Tuesday, January 23, 2007

History: Doris, 1927

Hmm. This one's been sitting in the Trading Post Story mailbox for about a week and a half while I tried to do some research on its authenticity. It seems a little unlikely that the first two responses we've gotten have been about people who were there eighty years ago.

Hi there,
I have TP story to tell and a small favor to ask. The story has to do with my Grandfather who passed away in December. His death was not sudden. He was 103 when he died, but we were close and you better believe that it has been hard for me to let him go. The story I have to share is his story. He told it to me over the week before he died.

My grandfather was fairly healthy and lucid right up until last September when suddenly his organs started failing. The doctors said he was one of the few lucky to actually die of old age instead of a disease or an accident. They predicted he would remain lucid but become more and more physically run down before just quietly drifting away. They were right.

He was bed ridden at the end and wanted me to read to him. The titles he requested were all pretty
heavy-duty reading, so I suggested something lighter - like your blog. He and I loved to discuss and
debate moral dilemmas and pick apart the human condition ad nausea, so I thought adventures at the Trading Post would be fun.

I was expecting him to laugh a lot and want to analyze the characters and story lines in detail, but instead he was very quiet and serious as I read. He was extremely attentive and often asked me to re-read certain passages without explanation. The more I read, the more worry I saw on his face. A few days into our reading he finally asked me to put down my laptop so that he could tell me what was on his mind. I think you know what is coming.

He took a small breath and proceeded to tell me that the Trading Post Inn was a very real place. He told me that many years ago, back in 1927, he visited the Trading Post Inn with three of his sisters. He explained that up until that visit, that he had been a woman. Not just a female version of the man I knew as my grandfather, but a completely different person.

He said that he was “originally” born as a woman in the year 1901 and was christened with the name Doris Brown. He said that he grew up with his “original” family just outside of Boston and that he had three brothers and six sisters. He said that they were strict Catholics and lived a typically happy close-knit family life.

It sounded like he was a lot like me in those days. He said that he looked a lot like me, was happy-go-lucky like me, and married young to a man named James Brown (no relation to the singer). The details around his life as Doris Brown painted a picture of a simple and content young woman, but the story took a turn when he described falling in love with a married man named Ralph McSweeny in the late winter of 1926. They met at church one day and though they were both married and devout Catholics, they quickly fell into an adulterous relationship together. They took their time getting to know each other before consummating their love under a cherry blossom tree on Easter Sunday, 1927.

The affair went on for several months and in August of ‘27, Ralph and Doris concocted a plan to get away for a weeklong holiday away from their spouses. Doris asked three of her oldest sisters to help facilitate the rendezvous by going with her to stay at the Trading Post Inn, while Ralph went to visit with his brother Lenny who lived just down the road from the Inn. The plan was for Ralph and Doris to spend as much time alone together as possible while their siblings covered for them.

My grandfather said that when he and his sisters arrived at the Inn that first day, they looked around for a few moments, but that he didn’t even bother to hang up his clothes before heading over to see Ralph. He spent that first day, night, and early morning with Ralph before he returned to the Inn and crept into one of the beds just before dawn. His sisters were fast asleep and he drifted off quickly.

It sounds abrupt, but when he woke up, he was transformed into an ugly little man. My grandfather never struck me as an “ugly little man”, but that’s how his new form must have seemed after spending so many years as the lovely Doris Brown.

I’m afraid that this is where his experience with the Trading Post Inn ends. He was so horrified by the transformation that he quickly pulled on a dress and some slippers and ran off into the woods never to return to the Inn. He never woke his sisters and never saw his home or any of his family ever again.

He hid in the woods, half naked for two days before wandering into someone’s backyard and eventually being picked up by the police as a vagrant. The next few days or weeks were a blur in his memory. He was in shock and unable to speak about what had happened to him. He was nameless and homeless.

The journey from that terrible period to his becoming my Grandfather was long and detailed. He found work, a place to stay, recovered from his shock, and eventually made a new life for himself in California, as far away from his past as possible.

He never tried to investigate what had happened to him that day in August because in those first few moments when he woke up, he wracked his brain to make sense of the situation and his mind almost instantly found its way to the only possible explanation it could produce at the time - God. He decided then and there that his transformation was a miracle produced by God to punish him for his sins. It was firmly cemented in his mind, heart, and soul that this was his retribution for the affair with Ralph and for all of the deceit and lies surrounding the affair. There was no need for him to consider any other explanation until I started reading your blog to him.

I saw a look of profound guilt and worry cross his face as he considered the possibility that his sisters could have also been transformed. He imagined how scared his sisters would have been in the situation, and how sorry he was that he was not there comfort them. Your suggestions that there may be a cure to the transformation left him wondering whether by running off that day, he might have left his sisters stranded in their new masculine forms.

Though my grandfather’s story is incredible and I should be drawn to the mystery of the supernatural events of the Inn, what troubles me most is the huge number of profound questions that clouded my grandfather’s mind in his final days on earth. I feel responsible for wrecking the peace he had made with the experience.

He had always viewed his transformation as absolute evidence of God’s existence and took every blessing of his new life as proof that God had punished him and forgiven him. I’m devastated to think that his faith was crushed in those final days when he must have realized the source of the “miracle” that cemented his faith in God all those years ago, was no longer clear.

I believe for the first time ever, he was allowing himself to question his faith and think that maybe what had happened was not a confirmation of the existence of God, but something else entirely. I could see the wheels turning in his mind as he reevaluated his understanding of the universe.

Did he have a soul and where would it go when his body failed? Was the heartbreak of losing his first family all his own doing? If he had returned to the Inn that day would he have been able to stay with his sisters and maybe even find a way back to their old forms? I tried to assure him, as he always assured me, that God worked in mysterious ways and that what we read on the blog did not discount God’s hand in the events at the Inn. I said that maybe he and his sisters were transformed not as punishment for sins, but in order to send them down a path that they were destined to travel. I offered him the constant refrain he offered me over the years, “Everything happens for a reason, never doubt that and you’ll always find peace.” I’ve been repeating that to myself since he died, but still feel confused and in shock by all this.

Now I must ask my favor. You mentioned that there were sets of photographs on the wall at the Inn showing groups of four people with distant or sad expressions. When you are next at the Inn, could you look for a photo of my Grandfather and his sisters? I don’t know what the existence of a photograph on the wall will prove, but I feel it is something that might bring me some closure.

My grandfather, Doris Brown, would have been hard to miss. She was only 5’2” tall and weighed over 250 lbs. I am unclear on how that weight was distributed, but given your experiences, I’m guessing that she was extremely busty. His sisters were Thelma, Helen, and Margaret. Margaret was the youngest at 19 years of age, and Thelma was the oldest at 32. I’m guessing that the sisters were all similar in height if not weight.

Thank you for your help and good luck to you on your efforts to get your old lives back. I will continue to read your blog as I try to find the understanding and peace that I stole from my Grandfather in his final days.

I will pray for you often. If you are ever in San Francisco, feel free to look me up. I’d love to chat
and make you some sandwiches.


CeeCee Davies

Ashlyn finds it interesting, and maybe I'm just falling prey to whatever part of the curse makes it hard for people to believe, but I don't know about this one. There seem to be contradictions ("the lovely Doris Brown" carried a lot of weight on her tiny frame, for instance), and what are the odds that someone would recognize one of the few details about the place's decor we mentioned? And this just happens to be in my home town?

If true, this letter does solidify the idea that this has been going on a long time, but I'm still curious about what's been going on since then. Are we looking at disaster by trying to get back, has it been done without incident. And, just, information. Jake (I'll start calling her Ashlyn when I start thinking of her that way) is planning to assume someone else's life in progress. How has that worked out for other people? Which parts were the biggest problems over the long term?

Ah, well. I imagine she'll figure it out on her own.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ashlyn--Call me Ashlyn

I had been putting off talking to Stephen every since Art came up with a plan to get everyone to their correct bodies. Every time I did a little online research about how my old life was doing, I found “Jake” was doing incredibly well. It made me nervous—would Stephen want to give up his new life? I was afraid of the answer.

I gave up the idea of traveling down to Dallas. If he turned me down it would be a huge waste of money—and the weather has been really bad down there lately, whole highways have been closed because of ice and snow.

So it came down to a phone call. I called “Jake” on Sunday.

Art’s post covered the basics of the conversation, so I won’t bother to post a repeat here.

What wasn’t in Art’s post was how abusive “Jake” was on the phone. No, Stephen made it very clear to me he had no desire to give up my old life. That door was closed.

So I’ve decided that if I can’t be Jake Mathews, I’m going to stay as Ashlyn Shelley.

This wasn’t an easy decision for me. Art’s right, I could go back to the Inn and roll the dice and see if I could be male again—but that’s a bad idea on so many levels. Sure, I could wake up a man again, but I could also wake up a guy in his sixties—or a guy who has a bad heart—or has a drug addition—or a million other scenarios. What are the odds that I’ll get the life of a guy in his mid twenties to mid thirties, who is in great physical health, makes good money at a job I know how to do, and has no wife or children?

There’s also the 50% chance I would wake up as another woman—and I have to tell you, if I have to be a woman, I’m happy with the body and life I have right now.

