Here On Earth
By. E. Red
The only bad thing about having Toni
in my room was that it meant I had to make some room for her to have
her own space. Not really a bad thing, per se, but a little tough to
do. As I've said before, I keep a lot of crap around in my room. And
I had to get rid of some of it.
Luckily enough, I was in a rather...
Reflective mood, for the rest of the break at least. I decided to make
the change in my life sooner, rather than later.
Yeah. As if self imposed changes were
the only ones I had to deal with...
I think it's safe to say, and good to
admit, that I did more growing up in that break than I had in the previous
several years. I got rid of a lot of crap, too. Some to make space in
my life, some to make room for Toni.
I decided to give up my performing arts.
Yes, it was a big decision, and made just a bit on a whim, but I did
consider it more or less thoroughly before letting go. My comedy act
was shot all to hell due to my gender change, and I wasn't good enough
a musician for it to be a viable goal to strive for. I kept my guitar,
if only for personal therapy, but all the rest of my stuff went into
a trunk and then the crawlspace, never to bee seen again, until I moved
Yes, it sounds a little fatalistic. Move
on. I did.
Toni made the aforementioned leaps in
control over the remainder of the break, and it felt good to care for
her the way she needed to be cared for. Sometimes I wonder if she linked
herself into my empathic senses, or if it was my growing 'maternal instincts',
as my friends were so inclined to tease, but it seemed that it only
took a smile from her to brighten my mercurial moods...
Which were getting easier to manage,
too. Acceptance of my situation, as well as a long period of being away
from it, so to speak, had given me a healthy respect for my newfound
emotions, and with that came a measure of control that at least enabled
me to function on my off days.
Which, of course, there were several
of. News of my 'breakup' with Al had travelled discreetly through our
social network, and landed among other bombshells that sprouted over
the break. Our precarious balance was upset by the loss of several members.
Our little group was getting smaller by a quarter, and my episode with
Al went almost unnoticed because of it.
Marco was moving back to Mexico with
his family after the passing of a wealthy family relative. We all had
a good laugh at the jokes he cracked as we met at his place for the
last time, but we all knew that we'd never be the same without him.
Even me, which took me rather by surprise at the time. Marco and I had
had very little interaction since 'the change', but he'd always been
there with a joke, even in the worst of times, and it would hurt to
Worse yet was the next day, when Jordan
called us all together to reveal something. Turns out his genius hadn't
gone unnoticed, and he had just been accepted into some government think
tank. Since he and Andy were a package deal, the two of them would be
moving out of state at the end of the break.
So our little circle was shattered. Of
course, with email and vmail being so readily available, it would hardly
be like we'd never see each other again. But the fact of the matter
is that it would never be the same without them there.
I tried to enjoy the rest of my break.
I did more running than I might have before. I guess I was trying to
keep my body occupied so my mind would be, too. Running replaced all
the things I gave up, to an extent. I could loose myself in some good
music and the rush of endorphins, and I wouldn't have to think about
anything more than where my next footfall would be.
The guys at the club started me into
climbing, and I decided to enroll in Karate lessons as well. Not out
of fear. Not really, anyway... It's just something I'd always wanted
to do, really. I always used to fight on instinct, and with a little
knowledge about how nature works. It was kinda nice to finally learn
how to defend myself properly.
One quip about "ladies self-defense
classes", and I stop writing right now.
All right then.
Physical fitness was never a big part
of my life, but when you suddenly feel every last molecule of fluid
in your body, it can get to be rather addicting... I think I've touched
on this before... Anyway, my newfound 'exercise kick' got me more than
a few jibes from my sister, but after a week or so, I caught her sneaking
out in the wee hours of the morning to go for a jog and cutting back
on the Choco-Bran.
Let's just say I got my revenge.
Toni was with me at any other given moment.
She was... I just can't describe it, really. It was a little irritating,
to be honest, but every time she looked up at me with those big green
eyes, I folded under them. We did a lot together. I found out she liked
to draw, and to be entirely honest, she was really good at it. Many
a night found the two of us all cuddled up together on my beanbag chair
out on the balcony, her with her sketchbook and me with my guitar. (Of
course I didn't get rid of it. It was a gift from my dad.)
