Monday, October 27, 2008

Todd/Anne-Marie: Man of the house?

Now that it's been a few months, there are fewer and fewer times when I allow myself the luxury of totally freaking out. I know I made myself sound kinda confident in my earlier posts but it's very hard to pin down exactly how mortally terrified you are when you start walking around in someone else's body, let alone one with new equipment. But I found what you might call... coping mechanisms.

One obvious one is that I took an example from Bryan. Unnerving as her attitude toward the whole thing is - how easily she accepted the whole thing (and still waiting to see if she'll show up on this blog) - I was at least able to take a cue and think "Okay, better not be the weak one." Bry's attitude that "This is what's happening and we should just go along" is annoying until it becomes comforting, once you settle down and think "I can do this."

The bigger one, though, is my prevalent belief that this is not permanent. That I will not see Anne Marie to the end of her days. That I will not be cheated out of a decade of living as Todd Casey. That I will not see Hayley and Connor raise Anne Marie's grandkids. That there is a way back. And all I have to do is kill time and accept my lot until I can get there.

One of the bigger hurdles to feeling comfort was meeting Hal. He came home a few days after I did, without fanfare and with only a cursory "How was your trip?" He was hardly as panicked as Mrs. McClay.

I thought maybe he was hiding his concern. Then I thought maybe he legitimately didn't care about his wife's wellbeing. Then I realized, he was just being himself. That's just who he is. And after 12 years of marriage that's maybe what happens.

I didn't see much of marriage as a kid. I was born out of wedlock and while they tried to make it work, it just... didn't. I tried never to be bitter but you can imagine what a warped sense of relationships I must have, particularly married ones. One by one I watched my friends' parents get divorced and usually re-married while they struggled to cope with the breakdown of their parents' lives. I guess in that sense I was lucky. Never had any delusions.

Does that mean I think Hal and Anne Marie are heading for divorce? Not in the near future - not prior to the Inn and not on my watch either. I don't intend to shake up Anne's life any more than the bare minimum given the circumstances. I just think it's a cold marriage. A comfortable one. And thankfully for me - a sexless one. I dressed and undressed myself very privately for months until I realized that after a decade plus of raising kids, these people just plain aren't doing it.

And that's fine because as curious as I might be to find out what it's all about down there (don't judge me, you're all thinking the same deep down) I'm definitely not interested in this guy. He's a nice enough man, but... he's still a man.

I say he's a "nice enough man." He's kinda quiet, taciturn. He comes home after a day of drilling teeth and just wants to have dinner, drink a beer, and watch the World Series. (PS - was glad the Phillies schooled the Rays, given their triumph over his Red Sox. New England. I'm just waiting to see what Cito Gaston does for my Jays next year. But anyway.)

So... we struck up this kind of domestic balance. I cook the food (getting better thanks for the internet) do the dishes, the laundry... he provides the house and the car and the lifestyle, and nobody bothers the other.

I figure eventually it's gotta come up. One of us will reach a breaking point and I just won't be able to put it off... but until then, it's back to back in the queen-sized bed.

Once Hal came back, I fell into this quaint little routine. I'd get up in the morning around 9 or 10, well after he'd gone to the office. I'd explore the neighbourhood a little bit to get to know my surroundings... go for a drive or a jog, get a coffee, whatever. Then by the time I'd come home, Bry would be waiting for me there. Mostly we'd play Rock Band or Guitar Hero or any of the various games the kids have. Or we'd go for a swim in the backyard... I always used to envy the kids who had a pool.

Bry, by the way, who used to be over 6 feet tall, still looks ridiculous in a 14-year-old girl's swim suit. Maybe it's just the way she carries herself. She's all boyish angles with a figure that appears to be gradually morphing into 3-dimensions... if you catch my drift.

Meanwhile I've got the opposite deal. Anne Marie's no tubbo, but her body's been around a while. Put me in a bikini and suddenly - for the first time - I'm self-conscious about love handles and cellulite, and that little belly pouch that hangs over just a bit. Hmph.

After lunch, she'd usually just lounge around while I did chores, or tried to figure dinner out, or what have you. While all this is going on, I'm maintaining my (Todd's) online presence, making all the usual arguments about movies and comics on the various boards I'm on.

Anyway, back to what I was saying at the beginning of this post... how this isn't permanent. Well after a few weeks of feeling nervous of what became of my body, I got... the call. I was very adamant I wanted to hear from the "new Todd" and when I did, I felt happier than I had since this whole ordeal began. I remember looking at the caller display on Anne's cell and seeing my own name. I nearly dropped it in the pool.

I took a deep breath and answered. "Hello...?"

