Monday, April 30, 2018

Tyler/Valerie: Cut to the song

Maybe you've picked up on this... sometimes I can be very stupid. I can be emotional, irrational, go off half-cocked... and I don't necessarily have to be female to do it. I acted that way as a lot a man (as you may know) and if anything female hormones maybe have had a moderating effect on these tendencies. This is contrary to what every man reading this probably thinks, but I'm living proof.

So what was so stupid? I bet you can guess, but I'll tell it anyway.

Last Friday was Ryan's open mic performance at the piano bar. I went to support him, because I've been there all through the preparation for this, and it didn't seem like Alexa was going to be there (what a shock.) I didn't want to let on that I may have been developing a sort of crush on him, so I rounded up the gals, Brigette and Maddie, and even halfheartedly invited Rafe, who said he'd be busy that night. Fair enough, I was just being polite.

Still, we all agreed to "do it up," looks-wise. Pete doesn't need much effort, and Maddie is very cute, but personally I always feel rather dingy and in need of special effort to look good. So we got the styling want out to make my hair do those elegant long spirals, spent a lot of time trying to perfect my makeup, found a special pair of not-overly-comfortable heels, and of course... The Dress.

I had noticed this dress in Val's closet not long after I arrived. It's a nice navy blue dress, a bit more elegant than a cocktail dress, but still very sexy - with a lacy cutout in the breast to show cleavage while still providing some modesty. She doesn't own many garments like it, as I'm guessing stuff like this is hard to find in Val's proportions. I wonder if it was custom-fit or modified. It was a little snug in the belly (sue me, I've munched a few cookies at the shop on my break) but looked hot. Beautiful, even.

When we arrived who is the first person we see but Rafe, cleaned up rather nicely I'm slightly embarrassed to admit.

"I thought you were busy?" I said, kind of annoyed.

"Oh, I moved some stuff around, no big deal," he shrugged.

Only Rafe could find a way to do something nice and be annoying about it.

So after a drink or so, it's Ryan's set. He plays a couple of instrumental piano jazz pieces that the crowd appreciates. Then he says "Thanks, I'm gonna do something a little different now... but I haven't formally rehearsed. I just need some help. Would Valerie Stewart come up here?"

My eyes go wide. My face flushes red. I know exactly what he's thinking. I mouth "No. NO." but he keeps egging me on and the crowd does too... I thought this place would be too classy for that sort of thing.

Last week while I was watching him rehearse, he pointed out that I do a lot of humming along and singing. "Oh," I said, "I guess I didn't notice." Even though it's been pointed out that I do this absent-mindedly a lot when I'm cooking or cleaning or anything.

"I never knew you had such a nice voice," he said. "Is that new?"

"Uh," I squeaked, "You could say that." The reason is, when I was Lauren I had to take those singing lessons and I took a bit of a liking to it, to where it did become a habit.

"You wanna sing something for me?"

"Uh, sure..." I said, doing my best to sound uncertain even as I was feeling a little spellbound by his music.

"I think this is one you'd know..." he said, and he began to tap something out on the keyboard... it took me a few bars to realize he was doing a loungey version of "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. I smiled.

"She was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean, she was the best damn woman that I... ever seen...

It was good. It was great. Incredible, even. It was as close to the experience of having sex as you can get with your clothes on, as far as I'm concerned. It made me fall a little deeper and realize this is a serious crush, and it's a problem because he's with Alexa and I'm not planning on being Val much longer.

But that was just in the confines of Ryan's room. And now he was twisting my arm into re-enacting that moment in front of a room full of strangers. And fucking Rafe. And I couldn't say no. Part of me honestly didn't want to, but I really, really didn't want to be put in that situation.

But I was on my second glass on wine. What the hell. Pass me the microphone.

It was a little messy - obviously we hadn't rehearsed and it really showed. But the crowd did like it. I just had to step outside my body.

But when I got back in, I realized it was hot. Really hot. Like, ready to drop my clothes on the floor. I was shaking.

