My name is Anthony Levine. Or at least, it used to be.
I've spent the ten months living in the body of a woman named Charlotte Christopoulos. It has not been easy. For any man, adjusting to the life of a woman would be a chore. You can imagine why, and you'd only be halfway there. There is still so much to know about being someone else. Anyone else. I took this challenge and, as I have with a lot of other obstacles in my life, did the best I could with it. It was hard, stressful, nerve-wracking, but I couldn't let on that I was struggling. There was work to do.
I messed up. Because it was an accident there is no reason I should feel guilty, but I do. Because of me three of my closest friends were transformed into other people, so I've worked tirelessly to get them, and me, back where we belong. I was single-minded. Survive, thrive, earn money to return to Maine, ignore the voice in my head reminding me of all the people my company - a travel agency - sent to that inn in Maine over the years. How many ruined lives are implicitly on my hands. Atone.
Bad things happen, no matter how good you are at planning. People will make mistakes, or things happen that are beyond your control. In my old life, I was a VP, I had a beautiful girlfriend I was planning to marry, I had money and status. Then I was turned into this, and somebody else had to be turned into me.
That somebody else... was a child. A preteen without enough sense of the world to deal with life at the level I was living. I could do everything right as Charlotte, but there was no way that kid was ever going to be a good Anthony.
He lost everything for me. Shaun has written about how guilty he feels for ruining Doug's relationship. It isn't his fault, and it isn't the Kid's fault for ruining mine, but it happened, and my career and my savings, and everything. It's gone. There was nothing I could do from here to protect it.
If I was going to go back to Maine, if I was going to go back to being Anthony, I would be starting from scratch. Worse off than I ever was before. And these are bad economic times to be trying to rebuild your life. I couldn't take it.
Shaun's a good man. He didn't steal Doug's life, even though Doug has everything Shaun seems to want. I'm not going back to the Inn. The real Charlotte has known this for some time. As far as I know, she will continue living as Wayne Tyson in Scotsdale, Arizona. As Wayne "he" is very much in love with his wife Linda, the original Clara. I don't know who will be claiming her body from Zane. It's none of my business.
My point is that as guilty as I feel for what I did to my friends, I did everything I could to fix it, I got the three of them back to Maine and if everything goes according to plan, they will be back where they belong in no time. I have to stay in Los Angeles. I'm going to be CeeCee for the rest of my life, barring some insane change of plans. I don't mind it here. The job has room for advancement. The body is sufficient for my needs. I'm thinking of getting a cat.
I've known this was happening for a few months now. I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone sooner because I was ashamed. I'm afraid you'll all think I'm taking the easy way out. Worried that you'll think less of me because I see "life as a woman" as better than "life stripped of everything I had." Afraid you'll think I'm some kind of thief. I hope you'll understand that I only did what I had to do.
This is the worst part.
The inn only works when enough people go. I had already made a reservation and couldn't cancel. This was all very time-sensitive. Through this blog, I learned about Travelers, who go back to the Inn for fun, or entertainment, or whatever. I first tried to offer my old body to Greg, but the timing didn't work out with him returning Alexis' body to her. He put me in touch with Fletcher, but he was unable to find any of his friends to visit the Inn that week.
So I took out an ad, and I sold my reservation privately, to someone who hasn't ever been before.
I've lost a lot of sleep over this. One last unwitting soul being put into a new body. I made sure it was a man, roughly my age, unemployed, unmarried, I've done everything I could to vet the candidate. He should be arriving there tonight. I'm not saying it's OK that I've done this, only that it's happened a million times before and there's no way to stop it.
This is the only way.
I'm so sorry.