Saturday, July 31, 2010

Alia: Emily's story

So, Monday.

Exhausted from a very busy morning, and disappointed I hadn't done a good job of dispelling the hysteria, Max -- formerly Sam -- and I took off for some breakfast to re-orient ourselves at a little family restaurant by the shore.

I was feeling hungry enough to eat three breakfasts, so I overdid my order. I had neglected to take into account the fact that while my hunger may be big, my appetite was not the same size as Rob's. Max ended up finishing my meal. I was still slightly irritated at him for manipulating his way into Roger's room, but part of me didn't want to hold it against him.

We walked along and I looked up and asked him, "How do you like manhood so far?"

He smiled a goofy, awkward grin, "Seems simple enough. Walking down the street without anyone shooting me phantom glances is gonna take some adjustment. I'm all hairy and bulky and weird. I don't think I like it so far."

"You get used to it," I assured him. "I guess no matter what body you get, it becomes second-nature after some months." I told him the best was benefiting from the double-standard that he'll be made fun of if he has too little sex, rather than too much. This attempt at levity didn't take.

That reminded me - I stopped into a drug store to get some Febreze, since my room still smelled like a sweaty man. I was planning to stick around for the rest of the week in case anyone needed my help. Maybe it was a misplaced gesture. Some of the transformees, including Roger, seemed to resent my premise. Fletcher and his crew laid low.

In fact, Fletcher/Beatrice, "her" new husband, and "their" daughter Roger/Lily, were packing to leave as early as Tuesday, while everyone was still milling about, some of them remaining in denial.

"What's the hurry?" I asked.

"Hey, you may have time to lounge around on the beach, but some of our bodies have obligations. My husband's got to earn the money."

I rolled my eyes. "Your husband. And how does your daughter feel?"

"Oh, she's not happy about it. You know kids."

"Kids that used to be grown men? I don't have much experience with them."

"Well, we'll buy her a new bike, she'll forget all about her old life."

I stared a dagger at her. She extended her hand for a shake. I told her I hoped we'd never meet again.

She winked at me. "If you're lucky. Of course, in a year or two, you might see me again and not even know it."

And with that, she was gone. Now, I might have considered offering her a membership to the blog, but when, as Fletcher, he surmised my identity when we first met, he expressed the viewpoint that this blog was not a smart endeavor. "Hey, that's your thing, but some of us -- most, from what I can tell -- prefer our anonymity."

I understand that viewpoint... if someone had wanted to mess with me, I suppose it would be easy enough to get means to do so from this blog. But it doesn't look like that's happened, so I don't know what to say.

I shared some contact information with some of the others, but none seemed all that into it. If anyone else wants to contact me about the blog -- if you've tried to get onto this blog, if you've been transformed, please remember that you can contact me at alia.rob[at]hotmail.com -- I'll see what I can do.

Anyway. Wednesday, I was lying in my room reading when I had a knock at the door. I opened it to see a girl about my age. I had recognized her, but we hadn't spoken yet. I welcomed her in and asked her how she was adjusting.

"Well that's just it. I'm like you. I've been here before."

I was both surprised and not. Surprised because I guess I took it for granted that it was just me, Sam/Max and Fletcher -- and his friends -- as veterans.

She told me her name was Emily, and that a woman named Priya had been living her life. I told her I was vaguely aware of the "new" Priya, through the blog: Greg, obviously. At this point I hadn't been made aware of the circumstances of his/her latest transformation. If Emily knew, she didn't care to divulge. She was more interested in talking about herself.

A year ago, she summarized, she'd woken up in a new body. Of course. It was a gangly, pale, male body, a freckled redhead with a beard and a receding hairline. She was far from amused. The guy had been on vacation with two of his guy friends, and amongst them, she was the only who had been female. The other two, in fact, stayed in their new lives.

She went on, getting a bit more emotional as she did. Like anyone else, she found it daunting when she first got to her new life, particularly as this guy had left her a long-term girlfriend. At first she resented the fact that she had to keep this relationship up, and considered breaking it off out of practicality, but once she met her she was so struck that she had to stay.

From the way she described it, this wasn't some slow, subtle process of coming into one's sexuality. It wasn't the long transition into a romantic relationship. "Within a week, I felt like I'd known her for years. You ever meet someone and you just make a connection? Like you wouldn't think it's possible, since I was just pretending to be her boyfriend, but it was like she really understood me, and I really, honestly loved her. Immediately. And that's what kills me. I'll never know whether it was me, or the curse, that made it so. Maybe it was just the leftover feelings of his body, or maybe I just loved her, and now I don't think I can ever go back to guys, or maybe even find anyone else... I feel like I'm ruined, you know? Like that was it. And I gave it up." She sniffed. "I gave it back because somewhere even thought I felt it wasn't true, I knew it wasn't really me she loved."

She explained, "I guess I'm telling you all this because I need to get it out there. I wanted to know if you knew, if I'm just crazy, if I was really in love, or my body was playing tricks on me."

I told her I couldn't say for sure. I've only ever loved one person, and I've known him too long to let him go. but the way I feel about him is what I imagine she felt for her lost love. Did she do the right thing in giving the body back? Maybe. Maybe the story won't have a happy ending -- I'm not really a big believer in "you'll find your special someone eventually" or any typical romantic stuff. But I couldn't say that.

All I could say was that I had felt attracted -- physically attracted, drawn, aroused, whatever you want to say -- to women as a man, in a way I'd never expected. So I know the Inn has some effect. What she was feeling, though, seems too real to just be a side-effect of the Inn. And I feel like, if you felt it once, it's still like you'll feel it again. I mean, that's not romance, that's statistics.

She wasn't heartened by this, but told me at least it felt good to get it out there. She was gone later the next day. The inn is practically empty now, with Max lingering about as long as me. In fact, he's standing in my doorway right now, rubbing his chin stubble. I'll be back in Toronto tomorrow night, if all goes well.

Well we can only hope.

-Alia

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Greg: Wheres Greg Part 3

So when I said goodbye to the Inn i took the train from Old Orchard Beach to the Portland Maine airport. After connecting at Boston Logan, Atlanta, and Tupelo Mississippi I was finally able to fly into tiny and new Oxford airport.

When I was deciding on becoming Dee, one of the biggest logistical concerns was living in Mississippi. I, like many Americans, look down on that state with a certain level of derision and superiority because of the reputation and stereotypes that have become attached to it (some of which were earned, btw). But Oxford is different. Its a college town, home to the University of Mississippi, or as the locals call it "Ole Miss" because 10 syllables is a lot of work. For that reason, Oxford is a lot more progressive than the rest of the state. Its not unlike Evanston, IL in terms of its layout and design. And the people here tend to be working hard to shake the stereotypes of hick Mississippians and move the state forward. Its kinda like Austin in Texas. If a Chicago yankee like me had to pick one city in Mississippi to live in, Oxford would be it.

Dee had told me that my new car was in spot number 583 in the airport parking lot, and thats where if found a silver 2002ish Toyota Camry. I dont know if I ever went into detail about it, but Im kind of car buff. I didnt drive much when I was living in Chicago but when I did I had a 1967 Mustang that my father and I restored. Between the sentimental memories and the fact that it hauled ass, I loved that car and really miss it. I dont know if the real Dee took it with her when she and Heather ran away or if its just sitting in its parking garage but I dont have a key nor a way to transfer title, so its on the long list of things that are lost to me. Driving Priya's BMW for past year was a nice consolation prize, but a Toyota Camry is just bleh. Its not like its a bad car, its just not really an exciting car. The slogan for the damn thing should be "Camry: Just a car".

Anyway, the thing did have a GPS in it, so I was able to just input the address I had for Dee's house. The place is actually pretty big. Not mansion big, 4 bedrooms, 3 bath, but thats a lot bigger than the artists loft I had been living in. The reason for this, is because about 8 months before her trip to the inn, Dee had gotten divorced, and apparently she got the house in the settlement.

My first reaction upon entering the house was how empty it was. Dee had a kid but it was grown up and out of the house, leaving her all by her lonesome here. My 2nd reaction was how messy it was. I dont think Susan cleaned AT ALL for like 2 weeks before leaving for Maine. I wouldnt either, of course. Its not like shed have to clean up the mess. I kept Priya's place tidy as a courtesy to her, but Susan reads the blog and knew what a bitch Dee was, and apparently wasnt too concerned about keeping the house tidy. Add to that the fact that the place had been sitting vacant for about a month, which led to a pretty unpleasant smell. I spent my first weekend down here cleaning it from top to bottom, which also gave me a pretty good idea of the layout of things.