"Is this... is this Todd?" asked the somewhat confused and fearful sounding voice on the other end.

I hesitated. "Yeah... it is."

A pause.

"I'm sorry, your voice..."

"Yeah, I know," I grumbled, "Who is this? Who are you really?"

Timidly he explained himself - I'll leave the details for later, suffice to say our situations are not dissimilar and we're all very eager to get back where we belong. And once that piece fell into place, I began to breathe easy. Taking stock of my life, that is, my life as Anne-Marie, I decided it's not such a bad place to visit... I just wouldn't want to live here.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Todd/Anne-Marie: Walking around like I own the place...

I could risk running myself ragged these days. When I'm not pretending as Anne-Marie, doing chores, running personal errands, conversing with Bryan, asleep or simply trying not to go insane, I'm poring over the archives of this blog and writing bits and pieces of my own entries. I want to tell as much of my story as I can manage, both because I'm a storyteller by nature, and because, mortifying as it has been, it's the kind of life experience that can't go unexpressed. I have this theory: the first thing our minds forget are routines. I know the saying goes "old habits die hard" - two and a half months later I still unzip my jeans standing in front of the toilet but routines are different. Every time I had a new schedule in school, I would find it hard, after a few months, to remember what it was like only the semester before. We evolve, and we adjust.

That, of course, won't stop me from working toward my ultimate goal of getting MY life back. I would like to adjust OUT of this life as easily as I evolved INTO it. and when that happens, all this will be like some long ago ghost story. SO I want it all on record.

In reading some of the early posts on this site - back when Art and Jake became Liz and Ashlyn - I've been noting some of the distinctions between their situations and mine. They were, like, older than me, but became younger. I went the opposite direction. They were kinda lucky and frankly I don't blame them for taking the hands they were dealt. The idea of restaging a transformation seems like it leaves a lot of room for error and even thinking about going back there gives me the willies. Look at what happened to Art. I'm a little lucky I guess because I've met the new Todd - not in person but we've spoken - and unless I'm being lied to, the new Todd and Bryan as eager to leave our lives as we are to reclaim them. That doesn't mean it's foolproof though, and we have a lot of time to just hurry up and wait. I'm stuck in the life of Anne-Marie Adkisson for however many months. Could be worse, but could be better...

The house was empty when we got home. It was a relief and kind of a nightmare since I knew I'd have to meet Hal and the kids sooner or later and I didn't want to just sit alone in this big empty place. So I invited Bryan in. We rang up Ellie's parents - the McClays - and told them we were home and that "Ellie" would be spending the night here. They wanted to know why and I just kinda fumbled my way around a vague excuse involving travel weariness. They accepted it - it was nearly midnight - and told me to have her home as soon as I could. Your daughter disappearing for two weeks is probably going to put you on edge, so I didn't hold their curt tone against them.

We went around turning on light switches, opening doors, trying to get a feel for the place. The basement is partitioned into a living room/TV area, a game room with a pool hall, dart board and beer fridge, a computer room and laundry room. Upstairs there is a very dainty living room with lots of, like, fine china in glass cases, a fully stocked practically gourmet kitchen, another TV room, and the big foyer. There are five rooms upstairs, one each for the kids, the master bedroom, guest room and Hal's office. I did a few laps around the house so that when people started coming home, I didn't look like this was the first time I'd seen the place.

After surveying the whole place, Bry and I settled in the basement. She started channel-surfing. "We got anything to drink?"

I shrugged, "There's probably some Coke or Sprite around here."

She glares at me, "Yeah, but, like... how about an MGD?"

I flopped down on the couch and rubbed my temples. "I don't know about that, dude. You're like, 14." She rolled her eyes, "You know that's not really true." I told her how irresponsible it was for me to just grab a beer and hand it to a little girl and she kinda flipped out on me. "What are you, my mom? You were all too happy to smoke up with me in Maine, now you won't even let me have one beer?" Well, the effect of that one joint I mentioned was way more drastic than I'd ever seen. I wasn't eager to repeat it. 14-year-old girls do not have strong constitutions.

"Look," she stood up, "I just want to relax. I'm not going to drink a whole case, I'm not even going to make this a regular thing. Tomorrow I have to start acting like a little girl. Just let me have this one thing."

She walked over to the fridge and grabbed a bottle. She held the twist-top in her hand. I said nothing. Fsst. She opened it.

"Wait," I sighed.


"...grab me one while you're over there."

This is why I should not be allowed to be a parent. I remember when I was 14, out at parties with the older kids, getting lit for the first time on Captain Morgan. And I don't even have any regrets about the shit I got up to. So how can I tell this comparatively mature, reasonable person she can't have one beer? In good conscience, I mean.