I did a bashful little curtsy and went back to my seats, to general high fives and backslapping from Maddie and Pete, and a smug little nod of approval from Rafe.

Ryan closed with "Sunrise," the song I am very, very sure he wrote about Val when they were in high school. And the whole time he was singing, he was looking in my direction. I felt very weird, and very strange about it.

Then after he was done, I heard a very prominent source of applause at the back of the room. Alexa had arrived. What had she seen? What would she think? It was like a splash of cold water.

Once Ryan stepped down, she rushed over to embrace him. Then as they reached the table, she also smiled at me and said "Val, that was so good! Great job." So she had seen it, and either she didn't think anything was wrong with it, or she was just being very, very proper.

I was embarrassed, and drunk, and feeling very ill-at-ease about what had happened. And I needed to deflect any possible evidence that there was anything between Ryan and me, so I started paying more attention to Rafe. And I have to say, he was game... that secret charm he keeps buried inside, he let it out and really reveled in the fact that I was sort of hanging off him. Soon I actually did get caught up in the moment and forgot my problem. Pete, the Ultimate Wingwoman, whiaked Maddy away juat as she may have been getting suspicious.

I don't want to blame it all on the alcohol, because probably the reason I was drinking so much is because I hoped this would be the outcome. I could blame it on the hormones... I have noticed I feel pangs of loneliness very strongly now, and part of me wonders if that's leftover chemicals from Val caving Josh's intimacy and partnership. Or if it's just all me. I don't know.

I invited Rafe to walk me home. He was acting very sheepish like he didn't know what was going on, but he obviously did. The small talk dwindled into some pretty awkward exchanges at it became clear that we had run out of stuff to say, and both somewhat knew where the night was going, but couldn't acknowledge it yet. It waa hard to walk the line of up front but not desperate.

"You were, uh... really great up there, by the way," he said in an uncharacteristic show of sincerity.

"Thanks," I smiled, "I really wasn't expecting it. I also didn't think that crowd would be into that song..."

"Oh come on, who doesn't like AC/DC?"

When we got to my building, I took a deep breath and asked... " want to come up?"

He cocked an eyebrow. "Are you sure? Because look, I don't wanna play any games here. If I go up there, I'm expecting... you know."

I twisted my mouth, and nodded. "Yeah... I know."

"All right, sweet," he said, nearly ruining it for himself right there. Grinning and bearing it, I buzzed us in.

After checking to make sure the coast was clear, I ushered him into my room. We got off to an awkward start... I mean, how could we not? I'm still something of a novice at being "the girl," even after my time with Josh. There was the process of working out how to fit ourselves together with the height difference, undressing in a subtle and sexy way instead of just stripping down businesslike... personally I don't think I'm very seductive but luckily for me, when you look a certain way, you would have to work very hard against yourself to turn a guy off.

As far as details... I'll have to stop myself. I don't want to give all the play by play, but there's a few key notes I've been thinking about since. It was a blur, but I was definitely there for every second of it. I will say it was good - more intense than the delicate style I was used to from Kitty. Better than I honestly intended. And it felt different than in Judith's body, in some very good ways.

I could tell he enjoyed himself. I could tell he was looking forward to seeing and touching my body this way after months of knowing each other. He took great pleasure in fondling and playing with my boobs, which was actually quite stimulating for me as well... it's just a relief they're good for something other than knocking over coffee cups. And for a formerly heterosexual man whose eyes have been awakened to sex from the female perspective, even though I didn't initially see him as any kind of sexy, a lot of what he had going on really did it for me. (And I don't know what it is, but he smelled great.)

He made some moves that I might have objected to if it hadn't been "in the moment," some I found I enjoyed despite myself, some I would probably ask him not to repeat (if this should ever happen again.) It was not very tender, and the first round was very much about him, but I got some pleasure there. The second round was slower, with more time for me.