The following Monday, I put on one of her many drab women's suits and headed into work. When I first talked to Dee she mentioned she was in insurance, which led me to believe she worked for an insurance company (a fact that made a lot of sense when she turned into a hell spawned bitch). Turns out she actually processes and prepares insurance claims made by and against the University, so "work" is actually a small office in the administrative building of campus. And being summer, there are very few of those to do, meaning Ive been able to adapt pretty well to the job by taking it slow. Like most office work its kind of repetitive and once you get the hang of it youre golden. Not like teaching where you had to be on every day.

Other than working Ive spent the last month or so learning the layout of Dee's life. Meeting her friends, which outside of a few acquaintances and neighbors and co-workers, there arent very many. Learning where everything is in the city. Catching up on bills, which wasnt hard because Susan was nice enough not to drain the account so paychecks and alimony checks were in there waiting to be used. I was ready just to zone out and live life as Dee when I got bored and started reading the blog again.

Reading about Alia's recent posts gave me an idea. Hope even. I know from the way she describes him, Fletcher is kind of a creep, but he's got a pretty good idea. I had never thought of being a "traveler". The idea of going to the inn every year and trying out a new body never crossed my mind or appealed to me. But given my current situation it actually seems enticing. Its not like I could never be happy living in Mississippi, but the face in the mirror still brings back memories of what ive lost and Im not sure that would ever stop.

Having been in 3 different bodies the past 3 years has already kind of gotten me used to it. And Im less afraid of the consequences of the Inn than I was before, not to mention the fact that if I dont like the body of the luggage in the room, I can always bolt.

Its weird thinking this way, but its become pretty clear to me that my destiny is to become a traveler like Fletcher, or that other couple that was mentioned before. It gives me a lot more control over things than just being forced by default into Dee's body.

So thats what Im gonna do for the next year. Go through the motions, enjoy myself as much as I can, and see where the wind takes me next time. Im less mad at the blog than I was before, since the blog is what tipped me off to the concept of "traveling". I'm gonna see if I can get in contact with Alia for more information, but until then, Ill keep on posting about the events of my current life

-Greg/Didi

PS: Didi is what ive decided to call myself in this body. Dee reminds me too much of its original occupant and Dolores literally means "pains". So I looked up nicknames and among the human sounding ones were Dolly, Didi, Lola, and Lolita. Dolly sounds TOO southern, I dont look like a Lola and Im DEFINITELY not a Lolita, so Didi it is, at least until fate changes it.

Greg: Wheres Greg? Part 2

When the school year ended in late may, I had a decision to make. Probably the biggest one of my existence. Obviously I was going back to the Trading Post Inn, but the question was, when?

My original plan was to go the last weekend in June, with Dee having gone in the block before in the same room. That way my body would be waiting for me when I got there, obviously that plan backfired. And when it collapsed, so did the chain of transformees to some extent.

Dee not going to the Inn meant that whomever stayed in that room (or closest to that room) meant that the would transform into her, and I would transform into them two weeks later.

The thing is, I had no way of knowing who would be sleeping in or near that room. Let me reiterate that I was terrified of the inn to some extent. There are dozens of awful scenarios that could land me in a body or life that would be a million times worse than just turning into an Indian girl. I really didnt wanna roll the dice, especially with "Pygmalion" floating out there. I did have one other option. Go to the inn 2 weeks earlier and turn into Dee.

This was by no means an easy decision to make. The idea of turning into and living life as the woman who ruined mine was and still is loathesome. But it was knowingly turning into a woman in her 40s with good health vs. rolling the dice and winding up a child or an old person. Weve already had one person in this chain die from a heart attack in the body they inherited, I wasnt about to take that risk. I went with the devil I knew. (Or at least her body)

I packed up and left for Maine in mid-June, telling Priya's friends and family that I enjoyed last years trip so much that going away by myself seemed like a great idea again. It was weird knowing I was saying goodbye to them forever.

Saying goodbye to Amber was painful, but I made it through it. I guess it was because Id already said goodbye to her in my mind so many times. I still said some pretty sentimental things that probably seemed really cryptic to her, as she believed id be back in 2 weeks. I kissed her goodbye on the cheek, and then I turned to Tony who was there, gave him a hug and told him to be good to her. With that I got in the cap and headed to O'hare.

Arriving at the Inn was the weirdest feeling of deja vu out there. I knew I'd be back, but never under these circumstances. Getting the key to the room was tricky, since the reservation was under the name "Greg Armstrong" and I didnt look anything like him. I simply told the lady at the desk at the neighboring hotel that gives out the Inn keys that I was in the Armstrong party, and after answering several security questions about date of birth and mothers maiden name stuff, I was able to get the keys to room 9. When I got to the room, I opened the closet and saw luggage inside with 2 notes.

For the past year, the person living as Dee was a girl from Detroit named Susan Phillips. I dont know much about Susan, only that shes around my age. We never talked much, never had reason to talk much. But after I had made my decision to become Dee, I told her about it and we coordinated. Apparently she did get her body back and was on her way back to the motor city. The first note she left was a typical inn note giving all the details and ins and outs of Dee's life. The 2nd note was much shorter and said

"Greg, hope this finds you and good luck with all this
-Susan"

I smiled, unpacked, and left the room.

The coast of Maine is really beautiful in the summertime, and despite my circumstances I had resolved to enjoy my vacation. I had adopted the motto "Omnes una manet nox'
which is Latin for "The same night awaits us all". What was gonna happen was gonna happen, and I wasnt about to stress out about it. Not while the weather was nice and I looked good in a bikini.

I explored the town, ate at restaurants, enjoyed the bar, sunbathed. Getting back to the inn that first night, I was a bit wary. I wasnt sure how many people were there that night, and was unsure if the 13 needed to start the change were present. That meant the change could happen that night or it could not. The suspense wouldve kept me up all night.

Fortunately, I had a bottle of prescription strength sleeping pills that I got from a kinda shady friend of mine. A couple of those babies and Priya's little body was out like a light. I had no desire to see the changes of the Inn, I slept through them last time and was content to sleep through them again. I did that every night of my stay, and I hope her body doesnt have an addiction now.

Anyway, the next morning, I awoke and hadnt changed. I was both relieved and annoyed. Relieved that I didnt have to face it just yet, annoyed that I would still have to. I spent that Day around the inn, observing the other guests. I didnt talk to them much, mostly because I wasnt feeling particularly social and also because I didnt want anyone who had been there before to recognize me from the blog and ask a billion questions and then post answers to the blog (I was still mad at the blog). It was weird, you could tell which ones were first timers, they were the ones who looked like regular vacationers, totally unaware of the fact that their lives were gonna be changed forever soon. Like lambs to the slaughter almost.

Anyway, I continued in aloof vacation mode for the rest of my stay up until the 8th night. That night was "change night, I of course didnt know until the next morning.

Waking up to the changes was different than last year. Last year, when I changed genders, I immediately knew something was way wrong. The smoothness of my skin coupled with breasts and curves as well black hair in my face was an instantaneous message that I was different. This year, the thing that tipped me of as I emerged from my pill induced coma was the digging of fabric into my hips.

I had slept like I always did as Priya, in just a pair of panties. When I opened my eyes and looked down to see the source of the pain, I saw pale white skin rather than the soft brown Id gotten used to. I sighed, took off the panties, and went to the bathroom to assess the damage.

There, in the mirror, I saw for the first time the face of Dolores Henderson. I gave my reflection the finger instinctively. Looking back at me was a naked, 44 year old woman. It didnt feel all to different from Priya just standing there, all the body parts were the same, but it sure looked different.

My hair was now long and curly, with a few gray ones in the mix. My face had wrinkles on it, not a lot but definitly noticeable around the eyes. My body was wider and less in shape than I was. I wasnt fat or obese or anything, but a woman in her 40s who has had kids is gonna show it somewhere. Not to mention the sagging, especially in the breasts. It wasnt ideal, it wasnt even close to what I wanted to look like, but I shrugged to myself and thought it could be a lot worse.

I opened up my new luggage and got dressed, and went out to greet the chaos. I didnt do like Alia did, and give a great big speech explaining what had happened, I wasnt in a leadership mood. But I did give some advice to a few people, and filled them on the details of the curse, and even gave a few links to the despised blog. After that people started figuring things out the best they could.

That left me with 6 days left on my vacation. I wasnt about to head off to my new destination just yet, like some guests were just itching to do. I had a flight in 6 days but until then I was content to enjoy the town.

