Gone with the Wind
As I softly cried on my bed, I heard the door open and close again because I could hear everything so much better now. I knew that it was Mack coming in but just didn’t feel like apologizing to him. I heard him say, “I’m home.”
Mom came out to greet him, “Mack, how are you? You’re early.”
“Yeah, I know. Mom, who is that little squirrel girl that is apparently staying here? She seems to know me, but I’ve never seen her before.” I heard Mack say.
“Oh no,” Mom exclaimed. “We didn’t tell you yet.”
“Tell me what? Is there something the matter?”
“Sinthia is your sister. Walter got MORFS and changed into a squirrel girl. Did you upset her? She’s very fragile right now.” Mom explained.
I thought, ‘Yeah right, fragile indeed. Why did this have to happen to me? I should run away. Even Mack will hate me for what I am.’ Mack used to be my role model. I used to look up to him and wanted to be like him. Now fate had intervened and made me an outcast.
My musings made me miss the rest of the conversation and before I knew it, there was a knock on my door. ‘Oh no! Must be Mom checking up on me.’ “Go away Mom,” I said out loud. “I don’t want to talk right now.”
“It’s me, Mack,” was the reply from behind the door. “Can I speak with you, please?”
Now I was even more upset, he never came to talk to me in the past. ‘Why is he here now? I really don’t want to talk to him. What can I say? “Hi, I’m your new freak sister?” I don’t think that he’d understand.’ I was so mortified.
He started to open the door saying, “I hope you’re decent. If not you’d better speak up now.”
I still was too upset to speak, so he stepped in. He closed the door behind him, and said softly, “I’m sorry for earlier.”
I interrupted him, “No, Mack. I’m the one who should apologize. You didn’t know. I’m still so unbalanced. I really don’t know what I should do. I’m so scared about the future. Now I’m rambling, I’ll just stop now.”
Mack sat next to me, “I can’t start to imagine what you’re going through. Well, mostly anyway. I do have a friend at college that went through a big change not unlike yours and she was just as distressed. Our small group of friends there talked her out of her destructive ideas, and she’s doing much better now.”
I had to ask, “Destructive ideas?”
He smiled a wry smile, “She was contemplating suicide or going off to live as a hermit somewhere, among other things. I’m just saying, you’re not alone in all of this; you have a supportive family, and I’m sure that soon you will find some true friends. You know, the kind that will stick by you whatever happens.”
I snorted, “I hope you’re right. In any case, welcome back, big brother.” I hugged him and for a moment he hesitated but then hugged me back. I was a bit taken back by his hesitation though.
I guess he noticed, because he started explaining, “I’m sorry for my reluctance to hug you, sis. It’s going to take a little getting used to, I mean, I’ve never had a sister before.”
I relaxed a bit, “At least you’re not hesitant to hug a freak like me.”
He sharply said, “Don’t ever say that. You’re not a freak, you’re just like my friend Bethany who morfed into a fox hybrid. Sure, it takes getting used to it, but you both look cute and beautiful.”
I backed down. “Sorry, I just feel awkward like this. And don’t tell me I’m cute, I hate that.”
Mack lifted my chin, “Hey, it’s okay to feel awkward. And you are cute, just get used to it.”
I gave him a wry smile, “I just don’t know. But enough about me, I want to hear about this girlfriend of yours. Bethany was it?”
He blushed a bit, and tried to talk himself out of it. “She’s not my girlfriend, just a good friend of me and my other friends.”
“Yeah, and I’m not furry at all, you totally gave yourself away with that little blush there.” So, she’s a real fox then?”
Mack looked at me, then got the joke. “You’re a real riot Sinthia, I’m glad to see that you haven’t lost your sense of humor. By the way, you must be glad not to be stuck with a suck name like Walter anymore.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t mean to change into this just to get out of the name.” Mack was the only one I told that I hated my name. “Sinthia is okay for a name, but I’m still unsure about everything else.”
“Cheer up, sis; I’m sure you’ll find your way. Now, how about we go down for a snack.” Mack tried, to get me out of my room.
