We Can Work It Out: A MORFS Universe Story
By Terry Volkirch
Chapter 8: May 15 to May 25, 2035 Tuesday morning brought back a painful reminder. Those dreams about Jill were back with a vengeance. They seemed so vivid and real, and that made them all the more frustrating. Jill and I were still best of friends and nothing more - but I wanted more! I began to wonder if Sandy didn't mess up my brain somehow when she did her precog dreaming with me. That might explain the visions I saw later when Frank scanned my future. I was worried that I might need to see a doctor about it. Then it hit me. I could go to the hospital, not to see a doctor but to look for Sandy. She was probably the only one who could really help me anyway. I couldn't wait until the new yearbooks came out to check for Jill. I needed to know if my dream girl was real and I needed to know soon. So now I had a plan of sorts, but it would have to wait. First I had to go to school and before that, I had to get ready for school. It was time to don the ugly uniform once again. Ugh. * * * I was distracted all day at school. I'm sure Michelle noticed but for whatever reason she didn't ask me about it. That was nice because I wanted to stay distracted. How could I stay distracted if I talked about why I was distracted? I know that must sound silly but it makes perfect sense to me. The only thing I could focus on was figuring out how I'd get to the hospital. I snuck a peek at the train schedules on my computer in science class and saw that I'd have to take a later, clockwise train route. That was perfect. I'd miss Sasha and company that way. All I had to do was finish science class and breeze through PE. * * * The hospital seemed different this trip. There were so many strong smells! It was rather unpleasant at first, until I got used to it. I thought it was odd but I chalked it up to being fully recovered. When I was last here, I wasn't exactly at my best. Anyway, I shrugged off the reminiscing and faced the task ahead of me. It was time to hunt. I prowled the hallways mostly undisturbed. I'd occasionally get a nurse asking if I was lost and I just shook my head no and pretended to look upset, like I'd been visiting a seriously injured relative. It worked like a charm. No one asked me a second question or tried to stop me. After an hour of fruitless wandering, it was clear I needed a better plan. When I finally took the time to think about it, I realized that Sandy might not work on this day, or at this time of day. It was late afternoon now and she came to visit me in the morning. With a heavy sigh, I knew I'd have to change tactics and start asking questions. That's when my cell phone rang. I looked at the display. It was my mom. Oh no! I forgot all about telling her I'd be going to the hospital. She must be worried sick. "Mom!" I squeaked. "I'm okay! Really! I'm at the hospital but I'm just visiting." "What are you talking about?" she asked. "Weren't you wondering where I was?" "No, I was calling to ask if you wanted to go out to eat tonight. Why are you visiting the hospital?" "I'm looking for a nurse who helped take care of me. I want to thank her." That was half right anyway. I didn't want to tell the whole story just yet - not until I found Sandy and found out more about my frustrating dreams. I felt a little guilty about not telling my mom about Jill but I was still embarrassed about it, and I didn't know what my mom thought about lesbians. I'd have to broach the subject soon and see how she reacts. "Well your father and I are going out. You're invited too if you come home right away." "I'd rather stay here a bit longer if it's okay. You and daddy have a nice time. I'll throw together something to eat when I get home." "Okay. Good luck finding your nurse. Bye sweetie. Love you." "Bye mom. Love you." Phew! That went well. I got lucky I think. My mom's intuition must have been thrown off by the idea of spending some quality time alone with dad. Hopefully I could continue to use the same excuse and visit the hospital until I find Sandy. I stuffed my phone back in my purse and leaned back against a wall to wait for my heart rate to go down. I felt like a spy on a dangerous mission, barely avoiding detection, and that image was all it took. I wasn't going anywhere for now so I let my imagination run wild. An Agent of Chaotic Evil, also known as an ACE, was hot on my trail. He worked for the mayor of Copely and wouldn't stop until he turned me into a boy-crazy bimbo. He tracked me with a sensitive microphone but I escaped with the help of my tricked-out spy phone. It dampened the sound around me. The ACE couldn't hear me and stomped home to take out his frustrations in a violent virtual reality game. Hurray! I was saved by technology. My little mental game wasn't exactly relaxing but it was fun. It was good to see I still had the same wild imagination. I used to play imagination games quite frequently before my change but this was the first time I'd done it as a girl - or second time I guess if you count my hunting metaphor for shopping. I considered extending my game and using my spy phone to find Sandy, but unfortunately there was no substitute for reality. It was time to start asking questions. The questioning didn't work any better than my previous plan, but I did have an interesting conversation with one of the nurses. After she found out I was a MORFS survivor and was still in stage 3, she suggested I volunteer at the hospital. My immune system was virtually bulletproof so I could help care for patients and not have to worry about getting sick. I could help people and look for Sandy at the same time. I thought that was a great idea. I liked helping people. The only problem was the uniform. It was a hideous red and white striped jumper. The hospital brought it back for nostalgic reasons. They liked the nickname given to the early volunteers who wore it: Candystriper. At least the name was cute. I went to the administrative office to volunteer and brought