Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lindsey/Magda: Home & Work

Is it bad that I acted the doting mother fusing over sending her daughter to work tonight?  I kind of feel like having a sense of humor about this is the only way we're going to get through the next year with our sanity, but Harmon is not ready to joke yet, and just gets miffed when I say he should enjoy the experience of being young and sexy and paid to travel.  He didn't spend his life building a reputation in an intellectual and academic field, he says, to be a glorified waitress!  Like I'm eager to have a year of my twenties replaced by someone else's forties, and if he's a waitress, what's that make me at the ticket counter?

Well, it makes me half of what seems like a really admirably close mother-daughter pair.  Alicia never moved out of Magda's apartment, and why would she?  It's not in a bad neighborhood, the train to work is nearby, and if she's going to be away for days at a time, she's probably better off having a roommate who will actually be around, so why not Mom, who doesn't seem to be charging rent if what I can tell from Magda's checkbook is correct.  Especially since, looking at the photos on the fridge and their media accounts, they seem to do a lot together.  Heck, when this Jeremy/Arthur guy offered Alicia a free vacation to reconsider thnings, she took her mom.  Not that I'm approving of the blackmail part of it, and I wonder how much of Alicia's willingness to do that comes from Magda (and whether she was just between boyfriends), but that's kind of cool.

From what I can tell from the people I've met at work, Magda has worked one job or another at the airport for twenty years, never really getting promoted when she was younger because it took he years to really master English while raising Alicia alone, and the when Alicia was older and Magda's English improved, there was always someone younger and more career-oriented - although, on the other hand, everyone knowing Alicia from times Magda couldn't find a babysitter or just showing up to bug Mom at work made things easier when she applied for a flight attendant job.  Working there probably kept Magda in this fairly small apartment for a longer than she should have been, but folks seem to like and respect her, too.  It's kind of nice to have that working for me as I parachute into her life; they actually seem to have been worried something happened to her and Alicia.  I have been telling them that we/they were comically stranded on an island in Casco Bay with just our/their bikinis and a cooler of bottled water and beef jerky, even though Magda made sure to email an apologetic request for more vacation time and Alicia was on a leave of absence in real life.

(Surprisingly enough, when I tell that story, the reaction isn't entirely people imagining Alicia, even when you take the middle-age-and-up pilots out of the sample; I'm apparently more of a MILF than I thought.  I'm still not entirely sure that's a warranted reaction, but seeing the necklines on some of the dresses in Magda's closet, it's something she works!)

I actually had to get back to work the day after we arrived, which was a little harder than it had to be, since we took a cab to the apartment from the airlift rather than trying to learn the trains and buses that first night.  Not a bad idea - it dropped us off directly in front of our new building rather than making us figure out the last few blocks ourselves - although I kind of think Harmon was afraid of being surrounded by all those people.  I had to get my phone out of Polish mode before getting directions, which worried me a bit, but so far I haven't had anyone expecting me to speak Polish.  Then it got a bit confusing because Magda tried to be specific in telling me what to do, but when done something for years you forget what's not common knowledge for a new person, like where the employee entrance is, so I had to find that.  Apparently Magda wasn't one to come to work in her uniform either, although I did bring other stuff to change into at the end of the day if I didn't want to go straight home.

Harmon, meanwhile, saw what his inherited job was and initially said no way, although he didn't exactly start looking for other work someone would think Alicia was qualified for, but just stayed in her room reading, maybe working on a paper that whoever got his life would present at a conference in December.  At least, until he got that letter from Jeremy/Arthur, found out about Alicia trying to blackmail some football player, and got all those nifty threats and inducements.  Then he was making an appointment with her boss at the airline and getting reinstated after "dealing with a family issue", but the good news/bad news situation is that Harmon's first month's work is basically going to be being on-call 24/7 because everybody else got to choose their routes already and Alicia isn't terribly senior to start with.

I didn't find out he'd gotten a call until I got back to the apartment and heard him groaning and complaining in the bathroom, where he was trying to brush out the hair that he'd allowed to get tangled over the past few days because it hasn't quite sunken in that some things require a little time that he previously didn't spend on looking nice, even if you're staying in today.  It didn't help that he'd probably never had long hair before, either, so I told him to take a quick shower, use conditioner, and really work it all the way down to the tips rather than just working out into his scalp.  He just stood there for a moment until I said something about checking Alicia's uniforms.  Fortunately, there were two hanging in the closet, and they didn't look like they needed ironing, although I could see right away that Harmon was going to grumble.

I started to brush his hair - I really kind of envy how fine and flowing it is with just a little attention - but then gave him the brush when I saw his feet.  I asked if he'd mind sitting down and then stretched one of those long legs out to my lap after fishing some nail clippers out of the medicine cabinet and sitting on the edge of the bathtub.

"Why are you...?"

"Because you're about to put on a skirt, which means panty hose, and those toenails will rip the shit out of them."

He tried to jerk his foot away but I held on.  "I can just wear the pants."

"There are two clean uniforms in the closet, and one of them has a skirt.  Would you have thought of this if you're working on the flight back?"

He gave a sniff.  "Obviously."  But he also relaxed his leg.  I pondered telling him he really should shave them, too, but decided to save that for when he got back.

By the time I finished his nails, the hair was mostly okay and just wet, so I took a blow-dryer to it.  I handed him the least-lacy black bra and panties I had found in Alicia's dresser.  He made a hand motion as if to shoo me away but I told him that I'd seen everything he used to have and Alicia's mother/housemate could probably be expected to know what her daughter looked like.  He still turned around before dropping his towel.  I will admit to squeezing my own cheek and sighing as I saw his.

Next was hair and makeup.  He grumbled, but I said he should at least learn how to use a couple clips or pins to keep that name out of his face rather than constantly trying to tuck it behind his ear, and while he's got good skin and Alicia seemed to make the pale Eastern-European thing work in her photos, a little mascara and lipstick wouldn't be a bad thing.  He recoiled a bit at the eye-shadow, and I'd bet money that he wouldn't wear it on the flight back, and I don't blame him too much; touching even your closed eye is weird the first time and is hard to learn that watching it done to you, and we didn't have time for me to demonstrate on myself.

He predictably grumbled about the panty hose and me zipping her skirt up.  No surprise that it, the blouse, and the jacket were all kind if tight; Alicia liked showing off her assets even when everything was covered.  Still, we got it done with time to spare.  I stood with my arms stretched out to his shoulders and felt a weird sense of pride.  "I know you don't want to hear this, but you're kind of gorgeous.  I'm so jealous right now."

"Envious," he said, but I think even he felt kind of good about what he saw in the mirror, at least for a moment before something less passed came over his face.  I dropped some toiletries into a compact bag smaller than the one he'd found in Maine that was clearly Alicia's working suitcase and handed it to him.  "Okay, your other uniform and a set of civilian clothes are in there, asking with your phone's charger and your laptop.  You remember Alicia's instructions for clocking in and out and which airport hotel has your room waiting?"

He looked at me witheringly.  "You don't have to pretend to be my mother when nobody's watching."

"You say that now, but you'll be mad if you don't have clean uniforms when you get home.  Or other clothes for that matter."

Apparently he didn't like the reminder that he had been shirking some of the household chores, rolling his eyes as he left the apartment.  I couldn't really resist leaning out the door and shouting to have fun in New York and make mommy proud, which I say helped because it got him moving down the steps faster and walking to the BART station without hesitating beforehand.

Harmon can mock me for that, but who's got big wet spots on the work clothes she didn't have time to change out of before dealing with someone else's wet hair and nails and a bunch of laundry just dropped on the bathroom floor?  This gal, so I might as well make jokes about it, including how I'm totally doing a middle-aged mom thing by composing this entry with a big ol' glass of wine in my hand.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ethan: Proper Introduction

So I apologize to any readers/fellow victims who read Brittany’s posts and thought she might be a terrible person for not not minding her new body, but also mocking me for mine. While I’m not happy about the situation it helps to provide some context of how we know each other.

Brittany might be my oldest friend. We grew up down the street from each other in Maryland and while we weren’t best friends as kids, we wound up at the same college and in the same major so we hung out a lot. After we graduated we both decided to try our hand at filmmaking. We’ve got a few videos up on youtube, some with a couple hundred thousand hits. Nothing breakthrough yet but enough to pay the rent.

And we’re strictly platonic. Relationship timing was never there and after a few years we friendzoned each other and at this point she’s like a sister to me. Except right now she’s literally like a brother to me.

According to the extensive notes I found on the laptop with the leftover luggage, I’m now in the body of 14 year old Madison Randle from Virginia. My new age is the reason I’m not going to go into graphic details of how my body changed or the vast differences between my new body and my old one. I especially won’t give a detailed account of the differences between being a man and a girl like Brittany did. The gist of it is 1.: Yes it feels very different and alien and 2. I Do not like it one bit and don’t find it funny at all even though Brittany seems to think it’s some sort of cosmic justice about male privilege or something. Which she’s about to find out a lot more about.

Brittany is now Madison’s 18 year old Jacob or “Jake”. Apparently she’s a about to be a freshman and he’s about to be a senior in high school and they were touring New England visiting colleges that he was considering. No parents, just the two of them. Which was weird, but not even close to the weirdest thing I’ve seen this week.

It was actually a grown woman crying like a baby in the hallway that brought us out there after about 15 minutes of Brittany and I trying to decide of the other one was just pulling a prank on the other. Eventually someone who knew what was going on told us all to go back into the rooms, find the luggage, and find the letters.

Madison left a pair of glasses on top of her note, which made things a lot easier. Waking up with significantly worse vision is almost as scary as waking up a teenage girl. The contents of the note were surprising, since I’d expect someone this young to be shocked and almost damaged by an event like this. However Madison (Don’t call her Maddie, the note was very clear about that) seemed super excited that magic was real and that she got to experience. The letter contained details about her life, which is pretty much go to school, hang out with friends. I think she might be a bit of a dork, since her backpack looks like a Tardis from Dr. Who and her suitcase was full of superhero and anime tshirts. Although I was quite thankful for the Captain America Tshirt and jeans that fit so much better than the pair of boxers I’d been holding up with one hand the whole time.