“Okay, but first I need to freshen up, this fur shows whenever I’ve been crying.”
“Already thinking like a girl I see.” Mack quipped. “Bethany always needs to go powder her face before going somewhere as well.”
I flipped him the finger before going to the bathroom. He chuckled while going down to the living room. While I checked and brushed my fur, I contemplated what he said, I really shouldn’t blow up that fast. Quickly I fixed everything so it wouldn’t show that I had been crying, then I went down to properly greet my big brother Mack.
I could almost forget how much I had changed while engaging in the conversation with my big brother and listening to his exploits at his college. Of course my high girly voice and the way my body felt would never let me forget it completely, but it was nice to talk to someone like normal for a change though.
I was crying again when Mack had to go back to college; it had been such a nice time when he was home. Now I was getting depressed again, not only from losing the talks with my big brother, but also worrying about what would happen at school.
I decided that maybe I should try to make at least one friend and at the same time make amends for my past indifferences as well. I asked my parents if I could visit Marjorie Wise.
At first they thought I had gone insane, but I managed to convince them that I needed to do this, so Mom called her parents and asked if it was okay for me to go over and see Marjorie. Her parents were a bit reluctant, but agreed that it might do Marjorie some good to have a visitor, all her friends had dropped her, and she had been all alone for weeks. It was upsetting them a lot and they didn’t know how to get Marjorie out of her depression.
Going by car or bicycle it would take me at least 15 minutes, and with the roads in the condition they were now, it would take even longer, but their home was right behind ours, so going cross country it would only take me a few minutes by foot. Well, maybe a bit longer with the snow being so high. I got permission to go cross country if I dressed warm enough. I protested that I had my own fur coat, but still I had to wear my outer clothes for decency and to keep the snow away from my fur.
My clothes were a hindrance for my leaps, but I still managed to get to the Wise home in a record time. I rang the doorbell and turned away from it before they could open it. Marjorie’s Mom answered the door and asked seeing a hooded person on the porch. “Yes? May I help you?”
I turned around and showed her my features. She was puzzled, but not put off by my appearance. “Hello? Who are you?” she asked me.
“Mrs. Wise, I used to be Walter. Now I’m Sinthia, I had an even worse change. Can I have a talk with Marjorie? If you don’t want me, I’ll go home and you can forget that I ever asked.”
Mrs. Wise smiled at me, “No dear, I’m sure Marjorie would like to talk to you. I know that you shunned her, but you haven’t been cruel to her. Her best friends didn’t even bother to call on her. She has been depressed for so long now, I’m glad that someone is here to see her, even if the reason isn’t motivated by compassion but selfish pity.”
I didn’t know what to say. She was totally right in her assessment. I was about to start crying and turning back home, when she took my arm. “Sinthia was it? I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have been so direct. It was insensitive and cruel of me.”
“Yes, you should, I’m a horrible person, everything you said is true. I don’t even know why I came here.”
“Sinthia, you came here to ask Marjorie to help you. You want her forgiveness, do you?”
At my nodding, she continued, “I think you being here will do her a ton of good. Please come inside and go see my girl.”
At her insistence I got inside and undressed. Mrs. Wise looked me over and said, “Well, MORFS really did a number on you too. You do look lovely though. Now, just go upstairs and I’ll bring you some refreshments later.”
After climbing the stairs to the bedrooms and knocking on her bedroom door, I was ready to bolt again. What should I say to her? I was afraid, very afraid. I was scared that she would be furiously mad at me and make fun of me in front of others. I didn’t even occur to me that she couldn’t do that, she was in as much a predicament as I was.
Marjorie opened her door and I froze as I saw her and she saw me. She looked me over and examined me with her eyes, while I just stood there, afraid to move, afraid to speak. It took all my willpower not to jump clear and run back home to hide in the deepest basement.
“Hello,” she finally said with a melodious voice. “Mom said that someone from school would be here to talk to me. She must have been mistaken, because I have never seen you or any other squirrel hybrid in school.”