Finally, when my time was up, I wrote my 2 notes. One detailing everything about Priya's life, another one that said:

"Dear Priya,
Hope this letter and this body find you. Take good care of yourself and never let Amber forget how much I love her and no matter what I look like shell always have a place in my heart. I know you cant tell her directly, but show her.

-Your friend forever, Greg"

With that, I went to the airport. I did find out that later, Priya did make it to the inn and is now back in Chicago with her life intact, but her apartment was kind of a mess. As far as I know, the girl she had been, Emily David, is at the inn right now and got her old body back the other night. So while my life got turned upside down, at least those two got things back on track.

So now Im here in Missisippi. My next post ill give details on Dees life and where I plan to go from here

-Greg

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Greg: Wheres Greg? Part 1

So over the past few weeks, there's been commenters on Alia and Cliff's posts asking if they knew what had happened to me and where I was, and thats a legitimate question since its been 107 days since i posted last. Im gonna spend the next few nights recounting my story the best I can and answer that question, which is really pretty complicated.

The short answer to "Wheres Greg"? Im currently in Oxford, Mississippi. In the body of Dolores "Dee" Henderson. How I got here is a harrowing tale and easily the saddest thing to ever happen to me.

In my last post, I was all ready to fight back against Dee's bodytheft. I had laid out detailed plans to thwart her, including sending links of this blog to Amber and Heather to see if they could be convinced. This was to no avail, as Amber and Heather hadnt been transformed, they were subject to the curse and couldnt make sense of this blog.

But Dee could.

Turns out she saw the link on Heathers computer one night and read all about my plans. Seeing as I aws taking desperate measures, she resorted to desperate measures of her own.

I got the phone call April 19th, a week after my last post. It was from a restricted number. When I answered I heard my voice on the line.

"I just wanted to tell you that its over,and you lost" Dee said

"What are you talking about? Whats going on?" I said, trying to play dumb.

"Your little 'insurgency'. I read the blog, I know all about it. Its not gonna work because youll never get a chance to mess up my new life"

"What do you mean?" I asked shakily.

"Simply put, I ran away" She said. "I took all the money you had saved for the honey moon and ran away with heather. We eloped. As of 3 hours ago at the local courthouse, shes now officially Mrs. Heather Armstrong"

My jaw fell. "you cant do this!" i spat "Where are you now?"

She chuckled. "Like id ever tell you? And dont try asking your old parents where we went. I told them that one of Amber's friends was stalking us and that if she contacted them to call the cops"

I sat down in shock. "Youll never get away with this" i said softly.

"I already have" she said wickedly. "Now if youll excuse me im about ready for round two of my wedding night." With that the line went dead.

I cried myself to sleep. Cried harder than when I found out that Dee had dumped Amber. The sad, sick, sense of defeat consumed me. I didnt blog about it, like I had before, because I was mad at the blog. Mad at myself for posting my plans for all the world to see. If I hadnt made my situation public, Dee would never have done what she did. I mightve been able to stop her. That anger was why its been 107 days since I posted.

I didnt go into school the next day. I didnt go into school for the rest of that week. I was in no position to be around 5 year olds and I really didnt feel like pretending to be Priya for all the world. Fortuneatly Priya had a ton of sick days saved up, so I just told the principal I had mono.

What did I do that week? I stayed in. I cried. A lot. I also drank a lot too. Several times I threw up from too much booze, and most mornings I woke up having passed out, not remembering what happened. I didnt watch TV, because eventually Id see something to remind me of that situation. I didnt answer my phone. Only left the apt to get more booze at the liquor store at the corner. Showered maybe three times that week, all 3 times were to wash vomit out of myself and my hair.

What finally broke me out of my week long depression was, surprisingly, Amber. I didnt text her but once during the week, too much pain. Good friend that she was, she came over Sunday night to see how I was doing. When I answered the door she took one look at me and said "Damn, you do have mono". I actually laughed. More of a sardonic giggle, but I didnt burst into tears. Maybe I was all cried out, maybe I was just so used to pretending around Amber I locked into Priya mode.

Amber spent that entire weekend with me. She slept over. We watched movies. We reminisced. We did each others nails. And while that sounds like it would be painful, it was actually strangely helpful.

I think I had reached the last stage of grief, acceptance. Lemme explain: Dees phone call basically told me that Greg Armstrong as I knew and was him, was dead. He wasnt coming back, ever, and I wasnt going to get to be him and live out my life as planned. And thru the course of the week I went thru Anger, Denial, Barganing, and the other one so that by the time Amber showed up on Sunday I was acknowledging it.

Its weird to mourn your own death. But unlike a lot of people who died, I still had a few months left with the people from my old one, most importantly the woman I loved. Spending that weekend with her was oddly one of the happiest experiences Ive ever had. It was the realization that yeah, things were gonna be over, but they werent over yet.

I spent the next 2 months living it up. At least to the extent I could. Unlike most dying people I had to keep my financial and social situations intact because Priya was gonna get her life back. But Amber and I hung out like a couple of high school girls. Every day after work and every weekend we spent time together. It was like when we were first dating, minus all the sexual stuff.

Dont think I didnt think about it though. But every time I saw her in a bathing suit or undressing causally in front of me, my mind kept telling me to get turned on, but Priya's body would not co-operate. Still the closeness was memorable and much appreciated.

One night, after a bar crawl, we both wound up at her apartment, drunk off our asses and getting ready to pass out in her bed in our underwear (something that we had done many times before. Wasnt sexual but made me feel good anyway). As we talked to each other, lying next to each other, I looked deep into her eyes and drunkenly said "Im really Greg"

Apparently that moment wasnt right enough to break the curse, and she just tossed a pillow at me, giggled, rolled over and went to sleep.

Things went on like that for about a month and a half. A happy enjoyment of my last days in Chicago. It turned out to be really great for Amber too, as she was still emotional about being dumped. How weird that I was the one to comfort her over her being dumped by "me" Still, there was always that date with the Inn dangling over my head.

I was able to teach again. Actually getting some joy out of it. I was never really a kid person, but this past school year really taught me how fun they can be. I hugged each and every one of them on the last day and told them to stay in touch in first grade the next year.

I went back to yoga. I had long lost all the weight I had gained, but something about it was really calming. Like when I closed my eyes, it was just me, my mind and it didnt matter what body I was in.

Reality set in early June though, when Amber introduced me to Tony. Tony was a guy she had seen a couple times and I was the first person to meet them as an official couple.

I didnt know how to react to that. But really its not like I blame her. Her relationship ended 2 months beforehand, and in a very abrupt and rude manner. It was weird that she was getting over "me", but we hadnt been an Item since September and the "Greg" she was getting over was a vile bitch who didnt really love her. I felt helpless, but at the same time happy for her. Acceptance again, I dunno.

It was then that I started preparing for my return to Maine.

Ill post more in the next few days

-Greg (Always in mind and spirit)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Alia: Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

When a car pulled up to the Inn yesterday after dinner, I got a bit of a chill. Out stepped a young man and woman, modestly-packed. Fletcher walked over to greet them, and I was introduced.

"Alia, these are my friends... it's probably better you don't know their names, but they're here to fill in."

"Where are they going to stay? That one guy's still got the rooms booked."

"They'll be in my room," Fletcher said, "It might upend the room-by-room scheme somewhat, but I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. It'll mostly be down by our room, and the room next."

The room next to Fletcher's, of course, was Sam's, which I recalled had no identifying bag. I wondered what that means.

"If Sam's done her part, the mark will still be in his room tonight." The mark, of course, was the guy whose wife up and went to Boston. His name was Roger, in case you were wondering.

I grumbled, "So we're splitting him off from his family."

"Hey man, there was half a chance that was already gonna happen. So his kid gets a new daddy. At least he doesn't have to worry about a new body."

I tried to mentally wipe away the ethical implications of the inn's curse, and trying to meddle with it, but it kept nagging at me all night. It didn't help that I ran into Sam at the bar again -- this time, chatting up Roger. I tried to stay clear, act like I didn't know her.

I shuffled off to bed around 11 and, as I have all week, just lay there not sleeping. This time I was certain it was going to happen. I was feeling some serious skin irritation around midnight. It was maybe 2 AM when I started to feel any real changes.

