Saturday, May 12, 2007

Arthur: Welcome (back) to Maine

I kept from crying until I got on the train. I'm going to miss Lyn a lot, of course, and going back to interacting with her online is going to be strange after having her as friend, neighbor, and confidant these past few months. It's also impossible to miss how much this is getting to her, too - she didn't even ask about how and when Ray managed to finally bring me to orgasm Wednesday night. Under normal circumstances, she would be all over me for that kind of girl talk.

But, now that I'm safely putting it behind me, I can admit that I'm going to miss Elizabeth's friends and family, too. I know where some people's minds are going, putting that right after mentioning Ray did coax an 'O' out of me, but it's not that. Those folks are, by and large, genuinely nice people, and they love Liz. As uncomfortable and misdirected as it felt at the time, in memory it feels nice to be loved. That's where nostalgia comes from, of course, remembering things but not necessarily remembering their context.

It had been a beautiful week in Boston, but the sky was getting dark as Lyn and I took the taxi to North Station - I think that between the two of us, the T would have been okay, since I packed fairly light, but I've learned by now not to overestimate what I can carry. For a few days more, at least, I'm small. Anyway, the rain caught up with me while I was on the train north, and it was raining when I got off the train. I was able to handle my luggage fine, but there was a blonde girl on the other side of the platform who was having trouble wrangling what must have been half-again her own weight in backpack, gym bag, and suitcases. I was about to leave her, since I was just about at capacity myself, but then someone pushed past her, knocking the suitcase she'd set on a bench over so it fell on her foot. She turned around to yell at him as he walked away: "Hey! Asshole! Watch where the fuck you're going!"

A good look at her face and the sound of her voice got my attention. "Jeff? Jeff Miller, is that you?"

"She" looked up, shocked, and as soon as he saw me dropped everything and ran over to wrap his arms around me. "Art! My god, it's so good to see you! Were we on the same train?"

"Looks like." I gave the Red Wings cap he was wearing a poke so that I could see into his eyes - "Brianna" is quite petite. He smiled and then squeezed me again before letting go, a little embarrassed by the show of emotion. "Need a little help?"

"Oh, god, yes."

We walked back over to her stuff, and I slung the gym bag over my shoulder. Oof. "What's in here?"

"Brianna's shoes." I looked at him a bit askance. "No, I haven't become a complete girly-girl who packs everything for a week at the beach and has to have the right shoes for each outfit, but the next Bree might be."

"Couldn't that stuff just be waiting for her at home?"

"Uh-uh." He shook his head and set his jaw, not really looking at me before continuing. "I don't know who the next Bree is going to be, but she's not going back there. I've talked to my sister, and she and my pop have already said that if I - Bree - needs a safe place, there's one at our house." He hefted his bag and started walking. I didn't press the subject.

We walked to the Oceanside Lodge to pick up our keys - last August, this had seemed a strange arrangement, but now we could see the benefit of not having the staff on site. The woman at the desk (probably the same one who took my reservation in January) gave Jeff a long, disapproving look, but handed him a key anyway, once she produced ID saying that he was Brianna Adams.

The Trading Post is only a few doors down from the Lodge, with a restaurant in between, so we just dealt with the sprinkles as we walked. I opened the door for him, and he didn't complain. We both knew the way to our rooms, so I told him I'd bring him his shoes after I dropped my stuff off.

I dropped Jeff's bag on the bed and then opened the closet to stow my stuff to see it was already full. I chuckled at that; Jeremy seemed to have brought twice as much luggage as I did. I shrugged, put what I'd brought in a corner, and then delivered Jeff's.

He was laid out on the bed, looking like he was ready for a nap. "Thanks, man. Traveling takes a lot out of a 95-pound underage girl."

I flopped down next to him. "Tell me about it. And I didn't even have to do anything but take the train." I turned my head to see that he had drifted off already. I lifted his legs onto the bed and let him be.