forms back home for my parents to sign. I was sure they'd like the idea. They were always getting after me to pursue more social interests. With candystriping and my jujitsu class, I'd be meeting a lot of potential new friends. I was looking forward to it. * * * The rest of the week and the upcoming weekend were a blur of activity. I'd never been so busy but I was loving it. I loved getting out of the house and interacting with people. I'd always been so shy as a boy. Now I was just the opposite and was never happier. There was only one thing missing - Jill. It turned out that I was lucky to be able to be a candystriper. My parents approved but the hospital thought I might be a little young. They only relented when they found out I'd be turning 16 very soon. I looked at it as a sweet 16 birthday present from the universe. The universe was keeping secrets from me but it was still graciously bestowing gifts to help me to look for those secrets. My hospital schedule was very flexible. It was perfect. I could change days and times to increase the odds that I'd find Sandy. I still had to get used to the smells every time but that was the only downside. My duties varied wildly and wonderfully so I was never bored. I fetched flowers, food and drink, and even medical supplies later, as I learned about them. I also talked with the livelier patients and read stories to some who were too ill for anything but listening. It broke my heart to see such pain and suffering but I was glad I could help make their lives better for awhile. Jujitsu class took some getting used to. It wasn't nearly as rewarding as candystriping - not at first anyway. For one thing, I didn't really have time to talk and meet anyone. I guess that made sense because I had a lot to learn. All I did my first class was practice strikes and kicks over and over. It was great exercise, and also quite boring. There was one other downside that upset me a little too. I had to file my fingernails, otherwise I'd scratch my classmates when we practiced self-defense together. I'd planned on growing them long and getting a French manicure. So much for that idea. Martial arts took a lot more work and responsibility than I expected, leading me to nickname the class "bad juju". My jujitsu classes took place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I started class that week on the 17th, and I started candystriping the day before. Friday was busy for a different reason. It was Mt. St. Helens Day - a local holiday. The town celebrated the big volcanic eruption of May 18th, 1980 by lighting off fireworks. Mt. St. Helens isn't all that far away from Copely so a huge, dark cloud drifted over the town soon after the eruption, covering everything with a thick layer of ash. It didn't really do much damage, but it was a nuisance, and was different enough that it gave people an excuse to celebrate. I invited Michelle to watch the firework display with my parents. We got some cotton candy and a helium balloon out of it, not to mention ringing ears. Some of those fireworks were loud! We spent far too much time afterwards laughing at ourselves trying to hear each other talk. We kept misunderstanding and asking each other to constantly repeat what we said. It was good silly fun. The weekend was fun too, in spite of a large load of homework. I spent the time candystriping and shopping with Michelle so how I could I go wrong. The only difficult part concerned my continuing boy lessons. I lumped them in with homework of course. Michelle was determined to make me understand boys from the female perspective before we double dated. She was a demanding teacher and I respected her for it. I understood being a boy fairly well. Seeing them through a girl's eyes was quite a rude shock however. Dating a boy involved a complex interplay of emotions and a lot of work. Girls invested a lot of time and emotion into relationships that rarely lasted any appreciable length of time. The worst part was the fact that girls generally matured earlier than boys. A boy trying to impress his date could be more embarrassing than almost anything else in the universe, and the only thing a girl could do was commiserate with her girlfriends. If dating a boy was compared to math, I'd have to say it was at least at the level of calculus. It was emotional calculus and I never had a clue. * * * Monday morning taunted me with dream fragments and reminded me that I hadn't found Sandy, but try as I might, I couldn't dwell on it. I had school to get ready for and Michelle's date shopping to endure. She referred to finding a date as date shopping. I had to admit it was a cute way to look at it but I dreaded it nonetheless. We were to meet at lunch and spring her plan into action. We'd find a couple of potential dates and carry on a conversation within earshot of them. We'd talk about wishing we'd have a date for Friday night to try to inspire the boys to ask us out. If our first choices didn't work out, we'd move on to the next best boys. That sounded silly but I didn't dare tell my boy-crazy friend that. She took this game very seriously. My classes didn't drag nearly as much as I wanted. It was lunch time before I knew it. I found my giggling friend and somehow talked her into letting me eat something first. I brought a sandwich and banana and I was hungry. I got my lunch out of my locker and gravitated towards my usual spot at the table for young geeks. Then I spent some quality time talking with Adrian while I waited for Michelle to get a salad from the vending machines. I didn't want to start eating until I had to. I was hoping to stall and minimize the amount of time we had for date shopping. Michelle rushed back to the table and then only picked at her food. She was too busy telling me to hurry and eat mine to eat her own. I'd never seen someone fidget and fuss so much. She was extremely eager to start shopping, but that only made me more nervous. Could boys really hold that much power over girls? It was a scary