Fight the Wind
|This story contains adult content.|
The warm sand and beach umbrella shading from the worst of the sunlight was enough to lull me to sleep. With the soft beach towel beneath my bare back and my hat over my eyes I took a moment to doze, lulled by the gentle sound of the waves. This was paradise. A few hours of solitude on this isolated New England beach on the Fourth of July. Every year I had it all to myself. There were times when being an avid hiker really paid off.
The only blemish were a couple of ticks that I managed to remove before they bit me. I'd remembered everything but the Bug-Off.
Small waves washed gently against the shore. Perhaps the beach had been someone's property before, but there were so many trees that if there was a house, it was probably hidden and abandoned. There was no gate, just a narrow wooded tunnel with nearly overgrown wheel ruts from a long-unused driveway. If it became too hot I could move back a couple dozen feet and be in shade. My nearly new Honda CR-V just sat on the sand. It was great to have some free time for a change.
Then came a blast of cold, clammy air. I opened my eyes and saw a thick bank of fog moving in, surrounding me before I could even take down the umbrella. The light grew dimmer as the chilly air seeped in. The car was now invisible. Even the sound of the waves was muffled. Grumbling, I stood up and considered breaking down my beach spot. Sudden fog wasn't that unknown in Maine.
Then my swim trunks fell down around my feet.
I stared for a moment before pulling them back up. But they were too loose around my waist. The elastic wouldn't hold, and I had to hold them up with one hand as I tried to break down my beach spot with the other. My waistline had developed a definite pinch above the hips. In shock, I dropped the trunks again.
My nipples tingled in the cold, standing erect. They were unnaturally large, and the area around them seemed puffy. My chest and crotch itched horribly.
What was happening to me?
Flesh visibly gathered under my nipples, pushing them forward as my chest hair dissolved. My skin took on a creamy complexion, a softness appearing on thinner arms, bare legs, and smaller feet. Between my legs my package shrank into my body, leaving only a thatch of dark pubic hair.
It finally registered just what I was looking at. I stared down the valley in front, past a not-quite-flat stomach, to the ground. A woman's body... from the inside.
My breasts seemed firmly attached, hanging there as if they belonged. They were warm and supple. The cool air played gently against the smooth flesh, making every nerve ending tingle. I shivered. This can't be real.
I groped my crotch. There was... was... I knew what it was, and what it implied, but couldn't bear to think of the impossibility. I felt the smoothness of my face, my fingers going over a smaller nose. Skin that had never felt a razor.
This had to be a delusion brought on by... by... something or other. Bad donuts? Maybe something bit me? My mind groped for something, some cause for this hallucination.
I pinched a nipple between my fingers and hissed in pain. If this was a delusion it was incredibly complete. Nothing felt right. There was a dissonance.
A bikini sat at my feet, along with a purse. There was also a tank top and a pair of shorts. The fog began to thin, bringing with it shafts of warm sunlight.
I sat down heavily on the beach towel, my breasts bouncing. Unconfined, they wobbled gently with my movements. I resisted the urge to squeeze them until they bruised. In other circumstances the view was enough to occupy me all day. They didn't seem too large, but they felt strange. Inertia had its way with them. The air grew brighter as the fog burned off as quickly as it came.
Now what? I was a naked girl sitting on an empty beach.
There was a brush against my back just below my shoulder blades. I reached up and found a hairclip. Removing it, I shook my head. Lustrous brown hair flowed over my shoulders.
I morbidly wondered what I looked like. A perverse part of me hoped I looked good.
I wondered what was inside the purse.
But first I decided to put on some clothes.
It wasn't a string bikini, but it didn't exactly leave much to the imagination either. After putting on the bottoms and shorts I tried the top, but after a futile struggle I couldn't get it tied at the back. So I pulled on the seemingly too-small tank top. It fit so snugly I could see my nipples.
Since there were no other alternatives, I'd just have to endure it until I got home.
The umbrella and cooler were heavier than before. And I nearly left the--my--purse sitting on the beach. It was the same car, and oddly the seats were already adjusted.
I turned the key and was about to put it into reverse, when I stopped. I just stopped and shut it off.
"Shit, shit, shit! How the hell did I end up a woman?! Was in that fog? Dear God! What the hell am I going to do now?" I beat my fists against the steering wheel, the horn blaring out my horror. My chest heaved, breasts straining against the tank top as I bounced up and down in the driver's seat. My head hit the ceiling hard enough to cause pain. It only made me angrier. "Shit, Shit, SHIT!"
The sizable denim purse sat in the passenger seat. Since I couldn't find my cell phone, I unzipped it and dumped out the contents. The clutter of years fell out. Several pairs of used pantyhose, a half dozen shades of lipstick, makeup compacts, tissues, an oversized wallet…
Tampons. Birth control pills. Two unused rubbers, and one empty package. Tampons. Tampons! Ugh. Why were there so many of those?
And finally, the cell phone. I didn't want to touch it. It had makeup stains on the plastic.
I picked it up to dial 911. But who the hell would believe me? They'd lock me up.
Through truthfully I was close to checking myself into the psych ward, anyway.
Anger rose again, like a dark thundercloud. The windows were open, so I wound up and threw the phone into the surrounding forest. "Fuck you!" I screamed to the world in general.
Then I remembered that fancy color phone cost me a hundred bucks. And now it was lost in the thick foliage.
I slipped on the silly, nearly useless flip-flops whatever had furnished me with instead of my comfortable sandals. The damned things pinched my toes. I'm sure they looked "cute" but they were poor protection from the rough ground.
This body moved in strange ways. It defied description. It felt so light that it seemed to defy gravity. My breasts didn't really look all that large, it's not like I couldn't see feet or anything. But to me they might as well be the size of Volkswagens. They weren't supposed to be there. The front of the tank top was stretched forwards, and my breasts fit into enlarged spots perfectly like a glove, as if I wore this shirt often. It was actually comfortable, after a fashion.
I just wished these hips would stay level! I wanted out of this body! It wasn't mine! I started swearing again, scaring the wildlife with a searing chain of cussing that would make a sailor blush.
With incredible difficulty, but adrenaline giving me strength, I picked up the biggest branch I could find and started beating it against trees, rocks, the ground. I lugged it down to the beach with my weak arms and beat the sand. "Shit! Fuck! I'm not a woman! Change me back! Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!" The sky started to darken, and I screamed defiance like an Amazon.
The sky opened as if a fire hose had been turned on. I was soaked to the bone within seconds. As a further insult my tank top clung even tighter to my chest. Wet it was practically see-through. I reluctantly crossed my arms over my breasts and tried to make my way back to my car.
I slipped in a mud puddle that shouldn't have been there. As I struggled to stand up in the soupy mess I swore I heard somebody laugh. But at that point I was so furious I couldn't be sure if I was hearing things.
When I got up I felt bruised, scratched by rocks and twigs. My muddy hair was matted against my head and clung around my shoulders in a slimy embrace. Mud all over. And the rain had shut off just as suddenly as it started.
Numbly, I opened the back of my Honda, looking in vain for a clean towel. But I'd left mine on the beach, and it was soaked. But at least I'd get most of the mud off. Like a robot I shook out most of the sand and tried to wipe myself off. I was only marginally successful, and the grit still in the towel scratched if I rubbed too hard.
I nearly crawled back into the car, barely closing the door. I hated getting it all dirty, but...