And what if I did get lucky and got a life of the kind of guy I was talking about--male, young and healthy--would we not tell this person there was a way back? That there was a way to reverse the curse? Or would I pull a Stephen and tell that unlucky soul that they can’t have their life back? I can’t do it—not after going through it myself.

For reasons I don’t understand, Ashlyn wants to stay Jean-Michel. That allows me to stay as Ashlyn without displacing anyone else. As Ashlyn I’m barely into my adult years, I have my whole life ahead of me. I’m extraordinarily attractive which is a big plus. Lastly, I now have two loving parents that I really don’t know how “Jean-Michel” can do without.

I’ve been a woman for five months now—and I have changed as a person in that time. I no longer view living as a woman as a lifetime jail sentence. It’s not what I wanted—but it’s something I can live with.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Arthur: Phone tag

Or maybe it would more accurately be called a phone relay race. After all, when people say they're playing phone tag, it's generally two people trying to catch each other. Today's action was about keeping things in order.

Today's the day when summer 2007 bookings open for the Trading Post Inn, and I figured that if my plan to become myself again was going to work, there'd be no time to waste and no room for error. We had to make sure that we were the first to book our rooms, and that we were able to get the same rooms.

Near as I can tell, the Inn switches groups up as soon as the requisite amount is there - thirteen guests, I think. (Yeah, I know - ominous to the superstitious, and why shouldn't we be superstitious?) It seems to need a new group, and that's where the hitch was - would it count the same people coming back after eight months as a new group, or act like it was the same people and not throw the switch? I concocted this plan a couple months ago, but I haven't learned a whole lot new since. what we learned from Jenny is helpful in terms of building a history of the Inn, but so far, we don't have a whole lot of ideas about how it works. I'd hoped we'd get a little more detail from the email, but so far, just a few notes.

But, it's the best plan we've got, so we went with it.

Jeremy started it, making his call to the agency that manages the Trading Post Inn at six in the morning, Pacific time. Fifteen agonizing minutes later (I'm really not used to being up at this time of the morning during the week), he calls me. "I got it," he says. "Two weeks in sunny Old Orchard Beach, April 27th to May 10th, good old room number nine. You say all my old luggage is still waiting for me there?"

I said it was when I broke in back in November, just waiting for him. He thanked me, and that he'd just about maxed out my credit card making the reservation. "Guess I'd better find a way to earn some money for the next few months, since the writing thing isn't working out so well." I told him it was okay, that it was a tougher gig than it appeared to be.

I didn't stay on the phone too long, though, since I had my own call to make. I dialed Oceanside Property Management up, and nervously fretted a bit as I got a busy signal five times. On the sixth try, I got what sounded like a middle-aged woman with a fisherman's accent who didn't seem to surprised to hear that "Elizabeth Lee" wanted to book her room from last summer. "We get a lot of that," she says, "people who stay late in the summer want to come back in the spring, and they just love their old rooms."

I was a little surprised, although I probably shouldn't have been. I'm not so astonishingly clever that I must have hit on something no-one else did in eighty years. She goes on about how the first day bookings open, a lot of us call in, and then it's quiet for another month or two. I thank her, giving her a new credit card number as opposed to the usual debit card. It's not like Raymond makes a habit of looking at Liz's bank statement, but why take the chance? This one has its statements sent to the P.O. box that is usually reserved for Liz's letters.

Speaking of... As soon as my reservation is confirmed, I call Montreal. Working things out with Liz was a little tricky, but Jake was some help - at one point while talking to her, he found out her usual work schedule. As Marie Desjardins, she works as a guide at the Museum of Archeology and History. She showed up for work early, so I was able to call her there rather than on some phone that her Marie's scary boyfriend would be listening in on. She's got a pretty voice, although I don't have much of a chance to hear it - she wants to get her reservation in as quickly as possible, and I think hearing her own voice freaks her out a little. I think she's calling to make a May 25th reservation about a second later.

I let out a whoop as soon as I put down the phone - yes, there's four more months of pretending to be Liz, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel! Heck, looking at the calendar, I see that I'm actually past the halfway point - if all goes according to plan, I'll be myself again in time for a California summer. And even if it doesn't, I'll know, and maybe be able to make some sort of plans.

I feel like celebrating, and call Jake. It's done, I say, locked in and now all that matters is getting to May.

"That's great," he says. "Maybe you can ask me out when you get back. Except you won't be around, will you? You'll be back to your old life on the other side of the country."

"But we'd both be... Oh, no... What happened?"

"Stephen doesn't want to go back to his old life. Says he's younger, doesn't want to try to explain why he disappeared for half a year, likes running his own business and wants to see all the projects he's got it running through. Oh, and he says he's lost thirty pounds and is feeling healthier than ever. Probably doesn't want me screwing all his hard work up."


Jake isn't really interested in letting me talk; I think he needs to let it out. "And since Jean-Michel doesn't want to leave his... Dammit. I can't even call him Ashlyn. I'm Ashlyn, she's Jean-Michel, and Stephen's Jake." He sounds like he's in a real bad way, worse than I can remember since that first day.

I try to help. "Well, even if you can't become yourself, you can still go back. Fifty-fifty odds of becoming male again, and probably in a better situation than you are now. Unless..."

"Unless what? You think I'm all happy because Jean-Michel and I had some fun on New Year's, and I didn't turn out all frigid like you?"


"I'm sorry. That was out of line. It's just that if this life is so bad, it'd be a pretty shitty thing if I were to stick someone else with it. And it isn't, really - I'm young, attractive, I've got parents... It could be worse, and even if it's not, remember the first couple months? When we didn't know how to react to every person we met or how to handle everyday situations? I don't want to do that again."

"Well... Okay. If that's how you feel. Look, do you want me to come over? You don't sound so hot."

"I'll be fine. I've got to work lunch anyway, so I'm heading out soon. I'll see you later." And then he hung up.

Or maybe I should say she hung up. If Jake's at some sort of point of no return..

Nah, not yet. Jake's just been hit with a lot over the past couple weeks. He's angry and upset and maybe he just needs to work on Stephen a little more to get him to do the right thing. There's still four whole months to go.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

History: Jenny, 1924

I didn't want to interrupt Jake while he was going on about his trip north, but we got our first email to TradingPostStories@yahoo.com this week, and it was a doozy:

Dear Mr/Ms Milligan,

Since you asked people to relate their experiences of the Trading Post Inn I thought you might be interested in hearing my story.

I visited the Trading Post in 1924. I cannot remember the event as I was only an infant at the time, though my mother, who was once my wife, told me about it when I was older. The infant brain cannot accommodate a complete, adult mind and for those early years I remained in the state of an infant, unremembering, unknowing, unthinking, pure appetite and emotion. But the spirit of my former life was upon me and slowly recollection grew, as I grew. I came to remember all of my previous life, but distantly, as of events that took place, literally, a lifetime ago. In amongst the sharp and vivid joys and pains of childhood were interleaved the memories of a whole other world, though they were somewhat fragmentary, and disconnected. I was a child remembering adulthood in the manner that a grown adult remembers his early childhood.

I was an unstable and difficult child. I was sometimes quiet and contemplative, sensible and helpful, mature beyond my years. At other times I was boisterous, aggressive and defiant and I was beaten often. A dreamer some said. Moody said others. Not remembering the event of my transformation, I came to believe that everyone must be like me and I tried to engage the other children in conversation about what they remembered from the time before. But they became anxious and upset when I questioned them thus and when my mother heard me she advised me to keep my “games” to myself. At school I was a prodigy. I took in the three ‘R’s extremely quickly and my teachers were often irritated by the number of things I knew before I was supposed to have been taught them. Being too clever was not popular. There too I learned to keep quiet and just play along. But sometimes I refused to hold back. When I was eight I was sent home from school for insisting that I had met President Cleveland. I explained that this had happened in my other life, but I was firmly told that this was impossible, that heathen Hindoos might believe in reincarnation, but that Christian girls would have such lies beaten out of them.

It was after that that my mother told me the story of the Trading Post. She had been an old woman then and she and her husband had stayed the night in an isolated lodge. The next morning she had miraculously found herself in a different, much younger, body. And where her husband had been there was then a little baby girl. That baby was me. From notes left by her body’s previous occupant she learned that we had been travelling from visiting her family, along with a driver to accompany us, as her husband could not leave his work. The driver, in an adjacent room, had also changed, unfortunately into someone who could not drive. My mother gave him all the money she had on her and let him go to make his way as best he could. Then she telephoned my father, her new husband, and told him the driver had robbed us and ran away. He was furious, but she managed to persuade him that nothing could be done and that it was needless to involve the police, so he sent another two servants to pick us up with the car.

My father had become rich by speculation. But his wealth was largely paper and it fluttered away in the crash of ’29. We lost everything, but were taken in by a distant cousin of my father’s to work on his farm. My father sank into an alcoholic despair from which he never really recovered, but my mother and I flourished. We had been farmers together previously, before I had turned to the grocery business and made my first fortune, and living on a farm again I felt quite at home.

