We Can Work It Out: A MORFS Universe Story
By Terry Volkirch
Chapter 5: May 7, 2035
I awoke from yet another bittersweet dream about Jill. We had a great time shopping at the mall and were planning to have dinner together. We couldn't decide which house to have dinner at - hers or mine - and were playfully arguing about who's mother was the better cook when the dream ended. We were still nothing more than friends.
I sighed and got out of bed to start what would be a very important day for me. I desperately needed some therapy and I was dying to know if I had any powers. All I had to do was make myself presentable and have a bite to eat. It sounded simple.
I trembled as I looked in my closet. I never gave clothes much thought as a boy but now I was paralyzed with indecision. What should I wear to my appointments? If I wore a dress, would everyone think I lost my mind? If I wore jeans and a tee shirt, would they think I was denying being a girl? I finally took the easy way out and pleaded for help. My mother came to the rescue and picked out navy blue slacks and a sweater to match. It was what I'd call elegant casual, and it would soon come to be my favorite fashion style.
Once I got dressed, I brushed my hair and applied some mascara. Then I admired myself in the mirror. After only a few days, I looked like any normal teenage girl. I was amazed, and most pleased. Now if only I could accept my enjoyment.
Breakfast was nice and relaxed. Mom and I chatted aimlessly through half a dozen subjects over cold cereal. We didn't say much but it made for a pleasant distraction. I think she knew I wasn't in the mood for anything but light conversation. It wasn't difficult to tell since I had a hard time focusing on what she said. I couldn't stop thinking about my upcoming therapy session.
By the time we finished our leisurely meal, it was late morning. It'd be too early to have lunch before we left so we planned to have lunch between my appointments instead. Mom didn't know of any restaurants in the area so she was going to scout around for one while she waited for me. Gwen's office was very near the hospital but there was no way we'd eat in the hospital cafeteria. The thought of eating food in a place full of sickness made us both uneasy.
There was nothing but awkward silence after cleaning our dishes. We sat back down at the dining room table and ended up staring at the yellow and brown checkered wallpaper for quite a long while before we decided to leave early. My mother didn't think it likely but I was hopeful Gwen could see me early. The earlier the better.
* * *
The ride to the hospital was unusually quiet, and seemed farther than I remembered. That was easily explained of course. I was too impatient to get there and wasn't quickly passing the time with conversation. I was storing up all of my verbal energy for therapy. I was determined to get over my moodiness. My mom was quiet for the usual reason. She really hated to drive, and would normally only talk when spoken to. It was a big relief to finally see our destination loom on the horizon.
Gwen's office was in a building that connected to the hospital via a pedestrian sky bridge. We parked in the hospital parking lot and then walked over the bridge. I was glad we didn't cross the road at street level. It was safer using the bridge. I think driving was becoming a lost art with the trains in town. People didn't get enough practice and drove like maniacs - in my opinion.
We found the building directory and saw Gwen's office was on the fifth floor, in room 501. It was just two floors up from the level of the sky bridge. I told my mom I could find my way easily enough from there and she didn't waste any time leaving. She was anxious to find a restaurant as soon as possible so she could use up any spare time with some window shopping. I wished her good luck and began my hunt for the stairs. I'm sure there was an elevator but I preferred the stairs. I liked the exercise.
I found room 501 easily enough. The door actually opened into a small lobby with an overly friendly young man seated behind a desk. The nameplate on the desk read, "David".
David took my name and commented that I'd have a long wait. It was almost an hour before my appointment. I quietly told him I had nothing better to do and was hoping to start my session early. That was the wrong thing to say. I think he took it as an invitation for conversation because he buzzed Gwen to let her know I was here and then asked me a zillion questions. I began to wish I hadn't shown up so early.
I could tell from the way his eyes roved over my body that he was attracted to me, but my one word answers to his questions didn't make it obvious enough that I didn't return his interest. It probably didn't matter what I said anyway. I'm sure he wasn't really listening and was content to ogle me instead. He continued his babbling, barely taking the time to breathe.
It was an annoying situation but I didn't want to be rude, especially since David worked with Gwen. Being rude certainly wouldn't make a good impression. I took the time to run several ideas through my mind - easy enough to do with the inane chatter - and soon came up with a plan. I ever so slowly edged away from the reception desk and towards a comfortable looking chair. He still didn't take the hint so I reinforced it with a little white lie. I told him I was tired and just wanted to sit and read. He took it gracefully, and he even stopped talking. If only his eyes would shut up.