The wallet still sat on the passenger seat in the middle of all that girly stuff. Morbidly curious, I picked it up and opened it. The face on the driver license had that same silly I'm-not-ready look that everybody's does, yet was still quite beautiful. Great. The name next to it... don't tell me this thing changed that too?
Sharon Tate. Dear God. Sharon? Would people call me "Sherri"?
The very thought made me burst into tears. And they didn't stop. I felt like somebody just told me my mother had died.
I didn't care what being with a sick sense of humor had done this to me. My name was Robert.
And I was in Hell.
How did women drive with these things? Hell, how did they live with them? I wasn't keen to find out, but I really didn't have a choice.
I must have cried myself to sleep because when I awoke it was three in the morning. I was hungry, tired, and wanted to get home before I had to go to the bathroom. The last thing I wanted to do was stop somewhere looking like this. They'd probably think I was raped... shudder... or something. At least my clothes were dry, if crusted with dirt. In short, I looked like crap.
The house I rented with my roommate was mercifully dark. Ivan had gone through a half dozen girlfriends in as many months. Either he was out with someone new, or was asleep. I hoped he was away, it'd give me a chance to clean up a little. I pulled into the driveway and quietly went through the front door. A single lamp was still on, illuminating a house where a couple of bachelors lived. A pair of large bookcases filled mostly with old textbooks sat against one wall between two windows facing the backyard. There was a secondhand, overstuffed couch and a slightly chipped coffee table. Except for a few tattered art print posters from Ivan's days as an art-history major, decoration was rather austere, as neither of us had held a well enough paying job to afford extras like that.
But we had bought a nice 32" TV and bottom level DVD home theatre. Men liked their toys and we both acknowledged that.
Rent was a little much, but after years in student housing we'd both wanted an actual house.
I slipped into the bathroom and finally came face to face with myself.
Beneath the dirt and grime I had a pretty face with only the slightest hints of angularity. My lips were full and sensual, and I had almost magnetically blue eyes. My ears were small and pierced. It didn't resemble my old face in the slightest. Beneath the dirt-crusted tank top I had a figure that wouldn't be out of place as a lingerie model. With great reluctance I pulled off my clothes to stare at my nakedness in the mirror.
Gah. I looked horrible. A shower would help, but...
Reluctantly I turned on the hot water and stepped in, then simply stood there. I did feel a little better. It did feel nice, but I was afraid to touch myself anywhere. I let the water do all the work. The only thing I would touch was my hair, which needed two washes to get the mud out. It was heavy when wet.
There were a few new scratches here and there, scabbed over. And, thank God, no ticks.
I wrapped my large bath towel around me then crept into my room. Unthinkingly I flopped forwards onto my bed.
Breasts squished. I rolled over, and they sagged a little to the sides. Shit, shit, shit. I can't win.
Okay. So I was a woman. So. Now what? I honestly couldn't think more than a few minutes ahead. Any more made my head spin.
So. Um. Breasts. And as far as I could tell I had the right plumbing. On the off chance that this was still some hyper-real hallucination, I carefully took my finger, went down to my female sex, and found...
Well, there it was. Deep, moist warmth. If this went on long enough I'd need those tampons.
What the hell was I going to tell my roommate?
I fell asleep again, dreamless. It was like several hours were simply excised and I found sunlight streaming through the bedroom window. My body ached all over, so I must not have moved.
There was a knock on the door. Something smelled like breakfast.
"Hey, Rob," came my roommate's voice. "I hate to bug you. You got company in there or what? There's all these girl's clothes in the bathroom." He chuckled. "Did you two get it on in the mud or something?"
It had been... what? Three, four, five months since my last girlfriend of any length? And I'd actually been enjoying the freedom for a while.
"Rob?" Ivan said. "C'mon, man. I hate to bother you, but the rent's due in two hours."
No wonder he risked getting me up when I was probably with a girl. I suppose I technically was "with" a girl. There was no way I could get any more "with" a girl. I'd have to face him sooner or later.
"Hold on a minute," I said wearily. Damn, was that my voice?
"Oh, I see," Ivan replied knowingly. "Sure, I can wait. By the way, she sounds great, Rob."
Thanks, I think. I found the smallest shirt I knew I had, which was also the oldest and a little threadbare. Underwear was fruitless and it was the wrong shape anyway. I felt a pang of resentment for my missing package. A belt drawn tightly through a pair of pants kept them from falling down. Dirty or not, I needed those bikini bottoms and shorts in the bathroom. The polo shirt fit like a tent, a blessing since it hid my breasts to a degree. Now, I'd been a little overweight as a man. But I weighed probably two thirds or even half as much now. I had to stuff an awful lot into the pants. The outfit chafed my crotch horribly in a way impossible to ignore.
The purse sat on the floor, minus everything except wallet and keys. I had my part of the rent in cash, and it was thankfully still there. Folding the bills in my small hand, I went and opened the door. Ivan was eating waffles on the sofa. He looked up and smiled, giving me a look like he was undressing me with his eyes. But his tone of voice was very chaste. "I'm Ivan, Rob's roommate. He may have told you about me...?" He left it hanging so I could introduce myself.
There was no easy way to say this. "It's me, Rob."
Ivan blinked in confusion, then smiled wanly. Then he glanced past me into my room. "Okay. Where's he hiding, miss?"
"I'm standing right here. See, I was down at the beach yesterday..." I stammered.
His expression darkened. "What the hell kind of joke is this?"
"It's not a joke!" I insisted. "I'll prove it." We'd been roommates since our sophomore year in college. "Remember that girl you dated when we were juniors... what's her name... from Horowitz Hall? She was a real bitch, but you stuck with her. She tore your heart out. She dumped you after like two weeks and you got really stinking drunk..."
Ivan glared, then pushed past into my room. He had been taller than me before, but it was clear I'd lost a few inches. The bottom of my nose only reached his shoulders on his six foot plus frame. "Rob! Where the hell are you? Rob said he'd never..."
"I was there Ivan! I am Rob! Geez. You think I'd tell just anybody about that?"
He grabbed my wallet off the bed. "Sharon Tate. Stop shitting me or I'm calling the police..."
I don't know what I said next. I was near panic and expecting to go to jail, or maybe spending the rest of my life in prison for my real self's murder. I didn't know. Maybe it was something in my voice, or in my expression. But before he picked up the phone he sat down on the sofa. He rubbed his stubbled face in confusion. "You have until the rent's due to really convince me."
He must've been halfway there already, because it only took fifteen minutes. We knew each other too well, and he commented that I even talked like Rob. I knew I'd succeeded when his expression changed. He pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and scratched his blonde head. Even as a man I had thought him good-looking. Now... now I wouldn't allow those sort of thoughts into this pretty girly head.
"Wow," he said. "You're a girl, Rob. And a looker, too. How the hell did that happen?"
"Microscopic magic pixies for all I know," I fumed.
He shrugged. "Aliens? Hungry?" Ivan stood up and headed for the kitchen.
"What? Oh, I could use a cup of coffee. And some of those waffles."
Ivan brought in a tray with two mugs, one only about two thirds full, and a carton of crème. I filled it up the rest of the way with the crème to cool it off.
"That settles it, you're Rob," Ivan quipped. "I don't know anyone else who puts that much crème in coffee."