Being a girl, having been a man, was not a problem for me since I grew into my girlishness before recollecting my boyishness. Nevertheless, I was what they call a tomboy. As a little girl I preferred wrestling and climbing trees to playing with dolls or dressing up. There are pictures of me as a fidgety toddler, dressed in the frilliest and fussiest of frocks and held in place for the camera by my mother. I look quite uncomfortable, as if I would rather be doing almost anything else. When I was older I never had interest in frills or ribbons. On the farm all us kids, girls and boys together, wore dungarees and ran barefoot most of the time. I only ever had one very plain dress at a time, for Sunday best. I loved being on the farm, feeding the pigs and chickens, playing in the barns, tinkering with the tractor.

Growing up was not altogether pleasant. Boys who had been fun playmates turned into earnest, boring suitors. What I could do or say became ever more restricted on grounds of being “unladylike”. I had to help with the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and I couldn’t play on the farm any more. I enjoyed letting my hair down at dances, meeting up again with old friends, even flirting with the boys. But they couldn’t compensate for the drudgery I saw ahead of me. I felt then what being a woman would mean for me in a way that I hadn’t before.

The disaster of Pearl Harbour was, I confess, a small blessing for me. When the men were drafted keeping the farm going was high priority and I escaped from the kitchen to work out in the open in the fields. Then I got a job in a munitions factory in a neighbouring county. I lived in lodgings with other women from the factory and we used to go to dances together. I had such a happy time then, away from the confines of my family. Though I loved my mother I was happy to be living independently, making new friends, doing my bit for the war but also enjoying myself. In 1944 I was twenty one. I enlisted in the Women’s Army Corp, trained as a radio operator and saw service in the East until after VJ Day.

Stationed in the Philippines I met and fell in love with a fellow soldier and back in the States we got married. He took advantage of the GI Bill to go to college and become an engineer. I kept home for him and raised four children. In the 60s I got involved in the Women’s Movement and the Peace Movement. With my husband’s support I went to college and studied sociology and I wrote and taught in that subject for twenty years until I retired in the 80s.

Since my mother died, in 1965, I have talked to nobody about my secret. My dear husband passed away six years ago and he never knew. It was startling to me to come upon your website and realise that that place was still turning over people’s lives, so many years after I was there. It feels strangely satisfying to tell my story to someone who might possibly believe it. I can scarcely believe it myself.

In my life I have lived over one hundred sixty seven years. I have had eleven children, nineteen grandchildren, at least twenty eight great grandchildren and more great great grandchildren and great great great grandchildren than I could possibly trace. I fought in the Civil War in the 1860s and I marched for civil rights in the 1960s. I have been a soldier and a mother, a farmer and a teacher, a businessman and a beggar. I have seen so much, felt so much, that my heart feels full to bursting with the wonder of life.

Once I would have thanked the good Lord for the strange blessing he has given me, but now I know how foolish that would be. Nothing but chance took me to that place and if God bestowed an unmerited blessing on me he must have bestowed equally unmerited curses on many others. Whoever got my original body after me cannot have lived long. I was eighty five. And I cannot imagine what could have happened to the original spirit of the baby I became in her new, possibly adult, body, but it fills me with horror to think of her, a helpless innocent deprived of her natural infancy.

No, a different deity reigns at the Trading Post. It is the blind goddess, Fortune. She turns her wheel, raising some up to the heavens and casting others down to sit in the dust by her whim. She turns male to female, old to young. She stirs chaos into the world and we, who are subject to her random caprice, must find love and meaning where we can amid the accidents of fate.

It never occurred to me once to try going back to the Trading Post. Even if I remembered where it was I think I would be too scared, so I salute your bravery at planning a return visit. I hope Fortune smiles on you, but I fear she may confound any attempt to bring her under control.

If you find my story interesting please feel free to put it on your website. But if you don’t mind, I won’t tell you my full name, in case it causes embarrassment to my family.



Naturally, I'm having a hard time with this, not just because the curse or spell or whatever makes it difficult, even if we've been through the same thing. But... 1924! I've only been able to investigate back to the early 1990s. I don't know if I should skip seventy years of research, or dismiss it out of hand. Or even if this is real, how do I know if there's not something more useful in between?

Ah, well. Fascinating reading, and it certainly points us in some interesting new directions. Hopefully, there's more stories out there.


Jake/Ashlyn--Holiday Recap part 5

New Years Eve: Party time

André Trudeau’s home was an impressive, stately residence. As Jean-Michel and I walked up the steps he asked “Are you ready for this?” for the tenth time.

“I can do this. Don’t I look like arm candy?” I had worn a form fitting black dress. It had a “halter tie top” that really put my boobs on display.

“You look great; I just worry about you fitting in.” He says.

At the door I wrap my arm around his. “Stop worrying. Tonight I’m just one of the girls.”

The house was huge. There was a live band, servers walking around with trays of food and drink, and plenty of guests.

“Mr. Trudeau’s parties are always a social event. Guests include minor celebrities, politicians and of course people in Mr. Trudeau’s employ.” Jean-Michel tells me.

“Would you like a drink?” He asked.

“I would love a drink baby.” I give him a little grin.

“I’ll be right back.”

No sooner than Jean-Michel walked away than I hear “Ashlyn?” from nearby. I turn and see an attractive dark haired woman approaching me. She looked to be in her mid-twenties and had a lovely face with high cheekbones and large expressive brown eyes--which were wide with surprise. She was tallish and had a curvy, let elegant figure which was well on display in what looked like a very expensive black dress. She had a classic, sumptuous air about her.

“Oh my god. It is you.” She rushes over and hugs me. It had to be the real Elizabeth.

“Marie—Liz—Stop it. We shouldn’t act like we know each other!” I whisper strongly in her ear. “Besides, you know I’m not really Ashlyn.”

She lets go, and steps back. “I know.” She says sadly. “I was just so happy to see someone familiar. I’ve missed you…her.”

She shakes her head in disbelief. “You look just like her.”

Jean-Michel walks up and hands me a drink. “Hello Marie, I see you’ve met my date, Ashlyn Shelley. She’s come up from Boston.”

“She’s a pretty girl, Jean-Michel, too pretty for you.” Liz smiles at Jean-Michel. “I would like something to drink also. Would you mind getting me something?”

Jean-Michel gives Liz a look and then me. “You two will be okay while I am gone?”

“We girls will be fine.” Liz tells him. She turns to me. “So tell me about yourself Ashlyn. Tell me about Boston.”

I tell her all about myself—I just left out anything about not really being Ashlyn.

“I have a good friend Elizabeth, she going through something right now. She trying to balances a long term boyfriend and a lover on the side. It’s been difficult for her, but she seems to be pulling it off.” I’m a little bitter as I say this. I don’t like the position Liz has put Art.

Liz looks past me and puts a hand on my arm. “Please, don’t mention that to Jean-Michel.” Her face was pleading.

I was slightly surprised. “Okay Marie.”

Before I could find out why, Jean-Michel returned with a drink for Liz. “Sorry it took so long, people kept stopping me to ask me about my date.”

Liz made a face. “Some things never change.” She said under her breath.

I hear someone nearby exclaim something in French. I didn’t understand much, just the name “Marie!” We all turn to see a middle-aged man. He wore a snazzy, expensive suit, and I could tell he dyed his beard. He was enough of a physical presence to be personally intimidating; he gave me a dangerous vibe.

Liz turned and said something to him in French—and even though I didn’t speak French, I could tell from body language she was struggling.

“Come on Liz,” I could hear Jean-Michel speak under his breath, “You’ve had the French classes.”

“Marie” finally gets out whatever she was trying to say, and then there is an awkward pause as André Trudeau looked me over.

Jean-Michel jumps forward and shakes the man’s hand. They exchange a few words in fluent French. Jean-Michel didn’t seem to be having the same issues as Marie.

“Ashlyn, this is André Trudeau, the man who is giving this party.” Jean-Michel says to me.

Showtime. I give him a big smile. “Is this your home? This is a beautiful place.” I gushed.

André gives me a tight lipped smile. “You’ve been holding out on us Jean-Michel, Ashlyn is very beautiful.” He spoke in with a thick French accent. He stuck his hand out towards me. I thought for a moment he wanted to shake my hand, so I reciprocated. I was wrong. He took my hand leaned over and kissed it. It made my skin crawl. Worse, he didn’t let my hand go. He placed his other hand on top of my hand—it was subtle, and passive aggressive, but it was some kind of message: you are within my power.

I’ve only known this guy for a minute, and we barely spoken, but he seriously gave me the creeps.

We make small talk for several minutes. He held my hand the entire time.

“André,” Liz asked, “Would you mind if Ashlyn went into the library? I would like to show her some of the photographic prints you have in there.”
“You have an interest in photography?” He eyes me.

“Yes. I just got a new camera for Christmas. I’m struggling with it though—it’s soooo complicated.” I smile at him again.

He pats the back of my hand. “I normally don’t let people into the library, but I’ll make an exception this time.”

He turns to Jean-Michel. “Not you. Just the ladies. I have some people I want you to meet.”

André kissed my hand again. “I need to circulate through the crowd. I hope to see you later. Jean-Michel, you are with me.”

Jean-Michel gives me a nervous look. “I’ll be fine.” I tell him. André had finally let go of me, so turn to Jean-Michel and gave him a passionate kiss. I was hoping it might help convince André that he had no concerns about “Marie” and Jean-Michel.