David's talking was bad but his staring made me shiver with dread. It bothered me enough that I hid from him behind a news magazine that I found nearby in a wall rack. I opened the magazine and held it high in front of my face. That's when I noticed an interesting article. It was about the offbeat lives of some MORFS hybrids, and it actually helped improve my mood. It reminded me that things could always be worse. If I was a hybrid in this town, I'd most likely be in the hospital with broken bones rather than in a psychologist's office.
After about 15 minutes, I was so engrossed in the article that I jumped a little when a sudden shadow fell over the magazine. It was Gwen! She'd peeked outside and decided to save me from her receptionist. She was having lunch in her office to make sure she wasn't late for my appointment. She'd just finished off a sandwich and had a few more things to eat but she said they could wait. I wondered if she somehow sensed I was uncomfortable with David. Perhaps she heard him talking to me earlier. Whatever the reason, I was grateful to get away.
"Hello Bobbi," Gwen said. "You're a little early but we can start your session now."
"Hi. Thanks," I responded, still in one word answer mode as Gwen excused David for lunch and led me into her office.
We both sat down facing each other in large, white overstuffed chairs well away from her desk, but neither of us hurried to start the session. I was actually a little nervous. It was my first therapy session so I stalled. I pretended to be greatly interested in a tall potted philodendron next to my chair. My time in the lobby hadn't helped matters either. I found it rather difficult to find my voice after shying away from David.
I could see out of the corner of my eye that I was being watched and most likely studied, and I didn't care for it. I'd had enough of people staring at me so I turned to face Gwen with my best questioning look and saw a smile slowly appear. It was the same sort of smile that my father gave me a few days ago - the one that seemed to say he approved of my behavior.
"So how are you doing?" she began. "Still got that mature attitude?"
"I'm trying." Two words in a sentence there. It was progress.
"Trying?" she asked with some concern.
I pulled out my list of issues and explained what it was. She wanted to see it but I put her off and read the first item that caught my eye. It was my love of shopping.
"Yes," she said. "Your mother told me about your shopping trips on the phone. She didn't tell me everything though. Is that makeup I see?"
"Yes," I blushed.
"Hey. It's okay to wear a little makeup, and it's okay to like shopping. There are plenty of boys who like to shop, and more than a few who like to wear makeup for that matter."
That got a laugh out of me. Gwen really did make a great psychologist. I hoped we could be friends when I no longer needed her services.
I went on to the next several items and began to notice a trend, as I'm sure Gwen did. They all tied in with my wary acceptance of girlhood. I enjoyed a lot of stereotypically feminine behavior and wondered if I'd always wanted to be a girl. That really bothered me.
The session progressed slowly but it did progress. With Gwen's careful guidance, I was shown how unusually lucky I was. MORFS gave me the chance to experience things that society wouldn't otherwise accept. I hadn't thought of that. I guess I was scared of being ridiculed for it. I was still thinking of myself as a boy in girl's clothing.
At one point, Gwen got up and went over to her desk. She brought back a hand mirror and asked me to look into it.
"What do you see, Bobbi?"
"I see me," I said slowly.
"And who are you?"
"I'm... I'm a girl... a girl named Bobbi." I smiled then. I remembered feeling better when I checked myself out in the mirror at home too. I'd have to look at myself more often. I added a pocket mirror - and purse! - to my mental shopping list and then let loose. It was so liberating. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I liked being a girl. I liked everything about it - so far at least.
After I eventually came down from my feminine high, it was Gwen's turn. She wanted to talk about school and make sure I was ready to return. I thought my love of learning would carry me through it but she wasn't convinced. She asked about my friends. That's when I got a bit upset.
Losing my best friend hit me hard, and the memories came flooding back. I couldn't help it. I cried. Gwen made soothing sounds of encouragement to get it all out and I did. Losing John obviously still upset me, but after the tears I found I could easily talk about it. Crying worked wonders.
By the time my therapy session was nearly over, I was emotionally exhausted. Once again I'd experienced a ride on an emotional roller coaster. This time was different however. Gwen rode with me. She came along and showed me that there was nothing wrong with being emotional. In fact - though she admitted it sounded sexist - it was expected of girls. She also maintained it was healthy. Crying was a great stress reliever, and who could argue with expressions of joy. Even anger had its place as long as it was channeled constructively.