"I hate burning my tongue," I replied. I settled in the half-broken easy chair uncomfortably, with him looking at me with a slightly bemused expression. "You said something about aliens?"
The blonde man looked me up and down. "Is all that real? I mean, does it feel different? Do you have everything?"
I glared at him. "As far as I can tell I'm all girl. And I'm just going to leave it at that. Okay? I just want my body back."
He scratched his stubble-covered chin. "Well, maybe we'll come up with something after I've dropped off the rent. Get some breakfast, and I'll be back in fifteen minutes." Can't forget the rent, of course. The landlady was a real bitch about that.
It was good that he left, because the moment he walked out the door I had my first (and I hoped, only) experience with the toilet as a girl. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
As I sat on the toilet, doing my business, mist billowed in under the door. Cold and clammy, just like before. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. But I did feel something contract around my chest. I felt the pressure of an elastic band around my torso, and a pair of straps over my shoulders. My breasts now rested in soft, cushioned support that could only be one thing.
The fog cleared with a misty chuckle. Now I was sure I wasn't imagining things. There was some being having fun at my expense.
It was the same red polo shirt, though shrunken with a different cut; but the sweatpants had been replaced by khaki shorts. The shirt wasn't as snug as the tank top had been, but was still attractive in an understated sort of way. Once again my hair was held back by a clip into a ponytail. There were streaks of sun-bleached hair on my head.
Pulling up the hem of my shirt I saw what I had expected, a bra. Well, I could at least call it an improvement over dangling free. And it was plain, nothing fancy. It held everything in place. I pulled on the panties and shorts, and stood up to face the mirror again.
Funny. Yesterday "It" delighted in giving me the most revealing outfit It could. Today it gave me something much more reasonable. Examining myself carefully in the mirror, I reached for something on the bathroom counter, uncapped it, and...
Dropped the mascara into the sink with a clatter.
The cosmetics occupied where my stuff had been before, separate from Ivan's on the left. It was a modest amount, as if "Sharon" didn't use them that often. There was a lot of sunblock and athletic ointments. And my skin had developed a definite tan, as if "Sharon" spent a lot of time outdoors. What else had changed?
There were some subtle differences in my figure. More muscles, a little less softness. The same bust, but my breasts seemed a little firmer. Not a lot, it was still a great body.
But what the hell was I doing putting on makeup? I didn't know how to use it! Not that I would...
Not only had it changed my body again, there was something...
I was wrong. I did know how to use it. The knowledge was all there, etched into my mind. It was even habit, which explained why I'd reached for the stuff automatically. But despite all that everything still felt wrong.
I picked up the offending bottle, capped it, then threw it against the wall. It broke apart and left a smear. "Don't fuck with my head!" I shouted.
Just then the front door opened and closed. "What the hell?" came Ivan's voice. "Hey Rob, what'd you do out here? What's all this stuff"
I feared to open the door. If there was makeup in the bathroom, the whole house probably hadn't been spared. And when I opened the door, he gaped at me.
Slowly, Ivan closed his mouth. "Damn. Well, it could've been worse, Rob. It could've changed you into an ugly bitch."
Much to our surprise, I slapped him. Hard.
"Ow," he finally said. His cheek would be red for a while, and I hoped I hadn't bruised him. "I guess I deserved that... But you've got quite a temper, you know. Rob didn't have that short a fuse."
Never once in my life had I hit anyone. I avoided fights as a rule. This was the first time I'd ever hit anybody. "I'm sorry..."
Ivan's face fell. "No, really. It's my fault. This whole thing has me flustered."
I sighed. "Apology accepted. You're right. It could be much worse." I could've been a hooker. Or look like Lara Croft.
I told him exactly what happened yesterday as we looked around the house. There were all sorts of feminine touches. A few more pictures, additional decorations here and there. There was a whole box of tampons under the bathroom sink along with the cosmetics. The furniture wasn't quite so eclectic, and the dishes actually matched. Then I went into my room.
The biggest surprise was the backpacking and camping equipment sitting against one wall. It looked well-used, packed, and ready to go. The same computer was on the same desk, but everything else was different. The closet was filled with a selection dresses, pants, and blouses. The dresser was filled with panties, bras, and other clothing. I recognized female versions of the same shirts and shorts I already owned, as well as a few additions. One drawer had almost exclusively sports bras, bottoms, and bikinis. Decoration was actually more Spartan than I expected, as if this was where Sharon slept, but didn't actually live. The camping equipment looked more used than the bed sheets. Looking closer, the computer had a layer of dust on it.
Ivan sat down on the bed and clasped his hands in front of him, looking around. "I don't think you're the same girl you were an hour ago."
The only plus to all this was that Ivan didn't look any better to me than before. I'd half-expected It had made us into husband and wife or something. Who knows what might have happened if he'd been here when It struck. "No. Now I'm Nature Girl." If I wasn't Victoria's Secret material any more I could at least model for L. L. Bean. Hell, I even spoke differently. If I'd come home like this there was no way Ivan would've believed me. The mist had done something to my head.
Ivan gestured at me. "Do you think It gave you a personal history to go with all this?"
"I don't know, and I don't want to find out," I said crisply. "I just want my body back."
"Well, maybe..." Ivan froze midsentence. "Shit, It's in my room."
It was like that movie "Backdraft", where the smoke seemed to sneak out from under the door, take a look around, then pull back in. There was a misty laugh, barely audible. Like the tinkling of a thousand tiny bells. Ivan's eyes widened. "Did you hear that?"
"You know I did," I replied, eyeing the bedroom door down the hall. Fed up, I walked to it and angrily banged on the door. "Whatever you are, get the hell out!" Ivan was right, why was my temper so short?
The chuckle was wispy, barely heard. The door opened on its own, revealing Its handiwork.
We both stared. His room had changed completely. The walls were covered with bookshelves stuffed to overfilling. There were piles and piles of books stacked everywhere, with titles of every description. History, biographies, science, fiction, science fiction, romances, hard and paperback. But it wasn't the books that drew Ivan's eye. It was the pile of bras and panties sitting on the bed, apparently freshly laundered. And the clothes arranged haphazardly in the closet. No man had a wardrobe like that. There was a leather purse sitting on the dresser.
Ivan just stared, wide-eyed, not believing what he saw. To my surprise, he picked a bra up out of the pile. "They're still warm," he said, stunned. "I always do laundry on Saturdays, too." He checked the tag, and grinned crookedly. "Nice..."
"You're about to wear one of those for the rest of your life and all you can say is 'nice," I sputtered. His room even smelled faintly of lavender instead of the Old Spice he'd always used.
He shrugged. "They don't fit me yet, 'Sharon'. And if we confront this thing maybe we can at least stop It from doing any more damage. Maybe we'll even put everything back the way it was." He smirked. "Besides, I meant what I said earlier. I don't think I'll end up an ugly girl. Bookish, maybe..."
I gaped at him. "I can't believe you're saying this."
"When I can fill this thing, I'll panic. Now, what do to next..."
A little cloud had formed above his head. There were already puffs of mist forming in the air, roving all over the house. Apparently this time It wanted us to see what It was doing. Slowly but surely Ivan's male existence was vanishing from the house. A few more bookshelves appeared, this time in boxes needing assembly. Real curtains were on the windows, and the walls looked freshly painted. Most telling, though, was the kitchen, visible from the living room where we'd gone. Before we'd been purely content to eat out most of the time or eat frozen foods. There was now a spice rack, and a series of large containers of flour, sugar, and other ingredients.