It was the fourth time I had kissed Jean-Michel. Damned if I didn’t enjoy it too.

“Go do your thing; I’ll catch up with you. Don’t forget you owe me a dance.” I tried to sound seductive.

Liz and I immediately made our way to the library. She pulled the large rolling library door closed. “We can talk in here.” She announced.

She walks over and gives me a hug. “Thank you for coming. You have no idea what hearing about home does for me.”

“No problem. I’m glad I could come.”

She lets me go and we take some chairs near the fireplace. “Are you sure you were a guy before? That kiss was kind of hot.”

I shrug. “I’ve learned to improvise.” I hesitate, not knowing where to start. “How are you holding up Elizabeth?

“It’s been awful. I’m terrified of André. Being his mistress isn’t much better than being a whore…the things he makes me do…” She gathers herself. “Plus there’s the French thing. I took years of high school French, and for some reason I can’t seem to remember much of it.”

“How can André’s mistress be at his New Year’s Eve party? Shouldn’t you be a secret?”

“I came as the ‘date’ of one of André’s men.” Liz stated. “André likes to keep me close.”

I think we both felt we couldn’t be missing for very long so we talked quickly.
We discussed the pseudo plan to get everyone back to their bodies. I told her about Ashlyn’s desire to stay as Jean-Michel.

“She's really gotten into living Jean-Michel’s life. It's a side of her I'd never seen before.” Liz said.

“There is another problem with Ashlyn,” Liz adds. “The expensive car, the expensive condo and clothes—Jean-Michel wasn’t making enough money to afford all that stuff. I hear rumors that people in the organization wonder where Jean-Michel has gotten his windfall of cash. Jean-Michel wasn’t high enough in the organization to make that kind of money.”

“Could you talk to her?” She pleaded.

I said I would.

We discussed everything I knew about Art and his situation again. “What’s the reason we are keeping that from Jean-Michel?”

Liz sighed. “Shame. Selfishness. I’m afraid if Ashlyn—Jean-Michel—found out, I would be revealed to be the big hypocrite that I am, and she wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I don’t think I can survive this without her.”

“Why would Ashlyn care?”

“Because when we were roommates I gave her hell for her for the way she used men and threw them away.”

“And you think cheating on Ray would piss Ashlyn off.” I state.

“Yeah, something like that.” She admits.

We talked about other things for a while, but eventually we felt we couldn’t be away any longer. We returned to the party.

I found Jean-Michel off in a room with a bunch of guys smoking cigars.

I sexily walk into the room. “Are girls allowed in here? Or is this a guy’s only room?”

“We’ll make an exception.” I didn’t see who said it. I walk over to Jean-Michel and lean into him. “Hey baby, when are we going to dance? How about now? Don’t you want to dance with me?” I smile.

“Sorry gentlemen, if you will excuse me, the lady wants to dance.” Jean-Michel says to the group.

We danced and drank and had a really good time for the next couple of hours. Several times Jean-Michel would introduce me to different guests. A few times he conversed in French.

“Where did you learn French? Liz is dying.” The band was loud enough that I though it was safe to talk.

Jean-Michel grinned. “Liz took six years of French in junior high and high school while I was busy fucking the hockey team, most of them spoke French.”

I laughed. It was really funny to hear the manly Jean-Michel admit to fucking the hockey team.

Fifteen minutes until midnight the wait staff started handing out glasses of champagne.

We get to the last ten seconds and people start counting down.

“3! 2! 1!” the crowd yelled.

And for the fifth time I found myself kissing Jean-Michel. People were yelling and cheering, and champagne corks were popping—and we kept on kissing. Eventually we came up for air, but I found that I didn’t really want to stop. It was a scary feeling.

The party broke up pretty quickly after midnight. I got the feeling no one wanted to keep André up any later than he wanted.

We made sure to thank André for inviting us. He took my hand again, and kisses it again.
“You need to visit again. You seem to have a positive effect on Marie. I haven’t seen her this happy in quite a while.” He tells me.

In the car Jean-Michel turns to me, “You were amazing! You did great.”

“I’m just glad it’s over.” I was still thinking about that last kiss.

We get back to the condo and Jean-Michel puts on music again. Tonight it’s Ray Charles.

Jean-Michel walks up close and whispers “Are you alright? You seem upset.”

The first thing I had done getting back to the condo was to slip off my heels. I ended up looking up at him. My leap before I look nature took over and I reached up and pulled him down to me, kissing him again.

This time I could feel his hands traveling over my body. It felt good.

I suddenly come to my senses and I pull away from him. What was I doing?

Jean-Michel gets up close again. “What’s going on?”

“I’m confused, okay!” I quietly hiss at him. “I’m a man, damn it! I shouldn’t be having these thoughts!”

We stand there for a moment, Ray Charles singing away.

“Come with me.” Jean-Michel whispers.

He takes my hand. I resist.

“Trust me; I want to show you something.” He insists.

He starts to lead me into the bedroom. I really resist then.

“I want you to come with me and stand in front of the big mirror in my bedroom.” He whispers. “Trust me.” He leans in and kisses me. I loose a little of my resolve, and allow him to lead me into the bedroom and in front of a big mirror.

He steps back. “What do you see?” He whispers.

“I see myself.” I say.

“And how would you describe yourself?” He asks, stepping closer.

Every since I had gotten over the shock of being turned into Ashlyn, I have spent a great deal of time gazing into mirrors. I never get tired of it.

“Beautiful.” I whisper, it seemed wrong to say that about myself. I was slightly ashamed.

Standing behind me, Jean-Michel kisses me on the neck. I watch it happen in the mirror, and feel it happen. It’s nice.

“A beautiful WOMAN.” He stresses.

He loosens the halter top, and the top of the dress falls away, revealing the black strapless bra I had worn underneath. He kisses my shoulders and slides the dress down; I am standing there in nothing but my bra and thong. His hands were touching me all over and it felt amazing, he knew how to touch this body.

“Am I right?” He asked.

In the mirror I watch him as he unhooks my bra, and because it was strapless, it falls away. Seeing my breasts is always a turn on. His hands began to caress the bottom of my breasts.

“Am I right?” He persists.

“YYYeeessss.” It was something between a sigh and a moan.

I could feel myself getting wet. Jean-Michel was hitting all the right buttons.

“Look at those breasts, the hair the hips—you are a sexy woman.” He whispers. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

I was so enjoying the image in the mirror.

My nipples were hard and pointing; his fingers start to lightly play with them. I gasp.

“Say it.” He pushed. “Say it.”

I didn’t understand why he was demanding I say it. It was confusing. I considered telling him to stop.

Then one of his hands found its way inside the thong. His fingers began to massage the area around my clitoris. It was a new level of pleasure. I realized then that I didn’t want to stop. I wanted more.

“I’m a sexy woman.” He wanted to hear it, and I needed him to keep doing what he was doing. “Don’t stop. Ohmigod. Please don’t stop.”

He slid the thong down my legs. I helped. I stepped one leg out, and then kicked the thong off the other.

Jean-Michel somehow got out of his clothes quickly and gracefully.

I didn’t need the mirror anymore. I turned to him and we kiss, our mouths and tongues exploring each other.

We fell into the bed.

“You want to be on top.” He says to me quietly. “I know your body—it will give you more control.”

He laid there on his back and I nervously crawled up on top of him. I slowly lower myself onto him. The sense of penetration was odd, but felt good. Oh so good.

“You set the pace. When you think you might be close, let me know.” He tells me.

I lean forward slightly, resting my hands on his chest, and start experimenting with movement. I found a spot and movement that really worked for me fairly quickly.

“Ohmigod!” I kept saying it over and over.

My boobs were bouncing up and down and my hair kept getting in my eyes and mouth.

“I’m close!” I yell. I could feel the orgasm coming. I recognized it from my experiments with masturbation.

Jean-Michel rolled us both over into a missionary style position.

“What are you?” He asked.

This was no time for head games. I wanted my orgasm. This little pause was making it slip away.

“A woman. A sexy woman, alright? Now finish me damn it!” I yelled at him.

We continue, and he picks up the pace. I wrap my legs around him.

I was close, so damn close.

“I’m cumming!” I yell, and I did. My whole body shook.

Moments later, Jean-Michel came too.

He rolls off me after we both catch our breath. We lay there in the afterglow for a while.
“I’m a mess.” I announce. “And I am lying in the wet spot.”

“One of the downsides of being a woman.” Jean-Michel teases.

“There are a few upsides.” I roll over and kiss him. “I’m going to take a shower.”

Twenty minutes later I was back in bed—and to my surprise Jean-Michel had changed the sheet. “I always hated the wet spot too.” He whispered.

I hadn’t bothered with clothes; I just crawled into bed next to him. We ended up spooning.

“When is your flight back?” He asked.

“I’m supposed to fly back tomorrow.” I answer. “But if you don’t mind, I thought I might push it back a day.” I turn to face him, and kiss him. “I was hoping you might show me a few more positions before I go.” I whisper.

“I’d like that.”

Jean-Michel didn’t have any business to take care of on New Year Day, so we stayed in and made good use of our time.