It didn't really matter, because she took one sip and got this sour look on her face. "Oh, man. I forgot how bad beer tastes when you first start drinking." I laughed. There was nothing wrong with Annie's tongue. Bry sipped along anyway.

"This is gonna be a long trip," she groaned.

We fell asleep on the couch in the basement. I woke up a few hours later and draped a blanket over her. It was kind of adorable, since, while asleep, you'd never guess that just a few hours earlier she'd been reminiscing about the time in high school when she nailed Cindy Cortez behind a Petro Canada.

I staggered up to the bedroom. It's a big bedroom, it's got a big bed. And a nice bathroom. I took off my top and shorts and tossed them in the hamper. I changed into one of Anne-Marie's nightgowns. Putting on an item of someone else's clothing for the first time is a weird feeling, especially when you've never worn such a garment. So I changed out of it and into some cotton PJ's - it was hot, so I used a light shirt and short shorts. Then I got under the covers, and...


Some of you probably get it when I say how hard it is to fall asleep when you're TRYING to. I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't stop thinking, after three days, about my anatomy, and when I wasn't thinking about that, I was thinking about Anne-Marie's life and how messed up my situation was. I started to sweat and shake and feel the pressure and get paranoid. Every moment brought me further from sleep. So I got up and found the answer in the medicine cabinet. There was half a thing of Ambien in there. I don't like pills - that's a long story - but I just needed to zonk out.

And zonk I did. After a while, I fell into the deepest sleep I'd had since that last night before the change, after the concert. I woke up the next morning feeling so mellow, which meant miraculously I had outslept the effects of the drug... which meant it was about 11:00. And something was burning.

I sprang out of bed and flew down the stairs and found Bry - hair stringy and wet, dressed in a bathrobe, working on what appeared to be a pan of scrambled eggs.

"Mornin' Auntie Anne," she chirped. "Breakfast?"

I grumbled, "Don't call me that.... and I could eat, yeah."

She passed me a plate. "Good timing. Nice PJ's."

I looked down to see my nipples standing up straight under my top. "Christ, these things. You're lucky you don't have to deal with 'em. I could hardly sleep."

"Yeah, I'd like to get home before I start having to think about that... they're all ready kind of... never mind." She took a seat across from me. "So what's the deal? Why's the house empty?"

I explained that Anne-Marie's letter had told me the kids were at soccer camp all summer. That was why she had taken Elyssa to Maine for her birthday, because she didn't have her own kids to worry about at the time. I found out later Hal was on a camping (or fishing or something) trip with old frat buddies. Whatever. At the time his absence unnerved me, but it came to nothing.

We ate in silence a while, forks ringing on plates in the quiet house. Finally, she said, "So this is it, huh?"

I nodded sternly, "Guess so." I finished up. "I guess I'll have a shower and then figure out how to get you home. Get dressed."

I walked back upstairs. She called after me, "Have fun in there!" I wanted to smack her. It was her stupid little running joke about how we should be taking advantage of these bodies. I found it particularly unnerving given how young she is, (although when I was 14...)

Once we were all ready to go, we piled into Anne-Marie's SUV. I felt pretty overwhelmed there. I hadn't driven in a while, and at the time, it was a little Toyota, not a big thing like this. Still, we plugged Ellie's address into the GPS (and thank God for that!) and I drove cautiously through the curves of this little suburban nowhere place.

Bry and I went up to the door. She gave me a pat on the shoulder to say goodbye, and got into character for the first time, bounding up to Ellie's room heedlessly.

Standing in the doorway, I was ambushed by Mrs. McClay, Hal's sister. "So are you going to tell me what happened?"

I felt like a deer in the headlights, man. Trying to remember the cover story, I stammered, "We, uh, got our luggage, uh, lost. There was a mix-up. The inn let us stay until, um, they found it."

"You couldn't call?" She sneered. "We were worried sick."

I averted my eyes. "My, uh, cell charger was in the, uh, in the luggage." I felt like I was in the principal's office. Mrs. McClay - Trudy - was quite a few years older than Anne-Marie and seemed gravely displeased with what had happened. I can't say I blamed her, either.

She just stared at me for a while until finally she said, "Well, it sounds like you had a very rough few weeks. Still, you should be more responsible than that, Anne."

I couldn't feel the guilt she was trying to make me feel, since it wasn't my fault at all. Attempting to level with her would be utterly fruitless, and in the best case scenario, if she DID believe me, I am then dealing with a mother whose child is missing. So I just swallowed all her ill will, nodded and said, "Yep. Well, I gotta go..." I've never wanted to leave someplace quicker in my life.

