of money. She used me.
“What? Are you accusing me of using Josh? I haven’t asked him for anything!” I was angry.
“You don't have to ask him for anything, JAKE, believe me - he sits around thinking about what he can do for ASHLYN without you even asking. Who got you the job at the lounge?”
SHIT. Art was right. I was no better than Kim Swanson.
We sit in silence for a minute until Art breaks it. “Come on, we’ve Christmas shopping to do. I’m really struggling with what to get everybody.”
“Why?” I ask.
“Well, take Ray for example. I want to get him something Liz would give him. I can’t seem to come up with anything.”
I shook my head, “Dude, I think you are trying wwwaaaaaayyyyyy to hard. Just get him something any guy would want for Christmas—You have an advantage over all the other women in the world in knowing what guys like.”
“Okay, maybe. But I still have all these Korean relatives to worry about.” Art persisted.
“I think you are over thinking things.”
We get up and head out into the extremely crowded mall.
“I forgot to ask you what sex positions are best as a woman.” I nearly have to yell over the Christmas music and noise of the crowd.
“Too late.” Art says, “Girl talk is over for today. Now it’s time to move onto the shopping portion of our afternoon. ” He points over to Cambridge Sound Works. “Let’s go in there.”
Becoming a woman hadn’t improved my ability to shop. For the next 3 hours we fought the crowds until we were exhausted.