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.