Subtle stuff at first. My skin began to feel smooth, my nails were growing. My hair took on a finer texture. Excited by the sensation, I turned on the lights and headed to the mirror where I watched as I slowly passed from one gender to the next. It was like I could feel weight being evaporated off me into a cloud of nothingness, draining me away. Not particularly pleasant, but not utterly painful. For a moment the transformation seemed to stall and I was just a short, slender boyish figure with growing hair. Then the last phase kicked in and my legs gave out.

I doubled over on the bathroom floor, numb, shivering in the cold. Hair fell over my face. I gasped, "Yes, please, God, please... yes..." in a creaking voice. I propped myself up against the bathroom wall, sitting on the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me. My vision blurred and corrected itself -- in my real life, I'm slightly nearsighted and need glasses to read. My breasts slowly grew in fuller and heavier, my stomach flattened and my genitals slipped quietly into my body -- frankly it wasn't as painful as I might've thought, although I certainly wouldn't want to go for another round. I pulled my self up on spaghetti legs and saw her.

My eyes watered up. I had gotten used to seeing hard features, short dark hair, a thick neck and broad shoulders. The girl in the mirror seemed so fragile, but I lived 24 years of my life as her. I suppressed a squeal of delight. I tried to take a few steps with my new old little feet and legs, and found that muscle memory took time to return.... I was tripping all around the room, grabbing the walls for support.

I flopped back on the bed, a layer of sweat clinging to my skin. I was flustered. My mind raced. I tried to figure out my next move. Do I go check on Sam? Sit in my room and wait for pandemonium to erupt? Confer with Fletcher and his brood? I meditated in indecision...

...and proceeded to fall into the deepest sleep I've had in months, if not years.

I awoke to the sound of general chaos outside my door, several hours later. I bolted upright, suddenly realizing that, as one of the handful of people who knew what the eff was going on, I'd be called on to do some explaining.

First, I had to attend to myself. I unzipped my proper Alia-luggage and chose the most practical outfit I could, a pair of shorts and a white t-shirt. I pulled my hair back into a loose ponytail and was set to head out when I felt something amiss. I had forgotten to put on a bra.

I laughed to myself for this innocent gaffe. When something drops out of your routine, it can be hard to get back to old reflexes. After a second stab at dressing myself, I wobbled over to the door.

I slowly headed out. To one the left, a man in a loose-fitting shirt and pants was frantically pacing and theorizing about the situation while a small group of onlookers discussed the issue. I made my way the other way down the hall to Sam's room, trying to avoid attracting attention for the time being. Out of a sense of duty maybe, trying to alleviate my conscience for freaking out the day before, I wanted to make sure there was no negativity.

I knocked on the door and waited. For a moment it seemed like anyone could be on the other side of that door. An old man, an infant, a college girl. The wait was interminable, until finally the knob turned and the door crept open.

"Hello?" a little voice whispered.

I said softly, "Sam? Is that you?"

The door opened a little wider. A little girl of Asian descent, maybe 10 or 11 years old, stood there in a men's white t-shirt that went down to her knees. Black hair matted down her face in a messy tangle. Her eyes seemed to burn as she looked up with me.

"No," she said in a deflated whimper. "My name is Roger. Roger Templesmith."

Speechless, I gawked a moment before asking, "Do you know where Sam is? The woman you were talking to-- why are you in her room?"

Walking in slow, measured paces, she went back to the bed and sat on it -- her feet not touching the floor. She talked in a hushed tone as she said, "She said... she asked if we could trade rooms, because she said she didn't like the guy in the next room over, and... was worried he might do something. I tried, I mean... I tried to be a good guy. I wanted to help."

She looked up at me with saddened eyes. This poor guy got into something big, and maybe he was legitimately trying to impress Sam, although how he might've accomplished anything from a different room I don't know.

"So," I reasoned, "Sam was in your room last night?"

She turned away, nodded and sniffled, then looked back at me. "Who are you? What happened last night?"

I said, probably with some feeling of burden in my voice, "I'm someone who knows what's going on. I'll be back."

I headed back toward Roger's original room and knocked on the door.

A guy answered, a young man in his early 20's. He took a look at me and guessed, "Rob? Or Fletcher."

"Rob. Well, Alia, actually."

"So this is the real you? You didn't mention you were a woman."

"Would that have mattered?"

"Well, you sure didn't feel like a woman," he snickered. "I guess the joke's on me now." I went into his room and, on the brink of another outburst or moral judgment, asked what was the deal with Roger switching into her room.

"Well," he explained as he unpacked his new life, "We were talking at the bar last night, he and I. And I mentioned I was a little nervous about Fletcher and his little crew. Nothing desperate, but I was venting. I was drunk, and that's what happen when I drink, I fabricate."

"Uh huh. So what, you tricked him into the room-switch by pretending Fletcher was a threat?"

"Not exactly. I wasn't really thinking about the switch. And I wasn't afraid of Fletcher, I just wanted someone to make me feel safe, and he was happy to oblige by accompanying me to my room. And then..."

"Go on."

"Then he got fresh. Some men, they're only faithful until they have an opportunity. He wanted to stay the night, to keep me safe. I told him it might be wiser if we just switch rooms, in case Fletcher came by, which was my subtle way of reminding him of his marital vows. He was embarrassed, so he agreed. And that was that."

"But why?" I asked, "Why pin it all on Fletcher? Why do anything?"

"If you were a girl--" he said, stopping himself, "I mean, if you were a girl when you met him, you'd have noticed the way he leers, like he's got something dirty on his mind all the time." I must have missed that, and I wonder whether that was due to my maleness. It's not like he didn't come across as creepy at all. Sam continued, "So yeah, I was just a tad nervous around him. But you're right, it wasn't about him. It was about the room. It gave me a bad vibe, Rob--"

"Alia."

"Whatever. The lack of luggage didn't sit well with me. I needed a sure thing. So I got in here, took a gander at this luggage, and thought, Yeah, this'll do."

My face began to get hot. "Was that why you slept with me? To see if you could get my room?"

He stared off into space, taking a long time to formulate his answer.

"To begin with, yeah." Before I could say anything, he interjected, "But when I found out you were trying to get your body back, I gave up. I wanted somebody it wouldn't make a difference to."

"To whom it wouldn't make a difference," I snapped, proving even in anger I'm a stickler for the language.

"So I found someone else."

"And this wasn't about me?"

"Well, it definitely benefited you, didn't it? You got your body back."

"Yeah, well--" I sighed. "What about the sex? What was that about?"

"What about it?" he shrugged. "We both wanted it. It just made sense."

I shook my head and made for the door. As I left, I said, "You might want to check on your friend Roger."

I left him and went to check on our other mutual acquaintance. When I knocked on Fletcher's door, a topless middle-aged Asian woman answered.

"Alia, I presume."

I nodded. "Fletcher? That's an... interesting look."

"Just exploring the terrain. Come on in."

I entered, she closed the door. I stayed next to the door frame because I felt like I might need to make a quick escape. Gathered on the floor was an Asian man and a Caucasian woman who looked older than me.

Fletcher explained, "The three of us are trying to understand it. There are three pieces of luggage in here, one for myself, Mrs. Beatrice Tran, my new husband--" the man waved to identify himself -- you know, in case I couldn't gather -- "And our daughter Lily. But instead, we have this one."

"I think I may have run into your daughter earlier. She's in the next room."

Fletcher's face brightened, "Sam's room? Well that's a relief! I'm glad it's someone I don't have to explain things to."

"Well not so fast," I said, "It's Sam's room, but Sam wasn't there last night. She switched out with Roger."

Fletcher looked slightly irritated. "Well that's a kick. Oh well, we'll make do. Meanwhile, this woman needs to find out what her name was. See how many of the noobs you can round up and we'll get some kind of explanation underway."

I rolled my eyes. "You were a 17-year-old boy in a previous life, weren't you?"

"No........." she said, trailing off. "Just go, okay? We need to make a press conference here."

I went, no longer wishing to be exposed to her nipples.

Most of the patrons were gathered in the common area already. When I appeared, having slightly more certainty in my step than others, I drew attention. Someone immediately surmised I must know what had happened. All eyes were on me.

I started off stammering, "Well... uh, the um, bad news is, this inn has a, uh, well, what people have been calling a curse, um, the inn has a curse."

Silence.

"As you have noticed, um, we're all in the bodies of the people who stayed in the rooms before you. You should have luggage in your room somewhere, you may have noticed it when you checked in, uh, belonging to the person you've uh... become."

Fletcher appeared beside me, now properly dressed. I turned to her for some reassurance, but she just pushed me on.

I continued, "Uh, the news doesn't get much better. The next people who stay here -- their reservations are mostly already made, I think -- are going to be turned into you. You have to live the lives of... well, live as the people you now look like."