Without a word I yanked on his hand and pulled him towards the front door. "Run."
But it was too late.
Ivan's hair turned auburn red, becoming wavy and lengthening down to brush his narrowed shoulders. His skin lightened a shade, then sprouted a goodly number of freckles over his cheeks and nose. The stubble vanished from his chin even as his general appearance took on a softer look. He lost inches from his height and his waist, although this time he didn't lose his pants like I did. Instead, the threadbare clothes he wore for laundry day changed dramatically. While underneath the shirt a pair of prominent breasts arose, the division between shorts and shirt vanished, the bottoms flaring out and extending. It turned a shade of gray, the top contracting snugly around Ivan's filling-out chest while the bottom flared out down around his knees. His--or her, by this time--glasses remained, the gold rims becoming oval.
Ivan's face rippled, his angular features becoming less defined, the nose smaller, the cheekbones higher. Her eyes turned from gray to green, and appeared larger. This new girl didn't look anything like Ivan. They couldn't even be cousins.
I noticed, oddly enough, that we could easily share outfits if we wanted. We were about the same size, though she had slightly better hips than I...
What was I thinking?
Ivan trembled with fear, clearly paralyzed. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, green eyes wild as if the mind behind them sat on a knife edge. Ivan's hands flew to her chest, and gave her breasts a squeeze. Then another. She stared at them in utter, complete shock. I braced myself for a very loud scream.
It didn't come. She seemed to collapse in on herself, and fell down on the floor whimpering.
I'd beat things up in response to my change. This seemed worse.
With some difficulty I pulled Ivan up onto the couch. She wasn't heavy, even to this smaller frame. How long she'd stay that way I didn't know, but I resolved to stick it out until it was over. I felt, in some way, responsible for this. And she was still the best friend I'd ever had. Tears of sympathy came to my eyes. I didn't want this, either.
I found some Clif bars in my backpack. I knew they'd be there, and they'd do as food for now. I got some fresh coffee, and at some distant, shadowy piece of intuition, some hot chocolate, and settled in next to her.
There was no movement for hours. Ivan curled into a fetal position, chewing nervously on her nails. I never left her side except to go to the bathroom, and when I came back I sometimes found the lukewarm chocolate had been drained a little. That, at least, was a good sign. Sometimes I tried to soothe her by recounting the odd story from our college years. But some things that had seemed funny as men had lost some of their luster. I beat my brain for something positive that didn't make this situation feel like bad karma. But there was an edge of desperation in my voice. I didn't want to lose who I had been, but even now that life seemed distant.
Eventually Ivan sighed deeply, and stared at her fingers. The nails looked horrible now. Her hands once more went to her chest, giving her breasts a gentle squeeze. "I..." she began unsteadily, and quietly. "I guess... I asked for it. I guess I didn't think It was serious. What's the time?"
I checked the "new" clock on the living room wall. It was above a beefcake calendar. July was some muscular guy in a red-white-and-blue speedo with rather nice bic... anyway. "Nearly midnight. You've been out nearly twelve hours."
"I'm... not wearing a bra," Ivan stated, speaking more to herself. "Seriously. I think all mine are on my bed." She grasped one of her breasts and shook it. "Ow. They're real, all right. Shit." She squeezed her legs together. "Excuse me for a few minutes."
Probably stiff from her ordeal, Ivan carefully stood up on unsteady feet. She then pushed herself up and down a few times on tiptoe, then ran her hands down her sides, over her hips. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, and I wondered if she was going to go catatonic again. But she stiffly went to the bathroom and closed the door.
While she did her business, and probably got a good look at herself in the nude, I decided that getting some decent food in our stomachs wouldn't be a bad thing. Stepping into the kitchen was a huge surprise. There was actual food in there, for one thing. Ivan and I really didn't cook very much, and hadn't since college, despite the fact that we both liked it. But with the economy the way it was we worked long hours just to make ends meet and repay our student loans.
Then it hit me. As girls Ivan and I looked fairly young. On a hunch I left the pancake batter to thicken and went to check my wallet again.
Sharon Tate was younger than Robert Hall, but only by a couple of years. Then I went and checked Ivan's wallet. For a moment I stared at the name. Ivan Ward was now Angela Hanson. There was a university ID still inside, with a silly grin of a much younger girl on it. Some place I'd never heard of. A pretty face, too. If Sharon and Angela had gone to school together we'd probably been quite a pair...
All I had were feelings. Shadows of Sharon's thoughts and memories. They didn't really seem real, because I still felt like Robert Hall. He was still very strong in me. But the prospect of going back to being him seemed very dim.
What had done this to us? A force of nature? A trickster spirit?
Ivan appeared at her bedroom door in an unzipped dress. Her face was drawn, and she looked rather pale. Like mine, she'd put her hair up in a very short ponytail. It looked expertly done, with only a few errant strands of hair. "Your microscopic magic pixies really do a thorough job," she observed sardonically. "They screwed with my head as well as yours." The color was slowly returning to her face. She pointed at the wallet I still held. "So, 'Sharon', what's my name?" I told her. She made a face and looked up at the ceiling. "Angela, Angie, Angel, Ang. Take your pick. If we're stuck this way we might as well use the names, Sharon." She seemed resigned, almost despairing.
"Don't give up so easily," I insisted. "Maybe we can reason with It."
Ivan rolled her eyes. She spoke differently than before, in carefully enunciated syllables, though a little too quick. As if her mind always threatened to race ahead of her mouth. "Are you serious? Did you hear that laugh? It sounded playful, like what It was doing is a huge joke. You might as well try and fight the wind. Everything's changed now whether we like it or not. And can you help me zip this stupid thing up?"
I did so. I noticed she had freckles all over, even on her back and shoulders. Still, she was quite pretty. What an awful fate this was, cursed to spend the rest of our lives as a couple of cute girls. Sarcasm aside, I still couldn't think longer than a few minutes ahead. "Maybe we should head to where It first got me," I suggested. "I'm sure that's Its home turf. Perhaps there's something that'll make it vulnerable, something we can..."
"Threaten it with?" Ivan completed for me. "You're not serious."
"And you need to stop saying that," I chided. "You never said that before."
"That's Angela talking. And I'm her now, so you might as well use that name when addressing me." Angela sighed, crossing her arms under her breasts. "But Ivan agrees. He and I are a pretty good match, actually. We might as well take our lumps and try and figure out where we stand now. The way we're acting I doubt we'll even notice the differences in a month."
We seem to know how to take care of ourselves already, so maybe she's right, I reflected, thinking about the makeup incident earlier. But I still wasn't ready to give in. Robert and Ivan still had a family. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. What would happen when they disappeared? Or had they never existed in the first place? It had changed us into very different people, yet left all our previous memories and experiences intact. It was as if these new female personalities had been superimposed, or laid over top like an onion layer. There were few edges between the old and new self. Sharon was a good fit for me, also. Like a glove.
These imposed lives required some careful investigation. These questions would have to wait for answers for a while.