I couldn’t back out now; she was still a nice girl. Even after she morfed into a badger hybrid and had been raped and beaten, she still hadn’t cracked under the pressure and changed into a cynical person. Softly I started, “Hi Marjorie, I was in school with you. You did know me before … uhm… your change. I just changed into this a short while ago. My name is now Sinthia. Uh, can I come in?”
Marjorie ushered me in and I sat in a chair facing her bed. My bushy tail was a bit uncomfortable, but it would have to do. Marjorie sat down on her bed and said, “So, your name is Sinthia. I still don’t know anyone with that name.”
I was a bit uncomfortable getting to the truth part. “I…well…you see…”
She interrupted, “Get on with it; I don’t want to die from old age here.” But she smiled at me saying that.
“Okay, I’m just going to say it. You’ll probably throw me out after that anyway. I used to be Walter Hartman. I got MORFS and it changed me into a girl squirrel hybrid.”
There, I said it and I broke down to start crying. “I’ll go home now, and leave you here to hate me for not being there for you when you needed it.”
Marjorie walked up to me and lifted my head, then pulled me out of the chair, ‘Gee, she is really strong,’ and sat down with me on the bed.
“I don’t hate you, Walter.”
“It’s Sinthia now. My mom changed it to one of my grandmothers’ name.”
“Sinthia, that is a nice name. I don’t hate you. I was disappointed that you didn’t want to see me after my change, but everyone else did at least the same, and some even did worse.”
“I know, I even have an idea about the guys that raped and beat you. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell the police, I was mistaken in my beliefs. I’ll try to make it right by you Marjorie.”
“Don’t make it right by me, just be truthful and honest. I can guess why you are here now; you want my help to go to school. You want me to be your friend, since no one else will want to be anymore.”
I looked down again; Marjorie was as perceptive as her mom. They both guessed everything before I could even say it. Marjorie lifted my head again. “I wouldn’t mind that, I know that you wouldn’t have come here if you hadn’t changed, but at least I’m not alone anymore. I finally have someone who can relate to me and my problems, I’ll be happy to help you. Will you be my friend, Sinthia?”
“I’d love to be your friend again Marjorie, please forgive me for being such a prick.”
Marjorie started giggling, “You said prick, and you were! Now, you don’t have one anymore.” Her giggling went right out into laughter. Her mom came in at that time with some lemonade and cookies.
“Well, I’m happy that you’re laughing again, but don’t laugh at poor Sinthia, she has her own problems.”
I feebly tried to explain why Marjorie was laughing, but she cut me off. “I’m not laughing at her, Mom. She made a funny remark, without intending to. Come on Sinthia, laugh with me.” And she poked me in the side.
Hesitantly I started to laugh a bit, but then felt a bit more relaxed and laughed with Marjorie. Her mom shook her head and went out of the room, closing the door behind her. We continued laughing for a few moments more, till Marjorie lifted the plate to me. “Cookie?”
I accepted it and it was delicious. “These are good.” I commented.
“Mom is the best at these. So, what embarrassing moments did you have already?” Marjorie asked straight out to me.
I winced, thinking about the malls. “Mom took me to a MORFS center.”
I nodded, “We had a few hours to kill before my appointment and needed to do some clothes shopping. As you can imagine, none of my clothes fit me anymore.”
Marjorie smiled at my remark; “Go on,” she urged me.
“Well, at the first mall, they wouldn’t even let me inside unless I was wearing a leash.”
“Really? They said that?” Marjorie asked wonderingly.
“Well, he also called me a pet. The second mall was even worse; a storeowner told us that pets were not allowed inside, no matter how sentient they behaved. As we went away from there, two security guys came to us and told us that there had been complaints about my mom’s whatever and they were there to throw us out.”
“You should sue.” Marjorie said.
“I don’t think that would be such a good idea, it would only get me more attention and people would come to persecute me.”
“Welcome to my world.” Marjorie said melancholic.
“I hadn’t understood your problems or the problems black people had before their rights were finally accepted. I’m really sorry for not being there for you Marjorie.”
She hugged me, “You’re forgiven, at least now I’m not alone anymore. Together we can stand up to all those bigots. Will you allow me to help you?”