I paused to let this sink in. One woman's voice called out, "I want my fucking cock back!"

I went on to explain, you know, how it's possible to get your body back, although when I revealed that I was a successful example of this, people started to suspect me. It shouldn't be surprising for me to say that people don't like getting the news that they have to uproot their entire existence for a year. I didn't have much hope to offer them other than that, so I tried to emphasize it, but I mostly lost it.

I was feeling embarrassed, and I was about to run and hide in my room forever, when Sam poked his head out of his door. I turned back to the grumbling mob and announced, "Hey! Listen, I know it all seems crazy. I know it's hard to absorb. Believe me, when it happened to me-- yeah. But it's not that bad. Most people lead normal lives. You get used to it. Some of you might even learn to enjoy the experience of seeing the inside of another person's life. As shitty as this all sounds, you're getting an experience you never thought possible, and it's just... it's not all bad. So learn to live with it, okay? I'm done."

I went back to my room. There was a knock at the door and Sam poked his head in.

"That was an interesting speech..."

"Well, I got a little frazzled when that one person yelled about her cock. You know? Well, I can understand. Guys get attached to those things."

He blushed. "You'd know all about that, eh?"

"You get used to it. You know how it is."

"I guess so. Hey, I just found out who I am. My name's Max McGill, from Fredericton, New Brunswick. I'm Canadian like you!"

I smiled. "Glad to see you're so excited."

"Could be worse, you know? I used to live in Detroit. New Brunswick might be a nice change of pace."

An African-American man looked into the room holding a Blackberry. "A woman claiming to be my wife just called this phone. What should I say?"

I advised, "Tell her you got delayed on your way out of Maine, and you'll be home soon as you can. There might be some kind of letter with your luggage... I advise you to write one about you life."

"Thanks," he said. "It's going to be okay, isn't it?"

I nodded. "It'll get better."

And that was all before Breakfast.

More to come...
-Alia!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alia/Rob: Necessary Measures

I'm a nice person. At least, that's the image I have of myself. I don't want to ruffle anyone's feathers in life, don't want to step on anyone to get what I want, don't want to cause a fuss or inconvenience others. I order coffee but get tea, I just drink tea. I wake up one morning as Rob Garcia, I live a year in his life.

But there's something to be said for doing what it takes to get what you need.

Earlier, I mentioned the logistical problem of this dad-guy and his wife and kid, if they happened to head off to Boston before any of us had transformed. I'm guessing somehow the transformation would occur anyway, and for all I know I'd still get out of here with my own body. Or maybe I'd get to the end of my reservation and not transform at all. That's not acceptable, even a marginal chance of it.

The other side of it, though, was the kid -- they had a son about 10. If I was just some random visitor, and I saw a couple with their kid, I wouldn't think anything of it. So when the kid gets transformed, oh, it's just as much a surprise as anything else. But knowing it was going to happen? Something about that didn't sit right with me. Part of me wanted to let them go, and try to find another way to let it happen.

I was discussing this with Fletcher. He said he has a couple of people nearby he might be able to call on -- "travelers" tend to stay in the New England -- but the loss of three bodies at the inn wouldn't be easy to overcome. He suggested it would be smartest to try to convince them to stay another day. I said I wasn't much for manipulating people.

"Leave it to me," he says.

I spent last night tossing and turning, hoping the change would happen, but it still didn't. Afraid of what might happen if this whole thing somehow goes bust, my dreams felt haunted.

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of a rumbling. It was the unmistakable sound of a lover's quarrel. She was screaming something about broken plans and bad promises. I didn't want to eavesdrop, but they were having at it in the open air, so I heard whatever I heard.

The fight ended with the sound of luggage being carried out to a car. In a worry, I thought, "This is the opposite of what I want to happen!" So I scrambled to find some pants and see what exactly had occurred.

I found the Dad on his own. The wife had driven off with their son, presumably for Boston.

"Sorry you had to hear that," he said, "The wife and I had a difference of opinion."

"What about?"

"This place. I wanted to hang out a bit longer, and she was laying into me because she has a thing about plans."

"I know what you mean," I said, albeit with more sympathy for the wife than I let on. "She just left you here?"

"Eh, I just thought we paid for the room, why not enjoy it? It's a little nicer than your average roadside joint, don't ya think?" Yes. "But she says, oh, we've gotta keep to our schedule, Boston this, blah blah. So I let her go, and I'll take a bus down and meet her there in a couple of days when it's all blown over."

It seemed miraculous how it had all worked out. A little too miraculous. And some of this didn't sit right with me.

I went and found Fletcher. "What did you do?"

"What'd I do?" he snickered, "I didn't do anything, man. I mean sure, some stuff happened, but I don't think it has anything to do with me." He grinned and said, "Come to think of it, what makes a man suddenly gain a fondness for a little Inn in the middle of nowhere?"

I asked him again. "...Fletcher, what did you do?"

He looked me in the eye. "I had a little talk with your ladyfriend Sam. She knows more about what's happened here than I would."

I rushed off to Sam's room and knocked urgently on her door. She answered in pajamas and tousled hair, like I'd just woken her up. "Oh, hey Rob, are we still here?"

I hissed in a quiet tone, in case anyone could hear, "What did you do last night?"

She looked at me, defensively, with a cold, annoyed look that didn't care to be accused at. She pulled me into her room.

"What did that asshole tell you?" she asked.

"Which asshole? The asshole whose wife just left him here, or the asshole who bodyjacks strangers for fun?"

"Either one. What did you hear?"

"I didn't hear anything. But Fletcher strongly implied you were responsible for whatever just happened to that guy."

She sat on the bed and said nothing. Irritated with the lack of explanation, I began to yell, "Did you--" before I realized exactly how loud this body's voice can be. I stopped to compose myself. "Did you fuck him?"

She shot back, "No! God, is that what you think I am? Some kind of whore? That I'd have sexual intercourse with a married man just to, just to what? To help you get your body back faster? No, I didn't sleep with anybody." She looked bitterly at me. "I only sleep with people I like."

"So, what then?" I demanded, trying to brush away the embarrassment of my accusation.

"Well," she said very hesitantly, "I convinced him to say."

"With what, a sandwich platter?"

"Ouch," she said, "No, just a few choice words. I never said anything was going to happen, but I just... had a talk with him. About Maine, and about not missing opportunities for seeing sights, and experiencing things... I may have planted the idea that staying would be a good idea."

After a moment, I said, "So... you led him on, into staying at the inn so he could be transformed?"

"That's one way of looking at it. It's not my fault he may have drawn certain... interpretations."

I fell silent for a moment. She asked whether I was mad.

"I'm not mad," I said, half-truthfully, "I just wonder why any of this had to happen. I could've left well enough alone. Maybe figured out some other way."

After a moment when neither of us could figure out anything to say, Fletcher appeared in the doorway. "Just thought you might like to know," he said, "My friends are on their way, and someone else just pulled up in the parking lot. Might as well get ready for tomorrow."

I don't know if any of this is all right. I feel like maybe I overreacted to Sam's actions. Maybe none of this has anything to do with me. I don't even know if it was necessary. But it happened. Now the rest of us just have to deal with it.

I'm just tired of thinking about it
-Alia

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alia/Rob: Closer and closer

I met up with Fletcher again last night. More people have checked in to the Inn - by his count, a family of three and a young couple.

"None of them look like they've been here before," he said, "They underpacked and they looked, well, genuinely upbeat about being in Maine. You know, there's a beaten-down, antsy look people who return get. Just waiting to get it over with."

"Of course."

"It's the weekend, so I'd expect you to be back in your own skin by Monday morning. We'll probably see our last five friends show up tonight or tomorrow morning. How was your date last night?"

I scowled, "It wasn't a date."

"Hook-up then. Whatever. You banged, didn't you?"

"Keep it down." I felt awkward discussing this.

"Ah, come on. She looks like she like it rough."

"Now you're just being misogynistic. Besides," I admitted, "I had a bit of a stamina problem."

He laughed, "Alia, you dog! I can't believe you fuckin' did it! That's awesome. I'm impressed. Congrats." He put out his hand and I shook it reluctantly. I told him I felt like a hypocrite, after all my lecturing to Tori.

He dismissed this idea. "We're nobody, here. Between identities. There ain't any Alia right now, there ain't even really a Rob. You're just a dude who did what any other guy would've done in the same situation. Lucky guy."

Sam didn't appear again. I considered going by her room before crashing, but ended up just staying in my own. It's been raining again.

