User:JonBuck/Life Could be a Dream

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Life Could be a Dream

Author: Jon Buck

Until last night Grandma's quilt had stayed in the chest I'd inherited from her when I was twenty. When I was born she was already in her seventies, and was always a distant figure. In twenty years I could only remember a half dozen times when I'd spent longer than five minutes in her stern, disapproving presence. I never even got any gifts either at Christmas or birthdays, so the inheritance had been a surprise.

It was a very well-made quilt. There was no mistaking the expert hand-stitching that was very much a labor of love. But it was also clearly meant for a girl, full of white lacy fringes and other things, with a deer motif reminiscent of our family's coat of arms. It still smelled of perfume instead of mothballs, even after thirty years.

I never had the feeling that she'd hated me. Far from it. There was just a profound disappointment from her that still hurt. She'd expected me to be a girl--and no wonder, with three older brothers.

But I'd still inherited the quilt when she died, along with some other things. Knickknacks, mostly. Mementos of her world-traveling ways. But nothing valuable, and certainly no money. The only reason I'd thought of the quilt at all was my heater going out on me at midnight. My house is poorly insulated, and there wasn't any way to get someone out to fix it for a few days. To top it off, Target, Sears, even the supermarkets open late, were out of heaters. So I broke out every blanket I owned. Even the quilt.

As it turned out, I didn't need anything else.

The quilt enveloped me in a swaddling warmth that sank deeply into my bones. I pulled my head inside with a contented sigh.

The warmth seemed to sink deeper as I slept, my consciousness floating in a sea of whispers. A tingle began to tease and tug at my frame, as if I was made of clay. Flesh and bone were on the move. My insides quivered, a sensation like a muscle tensing deep within...

And a knock on the window yanked me out of sleep. "Hello the house! Lawson Heating here to fix your furnace!" a man bellowed.

Reluctantly I stuck my head out of my cocoon into the freezing air. It was morning, at least. Barely past dawn. "Okay! Okay! Just give me a few minutes," I shouted back in a voice that cracked like a fifteen year-old's.

Keeping the quilt wrapped around me, I slowly sat up and swung my feet over the side of my bed. For a moment, my slippers seemed too large before I felt their familiar sheepskin close in around them. Unsteady, breath puffing visibly I stood up and left my bedroom, body moving in strange ways. But I was hardly in the state of mind to notice. Sleep felt but a heartbeat away as I stumbled towards the door.

A blast of even icier air hit me even from inside the airlock that separated me from directly outside. The bearded man standing there was holding a couple of large boxes. "Can I come in? Look, I still won't be able to fix anything for a few days. But your message said you didn't have any heaters and couldn't find any, so I thought I'd bring a couple from our office to hold you over... er... sir?"

I brightened at that. "Hey, thanks!"

"I'll hook them up," he replied, looking at me oddly, as if making up his mind. "Just tell me where you want them."

My hand emerged from under the quilt I still had wrapped around me. It was a different hand. Slender, with longer nails and fairer skin. The other arm was against, or rather, under my chest, holding the quilt. Then I realized as I had walked, something had bounced. Warm, soft flesh pressed against my lower arm. "Um... I'll take care of it. Thanks." My voice was definitely higher now...

The repairman nodded. "Okay, ma'am. See you on Tuesday." He turned and left the house.

I stared at the hand, which now seemed even smaller than before. My body under the quilt still tingled, and my hair tickled the nape of my neck. The warmth seemed to radiate from the quilt, driving out the cold air to such a degree to make the space heaters unnecessary. The air shimmered with it, and where the waves touched, things changed.

The whispers in my head intensified, restraining a surge of fear.

I dropped the quilt down over my feet. A blast of heat quickly followed, and the whispers grew into a cacophony of words and images, drilling deeply into my sense of self... teaching... showing... my life being rewritten before me.

Which is why I didn't panic at the "new" view. Just a few finishing touches remained. My stiffened nipples prominently poked against the fabric of my changing tee shirt. The pressure on my hips bowed them outwards in a broadening curve as what remained of my penis shrunk down to an incredibly sensitive nub. But at the same time, it was as if they had always been.