“Yes, please, I’ll need all the help I can get. So, I’m really agile and strong with my legs, do you have any advantages with your form?”
“Well, I am stronger than I look. Still that wasn’t enough to keep those rapist boys away from me, especially after they drugged me with ketamine.”
I gasped, “I hadn’t heard that! You were drugged? I’m sorry that you had to endure that.”
Marjorie shrugged, “I’m getting over it, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?”
I just grimaced at her. She changed the subject. “Did you see Cherida in Des Moines? She was nice, wasn’t she?”
I nodded, “How about VanLeek, he seemed to know what he was doing. Did you have to dodge the balls or knock them out of the way?”
Marjorie laughed, “I had to keep going while being bombarded. You had to dodge, right?” At my nodding she asked, “How about the pole? I fell off within a few feet. VanLeek told me nobody had ever made it to the end. How far did you make it?”
“All the way to the end,” I answered dryly.
“Wow,” Marjorie exclaimed. “You made it all the way to the end? How?”
“Well, squirrels are very good at keeping balance, the tail helps a lot. I instinctively knew how to use my tail to balance me correctly and kept on going. It was very hard at the end, but I made it.”
“That is so cool,” said Marjorie. “I wish I could have seen it.”
I looked down again, “I wish I could still do sports, I’m a lot better at them now. We’re never allowed to compete in anything ever again, you know? They don’t allow hybrids to compete with norms. They consider us freaks.”
“Hey, don’t you start crying now. You got me out of my funk, don’t put me back in.” Marjorie scolded me.
I hugged her, “Thanks Marjorie, I really appreciate having someone to talk to and share similar experiences.”
“I enjoy it too, but you had an even more radical change. You also changed gender, right?”
“Uhm, yeah. Don’t remind me.” I muttered.
“I would like to introduce you to all the girly stuff that you have never known and need to know. You don’t have sisters I think.”
At my shaking she exclaimed, “Good, no competition. Now, where to start?”
“Oh no, what have I gotten myself into,” I cried out in mock despair.
Marjorie had a real good evil laugh. She used it on me before diving into her closet and getting me to try on clothes and jewelry. Fortunately we didn’t have matching sizes, so I was off the hook for most things, though I did go home with a top that didn’t fit her anymore and a matching skirt.
I really felt a lot better after my talk with Marjorie. I had been right; she was still a nice girl and she seemed to think that I was too. Well, I was a girl now, I still don’t know about the nice part though. It also gave me another idea. I had one more thing to set right before school started.
The next day I did my chores early and fast before setting out towards town. I had dressed myself as best I could to be inconspicuous, and hoped that nobody would see and recognize me. Luck was with me and I got to the police station without problems. Going inside wasn’t easy for me; my heart was beating so loud that I thought every cop could hear it. I got some strange looks by the officers that I passed, but they left me alone till I reached the duty desk.
“Hello? I would like to speak to detectives Meshinger and Davies please.”
“I don’t think they are in right this moment, Miss…?”
I sighed; of course they would be out when I needed to talk to them. “Please, can you tell me when they’ll be back, I can wait. It’s really important.”
The sergeant looked at me; I hoped he wouldn’t get a good look. Finally he said, “I could radio them to come here, if it’s that important to you.”
“It is, please call them here before I lose my nerve.” I was trembling with fear. Any moment someone would see me as the freak I was and started shouting or worse.
A police woman took me into a room and gave me a glass of water. I had nearly finished it by the time the detectives came into the room. “All right what is so bloody important that we got dragged back here?” Said Meshinger. Then he saw me sitting at a table. “You wanted to see us?”
I nodded and my hood fall away. Davies looked at me, “Who are you, girl? What is so important that you wanted to talk to us now?” He sat down in front of me, while Meshinger kept standing.
“You were right about what you told me, detective Davies.”
Davies looked at Meshinger and back at me. “I’ve never seen you before, when did I talk to you? What is your name, please?”