According to Brittany’s note, Jake is much less enthused about leaving his life and was almost aggressive in tone. It included a long list of exercises that he expected her to do every morning which, if I know Brittany, isn’t likely to happen.

What is likely to happen is a couple of teenagers having worried parents in Virginia, which is where we’re going later today. Apparently the college tour was a road trip so Jake’s car was in the parking lot. Or at least their parents car because it was a fairly new SUV. Either way we’ve got a long trip ahead of us, and I’m not allowed to drive on it.

Treena: The Importance of a Shoe

When I heard that Simon wasn't going back to his natural body, I had a selfish response... Joy was my friend, and losing her hurt, and that pain was compounded by seeing this other person wearing her face - this person whose personality is about as far from the Joy I knew as I could imagine.

We still live together because it made sense for him not to go out and find a new place if he was only here for a year. My hope was that the next Joy would be somebody I could get along with better. I don't feel like Simon enjoyed it either, especially as he grew more accustomed to femininity and didn't need my advice or help - seems like all I do for him is judge the way he is representing my friend, and maybe occasionally how many partners he has had since becoming sexually active - I don't mean to, but I can't help but notice.

One of the things that has made life in the house between me and Simon difficult is that I keep odd hours - he has to be up during the day and I'm more of a creature of the night. Mostly it's no problem since once he's left for work he doesn't return until dinner (if at all - he was going out a lot for a while, as you might guess) and by then I'm up. But in the morning, if he doesn't make a quick, quiet exit, it can be irksome.

So this morning, when he was seemingly making an effort to bang every closet door and stomp around as angrily as possible, while muttering curses at full volume. (Shit! Fucker! Where the fuck are you?) you can imagine my displeasure.

(You'll notice I'm referring to him by his former name and gender identity... I know the world sees him as Joy, a "she," and it's not like he bristles as that, but he's never told me he's self-adopting the female pronouns, so I'm respecting that until told otherwise... likewise, I have a hard time calling him "Joy" because that was the name of someone I knew and cared about and although she still appears to be alive, she is not, and, well... that hurts.)

I went downstairs, dressed in my PJ's (a ratty old tee I got at SDCC years ago and some shorts) somewhat intending to chew him out, but I guess my sympathy got the better of me so I just asked "What's happening?"

He glared at me with irritation out of the corner of his eye. He was dressed smartly, in a light blue skirt suit (a short one showing off his legs, of course,) but his hair was ratty. His eyes looked puffy, like he was on the brink of tears.

"What's happening is... I can't find my shoes. Fuck, fuck, I wanted to wear these heels today but I can only find one and it's driving me crazy. Fuck!"

I didn't say any of the thoughts that came into my head -- that he could probably just pick another pair of shoes (maybe he's anal about his outfits, or maybe they're just the most comfortable, who knows, I wear Converse.) Or that he wouldn't be having this problem if he was more careful about wear he puts his things (an ongoing issue between us.) Instead, I just quietly helped him look - behind doors, under cushions and furniture... all while he snapped at me, "Don't you think I already looked there? God!"

"Okay, fine," I hissed back, "Just trying to help."

"I still have to finish my make-up and do my hair... goddamnit, you know this doesn't just happen" - he gestured to his face and hair, indicating his appearance. "I never had to put up with this shit as a man. Fuck!!"

Now, it's not like Simon has never ever thrown a tantrum, but I could tell the timing of this one meant it was probably starting to hit him just what being stuck like this was going to mean. To him, being like me -- setting your own hours and wearing pajamas to work (at home) wasn't going to be an option. Even dressing for comfort as a woman seems a bit alien to him. No, Simon has made it clear that if he's got to be a woman he's going to dress to impress and flaunt what he's got, and he takes it as seriously as any woman I've ever seen.

So my guess is, the news that he was to be spending another year this way equates to another year of stressing about appearances and fashion in a way that, although he's grown very practiced, isn't always the most natural and easy way to do things. He's basically torn between two worlds.

I told him to go do his make-up and hair, whatever he needed, and I would continue to look for the shoe, and reluctantly he did. It turned out to be in the kitchen, under the table - I have no idea how it got there or where that was in relation to the other, but it doesn't matter. I brought it to him, where he was wrapping his hair around a pink curling iron, tears freshly dabbed away from his cheeks.

"Thanks," he said, as if nothing had happened, "I owe ya."

I turned to go, but stopped. "Hey... are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm, uh... I'm fine." he stated uncertainly. For a moment it seemed like he was going to say more, but then he turned back to the mirror to finish his hair, then smoothed out the creases in his blouse, and cleared his throat to regain his poise.

"Anyway, I've got to run. Got a showing at 9. Ciao." And left as if nothing was wrong. It was very Stepford.

It's hard to tell what's going on in that pretty blonde head ever since he was essentially told he would not be getting his natural body back this year, although today gave some new insights. I know he's okay with a lot of facets of being female - and has certainly made it work for him - but I think he still regards it as being lesser, and that not getting a chance to go back has shaken him in a way he's not comfortable expressing. I hope he realizes I'm here if he needs him.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Max/Elaine: No Vacation Anymore

I mentioned being frustrated by Jacky being around and Jordan being all over him last week, and I was kind of worried about how she would take it, even though we've kind of agreed that the blog is a safe space (not that either of us particularly likes that phrase) to get stuff off our chests even if we don't want to say them out loud to each other.  He wasn't exactly surprised Jacky being there made me uncomfortable, but it was okay to mention it when you're alone in a room with your phone or laptop versus starting something in person.

So, basically, if I hadn't sounded a bit sarcastic when asking how we were going to fit the rest of what we'd had planned into one week, that would have been the end of it.  But I did, and he said that for all I seemed to hate hanging around with the two of them, I could have started practicing or reading stuff on my own, since most people had to dive right into just living their new lives rather than let someone else look after them.  Then I said...  Well, I had a point, but it was still stupid and ungrateful.

It made for some chilly moments in the apartment, but she was right, and I started hitting the books on the Agile stuff, trying to get in the habit of putting on make-up in the morning, and practicing walking around in heels.  It's not the boot camp that Cary went through, and I doubt I'll ace my first interview, but I think I'll be able to stumble along until next spring.

Still, there's no avoiding that, while it's the true beginning of something temporary for me, it's the end of things for Jordan, and she's spent the past few days packing as if to move, putting things that have purely sentimental value or which she otherwise doesn't want to part with in boxes for storage to be retrieved later.  She's not letting Carlotta Wong use the computer that she heavily modded to make it both a good gaming and rendering box, for instance,  and even if the odds aren't great she'll be able to fit into her favorite red dress, they're not zero, either.

Ben wasn't around to help us as we got them into the storage space - rented under Elaine's name, because they wanted a photo ID, and odds weren't great that Carlotta would help Jordan retrieve her stuff - so it was just the two of us moving the boxes, and I'm either going to have to get over people looking at me as I work out for the rest of my time as Elaine or get over having no upper-body strength, because that was hard, sweaty work.  It didn't help that Jordan was still collecting comics, and I'm kind of calling bullshit on the idea that digital files would be harder to pass between identities, no matter how DRMed-up they are.

We were a couple of sweaty, sore women when we returned the rental van, and finding a bar seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  I got a light beer and she got a Manhattan or something, and I took a big gulp as soon as it arrived.  I'd figured Jordan would do the same, but when I put my glass down, she was still just looking at her glass, and she had started crying.

I want sure what to do, and soon it wasn't just Tara coming out of her eyes, but actual sobbing.  "I thought I'd figure something out.  I thought I was fucking smart and some solution would just present itself, that there'd be a way I could use the money to buy our way out, and now I'm wondering if maybe I could have if Jacky hadn't come, but then...

"And, like, I know I said 'easy come, easy go', but now, it's not just that I like being Yuan-wei - and I really fucking like being Yuan-wei! - but I'm probably not going to be anyone for years, until I get stuck in some life that sucks so much that someone can't wait to just leave it.  What kind of fucking future is that?"

I probably should have just called an Uber and brought us home so she could curl up and cry without getting stared at, but I didn't; my legs were on fire and so was my back and somehow that made my boobs hurt, and I said "don't worry, you'll manage - you've done it before", which sounds okay, but I knew it sounded bitter as it was coming out of my mouth.

"I guess, but everything was going so well..."

"Oh, sure, it's so great being Yuan-wei that you can't stop crying about it, but where were all those tears when you decided to stop being yourself?  Huh?  I've read the blog; I see you crying about not being able to eat a whole pizza anymore, and congratulating yourself over what a great sacrifice you made so that Benny could stay in your life, but where were all your tears for abandoning us and making me have to go through this in the first place?"

"I've said I'm sorry--"

"Yeah, and that you're glad you can at least tell me now, but that's just another thing that let's you not feel bad about abandoning us, foisting off some white guy pretending to be you!"

"Don't give me that - you all like Benny!  You were thrilled that he got in shape, and joined your stupid 9-ball team, and landed a babe like Kareena!  Have Mom and Dad ever even complained about how he ditched the education they spent their whole lives saving for to go work in a gym?"

"We were just glad to see you happy!"

"Oh, but the fact that I'm happy now doesn't matter?"

"Of course it matters!  You're happy because you got rid of us!"

That was too far.

"Fuck you, Max.  I'm giving up so much because I love you, and Dad, and Mom, even though they'll never fucking know, but that's apparently not enough for you.  No, you've got to make me feel like shit for trying to do something good for Benny and Kareena and Annette.  I mean, fuck, how was I supposed to live with myself if Annette had wound up living this life, trying to answer questions about Yuan-wei's father's death in a language she didn't understand?  Or if she had been the one fucked over by the Wongs?  But, no, you've got to live with tits and dark skin for a year - less! - and I'm not fucking sorry enough."

She slammed a twenty down on the table and left.

