So, still a girl, but Chinese again. That's something, although I'm not sure what yet.
Even for the last year, it's been a weird week and a half, with the prospect of being myself again giving way to letting Benny be "Jordan Chang" and then deciding to be Yuan-wei instead of Benny because I could do it better than Annette. On the one hand, it's like choosing from the playable characters in a game, right up until you realize that it's potentially the rest of your life this time.
And then there's Annette, who up and disappeared on our second day here so that she could try and talk Sandra into returning her life to her, to no avail. I am, it appears, pretty shitty at being the encouraging shoulder to cry on, which is a pretty rotten deal for her, because she has been great whenever I needed help with girly shit. She did not really get back as much as she gave out from me.
We killed the after she got back, hanging out on the beach and at the amusement park, making a trip into Portland, and fretting a bit because we just about had the Inn to ourselves until Wednesday when a bus arrived and spewed out a bunch of teenagers. I felt kind of bad for them - I may not be an old pro at this thing compared to some, but it doesn't take much thought to realize that the number of people there to change back drops as the summer goes on.
Then, after they get settled in, one comes out to the back deck where Annette and I are sitting and asks what I'm reading. I hold up my copy of A Dance with Dragons and get told that it's not good to read those kind of books, with all the sinful behavior and sorcery that is a different sort of affront to God. I just look at her and say "man, you are in for a fucking shock." She says there's no need to be crude to her and the other members of the church youth group and goes back inside.
Annette waits until this girl is out of earshot and the bursts out laughing for the first time since we got to the Inn. "You are terrible!"
"Maybe, but is it too much to hope that a group of horny gay porn stars stayed in their rooms last?"
"They'd probably see that as some sort of divine mission."
"'True. Can the next group be a bunch of sci-fi fans who love taking selfies of their sexy cosplay, though?"
Annette just laughed. So, mission accomplished, at least there.
We spent part of the afternoon trying to surreptitiously count heads, although we knew that there wasn't much point to it; the change would happen or not without much input from us. It gives you a bit of a feeling of control, but it's not real.
Eventually, though, we did feel the sort of low-key electricity that other repeat visitors have described. Once that kicked in, we decided to stay up and watch. Ronan had helpfully included a sketch of where he and Missy were when they changed so we didn't have to guess which side of the room to be on, which I guess is a small bit of consideration, though Annette obviously would have hoped for more.
Folks, if you ever make this trip a second/third/whatever time, bring one of those mini-projectors so you can watch a movie or fit your favorite board game into your luggage. We had a deck of cards and by 1AM I was fucking sick of losing to Annette at poker. Apparently Deirdre's face is a completely open book.
(My story and I'm sticking to it!)
Finally, at sometime around quarter past two, it was more than a tingle. I could feel a little mass entering my body, but mostly it was rearrangement. There was a pulling in of my belly that seemed to push my upper torso a bit further upward, along with a stretching feeling in my arms and legs. my hair felt like it was being tagged at, and there were a lot of weird sensations underneath my face, and I'm not ashamed to say that the pinching at the corners of my eyes was a relief that only another person who has lost their ethnicity like this could understand.
That said, it was still a bit odd to see Annette grinning as she held out her hands to see her skin get lighter. To really get the effect, she had to close and open her eyes to compare the different hues. We changed fairly quickly - five minutes or so from Deirdre to Yuan-wei in my case (although I gather that has not been the case for every group, but who knows what in the environment may have an effect on a curse) - but not quite quickly enough for it to fit into a TV commercial. Still, looking from one spot to another, I could see the changes in Annette's face, especially as the mustache withdrew and the hair grew longer and shaggier, and the arms and legs sticking out from her shorts and t-shirt gained more definition.
Oh, and don't forget my tits.
