Friday, June 08, 2018

Daryl/Elaine: Surprise Visit

You folks who have been reading the blog for a while can probably figure out the basics from the subject line alone - I'm Daryl Jackson, the guy who thought he was dating Elaine Preston, but it turned out to be some white guy who had been turned into her, and now the Inn has turned me into her.  It's messed up, and I'm staying to wonder if Whitney Preston just had it in for her sister or something.  Was Elaine always the successful one when they were growing up and now Whitney just keeps doing what she can to mess with her life, even though Elaine trusts her?

Or is that me extrapolating from what J.T. told me and acting like that's the dynamic with Elaine?  I suppose that from another perspective, Whitney is doing the right thing, cluing me in on the impossible situation I've found myself in by making it possible for me too believe it.

From what the real Elaine says, the original plan was that J.T. would go to the Inn and become himself again, then Whitney would follow, becoming Elaine; then her boyfriend becomes Whitney; he stays an extra two-week block to turn back; Whitney comes back and returns to normal; then, finally, at what's apparently the first chance for "Mackenzie" to vanish for a couple of weeks without getting Cary in trouble, Elaine gets her own form back.  It's an elaborate plan that's got to be coating her and Cary a chunk of change, but given that I'm just the latest in a parade of men to take on Elaine's form despite her best efforts, you can't blame her.

Maybe I'd really like that meticulous nature if she came back in August and I was none the wiser that the Elaine I'd been seeing had been replaced, I'd appreciate it.  Instead, I shrugged off her mentioning that she had an out-of-town contact for the next two or three months - we said we'd email, as you do - but after a week or so, I got the idea of surprising her for the long Memorial Day weekend.  I hadn't lined up a new gig yet but had a little money to travel, so I figured why not?  I shoot Whitney a message asking if she thinks it's practical; she says that, believe it or not, she was going to be visiting but she was sure Elaine would rather see me than her.  I offer to pay for the plane ticket and hotel reservation, but she says Elaine already had, and it was just a matter of transferring the ticket, since everything at the Inn is done with reservation numbers.  She warns me that Elaine is busy, and It might be a few days before she gets free and I see her at the Inn, even with the holiday weekend.  Tight deadlines, enough to include weekends, so don't expect her before sunset.

Having done my share of cramming both in school and at work, I respect that, so I spend much of Friday and Saturday poking around town, trying some seafood, texting back and forth with Elaine (the real one, it turns out) asking what she's up to, thinking she might drop a hint as to where she is, but no dice.  Sometime around ten, I open up my laptop and check to see who's online, and by two-ish I've switched to Fortnite, and that's when stuff starts to get weird.  I'm into it enough that as it starts, I mostly just think the lobster roll doesn't agree with me, which is also how I explain my voice sounding weird to everyone.  At some point, though, the controller slips in my hand (which has gotten smaller) and when I reach up to adjust my headset, I feel hair.  That's screwy enough for me to realize that something is really wrong, and it's like by realizing that I'm suddenly much more aware of how my whole body feels strange.  I tell everybody that I'm not feeling well and have to drop off, and I guess I hadn't spoken in long enough that I hear someone ask who the chick is before logging out.

I run to the bathroom, figuring I'm gonna have to puke or crap or something, and I don't get why it kind of hurts in the chest before seeing my reflection.  I'm, like, three-quarters of the way to Elaine, so I don't quite see it yet, but I'm clearly more woman than guy.  I reach into my pants to find that I'm a fraction of the man I'm supposed to be.  I'm starting to take off my shirt to see if I've really got tits now too, and that's when I notice the scar.  Elaine's appendectomy scar is kind of unusual - there's a little nick in it, like the surgeon was a little careless with the scalpel or something - and I've suddenly got the same one, although it looks more faded.  Or, as I suddenly realize, it's not all there yet.

Then I realize what I'm seeing in the mirror, and I already look even more like her.  I run back to the bedroom, grab my phone, and some instinct has me dial Elaine rather than the police.  I get voice mail, of course, and say random stuff about how it's Daryl and I'm turning into her and is she all right because this is really freaking me out.  Eventually there's a beep because you can only record a message that's so long.  I start to head back to the bathroom, but my feet get snagged by my laptop's power cord and I go down.  I bang my head on something, but it doesn't knock me out.  I don't get up, though I'm not sure whether it's from being dazed or just tired.

I wake up the next morning to a little white girl shaking me.  I groan, and she starts wiping some dried blood off my forehead.  "You better not have damaged my face."

The early morning hours haven't quite come back to me.  "What?"

"I'm the real Elaine Preston, and you are not my sister.  You're Daryl, right?"

I say yes, and that's when I get filled in on everything.

"Has everybody here changed?"

"Yeah, but this early in the season, they're pretty much all expecting it and expecting to go home."

"But I can stay here, get changed back in the next wave...?"

She looks sheepish.  "I did have J.T. RSVP to a wedding, a friend from college."

Oh, right.  I remembered.

Anyway, long story short, I didn't quite get Elaine Preston boot camp, but I can put on a bra and not fall over in high heels now.  I actually learned a lot of it from Cary, since Elaine was busy with sixth grade for the week after Memorial Day.

I flew back home earlier this week in order to get what Elaine calls a bit of practice "being", with Cary assuring me that in some ways it's not nearly as hard as it looks, that even without the powers of a curse, people will just assume the thing that makes sense when something doesn't seem right - that you had a bad morning, are on your period, or just screwed up.  And it's true.  I had a couple legs up on Cary and J.T. in that I had actually met Elaine's friends before and that it's almost certainly easier for a black man to know what to expect in a group of black women than a white one.  I can't speak for other transformees, but I suspect going from straight white man into the life of a black woman like they did must be among the most nerve-wracking, going from being pretty certain of your authority but expected not to throw it around to being low on the totem pole and knowing you can't give an inch.

I did okay, although I did have a couple early-morning freakouts.  I'm just hoping that the wedding tomorrow is like seeing old high school friends when you both happen to be home for the holidays - nodding, talking vaguely about what you've been up to going back home.

-Daryl

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