"Well, I guess my grandmother got her wish," I said, in a lilting, feminine voice.

Leaving the quilt where it was, I headed for the bathroom.

My boxers had become a pastel blue camisole and panty set. I pulled off both to look at myself in the mirror. It was the same old high-maintenance body. I worked hard to keep this figure, especially in the winter. In the other bedroom of my small house was a treadmill and some weights--but not too many. I wanted to look fit, not like a freaky muscle chick.

But at the same time...

I cupped my breasts in disbelief, took in the deep cleavage and followed my new curves down towards the cleft of my labia. The strange tissues between my legs pressed against one another as I shifted my weight from foot to foot, speechless and confused. This was me now... brand new. But in a sense, had always been. "Umm..."

The pretty face that looked back bore a strong family resemblance. Definitely the sister I never had. But it was accompanied by memories of being a tomboy growing up. Three older brothers had had a strong influence on me, and it wasn't until I started high school that I started wearing skirts...

And my grandmother teaching me how to be a Lady.

I pulled my panties and camisole back on, feeling confused and lightheaded. Both sets of memories were equally strong. But the house was cooling off again and I needed to set up the heaters...

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Fortunately it was a Sunday. I left the quilt where I had dropped it on the floor and tried to keep myself from going insane with busywork. The interior of my house had been as utterly transformed as I was. This was no longer a bachelor pad. It was the abode of a young single woman.

There was two weeks worth of laundry to do.

I sorted bras and panties by color, trying to think of nothing much.

Bras and panties. As much as Grandma had wanted me too, I'd never liked shopping much. I had no doubts about my own femininity, however.

I picked up a lacy creation I knew would need hand washing. "Okay. So I'm a woman. I can deal with this... it's not like I don't know how..." I mean, I knew things. What clothes went with what. How to apply makeup. I was an advanced graduate of being feminine. I was sure my co-workers knew me like this. I had a whole gaggle of female friends I did things with.

Somehow that wasn't a comfort.

My boyfr...

Breath quickened. Nipples hardened. Vagina turned slick.

There was a white lace merrywindow in the laundry pile. There was a... stain on the front.

Any day now he'd pop the question... I hoped.

"One revelation at a time," I muttered, flush and tingling all over at the very recent memory. But I lingered over it all the same. It'd only been Friday...

His hands stroking my breasts...


How many times did I have to hint?

The old life swung back and forth, as if on a pendulum. Distant enough more than half the time to make me think it had merely been a weird dream. Only to come back again.

Shivering, but not with cold, I wrapped my arms around myself, squeezing my "new" breasts together. "Goddamn it... goddamn it... Now what?" Could I go through life with two sets of memories? Which one was more real? Looking around, there was no real evidence of the man I had been. Nothing... nothing at all. But they were still there! I remembered the girl I lost my virginity with!

So which was real?

Yet, in broad generalities the two sets of memories meshed quite well. I'd still roughhoused with my brothers, still played sports. Sure, I'd been on the women's basketball team in high school instead, but the differences were negligible. I had gone out for cheerleading, but hadn't quite managed to get on the team.

I hadn't made the football team, either.

That disappointment still rankled.

There were only a few places where my memories really parted. My first bra, my first period.

At the top was my grandmother.

The last of my brothers had entered college when I was fourteen. After then, Grandma had taken me under her wing to train me out of the "bad habits" I'd learned from them. She had always complained to my parents that I was too tomboyish to attract a man.

And on her deathbed, she had smiled and said "Aren't you happier as a Lady? You turned out very well."

I stood up from my warm space in the living room between the two heaters. The quilt was still next to the front door. I crept over towards it, and realized it was still radiating warmth. And there was something else. A glint of a single gold thread in the stitching that held it together.

Well, I wasn't going to just let it sit there. Grabbing a broom, I picked it up with the handle and pushed it over into a corner.

I'll just deal with it... later.