We have dinner before I leave the following day. I had been putting it off, but I finally asked Jean-Michel how he was affording his extravagant lifestyle. It didn’t go over very well. He told me to mind my own business. We didn’t say anything the entire drive to the airport. He gets out and puts my luggage on the sidewalk. I grab him as he walks by.

“I had a good time.” I say sincerely. “Thank you for showing me things.”

I kissed him. “Bye Jean-Michel.”

He kissed me back. “Goodbye Ashlyn.”

I wave as he drove away, turned and headed into the airport.

My first thought as I sat there waiting on my plane was “I need to get all this in the blog.” My second thought was “It’s going to be tough to face Art after this.”


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jake/Ashlyn--Holiday recap part 4

I made myself at home in Jean-Michel’s condo. I walked around and looked at the pictures that were hung on the wall, randomly looked in the other rooms, and glanced in the fridge to see what kind of foods Ashlyn ate. It was more than being nosey—I was just making sure the mental picture I had of Ashlyn fit the reality. I didn’t find anything shocking; so I took a long hot bath and then put on the red dress that I had brought. It highlighted all my curves. I was just finishing up hair and makeup when I hear Ashlyn returning. I glanced at the mirror, I looked good.

I step out of the bathroom. Ashlyn see me and shakes her head in disbelief. “That’s my favorite dress; you look really good in it.”

“Thanks. Ready for dinner? I’m starved.” I ask.

Let me shave and put on something more dinner appropriate. It will take me fifteen minutes tops.”

Wow, fifteen minutes to get ready—I remember those days.

We leave the condo and on the way to the elevator Ashlyn keeps looking over at me and shaking her head.

“What?” I ask in the elevator.

“This is so unreal. No offense, but for someone who was a guy not too long ago, you sure got the sexy girl thing down.”

“No offense taken. I’ve been trying to make the most out of this experience. It’s kind of fun to vamp it up a little, be the center of attention.”

Ashlyn was quiet for a moment. “Be careful, after a while all that attention can really wear you down.” She sounded a little bitter.

“How did you know I brought the red dress?” I asked.

“Because I would have brought it. It looks really good on me…you.”

In the car we went back into character. “So handsome, where are you taking me to dinner?” I ask.

“We have a reservation at Les Halles.” Ashlyn spoke in a French accent.

“A fancy French restaurant?” I ask.

“Oh yes, it is the most pretentious restaurant in town—but the food is amazing.”

We gave the car to a valet, checked our coats and we were immediately taken to our table.

“So are able to talk freely here?” I ask.

“Yes. Just be careful what you say in the car, in the condo or on the phone. Email is dangerous as well.” He says seriously.

“So, who is watching you so close? “ I ask.

Ashlyn sighs. “Who isn’t? There is a lot of mistrust in line of work. The problem is even worse because Marie—Liz—is the mistress of André Trudeau who is my boss. He thinks Liz and I might be cheating on him. The man was already paranoid because the Canadian government has been heavily pursuing organized crime the last few months. I have been under surveillance from the people I work with, and other organized crime families, as well as the Canadian government, local police and reporters.”

“Wow, that’s rough. How do you handle it?” I ask.

“How do you handle being a woman? I’m guessing the answer is the same: because you don’t have a choice.”

“Yes, but at least being a woman isn’t dangerous.” I say.

“Really? I guess you haven’t walked home from the Lechmere station by yourself late at night. Or has the thought that you could be raped not crossed your mind yet?” She asked bluntly.

The conversation was making me uncomfortable, and I squirmed in my seat.

“Sorry. I don’t mean to upset you.” She sighs. “You seem like a good person Jake. A trusting person. From what little time I have spent with you I get the impression that you’re treating being a woman as some sort of adventure—you need to be careful. I lived the life your living for 23 years, there are people out there who will hurt you.”

“You are right; I hadn’t thought much about rape. I should be more careful.” I admit.

“Women, especially attractive women, grow up with that fear always in the back off their minds.” She says.

“Let’s not talk about rape.” Ashlyn pauses as the waiter brings us our wine. As soon as the waiter walks away she pipes up again. “So how is being me?”

“It’s been interesting and very educational so far. I was just an average looking guy before, so it’s kind of fun to be so attractive.” I say.

“You don’t get tired of the constant attention? Some guy giving you a line and asking for your number every five minutes?”

“Not yet, but I could see where that could get old after a while. I don’t think I go out clubbing as much as you did—I’ve been working a lot, so I probably don’t get hit on as much as you did.” I tell her about my job at the lounge.

“You are going to ruin my lazy reputation.” She jokes.

“Yeah, what’s with that? I know you are an intelligent person--when I took over your life there wasn’t much going on.”

The question came out much harsher than I intended—I could tell I hit some kind of nerve.

“Tell me ASHLYN,” she stressed the name, “It’s your life now. What do you plan to do with it? Being a sexy red head with big boobs opens a lot of doors, and closes a lot of others. You want to know what happened to me? I got tired of fighting everyone’s perception of who I should be. People expected me to be lazy, vain and to live off of other people—so that’s what I did.”

She glared at me though Jean-Michel’s dark eyes.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to be judgmental. I didn’t exactly have the perfect life before turning into you either. I was a work-a-holic. No family, and I hardly spent anytime with friends. I always had a secret fear that the only thing they would put on my tombstone was: HE WAS A HARD WORKER.”

“We were kind of opposites.” She comments. “I was all about having a good time, you were all about work.” She seemed much less upset.

“Yeah. I guess so.”

“So how do you like sex from the other side?” Her question caught me off guard. I think I blushed. I had basically asked Art the same question a few weeks ago—but Art and I are friends and I can get away with that kind of stuff with him.

“Um, I really wouldn’t know.” I said quietly.

“You’re shitting me. You haven’t tried out sex yet? Aren’t you curious? I couldn’t wait to try it. You men are so uptight about sex.” She grinned.

“Well…I did find your vibrator.” I admitted.

“Oh?” She leaned forward, interested. “What did you think?”

“I bought a big box of batteries the next day.” We both laughed.

Dinner came and the food was as advertised. We talked and shared a bottle of wine. It was nice to be able to talk to someone about what I had been through other than Art. Art is a good friend, but it’s nice to get a different perspective.

I waited until dessert before I broke the news that there might be a way to get everyone back into their old bodies.

Ashlyn didn’t take the news quite like I expected. She kind of turned away from me and looked like she was staring at something in the distance.

“That’s fantastic news for Liz. We’ve got to get her away from that sick bastard André. “

Her reaction struck me funny. “What about you? You’ve got to be anxious to get back to this body. This is an excellent body.” I jokingly pointed to myself.

“Do we have to go back if we don’t want to? Would it screw up the magic?” She asked.

“No…I don’t think so.” I answered surprised.

“Then I’m staying as Jean-Michel. The body, the life is yours Jake. I like you, I hope you keep it. It would be nice that someone I liked got it.” She was serious.

I intend to get my old life back, but I didn’t say so. It would be like refusing a precious gift, and I didn’t want to insult Ashlyn.

We didn’t say much after that. I could tell Ashlyn—no, I guess that is Jean-Michel now—needed to be alone with his thoughts.

He paid the bill and we headed out.

As we waited for the Valet he turned to me. “About our sleeping arrangements, in case someone is listening we need to start in the same bed, I’ll quietly sneak off to the couch a few minutes later.”


When we got back to his place he put on a Nora Jones cd and it played through the entire condo. Jean-Michel gets up close to me and whispers. “The music should give us some privacy if we talk softly. Let’s go to the bedroom, make a little noise, and get into bed.”

Since Jean-Michel only thought people were listening and not watching, I didn’t bother to put anything sexy on. I washed off my makeup, put my hair in a pony tail, and slipped on my pink t-shirt with “Pornstar” written across the front. I guess the t-shirt was a little sexy.

I step into the bedroom speaking loudly enough to be heard over the music. “Hey baby, you like this? It’s just a little something I picked up from Victoria Secret.”
He grinned. “I like it very much. But I think I’ll enjoy taking it off of you even more.”

We crawl into bed.

We lied there awkwardly, space between us.

“Oh baby, that feels soooo good.” I announce for the benefit of anyone listing in.

Jean-Michel starts to laugh, and covers his face with a pillow so as to not be heard.

Ten minutes later Jean-Michel rolls over and kisses me. This kiss was nice. Real nice.
“Good night.” He whispers to me and he slips quietly out of the bed.


The next morning I woke up alone with the smell of coffee wafting through the condo. Like a moth to a flame, I made my way to the kitchen, in search of what smelled so good.
Jean-Michel hands me a coffee.

“I know just the way you like it.” He says to me.

He was right. The coffee was amazing.

He made us a breakfast of scrambled eggs and croissants; it was simple but tasty.

“I have to step out again on a business matter.” He says to me. “It might take a while. Will you be okay until this evening?”

I stuck out my lower lip and pretended to pout. “But what will I do all day without you?”

He rolls his eyes.

Jean-Michel must be a morning person. I was moving at warp one while he was moving at warp 10. He was dressed and nearly out the door before I was halfway through my coffee.

“Bye!” He was charging for the door.

“Wait!” He stops and turns, I march up to him, and standing on tippy-toes, I reach up and kiss him goodbye.