I spent the rest of the day wandering - I kind of wanted to go to that Changeling bar and see if Ashlyn was in, but figured Jordan might do the same, so I waddled the Freedom Trail, went to a movie (no idea what it was; I just wanted to sit down for a couple hours).  I slipped on something in a park and figured I might as well see what it was like to buy a dress, since I figured I probably wouldn't have Jordan to lean on even if some fluke of the Inn made him my next-door neighbor with a similar body in Chicago.  I nearly had a breakdown in the changing room.

It was midnight before I got back to Jordan's place, not having a better idea of where to go.  It was dark, so I tried tiptoe-ing to my room without turning on the light, but Jordan was awake and was soon standing in her bedroom's doorway with the light on behind her.  "I was thinking of Grandpa."

"Huh?"  I didn't get it.

"You probably don't remember him much, but he once told me that leaving Hong Kong was the scariest thing he ever did, and he was afraid that he'd never see his family again, but he had to do it.  That's how I felt, like I'd be leaving a lot behind but that I had to try something new.  I was unhappy, Max, just angry all the time, and it wasn't you or Mom or Dad, but I never felt satisfied by anything, and seeing Benny live my life and be happy both showed me it was possible but made me scared of screwing up what he'd built.

"Maybe it would have been like that as Yuan-wei eventually, after her metabolism slows down and I start to put on weight or some guy dumps me or I get frustrated being a woman in some male-dominated business.  Like, I probably just haven't gotten there yet.  But, no matter who I become, it's got nothing to do with not liking any of you guys."

I had nothing to say, so he shut the door and the light, and I went to bed, too.

This morning, not a word of what he'd said yesterday, just a reminder that the train left at 1:05.  But it's been an awful quiet ride.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Brittany: Magic is Real! How is this not well known?!

Yes yes, I know. It’s part of the curse. Apparently that’s why I was literally staring at 10 years of history in this very blog explaining it but wasn’t able to avoid it. I’m sure everyone involved and reading this can guess that I’m in a new body.

Only...I think I might be reacting to this in the wrong way. Maybe it’s my love of stories where things like random transformations happen, because I know I should be scared or angry about what’s happened but I’m really more...fascinated.

The change happened while I was asleep, which bugs me because I would have loved to have been awake for it. My alarm was set for 7 AM and usually when it goes off I’m groggy and upset that I have to get up and kind of bitchy until I get my coffee. Today I woke up on my own before the alarm, feeling energetic and well rested. That wasn’t enough to tip me off that something was wrong, that came when I rolled over.

Normally I sleep naked and on my back, so when I roll over most of me goes first and then one of the girls trails and shifts down afterwards giving me a familiar jiggle. This morning I didn’t feel that jiggle, at least not on my upper body.

I’ve sometime wondered what having a penis was like. Not like an obsession but a passing curiosity. After less than 24 hours it’s still pretty novel. It’s simultaneously bizarre, hilarious, and omnipresent. And it might not be the most interesting thing about my new body.

Standing up off the bed my feet hit the floor way to soon. I’m like 6’2” now. Looking down at myself I let out a gasp, and not at the dick. I had a six pack for the first time in my life. I played soccer in high school and went to the gym but as a 28 year old woman I had my share of curves. Now I don't think I have an ounce of fat on me.

The short walk towards the mirror was awkward as my hips wouldn’t sway and my steps were way longer than they should be. When I got there my newly thin lips parted and my now brown eyes parted in shock.

Staring at me was a man...sort of. Super young, maybe 18 or even 17 with short brown hair, square jaw, and a muscle tone that could only come from being some sort of athlete. After few minutes of poking, prodding, and flexing I heard some yelling from the hallway and put on my now too short and too pink and fluffy bathrobe and went outside to quickly learn this had happened to all of the guests.

That made me immediately head to Ethan’s (unlocked) door, knock once and barge in. I woke him up and well...I’ll have to let him make his own post to explain what happened to him. It’s just too funny.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Brittany Cosgrove: This Place Seems a Little TOO Perfect

So this little motel has its own version of an online guestbook, that only adds to the little anachronisms that surround it. Since it doesn’t really have any on site employees this is as good a place as any to ask. I'm assuming all the other guests at some point log in with the username and password that comes in the welcome packet they give you.

My name is Brittany Cosgrove and I’m an independent filmmaker. Me and my director/writer Ethan are looking for a site to film our next project. We had been searching up in Quebec a bit to take advantage of some of the incentives they provide for filming, but on our way back to Maryland we stopped here to stay the night.

Setting a horror film in Maine seems a little cliche thanks to Stephen King, however every new thing about this Trading Post Inn makes it seem like an ideal setting. The creepy ferris wheel looming in the distance, the small town that get quiet when there aren’t tourists around, the way you have to check in at another hotel to get your keys, and now according to what I’ve skimmed from this blog something about a curse?

If anyone knows who owns it or who to contact to get filming permission I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m staying in Room 8 for a couple days while we scope out the rest of the town.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Harmon Keller/Alicia Polawski: Multiple Humiliations

I had not even considered contributing to this "blog" when we were provided with the opportunity upon check-in at the Trading Post Inn, even when Lindsey initially posted that first time about the awkwardness of going on vacation with our age difference.  I doubt I would change anyone's mind in doing so, and over the years I have come to realize that the younger generations' impulse to share too much of what had once been one's personal thoughts is simply something for which one must make allowances.  Even after waking up to find our very bodies changed - perhaps especially then - I saw no reason to broadcast to the wider world.

However, the events of the last week have made it abundantly clear that there are an almost uncountable number of things about my current situation where my knowledge is second-hand at best, and where the community reading this may be able to provide assistance for dealing with these demeaning impossibilities.

Obviously,  having the form of this "Alicia Polawski" is the first.  It is bad enough for a man to suddenly become a woman, but to become such a parody of low-class femininity is absurd.  I by no means object to a woman being attractive, but I have always favored girls like Lindsey, with gentle, elegant figures, a brightness to their cheeks, slender limbs, and features that cannot help but please the eye.  I find myself now with a narrow waist, but the areas above and below are needlessly expansive; were I to have met the original Alicia on the street, I would have felt it likely that at least the bosom had been augmented, and although I cannot feel anything artificial within, I suppose that it is still possible, but that the uncanny nature of that place has substituted flesh for silicone.

Lindsey claims I am exaggerating, and that seeing something where there had been nothing made me think that there was more than there was.  Yes, she said, Alicia was well-endowed, but that I wouldn't have trouble finding things to fit like her last roommate did.  This seems like a very low standard to me, but I suppose that, when I do get myself some more presentable items to wear, I may think differently.  Which lead me to the next issue:  Alicia's taste is abysmal.

Of the things in her small suitcase that one could travel in - half of the contents smelled exactly as you might expect for being dirty laundry that had been stuffed in a bag and left underneath a bed for three weeks of summer dog days - virtually all of it was either tight or covered far less than one might like.  Even wearing the most modest outfit that Lindsey could assemble for me, I looked like a harlot displaying her body to the world as if being gifted with large breasts was any sort of personal accomplishment.

On top of that, she's got tattoos!  I suspect her job would frown upon them being visible, but I have Chinese characters on one ankle and one shoulder blade, and something more elaborate on my lower back, three skulls that effectively form an arrow pointing between my cheeks.  Just a thoroughly impractical and short-sighted decision; even if this "art" being moved to my skin was unpredictable, certainly Alicia could have imagined a time in the future where they would hold her back!

Although, why should she, as her actions would clearly have held her back enough that her tattoos would not make much of a difference.

I was loath to bother charging Alicia's phone for fear of what vapid communications doing so would enable, but Lindsey convinced me that this would be far more trouble than it was worth.  I was not incorrect about that assessment - it seemed to vibrate for a solid half-hour as texts, missed calls, and other social-media notifications came in, and has not exactly stopped since, no matter how thoroughly I ignore them.  Several were from one "Arthur Milligan", a name which meant nothing to me as I deleted three weeks' worth of messages I would not respond to.  Indeed, it only registered with me when Lindsey picked up the mail (Alicia still lives with her mother despite being twenty-three) and rushed to give me an actual letter that had arrived amid the utility bills and advertising.

The letter was not only unusual for its very existence - it was addressed to "Alicia Polawski (whoever she is right now)".  Lindsey initially thought that this Arthur Milligan must be the identity she had inherited, though I thought it odd that she would not have mentioned that in the letter she left with her luggage.  The note inside the envelope was terse, requesting I make an appointment to meet him at the business offices of one of the area's local football teams.  I sent an email to RSVP for the next day, when I allowed Lindsey to fiddle with my hair, makeup, and clothing until I looked something close to respectable before navigating the area's public transportation systems, arriving fifteen minutes before the scheduled meeting.

Milligan ran late himself, though he recognized Alicia immediately upon arriving in the office, telling his receptionist to send me in after he'd had a few minutes to get some coffee going and check to see what emails were on fire.  It was actually twenty more before I was summoned to the office suite with "Vice President Player Relations and Publicity" on the door.  He sat behind a modern desk that appeared to have its computer built into some hidden niche, with just a wireless mouse, keyboard, and flat screen on the work surface.  He smiled, pointing at a chair on the other side.  "So, how do you like being Alicia so far?  I have to say, I'd almost be jealous if I could even conceive of becoming a woman - you're quite the looker!"

His gaze was directed at my chest, as you might expect, but he seemed friendly enough otherwise.  "To tell the truth, Mister Milligan, this being my body not something I would choose."

"Are you sure?  The original seemed to enjoy it!"  With that, he clicked one of his mouse's buttons, and a large flat screen on one if the walls came to life.

I immediately tried to turn away when I saw the video he was playing - it looked like the most base pornography, with a young woman on all fours being taken from behind by a large, muscular, African-American man.  I would have had him turn it off, except that the tattoo on the girl's lower back was the exact same as mine.  As soon as I noticed that, there was a cut, and I had the distinct horror of seeing the face that had recently replaced mine seemingly trying to swallow a massive black member.