She would sometimes do this crazy thing
where she would take an image of something out of someone's mind (usually
mine) and sketch it out exactly as that person saw it. Pretty cool stuff,
actually, especially when she drew her interpretation first. Sometimes
the differences in perception were staggerring.
She opened up to me, too. About her life,
before the whole incident that brought her to me. She was a singer.
I remembered that from the news, vaguely. But she really loved it, and
MORFS took her voice away. Cruel irony. She didn't mind much. She told
me that she'd rather be mute and here than singing and there.
I didn't press. The whole line of thought
seemed to bother her.
And, of course, I was melting under her
confession at the time.
Stupid, giggly, gushy hormones...
(Insert romantic sigh here)
Going back to school was hard. Even just
getting into the Jeep was a chore, let alone maneuvering it through
the gauntlet of moving trucks from across the street. I dropped off
Toni and Dad at her school, where he promised me for the hundredth time
that he'd be watching her like a hawk, and I promised Toni for the hundredth
time that I would be there to pick her up right after school. I suppose
that no amount of psionic power could truly defeat a little girl's fear
of abandonment, however legitemate the cause of those fears was.
Long story. Comes later in the narrative.
Allan left as soon as he saw me come
in to the cafeteria, and I wasn't about to talk to the remainder of
the gang about it.
"Sorry, guys... I'm just not ready
to deal yet..."
They let me be. More or less. Johnny
gave me a pat on the back before lumbering off to follow Al. Being one
of only three guys left, I think he felt a little outnumbered, besides
his intention of helping us work this whole thing out. Luckily, I was
spared from having to spill my guts by the timely arrival of Kimmy Valentine.
Turns out there was some good gossip
over the break. Specifically, about my old nemesis, Randall Jones. Turns
out, Randy got MORFS for the second time. We were just getting to the
speculating about what had happened to the asshole, when he showed up.
Or rather, she turned up.
Oh, yes. You read that right. Karma,
thy name is 'Bitch'.
The connection was by no means immediate.
Someone at the table behind us made a passing remark about 'some new
girl', and the warning bell for first period went off. We all scattered
to our respective corners of the school, and I saw her there.
She looked nothing like he had, which
was not entirely surprising. She was tiny, four-foot nine, maybe ten
at the most. She was thin, her tiny hands just barely peeking out from
under the sweater she was wearing. Her jeans, on the other hand, clung
to her legs, showing small, delicate curves whenever her sweater flopped
out of the way. She had long, flowing copper-coloured hair that she
let hang down in front of her face, but you could see the glasses glinting
on her nose every once and a while.
She sat down at the back of the class
in one of the empty seats, never once saying a word to anyone, and stared
out the window and into the early January mist. Ms. Swann closed the
door promptly as the second bell went off and took her place at the
podium as usual, but she paused, picking up a single piece of paper
and scanning it with a raised eyebrow. Her eyes flickered up towards
Randy's empty seat, then to the back of the class, where the new girl
I think I was the only one who noticed
the slight motion, but the implications of it made me rock back on my
Oh, this was too poetic.
But as the class went on, I couldn't
keep my eyes from straying back to the girl by the window. She sat there,
unseeing eyes staring through the book in front of her. She didn't move.
She hardly seemed to be breathing. And as much as I wanted to feel that
rush of glee, the vindicated happiness that comes with justice being
served, I couldn't.
I saw myself. And, to an extent, I saw
Toni. I saw someone who was alone, and scared in a big new world, and
a small new body. And, for the first time, I saw who Randall Jones was.
Who had hidden inside the great, stupid bully he had been. The reason,
like so many other things I've talked about, doesn't show up in this
story for a while, but when it did... Well... You'll see...