Afterwards, I lay there feeling very conflicted. I was on an endorphin high but I felt myself crashing down and I wasn't suddenly in love with him or anything. He was still a pest that I could only intermittently get along with, and maybe I deserved better, but I had no time or energy to spend looking for that. It didn't feel good inside knowing how proud he probably was of himself for "conquering" me when it depended entirely on my own loneliness and dejection. I felt used, but I had also used him, so who's to say what's wrong?

"You don't uh... want to spend the night, do you?" I asked awkwardly as we lay there in the 'afterglow.'

He grunted, "Uh... not really."

"Okay, you can, um... go whenever."

He took that as his cue to sit right up and start pulling his pants on. Which was a little bit insulting but it was exactly what I said.

As I saw him out to the living room, I said, "Hey, don't go, uh, blabbing about this yet, okay? I need to think about what happened tonight."

"Sure," he said, a little bitterly. "Whatever you want. Hey, I'm here for you anytime."

"Thanks," I said warily, knowing all too well he would be interested in another round sometime. I gave him a really awkward hug and saw him out.

We haven't talked since, and I don't necessarily mind. I just want to live what left of my life here.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Jonah/Krystle: "Mama"

It's been a while since I've updated, but any of you with kids probably know what I've been finding out - that just because Little Moira has gotten better about sleeping through the night, she finds other ways to wear me out.  She seems to have spent roughly a week crawling before she started walking, and she tries to get into everything.  She's incredibly curious, changes favorite foods all the time, and is just a little ham.

She's also got the craziest sense of timing.  A couple months ago, Krystle and I got the emails saying that reservations for the Inn would be going on sale, and we messaged back and forth like crazy for a couple of hours.  She ran down a list of what she was planning to do with her body first, I countered by saying that Moira would wake up crying just as soon as she had lowered herself into that bubble bath, and we eventually got to our next things (Krystle had made her way to Africa as me by then, so our schedules are kind of out of sync).  A couple weeks later, we booked three blocks for late spring:  One for me to become some unknown person, one for Krystle to become herself again, and then one for me to get my life back.  My folks grumbled at the expense, but were extremely pleased with the thought of the weirdness being in the rear-view mirror.

And then, that night, Little Moira decided to say her first word.  She was in the bathtub, hair up in little puffs, pushing some toys around, making little noises.  I said that was a boat, asked if she could say "boat", and then nearly fell over when she looked up and said "mama".

I don't think I'd really been avoiding that word deliberately, but I think somewhere in the back of my head, I knew that I wasn't encouraging Moira to say that particular word because I knew that I would eventually be myself again, and we'd made the effort for people not to think I was her parent, so I probably shouldn't get used to the idea.  So it was always "can you say dolly?" or "can you say Grampa?" or something like that.  I'm not even exactly sure where she got "mama" from, now that I think of it.  Maybe a visitor - or, I guess, everyone we know who's not in on the whole Inn thing.  But she did, and in the moment we were all so excited that we didn't give it more thought beyond that.

But then she kept doing it.  Other words came, sure, but that was the one she had the best handle on, and it started to get to me.  On the one hand, it felt really good, especially when she'd hug or kiss me at the same time, but eventually I started feeling guilty about what was going to happen in a couple months.

I reached out to ask the other Inn people I knew, not really asking specific questions and mostly not getting really specific thoughts.  Only Mrs. Kim really seemed to get what I was trying to ask and seemed ready to tell me the thing I needed to hear in no uncertain terms.  I guess that on some level you just have to have the experience.

So I looked at my schedule and asked Krystle if we could schedule a private video call for the next night I had off, one where she didn't have to worry about being overheard or interrupted.  She said yes, and that night I dragged my laptop out into the living room, hooked it to the big TV, and asked Mom and Dad to come out before I started the call.  Krystle was a bit surprised to see the living room when the connection was made, and they raised their eyebrows at it.  I think they kind of knew them what I was going to say, but couldn't quite bring themselves to believe it.