We had pancakes and bacon well after midnight, and sat down at the kitchen table (another new addition) to discuss our next steps. We agreed that the best way to get situated was to go through our personal effects, especially papers. Maybe we had birth certificates, diplomas, even photographs of ourselves. Some clues to who we now were. The funny thing is that I doubted we were all that different, as people. Ivan had loved books and Robert spent a great deal of time outdoors. These traits had apparently been enhanced in Angela and Sharon, but it was nothing unreasonable. As girls we would've had different life experiences.
Through our conversation Iv... Angela insisted on calling me by my new name. I didn't argue with her, so returned the favor.
Sleep was a luxury that night. There were a lot of papers to look through, but strangely enough, not a single photo album. Neither of us had jobs, but we did have resumes emphasizing our educations. It had also given us, for some odd reason, trust funds large enough to last a year if we spent our money carefully. Though we both had college degrees--given only a month before--that was it. There was no evidence we had other family, no evidence of our high school years, no other friends, nothing. This puzzled Angela no end. "Maybe it's not all powerful. The paper trail is one thing, if magic can change us like this, databases can easily be altered. But maybe it can't create our past lives out of whole cloth. It's like we were born yesterday."
"So what happens to Robert and Ivan?"
Angela shrugged, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "They disappear? I don't know. I guess we'll find out when the landlady comes to check in on us tomorrow like she always does. If she has fake memories of us we'll know It can do more."
The enormity of it all made my head spin. At the very least there were all sorts of differences in mundane activities, once taken for granted, that we had to get used to again. Despite knowing how to take care of ourselves, it'd be a long time--if ever--before I thought of the feminine face in the mirror as my own. And what about our social lives? I stole a glance at the beefcake calendar. Somehow I doubted we were lesbians.
"One thing at a time," I told my redheaded roommate. I thought of the tampons under the sink and shuddered. I somehow knew I'd need them soon. "And after lunch. I'm starving."
Angela sighed, and gave her breast a light squeeze. "Seriously, I'll never get used to these things. Oh, and food sounds good." She stood up. "I think I'm going to finish my laundry while you get it ready..." She didn't seem all that unhappy. "You can tell a lot about a girl by the clothes she owns. Besides, I want to change out of this ugly old dress."
After a brief shower and a change of clothes I went into the kitchen. While Angela was busy folding clothes and trying to find more closet space, I got lunch started. The busywork helped, but couldn't completely drive out the feeling of unreality. Were there boyfriends, even husbands in our future? Babies? Would It return to mess with us more? I didn't want to start remembering a past that didn't exist. So many uncertainties.
I had a feeling that, once we left the house, we were about to get a crash course in being socially female on top of everything else.
Our bodies were still alien, even if our minds had been reshaped. I really wasn't any more used to my own than Angela was hers. I hooked my finger over the neck of my t-shirt and pulled, looking down. Warm air wafted up between my breasts. Okay, so it was a nice body. I'd just have to adapt to how others reacted to it. I'm going to have to leave the house sometime. And when I do I'm going to have to fight the men off with a stick. A little voice in the back of my head wondered if that was really a problem. I was apparently a healthy girl with a strong interest in the opposite sex... Guh.
One thing at a time.
There was one trait I still had, and that's thinking better on my feet. After a full night's rest, despite the difficulty in finding a comfortable position, I awoke refreshed and with one of those memory-shadows nagging at me. Then I realized that with a body like this I probably had exercise daily. So when it was barely past six I pulled off the soft camisole and put on a sports bra, tank top, and running shorts. The bra wasn't exactly comfortable, but a few practice jumps revealed just how useful it would be. The tank top didn't quite reach my waist, baring my fit-flat stomach.
Despite being as revealing as it was, I knew it would keep me cool. A water bottle holder on a belt completed the ensemble.
While I filled the bottle at the kitchen sink, Angela came out of her room. She was dressed in a long nightshirt and wasn't wearing her glasses. "Up already?" she yawned, squinting. Her hair was in a bun.
"Did I wake you?"
"Not really," she replied, cupping a breast. "These things are a bitch, aren't they? I keep rolling over." Angela looked at me more closely. "You're going outside in that?"
I shrugged. "I need to think. Five miles at a good clip will do the trick. Besides, I'm in better shape than before was so I think I can actually do it this time."
"Suit yourself. I'm going back to sleep." Angela retreated back to her bedroom, and the door closed with a yawn.
I paused before going out the front door. All new rules from here, I thought. How many times had Rob honked at cute girls as he drove past? This was a neighborhood filled with teenagers, young professionals, even older men who wouldn't mind the view. I stared down at myself. The tank top revealed a bit of cleavage at the top, but not much. This outfit was made for workouts, not for showing off. Though the spandex running shorts did emphasize my assets.
A few people were leaving for work, including the neighbor. Butterflies made a home in my stomach as I did warm-up stretches on the front lawn. At first the neighbor, a woman in her mid-40s, stared, but then a little haze appeared about her head. Then she waved amiably, got into her car, and backed out.
So, It was still at work, changing things. But it wasn't as if the whole neighborhood had fogged up when I'd stepped outside.
A question popped into my head as I broke into a jog down the street. Just how powerful was this thing?
As if in answer, a thin mist appeared in the already humid air, then vanished in moments. I only felt a tug on my hair, but I was sure the whole area remembered us as girls now. But I didn't stop my run, I'd only just gotten into the groove and my mind had started to race with my feet. My hair was tied in a ponytail, and I liked it that way--It's work, since it hadn't been that way when I left the house. This body had a level of fitness that Rob had struggled for years to attain. Unfortunately working sixty hours a week at a sedentary job had kept him from doing more than the occasional weekend hike.
If people were looking at me, I wasn't conscious of it. There was only me and the road, with the occasional pull from my water bottle. Every so often I'd look at the pedometer I'd found with my exercise outfit. The miles ticked by: one, two, three. The sun climbed into the sky and the air grew hotter. My body was covered with sweat, and my tank top clung to my chest. Part of me felt thrilled, and loved how I looked. This body was the result of a lot of hard work... and I hoped the men were looking.
That thought sent a shock of surprise through me strong enough to stop in my tracks.
And at that very same moment a carload of admiring teenage boys drove by, whistling.
So this was the wild side. Yet it already felt like old hat. Memory shadows again.
I checked the pedometer. There was just over four miles between me and home. I hadn't paid any attention to where I was going, lost in a runner's fugue. I'd started by thinking about It, and ended up smiling about showing off my body. But I couldn't deny that I felt good--great, in fact. The best since the moment on the beach before It had "girled" me. Was my head being messed with again?
The difference between Rob and Sharon's personalities was so indistinct it might as well not exist. Maybe it was meaningless to think of it in those terms, then... I still felt like me, male or female. At that sublime moment I could cheerfully live the rest of my life this way. I wasn't sure if that was Its work, or my own feelings. But I honestly didn't feel worse off as an athletic girl, freshly graduated from college. Indeed, there was a whole new realm of opportunity before me. Why should I make myself miserable? Heh. Oh woe, oh woe is me!
More food for thought. And by now I already had a five course meal.
But was I giving in too easily? I thought about this on the way back, this time at a slower pace. Angela had caved in pretty fast yesterday, and I was so flustered at the time I'd just gone right along with her. Couldn't we at least bargain with It? There were gaping holes in our lives, and there was still the matter of Rob and Ivan's friends and family. For the life of me I couldn't think that It would mess with them. But the neighborhood had been fair game...