“Goodbye. Have a good day at work.” I think I surprised him. I surprised myself too.


I swear I'll finish this recap in the next post. Sorry I've been hogging the blog Art.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jake/Ashlyn--Holiday recap part 3

Part 3

I removed many, many pairs of shoes from the closet and sure enough, I was able to pull up some of the floor boards. Inside was Ashlyn’s passport, her most recent diary, various paperwork, a couple of dvds, a folder of photographs, a SAG (screen actors guild) card and five hundred dollars in cash.

The folder of photos was all of Ashlyn in sexy poses. Ashlyn in bikinis, Ashlyn in lingerie, Ashlyn in nothing at all. The photos were professional quality, I wondered why they were taken, and by who.

I set the pictures aside and picked up the SAG card. I knew a little about these, in my previous life I worked in television commercials.

In Hollywood they won’t hire an actor unless they are a member of the screen actor’s guild—it’s a union, it’s a strong one, and not easy to get into. Ashlyn probably had to work very hard to get the SAG card. I wonder why she wasn’t pursuing her acting career? By becoming a SAG member she had already overcome one of the biggest hurtles for professional actors.

The money was kind of a mystery as well. When I took over Ashlyn’s life, she had less than fifty dollars in her bank account. Why would she hide five hundred in her closet?

Lastly, I flipped through the diary. A few entries before the last, Ashlyn wrote why she broke up with Josh. Apparently a friend of Ashlyn’s worked in a jewelry store—and Josh had come into the store to look at engagement rings. Josh didn’t know this person, but they knew Josh, and they called Ashlyn with the “good news” right after Josh left the store. It wasn’t good news for Ashlyn. She liked Josh—maybe even loved him—but she had no interest in marrying him. She decided to break it off before he could pop the question.

The last entry mentioned that she and Liz were going on a little trip to a place called The Trading Post Inn. She planned on starting a new life, one without Josh, when she got back.

Christmas Eve morning Josh showed up at our doorstep, gifts in hand. He had emailed me previously that he was going to Colorado with friends on a Christmas ski trip. There has been little to no snow in New England so far this winter, so local skiing was out.

“Last chance. The skiing is going to be great; I would love for you to come.” He says to me.

I love skiing, but I decline. “Sorry, I have plans in Providence with my parents.”

“Next time then.” He put several gifts under the tree—they were for my roommates. One he hands to me.

“Merry Christmas Ash.” I knew this was coming. I had decided to not make it a big deal. I was even prepared. I ran over to the tree and pulled out a present, ready to give it to him.

“Merry Christmas to you too.” I say to him. We stare at each other awkwardly for a moment until I realize he was waiting for me to open his gift.

I pull off the wrapping paper and open the gift. Inside the box was filled with vanilla flavored tootsie rolls.

“Oh wow.” I was surprised—confused, and surprised.

“I know how much you love those things.” He waits, watching me. “Look underneath the candy.”

I dig through the candy. I find something and pull it out.

It was a chain necklace with a silver pendant. The pendant was circular and flat, with Gaelic words “anam cara” on one side and a spiral design, also Gaelic, on the other.
Ashlyn has an Irish heritage, so this gift was extremely well thought out.

There was another awkward pause and I realized he wanted to see me wear it. I handed him the necklace, turned away from him, and I held up my hair with both hands. He puts the necklace on me.

“Anam cara?” I ask him.

“It means soul friend.” He says softly.

I hand him my gift to him. I purposely tried to give him something that he couldn’t read too much into. We were just friends exchanging gifts. So when he takes off the wrapping paper and breaks into a huge smile, I was a little surprised.

“I can’t believe you remembered.” He hugs me.

I had given him a bunch of used DVDs. Nothing special, but films I liked and thought he might not have seen. Films like “Run Lola run” and “The commitments”.

“I’m glad you like them.” I say, slightly mystified. This guy had it bad for Ashlyn, I wondered if he would’ve been excited about anything I got him.

Then he asked me out for New Years Eve.

I took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I already have plans. I’m going up to Montreal for a few days.”
“What’s in Montreal?” He asks surprised.

“A big party—and an old boyfriend.” I say it quickly, like ripping a band aid off.

He was obviously hurt. “Have a good time.” He says to me, and leaves.

Christmas was much like Thanksgiving but this time there were presents. I took the train to Providence, and had Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my “parents”. It was good to see them again. Ashlyn’s parents were so uplifting and positive; it felt good to just hang out with them. I know they are not really my parents, but I find they really fill something that was missing in my life.


It took some effort, but I was able to find people to cover all my shifts at the lounge. So on the day before New Year’s Eve, I found myself on a Delta flight landing at the Montreal-Trudeau airport.

Ashlyn was picking me up. I had seen Jean-Michel on the dvd letter that was left for me at the Trading Post Inn. I reviewed it once or twice so I would recognize Jean-Michel when I saw him in a crowed airport. More than likely, Ashlyn would find me—after all, she definitely knew what I looked like.

I was supposed to be “arm candy” for Jean-Michel, so I went all out. I went to the salon and got my hair done, and dressed in a red turtleneck sweater that hugged my upper body. I also wore a short black skirt and the boots I had received from the secret admirer. I definitely looked the part of arm candy.

Ashlyn found me as I was waiting for my luggage. I hear an “Oh my god” right behind me, and I turn to see who it was.

Jean-Michel was a rugged, handsome man with short dark hair and dark brown eyes. He had a day or two beard’s growth which added to his tough look. He was nicely dressed, but all in black.

There was awkward silence as the man before me stared. “It is so weird to see yourself standing in front of yourself.” He says.

“I know what you mean.” I tell him. “I’ve gone through the same experience myself. I am guessing we can talk here?”

“Yes. Even if they are around, they should not be able to overhear us.” He gives me a look. “I should kiss you in case they are watching. Help establish that you are a girlfriend.”

“Oh. Okay.”

He closes the gap between us and wraps his arms around me. He took his time with the kiss. I was surprised to enjoy it, the kiss was nice.

We separate and he points to luggage coming down the chute. “Here comes your bag.” Of course Ashlyn would recognize the luggage; she owned it not long ago.

He grabs the luggage and we head out. As we walk to his car he tells me to be careful what I say inside—it might be bugged.

Just before we get to the car he stops. “Are you comfortable with staying at my place? I know it must be awkward for you and I want you to be comfortable. I could get you a hotel room, but it might look odd. Jean-Michel is known to be a ladies man.”

Living in Ashlyn’s life the last few months has given me a unique understanding of the girl. I’ve read her diaries, know her parents and her friends are now my friends—she has her problems, but I trust her. I tell her as much.

“Thanks Jake. That means a lot—we should be careful what we say at my place as well. I sweep for bugs on a regular basis, but I might miss one. Here’s my car.”

Jean-Michel’s car was a Viper roadster. I guess organized crime paid well. He put my luggage in the trunk and we were off.

We went into character inside the car. I talked about “my roommates and family” giving Ashlyn a little picture of what I have been doing the last few months. He had tons of questions, and I answered them all.

Jean-Michel owned an expensive downtown condo—another sign he was doing alright financially. He handed the keys to his car to the doorman and asked that someone retrieve my luggage. The doorman was obviously nervous around Jean-Michel; he said he would have the bags sent up right away.

In the elevator I turn to Ashlyn “The doorman was afraid of you.”

“I’ve been nothing but kind to the man. I always tip him well.”

We go in and Ashlyn puts on some music and gets us drinks. The condo was well decorated and even better—clean. Cleanliness is something the old and new Ashlyn share.

“This is a nice place.” I tell him, “You ought to see the condo I share with four roommates. They are not the neatest of people.”

“Stuff like that drives me crazy.” He tells me. “I’ve got to go out for a couple of hours—business reasons. Why don’t you relax here and when I get back I’ll take you out for dinner, and we can catch up.”

He steps in close again and kisses me again. It was good a second time.

“Wear the red dress for dinner. It will be perfect.” He takes off.

I wondered how he knew I would pack the red dress.


I’ve got to go to work; I’ll have to do a part 4—probably tomorrow will be the end of my holiday recap.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jake/Ashlyn--Holiday Recap Part 2

Part 2

I took the train to Providence to spend Christmas with Ashlyn’s family. I didn’t invite Josh this time—actually, I have been avoiding him. Talking to Art about Josh really put things in perspective for me. Josh is in love with Ashlyn, and for the moment I am Ashlyn and I don’t feel the same. I feel bad about the situation, Josh is a good guy. He deserves a girl that would love him back. So I’ve decided to hang out with him less—if not at all. I probably can’t totally avoid him; he’s friends with my roommates.

Relationships seem to be more complicated as a girl. I’m used to chasing the pretty girl that won’t give me the time of day—not the reverse. The hard part is I totally understand what Josh is going through, and I feel for the guy.

A couple of days before Christmas, I mentioned my relationship problem to Logan, one of my roommates, as we were doing one of our early morning workouts at the fire station gym.

“You’ve got a problem then.” Logan says to me as he bench presses an ungodly amount of weight, “He’s going to ask you out to some sort of New Years Eve gala. He said it would be very romantic.”

“I don’t know what I am going to do. I don’t what to hurt him.” I meant it.