She just kept glaring at me. I got the feeling this was not the beginning of tensions between Anne and Trudy. I had no desire to make it worse - or even try to fix it. I just wanted to leave. She didn't stop me, but I had to fight some kind of invisible force field to do so, because of how unfinished that confrontation was. I felt sick.

I walked, shell-shocked, to the car. I got in and followed the GPS back to the Adkisson place. Then, once I was in the garage, I turned the key, unbuckled the seat-belt, and... cried.

I'm tempted - believe me - to blame it on PMS or some other female chicanery, but the fact is it's just what I wanted to do. Not that I was a cryer as a man, but in a situation like this... nobody's watching, nobody sees you as a man, your entire life has gone to hell in very short order... shit man, you've just gotta let the tears come.

I straightened myself back up and went back inside. I had no idea when Hal would be back. It was time to start playing my part.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Todd/Anne-Marie: She said she said

It's cooled down a bit, reminding me of home. This past weekend, in Canada, was Thanksgiving, one of the few dates where I make the effort to see my mom and other family members (birthdays, Easter, Christmas, usually.) I feel bad about it because I have this reputation for being kind of aloof and tending to avoid my family. It's not deliberate, I'm just usually doing something else. Man, if they only knew how bad I feel about missing them this weekend... instead, someone else was there, being awkward and pretending to know their faces and avoid conversation (believe me, nobody will notice.) And here I was, not celebrating the non-holiday of Columbus Day.

So Bryan and I, that first day, were sitting there reading letters, getting high, and coming to terms with being "transformed." I'm here now, at the keyboard, having a pronoun problem. I keep thinking of Bry (and myself) in the abstract as "he," but when I picture the day, of course, I get this image of this puckish little girl. I've grown very accustomed to hearing her voice speaking Bryan's words. I don't want to type "She and I were sitting trying to figure things out," but, well, that's exactly what was going on. She and I were trying to figure things out.

It was a couple of days before we actually hit the road. Some of that was spent trying to confirm as a matter of fact that this was really happening and not just our imaginations. Some very uncomfortable conversations with fellow victims (which I won't retype just now) did the trick. Some of them were better off than us, some were worse. We then had to make arrangements to get to Connecticut, and write our entire lives and our understanding of the curse into easily-digested letters.

The upside, which was actually a downside, is that our lives didn't have much to them. I hated my job and was always a hair away from quitting before I went on the road. Bry is a classic moocher. Neither of us talks much to our families or has any real relationships going. The main thing was Alia, so I stressed in my letter to at least be good to her, because I intended to come back for her. I also crafted the letter so that the new Todd would feel pretty much compelled to contact me. In the meantime, I kept my online accounts afloat - establishing an e-alibi on Facebook and MSN - and developed new ones under Anne-Marie's name.

I left my luggage, laptop, and all my writings at the inn, because I felt they would be of vital importance if someone were to get into character as me. I did keep a few things. One was my iPod, because i spent a lot of time cultivating my playlists - walking away from them would basically mean walking away from Todd Casey altogether. The other was a vintage Clash t-shirt Alia got me for my birthday many years ago. She would probably notice that "I" don't have it anymore, so that when I get my body back, I can come full circle and start wearing it again. Plus, it smells like me - all the sweat and dirt and weed and Speed Stick really registers strongly in my nose. Scent, I heard in a commercial once, is the sense strongest-linked to memory.

Bry was very reluctant to leave his $1200 Digital SLR, but I convinced him it was vital to Bryan's identity and too bizarre for Ellie to just have picked up on her own.

There were other adventures in the meantime, but finally at the end of it all, and with more reluctance than I have ever known, we had to bring Ellie and Anne home.

It was a long train ride and we had a lot of time to think. I asked Bry if we were doing the right thing and she said, well, we had no choice. Anne-Marie and Ellie were basically missing persons. For all we knew there was a manhunt and we'd get found no matter what, plus we had no other place readily available. Could we take the pains to stay out, stay off the grid, and lay low? Maybe - we're resourceful enough to have done that sorta thing all summer - but a 33-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl get a bit more attention than a couple of 23-year-old dudes. Our backs were against the wall.

I wondered if we were up to the task, and she laughed. There was no way to fail since we couldn't tell anyone the truth if we wanted to. It might be embarrassing, even gross - you know what I'm getting at there - but this is life and we're stuck. Stuck. Billions of women live their lives every day, same as men... no reason things couldn't just fall into place, she shrugged. I groaned - I didn't want things to fall into place. I wanted the same sense of control over my destiny as I always had, the open road.