Apparently my reaction pleased Milligan, because he was smirking as he stopped the video.  "Yes, the original Alicia liked just about every part of her own body and a man's as well, but I've edited the video because there's no need for you to know which player she's trying to blackmail.  Great guy, really, salt of the Earth, does a lot in the community, his wife helps out with a lot of the charity work, and even if he was dumb enough to mess around, he has at least avoided brain damage to the extent that he knew to bring this to me.

"So let me guess - underneath Alicia's skin, you're male, maybe a little conservative, maybe old enough to blame the times when you grew up if you recoil a bit at a black man with a white woman?"  I wanted to object to the latter part of that description, but was shocked enough that I just nodded.  "Great!  Perfect, really - you aren't going to want this to get out while people think you're Alicia any more than we want it to come out before we let this guy become a free agent next spring.  So we can work together."

He must have noticed my body language changing, tightening up or something, because he laughed.  "Oh, no, nothing like that-- What's your name, your real name?"

"Harmon Keller."

"Great, I'll Google that tonight.  You might as well call me Jeremy, even if nobody else has for ten years.  Anyway, Harmon, like I was saying, although it might be a turn-on for some, girls who used to be older guys aren't really my thing.  No, I just need you to get me the original copy of this video, make sure that Alicia hadn't put anything in the cloud, that sort of thing.  I know, that's going to be tough to verify - making copies is so easy and instant these days that I think blackmail is going to go out of style soon.  Once you know there's pictures or video out there, you might as well just get ahead of it because it will get out, right?

"But short of that, just be a good Alicia.  Go back to her job, don't anger her friends, don't get arrested or knocked up or a disease or anything, maybe make her a little money.  I had to do a lot of fast talking to get her to not release the tape when she realized that the reservation at the Inn wasn't just a chance to think about our counter-offer, but I think she'll play ball knowing that we'll make it easy for her to get her old life back.  Think you can handle that?"

"Young man, I've correctly predicted the economic collapses of entire countries; I think I can handle the life of one unremarkable young woman!"

"That's the spirit!"  He stood and reached a hand out to shake mine, and then pulled me in when I accepted, using his other hand to grope my bottom and push my body into his, pushing my breasts against his chest and his member against my leg.  Then he pushed me back out and looked me up and down.  "Yes sir, I can see how this body might tempt someone.  Too bad about what's inside."

I ignored that for a second, walking to the door, where I turned around and told him that what was inside was the most useful part before walking out and straight to the elevator, ignoring anyone in my path.

Reprehensible man, but I must admit that there is a certain logic to his plan, even if it does involve me passing for Alicia until June.  Especially since the job I'm expected to go back to is working for one of the airlines as a stewardess.

Humiliations, it seems, will never cease.

-Harmon Keller

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Max/Elaine: Third wheel, on my own, or set up

I'm trying not to be too judgmental, or jealous, or, you know, worried about Jordan having a boyfriend, that boyfriend being here, and the enthusiastic sex they've been having.  I don't like to think about the possibility of still being a woman three years from now, but I guess if it works out that way, I'd rather be content and getting laid than angry and frustrated.  At least, I think I think that.  When I think about that as a hypothetical situation in my head, I know that's the healthy way to look at it, even though I also think it's kind of healthy to recoil from things that are a big part of your identity - like being a Chinese-American guy who likes girls - being taken from you.

Heck, I've even gone through this post and corrected every spot where I referred to Jordan as "he", even if I can't quite bring myself to call her "Missy" or "Yuan-wei".  I've read all up on "misgendering" and "deadnaming", and I'm trying to apply it right here; my brother is a woman now, but she still counts "Jordan Chang" as her identity, not a way of denying who she really was,  and says she likes me thinking of her that way.  I'll probably slip up on occasion, but this seems right.

Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to call her "Jordan" very often of late because her boyfriend Jacky has been around 24/7, so we've got to pretend I'm just a normal 30-year-old African-American woman staying with her 21-year-old Chinese friend, as if that's not kind of unusual in and of itself.  I guess we're lucky that, having met "Yuan-wei" in Tokyo and then later having had a vacation with her mid-twenties gay friends from Montreal, Jacky just thinks that his girlfriend is a woman of the world who actually likes getting to know the people she meets online in person.  If he could have seen her back in her message-board-trolling days...!  It's too bad I haven't yet been able to think of a way to tell him one of those stories and make it sound like it applies to the girl he knows.

I do feel jealous and annoyed, though, and not so much because I see a little less of the Jordan I know in Yuan-wei when Jacky's around but because of what we're doing; it's no longer all friend or sibling stuff, but the last week has been like one long date, with me the third wheel, trying not to bring things down.  It's mostly been what seem like little things - if Jordan is putting on make-up, I kind of have to as well, and that means she has to help, because a side-issue with Jacky being here is that she doesn't have a lot of time to teach me how to do this stuff for after when she changes into someone else, and it makes me feel stupid for not being able to do it on my own.  And then there's the dressing thing - before, if Jordan dressed kind of nice, and I just mean like a skirt and a silk top, while I just wore loose-fitting jeans and a-shirt, we kind of looked like an odd pairing, but so what?  Now, I'd be bringing the average down, making Jordan and Jacky look bad, especially since I look like the oldest member of the group who should look more sophisticated.  I shouldn't care, but there's something really annoying about Jordan, who lived in sweaty t-shirts and holey sweatpants (or jorts, weather permitting), getting complimented on her outfit while people just slip into awkward silence when they look from her to me, especially when you can just hear them thinking "no wonder she's alone".

So I've been making a little bit of an effort, and it's not all bad - aside from the tension from remembering to cross your legs, a skirt and sandals are a lot more comfortable than what a guy can get away with wearing in a semi-nice place on a warm day, although when you add a tank-top to it, it feels like there's this line where you send the wrong message to avoid.  I don't like makeup, though, and the hair was driving me nuts!

That's why I told Jordo and Jacky to have fun Thursday and took Elaine's advice to find a hairdresser that specializes in handling black women's hair to get something more manageable.  It was kind of uncomfortable at first - by avoiding looking directly down, I can spend a lot of the day not really noticing the racial aspect of things, but this place was just full of voluptuous African-American women with elaborate nails and hairdos, talking loud and making me feel really out of place even though they all assume I belong.  As if that wasn't intimidating enough, there were a bunch of magazines and stuff to look through, because just saying "shorter" is not enough.

That was, in some ways, the most brain-twisty part about it - I'd look at those pictures and try to mentally replace the face with Elaine's, think "that looks nice", then ask if I wanted to deal with looking that nice.  I eventually settled on something that looked simple enough, but turned out to require an hour of sitting around with smelly chemicals in my head and then being told I'll probably want to keep some hairspray on hand like this is totally normal.  Apparently it is - my hair is going to be high-maintenance until I'm myself again - which is why so many people were chatting and hanging out at the beauty shop like it's a bar rather than someplace you go every once in a while and encounter random folks.  This hair takes work.

Jordan appreciated it, at least, half-whispering that a the boost a nice new haircut gives a woman's self-esteem is triple what it is for a guy.  I said I didn't really feel that, although having everything cleaned up and not past my shoulders was better.  The ladies at the salon at least knew their stuff - on Elaine's advice, I'd asked for something I could shower or swim with without much issue.  I'm not sure I felt more confident while waiting for my food at the movie theater that night, though - Jordan and Jacky has already headed in, but stupid me wanted some chicken tenders, and a woman standing alone is something guys just zero in on.  After being honest with the first one that I was going to see Wolf Warrior II only to find that a Coco into kung fu movies was cool, I took to saying I was there for Girls' Trip.

BTW:  Wolf Warrior II is really damn weird to watch as a Chinese-American man in the body of an African-American woman.  As much as I like Wu Jing as a martial-arts star, the regular digs at the U.S. rankle, and maybe I wouldn't have given much thought to how everybody in Africa is either violent or needs to be rescued by Chinese saviors, but now that my own skin is black...  Well, it's weird.

At least the ballgame was informal as can be, and kind of fun once I was able to find that place where I wasn't thinking about what had happened to me but had taken Jordan being Yuan-wei for granted.  Then, I could not only enjoy a pretty exciting game - not quite so much as Jordan, who denies that two years in Boston had made him a Red Sox fan as opposed to just a Yankee-hating Mets fan - but got to enjoy the sight of her trying to explain baseball to someone who did not grow up on it as the game was going on.  I still headed under the stands quickly when it started raining - not only did I not want to test how waterproof my new hairdo was, but t-shirts get clingy awful fast.

So Friday was good, but then Saturday, Jordan knocked on my door and asked for a favor.  The new Benny, who had stayed at the Inn after Annette, was coming down to look for a place to live, and she was just as freaked out about being a man as I had been in the first few days after changing, so if I could hang around with her, point out anything she hasn't thought of or was worrying about too much, that would be great.

Oh, and also, she had booked dinner at a really nice restaurant that night, a table for four, so if "Benny" and I could dress appropriately...

So that weighed on me day, especially since "Ben" was a weird experience from the start.  Part of why she wants to move back to Boston is that she's from the area, but though she won't talk about herself much, I gather she was pretty well-off before.  She admitted to going to an English boarding school when I asked because of her weird accent, and the way she looked at places that were in her price range implied she wasn't impressed.  She didn't seem to have taken the subway too often for a local, although maybe being from New York makes me wonder how you can be confused by Boston's pretty simple public transportation system.

It actually took us a while to get back to Jordan's place for how far from Boston proper we got, although that was easy enough for her - not only did she only have to put on a suit, she knew how to tie a tie better than I do!  I'm putting on my first dress, and the one Jordan put out on my bed maybe doesn't quite fit like a glove, but it certainly shows my figure and an inch or so of cleavage.  Even though I know Ben's really a girl, her helping we with the underwire thing is really embarrassing, and panty hose inside of high heels just made me feel extra rickety, like my foot couldn't grip my shoe, much less the ground.

It did feel kind of good to have Ben tell me I looked good and could handle this as we got out of the cab in the North End, though.  She would know, right?  I've been changed longer than her, but she knows what a woman with poise and comfort in her own skin looks like better than me.