When I reached the house I noticed something new on the side where we parked the cars. One vehicle was a mud-covered almost new Jeep Wrangler. That had to be mine. The other car was a sensible Honda Civic coupe, which had replaced Ivan's GMC pickup. The Jeep did fit with my personality. The Honda CR-V had hardly been an off-road vehicle, and I wasn't really sorry to see it go.
When I walked in the door I heard two voices. The first was Angela's, and the second, the landlady. They were in the kitchen, and looked up when I entered. The dumpy old woman actually had a smile on her face, and there was a pan of slightly burnt cinnamon rolls on the kitchen counter. "Hello, Sharon dear," she said sunnily. "I'm so glad to see you girls are settling in so well."
"Mrs. Swift was just seeing if there was anything that needed fixing," Angela informed. She was dressed in a maroon top with a deep neckline that exposed a lot of her freckled shoulders. The material hugged her torso like a glove. She also wore a pair of white denim shorts, and even a silver bracelet on her right arm. Her wavy red hair had been expertly washed, brushed and sprang out gradually from her head as it neared her shoulders. Angela looked quite comfortable in that outfit. And she smirked at me when Mrs. Swift wasn't looking. "I told her the shower was backing up."
"I'll send a plumber out tomorrow." The old woman smiled, wrinkles bunching up around her eyes and mouth. She hadn't been nearly this nice to our male selves. I'd hate to be her grandson, but she seemed intent on spoiling us. "I'm so sorry it stopped working so soon after you moved in."
This was a major change. Rob and Ivan, despite not knowing anything about plumbing, electrical, or other home-related repairs, had been expected to fix their own problems. Apparently Mrs. Swift's husband had done all his own handyman work, so she came to expect the same thing out of her male tenants. I tried to hide my resentment. Change a single chromosome and suddenly we're helpless.
But on the other hand, the shower hadn't been getting fixed. Now it was.
Mrs. Swift left soon after some innocuous conversation. Only one cinnamon roll had been taken, and it was still sitting on the counter with a single bite taken out of it. Angela dumped the whole thing into the trash, but kept the pan. "Don't bother. They're hard as a rock. She left them in the oven too long."
I looked at my roommate, concerned, while doing some cool-down exercises in the living room. "I thought you were going to sleep some more."
She shrugged. "This whole situation bothered me all night. I think I gave in too easily. I know I look comfortable--and I am--but that's what bugs me so much. Suddenly poof, it's a non-issue. I think It's still messing with us, Sharon. Inside instead of out, but it's more insidious. You should've seen what happened to Mrs. Swift when she walked in. Our old lives are being chipped away, and we're being made to watch."
"Then there won't be anything left of our old selves." I had a horrible feeling that one day our families would show up at the door, and right in front of us, the laughing fog would change their memories like It had done to our landlady. "Hell, we'll probably remember being little girls eventually."
Angela's eyes widened, as if she was looking at some distant horror. "It'll pull away our old memories, one by one. We'll realize what's happening, but eventually we'll remember everything as Sharon and Angela. Girlhood, high school, college. Our first dates, our first kiss. We'll just feel this horrible sense of loss the rest of our lives despite not knowing what we're missing..."
"So melodramatic," I said. "Ang, your imagination is running away with you."
She shrugged. "Maybe, Sherri, but that's who I am now. All I know is I sometimes feel like two people, but mostly I feel okay. I mean, look at what I'm wearing. This outfit is the result because it felt so natural." She started peeling an orange. "I'm a girl, but I'm not. Having breasts feels normal, but it doesn't. Do you know this shirt doesn't need a bra? It was my choice, I can't blame It for putting the thought in my head. And I think I look great in it, but at the same time..." She growled in frustration. "Sometimes all I can think about is grabbing a guy's attention."
I barely heard the tinkle of laughter. "You know, I think you've just hit on something," I observed. "Maybe it feeds on our internal conflict. Things that feel absolutely normal, but shouldn't be. We choose to wear these clothes, know how to use makeup, pant over men, and it doesn't feel strange. We have all these ingrained habits from these new bodies. But our personalities really haven't changed much. Our choices are just filtered through different life experiences that are hidden from us.
"There's still that deep part that feels the differences from the new, feminine lives we've been shoved into. It's where all the alien feelings come from, and why we keep poking and prodding ourselves to see how our bodies work. But we can't act like we did last week, because we just don't know how any more."
Angela digested what I said for a few minutes, eating her orange. Her short, chewed-on nails did not help. Mine were hardly longer than hers. I guess long nails aren't helpful out in the wilderness. "And on top of all that," she said, "this really isn't all that bad a life. Sure, we're girls. But so's half of humanity and they do just fine. We have to start over job-wise, but that's no big deal either. We have money and decent resumes. We're a few years younger. And did you notice we have no student loans? I'm sure you did. Enticing, isn't it? Seriously, would you want to go back if it were offered? Hmm?"
Neither of us thought we had a chance in hell of getting that anyway. We'd settle for being left alone.
The bubble bath caressed my curves and sore breasts, buoying them up in the comfortably warm water. I'll never make fun of PMS again, I thought ruefully. Dear God, this is going to happen every month from now on!
I felt icky and gross. Though my emotions were even less under my control, there was the matter of cramps, feeling bloated, and sore breasts. I hadn't really considered just what was cramping before. Now I knew. The womb was a muscle, after all. It stood to reason... ow...
There was a light knock on the door. "How long are you going to stay in there, Sharon? I'd like to have a go. You sound like you're having a little fun."
I blushed, and hadn't thought I was that noisy. Just a little moan? There was a lot about this body I didn't know, so a little intimate exploration seemed in order. What I found was the absence of a hymen, which didn't necessarily mean anything, but suggested I wasn't a virgin. Plus it was just... pleasant. And it compensated the PMS symptoms.
Anxiety had given way to the feeling of a whole new world before me. I wanted to get outdoors pretty soon, in and around people. I was already feeling stir-crazy. Sharon was definitely an outdoorsy type, and I had inherited her personality as much as her habits.
My nipples came a pleasant hardness, even with the sore breasts beneath them. But the icky feeling remained quite strong. Some more masturbation was in order for later, perhaps. But not now. My skin was already looking prune-like.
Standing up brought with it the ever-present tug of inertia on my chest. I turned on the shower to wash the suds off as the tub drained, the hot water flowing over my body in a wonderfully sensual way. I lingered there until the tub had nearly drained, then stepped out with my heavy, wet hair clinging around my shoulders. Okay, just do what comes naturally...
Hair wrapped in a towel, another one around my chest, hooked over my breasts, and I left the shared bathroom. Angela, who was having her own bout with PMS, looked at me grumpily. Our periods were synchronized. "I'd like a little 'me' time as well," she snapped. "And I could hear you from my room. Moan, moan, moan."
"Sorry," I replied evenly, looking at the view. My roommate seemed more affected by the emotional side of PMS, whereas I got all the physical symptoms. And when they came to an end, we'd both need the tampons in the bathroom cupboard. "Look, I'll get dressed and do some grocery shopping. Give you some time to yourself. Sound okay?"
"Don't feel like you have to leave the house on my account," she replied, then caught herself. "Sorry, but this really sucks. I keep thinking about those damned tampons and how they're going to feel like when they're in me. In me, God..." Her anger turned to a little sob. "And I have mood swings, too. Those... those pixies won't let up on us!"