Humanities. Oh, boy. A new MORF in the
class meant a break from the lectures. Or at least I thought so. As
I sat down next to Leanne, I watched the girl who used to be Randy,
as there was no doubt in my mind by this point who she was, discreetly
step up to Mr. Waterlander before the rest of the class had filed in,
and handed him a piece of paper, just like the one Ms. Swann had read,
and then turned back to the classroom. Only, unlike our English class,
this class was in a small room, and the only available desk that wasn't
her old one was right next to me.
Even through the copper screen of her
hair, I could see her eyes widen with something akin to fear, and I
felt horrible. This new forgiveness kick I'd been on was really doing
wonders for my state of mind, but seeing what my 'nemesis', so to speak,
had become was nearly too much. My conscience reared it's head, and
I did yet another thing I never thought I would do in my lifetime.
I dumped out all the mental baggage I
had on Randy Jones and started a new file.
"Hey." I said as she sat down.
She flinched away from me. "Welcome to our little slice of hell.
My name is Mia, what's yours?"
She stared at me like I was going to
hit her, and again I berated myself for the way I had been before the
change. "Miranda..." She whispered after a moment, turning
back to her book.
Huh... Miranda... Short form: Randi.
Not so clever with the cover, there, Jones...
"Well, Miranda, I know what it's
like to be the new girl in school." I told her. Seraphim was casting
curious glances in my direction, but said nothing. "Hell, I was
a new girl not too long ago." She flinched again. "But
hey, if you want, I can show you around, help you meet some new people.
Nothing, apparently. She stayed silent
until the end of class, and left without a word to anybody.
Just as a little sidenote, I was a little
pissed at Mr. Waterlander. One little note, and he lets her off the
But my mind was drawn back to the day
I had returned to school after my change. Sure, she was unlikely to
leave the school grounds and almost be...
I ran after her anyway, and caught her
just outside the cafeteria. "Hey! What's the hurry, Randi?"
Poor choice of words. She dropped the
load of books she was carrying in horror, and backed away. "W-what
did you c-call me...?"
"Oh, come on. I can't be the first
person who ever called you that..." I floundered, looking for an
out as I started to pick up her books.
"Y-you... You know..." She
sank to the floor even as I tried to hand her books back to her.
"Know what?" Yeah... Play
dumb... Oh, no... I made her cry...
"Who I a-am..."
Perfect, no? I made 'the new girl' cry
on her first day, in the middle of the hall, no less. I picked her up
to her feet as gently as I could and ushered her into the thankfully
empty senior's lounge. Nobody used it before lunch at our school, for
reasons that shall never be known to us mortal children. I got her sitting
on one of the couches before I noticed the shaking.
"P-please... Don't hurt m-me..."
Damn. She was afraid of me. I suppose
it wasn't unexpected. It's not every day you go through MORFS a second
time, loose your super powers and wind up trapped in a small room with
your now-much-bigger-than-you least favorite person in the world.
"I'm not going to hurt you, Randi."
She flinched yet again. "And for the record, no. I don't know who
you are." She blinked behind her glasses. "I may know who
you were, but only you can define who you are right now. Who
the new you will be."
"Don't forget, I was where you are
right now not so long ago. What better time to change your llife than
when it gets turned upside down?"
She said nothing, not until I opened
my mouth to continue. "Please, just stop..." I did, like an
idiot. "Just... Leave me alone."
And, like a bigger idiot, I did.
I left her there, in the lounge, and
returned to the daily minutia of life at Victor St. Lewis High.
She stayed away from everyone. Not just
me. Everyone, students and faculty alike. But, like all great
mysteries, her lack of interaction made her stand out way more than
she should have. All of it, her choice of clothing, her avoidance, the
way she wore her hair in front of her face. Going out of her way to
not be anything special.
Right. Like that would work in a high
I kept my mouth shut. Don't know why.
I owed her nothing, far from it in fact. But my 'forgiveness kick' could
only extend so far...
A week passed. Toni adjusted very well
to public school, even making a few friends. She was so excited... Being
home schooled all her life made the whole experience a wonder, and being
enrolled two years above her age group had been a great concern of mine,
but apparently some of the girls in her classes had taken a shine to
the 'shy, quiet, smart kid'.
Good for her.