I must admit to being kind of stunned seeing Jordan when we're escorted to the table.  She's gorgeous - she's curled her hair, put on a dress that makes me feel weird about thinking mine shows off my chest, but somehow looks both excited to show off and classy.  For a minute I remember how I first felt seeing Yuan-wei without knowing who she was, and while I get over that soon enough, it's amazing how natural she and Jacky look as she giggles walking him through eating his lobster, which he'd never tried before.  I was spending enough time watching them that it didn't really dawn on me that Been was acting like a guy on a date until the third time her hand found its way to my knee, always trying to use whatever Jordan and Jacky were talking about to make herself sound good and try and get something out of me. 

I kind of figured it was just kind of play-acting, at least until we were sharing a cab back to her hotel before I took it back to Jordan's place, and after she got out, she turned around and asked if I'd like to come up.  I'm like, uh, why?, and she says I must have felt it, and I'm saying no and telling the driver to go to the next stop.

I didn't have time to say anything to Jordan or even text Ben before he showed up with donuts on Sunday to apologize and start the next round of house-hunting.  She's sorry, but I looked good the night before, she's not used to being alone, and Annette said I would probably be in the same boat in her letter.  I told her I was really not looking for that, especially since this was temporary for both of us (right?).

She said she understood that, but I think I may have just friend-zoned my first guy.  I'm so glad that Jordan is dropping Jacky off at the airport right now so we can get back to "normal", at least for the next week and a half.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Simon/Joy: Chase Green

As far as I knew, for the past year my body has been occupied by a man named Chase Green. He claimed to be a family man from Rhode Island who was in Maine on business and would like nothing more than to get back to his wife and kids after spending a year in my body.

I'm not an idiot. I Googled him and found results, his Facebook profile and what company he worked for. His story checked out. He was a smiling, middle-aged man with a wife and kids. I considered calling his employer for a reference but I couldn't see how to do that without confusing him - if I claimed to be a potential new employer, that might arouse suspicion.

I did message the new Chase at one point, but never got any response. That worried me. If the new Chase wanted to keep his life, what would stop him from keeping mine? I didn't get this far by just taking people at their word and never having the upper hand.

I had an ace up my sleeve, so to speak. A safety net. I wouldn't go to Maine unless Chase could provide me with some evidence that he had been there. I didn't have any contacts who would be going to keep an eye on him, so again, it would be taking him at his word. Preferably, with video footage of his transformation from me into his old self, or whoever. Then, my trip wasn't booked until the last possible moment - leaving Joy's body in limbo, just like it was before I got here, in the event of some mistake or double cross. Hey, nobody would miss it a second time, and if I needed to come back to it, bonus because it wouldn't be aging.

That all went down the drain when Chase arrived at my house last Saturday.

Answering the door and finding your own self there - a little paunchier, and with wisps of gray in your beard (which you never had before) is shocking. He looked like my own shabby-looking twin. I was pretty alarmed - what the hell was he doing all the way out in California? Why would he come here when he was due in Maine in two weeks or so?

"Joy, er, Simon, right?" he said. "May I... come in?"

He said he apologized for showing up unexpectedly, but he had something to tell me and it couldn't wait. His tone was very serious and grim. If he was going to tell me he wasn't going to Maine, I was ready to fight, to demand my body back, even if I had no leverage. But things weren't confrontational yet, so I had him sit down and offered him a coffee, which he accepted.

"There's no easy way to say this. I tried to e-mail but I couldn't find the words, so I hopped on a plane. Forgot to even let you know I was coming. I'm so sorry."

"Just spit it out, Chase," I hissed.

"I've just been to the Doctor's. I haven't been feeling well all summer and I finally got the nerve. You might want to sit down." I did, on the edge of the couch, with my elbows on my knees.

He said almost in a whisper. "It's cancer. Testicular cancer."

I could barely squeak. "What..."

"They need to perform the surgery soon, followed by radiation, and then tests to see if it spread. Simon, this is... well, basically my last chance to get out of Cleveland before the treatment. I'm not going to Maine."

I could barely wheeze, "You're lying."

"I'm not," he said, "I have the paperwork here in my satchel."

I shook my head. "It's fake. This is a trick."

"It's not, it's not," he insisted. "Trust me. You can... shoot, I'll show you the lump if you need to see it."

I seriously considered looking. It's my lump anyway.

"Look, I know this is hard for you..." he said, gesturing at me "I can only imagine how rough this year has been. But I can't let you go through all this. This isn't a death sentence, probably, but it's going to be a hard, exhausting process and in the event that it has spread, I can't let you go back."

Before I could say anything, he added, "You need to know the truth, Simon. I'm not really Chase Green. That's a fake name.

"I worried that you might figure it out sooner and think I wanted to steal your life, but trust me, I was always going to give it back. Until now. But I can't anymore. My real name is Brian Meeks."

I felt like I had been punched in the tits. "What?"

"Ever since that girl died in my body I have felt so guilty. I'm supposed to be dead and she's supposed to be alive, so if there's even a chance you would die in this body, I won't let you. Give it one more year. If I'm cleared, we can get you back where you belong as soon as possible, but if not... I'm sorry, but I'm not letting you die."

I was cold. I could hardly speak. "So that's it, huh. I get no choice, no say."

He smirked darkly. "I admire that you would even consider going back to your body with the cancer, but I just... I belong here for now. This is what's right. Call it fate."

I snorted. I couldn't help but laugh - I guess I had to, to keep from screaming. He gave me a look that said "What's so funny?"

I could barely say, "At least you'll have one ball more than me."

After he left, I just sat there quietly until Treena came home. I ran my fingers through my hair, adjusted the hem of my skirt, fixed the strap of my bra (a lacy bandeau actually) and fastened the top button of my blouse - shear fabric with floral print. I touched my fingers to my lips to feel the lipstick.

All this girly shit has been play time. Fantasy. Dressing up and fucking around and making bank by making fuck-me eyes at buyers and sellers. It feels fucking silly and stupid in light of all this. But what am I supposed to do? I still have a reservation but that feels pointless. Another year. Sure, yeah, I can stand it. But somehow, especially with all the worrying about Chase that I'm going to do, it feels like it's gonna be harder.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lindsey/Magda: This Is Just Wrong!

I know the people reading this probably don't want to hear about Harmon and I having sex any more than my friends do, but we did it last night and when the weird stuff started happening I thought maybe it was because of what we'd done earlier, like everyone who ever said me being with Harmon was gross knew something but doesn't think to warn me.

I think it was around quarter part two in the morning when the changes started.  Harmon had zonked out after finishing up and I was reading a mystery (he can kind of be a "there's no point to reading fiction" guy, so I tend to do that after he sleeps) when I started to feel really bloated, way more than I ever do before my period, and all at once.  Usually, you sort of notice that feeling as you get up in the morning, or maybe when you know you've eaten too much and it would feel really good to burp or puke or something, but I felt like something was being pumped into me.  I sat all the way up, groaning at how my back hurt and wondering if I had lain on the bed wrong or something.  My legs felt kind of stiff as I walked to the bathroom, turned on the light and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

I don't know what order the changes happen for most people, but what I first saw in the mirror seemed to look like me, only old - or at least, middle-aged, and I thought maybe I was in some sort of weird nightmare where one of the women who flirted with Harmon cast some sort of spell on me when she found out I was his girlfriend rather than his daughter (kind of a recurring thing ever since a friend did a short comic along those lines to show as part of her portfolio).  It was weird, but I kind of thought it was in my head and I knew what was going on, until I could see that my eyes were changing color from blue to brown, and my cheekbones were moving, and the top of my nose was climbing up a few millimeters.  Soon, the face in the mirror wasn't mine at all, and I screamed.

It was loud enough to wake Harmon up, a whole bunch of kicking arms and legs as he tried to flip himself over and extricate himself from his covers (he tends to sleep on his stomach and pulls the sheets over his head if I'm going to read).  When he finally go himself right-side up and seated, I could tell right away that something had happened to him too, because I doubt he's ever had hair long enough to have to pull it out of his eyes, and if it's ever been midnight-black, that was decades ago.  It got out of the way when he pushed his sleep mask up above his forehead, though, and the face underneath was a woman about my (real) age, making me scream again.

He started to yell something about who I was and what I was doing in his bathroom, but about halfway through he noticed his hand didn't look right, looked down, and then started frantically unbottoning his pajama top because he must have noticed some weight on his chest, getting just far down enough to see that he had actual breasts before sticking his hand into his pants to find he was all girl.  He slid of the side of the bed more gingerly than he probably had to - I guess I noticed the presence of a little stiffness quicker than he saw its absence - and shoved past me to get a look at himself in the mirror before turning and looking at me accusingly.  "What did you do to me, bitch?"

"What did I...  Harmon, it's me, Lindsey!  Whatever happened to you happened to me, only, like, different!  Maybe someone is--"  I stopped talking for a second as I moved to stand beside him and the image in the mirror struck me.  "Whoa, we could be sisters!"

I would definitely be the older sister in that case, but we kind of had the same sort of bone structure, although my face was rounder, the sharp angles his now sported not as distinct on mine.  My hair was also brownish and streaked with grey.  Heck, now that I looked below the neck, I could see that some of the "bloat" I was feeling had taken up residence in my chest, although it was riding a bit lower than it was for Harmon.  Come to think of it, my panties felt kind of tight, so I twisted myself a bit to see that, yeah, I had a fuller backside than I had sported when I'd gotten into bed, and while it was hard to tell with his relatively loose pajamas, it seemed like we had that in common as well, though his was perkier.  He snapped at me for checking out his butt like that was the most important thing going on, and I kind of wish I was fast enough with sarcastic remarks to say that if two seconds of my attention freaks you out, wait until you get outside.

But I didn't, instead I just noticed the card by my laptop which had the login for this blog and I remembered the line about knowing when it was okay to read it.  I mentioned that to Harmon, opened the site up and didn't even have to start reading - all those subject headings with two names served as a pretty clear hint of what was to come when we started reading them.  And while I soon enough understood the admonition not to read the site because we would have thought it was a hoax or, if we were the kind of people who believed in magic without it actually happening to us, run away, and that would potentially be bad for anyone who came hoping to get their old lives back, we were initially furious that people were just letting this happen.