Gwen warned me about anger. She said it could rear its ugly head. According to her, I undoubtedly had some rough times ahead at school and I may get angry about it. I may get angry at my classmates, angry at MORFS, angry at the world. Life was sometimes unfair and we all had to deal with it. I didn't anticipate any trouble but I assured her I'd let her know if I had problems at school.
Gwen smiled at my naivety and offered a last bit of advice.
"I want you to consider seeking friendship with a girl your own age. There are some things girls can talk about that you won't want to discuss with your mother." She winked at me and I blushed. I realized she was implying I'd end up with a boyfriend at some point. I wish we had more time to discuss that subject but it would have to wait until next week.
"Thanks," I told her. "I could always use more friends."
"Right then," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "Now hold your head up high. Get out there and be assertive. If you're too passive, boys will flock and girls will mock."
I groaned at that. It might have been true, and even useful, but it was so corny. Gwen laughed at my reaction and gently pushed me out to the lobby where my mother was waiting.
I was surprised to see dear old mom. I expected to finish early, before she arrived to pick me up. My session started a half hour early and still ran the full hour I'd had scheduled. It was a good thing because I needed every minute.
I thanked Gwen for the extra time, making sure my mother heard me. Then Gwen returned the favor by giving away something else.
"Are you sure you won't leave your list with me?" Gwen asked. "It might save some time in the future if I had some time to think about it."
"Nice try," I said while noticing my mother cocking her head. "But it's my only copy. I'm going to study it a bit more. I want to make sure the things we haven't discussed yet are still issues and...," I stopped. I was embarrassed and it must have showed.
"You're embarrassed about something on it," Gwen finished for me. "I understand. I'll see you next Monday after school."
"Do you really think I'm ready for school?"
"Yes, I think you're ready to go back," she said with her best reassuring smile. "You'll do fine."
I smiled back, just before all the blood drained from my face. I suddenly remembered my physical education class, or PE as it was commonly called, and the thought of taking a shower with dozens of nude girls scared the heck out of me. Gwen agreed it was probably best if I didn't go to that class until my Junior year so she wrote a note to excuse me from it for the remaining one and a half months of school. Then I'd have the rest of the school year and the whole summer to get used to being a girl. It was perfect.
I left the lobby feeling rather satisfied until I thought about how many issues were left on my list. Only about half of them were covered, and I didn't know it then but there were several more that'd be added before I was done. I was impatient to overcome them all.
My mother asked about my list on the way back to the car. After my explanation, she said she'd done the same sort of thing when she was a teenager. She occasionally wrote in a journal to deal with all sorts of issues - good and bad. Both my list and her journal were a sort of diary. Likening my habit to a diary pleased me. It was yet another predominantly feminine trait, and more evidence that I'd become who I'd always been meant to be.
The rest of the walk to the car and the drive to lunch gave me the opportunity to tie up some loose ends. I thanked my mother for not trying to psychoanalyze me. I felt uncomfortable talking about some things with her. It was easier in a way to talk to someone I didn't know very well. It also helped a lot that Gwen had some experience with gender changes.
"I understand, sweetie," she told me.
"Thanks mom," I said with some relief. I worried that she wouldn't like me keeping things from her. Actually, she probably didn't like it, but at least she was nice about it. I loved her so much.
Maybe I could share more with her. There was one thing I felt a whole lot better about after my session with Gwen. I decided to take a chance.
"There is one thing I think you should know. It was bothering me a lot but I'm coming to accept it. I hope you can too." I had my mother's undivided attention now. I had an audience of one but it felt like thousands of people were watching me. It took all of my willpower to say it. "I like being a girl."
"Oh sweetie," she gushed. "I knew that."
"What?!" I was stunned. How could she know? Were mothers really psychic with their children?
"Oh come now. Don't be surprised. It's been obvious. I could see the excitement in your eyes when we went shopping, and I could almost hear your heart rate increase when we were at the hair salon. It's okay. Really."
Dang. All that anxiety for nothing. My mom wasn't really psychic but her intuition was finely tuned. I was tempted to add it as another issue to my list but I resisted. When I thought about it, I really shouldn't have been surprised. It was pretty obvious I enjoyed our time together. She also caught me having fun twirling my skirt in the hallway. There was no denying that I liked being a girl.