I told her she was being far too calm. She said she had it all figured out, "If it can happen once, I'll bet it can be undone. It doesn't make sense that if they can change your body, they'd only do it once. Right?" It's worth noting that Bryan has always referred to "they" whenever she has a bone to pick with someone... although in this case she may be right. And I asked, what if it can't be undone? She just shrugs and says "Then we go on with these lives."

She began to get all philosophical. "Everything we've done in life... Alia, your job, the road trip... it brought us to that inn. This is the consequence of that."

I pondered it for a moment and then realized - "Did you just quote Anton Chigurh?" If you're looking for comfort, the words of the serial murderer from No Country for Old Men isn't going to really put you at ease.

But that's Bryan for you. A real deep thinker and a great guy, but kind of an asshole. I noticed she had her little knees tightly clamped together, and they were twitching. I'm no body language expert, but that girl was as nervous as me. She just didn't want to show it. I kept quiet.

Long passages of the trip were spent in silence as I stared at my reflection in the window and tried to get accustomed to the woman staring back at me. Every so often I'd forget about the tits and crotch business and just smile to see what it would look like (very forced, as it turned out.) Every moment brought us closer to our final destination, Somewhere in Connecticut.

Anne-Marie Adkisson is 33 years old and married to a Dentist named Hal. They have two kids together: Hayley, 12, and Conner, 10. I was barely even responsible for myself, and now all I could think of was how I'd have to take care of two young ones, not to mention the burden of a marriage.

By contrast, Bry is a lucky gal. He - ah, fucked up the abstract again - she is so young all her decisions are made for her. Ellie probably still has a bed time, doesn't date, gets all her meals cooked for her... the freedom of youth and the experience to enjoy it. Then again, the freedom from responsibility is basically oppression, and maybe, I thought, he'd end up feeling worse than I did. Time would tell.

We pulled up to the house late that night. All my fears and anxiety were replaced when I saw it with sheer awe. It looked like a courthouse, or the house from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. These people were well off - if there's been an economic crisis, you wouldn't know it from here. They're definitely keeping the Roman Column manufacturers busy. And their front lawn is big enough to play baseball.

For a while, I was just stunned.

And then I walked inside, flip-flops flapping against the ceramic tiles of the foyer (never ever been in a house with a foyer) echoing all around me. "Hello?" no answer. I smiled, breathtaken.

"I've arrived."

And that was the first time since the transformation I'd felt any good at all.

What happened to that feeling I'll leave for later. Laundry calls.

-Todd, alias Anne-Marie

Monday, October 06, 2008

Todd/A.M.: How I Spent My Summer Vacation...

I got in this morning and decided I had time to write. In fact, I don't seem to have anything but time right now, so I might as well write while I have something to say. I guess you could say I'm back by popular demand.

So I explained already how Bryan and I were traveling up the East coast of the States all summer, basically just looking for shows and ho's. I was writing pretty constantly the entire time on my laptop (which I obviously no longer have) and if nothing had happened in July, I still would've had a massive cache of awesome stories. And now as it is, none of them seem so important. So yeah, one time we survived a seemingly Skynyrd-style trip in a Cessna that was the scariest thing I had ever done, but after the inn, even that seemed minor.

It wasn't our idea to stay at the inn. It was Alia's. We were in New York City in June trying to figure out how to get to Maine in time for this concert a couple weeks later, a blues-rock combo called Slowhead was playing with a Montreal fusion band we'd heard a lot about called Les Mondes opening for them. Obviously we had no idea how to get to Maine, or where we would stay once we got there.

Alia was a girlfriend of mine back in Toronto. Things had always been complicated and before the trip she and I had kinda sorta had a major fight, and maybe possibly broke up. But I was feeling guiltier and guiltier about all the chicks I was meeting along the road, because I kept thinking of her, and by the time we hit New Jersey (because we couldn't stay in New York, we were in Secaucus) I needed to call her. We had a long conversation where we just laid it out, there was a lot of "I forgive you, I love you, I don't know if I can trust you." We were reconciling when I mentioned the last stop on the trip, Maine, and the question mark of our arrangements.

"That's crazy," she laughed, "My parents were going to have their second honeymoon in Maine, but dad twisted his ankle." They had reservations at this inn that they couldn't, or wouldn't, or didn't want to give up (I never asked) and hey, what an amazing coincidence, right?

I'm laughing about it now, out of amusement, bitterness and amazement. I mean, I keep wondering what would've happened if Alia's parents stayed the Inn, and we didn't? They'd be here, and I'd be... I'd be home with their daughter.

Hm. Sorry, I... got off track there.