And, of course, with me being her 'big
sister', I had to meet all these younger girls, who immediately raised
me onto some sort of pedestal for Goddess knows what reason. It was...
An interesting experience, at least.
Allan and I... We started talking after
a few days. It was actually Frankie, our school's security officer,
who got us communicating. The man does more meddling than he's worth,
and of course we loved him all the more for it. Al listened to my explaination,
and grudgingly accepted my reasoning after a good, long talk. It was
nice to have my friend back, even if I screwed up our relationship with
Live and learn.
Then, about mid month, Miranda disappeared.
I suppose it was bound to happen. I didn't
see it, but I sure as hell heard about it. Apparently some of her former
friends had gotten fed up with waiting to hear about what had happened
to Randy and gone to her home. Something had happened there, and she
missed a half a week of school. And when she came back...
It was something out of my nightmares.
She showed up late to third period, dressed in even more baggy clothes
than usual. She walked with her head hanging lower than usual, and an
unmistakable shake in her step. Every teacher who saw her tried to talk
to her, but she just waved them off without looking up, stating that
she was just 'tired'.
I'm still not sure what it was. Something
about her... The way she was acting...
It made me mad.
No. Not mad.
I confronted her during lunch. She was
sitting outside, alone, on the bleachers, picking at a sandwich and
trying not to look around. I could tell. I passed a group of her former
friends, all of whom were snickering about something and casting glances
across the field at her.
She glanced up when she heard me climb
the first couple of steps. It looked to me like she was about to bolt,
so I stopped and sat down a few feet away.
"Hey." Yeah. That sounded
smart... "How are you, Mira?"
She flinched at the name, and glanced
at me. Or at least, she appeared to, anyway. It was hard to tell with
all of her hair hanging in front of her face.
"It's better than 'Randi', isn't
it? Or would you prefer I say 'Miranda' every time?" I suppose
she'd rather have nothing to do with me at all...
"That's fine..." She barely
"Cool. Now would you like to tell
me why you've been MIA for almost a week?" Another flinch, and
the shaking started. "Hey, you don't have to..."
That's when I saw it, and nearly lost
my mind. It was only a glimpse, a brief sliver from between the locks
of her hair.
It was a bruise.
My blood boiled over immediately. She
flinched away as I stood up and moved to sit beside her, but she didn't
run. I think she wanted someone to know about it, but couldn't bring
herself to talk about it. Unfortunately for her, I was the exact wrong
person you wanted to find out and keep it a secret.
"Who did it?" Anger wavered
on the edges of my voice, but she stayed.
I punched the bench. What else was I
going to punch? Sweet pain dulled the anger for a moment, and I cursed,
shaking the hand out. "I want to help you, Mira. But I can't do
that if you won't let me?"
"Why?" Simple question, not
so simple to answer. "Why would you ever help me? A-after everything
"It's like I said, I'm trying to
be a better person. And my life has been... Complicated. Especially
so, as of late. The last thing I need is another area of conflict, where
there is a chance for a new friend..."
She finally looked up. All the way, I
mean. She didn't say anything, though.
"Let me look?" I asked, and
she nodded slowly. I brushed her hair to one side, and bit my lip to
keep from yelling.
Her glasses were cracked, the bridge
taped together with scotch tape. Her right eye was swollen and purple,
but looked like it was healing. There was a thin red line running from
just above her left eye to below her jawline, and it looked like it
was going to leave a permanent scar. It was the first time I saw her
whole face, and the first time I noticed her eyes.
They were the same grey mine had been,
And they were so, so sad...
I swallowed hard, forcing my anger down,
along with images of a ten-year-old Julia, crying herself to sleep.
"What else?" I asked. Her hands, which had crossed defensively
over her chest when I moved closer, twitched. "Please... I have
to know before I can help."
I was asking a recently abused, newly-MORFed
girl to trust me, someone who was adversarial at best in her former
life. People who've heard the story have all reacted rather negatively,
from gentle chiding to outright distress.
But she took my hand, slowly. Painfully.
And she showed me. She guided me to several tender spots. Her ribs.
