Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bryan: Sighting

I guess it's been a really long time since I've written here. Obviously there's been a lot of settling down... if Todd and Alia wanted to talk about it, I figure they would, but basically things are status quo around here with them and me.

We've even kept the band, Somebody Else, relatively active. No more big tours lately, but even Shelby is back drumming with us when we pull gigs around Toronto. We needed some space and time apart, but in the end not only is she a friend, she's a good drummer for us to work with.

She's been seeing this guy, Roman, for a while. He's this clean cut business major, a really type-a kind of guy, my exact opposite. I'm just a tad bitter about that, but if that's what she's into then I wish her the best. They moved in together and held a housewarming party last weekend, and invited me, Alia and Todd. I went, knowing I was probably going to have a rough night. It was a lot of couples.

Across the party, I spotted a girl who appeared to be single, a pretty brunette with a cute round face, going from conversation to conversation. She must have seen me eyeing her, because she looked twice and smiled, then came over.

She asked how my night was going and I said I'd had worse. I asked how she knew the happy couple, and she said she was Roman's ex, Traci. What a funny coincidence, I said, because I'm Shelby's.

"What are we doing to ourselves?" she laughed at herself a little, and me I guess. "No really, I'm still friends with Roman, and I just needed to get out more. Exam crunch, you know?"

"I remember that... I've been out of University for a while now, been working and traveling." I told her that Shelby and I were in a band and we'd recently toured the States. I didn't mention that it was over a year ago. Still feels pretty recent.

"Another funny coincidence," she said, "Because I'm from there." I could tell she had kind of an accent. The difference between Canadians and Americans is subtle, but you notice it when someone points it out. I guessed based on her accent, "New York?"

"Long Island," she said. She'd moved here with Roman to go to school, and when they broke up, they were both kind of, well, stuck. "But I love your country, everything's so open and clean. I'm glad I stayed."

We made more small talk, which had the tone of flirting, and we must have been noticed since I saw Roman giving us the evil eye once or twice. Around 11, she had to go, she needed to call it an early night and her ride had arrived. I walked her down to the lobby. She gave me her number and we agreed to meet up eventually.

But here's the thing. I caught a glimpse of the person driving the car, a very familiar looking young woman. She rolled down her window to wave Traci over. I think, and I guess I can't be totally certain, but it looked exactly like Julia Di Francesco, the girl that Anne-Marie became while Todd was her and I was Ellie.

Maybe I'm just jumpy, after reading what Tori posted. Whoever's in that body didn't seem to care that I got a clear view of her - I was standing right there, and if they're part of the Agency or whatever, they'd know I would recognize that face. So maybe I'm lucky, and whatever's going on has nothing to do with me or Todd.

But I doubt it. All I know is that at this point in my life, I can't afford NOT to be suspicious of everybody out there. So while a small part of my body is saying to forget her and run away from this mess, I've never been good at listening to that voice. I want to investigate.

I contacted the current Ellie and asked her to tell me everything she knew about everyone involved with the Inn. I e-mailed Tori to tell me if there was anything left to know about these people, if she could find out. You guys, we're going to figure this out.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ellie: Casual encounters

I should post here more. I'm seeing a lot of Tori on this blog and I envy her ability to open up to you guys. Whenever I have a personal problem lately, which is always, I just hold it in. But hey, a lot of people have the password here and you don't see them, either. It makes me wonder.

I can't wait to be done high school. I don't fit in and I don't belong and I don't want to. But what comes afterward might be worse because I have to make decisions. If I decide to go to college, then that's it. I'm in it for the long haul. I AM Ellie thanks to a hefty student loan that I can't just dump on someone else, and a decision to move away and major. It would be so irresponsible to start down one path only to go back to the Inn later, which I don't trust myself not to do.

My only decisions in the past were just based on the need to survive. Being able to look at my options and choose a path... that's frightening to me.

So hopefully you won't blame me for needing to blow off a little steam.

I answered a Craig's List ad a few weeks ago. I don't think there's anyone at school I would want to date, any open-minded girls that I could introduce myself to at the end of my last semester. I wasn't really looking to date, anyway.

So I found this woman. 38 years old, never married, recently came out of the closet, looking to dip her toe in the water. Before she sent her pic I was expecting someone rough-looking, but she looked like a very proper lady, a realtor with her hair perfectly combed and make-up done well. I explained what I could about my situation, that I felt uncomfortable at school, that I needed someone who might understand me better. She said she felt like she did.

We arranged a meeting. I got my "dad" to drive me over, because I wanted the safety of knowing someone knew where I was, and he was the only one I could trust. If he disapproved at all, he didn't say.

When she let me in, she smelled like she had bathed in perfume and really spent time perfecting that hair and make-up. She had stuffed herself into a little black dress and nylons. I was wearing jeans and a cardigan. I didn't know which one of us should be embarrassed.

She was drinking wine, but didn't offer me any. Maybe she didn't want to offer alcohol to a minor, but considering the way the rest of the night went, it probably wouldn't matter.

She smiled at me. "I'm not sure how to begin this. I don't want it to be weird."