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Grandma had trained me well. Too well, as a matter of fact. It took years after high school to leave behind my reputation as a prudish ice queen. Sure, there are some guys who like girls like that. But not at my high school. The only thing I really had going for me were my hard-won looks. My dates wanted to be seen with me. I could tell it wouldn't last.

Perversely, I had enjoyed being difficult. If any guy wanted a date with me they had to act like a gentleman. I liked to think I improved the disposition of many a callow youth. But it didn't get me anything lasting. High school guys were so immature.

In retrospect, my standards were impossibly high.

Looking at these superimposed memories left a strange, queasy feeling. The more closely I looked, the more points of divergence I found with the old me. This made me feel very discomfited, but it was easier to examine them closely while on the treadmill. Trying to put my life back into some semblance of order meant doing things my female counterpart was used to.

Like sports bras. Although "used to" was a euphemism. They compressed, squeezed, and generally were a necessary evil in the gym. And I had a generous amount hold in place. It made the physical aspects of these changes all the worse.

Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce on the treadmill. The sensations were all new. Every quiver of my breasts, every inch of my curves, every sway of my hips. Every tickle of my light brown hair against my neck. The downy smoothness of my never-shaved face. Grandma's quilt had imparted just enough "normal" body consciousness that it didn't quite overwhelm. All I had to do was put my attention elsewhere, and the strangeness faded.

Was that on purpose?

I had to wonder, though, why she didn't just erase my old self completely and be done with it. Did she get some sort of perverse pleasure leaving me knowing I'd once been a man? I hit the stop button and stood on the halted treadmill, rolling that thought around my head sourly. An old woman ten years dead had turned my life completely upside down and wanted me to know what she did.

I wanted answers. But had no idea where to find them, or if they even existed. I panted a little and walked around my tiny gym, nipples uncomfortably standing up in the chilly room. I tried to ignore them. "Okay... facts first."

I was completely physically female. No doubts there.

I remembered being female from childhood.

I was emotionally female and fully heterosexual. I had truly grown out of the tomboy I remembered being growing up. My house looked like Trading Spaces had gone all out, and I liked it.

And importantly, if the messages on my answering machine and in my email were any indication, other people remembered me being female.

Lastly, I had a boyfriend with, on Friday night, we had nearly had sex. Just thinking about it made me feel quite warm... But Grandma had taught me to save myself until marriage. Despite being more adventurous I was still a virgin. I wanted him as my husband.

Grandma's spell went beyond these walls, out into the world in general. A quick rummage through my financial records confirmed this, and I looked at the name on the documents. "Figures." In fact, I remembered my mother saying she'd named me on Grandma's suggestion. "A very classical name."

Magic was real. That was the only reasonable, if irrational, explanation. Occam's Razor and all that.

The quilt sat balled up in the living room corner. Very slight, there was still an unnatural summer-like warmth radiating from it. Whatever it was doing, perhaps it wasn't done yet.

Would I wake up tomorrow and forget who I had been? After changing clothes into something more comfortable, I folded my arms under my breasts and curled up on the couch. Maybe that would be preferable to the confusion I still felt. Wake up tomorrow thinking I had always been a woman. But the idea was even more frightening than living the rest of my life with this confusion. It felt like a death in the family.

My own.

That lead back to: Grandma had literally made me into the woman she wished me to be, and wanted me to know it. What had I done to deserve this? Had she really hated me after all? But I didn't feel like I was a different person, exactly. Well, mostly.

The phone rang, but I let it go since telemarketers were far too common these days. After the fourth ring it picked up and there was a familiar voice. "Hey, Helen. It's Travis... umm... pick up, will you? If you're there?"

My second oldest brother, a good seven years older than I am. I reached over and picked up the cordless. "Hey, Travie."

"C'mon, Helen. I haven't been 'Travie' since you were four," he replied good-naturedly. "Look, can you do me a big favor tonight?"

I heard some shouting going on in the background. He had a fifteen year-old daughter who was something of a troublemaker. I sighed. "Something happen?"