Back in my room, I opened one of my bags and pulled out a folder. Inside were a few sheets of paper I'd printed out that morning, outlining what I knew about the Inn, pointing people to this blog, and supplying usernames and passwords in case anyone wanted to join in. I taped one up in the common area and made a circuit of the rest of the building, slipping one under each room's door.

I slipped the last one under the door of room #8, right next to mine, and was about to head back to my room when the door opened. "Hey! Are you trying to screw things up for us? Because you know that it won't work... nobody's going to believe it."

I smiled at the joking tone and turned around to face my accuser. "Hey, what if there's one or two people too many people here, Drew? Then you're going to want some of them scared away."

"True enough." Drew gave me a hug and kissed my cheek. "You're looking good."

"So are you." And I meant it. Drew Dawson didn't contribute to the blog beyond one post, but he made an impression on me. He's an affable guy, a partner in a small law firm before we all changed who bought more than one round of drinks for the group. Of all of us guys who got turned into girls, he may (may, Lyn, may!) have wound up the best-looking - Daphne was a couple inches taller than me, with light brown hair, a cute little nose, dimples, and a slender figure that was marred only by a surgical scar on her knee (and that wound up adding an element of cute tomboyishness to her). Drew had recognized her immediately - she actually had worked in his own office. At least, he said, he'd be able to go back to a somewhat familiar environment.

He'd opted for something rather more feminine than the t-shirts and jeans that both Jeff and I had opted for: One of those v-neck tops where one side overlaps the other, showing some nice cleavage and leaving his midriff bare, a pair of shorts that hugged his bottom, and wedge sandals. He also had a wrap around his waist that draped asymmetrically to cover the scar on his knee, earrings, and cosmetics, and his longer hair had seen some time with a curler.

After a few seconds we realized that we were checking each other out and laughed. "I guess we're still guys underneath after all this time."

I agreed. "So what's with the clothes?"

He shrugged delightfully. "Packed for the beach. Might as well get some guys to buy us drinks on our last days as girls."

I laughed. "You sound like Lyn-- uh, Jake."

"Ha! I'll bet folks buy Red a lot of drinks... with purpose." He got serious for a moment. "How is she--he--she?" I nodded. "I read about the guy wanting to keep his life. Very uncool."

"She's hit a rough patch lately, but she's surviving. Determined to make things work, and kind of enjoying the whole center of attention thing."

"I imagine. So she's not coming... Have you heard from anybody else?"

"No-one. I met Jeff at the train station, though. He's ready to change back."

"I don't doubt it - being younger is cool, being a kid is something else." His phone rang and I let him answer it. After a couple words he covered it and held up a finger to get me to pause. "Tell Jeff and anyone else you see that I'm buying dinner tonight - a little reunion thing."

"Will do."

I slipped a note under Jeff's door and then went back outside, where the sun was shining again. New England weather is, I think, stranger than San Francisco's. I knocked off a few chapters of a Stephen Coonts remainder before meeting Jeff and Drew for dinner.

Dinner was fun, although we were all kind of surprised by the turnout - just the three of us and one other (he never joined in on the blog the first time, so I'll leave him his privacy now). Four out of thirteen, and we're pretty sure it will just be two out of thirteen in the next group (Liz and Daphne). We talked about what we'd learned about the Inn, but it wasn't much. We shared our stories, or as much as we were willing to tell. Then, after Drew paid, Jeff retired back to the Inn, grumbling about looking to young for even a believable fake ID even with "these ridiculous things" on his chest.

After that, yeah, the rest of us drank a bit. And a bit more. I swear, knowing we're almost at the end changes everything - at Drew's suggestion, we were trying to top each other in extracting drinks from guys - giving each other points for telling outrageous stories (the truth, of course, being verboten), getting them to buy for the whole group, etc.

I'm kind of glad the change didn't happen last night - I crashed as soon as I got into the hotel, and I think the clothes I had on might have cut off some circulation had it happened while I was asleep.


1 comment:

Scott said...

So what's Jeff's plan anyhow? Did he make arrangements, or is he just winging it?