We arrived at a nice little Italian restaurant a couple blocks away, and after we were parked, my mother had a revelation to share with me. It was only fair. She told me that she was still getting used to the idea of having a daughter. It's been difficult for her to let go of Rob.
I hadn't considered that. I knew my parents were concerned for how I was taking my change but I didn't think they'd have their own problems with it. So the universe didn't revolve around me after all. I had others to think of. My life was getting more complicated all the time.
* * *
Lunch was too short and far too intense. The food was delicious but we continued to discuss my change and barely managed to fight off the tears that threatened to leak out. I think the only thing that kept us from crying was our mascara. We didn't want it to run and make us look like raccoons. We still had places to go.
It was a warm spring day so we left the car parked back at the restaurant and walked to our first destination - a nearby street that was lined with cute and colorful little shops all wedged tightly together. My mother insisted we go back to resume the window shopping she'd started after finding the restaurant. She had to cut it short to pick me up and wanted to look at a few more things. It was nice to see so many shops that weren't part of some large franchise. Malls were great for most shopping needs but they didn't have the rare and unique items you could find in small, independently owned stores.
I wasn't too sure about window shopping at first. I wanted to go in and look at everything but mother assured me that we didn't have time for that. She also maintained that I'd like it if I gave it a chance. I had to agree it was a good idea to stay outside and enjoy the nice weather. It was also interesting to see the store window displays. People obviously put a lot of effort into some of them. The whole experience was wonderful and helped lighten my mood after our all too serious lunch. There would be no more depressing talk about our issues. The clicking of our heels on the cement sidewalk and the animated discussions about merchandise left no room for anything but fun.
Window shopping was a near perfect extension to the regular shopping experience. We could shop even if we didn't have any money! How good is that. Some of the window displays were enjoyable as works of art and some inspired some gift ideas that I could always buy later. There was one problem however. We lost track of time and nearly forgot about my post-MORFS exam. Luckily my mom remembered and got me there with a few minutes to spare, though she drove a bit fast for my taste.
The exam was in the clinic where I was officially diagnosed with MORFS. It was interesting to compare my vague memories of the place with what I was seeing now. I must have been really out of it when my mom dragged me in because nothing seemed familiar, except the doctor. I was surprised to see Dr. Johnson from the hospital. I always thought doctors worked in one place. Oh well. Live and learn.
I'd spent an hour or so last Sunday night reading about these exams on the Internet to see what they were like. I wanted to be prepared just in case. First there were the blood and DNA tests, along with a physical exam. That was expected for any doctor visit, and my mother already warned me about physicals for girls so there was no mystery there. The part I didn't know was how they checked for powers. Normally, a telepath would be able to probe for and detect powers. That worked in most cases. Another method was to use a precog. A powerful precog could scan someone to look for future usage of any powers. Precogs weren't used very often because they took a lot longer and weren't as reliable as telepaths. The future wasn't fixed so a precog could get a reading with little chance of coming true. The last part of the exam was to test for enhanced physical abilities. I wasn't dressed for such a test but I thought to bring a bag of workout clothes. I wasn't about to wear anything they might have on hand.
My physical was quite a bit more involved than my cursory exam at the hospital. I thought it would never end, but just when I thought I couldn't take any more, all the test results came back and I was declared healthy. Every indicator showed I was well within normal levels. Well, okay. I felt healthy so that was no surprise. I told myself I had to endure the physical to get to the next phase. Now for the good part.
I was surprised when I was introduced to the precog who'd be scanning me. I was hoping for a telepath but on reflection, I shouldn't have been surprised. In a town as uptight as ours, there were bound to be too many people in high positions who were afraid of having their thoughts read. My suspicions were confirmed later when I asked about it. Telepaths definitely weren't welcome here. I felt lucky to get a precog. They were barely tolerated.
The precog's name was Frank. He was tall and well built, with black hair and piercing ice blue eyes that gave me the creeps, but in spite of first impressions, I quickly grew to like him. He was quite charming and witty. No, I wasn't falling in love or anything. I was just interested in his background. I found his power quite interesting since it was related to Sandy's induced dream precognition. I was hoping for a little insight to help me analyze my dreams of Jill.
Unfortunately, Frank and I danced around the subject of precognition, just like we did about everything else he talked about. I was frustrated at how little he actually gave away. Besides some small talk about the weather and current events, all he shared were a couple brief summaries of past scans and the fact that he wasn't actually an employee of the hospital or clinic. He was more like a private contractor. He never did say who he worked for but I guess it didn't matter as long as he was a good precog.