"I need you to baby-sit. Tasha's grounded... and Majorie and I made some plans we don't want to change."

"I don't need a babysitter!" came a sullen female teenaged voice in the background. "Who the hell are you calling?"

"The only one I can depend on in situations like this. Your aunt," Travis replied.

"She's flying all the way from New Jersey just to babysit me?" Tasha replied, incredulous.

"Your aunt who lives an hour away," my brother replied, exasperated.

"I don't..." Tasha stammered.

In the background I heard Travis's wife say something, interrupting her daughter. Tasha groaned, and I heard no more. Travis sighed. "Your sister-in-law just disconnected all the internet stuff in your niece's room. She's stuck with plain old cable TV." He sighed. "Look, I know it's really short notice, but I couldn't find anyone else."

It was only noon. "I'll be up in a couple hours."

"We don't have to be out of the house until four. Don't hurry too much, Helen. See you soon."

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I really don't know why I agreed to baby-sit. Though I had never said so to his face, I had never liked his wife very much. In fact, there were layers of feminine dislike between us that probably escaped him. In my former life it had been a lot more obvious. Majorie had openly come on to the male me enough times that I had only seen him by himself when he wanted to see me. He sometimes brought his kids.

And as Helen she dealt with me like I was Travis's ex-girlfriend rather than his sister. The jealous bitch! That made me a little more welcome in their household, but not by much. I had babysat their kids when they were younger, but not for a couple years. Tasha was actually pretty good with her younger siblings. But something had obviously happened to destroy some trust.

Since it was about as deep into winter as it could get, I dressed in layers. Padded bra, long-sleeved shirt, sweater, and a down jacket. I also chose long underwear and lined pants to keep the cold off my legs. Wind chills were below zero outside and I was smaller than I used to be. Scarf, hat, insulated boots, and gloves rounded out the ensemble. I opted against makeup or jewelry or anything like that.

Majorie was frankly a slut and it wouldn't matter if I dressed in a shapeless parka. In her twisted mind I was competition for her husband's affection.

The weather wasn't snowy, merely very cold and windy. Before I left my house I turned on all the faucets to keep them from freezing, and reluctantly left one of the heaters on in the kitchen, very low. My bedroom would be an ice box when I got home, but that couldn't be helped. The heaters were powerful enough that it wouldn't last long. My laundry was mostly finished, with only my bras left to air dry in the kitchen. I made sure the damp merrywindow was out of view of the windows. The last thing I wanted was to advertise my lingerie to the rest of the neighborhood.

I packed a change of clothes, though. I couldn't be completely certain I wouldn't be staying overnight, and wanted to be prepared.

I went out to my car.

It wasn't the same car. My old self's sporty Scion tC was replaced with a thoroughly feminine Honda Civic. The inside, I noticed, was merely an extension of my purse. There were a couple pairs of pantyhose sitting on the passenger seat, and I knew they were both mismatched and had runs in them. So while the engine warmed I got a trash bag and cleaned up some of the mess, my breath puffing in clouds in the open garage.

Before I pulled out of the garage, I paused. Despite the quilt, the house was a safe haven. Nobody had to see me like this, at least until tomorrow. I had time to get my bearings. But when it came down to it, my new personality had taken over without thinking. I wanted to help my brother. I'd felt a surge of what I could only describe as sisterly concern. Tasha was giving him trouble, and he had two younger kids. Boys, both. One three, the other six.

He had never asked my old self for such help.

"Different gender, different expectations, I guess," I muttered.

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Travis greeted me with a hug and a little kiss on my forehead. I was now several inches shorter than him. And like all of my brothers, he was actually quite handsome. Physical attractiveness ran in the family, though we still had to work at it. "Hey, thanks for coming sis. Especially in this weather," he said.

"I only had six more loads of laundry," I replied with a smirk. "Anything to get away from housework." I straightened his dress shirt again. "Where are you off to?"

"Tanglewood. Special winter concert tonight," he replied. "Majorie thought I could use some culture."