It took a while for us to stumble on an entry that mentioned suitcases left in the rooms, leading to a frantic search through the closets before looking under the beds.  I grunted a bit lifting the one under my bed, which was about twice the size of the one Harmon found.  Opening it up, I saw a big purse crammed in there.  I dumped it out and found my new driver's license.

"Magda Polawski", born November 3rd, 1970, lives in Oakland, California.  Not quite twice my age, but, wow.  Twenty years gone, just like that; it was no wonder that even in just a few minutes, if suddenly noticed a lot more wear and tear on my body.  If I could still call it my body - I hadn't been yanked out our anything, but it had been changed pretty drastically for the worse.

I don't mean to demean the real Ms. Polawski by saying that.  I've been kind of insecure enough about my body at times - I was kind of a stick, and though I guess I had kind of a pretty face, I had a persistent bit of acne on one cheek that it took a cursed Inn to get rid of and hair that died out like you couldn't believe - that I'll probably be doing okay if I become myself again next spring and then wind up aging as well as Magda has.  It's just hard to appreciate that when it suddenly feels like you've got to stretch to cross the room.

I almost certainly won't have such nice penmanship at her age, though - as much as Harmon occasionally teases me about never using cursive and needing to take a moment or or two when someone else does, Magda's letter to me didn't slow me down much:

To whomever receives my shape:

I apologize for any aches and pains you may feel; though I seldom noticed them myself, I now find myself a younger person and am surprised just how many managed to sneak up on me without my being fully aware until they were gone.

I told my daughter Alicia that this free vacation was too good to be true, but I certainly made my share of questionable decisions when I was younger.  I hope that you will find that I have outgrown most of them - my ex-husband has returned to Poland, I have not left you with much in the way of debt, and I believe that I am well-liked at my work and in my community.  Our home is modest, but we need little and Alicia's job, obviously, has her traveling many days, while her boyfriends keep her busy at many other times.

Still, she is the light of my life, and I am looking forward to how what we have become should give us the chance to know each other even better.  I hope that spending some time in our lives will allow you and whomever shared the room with you to grow closer, or, if you stayed alone, to make a new friend.

If you have any questions about my life, please do not hesitate to call me.

...and then there was some contact information.

It was three in the morning by then, and when I looked up from my letter, I saw Harmon holding a fairly generous bra with two fingers, and the look of disgust on his new face was just...  See, I don't know what sort of woman Alicia is, but I've seen that look of disgust on girls who can't believe that some scrawny loser (from their perspective) has tried to talk to them like he stands any sort of chance.  It just seemed so out of context knowing that Harmon was in there, probably wearing that look because he was grossed out by the assets that basics use to justify giving that look to people.  Anyway, I laughed, because the adrenaline was starting to wear off and I knew I was going to have to teach him how to put that on like I was his actual mother.  He wasn't ready to see there was humor in it yet, acting like he'd received the rawer deal.

He turned to look away when I took off my night-shirt and started pulling things out of the "clean" layer of the luggage (at least, it looks like Magda puts the dirty clothes in, marks the spot with a towel, and then press the clean ones in when packing her suitcase to go home) to get dressed with.  I wasn't in the sort of bad shape that I feared - I was a little soft, but didn't have a muffin top when I pulled on some jeans - although looking at myself in the mirror, now lacking even my own clothes to serve as a link to my real self, was terrifying.

It was still early, so I didn't actually go around knocking on doors to see if this had happened to everyone else at the time, but I couldn't actually sleep, so Harmon and I spent the next few hours online, trying to find out as much about Magda and Alicia Polawski as I could.  It wasn't a lot - a mention in a news article about a group of people taking their citizenship oath in 1989, Alicia graduating from high school in 2011, that sort of thing.  Maybe it will be different once we actually get down into the neighborhood where these women live (lived?), but I, at least, seem to have dropped into a relatively quiet situation, at least so long as nobody worries too much about my suddenly talking like someone who grew up in Oregon.

(As for Harmon/Alicia, well, he can talk about that himself if he wants to!)

The strange thing - this happened on our second-to-last last night at the Inn; one more day and we barely would have had time to write our own letters to leave in our luggage for the next folks to stay here before checking out and getting on a cross-country flight because "Magda and Alicia" have basically been in a state of limbo for two or three weeks.  That whole process is really unsettling, and not just because the guys accepting the keys back don't really seem to think it's much of a thing when the people checking out more closely match the last people on the ledger than the current ones - I'm only half joking when I say that putting my wallet and my phone and a sheet of paper with a bunch of passwords on it into a suitcase and leaving it behind for some random person to find is almost as unnerving as seeing someone else's face in the mirror.  But if I've got how this works right, two more days and we would missed this entirely, so we just would have gone home none the wiser, giving the Trading Post Inn a positive Yelp review and maybe inspiring someone we know to go and maybe thinking they were acting weird when someone else came back in their skin.  But who was the 13th person that showed up with just two nights left in a two-week booking?  Someone who got held up at work?  A hookup staying somewhere else?  Nobody we talked to seems to have been here before, so I doubt it was one of those cases where they went out and found someone to tie it deliberately.

I guess it doesn't really matter, though.  I'm going to Oakland and my older boyfriend is my daughter and I can barely wrap my brain around it.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jordan/"Missy" Yuan-Wei: Best Possible Way to Twist the Knife

I'm not sure exactly what Annette said to Max whole we were up in Maine or if it's just a matter of seeing that people can, eventually, get back to who they're "supposed to be" and maybe have learned something or other along the way.  Whatever it was, Max hasn't started trying to find a shade of lipstick he likes yet, but he bitches a lot less than he did before.  I've spent a little time showing him what Agile is and we're staying to look at job listings so that he can get a feel for what he'll be able to handle after I stop being Yuan-wei and he's potentially flying solo as Elaine for a few months.  It's kind of tender when we have to acknowledge that, and he's got me promising that if I land in a life that is compatible with Elaine's, but I don't know how likely that is, since I kind of think the Wongs are gonna try to fuck us over.

He's started to kind of embrace this as "summer vacation", though, so we've been able to have a little fun.  We've hot a bunch of the touristy spots that I kind of avoided as someone who lives here, seen some baseball, both at Fenway Park and on the Cape, and made road trips around New England.  It's kind of annoying that Max gets to drive, but they don't rent cars to 21-year-old girls on student visas with Hong Kong drivers' licenses no matter how much insurance she can pay for, generally speaking.  We didn't go that far Thursday night, just to the House of Blues on Lansdowne, although that's still a bit of a hike in the heels I was wearing, causing Max to have a good laugh at my expense (I usually keep a pair of flip-flops in my purse, but I forgot).  Why I got an apartment at the top of a hill, I don't know.

As much as my legs were hurting by the time we got to my place, though, I was still able to run a bit when I got there and saw someone waiting outside.  "Jacky?!  Oh my God, what are you doing here?"  Heck, I was able to jump and wrap my arms and legs around him, too, though after a couple seconds the main support came from his hands cradling my ass as we kissed.

We came up for air a minute or so later, and he lowered me to the ground.  "Couldn't go all summer without seeing my girl, even if she did have a class to take."

"You are so..."  I heard a bit of shuffling behind me and stepped back a step.  "What a thoughtless bitch I'm being.  Jacky, this is my friend Elaine Preston; Elaine, my boyfriend Jacky Lau."

Jacky extended a hand and looked at Max curiously.  "You speak Cantonese?"

I hadn't even realized that I had slipped into using that language when I saw Jacky, but I guess I had.  Max tried to manage the handshake without getting his hand crushed while joking that he used to speak it better than me, but it looks like I've been practicing.  Didn't make much sense to Jacky, but he laughed, figuring "Elaine" either didn't speak the language well enough to make the joke right or it was some sort of (African) American humor he didn't get.

We went up to my apartment and I gave him the tour, telling him to put his shit in my room since Elaine had the spare.  Jacky said he could take the couch, but I pulled him closer, shifting his hand back to my ass, and said fuck that before slapping his butt myself.  Then I asked if he wanted a drink or something to eat after his flight, eventually getting some beers from the fridge and heating up some leftover General Tso's Chicken and explaining that "Chinese food" over here often meant "Chinese-American", but, hey, that's cool, just another sort of regional Chinese cuisine.  He wasn't sure about that, but he was hungry, and sucked it down while updating me on what was going on back "home".  Max ate it up, although we both kind of tensed up when Bingbing was mentioned in passing.

Jacky had been on a plane for a while, so we let him take his leave, and then Max scored forward in his chair so he could tall a little lower, in English.  "Pretty quick with the 'my friend Elaine' there."

"Dude, I've been living double lives and hanging out with people who aren't themselves for three years.  You expect me to stumble over your fucking pronouns for the next month?"

"I guess not.  It's just...  I don't know, it's weird to see you've actually got a life as Yuan-wei.  Like all I can think about is becoming myself again and you've just moved on."

"What am I supposed to do, spend all my time sitting around being miserable?  I tried that as Deirdre.  It fucking sucked."

"Yeah, but..."

"Max, there's a guy who flew halfway across the world to see me in the next room.  Don't fucking 'yeah but' me!  When I knew I wasn't going back, it was either go forward or fucking kill myself or something."

"Yeah, but you chose not to go back and now I'm--"

"Nope, not again.  Not dong this a-fucking-gain, especially not with Jacky in the next room."  And with that, I got up and headed to my bedroom.

Despite wanting to slam it, I closed the door quietly, then stepped out of my heels and let my dress fall to the floor.  I was about to undo my bra and put on a night shirt when I saw Jacky was awake and smiling, so I just got into bed behind him and held him, eventually moving my hand down to his groin.  I could feel the raised eyebrows rolling through his body, because he jokes that dicks are the only thing I'm really dainty about - I've got no problem with them in my pussy, but I don't like to look at or touch them otherwise, and just fucking forget about getting that thing in my mouth.  Still, sometimes you don't want to wait for the hard-on to just happen.