“My name is Sinthia.” I started, but then I choked. I wanted to go on, but my throat was almost screwed tightly shut. “I… I…” Meshinger was about to comment, rudely I presumed, but Davies motioned him not to say anything. Finally I managed to squeak out, “You told me that MORFS is a sickness that even I could get. Well, you were right, I got it all right.”
Davies was very sharp, I’ll give him that. “Walter Hartman? That is you?”
Even Meshinger didn’t know what to say or do, he just looked at me. I couldn’t tell if he felt pity or was gloating. I was close to crying again. I just nodded; I didn’t trust my voice right there and then.
Davies gave me another glass of water and sat down next to me. I couldn’t see Meshinger anymore, maybe he had stepped out. “So, Walter, what did you want to tell me?” Davies started.
“My name is now Sinthia. Sinthia Hartman. I was wrong not telling you what I suspected. I think Gary Fields and Phil Bondi were part of the group that drugged and raped Marjorie Wise.”
Davies grabbed me by my shoulders very painfully. “How do you know the Wise girl was drugged? We left that out of all our investigation talks.”
“Ow, you’re hurting me.” Davies let go and I rubbed my painful shoulders. “Yesterday I visited Marjorie; she told me that though she is a lot stronger now, she didn’t stand a chance against the group, especially after they drugged her with Ketamine.”
Meshinger stepped out of the dark corner, where I hadn’t seen him. “So, now you are friends with Marjorie Wise? We will check it you know.”
I smiled a little, “You can check it all you want. She agreed to help me get me back on my feet and I said that I would have her back whenever she needed it.”
Meshinger wasn’t finished yet, “You’re telling us this because you felt remorse and wanted to do the right thing? I don’t buy it; I think you’re just afraid that after the change, they’ll be after you as well. You just want to do a preemptive strike.”
I looked back at him with narrowed eyes. “Yes, it is one of my considerations, but it isn’t the main reason.” Meshinger snorted, but I continued, “I went to Marjorie expecting to be ridiculed, taunted, or even straight out hated. To my surprise, she immediately forgave me for not talking to her before. In fact no one has been talking to her after her MORFS change; all her friends dropped her like a rock. That’s why I’m doing this now for her, I should have been a better friend to her. She really likes having someone to talk to and do things with. I owe her.”
Davies calmed us both down, “Easy now missy, you too partner. Now Sinthia, you gave us two names, do you know any more boys who might have done it?”
“Gary and Phil are the most likely suspects; they would start such a thing. There are some other guys I know that might do it in a group, but they wouldn’t start it and I can’t tell if they would go along.”
“Okay, it’ll do for now. Is there anything else that you’d want to talk about?” Davies asked me.
“Well, when I was in Des Moines to be tested and evaluated at the MORFS center, we went shopping for clothes. In two different malls, I was harassed and mistreated by security and store owners. They called me a pet and that I should be on a leash at all times. The store even refused to let me in, since pets weren’t allowed. The security said they received complaints about me and called me a ‘whatever’. Can I do something about that? I don’t want to make too many waves, but if this goes on, me, Marjorie, and every other full hybrid after us will face that and be restricted in our lives.”
Meshinger did something unexpected, he knelt down near me. “I would like to know which malls did that. I’ll make sure they will be getting some heat for that.”
I looked at him, “Why do you care so much about that? I thought you didn’t like me.”
He gave me an apologetic facial expression, “I have a niece who’s a full hybrid, and I’ve encountered bigotry like that first hand. I thought you were a bigot as well, but I was wrong. Please accept my apologies.”
I looked down at the floor, “I was kind of a bigot, you were right about me. I don’t deserve your apologies.”
Meshinger lifted my head so I had to look at him, “I was wrong, you are not that bad. Thank you for coming in and giving us this information. Don’t hesitate to call again if you encounter more bad things.”
“Thank you, I’ll keep it in mind.”
Back home I found out that I was in a lot of trouble for not telling them that I had gone to the police station. Mom and Dad applauded my initiative to straighten things out, but scolded me for going alone. I would be grounded for a long time again. Well, didn’t mind that, I preferred to stay inside anyway. I was more worried about school the next day.
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/