I couldn't either, to be honest, and I was shaking, but I did it anyway.  "So, um, I don't know if I'm the last one to figure out how this story goes, but even if I am, I guess I've gotta be the one to say it.

"I'm not going back to the Inn.  Not this summer, and probably never."

My folks took a moment or two to process it, sitting there in shock, but Krystle wasn't shocked into silence.  "The f--- you say you're not going to go back to the Inn?"

"I...  I've been thinking it over, ever since Moira called me Mama, and I just can't imagine not being her mother.  She's been inside me, and then with me every day, and the thought of letting her go...  I just can't!"

"Then adopt her!  I promise, I won't put up a fight - I might've done that anyway!"

"And deny her the only mother she's ever known?  What if she doesn't recognize me and doesn't take to me?  I could ruin her life!"

Dad put his hand on my knee.  "Don't worry about that, son.  Kids are resilient - soon, it will be like this never happened."

"And then later?  When we have to tell her that her mother gave her up, add that onto the other lies?"

"It won't be like that.  I can't guarantee it, but--"

"But why take the risk?"


"I know!  And I'm sorry!  But everything else seems worse!"  I turned to my father.  "You always told me to do what's right - what kind of person would I be if I didn't put being Moira's mother first?"

"You'd be my son."  He sounded as hurt as angry to say it.  "You'd be my son again."

It hurt, and I tried to tell him that as long as he thinks of me that way, I still would be, but it sounded weird coming out.   I looked at Mom, which felt a bit desperate - she's taken the whole thing with magic and me being a girl even harder than Dad - but I figured that if Mrs. Lincoln-Kim would get that the bond between a mother and her child is so important, surely my own mother would.  "You get it, right, Mom?  You never would have let me go?"

"I understand, Jonah, but this is how God tests us, to make sure we don't behave selfishly, or go against how he made us.  You've already failed that test once, by lying with a man,  but God gave you a second chance!  Don't throw it back in his face!"

I felt punched in the gut, but also angry.  "Moira isn't a test!  She's her own person, a blessing!  How can you even suggest--"

That's the moment I knew I was on my own, that my folks and Krystle just weren't going to understand.  It's hard to blame them - we've all got strong ideas of what our lives should be, and it's not this.  There's a way to get closer to that.  But you hear people talking about how they love their kids more than their own lives, and normally that just means you'll die for them.  But I love my daughter so much...

It wasn't the same in the house after that.  I thought, maybe, after the shock, maybe they would all understand given time, but the next night, while I was at work, I felt panicked.  I couldn't believe that my folks would actually hurt Moira, but they still might "solve the problem" - drive a hundred miles and leave her somewhere safe, spin a story about me being the one to do it when the police checked her fingerprints - and as much as I know I couldn't even think that, I couldn't stop.

So while they were at work, I packed what I could, drove the car to the nearest stop on the Downeaster, and took the train into Boston.  Momma Kamen was glad to see Little Moira, a little disappointed to see me, but not really disappointed in me.  I'm not sure how much she's joking and how much she's serious about not being able to handle the quiet since Karla moved out, but she's making things pretty easy.  Ashlyn and Moira hired me back at The Changeling.

Which is what I am now, I guess, based on what they tell me about the Irish myth, a fake Krystle taking the place of the real one, without any pretense of it being temporary any more.  It doesn't escape my notice that the changelings are usually the monsters in those stories, and the people who take over others' lives despite the others wanting them back are the villains when Inn people tell their stories.  I guess I'll just have to live with it and see how God judges me later.  For now, though, I'll just have to live with that, so long as Little Moira keeps calling me her Mama.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Tyler/Valerie: Guys...

How much time do you spend with someone else's boyfriend before it becomes inappropriate?

It's not my fault. At first Ryan's mini-rehearsals were a group affair - since everyone in the apartment would usually be able to hear him working anyway, he decided to make that the theme of the hang-out. But that got old for the guys after two sessions. Alexa did her best to seem very interested in Ryan's music at first, but when he noticed she had a tendency to pull out her phone while he was practicing, he stopped asking her to sit in. When it was just the two of us in his room, a bit of a red flag went up in my head. "I can go, you know... leave you to it."