So flash forward. It's July and Bry and I manage to get to this fruity looking Inn, reminds me of a bed and breakfast or something. Kinda Victorian or Edwardian, but I'm not up on my architecture so what do I know? It just looks like the kind of place a couple or maybe a family would stay. Not two guys in AC/DC and Sex Pistols shirts. But whatever. We haul our luggage up to our room trying to avoid making eye contact with the other tenants. We didn't want any of them to be able to identify us if something were to go awry (little did we know.)

As we were putting our stuff away, we found some bags in the closet. They were mostly packed. I was going to suggest we take them to the lost and found or something but Bryan, always the clever one, suggested we go pawn all the contents for weed and travel money. I told him that wasn't fair, there may be people coming back for this stuff. Since we weren't running low on funds he agreed (reluctantly) but said that if nobody came by to claim it by the time we checked out, it was ours to pawn. "Whatever," I said. In retrospect, a close call. I thought I noticed him going through the bags at one point but he wouldn't say what he'd seen.

We busied ourselves for a couple days before the Slowhead show by going out to local drinking established and getting faced. Out of courtesy, the one who stood the best chance of getting laid (Bryan, given my new-found sense of remorse) got the room, while the other was to find other accommodations if possible (or, you know, hold a pillow over his ears.) Again, I wonder, what if this had all gone down while one of us (me) was out of the inn? But again I'm reminded by my surroundings... it happened the way it happened, and that's the way it happened. (Still, I'll share some of those stories later because one of them might be important.)

The last night before, whatever it was, was the night of the show. the bands were both great but the action was not, so we both just came home and crashed. While Bry snoozed, I did a little bit of writing about the show and Maine before finally just passing out. It was late and I was feeling ill (I thought it was allergies at the time.)

I was groggy when I woke up. People were making noise outside and I was not happy. I was probably hung over, although for all I know it was the residual effect (look at me, gettin all scientific) and the transformation may have cleansed my system. And if that's the case, I feel bad for the person who inherited that. I felt pretty damn hung over anyway.

The first thing I sensed, before I even opened my eyes and while I was feeling zombified, was the smoke. Bry loves the ganj... okay we both do... but wake and bake wasn't really our style. Without unburying my face from the pillow, I muttered, "Dude go sleep."

I heard a little unfamilar voice respond, "Todd, you up man?"

My first thought was to look up at the source, and the only thing going through my head was "Oh my God, look at her. Tell me Bryan didn't bring her here after I fell asleep, and then give her weed."

"Where's Bryan?" I said. Voice felt hoarse. I cleared my throat to try to correct it, but again it came out in the same weird tone, "Who are you?"

She sat next to me on the bed. She was young, like 14, with long golden locks and a ridiculously slender frame. She was wearing glasses and the large Slowhead tee Bry had bought the night before, and it looked like nothing else. Her little knees angled inward. My eyes bulged when she looked at me like a delighted psycho and said "Dude, it's me. It's us. You're really gonna wanna see this." The joint was still smoking in the ashtray, by the window. She repeated, "I'm Bryan."

I know, okay, it sounds like a point of departure from all the stories on here, but let me explain. Bryan has always been really into psychics and aliens and Sasquatch and stuff. There were people freaking out, howling in panic right outside our door, and he was just sitting there, toking up and laughing. To him, this was vindication, and somehow, I guess mentally, this shielded him from absolute confusion and terror. Or maybe it was the weed.

Whatever it was, the cogs already appeared to have been turning in that little head of his for some time, and he was confident I'd be as thrilled as he was. I was not so much.

So this girl - who says she's Bryan - grabs me by the shoulders and tries to get a good look at me, and I guess I'm just staring back like "What the hell are you looking at?" and she repeats, "Todd, get a look at yourself man, we've been... transformed!"

And this moment of absolute belief washes over me as I look in her little blue eyes, that my 6'1 lanky bearded friend and stepcousin (my aunt married his dad) had been shrunk and de-aged and, and, and... girlified! Absurd as it sounded to my ears, I was willing to listen.

"Transformed..." I whispered. "Into... what?"

And she smirked impishly at me and moves her hands from my shoulders to my chest and starts squeezing. A shock of - not pain, not pleasure, but new sensation - rushed through me. I felt my throat close up. I jumped back.

"No--" I gasped.

"Yeah," she grinned.

I sat up straight and they hung, unfettered. I put my trembling right hand over my left breast. It felt like every breast I've ever felt, but now it was my own and that made it feel different and wrong and yet absolutely real.

I curled up into a ball, sitting upright, arms around legs, knees up to chest, lip trembling. "I'm... I'm not..."

"You are," she nodded, matter-of-factly.

I just kept shaking my head, muttering "No, no, I don't believe it."

She looked at me and twisted her mouth into this little sneer - the same facial gesture Bryan would use when trying to convince me of something.