In the hallway this morning, I ran into the dad of the family of three Fletcher had mentioned. I asked him if he was enjoying his trip. He said yeah, but they weren't going to be here long, they were going to head down to Boston on Sunday.

A mild panic struck me. 13 people have to be in the inn at once, right? It doesn't just release the new bodies to the 13 closest humans, I mean, if they're not close enough... the particularities of this whole curse still elude me. But it seems clear that if these three bodies aren't at the inn with the rest of us, this whole transformation is going to be messed up.

This morning, another woman showed up. We're that much closer. I've got my fingers crossed.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Alia/Rob: Noble pursuits

I had been trying to mentally prepare myself for this for weeks. Now that I'm here, walking these halls again, I feel like my stomach has sunk down to my knees. This place carries an ominous cloud over it and if I never see so much as a photo of it after this week, I'll be happy. A lot of people come here every year, and none of them leave the same. Some never go back. And some...

I was sitting in the bar last night after dinner. It was about 9 PM and I was dragging my feet on going back to the inn. Not from fear of transforming. The place was still relatively deserted. There was one new car in the parking lot since I'd woken up that morning. It was me, the sunbathing beauty, and one other unknown, no more than five people but maybe just the one as far as I knew.

I was just stalling because I knew that once I got back to the Inn, that'd be it for the night. I'd go back to psychodrama, back to fear and guilt and nervousness. It was inevitable that I had to confront it, but I was putting it off as long as possible. So it was a slight relief when a dude took a seat next to me in the bar and struck up a conversation, albeit not one of the most intellectually stimulating discussions I've had recently.

"Dude, don't look now but that chick is checking you out."

I instinctively twisted my neck to see the woman in question, then realized myself and faced forward. Not that I wanted to seem to care, but I was curious.

The guy was dressed in a black long-sleeve shirt and blue jeans, not ideal clothing for the weather, although he was stylish. I asked, "You know her?"

"I've spoken to her a bit, but I can tell she digs you."

I turned, slowly, to see the same pretty woman I'd seen around the inn.

I turned to my companion, "We're staying at the same inn. She probably recognizes me."

He grinned when I said this. "That wouldn't be the Trading Post Inn, would it? Up the road? Quaint little place, kind of haunted-feeling?"

I got a shiver, sensing where this was going. "That's the one."

He took a swig of his drink before asking, "You've stayed here before."

I bit my cheek a bit. "Mhm."

"Your name wouldn't happen to be Rob Garcia, would it?"

I was feeling just a bit embarrassed, but it seemed pretty obvious he's read the blog. "That's me. And you are?"

"Never mind that. You can call me Fletcher. Must be nice, heading back to your old life."

"That's the plan," I said. "What about you?"

"I go where the wind takes me, my friend. I'm a traveler."

"A traveler?"

"It's a little club. There aren't many of us, but you've got to figure... over a hundred people come to the inn every year. About half of us are return cases. But not all of them are headed back to their own bodies. Some of us just like the thrill of it."

I thought back to George and Jan. I knew that there are people who come back, but those two had managed to make their frequent trips sound... altruistic, I guess, since they lost their own bodies. Fletcher seemed like he was getting a weird thrill out of it.

But he did make me a little sales pitch to explain himself. "Look," he says, "The transformations happen, no matter who's sleeping in those rooms. Not everyone gets to keep their bodies. So a few of us dedicated hobbyists show up whenever our time is up. It helps to have some experienced hands around, you know? My old life is over for me, so why commit? Who says I have to?" He said this with a mischievous gleam in his eye. I assured him I'm not here to judge, but I'm hoping I never have to see this place again.

With a flash of paranoia, and known he's read the blog, I ask, "Do you know anything about that Pygmalion guy? Or people?"

"Well if I did, I'm not sure I'd be allowed to tell you," he said, "But no. I only know what your blog people have said. Whatever their agenda is, I haven't seen it in action. I'm just in it for myself."

"What about her?" I asked.

"Don't know her story," he said. "Looks like a return case, but she doesn't have that obvious look of familiarity in her eyes. Why don't you go chat her up?"

I finished my drink. "If you know my name, you know who I really am underneath this skin."

"Yeah, I know," he smiled evilly, "But it couldn't hurt to talk to her, right?"

Somewhat embarrassed, I walk over to her table. She's wearing short shorts and a white top over her bikini. I ask if I can get her a drink, in a very smooth, uncertain tone of voice.

"I'm fine with the drink I have, but I could use some company."

"Well, if there's anything I can do to help..."

"Have a seat," she said. "That guy you were talking to, Fletcher. He's been here before, right?"

"So it seems. You?"

She nodded. "Looks like we all have that in common. He creeps me out, though, so I just want to talk to you."

"He seems harmless enough. A little sleazy, like he's got something to gain by being here, but... not dangerous to anyone. Do you read the blog?"

"What blog?"

"There's a blog, some of us write in, talking about our experiences."

"Oh," she said. "That sounds very... therapeutic. I'm Sam."

"I'm Aaaaa....Rob."

"Well, Aaaaaa-Rob, I'm about ready for another drink. How about you?" She flagged down the waitress and we each got a beer.

"So, are you getting your own body back?" I asked her.

"Me?" She sipped. "I was the 14-year-old daughter of a millionaire. That was 5 years ago. The current owner is not interested in making a return."

"So you're 19."

"I'm 26," she said, "The whole experience has a way of aging you."

"That must have been tough."

"I couldn't even begin to describe it," she shook her head and got a faraway look in her eyes. "I spent two years in a hospital. Got a lot of reading done. Did some growing up. I've seen some shit, Rob."

"I can only imagine. So why come back after all this time?"

"Because," she said, "The real Sam asked if she could come back. Why now? Who knows. But I wasn't doing much with the body."

"So, what happens to you after we change?"

"No clue," she sighed, "I'm flying blind here."

"Is there anything in your room? A bag, a letter?"

"Nothing. Whoever was in there before me didn't leave me much to go on."

This comment struck me. We talked a bit more before we decided to walk back to the inn together. Fletcher had gone by this point.

"Listen," she said, "I don't know who I'll be in two days. I was wondering if you'd do me a favour."

By this point we had established some trust, so I asked what.

"Keep me company. Just for tonight."

I felt a little heavy. "That's not a good idea. With the whole inn curse, and... I mean, if you're not in your room, then things might get messed up for me."

She gave me a saddened look. "The inn isn't full, Rob. Not even close. I've got an uncertain future in front of me, I'm understandably jumpy. I just want one night of your time, okay?"

Feeling just a bit manipulated, I agreed to bring her to my room. This had a large amount of potential to get way, way out of hand, but I couldn't see my way out of it at the time.

I brought her to my room. She flopped down on the bed.

"You've got a nice room, but mine can see the ocean." I laughed a quick, embarrassed chuckle over how this issue had come to determine Cliff's and my fates.

She slipped her shorts off and let them fall to the floor. My eyes were transfixed as she slipped her tanktop off over her head. She asked, "We're going to be mature about this, aren't we?"

I tried to stammer out a response as she climbed under the covers, continuing, "I mean, you're not going to sleep in your clothes, are you?"

"I may not have a choice," I told her. But it was humid, and I had to strip down to my boxers.

We began back to back, but I couldn't get comfortable. I was on my wrong side. I had to turn over and wrap an arm around her.

"Oh, hello," she whispered.

"Don't get excited," I said, "This is just more comfortable."

"You're telling me..." she said.

I began to drift off into a comfortable sleep, but was awakened by her jostling.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing," she said, "But I'm not going to be able to get any sleep until I do this."

Then she kissed me. She was on top of me, topless now, grinding on me through my shorts and her panties. Exhaustion and hormones blocked every instinct I might've had to push her away. I'd come this far. I'd nearly broken the barrier a few times before, every reason not to suddenly faded from view. I just went along with it.

We began to kiss deeply, with hands running all over each other's bodies. I haven't felt a pair of breasts in so long they suddenly had a novelty to them. I can't articulate the male attraction, but I understand it better now that I've felt it. This was followed by the surreptitious removal of the remaining clothing layers.

"Wait," I gasped, "Do you have anything."

She rolled over me and reached into her purse for a prophylactic. "I'm not an idiot, Rob."

After a pause to slip it on, we got back to business. It was... practical. It was sex. I tried to go according to her body, but when I started to speed up, I lost a bit of control and finished probably a fair bit sooner than I'd imagined myself. I thought maybe with a bit of self-control, I could last, but my body had other ideas.

