Given that Krystle used to be a stripper, I guess that's not a small group, but there's a somewhat smaller group for whom the current situation is personal. Still, I sometimes have a hard time thinking of Krystle as having a life before me; Ashlyn says it's typical of being young, but I don't know about that.
Anyway, I'm past the halfway point of my pregnancy now. I'm not barfing so much, but I'm showing and I've got to pee all the time. My cravings are weird - I've developed a real fondness for fried clams, for whatever reason, although the ice cream right after gets the taste out of my mouth. I half-suspect that my breasts getting bigger and softer right now is half down to the ice cream, because I think that's not really supposed to happen until later.
Most of the time, it's so impossible that I almost float through it, like I'm dreaming because this can't possibly be real. But the last few weeks keep reminding me that it's not just me involved in this.
First was when this pretty blonde came into The Changeling and sat in my area, was really nice, asked about my baby, and then dropped a $300 tip. Which, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the heck out of, but which I also couldn't help but think must have been a mistake. I told Moira that she'd left am earring and ran after her, finding her by the nearest bus stop. I told her it was too much, but she said it wasn't because... Well, because her boyfriend had put me in this situation.
I gasped, because it's really weird to talk to a stranger and realize you've met them with another face. She'd been Joseph for about a year, having a ton of fun being a teenage boy, playing sports, and the like. She says she didn't realize her boyfriend was going to extort me, and what he was going to take as payment. She should have, she said because of just how uninterested in her he was once she wasn't a pretty girl, but by the time she figured it out, it was too late.
Forgive me for feeling okay with taking the money then. I didn't find myself hating her, but kind of resenting her - like, this whole thing amounted to a fun vacation for her, and when it was over, she just came away with the knowledge that she should break up with her boyfriend and not date another one like him. I mean, that's nice, but I'm pregnant here! That's supposed to be a blessing, I know, but there are a lot of days when I don't feel entirely blessed.
Like the day I met Lamont.
I wonder how much the Inn giving you someone else's body includes giving you their brain, and how much it changes you. I've met so many people who had who they are attracted to flipped that I can't really start to deny that part, although I don't really think it's happened to me (I didn't really respond that one time I did it). But as much as I always assumed that Joseph got harsher just because of his environment whole in prison, I wonder how much of it was because the real Lamont was like that. He scared me.
I didn't recognize him at first when he was waiting around outside the apartment building; Joseph had shaved his head and gave, but while Lamont was smooth up top, he had a beard, and he apparently celebrated getting his real body back by getting some new tattoos. He'd kept the muscle that Joseph had put on, though, and it hurt when he grabbed my arm, saying something about me being the little freak that was keeping him and his Krystle apart.
I don't know too much about who Krystle and Lamont were while Joseph and I lived their lives; all I've gotten from Krystle was that though neither changed gender, being a couple was out of the question, and getting things back to "normal" with Lamont was not exactly her first priority afterward. But sometimes it seems like guys don't really recognize this, and Lamont either didn't have any idea Krystle felt that way or couldn't accept it. I'm no exception; I was furious when my first girlfriend dumped me, and I don't know that I ever really believed the things Mom and Dad said about how acting like some right of mine had been violated until this moment.
I was scared, not really knowing what to say to him, and I wouldn't actually realize until later that I was just as worried about him doing something to hurt the baby in my belly as I was of him hitting me anywhere else. Is that another girl's-brain thing or does everyone have maternal instinct but not the opportunity for it to play out? So I just said I was sorry, which I was, although looking back it seems kind of stupid. Sorry for inconveniencing him? That's stupid.
He's telling me I had better get back to the Inn the first chance I've got after squeezing that thing out so that he can be with his b---- without there being some sort of f----- in there, making me wonder if he really cares that Krystle specifically be the one with this T&A. I tell him that nobody wants that more than me and Krystle. I think he's about to slap me but he backs down. Karla and her latest boyfriend have come out of the building behind me.
Karla starts screaming at him, asking what he's doing around here, because it's hard to find more concrete proof that I don't want to be tied to his black jailbird a-- than this, going on about how I'm clean and going to church and he needs to step off and find some b---- who isn't familiar with all his b.s. On the one hand, I'm kind of embarrassed - it's the sort of outburst my real mother always said we can't have last the neighbors think the worst of us - but on the other, being an only child, I've never really seem the full force of "nobody gives my sibling a hard time but me!" before, and it's kind of amazing.
Plus, there's her new boyfriend. Lamont is a big guy, but this one looks like he could play in the NFL. He's really a giant teddy bear - he's really amazing with Karla's kids, and was a total gentleman the time he found out I needed a ride to a doctor's appointment - but I've seen him at work (he's a cop) able to be pleasant and funny with five people and treat one of them just different enough that is clear that, if he gets angry, his rage will be focused.
So Lamont lets go, tossing one last insult, and Karla yells two more. We look at my arm, decide it's not going to bruise, and Karla once again tells me that I really should get my baby-daddy to do something for me, because it's hard enough as is. I say it's complicated, she says it always is, and she's able to walk away back to thinking I'm a fool, like nothing has changed.
I'm off to work, and I don't want to being this up with Moira, so I don't get much of a chance to bring this up with the real Krystle before I get "home". When I do, there's already an email waiting for me from her. It starts out with stories that are half-complaining and half-funny about my friends and how they are trying to help her out even while dealing with what other people living their lives for a year has left them, and some bits about how my parents are crazy and there's nothing to do in our small town.
Then she puts down a whole bunch of links to adoption agencies.
It's another thing I shouldn't be surprised about, but I am, because I still think like a guy and I've just be assuming that when we change back, she'll just take care of the baby. It's a stupid thing to assume - it may technically be her own flesh and blood (and mine, too, though I don't think of it that way, just that I should probably be some part of the kid's life without really imagining how), but it would be something just dropped on her that she had nothing to do with. Why shouldn't she be looking for the best way to get her real life back?
It still seems kind of cold to me, like she should have said she had an idea, asked me, and then done the research, rather than just getting three quarters of the way there and pointing out that I'd have to go the rest of the way because I'm the actual pregnant one.
I've got to think on it, I guess. My grandfather preached a lot about how men have a responsibility, which is certainly important, although I have to start thinking right now about how possible it is to make some of these decisions with such strong beliefs and desires motivating them, even if you're more sure about who you are and will be to a child.