The conversation soon fizzled and Frank switched to lecture mode. We'd begin by sitting close and facing each other. Then he'd place his hands on my shoulders and we'd both close our eyes to reduce distractions. My thoughts could affect the scan so it made his job easier if I could keep my mind clear. Sometime during the process, I might feel some tingling along my scalp or along my spine and the back of my neck. That was all there was to it.
The scan began well enough but it was unusual in many respects. It lasted far longer than average for one thing. Frank also twitched violently a couple times. I didn't know it - having never been scanned before - but that was highly unusual. It meant he was switching timelines to look for different outcomes and their trigger points. The great intensity of the twitch meant he was having a hard time finding them. The worst thing about it for me were the visions. Frank didn't say anything about visions so I wasn't prepared for them.
Shortly into the scan, I was bombarded with images. The images were clear and detailed in the center of my vision and gradually faded to a gray haze around the periphery. They started with what looked like a mad scientist's laboratory - the perfect setting for what happened next. Several large, stern looking men grabbed me, and as soon as they touched me their appearance quickly changed. They became hideous, deformed monsters who jumped back with terror in their eyes, and even after they broke contact with me, they continued to change. One of the monsters melted into a puddle of goo on the floor. Another sprouted leaves and branches to become a grotesque tree. Its roots dug into the floor and the middle of its trunk still had the man's face on it, frozen in a twisted expression of pain and fear. The others managed to scrabble off on tentacles or an odd number of limbs before I could see their final fate. It was like a bad horror movie.
The horrific visions came so fast and furious, and lasted such a short time, I didn't have time to be upset. It also helped that they didn't seem real. There was no way I could let myself believe that could happen. I sat in stunned silence, vowing to watch to the bitter end, though I think I would've screamed and ran out of the clinic if they continued much longer.
I felt Frank's body twitch through the contact with his hands. The first twitch occurred near the beginning of the macabre monster scene. A second one followed soon after the last of the monsters crawled out of view. That's when the visions improved.
Like most movies I liked to watch, my scan had a somewhat strange but wonderful happy ending. I saw Jill! She looked a little older and I couldn't help but notice her curves. She had a beautiful body, with breasts that were larger than mine. She also had the cutest puzzled expression on her face as she looked down at herself. I wasn't sure what was going on but I hoped I'd find out. That's when the scan ended.
Frank and I opened our eyes at the same time, and he immediately looked away and muttered something that sounded like, "That's better."
"What? What was that?" I asked.
"Nothing, really," he said with a weak smile. "I saw a hint of powers but I'm not sure what they were. They were minor at best."
"Oh, thanks anyway," I said. I was hoping for more information but he left the room in a hurry without saying anything else. I didn't find out what powers I had until months later. I wish I'd found out then. It would've saved me some grief.
I was careful not to say anything about the visions. I didn't want to alarm anyone. Since Frank didn't mention anything about them, I didn't think I was supposed to see them. It didn't bother me too much anyway since they ended so well. I forgot all about the nightmarish start and went back to admiring my last images of Jill.
Dr. Johnson came in to remind me I wasn't finished at the clinic yet. I still had the set of physical enhancement tests to take. I got dressed in my workout clothes and managed to slog my way through every last one of them. I was exhausted but the exercise felt good.
The enhancement tests turned out to be anticlimactic and a waste of time. I had no enhancements. At that time, I was quite clumsy and a little below average in physical ability. I was still getting used to my new body with it's lower center of gravity and the two prominent counterweights on my chest. I dragged my tired, clumsy self to the car and let my mother handle most everything else. I was too tired for anything but a shower and food. I slept very well that night and happily dreamed about Jill.
* * *
Security Level: 7
Subject ID: A73DEFG1373D3AF04237
Date: May 7, 2035
Name: Roberta Alexandra Sandstrom
DOB: May 28, 2019
Hair: Lavender, straight
Eyes: Dark purple
Height: 5' 6"/ 168 cm
Power Rating: 1
Threat Level: Blue
Physical Enhancements: None
Specialty Class: Very limited shapeshifting of others and possibly of self
The subject has been scanned by the precog. Subject shows very little potential with no conscious control of abilities.
Projected Outcome: 15% probability of success
To Be Continued...
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/