They pushed out, a constant pressure that got more painful as they did so, until I realized that it wasn't actually my body but a too-small bra causing the pain, so I pulled up the back of my shirt, unclasped my bra, and felt it move up, sitting atop my upgraded rack. When I looked down, I could see my tee going out and down, with my nipples making an impression on it. I wasn't sure whether to give it my entire attention or look anywhere else.
Eventually it stopped, and while Annette looked at me appraisingly, my thoughts were more on how weird my underwear felt like this. Yuan-wei's suitcase was between me and the door to the bathroom, and I grabbed a new bra out of it on the way to the bathroom. The jiggle didn't quite hurt as I half-ran, but it was more than I was used to. I pushed the door as I entered the bathroom, but not hard enough for it to close completely, as I was moving toward the sink and mirror. I dropped the new bra on a corner, pulled my shirt and the old one off together, and then saw my reflection.
"Are you okay?"
"Uh, yeah, fine, just gotta--Fuck!" I yelled as my first attempt to put the bigger bra on had my tits falling out of their cups before I could fasten the back.
"Need some help?" Without waiting for an answer, Annette started crossing the room, noisy even in bare feet. I remembered something about putting it on backwards, turning it around, and then getting "them" settled as I pulled the straps up. I turned around just in time to see Annette enter and raise her eyebrows. "Whoa."
I looked down, and they seemed even bigger, and then turned to look in the mirror. Not only was the first bra I grabbed a push-up, but the cotton shorts I usually slept in were a bit tighter on my ass and my finer hair framed the stunned look on my face amazingly. "Well, shit. I can't see my brother ever again."
Annette looked surprised and confused. "Why? Do you know this girl? I thought she was from Hong Kong."
"Not specifically, but, damn, this is exactly what Max masturbates to."
"Tell me about it."
Annette pointed at the mirror. "Mind if I--"
"Go right ahead."
I stepped back, and Annette looked in the mirror. "Yep, that's Benny. This is just weird. I wonder..." She stuck her hand in her boxers.
"What? I just want to know how big it is from this side, and it's not like you wouldn't understand!"
"Yeah, well, look, I'm just going to give you and little Benny some time to get acquainted, while I, uh, get some sleep, cuz it's late."
Funny thing - as soon as I hit the bed, the fact that it was almost three caught up with me almost immediately, and I dropped.
I woke up about four and a half hours later to a banging on the door. Apparently, Benny's form slept a lot more soundly than Ravi's. I walked to the door, still in my bra and shorts, and opened it to a couple in their twenties, or at least a couple of church kids in that form. They both looked away from my chest, the guy pushing a piece of notebook paper at me.
"'Come to Room 6; Jordan and I have been here before and can explain.' Ugh, did Annette write all these up and slip them under doors after I fell asleep? Just great--"
"What sort of Satanic--"
"Oh, I, did not fucking sign up for that, chickie." Apparently a guy before, because she flinched hard at that. I turned and yelled Annette's name. Nothing. "Like a fucking rock. Shit."
The man stepped forward. "Look, my friend is, as you might expect, pretty shocked, so if you could just explain what is happening."
"Let me guess - both boys last night?" They nodded. "Look, I can't explain the why of it, but this place is cursed, turning each group of 13 into the last group of 13 that stayed here, or at least, as they were before they changed into the 13 before that, and so on back decades. No-one knows why or how--"
"How do we change back?" Apparently not enjoying his first few hours as a girl any more than I did.
"--but, if you'll listen, we do sort of know enough to work the system. If you're in another group of 13, and the folks who will get your bodies in a couple weeks are in the previous one... or I guess if you hang around long enough to be in the next group, but I've never heard of that working... And, heck, even making plans doesn't work because this is not what I expected to come back to... But, anyway, most folks sort of stay who they look like until next summer, because the place is absurdly well-booked for a cursed inn, but you can sort of make a reverse change."
"I'm going to be a woman until next year?"
"Yeah, deal with it, pussy; I've been one for a year and it looks like I'll be a different one for the rest of my fucking life, so shut up and listen!"
