It's been over a month since we've been heard from, which is quite frankly frustrating for me. Idleness is not something that comes naturally to me, but sharing is not something that comes naturally to Jessica.
We spent most of the past month in Chicago. The original Jessica was staying at the inn with a friend her own age - about ten, at the time - and that friend's parents. So, while it would seem like she would have someone who understood, it didn't work that way. The "father" got a new job in a new city, and left Jess alone. That city was Chicago.
But that was eight years ago, and this family has apparently moved on since then. Our Jessica still figures they're the best chance of a link to the original, though, so she looked for them.
She looked for a long time. Mostly on her own, because I'm not a detective and while Jessica has the patience to track down every person who might have known her "old friend" in order to gather information, she has very little patience with people who can't do the job as well as her.
In the end, I don't know whether she found something useful or not. I suspect that she eventually started to worry about actually making it out to California in time for the winter/spring semester at this rate, and my desire to get on with my quest.
Michigan wasn't quite on the way to anywhere, but we did promise Ashlyn and Trip - well, I guess she's just going by Kat now - that we would check in on Jeff Miller. He had just graduated high school when he found himself changed into a young girl a year ago, and seems to be one of the lucky ones in that he was able to get his life back. We'd been targeting a holiday weekend to speak with him; it just wound up being Veterans' Day rather than Columbus Day.
We didn't get much time to spend with Jeff; he was home from school for the weekend to spend time with his family. We did get to have lunch with him on Saturday, and he brought a friend.
Well, I don't know if "friend" is the word. If I were Jeff, I would think that having the new Brianna Adamson hanging around would make me very uncomfortable, just on principle. But he says it's not like that - that the longer he's back in his proper form, the more it feels like his time living Brianna's life was just some kind of strange dream which he can't properly describe. No, what makes him uncomfortable is the gigantic crush she seems to have on him.
It's almost kind of cute, in a way - the new Brianna talked about how Jeff had left her the means to emancipate herself from her new parents, and made sure that she had a safe place to live in the Miller household afterwards. She chattered on and on about how she Jeff's sister Mel get along so well, and it's great to be back in school, and all the while she's staring at Jeff, occasionally getting in comments about how this great new life is all because of him and she just wants to express her gratitude.
We talked about the usual things. Have you kept in contact with anyone from the groups before or after you? Jeff says no, not from the first time around - he thinks the original Bree wanted a clean break and fresh start. Bree says no, but kind of gives us a look as she says it. Any contact with outsiders who seem to know about the inn (aside from us)? Any people trying to get something from you without an explanation? Jeff says no; Brianna says yeah, but they don't seem like anything inn-related. She's a pretty fifteen year-old girl with a big old trust fund that could get even bigger depending on what happens to her parents in court. She's a tempting target anyway.
After a while, Jeff got a call to meet up with a high school buddy, and asked us if we'd mind giving Bree a ride back home after we're done talking. We said we'd be happy to, and he left us alone.
As soon as he had left the restaurant, Brianna let out a big sigh. "Isn't he just the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?"
Jess squirmed a little, since the question seemed to mostly be addressed to her. "He's, uh, not bad. So, I take it you didn't change all that much during your stay at the inn?"
"I... Well, I'll tell you, but could you not put it in that blog? Because then he'll read it, and I don't know if the truth is something he'd be comfortable with right away - I mean, he knows I've been to college because I gave him some pointers about campus life, but I don't want him to think of me as someone else until the whole truth won't freak him out, y'know? I will say that he wasn't exactly my type before, but the fact that I know he's a good man makes him so much more attractive. And, besides, he knows this body intimately, the way no other man can. Of course, since most of what I've had lately is high school boys..."
Jess got kind of red at that, and I spoke up to distract attention a little. "I don't get the impression that Jeffrey is looking for a girl who gives it up so easily."
"I know, it's just - you know - he knows I was someone else, and I need to show him that his age and gender are fine with me. And, okay, after the change, I needed to get used to it a bit myself. You know how it is, when you're first in a new body."
"No, I don't - I was ten!"
Bree holds up her hands, not quite expecting such a reaction. I was kind of surprised, too, but I imagine it must have been strange (at a minimum) for Jess, having the mind of a sexually experienced male in the body of a pre-pubescent girl. "Okay, fine, geez, don't flip out on me. Just sayin', you want to know that everything works. Surely later--"
"I'm not going to talk about this; I'll be in the car." With that, Jess stormed out.
A pained look went across Brianna's face, and she apologized. "Look, I didn't mean to - it's just, there's so few people we can talk to, and neither Jeff nor that lawyer guy wants to talk about sex, especially with someone who looks like jailbait. You guys said you were trying to find things out--"
I told her it was all right, and that's when she told me about the events that led up to her becoming Brianna. Since I know Jeff reads this, I won't post it here, but I hope she decides to tell it herself, sometime. It's really fascinating.
I didn't want Jessica to wait long in the car, so I suggested it might be time to bring her home. While we were walking through the parking lot, she suddenly seemed to remember something. "Oh! I knew I was going to forget this. It's about my boobs - they're real." She grabbed my wrist and brought my hand to her chest.
"Look, young lady, I was a woman even before I went to the inn."
"No, I mean, remember how Jeff said the original Brianna got her implants as some sort of sick fifteenth birthday present? Give that a squeeze - it's all human tissue, no plastic at all."
"I'll take your word for it."
She realized how an apparently mid-twenties woman with her hands on a teenager's bosom must look, and dropped my hand. "Right... Of course. I'm just saying, maybe that means something. Maybe the curse or spell or whatever can't reproduce man-made things and just does the best it can to get the outside looking right. Maybe that's where Kat's narcolepsy or Darren's peanut allergy comes from. Of course, those are both conditions that can appear later in life anyway... But, it's something to think about, right? That we're not exactly like the people we appear to be."
I told her it was a thought, but the conversation died as we reached the car; Jessica didn't have any interest in conversation as we gave Brianna a ride back to the Millers' home.
Anyway, we're back in Chicago now, as Jessica follows up on something while we head to our next stop in Minnesota.