Her shoulder. Her knee. And when she let go, her other hand settled
in her lap. And the slight wince that accompanied...
"No..." She hiccupped, and
turned away. "Who did this?" Her eyes flickered across the
field, and my heart stopped cold. The idiots were still snickering even
as I turned to charge.
At least my killer instincts hadn't dulled.
"Stop!" And, like a moron,
I did. "Please... Just... Leave them..."
"Leave them!? Look at you! You're
saying they did this to you, and you don't-"
"They didn't..." She interrupted
me, still looking away in shame. "They... They just... Watched..."
This did not achieve the desired calming
"Watched... You mean they stood
by and LET this happen to you!?" Clearly, my anger, however
justified, was not helping at all. She was a complete wreck, and I was
only making it worse. One last glare, and I forced myself to take a
breath and sit back down. "Okay. Alright, I'm calm."
My life is full of awkward pauses, I
just realized that.
"D-did you mean it...?" She
started picking at her lunch again.
"That you'd... Be my friend..."
Why do I do these things to myself?
"Well... Yeah. Why wouldn't I mean
it?" She gave me a look. "I told you already, I'm trying to
be a better person. You should try it..." She flinched. Poor choice
of words. Again. Not one of my better mornings, as you can see... "I'm
sorry, I didn't mean-"
"No. You're right..." She put
her sandwich down again. "I was... Not a nice person."
"No. No you weren't."
She smiled slightly. "I'm sorry...
Can you... Forgive me?"
"Forgiven and forgotten. But only
if you let me take you to the nurse."
She told the nurse where the bruises
came from. She thought I was out of the room at the time. Not so. I
heard exactly what her scumbag father did to her.
Thankfully, the school board never found
out how those pipes burst in the wall.
Frankie led the cops through the school,
and I very discreetly took him aside and told him what she had told
me outside. Several of her former friends were hauled out of classes
over the afternoon, and the rumor mill ground at full speed in their
It was last period before I could get
everyone together to talk. The ratio may have changed, but we were closer
than ever with a quarter of us gone. "Hey, guys... I gotta talk
to you all about... Well, a lot, actually." Julia's curiosity tweaked
in my head. "It's about Randall."
"What about her?" Al asked
with a slight sneer. Her MORF was common knowledge by now, having been
divulged at some point through her week of absence, probably by her
"Not funny." I scowled at him,
and he at least had the courtesy to look ashamed. "Her new name
is Miranda, but we're gonna call her Mira, as opposed to the obvious
insulting stab at her old name."
"Umm... Why, exactly?" Johnny
asked, scratching his head with one giant finger.
The girls got it without me having to
explain. I could see it in the sympathetic looks and agreeable nods
they were sharing. I bit down on a sigh. "Because I only managed
through my change because of my friends, and now she has none."
"So this is like a whole 'similar
situations' guilt trip, right?" Mic asked innocently.
So not in the mood.
"Alright, so you're asking if we
can clear the air, and try to forgive and forget?" Jen asked.
"Basically? Yes. That's a very accurate
summary." Honestly, sometimes I wonder about my friends.
There was much discussion and debate,
as there always is between large groups of teenage girls. The two remaining
guys maintained their reservations about her, but in the end, they agreed
to at least give Mira a chance to be someone new. And the girls were
a little more gushy over my own relenting than anything else. Jules
gave me a big hug and told me how proud she was of me for doing what
I was doing.
And you all know by now how much my sister's
feelings affect me.
Mira and her mother moved into a small
apartment not far away from the school, liquidating the family's assets
even before the divorce papers went through. Her father would be serving
a dime in federal prison, and her older brother promised her that if
he ever caused her any trouble again, he'd fly home from halfway across
the country to personally break his fingers.
All of them.
And so, with much ceremony and pomp,
we lost some friends to the winds, and gained a new one. And for close
to a month, we were just normal teenagers again. As normal as teenagers
can be, of course.
I had a new little sister. I had friends
and family all around me. And I was happy.
Of course things were going to go to hell. Karma is, after all, a bitch.
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/