Wonder of wonders, they did. "Look, you just go there, so maybe you didn't notice the luggage left in your rooms, but the clothes should fit, the IDs should work, and the letters should tell you what you're getting into. If you want - I didn't go live Deirdre's life, and while I'm glad, because it would have meant pretending to be engaged to my jackass roommate in the body of her fiance, her parents did send private eyes after me and while they didn't try and kidnap me or anything, they were a real pain in the ass.
"Anyway, information's all there, although considering that there's been no whoever-you-look-like-now for the past couple weeks, it may be out of date because they've been fired from their jobs or some shit. So, like, maybe you should get to wherever they're supposed to be and let me sleep." And I closed the door.
Then I went and sort of pushed at Annette's more muscular abs with my foot until he stirred. "Hey, I didn't volunteer to brief these brats on everything."
"Sorry, someone's got to, and I didn't fall asleep quite as quickly as you did." She paused for a second. "Wow, you're pretty."
That felt a bit weird. It's not like I didn't get the occasional compliment as Deirdre - and let me just say, for all I wrote about Yuan-wei where all her parts were bigger or smaller as need be, it's not like Deirdre was a bad shape, especially if you like girls who might have been gymnasts when younger - but every time Annette had said it to me before, it was meant to be assuring first and foremost, whereas here I got the impression she was saying it for herself as well.
"So that's how it works; you go from Ravi to Benny and suddenly a switch flips and you're all heterosexual and hot for me?"
"What - no, that was envy! Like, it would almost be worth going to a country where I can't speak the language and probably have people suspect brain damage because of it to look like that. Although, I suppose that considering what happened, 'Missy' and 'Benny' have compatible pheromones or something, which is why everyone's going to think we're a couple."
"So, about that--"
"Yeah, it's going to be tricky. We'll have to convince everybody that we decided to just be friends, but who knows how our bodies will undermine it. But I do want to be friends; you've sort of grown on me, Jordo."
That was blunter than expected, but I rolled with it. "Yeah, it would be weird to get to close. That's why I'm going to Hong Kong."
Annette blinked a couple times at that. "Oh, right, Missy's birthday party. Well, a girl does only turn twenty once."
"Except it would be my second time." We laughed. "No, because it's important to to get to know the important people in our new lives, rather than just depending on each other and getting weirdly close."
She nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense. Isn't the plane ticket for today?"
"Yeah, and the party's Sunday, and with the international date line and stuff, it'll be tight. I should actually probably get showered and dressed, and they check the train and bus schedules to see how to get to the Boston airport--"
"Right, Logan." I looked at her, a handsome guy with more than a hint of a girl who had hit pause in some respects right after high school. "Don't worry, Annette, Benny's friends and roommates are going to think you've suddenly become ten times as awesome in the past couple weeks."
"Damn right they will. Although... Could you call me 'Benjamin' from now on? I've never been one for nicknames, and I'm afraid if you keep calling me Annette, it'll be harder to let go and I might do something stupid."
"Do you want me to call you 'he' on the blog, too?"
"Well, only after this moment riiiiiiight.... now. It would read funny otherwise." He shrugged. "It's important to me. I was going to be a writer."
"Hey, you still can, you'll have the kind of experience no other novelist does. And you might as well call me Yuan-wei, and she, or else I might do something even stupider to Benny, er, Jordan."
"Nah, you won't. Now, c'mon, get dressed and get gone. Those kids are no reason to miss a party in Hong Kong!"
I left the Inn pretty soon after that, and I've been on trains, buses and then in planes and airports since then. I'm over the Pacific right now, but apparently "Missy" Lee Yuan-wei flies the kind of first class where you've got wi-fi in the middle of the ocean.
Hell of a perk, and she said I could have it and everything else so she could be a suburban housewife. But if I can't be me, this isn't bad.
-Yuan-wei (though I still call myself "Jordan" in my head)