My New Years Eve problem was solved for me later that same day.

My little pink cell phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but it had a 514 area code. I did recognize the area code as a Montreal number—and the only people I know in Montreal are the original Ashlyn and Liz.

I took the call. “Hello, this is Ashlyn.”

“It is so weird to hear you say that. Hi. This is Ashlyn—or I used to be.” It was a man’s voice.

I was stunned. “Wow. Hello.” I didn’t know what to say.

“I can’t talk long. I only have a few minutes that it is safe to talk. I’m calling to see if you would come up to Montreal for New Years. There’s a big party here, and I’m expected to have a serious piece of arm candy. I thought of you. It would give us a chance to meet, and exchange information—plus it’s sure to be an incredible party. I’ll handle all of your traveling expenses. What do you say?”

It was a lot to assimilate. I didn’t know a whole lot about Ashlyn’s and Liz situation, but I did know it involved organized crime. “Um, would it be safe?” Geez. I sounded like a scared little girl asking that.

“Absolutely.” The voice assured me. “I’ll take really good care of you, and wouldn’t let you get into anything dangerous.”

Art is always telling me that I always leap before I look—I guess he is right. “Okay. I’ll come.”

“Great!” There was a pause, “You were a guy before, right? Are you going to be able to put on a little black dress and be convincing as someone Jean-Michel would be dating?”

“I’ve gotten the hang of your clothes; a little black dress won’t be a problem.”

“It will take more than just wearing the dress, you’ll need to act the part—be sexy, girly and affectionate. People will be watching, and I don’t want you to seem out of place.”

“I can do it.” I said.

“Cool. Then I am going to call you again later today and ask you out again—but this time I will be calling as Jean-Michel, and people might be listening. Be sure to act the part.” He tells me.

“One last thing before I go. You’ll need a passport. In my closet—I mean your closet—some of the flooring is loose. Underneath the flooring are some of your more important papers, including your passport and some cash.”

“That would’ve been nice to know before now.” I was annoyed. When I took over Ashlyn’s life she was really broke—it would’ve been nice to know about a secret stash of money.

“Sorry. I was hoping to get my life back; it didn’t make sense to tell you everything.” He sounded sincere.

“Oh, I have news on the whole getting your life back situation—“I start to tell him.

“I’m out of time. Tell me when you see me. Remember when I call to act like you are happy to hear from an old boyfriend! I gotta go.” The line went dead.

A few hours later my phone rang again.

“Hello, this is Ashlyn.”

“Hi baby, this is Jean-Michel.”

“Well hi yourself. You naughty boy, you haven’t called me in a while.” I tried to sound all sexy when I said it.

He asks me to come up to Montreal to spend the New Years with him. I say yes, and we make plans. He said he would buy me a roundtrip airline ticket, and I should expect to stay a few days. ”I’m looking forward to seeing you again.” I say.

“Me too. Bye baby, see you soon.”

I hung up and immediately made an appointment with a salon to get my hair done—I needed to look my best.

Tired now—I’ll have to finish the holiday recap tomorrow.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Jake/Ashlyn--Holiday Recap part 1

The holidays nearly killed me.

I didn’t have much time to sleep, much less keep up with this blog. I was a busy girl:
Following up leads on my “secret admirer”, working at the lounge, working for the radio station, Christmas shopping, multiple Christmas parties, and spending time with Ashlyn’s family. Did I mention I also went up to Canada as Jean-Michel Therriot’s (the original Ashlyn) date for New Years? Yeah, I did that—I ended up staying up there longer than I planned. But I’ll get into that later.

When Art first suggested I write in this blog, we hadn’t yet had our lives turned upside down by the Trading Post Inn, and I found writing in it to be an annoyance. Since the transformation, I’ve found it to be therapeutic. During the times when I get too busy to keep up with it, a little voice nags me in the back of my head: You need to write in the blog. What’s worse is when I something happens and I say to myself “that was halfway interesting, that needs to go into the blog”—but I procrastinate, and something else interesting happens, and then something else happens-- suddenly I find myself “behind” in the blog.

In the last two weeks, several things happened that I would define as “blog worthy”. I am soooooooooo behind on this blog.

I guess I’ll start basically right after my last blog entry. Approximately two weeks ago Art and I met at the mall, caught up on what was going on with our lives and did a little shopping. I mentioned to him then that I was going to go out to Anthony’s strip club to follow up on the lead on my “secret admirer”—and that is exactly what I did two days later.

Up until turning into Ashlyn, I was a single guy in his mid thirties, living in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in Texas, there are many stereotypes about Texans that I wanted no part of—I didn’t own a pair of boots, or even a cowboy hat, and could care less about country western music. I did, however, visit some of the area’s many strip clubs from time to time. It wasn’t something I did all that often, but it was not something I avoided either. I’ve even had a few business meetings at some of the upscale gentlemen’s clubs in Dallas.

So when I was standing in front of Anthony’s club, it gave me pause. My perspective was vastly different than the last time I visited a place like that.

I had decided to drop by Anthony’s place late in the afternoon, before the after work crowd would show up. On the phone Anthony said to come by “any time” but if I wanted to really see the place hopping, come by at night—but if I wanted time to talk, come by during the day. I went with the later. Anthony’s place was all brick with no windows. When I opened the door, Gun’s n Roses’ “Welcome to the jungle” came blaring out. Inside it was dark, and a large man with Italian features was standing just inside the doorway.

I’ve had guys “undress” me with their eyes in the last few months, but usually they try to be discreet; this guy didn’t care if I knew he was giving me the once over.

He gives me a smirk and asks if I am a guest to the private party they are hosting.

I tell him no, that I was here to speak with Anthony.

“Sorry babe, auditions are on Wednesdays. Why don’t you give me your number and I’ll pass it along to Anthony.” He actually made eye contact for a split second before his eyes returned to my breasts. I think he was attempting to appear sincere.

I decided to be pleasant. I gave him a little smile and tell him no, I wasn’t here for a job, I had business with Anthony. He grunts and picks up a phone. After a short exchange he points me to the bar.

“Anthony is detained with the private party, and might be unavailable for the next half hour. You can wait at the bar.”

The place wasn’t as empty as I had hoped—In fact, it was nearly full. Where did all these guys find the time to go to a strip club on a workday afternoon? On stage a hot blonde was doing her thing. My brain did two things: One, it acknowledged that the stripper was smoking hot; two, I wondered if I was as hot as she was. I walk over to the bar area, and find an empty table—but not without getting a lot of attention from every guy I walked by. I expected this, so I smile and avoid making eye contact. I knew when I decided to visit Anthony’s place that it was going to be awkward—I knew only too well how guys act inside these clubs. It’s one of a few places a guy can go and not worry about being respectful to women—you see a pair of tits you like, you hoot and holler. I understood it, but I could still feel all the eyes on me and it creeped me out.

Anthony had an upscale place. It was even slightly decorated for Christmas, including a large Christmas tree. Nothing says Christmas like a strip club.

An attractive woman dressed in a sexy elf costume sets a drink in front of me. She points to a table on the other side of the room. A guy waves at us. “This is from Dave.” She pauses, “I think he thinks you work here.” She motioned around the room, pointing out a couple of hot looking women sharing a drink with the patrons. “Management encourages the dancers to spend time with the crowd in-between their sets.” She pauses. “So are you looking for a job? Auditions are on Wednesdays.”

“No, I’m not. I just have business with Anthony, and I’m waiting to talk to him.” I take a sip and wave an acknowledgement to Dave. I know it’s going to lead to him walking over and trying to chat me up, but I know that sooner or later some guy was going to try, it might as well be him. The sexy elf takes off and Dave wasted no time, within moments he was standing beside my table.

I think it is in my nature to be a kind person—and I try to be non-judgmental of other people. 30 seconds after meeting Dave up close a personal I knew I couldn’t stand the guy. You would think that a guy who was hoping to get up close to a stripper would wear a shirt without holes in it. Yet it wasn’t his clothes that annoyed me. It was how he opened his conversation with “You have amazing body. When do you go on stage? I can’t wait to see more.”

I only give him a partial withering stare and I tell Dave I do not work at the club. He at least had enough manners to pretend to be embarrassed. He still asked me if I wanted to join him and his friends at their table.

I declined.

I wondered what I was going to do until Anthony was free. Fighting off strip club patrons was going to get tiresome. Fortunately, one of the clubs bouncers noticed me. The man was all muscle. He was tall with brown hair--and I’m sure all the real women would consider him handsome. I could care less that he looked like he could bench press a car—what did get my attention was the sound of his voice: he had a Texas accent, a thick one. It reminded me of home.

I do not have a Texas accent—I have no accent at all when I speak. As a child I had a slight stuttering problem. It really only showed up when I was excited—but my parents decided to have me see a speech therapist. She made me read into tape machines, speak while holding a lifesaver candy to the roof of my mouth, listen to her say a sentence and say it back to her--and tons of other “vocal” exercises. She did help me with my stuttering problem, and in the process, she killed any accent I might have had. It was a slight problem for me growing up; everyone around me had an accent, and I didn’t. People would always ask me where I was from, and I would shrug and say “here”. My lack of an accent has been both a blessing and a curse since I have become Ashlyn. No, I don’t sound Texan, but I don’t sound Bostonian either. People in the Northeast speak like the letter “R” has been banished from the alphabet. My new mother notices I sound differently now when I visit.