"It's not weird," I insisted, trying to convince myself. "I liked e-mailing with you. You seem like you get me."

"I do get you," she agreed, "You remind me a lot of myself at your age... lost and uncertain. God, if I'd known then what I know now, so much time I wasted."

"It's not important,." I said, "It's never too late to start again."

"I hope so." She stretched her arm out to put her hand on mine. "The real question is, what does a girl like you want with a woman like me?"

"We're both... new to this," I said, "We can both learn together."

She leaned in, and I leaned in, and eventually our lips touched. We started to move together, breathing in deep, letting our hands find differed parts on the other's body. I ran my hands up her hips, she placed hers on my back and leaned me back. Her legs straddled me as she lay on top - which didn't seem fair as she outweighed me by a lot, but I think that was the point. I could barely breathe, but I was so caught up in the moment I didn't think about it.

We made out for a while. Before long, her hands were everywhere, teasing the lining of my top and the button on my jeans, feeling out the soft flesh of my midsection. And I did the same, running my fingers over the flesh of her shoulders, under the strap of her bra and over the tops of her breasts.

She moaned. Throughout the whole thing she moaned theatrically, I could hardly take her seriously after a while. Before long, I was undressed, naked and frail beneath her and she still had her dress on. She kissed my breasts and I unzipped the back of her dress. I needed her help with her bra clasp - she had unfastened mine with a single motion, and I was gritting my teeth trying to get hers off. It almsot broke the mood. Almost.

She slipped her fingers powerfully into me. I moaned and again, she moaned with me, as if she was deriving as much pleasure. I wanted to tell her to shut up and just go through with it, but I didn't say anything. While she kissed and petted me, I played with her breasts and tried to ignore the excessive scent of her perfume.

She led me to her bedroom. Standing in the light, I saw her body in full for the first time, seeing the cellulite on her legs and ass, her saggy breasts... I thought to myself, "It's okay, she's a regular woman, she looks pretty good for her age!" I hate feeling shallow.

In the bedroom, she laid me down and it was back to the routine, pawing and tonguing at me. She had me use a vibrator on her, and she tried to get me to use it too but I declined. I watched her finish herself off, and I wondered if she was just putting on a show or if she really enjoyed it this much.

When it was over, she wrapped her arms around me and I rested my head on her breast. She asked if I had enjoyed myself, and I said yes, which was half-true. It was far from the best sexual experience I've had, but it was nice to at least be with someone. She asked if I was ready for another round soon, and I said I had to go home and sleep.

I walked through the living room, gathering up my clothes. She appeared in the doorway and sid "Stop... I just want to remember you this way." Naked, she meant. I paused for a moment before putting on my underwear.

I texted for "dad" to come pick me up, then she walked me down to the lobby. I stayed quiet while she talked about what a good partner I was and how she'd love to get together again soon. I said I had a lot of homework so it might be a few weeks. Inside, I felt embarrassed and frustrated that I hadn't enjoyed it more: she was attractive enough and eager enough. I wanted it to just be a primal satisfying of needs, not a complicated emotional thing.

She texted me a few times to see when I would be available again and I noncommittally texted her back, putting her off as long as I could. When we did meet up again, the results were as uncomfortable and I began to wonder what I was trying to do. I want to be with someone, but I don't think I'm up for tawdry affairs with women twice my (physical) age.

I think I'm just somebody who's not going to be able to find love, at least not for a very long while... I need someone who has had similar life experiences to me, which is nobody, really, but I think I'd at least like someone who is in my physical age group. Someone who's as uncertain about herself as I am.

She kept texting and I kept putting her off, and then she finally got the message. I have a lot of work to do for the end of the semester, anyway.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tori: Fingers Crossed

I walked into my old employer very apprehensive. I had originally gotten hired with them through Alex, and we know he turned out not to be on the level. Whatever his objectives were, or the peopel he works for, he was trying to convince me to go along with him... in the time since, I sometimes wonder if my firing had something to do with that, maybe to help coerce me. Heaven knows I didn't stick it out in this body just to hawk cell phones at the mall. Maybe I'm seeing connections where there are none but I think anything is fair game.

I'm am SURE, however, that this conspiracy, if you can call it that, has to do with getting called up out of the blue and being offered Alex's job. Supposedly, he was moving on, and recommended me - not somebody who was still with the company - as his replacement. I was very unnerved that they would want me back, if they had anything to do with these mystery people, and particularly bothered that this new Alex would think of me at all.

So I went in to the manager's office, Alvin, and I sat across from him just kind of staring intently, trying to figure him out. I asked about the job, and it seemed to be exactly what he was describing, for in-hour IT services for the entire company. Okay, great, as long as my skills aren't too rusty. "Why had Alex recommended me?" Alex had made the argument that I was as qualified as him (true) and was familiar with the company structure (not as true, I was fired just after a merger, but hey.) Alvin basically reassured me that the job was mine if I wanted it.

I hesitated. I wanted to wring him for answers but if he had any he wasn't coming out with them. I told him that if there was anything else going on, he could tell me, I was in the know. He looked at me like I was a lunatic. He asked if I wanted the job, and I said I'd have to consider it.