"Whatever dude," she shrugged, "Don't believe it, but you'll figure it out eventually." Then she slipped the large black tee over her head. I averted my eyes but could see from even a moment's glance she was utterly nude. All the thoughts and suspicions were starting to converge on me, and confronted with this skinny, pale, hairless naked 14-year-old strutting about the room I felt... ill.

I clenched my eyes shut and dashed toward the bathroom. I opened them only long enough to find the toilet.

Blaughh. I hadn't vomitted in over a year and a half. I wiped my mouth and grabbed the counter. Slowly, slowly I peeked over it, into the mirror. My eyes began to well up.

It was a long moment before I finally spoke. "Bryan..." I said, gazing at the foreign reflection, "What... the fuck... is going on?"

She appeared in the doorway, now dressed in a white undershirt and panties. She hard her arms folded across her torso, lips pursed, nodding.

"I've got some of it worked out, but let's just take a moment and get your bearings, okay?"

My face felt warm with fear and embarrassment. I looked at her. She looked confident. I looked back at my reflection - that person did not.

I swept some hair across my forehead and perched it behind my ear. It was brown, although there was some kind of dying because it went darker and more reddish in places, so I guessed highlights. It was about the length of a bob. I looked in the eyes - my eyes. All the basic facial features seemed in place, ears, mouth, nose, chin... features I'd been looking at my whole life, just now altered. I can't even put my finger on it. It's not really a matter of "my nose is smaller now, my lips are bigger" (although they are) because they're just... features. I opened my mouth and looked inside - for what reason I have no idea. The girl snickered.

"Are you stoned?" She giggled, "I mean... 'cause I am."

"Do you really think that's a good idea?" I snapped.

She shrugged, "Can you think of a better reason in the entire world?"

I pouted a bit, then turned back to the mirror. I lifted my chin. The neck was smooth. My eyes drifted lower on the reflection. The Dark Knight tee I'd worn to bed was being stretched in one very unusual location, but hung way loose over my torso.

I closed my eyes again and sighed. "I'm... a girl."

"Actually," she said with that annoyingly resolved pixie tone, "Give a closer look. I'm a girl. You are a woman."

I re-opened my eyes. She was right. There weren't many obvious clues at first, but my skin wasn't as youthful as hers, there were a few signs of aging. I ran my fingers through my hair again and took a deep breath. "Will you just tell me what's going on?"

She called me over to the bed, where the joint was resting. I crossed the room, suddenly aware of this weird, penisless feeling. I sat next to her.

I looked squarely at her. "Swear to me you are seriously Bryan."

"Only if you promise you're definitely Todd."

I sighed. I still felt like Todd, that was for sure. She passed me the roach. I hesitated before taking a nice big toke.

We heard a muffled scream outside the door, "OH GOD NO!'

She ignored it and said, "Let me tell you what I know."

And so she explained what she had already figured out about the Inn. Everyone staying there was cursed to take the bodies of the previous tenants and so on, so forth. The letters, which Bryan had actually found a few days earlier but been unable to make sense of - like some weird, frantically-written fairytale/biography - but as soon as the transformation happened it all became clear. Or at least, as clear as these people were able to make it.

The woman - me - was Anne Marie Adkisson. The girl was not her daughter, but niece by marriage, Elyssa McClay. They had been on a fourth of July trip and, well, now they were somewhere else (I won't say where just now.)

"So what then?" I asked, "We go to Toronto and try to convince people?"

"No, see, when I tried to read the letters before, it just flew over my head. There's no way to explain it to someone until it happens. We can't go home, dude. We have to go to Connecticut."

I've never been the type of guy who liked "having" to do anything. But now, I guess I'm not any type of guy anymore so how could I possibly argue? I took another hit.

"All I wanted was to see Slowhead," I muttered.

Maybe I'm leaving some stuff out. Maybe it took longer for me to believe, or we went back and forth longer, but it's been a while and my memory has settled on this as the official version. What's important, of course, is there.

More later.
-Todd, aka Anne Marie

Brandon/Laura: The start of a story

I contacted Arthur/Penny a few days ago, when i first found this blog. After it happened to me. This seems like the only place online where people freely admit to what happens at the Inn. The only place where people will believe I am who I am and not who Ive become.

My real name is Brandon Chase. I'm recently a graduate of the University of Arizona. I was a swimmer in college and an alternate on the men's team to Beijing. Obviously i was not needed, otherwise id have been touring the country with my medals rather than taken a fateful vacation to Maine.

I didn't really talk to anybody while i was there. I read in my room and outside mostly. If only i had stayed out for the night when IT happened.