It was awkward, stimulating, and very revealing. When I finished, it felt somehow more significant than any time I had gone by myself. The feeling of having her on top -- then under -- me, moaning, completely at my whims, just felt... indescribable. A shame it couldn't last.

I drifted off to sleep wracked with guilt and the desire to apologize profusely. On top of all the other complexes I already had, this woman was pretty much a stranger. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of how quickly it all got out of hand. My mind swam with paranoid thoughts that Sam was some kind of Pygmalion agent using sex to manipulate me. For her part, she just rolled over and fell asleep. I thought I was supposed to be the guy.

When I woke up I was alone. I ran into her at a cafe up the road, and we had a bit of breakfast, where I explained that I was technically "with someone." She got a disappointed-annoyed look on her face when she asked whether "someone" would care about what I've been up to for the last year. I began to answer in the affirmative, but I stopped.

Todd's been on my case about this practically since I got a penis. At first I thought he was just being gross, but I'm thinking there might be some psychological basis for this, like it affirms what he's done with Hal Adkisson, or with Donna. It puts us on some kind of equal level (well sort of... we'll never really be equal in this respect, at least I hope not.) Maybe it allows him to feel absolved from the situation he was in, which I don't hold against him anyway.

But with all the guilt I've got pent up about our relationship, as well as my resentment at his own transgressions, it's not easy to feel good about what happened last night. Still I think the only one who's going to be mad is me. Still, I told Sam it probably wasn't a good idea that we do it again. She said we'd see. I still intend to practice self-restraint, now that I've been there. That said, once you get a taste...

Ugh, just no.

-Alia

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alia/Rob: Maine in Vain (Stand By Me)

Before leaving for Maine yesterday morning, I met up with Tori for a cup of coffee (or coffee-flavoured blended drink.) Since she starts work at midday, she was eager to see me off.

There was a bittersweet feeling to the meetup. We got into this together and haven't remained as close as we might have. I haven't been able to be there for her at several times when she probably could've used me and thus we've both drifted off. Now that she's staying in Philly and I'm going back to Toronto-via-Maine, it really feels like the paths of our experience have split far.

The meeting wasn't too much of a downer. As distracted as she seemed, she made more jokes than anything, seemed in high spirits. Part of me thinks she might just be covering, but in all the time I've known her, she's worn her emotions to a great extent on her sleeve. If she was really troubled, I probably would have been more easily made aware of it. "Yes," she asserts, "It sucks not going back. Can't help being disappointed. But I'm in a good place." I have to say, she's way more at ease in her skin than when she was freshly-transformed. No, she's not over-confident in her looks or her presentation. Aside from a lot of temperature-necessary bare skin, she dresses pretty modestly. There's a downright honest sexiness to her that says to me, if she ever figures out who she wants to be with, she'll have no problem getting them.

Rob's body agrees.

As we sat outside in the sun, a student passed by, a girl named Stephanie. It was clearly a bit awkward for her -- as it always is when you're a student and you see a teacher out of school. I remember once being stuck on the subway with a Prof for about 8 stops and having no idea what to say. I gave her a quick, non-committal wave, to acknowledge her and potentially diffuse the awkwardness. She took it as a sign to come over and chat.

She was a good enough student, but I didn't think she was the type of girl who would honestly want to talk to her English teacher. Instead she gushed about how nice she thought I was and how she was really excited to be getting some reading done this summer. She asked if she'd be seeing me again next year.

I was a bit sorry to say no -- I'm pretty sure Rob won't be teaching her grade, but more than that, I'll be long gone. She expressed some disappointment, and I assured her that most of the other teachers in the department were better than me.

She smiled. "That's not what most of us think."

"Excuse me?"

"Well, I don't know. Older teachers are all business, or they stopped caring. A lot of younger teachers think they get along with students, but I think you're the only one who really does. Like, you don't talk down to us, but you also seem like you remember what it is to be a student, be stressed out and confused about shi-- er, stuff."

I felt myself blushing a bit. "Yeah, maybe I do. That doesn't make me a good teacher, though. There were some pretty low marks in that class."

She told me, "You'll figure it out. See you 'round, Mr. G."

I was uncertain how to feel as she walked off. I explained to Tori that it was my honest intention to just resume my career path and forget about teaching. I didn't feel like I was any good at it, and it stressed me way out. But there were times when it felt good, and now that I've gotten a taste, it doesn't seem like such a bad option. It's not exactly my dream job, but I don't feel like I should rule it out anymore.

I had a lot of time to think about this on the drive up to Maine. I got there after 8 and was so exhausted from the drive that I practically just collapsed in my room. I checked in and lay down on the bed for like an hour before even looking around for my old body's luggage.

I found it in the closet. It appeared to be mine, all right, complete with a brief letter from Crystal apologizing if she overstepped her boundaries with Bryan. Well I certainly don't feel great about that, and I'll be carrying around a smidge of bitterness for a while I think about this whole affair, but I don't lay the blame on her. I don't think anyone is to blame. It was a shitty situation we all need to get past.

Exhausted, I stripped down and went to bed, hoping the change would be that night. However, I hardly saw another human being, just a girl reclining in her bikini in the front sitting area. Plenty of cars in the driveway, but few bodies. I wanted to reach out to her, to warn her of what awaited her, but at best she knows and at worst she won't believe me, or she'll be scared off and the whole thing will fail.

I couldn't sleep. My mind went a hundred different directions. Regaining my femininity, leaving Philadelphia and Tori behind. Reuniting with Todd and Bryan in Toronto. trying to pick things up where they left off -- without rehashing the baggage, let alone my experiences with fake-Todd... and every time I tried to put my mind at ease, my libido kept pushing me back to the sexy girl I'd seen earlier outside the place.

I did bring DVDs and books to distract myself, but they didn't help put me to sleep.

Eventually, at nearly 4 AM, I managed to slip into sleep, although I didn't sleep late. I spent most of today wandering the town, seeing the locals, wandering the beach. The weather this year is a lot nicer than it was during my rainy last visit. I should try to at least enjoy myself a bit.

I'm about to get some dinner, then hit the bar. I'll check in again soon, if I haven't transformed tonight.

Cheers,
-Alia

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Cliff/Tori: Boyfriends & Girlfriends part two

I was lingerie-shopping with Raine on the weekend. I remember when I first transformed and going around looking at clothes, let alone frilly underwear, would've been the last thing I ever wanted to do. I'm hardly a shopaholic -- I'm really a cheapskate -- but a long while ago I started finding it therapeutic to go around looking at clothes and other things they sell to girls like me. Once I immersed myself in girlhood, it became a source of comfort to know how ordinary it all is.

Anyway just because I've gotten normal to this point doesn't mean I don't think it's a little odd. I came across a mannequin with a ruffly pair of yellow panties and a scandalous bra, and I joked to Raine "Could you actually see someone wearing this under their clothes? Like, you're walking around in your jeans and your top, and underneath you've got this?"

I snickered, but she just looked at me kind of deadpan and said "You're not supposed to" (obviously) "You put it on when you want to spice things up with a guy. It's just for the bedroom." Like I'm still some noob, like I need a tutorial on lingerie all of a sudden?

Instead of explaing that, yes, I get it, I was just making a joke, I sighed and decided to go on. "I just think it's silly. You don't need this stuff. Guys don't care what a girl is wearing, they just wanna see her naked and get busy."

She rolled her eyes, "Man, you really don't understand guys. They love the fantasy. That's half the fun."

I felt a little dejected at her analysis. I sure haven't been doing the legwork to understand males from my new perspective. There was a time when I never thought I'd get tired of looking at myself naked in Tori's body. Now I barely even bother letting my eyes linger, because I know the territory so well. Every curve, every inch, every speck. Maybe that's what being in a relationship (a real one, a sexual one, not like the ones I've had with girls) is like. The novelty wears off and you just accept each other's existence. That saddens me.

Back to underwear, she concluded, "Besides, not everyone just wants to wear plain white panties all the time, loser." I smiled and helpfully pointed out that my collection was a bit more varied than that -- it just also happened to be practical and comfy as well as sexy.

Speaking of, here's what happened when I got home after my weekend at the beach/Ken's. I got home that morning to find bad pop music blaring throughout the house (I want to say Ke$ha.) I traced it to Mae's room, which was obvious since she was the only one home. I knocked on her door. No answer. I opened it slowly and poked my head in.

She looked up from her bed, where she was lying face down sobbing into her pillow. She said "Oh hey Vic." I turned the music down and sat no the edge of her bed.