Neither of us had actually seen them in the three days since our gender changes, but that didn't mean they were gone for good. I gave her a damp hug. "Maybe I'll pick up some pads instead?"
The wavy-haired redhead shook her head. "Trust me, you don't want those. It's going to come out in clumps and your labia's going to feel hot and sticky."
I paled a little. "How do you know that?"
"I was very single-minded about sex as a man, even when my girlfriends were on the rag. One of them described the process and it was better than any cold shower." She shuddered. "This is some kind of karma."
"I don't mind getting out of the house for a couple hours, really," I reiterated. I wanted a walk in the woods. Something, anything outside. "I'll do the Gatherer thing and bring back food."
Having sore boobs and hot flashes paled in comparison to the new social landscape we were about to enter. I was Sharon Tate, and to everyone who wasn't me or Angie, had always been Sharon Tate. The past couple days we had watched as It had filled out our pasts. There were photo albums on the living room bookshelves, filled with a girlhood that I could only sort of remember, though the images were fleeting and extremely temporary, as if they were only there should someone ask me about it. The sensation felt strange, even more than being a woman. I didn't want them to overwrite my being Rob, but he didn't know a thing about how to be a twenty-two year old woman. But as Sharon, I knew how to be me. It was a strange thrill, knowing I could go out among people and not make any out-of-character mistakes.
My breasts throbbed a little, so I supported them gently with my forearms, looking for a top that wouldn't bother me too much. There had to be one. Life didn't just stop because I had PMS. Some women apparently had severe enough symptoms that they needed some strong medication, but I wasn't going to be one of them. And if I was going to face being one for the rest of my life, that meant getting out of the house, around people. Around strangers. Around men.
I found a support bra--full coverage--and put on a loose tee shirt over it. I had to pause for the cramps a couple times. They weren't really debilitating painful, just awfully frequent. I hoped today would be the worst, but even with my new shadow-memories I couldn't be sure. It varied from month-to-month. I put on a denim pencil skirt--one of Angela's, actually--just because I wanted something 'girly' to wear and her wardrobe was more feminine than mine. I don't think she owned more than a half dozen pairs of pants, and only then for really cold weather.
She was already out of the bath when I left my bedroom. The redhead was also quite, quite nude, and dripping on the carpet. "Um, do you have a reason...?"
"I think I have a zit on my butt," she complained, turning around so her behind faced me. "A zit! I thought we were going to be perfect or something. Seriously."
She was freckled all over, but redheads like her also tended to burn easily, even with sunscreen. Her skin was otherwise pale, and except for that one glaring zit on her shapely behind, she really had nothing to complain about. But I had a feeling that she'd done this before--that is, in the new histories had had replaced our male existences. I remembered her going topless in our dorm room, briefly. "You look fine, Angela. Really."
She started drying herself off with her towel, going over hips and breasts like a pro. "Hold off grocery shopping for a few minutes, will you? I want to come with."
"Maybe we should like totally go to the mall?" I quipped in a Valley Girl voice.
"Totally? Totally not!" she replied right back. "We can't afford new clothes until we have jobs anyway. Be right back, Shari."
It took her only a few minutes to get herself dressed, herself. Nothing fancy, just a red dress and sandals. "You know, just because we're girls doesn't mean we have to spend a half hour fussing over ourselves just to go grocery shopping," she said, adjusting her glasses.
"Which one of us is driving?"
"I'll do it. One of us has to try the driving-with-breasts thing first and it might as well be me. I'm the one who dared It to make me a woman in the first place," she said resentfully. Angela picked her purse off her dresser table, and I grabbed mine. The sour look on her face faded, and she took my hand next to the door. Her voice was soft, almost a frightened whisper. "Well? What do you think, Rob? Can we do this?"
"Ivan--Angie--we don't have a choice. The way I see it, we didn't get to pick our gender at birth, and we don't get to pick it now. I honestly don't feel like a man trapped in a woman's body. The cramps suck, but I feel naturally female. Don't you? So, let's go. Don't think about it too hard, just go!" I pulled on her hand and almost dragged my redheaded friend out the door behind me.
Mr. Swift was mowing his lawn next door. The old man didn't leer, he just waved amiably and kept going. I quickly found out that walking in a pencil skirt limited my stride.
"Misty out here," Angela observed, unlocking the driver's side door. "Seems ominous. Think It's changing more?"
"No doubt," I replied. I was starting to regret the skirt already, but didn't feel like going inside and changing clothes. Angela was the one who always wore these things, and I normally borrowed from her when I felt like wearing one. I lowered myself into the passenger seat, with my roomie already sitting on the driver's side.
She gripped the steering wheel. "Look at this, will you?" She moved her arms around. It was obvious she wasn't wearing a bra under that dress. Her upper arms brushed against her breasts as she turned the wheel. "Tits all over the place. My tits! This feels seriously funky."
"Only because we know what it's like to be men," I replied matter-of-factly. "Try thinking girly, or something. They are your boobs." My own were still throbbing. If this is what being a woman felt like, then you had to take the bad with the good. "At least you're not sore as all Hell."
Angela gave me a sympathetic look. "I keep forgetting. I'm sorry, Shari. Tell you what, let's treat ourselves to Whole Foods."
As we wandered slowly through the grocery store, my relationship with Angela felt different than the one Rob and Ivan had had. The past few days after our change we had become very close. It turned the mundane activity of just buying food into another stark lesson between the male lives and the female. Especially when we paused in the Feminine Hygiene aisle and started discussing whether we should purchase a "natural solution" to PMS, and if the "Seventh Generation" tampons were worth a try.
"I am not giving up my O.B.." I told her firmly, feeling like there was a script in my head I was reading from.
"I'm not asking you to, Shari. Try them for a few days is all I'm asking. Just..." And I could see an Ivan-like expression of disgust on her face. This was the strangest argument I could ever remember having. "What goes in, comes back out. And when you flush..."
"Ladies, please. Men are listening," a guy next to us said. The woman next to him, apparently his wife, took one of the "natural" tampons off the rack then dragged him off to the next aisle.
"Men get so squicked about this," I observed. "To tell the truth, there's still enough Rob in me to agree with him."
"Well, think girly thoughts. It helps," Angela replied. Her eyes lit up behind her oval glasses. And she waved at someone. "Eric! Hi!"
"Imagine seeing you here!" a male baritone replied. Before I could turn around he had swept past me and took up Angela in a passionate embrace. He kissed her, long and hard, and my roomie looked like she was enjoying every minute of it. His hand was on her ass. "Thanks for Friday, Angela. Hey there, Shari."
"I forgot this was your shift," the redhead replied, giving him another peck on the cheek.
"Sure you did," he said doubtfully. He was in a store uniform. "Is there anything I can get you special?"
"We're just wandering through the store," I said. Like Rob, I hadn't had a boyfriend for a few months and was enjoying the freedom that entailed. It was hard to find someone who liked the outdoors as much as I did. I had a feeling I hadn't yet found a man who could keep up with me. "Should I leave you two alone?"
"I have to get back to work, sadly," Angela's current boyfriend replied. Eric combed his shaggy hair back with his fingernails. "Come over tonight, Angie?"
"I'm still worn out from Friday, but sure," she said.
"See you then." He hugged her again, then went back towards the front.
Angela gasped once he was out of earshot. "One thing after another. But it was all I could do not to jump up into his arms. I think he may be The One, Shari."