That night, I went over to Alex's place, hoping I wasn't breaking their rules or putting myself in danger. I also hoped he hadn't moved: luckily, he hadn't. When I pushed the buzzer, and I heard his voice ask "Hello?" my heart lept out of my chest, and I squeaked the most awkward response: "Hi, um, my name is Tori, and..." he interrupted, "I know. I know. Come on up." He was expecting me. Gulp.

I nearly hyperventilated on my way up on the elevator. I hadn't seen Alex, that face, that man I had spent a year with, since he, well, stopped being himself (or George, rather.) And I knew that whatever this gentleman was going to say, whether I could trust him or not, was going to deal with some vry uncomfortable truths about my life, that I just don't want to deal with. But before I take this job, which I really wanted to do, I needed to know what was really going on.

As soon as I knocked on the door, he was there to open it, like he was waiting for me. I nearly fainted when I saw his face, I swear I just couldn't deal with seeing this person with all the baggage attached to that appearance, but I collected myself, and he had me take a seat and offered me a drink. I declined. He said, "I was hoping you'd stop by."

"Really?"

"We have a lot to discuss, but I didn't think you'd just come over if I asked you to. I felt sure that you wouldn't take that job without at least seeing me first."

"What do you know about me? About who and what I am?" I asked.

"I know plenty, Tori. I know you used to be John Henry Clifford, an IT technichian from Buffalo, New York. You've been here since the summer of 2009, and when you couldn't get your old body back, you stuck it out, got comfortable, sought happiness... that's admirable. I know you used to date the man who occupied this body, but when he left it, to go live as someone else, you declined to follow him. And here we are."

"Is this for real? The job? Or are you just playing a game with me?"

"You need to learn how to ask questions, no offense," he said, taking a sip of his water, "Because I wouldn't tell you if I was."

"I guess that makes sense, I just find it hard to believe you have my best interests at heart."

"If it helps, I'm really just looking out for my best interests. Yours are incidental."

"How comforting," I rolled my eyes. "So what are your interests?"

"I want out."

"Out?"

"You asked me if I was playing a game. I'm not, but someone is. It's a lot bigger than you or me, but it's... sort of a con. They have a lot of influence over who goes where. There are a lot of favours owed. I got caught up in a while, but I'm ready to get out, and I thought, since I'm leaving anyway, I might as well do you this favour."

"Why do you care about me?"

"This isn't the first time we've met, Tori." He kind of chuckled to himself, "This is embarrassing, but I guess I wasn't going to win you over without mentioning this... I was Danny."

My eyes bulged out. "Danny? My friend Danny?"

"For a while, yeah. Believe me, that was a difficult couple of years to navigate."

"So... when Raine, and Danny... you were... That was you...?"

His face turned red, "I tried. She was willing to try, and for a little while it worked, but... Believe me, I am really sorry to her about that. She was really understanding. That's why I'm doing this, in a way. I care about her, but I can't be in her life like this. The Inn will be open for the summer soon, so I... I've lined up one last chance. Believe me, the Powers That Be are happy to have a life like mine that they can use to leverage people."

"So they just use people? Use their lives as incentives?"

"It's a carrot on a stick. You wind up in a body that is not to your liking - either by accident or because they put you there - they tempt you to work for them by offering a new body, or even your old one back. Holding you hostage. They've been at it for a long time, so they've got connections, money, power... but I guess there are limits. You need to take the bait, and you never did."

"No," I said, thinking about how close I was to going with George. "I never did."

"Tor, you need to know how badly I wanted to talk to you about this. Even going back to when it all started, watching you date him, while I was powerless on the sidelines trying to survive in my own situation, knowing you were going to get your heart broken. I'm sorry you got caught up in this."

"It's... it's all in the past," I said, still stunned. "Thanks for being honest."

"If it helps... don't trust anybody. Even me." He's right, but I don't know if I'm strong enough to go thorugh life looking at everything skeptically. I wish I could take him and everything else at face value.

I stayed a bit longer, rehashing old times, catching up on what was what... the whole meeting was really long and really therapeutic, and if I've muddled up the exact wording of the conversation here, I apologize to Alex.

I left feeling a lot better about life, in a way... if "taking the bait" with George was my only risk at being sucked into this, then taking the job was a smart decision and I might be safe now. Maybe somewhere down the line they'd try to get me again, but according to Alex, they may have moved on. I told him that I would do everything I could to help him with Raine, if he wanted it, when she comes back and he comes is in his new body.

I asked Alex if it was safe to blog about this, if openly discussing his identity, and mine, made us targets. He said it was fine, that the "Agency" people didn't really pay much attention... anything I was going to share on here that they needed to know, they would be able to find out anyway.

Not terrifying at all, sure.

It's a relief, after nearly 4 years, to feel like I know even more about the world I live in. The things people could do with that Inn... scary stuff.

But I've worked my last shift at the phone place, starting at the IT job tomorrow... this feels like a new chapter. At 26, I am back on track to living my life. Fingers crossed.

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