But then, something I am really going to miss about Jacky is that, even though we don't see each other that often and he can't understand some of what's in my head, he knows my moods pretty well, and when I'm feeling kind of conflicted about being Yuan-wei, he picks up on it and does a lot of foreplay, making sure I feel good about every inch of my body as it is, with a lot of tickling and laughing and just making me feel good and right before he puts on the condom and then takes it to the next level.  I don't know what he thinks I'm having doubts about when he picks up on that, but he does his level best to fix it.

That and the jet lag wiped him out, and I fell asleep soon after, not waking up until the next morning when I smelled something good.  Pulling on an oversized t-shirt but not doing much else to clean up, I went to the kitchen and saw Max making a bunch of French Toast.  His hair was kind of all over the place - Elaine and Cary had warned him that his perm was about at its expiration date but he wasn't up to hitting a beauty salon yet - so he looked kind of funny.  "What's with this?" I asked.  "First time you've cooked since the change."

"Nothing!  Just hungry and figured that after all that you and Jacky were, you know, doing last night, it might be a while until you woke up."


"Yeah.  Cause you really like it..."

"Well, duh.  We've still got an express connection to the pleasure center down there, you know."

"No, I mean, you like it, like, all over the bedroom."

"Oh, yeah, it's kind of fun like that.  I don't know if I'd like it so much if I hadn't been a big guy, but I think that made someone picking me up and tossing me down on a bed or holding me in the air kind of exciting, ya know?"

"Uh, no."

"You've got a year as Elaine coming, so you will.  Unless you decide to act like a nun or something, and you're too sexy for that to be anything but a fucking waste."

"Are you sure?  What if it's just you, and deep down you, like, wanted something like this?"

"What, you think I was some sort of woman in a man's body before?  No fuckin' way, bro.  It's just the Inn.  Near as we can tell, it won't make you stupid or, like, give you a learning disability or anything - it won't downgrade anything in your brain - but it doesn't consider what pheromones you respond to an upgrade or downgrade, so you get what the body's got.  For a curse that's been around decades or centuries, it's pretty fucking progressive.  You may think you still like chicks now, but that's just the last twenty years of being told you're supposed to and the last ten associating us with boners.  Your brain catches up with your body eventually, though, if you let it."

"That's terrifying."

"You wouldn't say that if you were in my positions last night."  I grinned and stabbed at some eggy bread.  "Anyway, what do you think we should show Jacky first?  I know I've been trying to make these few months fun-time for us, but I how you don't mind sharing me with Jacky for a week or two.  Guy's got an ugly breakup coming, so we should both try and make the most of it while we can."

He didn't have a whole lot of ideas right then, and we stopped talking about Inn shit because that's about when Jacky woke up and joined us and we decided to hit the Aquarium and a Duck Tour.

I don't think Max really likes the idea of Jacky yet, but he's at least being polite and bit complaining about the noise coming from the bedroom.  Which is good because that ain't going away until Jacky does.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Simon/Joy: Crossing the Line

When Teddy revealed to me the secret bet between four of the guys at work to see who could screw me first, I went through a bunch of emotions: hurt, offended, annoyed, before settling on flattered. It was especially flattering that Teddy was making a concerted effort not to pursue me, not just because Stretch was in the "lead" but because he didn't want any part of the actual bet - even though he and I had a better connection than Stretch and I ever did.

So my first act after a bit of contemplation was to text Teddy and ask if he wanted to win a bet.

He was reluctant. Ever the gentleman, I've got to give him that. After a few weeks of hinting that I was eager to throw down with him, he still protested: why did there have to be a winner, he asked? And the answer was, because I wanted there to be one. Not only did I not want them to keep secretly plotting to get in my panties (to win a cool grand) but I also happened to want Teddy in said panties. I caught a bad case of thirst for him.

At first I thought I was too good to chase anyone - after all, at any random bar I walk into I can have my pick of dudes. But the results I was getting were starting to feel very bland, interchangeable and meh. As I've already said, anonymous guys don't really care to put much effort in. So while I was enjoying myself, I was really plateauing when I should be finding new peaks.

A rule that I have more important than "Don't chase" is "Always get what you want." I set my sights on Teddy and I was going to have him Even if just once (and something told me if I could get him once he would be mine as long as I wanted him.) So I formulated an ingenious plan. Step one: Invite myself over to his place under the pretext of work. Step two: Have a few drinks. Step three: Well, that's pretty much all I thought I would need.

So the next week, I found myself at his house, and we were going over some arcane real estate bylaws over a bottle of Merlot that I brought when my hand innocently grazed his. Our eyes met with that tempting flicker that I knew would cause him to wonder if it meant something.

I worked my body language. Pointed my knees toward him, Played with my hair. Put a sweet singsong in my voice. "You know... I really love your place. I'd like to see more of it." Hint, the bedroom.

He played dumb, going on about the square footage and the maintenance. I encountered a new problem... I've never had to work for it with a guy before. How do I go from playful flirtation to bumping uglies if he won't play ball? The wine wasn't working. I briefly considered just stripping down to my bra and panties to see how he'd react, but it's better to play the game. I made sure to touch his knee three times as we conversed.

Finally, he called me out on it. "Joy, I've told you before... I can't."

I pouted, "You don't find me attractive?"

"I... you're very attractive. But the bet... It taints the whole thing."

"Well, if that's the case," I said, fiddling with the buttons on my top, "Nobody needs to know."

"What are you suggesting?"

"A private fling," I said. "Our little secret. No bet. Just two adults having a good time."

His face went stony. "You... really want this?"

"More than I've ever wanted anything," I said, as sultry as I could.

He still seemed iffy. "There's just something about you... you seem to know exactly what a guy wants a woman to be."

I smirked, "Is that a problem?"

I guided his hand to my thigh. I felt the thrill of victory closing in as we neared the endgame.

"Not at all, I just... I've never had a woman throw herself at me this way. I can't believe it."

"Believe it," I said, leaning in to kiss him, caressing the stiffening rod between his legs over his slacks.

Before we knew it, I was on top of him, he was pawing at me, trying to get my bra unfastened. I moaned in pleasure as he teased my nipples with his tongue, as I knew all along he was fantasizing about doing. Our hot breath on each other's tongues, his fingers finding their way into my private crevices. I goaded him on with moans of pleasure, finding the more I played it up, the bolder he would get.

By the end of the night we had done it three times, and I had climaxed multiples of that.

The next day, he asked me out to lunch. I didn't see any reason to discuss what we had done, except to confirm that we would both want to do it again, preferably on a regular basis.

It turned out that wasn't the case.

"So, that can't happen again," he said with a stony face.

My eyes bulged out. "Uh, did you not have fun? Because it seemed like you enjoyed yourself."

He sighed. "I'm just not the casual type. I'm past that, I want something more real. If you want to try having a relationship, that's something we could consider, but... I feel like that was why you didn't keep going out with Stretch, so unless you feel differently for me..."

I rolled my eyes, "Sorry, I don't."

"I didn't think so."

Where was all this coming from? Isn't he supposed to be a guy? I thought he'd be thrilled at the prospect of no-strings-attached sex with a chick who looks like I do.

Whatever, I thought. I don't need this. I'm gonna be a guy again in a few months and this will all be behind me. I should probably cut myself off from my crazy sex life now so I don't get addicted.

Once I got "over" Teddy basically dumping me, I had an epiphany. Shayla, my hot friend, is totally into the relationship thing. I thought she would like a sophisticated older guy like Teddy. So I introduced them and they hit it off, and now they're dating. Which is awesome, because they're both super hot. Teddy's been a little coy on the details but I think they've been sleeping together for a few weeks. I've got to admit, I'm pretty jealous... I had halfway thought that when I got my body back I could get the new Joy to "introduce" me to Shayla. But there's plenty of fish in the sea.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jonah/Krystle: Hot Mom?

I got hit on today.

I know, that's not entirely unusual; I'm not bad-looking and on what Karla and Momma Kamen call the right side of thirty, and it used to happen all the time when I was waiting tables at The Changeling, but once I got pregnant, it dropped way off.  When I moved in with my folks, it dropped even further, not just because I was really pregnant, but because I wasn't seeing many people.  There were friends who'd been to the Inn and knew it was uncomfortable even if they were inclined to, people at church, family, doctors, and that.  Once Little Moira was born, I want going out much, and even when I did, well, folks just assume that someone with a newborn baby is married or has someone, and even if she doesn't, who wants that drama?

I've been happy with this situation.  It's not like I plan to have sex with another guy before Krystle and I switch back next year, but guys who find you attractive don't always take no for an answer, and I have no intention of finding myself in this position again!  I guess I kind of figured it would go on indefinitely.  But, today, I was doing a little grocery shopping because I not only get stir-crazy sitting around the house all day but because I want to help, and I put on something with pretty deep cleavage - the girl gets hungry a lot and easy access to the milk saves a lot of crying and frustration, even if I do worry about people getting the wrong impression - without thinking to put something on over it. 

Moira was being cute rather than fussy, so I was having a bit of a one-sided conversation with her on what sort of applesauce we should get, and this guy, about thirty, decides to pull up and chime in, also making a comment about her Celtics t-shirt, and it's all cute and funny until he asks if I ever get out and do things on my own and I'm not quite sure how we got there.

I say no, not really, the last time I really did anything like that, I got this little maniac and a ton of trouble that I wasn't really eager to repeat, and apparently the main thing he took away from that was that the father wasn't in the picture.  He said someone as sexy as me really should have some time and someone to remind her that she was a woman as well as a mother, and I laughed a bit and said that really was not what I was looking for right now.  He asked if I was really sure about that, I said I was, and pushed the Cary away before he could give me his number "just in case I changed my mind."