The bouncer introduced himself as Troy and asked if there was anything he could do to make me more comfortable.

“Actually, yes there is. I’m waiting to speak with Anthony. In the meantime, is there someplace else I could wait? Like someone’s office?”

Which lead me to life among the bimbos. Troy couldn’t leave me alone in an office, but he could allow me into the dressing room of the dancers.

I wasn’t sure what I expected a dressing room for strippers would be like—maybe something sexy, and comfortable. You would think the club would want to take care of its main commodities, right?

The reality is not what you would expect. It was very eye opening.

The women were hot, and in varying stages of undress. That was what you expect. What you wouldn’t expect was that the dressing room was totally uncomfortable—no where to sit, no decoration what-so-ever in the room, and it was cold. Several of the women had brought little space heaters, trying to keep warm. The room was sterile and cold. The only thing on the walls was a water stain and a poster with various rules written on it. The room was bleak, and I mentioned it to one of the four strippers in the room. Her name was Dana. “It’s a part of the game.” She tells me.

We chat. I try not to stare as she totally undresses in front of me and puts on a naughty school girl outfit.

“What do you mean; it’s a part of the game?” I ask.

“How do you think the club makes money?” She answered a question with a question.

“I hadn’t really thought about it. I guess I thought the tips and liquor.” I answer.

“You’re half right.” She starts braiding her hair. “Liquor sales are everything for the club. The dressing room is purposely uncomfortable to keep the dancers from spending too much time in here. The club wants us out there mingling with the guests—and of course, getting bought expensive, extremely watered down drinks.”

She shares her space heater with me. “Dancers keep the tips from customers, but there are a few catches.” She continues, “First, dancers are not employees of the club. We can’t be because of sexual harassment laws. Dancers are self employed; we rent the stage from the club every time we go out there. Plus, we share part of our tips with the DJ, bartender, sometimes the bouncers. “

“Interesting. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought.” I tell her.

“Yeah.” She laughs slightly, “It’s more than just taking you clothes off. You thinking about giving it a try?”

I shake my head no. “Just curious.”

We talk until Troy, the Texan bouncer, came and let me know Anthony was ready to see me. Talking to Dana was interesting—she was smart and confident. I liked her.

In sharp contrast to the dressing room, Anthony’s office was warm, comfortable and well decorated. When I walk into the room Anthony stands up and walks out from behind a huge desk. He walks over, hugs me and kisses me on the cheek.

“You get prettier every time I see you.” He tells me. He offers me a chair and he returns to behind the desk. “I don’t suppose you’ve changed your mind and are ready to become one of my girls?”

“Not today.” I emphatically shock my head no. “I have been getting gifts from a ‘secret admirer’ and I am getting more and more uncomfortable with the things he sends. I was hoping to get the return address from the gift certificates you received in the mail—the ones you received from a secret admirer. I think they might be linked somehow.”

“That is very odd.” He tells me. I Shrug.

He opens up a drawer to his desk and pulls out an envelope. He hands it too me.

In the top left corner is the return address. It read:

Secret Admirer—and then had the address for the Trading Post Inn.

There was no second guessing anymore. My secret admirer knew my secret.

I had left my sunglasses in the dressing room, so I back there before I left. Dana was still there, about to go on and do her set.

“Can I ask a personal question?” I ask her.

“Why do I strip for a living?” She had obviously been asked the question before. “DUH! For the money! I need to do it to support my habit.”

“Your habit?” I was kind of shocked, Dana seemed so together.

“Yeah, my habit—shopping. I tried the old traditional 9 to 5 job thing. You can’t afford $400 shoes on a regular job.”

She right.

I’ll finish my Holiday recap over the weekend.

More later,


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Arthur: Calling all with stories...

Not to completely monopolize the blog - I figure Jake must have had something interesting happen on his New Year's Trip - but considering that it's only a week and a half until reservations open up for the Trading Post, it's time to kick research mode into high gear. So treat this as an open invitation; if anyone reading this has any first-hand experience with the Trading Post Inn, we'd like to hear about it.

We've already heard from one fellow victim, and what we've learned is helping us out some, but we want to know as much as we can before we start going forward with the plan to switch back. So if anyone reading has their own story, we'd like you to share it - no matter what it's been like. Just because we were all men who got changed to women, we know that's not the only sort of experience people have had, and we want to hear everything.

Anyway, if you'd like to share with us and the rest of the community, send us your experiences at tradingpoststories@yahoo.com.

We're looking forward to hearing from you.


Arthur: Oh, one other thing...

It doesn't really go with the whole New Year's Even thing, but I tried calling to see what the deal is with the Inn Monday and Tuesday. Monday, the phone just rang, I guess because of the holiday. But Tuesday, there was a message saying that they would be taking reservations for the Trading Post (and a half-dozen other places that this management company handles in southern Maine) starting on the 16th..


Arthur: New Year's Resolution Number One

... Be myself again and put this whole thing behind me, obviously.

In contrast to Christmas, New Year's was a relatively quiet evening. I worked a short shift, since we weren't starting anything after eight-thirty so that people would be able to get home in time for the countdown. I don't get that, myself - I'd rather be in a nice, heated theater at the stroke of midnight rather than out on the street waiting for some fireworks to go off , but if we're not going to get the business, I'll go home early. It's not like management gets paid by the hour in these places.

I was so worn out that staying in had a certain amount of appeal. The theater's full during school vacation week, so everyone was working extra shifts, and that was after all the family-related stress of the holiday. I got back to the condo, and I was just ready to drop.

But, Ray had dinner ready, and I was hungry. I told him about some of the craziness at the theater - it seemed like everyone thought we were doing something for Final Night, and some were actually really insistent about it. There just seemed to be a plague of people complaining about subtitles, too.

We did make it to midnight, though - one of Ray's brothers had given us a puzzle and we broke that open. I don't think I've done a jigsaw puzzle since elementary school, and in the interim either puzzle-makers have become more sadistic or I've become dumber. There's also the possibility that this means I've never really tackled a puzzle made with adults in mind, but I'm going to stick with the "sadistic bastards" theory.

The wine certainly didn't make it any easier; although it did make the evening a little more pleasant. We laughed a lot when a piece that looked like it should fit didn't, and at the weird things each other said. The puzzle itself was actually of San Francisco's "crookedest street in the world", and I let slip comments about how there was a really good bagel place there, pointing to a spot just outside the border. Of course, he didn't pay them any mind, whether because of the curse or because Elizabeth had spent some time out there (or maybe he just thought it was a funny thing to say). He joked about how he always finished his Christmas shopping up at Games People Play, and now that the shoe was on the other foot, all the people he would get puzzles must think he hates them.

But, he said, he was glad his brother George had gotten us the puzzle. It's been too long, he said, since we've really sat down to do something together. Then he leaned over and kissed me.

It kind of took me by surprise, although it shouldn't have. We've been sleeping in the same bed for three and a half months, and we'd had some close calls, so it was inevitable that he'd eventually pin me down, but, still... My mindset has been so much to maintain the status quo until May that I didn't think that something new could get sprung on me after so long, or that maybe, to Ray, this was the status quo. I dropped the puzzle pieces in my hand and just sat still as he moved back in again, this time putting his arms around me and pulling me closer.

He slipped me some tongue and I responded in kind. I was sort of on autopilot, just doing what I do when Stewart does the same things. I was a little nervous, but I knew the moves, at least. We probably undid all the work he'd done on the puzzle as he laid me out on the living room floor. He rolled off me after he came, landing on the rest.

He sighed and turned his head to look at me. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"Yeah," I said. "We've both been so busy..."

"I know. We've got to find some way of fixing that." He looked up at the clock. "I'll get the champagne."

So we counted down without a TV or radio, alternating numbers as we looked at a clock his grandfather had evidently made. When midnight came, we clinked our glasses and drank up.

"This year," he said, "I resolve to pay more attention to my girl."

"Do you?"

"I do. Starting right now."

He leaned in and kissed me again, although we moved it to the bedroom when he squeezed my butt and found a puzzle piece in there.

The next morning, he took the chance to sleep in; it's probably just the second or third time I've been up before him. I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.

So, I thought, this is what a two-timing tramp looks like. I wasn't sure just what last night made me - was I cheating on Stewart, finally doing what Liz was supposed to be doing, or just finally playing the part fully. I can't deny that it felt good - Ray and Liz had been going together since high school, and he knew every inch of her body. I was a little disappointed that I didn't orgasm; Jake says the feeling is great, and that's just from masturbation. Even as I was nervous about where all this was going, I wondered if maybe Ray could do something that Stewart couldn't.

I was a bit worried about Ray's claim that he was going to pay more attention to "Liz", though. I'm not going to lie and claim that trying to keep Liz's life on a straight line until she gets back has been easy, but it certainly helped that her relationship with Ray was on the cool side. Sure, for all I know he says this all the time and it only lasts a week or two, but I don't know whether or not that's the case.

I hope that is. This whole experience has certainly taught me to fear change.