All this time, his wife had a smile on her face that spoke volumes to me but that he no doubt thought was sincere. I knew this game well. Her makeup was caked on. I could smell it all the way across the room, mixed with her rancid perfume. Did she bathe in it or something? "Yes, thanks for coming, Helen. And we need to get going, honey."

"Mooom! Who is this woman you're sticking me with?" came Tasha's voice from the top of the stairs.

"Your aunt is here," Travis replied.

"Aunt Tina lives in Newark! There's no way she could get here in an hour," Tasha said.

"Stop playing games, Tasha. And you're supposed to be in your room for another hour. Your aunt will make dinner for the three of you, but don't expect anything special," Travis said, shrugging at me. "I don't know what's gotten into her, Helen. I'm sorry."

I folded my arms under my breasts in what was becoming a habit. There was something not right here. "It's okay. Where are the boys?"

"Both napping, thank God," my brother said. "They're happy you're coming."

Majorie pulled on his arm. "Let's go, honey. We need some time to ourselves." She practically dragged him out the door.

Sitting down on the leather couch, I had about a minute before Tasha appeared again at the top of the stairs. The fifteen year old was slightly overweight and had "gothy outcast" written all over her. Dark eyeshadow, black lipstick, and dyed-black hair. Her left ear had multiple piercing, and she wore a shirt probably purchased at Hot Topic. She'd inherited the family beauty, but perfection you had to work for. "Is this some kind of sick crossdressing joke?" she said.

There was definitely something not right here. "Aren't you supposed to be in your room?"

"Well, your voice sounds female enough. But you just look too much like uncle Tom. I've never seen such a perfect makeup job on a guy."

I wondered how tall I looked from that angle. I squeezed my breasts up a little with my shoulders to show they were firmly attached. "Why don't you come down and get a closer look?"

Smiling, she came the rest of the way down and stood in front of me, where her expression turned to a frown. I could tell she had a few doubts now. "How did they make you look shorter, uncle Tom?"

"Special shoes? Tasha, I'm your aunt Helen. Your dad's sister." The spell hadn't affected her! This was too interesting to fear.

She looked at my chest. "Those can't be real. Take off the sweater." I did so. She looked at the top I wore. It revealed a little cleavage. But she still wasn't convinced.

"Do you really think I'd go through all this trouble just to play a prank on you?" I said.

"Uhm... take off the shirt," she ordered.

"Will I have take off my bra, too?" I replied as I did pull the top off.

Incredulous, she gave a breast a poke before I pushed her hand away and put my top back on. "So maybe you're Tom's girlfriend and he's sitting out in the car..." Her face twisted up in confusion and she rubbed her temples. "Ow... I've got a headache all of a sudden."

There was something like static electricity between us. I could feel it leap from me to her. I put my hands on her shoulders. "I'm your aunt Helen. I'm your father's sister. And you need to go back to your room for an hour, young lady," I said firmly.

The look she gave me was surprise. "Um... yeah, yeah. Okay. I'll just try and figure out what the fuck just happened in my head, then."

Somehow, I knew what she knew. She'd gotten a second set of memories. "You do that, Tasha. And so will I."

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After the hour past she came down again. The boys were still sleeping. Whatever they had been doing all day had completely tired them out. Of course that meant they'd be up at three a.m., but by then I'd be home. She had an "I've got you now" smile on her face.

"So," she began, "I guess I'm not going nuts. You remember being uncle Tom, right?" I nodded. "Cool, cool. Okay. And I remember you being him. But I also remember you being you. A girl, I mean. Okay. Following?" I nodded again.

I let her talk as she tried to make sense of what had happened to me. Watching an outsider wend her way through this confusing situation helped me put it in perspective. But it didn't take long for her to turn into a smartass. After a while it became clear she was just probing how much I knew about being female. When I didn't get anything wrong, she just gave me a smile. "So, you like having boobs?"

"I don't have to answer that, do I?" I replied, turning on my Ice Queen voice.

"Well, you can talk the talk. But can you walk the walk?" she continued. "Do you even know which end of a mascara brush to handle?"