thought. I wish I knew then what I found out later about Michelle. I think I would've been a lot more understanding towards her that day. She eventually confessed that she was insecure about being so short. She had very little self-confidence and had only dated briefly once. She was hoping to use me to attract boys until she felt better about herself. I know that sounded kind of bad but she didn't expect to use me as a boy magnet from the time we first met, any more than she only wanted me for my brain in science class. She just wanted a good friend and thought I could use one too. She didn't have any close friends as she only moved to Copely last summer. The teens she met in her camera club were nice but the only thing she seemed to have in common with them was a love of cameras. She wanted something more. Our friendship grew quickly. We shared a similar hair color, an interest in the natural sciences and a love of shopping. We started with a solid foundation, and once we started becoming close friends, she thought I was pretty enough to attract more boys than she felt she could. So she formed a plan. It was completely innocent and I didn't mind helping her - much anyway. She really was a very sweet girl. I finished my banana and was close to finishing my sandwich when Michelle suddenly stifled a squeal. Our quarries were in sight. I was begged to stop eating and start date shopping immediately or I'd have a dying friend to care for. She certainly could be melodramatic sometimes. Sheesh. I choked down my last bite of sandwich and composed myself. It was time for the play to start. We'd rehearsed our little dialog in my bedroom several times last night until Michelle told me I was ready for prime time. It didn't matter that I didn't feel ready. My friend somehow composed herself in less than a minute. I was impressed. All of her nervousness was gone, replaced by a fierce determination that I could see in her eyes. We checked each other to make sure our makeup was good and slowly made our way into position to begin. "Hey Bobbi! Wait up!" Michelle was only a step behind me but now wasn't the time to quibble over details. "What is it Michelle?" So now the boys would have our names, if they were listening. It was a test to see how observant and how interested in us they were. I had to admit my friend could be quite devious when it came to boys. "What are you doing Friday night?" Michelle asked. "I'm not doing anything," I hoped. "Why do you ask?" Oh boy. This dialog is so not me. I wished now that I'd taken more interest in writing it. I shouldn't have left it all up to her. Having an audience made a big difference. "I'm not doing anything either," she sighed. "Wouldn't it be nice to go on a double date?" She didn't waste too much time getting to the point. Hopefully it would be over soon. "I'm not sure," I said shyly, looking down at the ground. It was something that Michelle thought I did very well - something that would make me irresistible. "I've never been on a double date. I felt ridiculous. It seemed a bit suspicious to me that we stopped and talked in the middle of the lunch room like we did but Michelle assured me later that I did a fine job. I guess you couldn't argue with results. The boys jumped up from the table to ask us out. My prospective date was practically drooling. Help! Reggie was to be my date. He was the taller of the two by a few inches, with dark brown hair and chestnut eyes. I guess I might call him handsome - if I was attracted to boys. To his credit, he did greet me by name when he introduced himself, and he didn't stare at my chest. He was very confident without being too aggressive. I wish I could've been more like him when I was a boy. Jamie was Michelle's date. He was about as tall as me, with sandy brown hair and green eyes. It wasn't clear if he remembered Michelle's name since he left most of the talking to his friend, but he seemed nice enough. We talked about what to do and ended up with the old standby of dinner and a movie. We could decide on a restaurant later but we did want to discuss the movie. The latest sci-fi blockbuster was released recently and the boys hopefully suggested it. I loved the idea, and Michelle seemed reluctant but she agreed too. I was pleased it was decided so easily, though I couldn't help notice that Michelle was staring daggers at me as we left the cafeteria. She told me on the way to science class that she only agreed because it was 3 to 1 against her. She wasn't very fond of sci-fi movies. I commented that there might be something better to do during the movie than watching it and her mood suddenly improved. That's when I realized how inexperienced she was at dating. She knew a lot of theory but didn't have much practice. It was a case of the blind leading the blind. I was doomed. It bothered me a little that I thought of kissing a boy before she did - or at all for that matter. It would've disturbed me more if I hadn't already planned on watching every minute of the movie. I hoped Reggie felt the same way. As it was, I still felt conflicted. I secretly wished Michelle good luck at distracting Jamie but I was afraid they might inspire the same behavior in Reggie. I was really looking forward to seeing the movie. My taste in movies hadn't changed much as far as I could tell, but I had to wonder if I might better appreciate a 'chick flick' now that I was a girl. I had yet to be properly introduced to them. I'd probably only seen a handful on television when I was a boy, thanks to my mother's influence. Now that I wasn't ashamed to express emotions, I actually started looking forward to seeing one. I made a mental note to have a girl's night out with Michelle sometime soon, and found myself looking forward to that more than my impending double date. The last couple classes were a nice distraction. They helped me forget about my date. They also helped me forget about something else that had been bothering me: Sasha. My nemesis was waiting for me at the