I wasn't really shaken by this or anything, more like annoyed; I kind of figured from the way I'd been looked down on at church and how there are a while bunch of beautiful women out there who don't have kids, I'd be able to kind of not deal with that stuff until we switched back, but Krystle laughed at that, saying if kids really scared men away, Karla wouldn't have three of them.  Which, I guess, but I really don't need that.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Lindsey Curtis: Blind Blog #1

I'm going to feel stupid if nobody else ever does this, but it looks like fun.  I guess it's kind of new - the guy at the place down the street says they just started getting these packets to hand out with the keys to the Trading Post Inn last week - but I figure that if I'm going to use the coupon for a free hot dog, I might as well use the included Blogger/Google user ID to post something, even if the admonition not to actually read the posts until we've checked out is weird.  Well, unless something else happens, in which case, "you'll know".  If this is some sort of Stephen King story setting and I'm going to get stalked, you'll tell me, right?

Anyway, it says to tell everyone a bit about myself.  So here goes - I'm Lindsey Curtis, 25, and I'm a bit behind where I should be in life, but that's okay, because my college years were challenging.  I had to bail on the second semester of freshman year after contracting mononucleosis, and then I had to push my junior year back to take care of my dad, because he could be a cranky guy and despite that, I wanted to be there at the end rather than on the other side of the country.  It means I just picked up the last credit I needed for my degree during the summer term, and I'm just starting to apply to law schools now.

And, I guess, it wouldn't be wrong to say that it explains Harmon.

Lagging behind the rest of your age group isn't quite the big deal in college as it would be in high school, or it shouldn't be, but it frustrated me, and the reasons why seemed to set me apart.  "Kissing disease" is kind of a turn-off, and when someone asks why you're still in college, "dying father" just makes everything too serious.  Harmon was the one person who didn't freak out when I mentioned it at a campus thing, because he'd just gone through it a couple years ago, although he couldn't imagine having to do so when he was so young.  Which is a roundabout way of saying that Harmon is in his mid-fifties and everybody I know thinks me being with him is about wanting another father figure in my life.

I get that, but I think if that were the case, it wouldn't have lasted as long as it has, and we certainly wouldn't be vacationing together right now.  It was weird at first, but I'm hardly the first woman to for a relationship with an older man.  We have good times, and the travel has been fantastic - he knows our knows about a spot everywhere we go, and this is no exception - he hadn't heard of this Inn before, but we had the most delicious dinner in Portland last night.

There's not much to say about the stay yet - we're both planning to do a lot of reading on the beach and eating out, just relaxing before he starts another semester teaching Economics and I start studying for the LSAT.  Should be fun!


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Just Annette

Maybe I'm not just Annette yet; how can I be, just a week away from having been a man and not really having re-immersed myself in how my life has unfolded without me for the past three years.  Heck, it will probably take me as long to figure out what I want to keep and what I want to discard from Sandra as it will to use the ladies' room without thinking.

I was at the Inn a couple of days before the Chang guys-turned-girls showed up, and for all I was feeling guilty about getting something out of their being blackmailed, I was really glad to see them.  I've talked about how being on my own, Inn-people-wise, had me feeling lonely the past few weeks, and Tyler and his group were looking to be all business.  I guess I understand; they're either older or have kids to deal with, and I'm not going to second-guess folks trying to corral little kids (or people who find themselves mentally in-between).  Plus, I figure I've got a different perspective on OOB than pretty much everyone else:  Where everyone else basically seems to be thinking "let's not get within fifty miles of this place unless I plan to change, just to be sure", Benny grew up here, so I've had to get used to it as a place I'd have to make excuses not to visit, and I've hung out with "friends and family" enough that I know the town as more than where the Inn is.  I didn't see the sense of being shut in until 1am or so.

Not that Max wanted to go near the threshold, though Missy has spent a bunch of time figuring out the rules of the place and building models on her computer, and she's totally not going to act like she doesn't trust them.  But, she's also a good enough brother that she doesn't drag Max up there when there's no point.

(Yeah, I said "she's Max's brother"; it's weird, but she thinks of herself as a woman but also Max's brother, even though he's physically female right now, and you respect that even if it doesn't sound right.)

Cary and Elaine didn't hang out much; we got hot dogs one day but since they're just inches away from Cary being "Mackenzie's" temporary foster dad, they really don't want to do anything hard to explain, like drinking with three really mismatched folks until midnight.

Missy and Max make an odd pair like that right now.  Missy knows the odds of being hot in the same way that she now really enjoys come fall are slim, so she's pushing her boobs up and wearing booty shorts, and would probably be wearing heels if that didn't suck on the beach.  Max is weird, because he looks like Cary did in Chicago, but where Cary would use the times when he was hanging with me to dress down, Elaine had still trained him to be comfortable in women's clothes, so he'd do things like wear leggings as pants or put on a camisole on a warm day, while Max is taking the same body and wearing t-shirts that actually emphasize his breasts more because he's tucking them into pants that are kind of trying to be unisex but kind of can't with Elaine's curves.

He can drink a bit, at least.  I laughed a bit at Missy accepting drinks people sent over for both of them, and getting up to dance a couple of times, though she resisted going home with anybody.  Indeed, after a couple of hours, she was kind of morose about having to break up with Jackie, and then she passed out in the booth.

Then something hit me as I looked at the glasses piled in the center of our table.  "Holy shit, I'm going to be that age, sex, and weight - I mean, last picture I saw of Sandra she looked like she was about the same size as Missy, but I haven't seen them side-by-side because my friend does me the service of hating that bitch - does that mean I'm going to be a complete lightweight as well?"

Max looked at his drink, suddenly wondering if maybe he was having too much.  "Uh, maybe?  But you'll get used to it, right?"

"Oh, sure, but I like beer, damn it!  But, I suppose that I'm going to have to deal with Sandra making everyone think I'm some sort of early-onset-middle-age wine-drinker anyway.  Ugh!"  This doesn't make much sense, I realize, but I had been drinking and being Benjamin didn't make me completely impervious to alcohol.

By now, everyone at the bar had a few drinks in them, and it was making Max uncomfortable, so we decided to get Missy back to their hotel.  Max did think it was pretty funny that I carried her all the way, insisting on getting pictures.  He laughed while doing it and I asked him to let me get one of my own, because he smiled differently than Cary - less teeth, more dimples.  "It's cute.  Don't be afraid of it."

"You being a bro telling a girl to smile?"

"No, and fuck you!  I'm just saying, you go back in the blog and read up on me and Jordan-slash-Deirdre-slash-Missy, you'll see I enjoyed our first year more because I let myself.  Doesn't mean I'm not really excited to be myself again, but it can be a good experience."  I paused, remembering a few of the last few years' more exciting moments.  "A really good experience, when you have an idea of what you're getting into and don't have worry about tomorrow."

I left him with something to think about and then returned to the Inn.  No change that night, but when we met up the next day, Max was wearing a tank-top and Missy wanted to know what I'd said to him.

I fell asleep reading the night the actual change took place, and while there were obvious, tell-tale signs that the years as a guy had passed, it was hard not to have the feeling that it had all been a dream when I looked in the mirror - what I was seeing was disconnected from my most recent experiences, but so intensely familiar as to override that.  Not entirely, though; there was a lot that demand exploration.  Sandra had left me with the shortest haircut I've had a a girl since third grade, but I liked it; it looked cute and mature at the same time.  I don't know whether eagerly unbottoning my pajama top was a leftover guy thing or just being excited to see my new-old shape, but I had to laugh when the first thing I noticed about my breasts was the tan lines.  I guess Sandra was more into walking around the beach in a bikini or going to pool parties, at least in the time leading up to her visit to the Inn, than I was as a bookish teenager.  She'd had her belly-button pierced, too, although she didn't leave me anything to put in there.  I wondered if it was something she had as Sandra or if it was just a young-again experience she didn't feel like sharing.

Getting dressed was like riding a bike - I hadn't had to fiddle with my own bra for years, but my fingers knew the motions; same with getting clips in my hair.  Sandra left me the belly for a crop-top, and any worries that I'd look weird in the mirror were gone quickly, even after I put my glasses on (I must admit, I didn't miss needing those, but I still kind of like the look).

I called the Changs once I was all set and we agreed to meet up at Cary's truck.  Missy recognized me instantly and have me a big hug, telling me I was super-cute and saying we had to be best girlfriends for the next month.  Max seemed to have a hard time believing I had been Benjamin just the day before, but I told him to keep his chin up, because it really does all come back.

We had a fun time hanging out that day, going to the amusement park and then having beers on the beach.  I got carded for the first time in months while it dawned on Max that he didn't because he and his big brother had essentially swapped ages.  I was tempted to stay another night but also really wanted to go home for the first time in two years.

I hugged my mom so hard the next morning.  I would have done it the night before, but she was already in bed when I got to her house and cried a little to find my bedroom just like I left it; I guess Sandra never really settled in and made it hers even after that first year, preferring to spend most of the summer at her (now my) apartment in Cambridge.  Mom wanted to know what was with this sudden bout of homesickness, but didn't really press too hard, kind of just happy to have her daughter home unexpectedly.  I pulled together a story about breaking up with a boy that had a little bit of me leaving Marybeth and a little bit of me not being Benjamin anymore in it, and it probably made no sense, but Mom said encouraging things about being true to yourself that I probably could have used a lot over the last three years.

Seeing my friends from high school was a bit rougher.  Missy told me not to expect too much, because even folks who haven't been through what we have drift apart naturally when not seeing each other every day, and on top of that I guess Sandra didn't really connect with a lot of people she considered kids, so they look at me and think going to a big school ha given me a swelled head.  It's sucked the most with Gretchen, because she was my very best friend since we were like ten, and the fact that Sandra was apparently right about her boyfriend two years ago does not make up for the way she shared her opinion.

We're reconnecting, though, and through Gretchen I'm getting a bit closer to everyone else while also re-reading every textbook and assignment Sandra did as me after we stopped splitting the work because she stole my life and was therefore on her own.  It's kind of tough - she switched her focus from creative writing to journalism.  It's not really my dream, but I have to remember that it's part of how Arthur Milligan became author Penny Lincoln, and I can follow that path.

It's a lot of work to be "just Annette" again, even without considering meeting my new-to-me roommate's and classmates, so I'm afraid I'm not going to have time to be Missy's gal pal.  Maybe that will still be an option next month, though - we're both living proof that the Inn doesn't always (permanently) ruin your life!