I'm a deep sleeper, so i wasn't awake for the transformation. My first notice came when i was awoken by the screaming surrounding me that morning as everyone else saw what had happened to them.The first thing I noticed was a searing pain in my waist. I looked down and saw the waistband of my boxers digging into me. What else i saw made me behave like everyone else, and scream at the top of my lungs. Only, these weren't my lungs.

Pushing blond hair out of the way, i saw attached to my chest two massive, floppy mounds of flesh. Below those were rolls of fat on my stomach, and further down were two thick legs with pink toenail polish.

I stood up rapidly and fell over. My balance was off. I stood back up and carefully walked over to the mirror, and staring back at me was a topless blond girl who could be described in no other terms but fat.

I stood there staring blankly for a few minutes. When i came to my senses my first thought was to get rid of the pain in my side, so i peeled off my boxers. Standing there naked i confirmed that i was indeed a girl although i had to look in the mirror seeing as i couldn't see past my rolls.

I needed to leave the room and see what was going on, so i went through my luggage and put on a thsirt and sweatpants, which didn't fit well since was apparently shorter as well as wider.

I don't know if words can accurately describe the chaos that is the Trading Post Inn the day after a change. There was a grown woman,screaming like a baby in the middle of the floor. A man who unlike me didn't see the need to put on clothes before venturing into the hallway. Utter chaos and shouting.

This went on for half an hour before someone came out of their room saying they found a note with some luggage in their closet, explaining all. This sent everyone to their rooms to look for similar notes.I found pink luggage, with a note.

"Dear Stranger,

Well, I guess you and I are now part of an elaborate curse. My name is Laura Green, and I was the last person to stay in this room before you. I'm now in the body of the girl who stayed here before me. And the person who stays there next will be in your body. The way it looks is that for now Ive got to live this life and you've got to live mine. On my laptop Ive left a detailed description of my life, job and important people. Good luck, and take care of my body, ill be wanting it back


She enclosed the contact info for someone named Marissa in New York.Since I wanted to get away on this vacation, i didn't bring my cellphone. I looked through Laura's luggage and found her pink one, but she didn't have service up here. Fucking Sprint.

This happened on wednesday. Im leaving tommorow because my stay is up and the Inn is closing for the year. Ill post more after I talk to Laura when I get back to St. Louis tommorow.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Todd: Some adventure this has been...

I've been trying to work this out for weeks.

I found out about this blog not long after I left the Inn, back in July. Obviously I've been through a lot and coping with it has kept me from jumping right in and participating. I snuck little moments to read back from the beginning trying to get some hint about what had happened, some clue as to what I should do. It's been helpful but my panic isn't exactly over and done with.

My name is Todd Casey, although I don't have any photo ID to prove it. All of my cards say...

No, actually. I'll get to it later but I'd rather, at least for this writing, my introduction to whomever is reading this, just be me. I just want these words be seen as coming from my brain, without being flavoured by what, who, I have become... which I will describe later. So just picture me. Todd.

It's October and I finally have some time to myself. I've been couped up here going privately crazy, trying to express this, and now I have the chance (and the guts) to do so.

Even if I hadn't made a fateful stay at the Inn two months ago, it still would've been a spellbinding summer. See, for personal and professional reasons, I had spent early part of the summer - from May until July - adventuring up the East coast. Seeing bands, picking up girls, indulging in illicit substances, from Miami to Maine. It was my dream job.

See, I've always, been, well... proudly, a slacker. I'd been living hand-to-mouth in a ratty apartment with Bryan, my photographer, best friend and stepcousin. I worked a low-paying internship at a Toronto underground paper where I thought I was going to write about movies and music, but I was really just doing page layout.

So when I announced last winter that I was taking the summer off to bum around south of the border, my editor smiled, handed me a laptop and said, "Great. Make it an article while you're down there." He said he couldn't finance the trip, but it would be great for my career. And for two months, I lived the dream. Bry and I bounded like maniacs from place to place, sleeping anywhere we could, occasionally doing oddjobs, working for favours, stealing. It was miserable at times, to be honest, but even so it was always a thrill, and Bry was good enough at finding us places to eat and sleep that we never went cold or hungry. There were some close calls though. And week after week I'd have a new installment for the guys back home to print. Sensational.

So yeah. Before a fateful mid-July stop at this odd little joint in Maine, it was already a legendary summer. We would've been home by August if we hadn't gotten derailed, and now...

Now, I guess, the rest of the story begins.

There's been a lot of words had between me and Bry about what has happened and how to deal with it. Right now we're stuck. And maybe my life wasn't much to look at, but I'll do anything to get back to it, because it's where I belong. And this is not.

That's a story for another time.
Signing off, Todd Casey.