Here I was being challenged to prove myself in front of a girl half my age. "And maybe I should tell you to go to your room. And have you done all your homework? I don't want your mother yelling at me for that."

"I'm not asking you to do a fashion show or anything. Just put some makeup on," Tasha replied.

I admit I didn't want to. It felt like every girly thing I did a little more of the old life slipped away. "Fine. Okay. Let me get my purse."

It took about ten minutes in front of the bathroom mirror. But it was all there. I knew how to use every little compact. And the result was really quite stunning. You couldn't even tell I had anything on but the lipstick. But the cheekbones were enhanced, what few flaws I had blotted out. A real professional job.

"Um..." Tasha stammered. "Can you teach me how to do that, Aunt Helen?"

"Don't like the Goth look anymore?"

She looked down towards the floor. "Um... I think that's run its course. I think I'll come out of the darkness now."

I tilted my head. "Okay, if you want. But what did you do to get yourself grounded?"

She smiled ruefully and blushed. "I got my nipple pierced."

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It took some time to remove all the stuff on her face, the black nail polish, and all the earrings. Underneath it all she had inherited the family beauty. All that stuff had made her look worse. "Where did you learn to use makeup like that?" I asked.

"Where do you think? My mother puts it on with a trowel and takes it off with a chisel. And you know what it's like, right? I'm fifteen, what do I know about makeup. But my mother should know better, right?"

I felt Grandma's presence the entire time I had Tasha in the chair. What her spell had imparted to me seemed to go beyond just showing a niece how to use makeup. There was something she wasn't getting from her mother, and how I knew I just couldn't tell. But she opened up to me... which fit with the memories I had of her. This had been a slow process. What worried me was that the more I worked with her, the more her memories of Tom seemed to fade.

Or maybe she just didn't care any more. All I knew was that she stopped treating me like I was the World's Best Crossdresser and more like a trusted female family member.

"I'll come over to color your hair next week," I offered. "What do you think?"

She looked at herself critically in the mirror, and smiled prettily. "I love it! Where'd you learn how to do this?"

Then I told her about her great-grandmother, and reluctantly, the quilt. Tasha's expression brightened at the story. "So we have a witch in the family. Or had, anyway. And you haven't met anyone else who remembers Tom?"

I shook my head and folded my arms. "Not yet. Just you."

The teenager looked thoughtful. "What do you think would happen if you curled up in the quilt again?"

I sighed. "I don't want to find out."

When Tasha got an idea in her head, I was hard to get her to let go. "Aren't you the least bit curious? Maybe you'll end up a witch, too."

I put down the makeup I'd been using. Her mother actually bought quality stuff. She just didn't use it right. I'd have to leave some money for what I'd used. "I could also erase Tom's existence from everybody's head, including my own. And I don't want to do that."

"Okay. No pressure." She looked at her black and red t-shirt. "Guess I'll have to work on my wardrobe, too. I think I want more... elegance instead of emo. I dunno."

We were still talking when her parents got home at one in the morning. It was one hundred percent, wall-to-wall girl talk. I felt like a whole new language had been inserted into my brain that I knew how to speak absolutely natively. At the same time, I felt a bond grow between us, unlike anything men had. Those hours of chat and advice we became close friends as well as relatives.

Majorie was furious with both of us. But as I hastily made ready to leave, Tasha mouthed something at me as she went upstairs. It wasn't until after I was out the door that I put it together: "One of us. One of us. One of us..."

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Author's Comments

From here I planned to reveal that Helen had, in fact, been female in the womb. All women in this family in the direct female line are either magically sensitive, or active magic users. Tom/Helen's mother resented this. She did not hold with her mother's views, rejected her own skills, and vowed only to have boys. The only thing she did do was change Tom's gender in the womb. Grandma, of course, found a way around this... So, from here the story would go to Helen discovering her own magic. Also, Helen's mother would not have been affected by the TG spell in the quilt. So she knows what's happened. She'll have to adapt, too.