"Is something wrong?"

"No. Yes." She rolled over and pressed the pillow into her face and screamed at it. She pushed it aside and explained that her ex-boyfriend (Raine's little brother, you'll recall) had started seeing someone else.

I told her I thought she was over him, and she said she was, but she really wasn't ready for this. "It just hit me, you know? How over it is." I told her I know a thing or two about things being over.

"Plus, I know he's had his eye on her since we were together, so it's just shitty. This stupid skinny bitch with more tits than brains..."

She paused herself and looked at me apologetically, like I was supposed to take serious offense. I mean, I know Tori was once upon a time that exact type, and even if Mae knows how I am now, she also remembers "me" differently. So I just shook it off.

"Mae," I said, "Trust me when I say you're beautiful, okay? You may not think it--" I paused, trying not to sound too after school special-y, "But I know you, and I know that most girls are way more confused about who they are and what they're supposed to be, at your age and older. What's really awesome about you, and what guys are going to love, is how true to yourself you are. Sure, Ed was an asshole. You don't need someone like that. But the really cool guys, the ones that are a little shy and intimidated, maybe they don't even know it yet, but they're gonna want you later. Real soon, I bet."

I saw a glimmer of hope, but I'm not sure she quite agreed. Well, she'll see. We hugged and I left her, and she didn't turn the music back up. Eventually, she composed herself and got on with her day.

More soon!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cliff/Tori: Boyfriends & Girlfriends part one

I haven't posted in a while, because stuff has kept piling up in my life, and I wasn't sure what to say about it. Even now, some of my issues are ongoing, so talking about them feels like maybe the story will change by the time I'm done telling it. But for now, I just want to get as much of it off my back as I can.

On the Fourth of July, Sara, Thom, Raine, Guy and I went out to the Jersey coast for a beach day. It was hot and crowded, but everywhere was. Plus, in such a large crowd, I felt less self-conscious about baring skin than I usually do. Out of a desire to girl it up, I opted for a strapless bikini, which I regretted during the numerous times I felt like I was going to pop out of it. Yikes.

I should note that we asked Cyndi and Leo along, but we've been seeing less and less of them lately. None of us really knows what's up with them, but we're guessing they're not so close anymore.

Sara and Thom went off on their own. Raine and Guy stayed in one spot, but mostly put on an impressive bout of PDA. See, here's the thing. Since Buddy left, Raine and Guy have been all over each other. Apparently, they toned down their displays because they didn't want to be insensitive to Buddy, whom they knew wasn't getting anything off me. But apparently it's okay to put on these long groping matches for my benefit, because I should be used to it.

That's the part of having Tori's life that I hate. I can't argue that she should be used to that crap, and she's probably done plenty of it in her life, so any objections I have are not taken seriously. I am, after all, a self-conscious computer geek with the body of a cute hairdresser, although it's been a long time since I thought of myself that way instead of just "me."

I thought about leaving and finding my own spot to read and tan, but as I've learned, a single girl in a bikini is pretty much a signal to all the jerks of the world to flock over. I spent a fair bit on the morning being chatted up by a dude with a pretty impressive body, but nothing interesting to say. I know it's weird that I just said that, (even after a year) but I had to admit it. Good looking guy. But boring and annoying as hell.

I eventually managed to ditch him and go grab some food. I got in line behind a cute girl (hey, I can admit that too!) And that's when I exercised one of the benefits of this body.

I struck up a conversation with her.

Now, let me be clear. She wasn't gorgeous, but who really is? She was petite, with a cute face, and a nice tan. I needed somebody to talk to, so I just said it. "So, the creeps are really out today, huh?"

She smiled, "Oh God, I know. I usually have a boyfriend to fend them off, but he's off with 'the guys.'" She said this dismissively. I played along, like yeah, how dare they spend time with their friends instead of us ladies. It's kind of sad to me how my relationships with men are mostly predicated on whether they're dating one of my friends, or whether they want to get with me. She suggested we stick together, since there's strength in numbers.

Then I started having one of those "Wow, I'm really not Cliff anymore" moments, because as a guy I would've been too overwhelmed (by my hormones) to really function after that, but it was cool. I mean, shit, I really am a girl now, I get along really well with girls, and I don't feel nervous and intimidated by them anymore. They see me as one of their own, judge me accordingly, and I've gotten very comfortable acting the part.

After we ate, we laid out and tanned a while, and then she encouraged me to get involved in a playful game of tag with some excitable college boys and some other girls. It was fun, until one of them started to get handsy. I scolded him about it and he seemed sincerely apologetic, but then got up to the same tricks with another girl... and she was more receptive.

By the end of the day, tired and tanlined, I said goodbye to my new friend as she met up with her boyfriend, leaving me with a sad reminder that I might continue to be alone for a while, no matter how I look. Left back to my lonesome, I also parted with my friends to follow up on a deal I had made with my brother Ken to have dinner with him and his fiancee Jana (after putting on some real clothes, of course.)

She made pasta salad with chicken. She's a really good cook, actually, although she's still a little dull in conversation. I faked my way through a discussion about our childhood with Ken, and there were a few times when I guess I slipped up because I misremembered details from Tori's diaries. I kept having to fall back on my "I can barely remember those days" excuse, which gets less and less believable the more recent the topic.

Jana went to bed early. Ken and I stayed up and watch a movie - I had to convince him that "Shaun of the Dead" was something I would, in fact, now enjoy. I fell asleep on the couch and he left me.

At 2 AM, I woke up to the sounds of Jana squealing in the bedroom. What is it about this family and their loud sexual habits? I don't know. I had to pretend like I didn't hear it the next morning over breakfast, but when Ken was giving me a lift back to Philly, I eventually slipped up and started teasing him about it.

He was a good sport about it. "We're close, Vic," he says, using my 'family nickname,' "So it's okay if we talk about it, but please, please never tell me if you know anything about Mae's sex life. As far as I'm concerned, she's still 12."

We joked around for the rest of the ride. I'll finish the story later.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Todd: Gone Daddy Gone

So, she's gone.

Crystal, that is. Bryan saw her off last weekend. He seemed to be in denial the whole time leading up to her departure, but after she left, he got very sullen and withdrew into his private world. He's been resisting all attempts at consolation.

I've never seen Bry as into a woman as he's been into Crystal. I would've thought them a very cute couple if it weren't for the fact that my blood got hot everytime I saw them together, knowing whose skin she was wearing. I feel like I can trust her, and yet you never know how these things turn out until they do, so I harnessed a bit of hostility, but I at least feel sympathy for Bryan in this sorry state. This isn't about Alia, certainly not for him anyway.

Me, I've been using my co-worker Shelby as my angst dumping grounds. Alia thinks I'm just paranoid, and I can't bring myself to raise my issues with Bryan because he can always one-up me with the whole "How do you think I feel" angle. I mean, at least I'm getting Alia back, and we can figure out our business from there.

Of course, when I explained it to Shelby, I had to morph some of the details somewhat to fit the, uh, narrative as she understands it. The way she understands it, it's a simple case of Alia and I breaking up and Bryan getting with her while I remain a lonely outsider in their relationship. So in this version of the story, Bryan is pretty clearly a villain, which is a shame because I really don't blame him for what happened. The only one to blame is those impossible-to-understand forces of fate that brought us to this point. For her part, she thinks the story makes me seem a bit more like a pushover than she believes me to be, and I can't fault her there. Why would I stay friends with a guy who pulled such a trick? But as you know, that's not the case.

So I just keep going in circles while Bry sulks and Alia is still off being a dude for the time being. As for Crystal?

Well as far as I know, she's getting her old body back. As we have seen this is not always the case, whether you intend it or not, and I don't think Bryan is heartless enough to have schemed to get her someone else's body. So we'll see. It's entirely possible she gets her own body back and resumes her fling with Bryan... whatever issues and baggage her real appearance carries probably isn't so tough next to the shit we've been dealing with for the last two years.

Anyway, that's what's up with me and the others. There's also one other thing: Shelby convinced me to go back to school. I was one year away from my degree when I dropped out, and I've been complaining a lot about being ground down by work and life, Shelby basically sat me down and said "Why don't you just take control of something in your life? It's not to late to change."

Something about my 19-year-old co-worker calling me out really hit home, so I registered for my last remaining classes and will attempt to get some motion in my life. Who knows, maybe someday we'll even put this craziness behind us.

-Todd

PS Before anyone asks, I don't know anything more about Greg than any other reader on this blog, and I'm just as curious as the rest of you.

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