"You always think they're The One," I replied, taking a hint from the script.
"I know, I know. But maybe it'll be different this time." She smirked, going off script. "Talk about funky. That actually felt really good. That disproves the lesbian theory firmly, I think."
I could remember being a straight man. Being a straight woman was no real surprise. But I had a few doubts. "Think we can handle this?"
Angela actually blushed. "I think so. But we need to find you a boyfriend, Shari. I sort-of remember double dating in college."
"I'm fine the way I am right now," I insisted.
"Careful. It may have other ideas."
We were still talking about finding me a new boyfriend when we arrived at the checkout lanes with a full cart of expensive organic food. Eric manned one of the registers, so we went to his and let him move us through. But the topic turned back to my current status as a single woman pretty quickly. "I have a couple roomies who don't have a girlfriend right now," Eric suggested.
"If they don't know their way around an REI I'm not interested," I said haughtily.
The young man smiled. "I know something you don't know."
Angie rolled her eyes. "Out with it, you."
"He's the shift manager there, actually. I'm sure you've met him a few times already."
Now he had my interest. "What's his name?"
"Barry. I'm sure you've seen him. He's talked about you often enough."
He and Rob had talked shop on a few occasions, though my old self wasn't nearly as outdoorsy as this female version was. Now the face actually made my heart flutter a little. "Well... okay."
"Good! We'll make dinner for you. Guys can cook, you know. See you at six?" Eric said.
"See you then, Big E," Angela said.
Before we left she walked around the counter to give him another peck on the cheek, to the annoyance of the people in line. We returned to her Honda at a clip, Angela's breasts bouncing under her dress. She seemed more enthusiastic than flustered. As soon as we got the bags in the trunk and got in the car, she finally spoke up. "That... felt... amazing! For a while I worried I'd feel like a gay man, but it's not like that at all. It has to be all these hormones."
I gently cupped my breasts, which weren’t so sore now. In fact, the thought of having a boyfriend made me feel gooey, in a good way. The past few minutes had reinforced the feeling that I was a woman, and not a man in a woman's body. "Having the right equipment helps, too. I have to admit."
"Well, no more one night stands for me, obviously. I've been going out with Eric for over a month now. He's fun and he knows his way around a library." The infatuated look on her face was odd to see. I honestly didn't think we'd be thrown into things quite this fast, but the pixies or whatever weren't pulling any punches. She looked down at her chest. Her nipples were obvious peaks. "Hello tits. I should've worn a bra."
"Yes, you should've." I chuckled. The way she wandered around the house naked, body-shy she wasn't. I wondered if she had nudist parents or something like that. It would explain many things about her. "Well, we have six hours to get ready for that date. Let's go home and decide what to wear."
I forgot how much I hate first dates, I thought, going through the blouses in my closet. As usual I wanted to appear more feminine, but the Little Black Dress in my own closet seemed like too much. Worse, the anxiety made the memory-shadows harder to access. I felt more like Rob than Sharon, which was Bad. How much cleavage? How much makeup? How much Nature Girl?
"We have twenty minutes, Shari! Just wear one of mine." Angie said from the doorway. I was just in my underthings, while she appeared to have raided the Victoria's Secret catalog for her sexy outfit. "I've been ready for half an hour."
Flustered, I decided to let her pick out my outfit. After a few minutes I was in one of her navy blue jersey dresses with a V-neck that went all the way down to my belly button. "Think this is too much cleavage?" I asked.
"You have better boobs than I do, Shari. You're perfect. Um... jewelry next, I think. And let's get your hair done quick."
In the end I was festooned with a bracelet, a necklace, and had on a pair of four-inch heels. "I feel overdressed," I said, pulling a little at the halter top around my neck. My long dark hair was free to tickle my back, which wasn't how I normally wore it.
"Complain, complain," Angie said drolly. "You're the one who wants us to be women. Completely women that is. Now here you are. Here we are. Remember, we were never men, as far as the rest of the world is concerned."
"Well, it's just..."
"I would've wanted to put some nail polish on you, but this will do. We don't have time. Come on, Shari. Let's knock 'em dead."
Unfortunately my body had other ideas.
As Angie pulled out of the driveway, my nipples came erect, two rock-hard peaks on mountains of sore, tender flesh that throbbed to the beat of my heart. At the same time an assault of tiny cramps bombarded my consciousness, and the PMS even called in the reserves. My mood took an abrupt turn for the worse. I started crying like a little girl.
The car came to a stop. "Shari?" Angela said, alarmed. "What's wrong?"
"Everything, nothing," I replied through my lipstick. "Turn... turn around, okay? I'm not going to go out on a first date feeling like this. It's like my whole body's gone tits up."
The redhead turned the car around. We were only a minute or two away from the house. Once she stopped in the driveway she started fishing in her purse. "I'm going to call Eric and tell him the night's off. We'll postpone until next week." She didn't seem upset.
"No, go have fun. Don't change your plans because my breasts have a mind of their own," I insisted.
"Shari, I think you need me more than Eric does," she replied.
Eric was a little taken aback, but understood, sort of. It was obviously one of those "girly things" that most men didn't understand. For the first time in days I wished I was still one of those ignorant men. Any quick movement that made my breasts bounce sent little stabs of pain though my torso, and the cramps kept coming, and coming, and coming. When the front door closed I pulled the halter top strap over my head and let the dress fall to the floor. This made me feel marginally better, topless or not. "Aaaah..."
"Do you want to call a doctor?" Angie suggested.
"It'll pass. It's just... shit this hurts!"
"I'll get a heating pad for the cramps, and some Midol. Just make yourself comfortable somewhere and I'll play nurse. I'm going to change clothes, first. Back real quick." Angela rushed into her bedroom.
I settled on the couch in front of the TV. The worst seemed to have past, but my nipples were still doing their thing. A minute or so later, Angela came out of her bedroom, topless herself. I had to goggle a little at her chest. She claimed I had better breasts? When she had those?
"You said something about the evening going 'tits up'? That's a very Rob thing to say," she said, smirking as she poured a cup of hot chocolate for each of us. "Never thought it could be so literal, huh?"
I could only shake my head. At least I wasn't crying any more. "I feel so... well... girly. I can't really describe it any other way. I guess we had it coming after the past few days of 'wow, being a woman is fun!' Back to reality."
"Tits up. Well, we can salvage the evening. Is there a good chick flick on TV?" she said, sitting down next to me after putting the mugs down on the coffee table. We were sitting hip-to-hip. She actually put her close arm over my shoulders, and gave me a sideways hug. Here we were, two topless girls, but the only thing I felt here was sisterhood. Besides, there was no way I could wear anything until the medication took effect and my breasts stopped feeling like two throbbing, tender bags of fat and my uterus stopped trying to send Morse code with cramps.
The freckled girl picked up her mug, and I picked up mine. Angela had put on a miniskirt. "You have to admit that we make a great pair," Angie said.
"Two pair. God, look at us! What would Mrs. Swift think if she saw us sitting together like this?" We weren't lesbians, or bisexual. Just a couple of girls comfortable enough with our bodies that we didn't mind wandering around the house half-nude or more.
"Oh, pshaw. Men go without their shirts all the time. We could pretend we're still Rob and Ivan. I know we both went shirtless on hot days when we didn't have air conditioning. Now, what's on the TiVo?"