"No, no, stay," he insisted, "You always give good feedback. Plus I always love when you hum along."

When he said it, I tried to take it as an innocent compliment but it really didn't seem like something a guy with a girlfriend should be saying. Still, I guess my self-esteem is a little down because getting even that level of approval felt like a real buzz. I just had to keep in mind... I mean, I'm a mature person, I know where the line is.

Alexa may not be my favorite person ever, but I would never do anything to break her trust.

I keep thinking I should just stop hanging out with Ryan. I don't think I'm off base by saying it really seems like he's starting to develop - or really, re-develop - feelings for me/Valerie. The way he looks at me is a little more than friendly. And being around him, even if I'm not consciously egging him on/"tempting" him, seems like I'm just I'm fanning those flames.

But then I think... isn't that his problem, to manage his his own actions? I know I'm just on the right side of innocent and friendly. He is a grown-ass man too, in a relationship to boot, so it's up to him to not flirt, not let his eye wander, and if he's not happy with his relationship, to do something about it his own damn self.

But whatever. He hasn't outright said anything to me, and I'm not about to mess things up by bringing it up unless I have to, with only a few months left in my time as Valerie (we are booked for July, which feels very far, but will be here before we know it.) It almost feels silly to worry about any of this.

But he did play me thing song a few nights ago, called "Sunset"... and it was really beautiful and sweet and sincere... and I couldn't help but think it was probably about me... just because there's a line about "I spent a lifetime chasing your glow, just to know, you're always on the other side of that horizon..." which seems to be about his ongoing crush on Valerie from before... and hey, my hair is sort of an orangey-yellow "sunset" color...

Maybe I'm just turning toward Ryan because I'm somewhat bothered by the other men in my life... or should I say just the one other, Rafe. For a while after we hung out those few times, I could tell he was angling to get in my panties, so I worked to shut that down. Then he started recognizing me as the closet thing to a "bro" there, someone he could talk to about "guy stuff," which is great, sure. If he needs an outlet, I can slip into that old mindset. He's kinda fun and amusing, in that immature way, hiding how smart and capable he actually is. I wanted to give him a fair shake.

Then I started hearing these weird, like, barely-hidden messages in what he was saying, like he's going out of his way to be obnoxious. He would tell me about a Tinder hook-up he had, saying "Man, her boobs were so big... almost as big as yours... and honestly, it was too much. Too big! There's gotta be a limit. You can't do anything with them once they get to a certain size. Like anything beyond a C-Cup, it's just a hassle."

Or, "She was good and tall... you know, I like to look a girl right in the eye, just a little bit shorter than me. Or maybe even taller than me. I'd love to date a chick who was over 6 feet tall. I probably couldn't date anyone below 5'6... no offense."

Privately I'm fuming, but if I acknowledge the potshots at my appearance, I'm a "bad sport" or too self-involved. Honestly, I think he's trying to get under my skin like a kid on the playground, because he likes me too...

I know what you're thinking, Miss Self-Absorbed over here, thinks everyone likes her... well listen, you get used to seeing the signs and reading into things like that.

But hell, work isn't very stimulating and there's not a lot else going on. This is pretty much all I have to think about... which makes me a little sad, but at least I've gotten over being sad about being female in the first place, so I just put on something sexy and go out drinking with Brigette to cheer myself up. We let ourselves get hit on, come right to the brink of going home with someone and then give them the slip. Pete swears one of these days he's going to go through with it, and I want to empower that. Me, I could take it or leave it... I don't need to "find out" what sex is like, so I don't need to get laid just for the sake of getting laid. But the clock is ticking, and who knows who we'll be next time, so I think if she wants it she should have some fun.

Me, I'm looking into online courses that maybe I could take in my next life... depending on how things go, you know... just an idle thought. I don't want to pour coffee or flip eggs for the rest of my days...