train station after school and she was in top form. She came walking up to me, close enough that I could smell cigarettes on her breath. It made me a little queasy but I stood my ground. "Have you been avoiding me?" she said with a feral smile. "Not in the least," I said. "I just have better things to do than trade insults with you. I have a life." Sasha's two lackeys hissed at that but otherwise kept quiet. They'd always been pretty dull when I thought about all of our encounters. At least I didn't have to worry about them. Only their leader concerned me at the moment. "We don't have to trade insults," Sasha leered. "Maybe we could have some fun in the girls rest room." She was alluding to our facial sparring again, when she took advantage of my lust for girls. It was her only weapon against me and it was effective. Today would mark a change though. I had a new defense to try. "Sorry to disappoint you, dear," I emphasized the last word. "But I have a date with a boy named Reggie. You'll have to find someone else to molest." That produced a curious reaction. Sasha's lower lip trembled and she almost looked as if she was going to cry. I couldn't believe it. My date with a boy had actually did some good. My tall, fierce nemesis took a deep breath to compose herself, turned quickly on her heel and stalked off with her lackeys in tow. They tried to ask her what was wrong but she just growled at them to shut up and kept walking. When I thought more about it, I couldn't believe she didn't say something about me about having a date with a boy. I expected her to accuse me of lying at the very least. There had to be another reason why she was so disturbed, and I suspected it had something to do with the last word I said to her. She must really have had a bad life. I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for her. * * * I arrived at Gwen's office without remembering the journey. It's funny how everything can pass by without notice when you're lost in thought. My thoughts had all centered around Jill and my dreams about her. I would finally get a chance to talk about my biggest issue so I was very much looking forward to my therapy session and nothing else. I still had some minor issues in my life. I figured they'd most likely resolve themselves without much trouble but there was one topic other than my dreams that I wanted to discuss. I planned on mentioning my date briefly, as a kind of warm-up. I wanted to show that I was giving the opposite sex a chance. I thought it would be a good thing for my psychologist to hear. I should've known better. She liked it so much she wanted to discuss it in detail. I was barely able to put her off by promising to discuss it next time, after I had the date. There was something more important that needed to be addressed if I was to save my sanity. Gwen listened intently as I described my encounter with Sandy and the resulting dreams about Jill. I mentioned being a boy when I first met Jill and then being a girl the second time. I told her about being best friends but nothing more in spite of loving her as much more than just a friend. It was extremely frustrating and heartbreaking, and it was starting to wear on me. The rest of my life was falling into place, leaving me far too much time for dwelling on it. I didn't even know if my dream girl was real and yet I was convinced that I loved her. I ended with the worst part of all - the part where Sandy told me that everything would work out. Sandy teased me with a happy ending against what looked like impossible odds. It was too much and tears of frustration trickled down my cheeks. When my little speech was finished, Gwen looked thoughtful and didn't speak for far too long. It was the longest five minutes of my life. I was sure my problem must be a rare occurrence and she confirmed it, because that was the first thing she said. I think she believed me but she didn't know how to handle it. It required some thought so she'd have to address it in a future session, after she conferred with some colleagues. For the first time since I met her, she didn't have an answer. We spent most of the remaining time discussing my date. It actually turned out for the best. Gwen approved of me dating so soon and totally agreed with Michelle's reasons for it. I was helping Michelle as well as helping myself, and I'd be getting valuable experience that would better prepare me for my true love later on in my life. She refused to let go of the possibility that I would meet Jill and that things would work out eventually, just like Sandy predicted. "Bobbi, there are a lot of inexplicable things in this world, especially where MORFS is concerned. Things that are fairly commonplace now were considered to be science fiction 30 years ago. Please don't give up hope that your dreams will come true. Hope and dreams are far too important." Once again, Gwen knew exactly the right thing to say. She gave me hope, and oddly enough, MORFS gave me hope. If my dreams were possible, then MORFS was my best bet for making them come true. It also helped that I remembered to tell her about becoming a candystriper. I was taking action to find Sandy and through her, find Jill. She thought that was a good sign because it showed that I still had hope. My therapy session ended well. I should make it through another week, and an extra day this time. My next session was scheduled for Tuesday because next Monday was my 16th birthday. The plans were piling up and I'd need as much free time as I could get. My birthday is like my own special holiday so I insisted on going out to dinner the night of my birthday. I was also hoping to do some power shopping with Michelle before then. I wouldn't let anything spoil that day so I was sure I could put therapy off one day. * * * I decided to continue giving jujitsu a chance so I went to class Tuesday and Thursday. Sasha was good motivation to continue in spite of her not showing up at the train station over the next several days. Our last meeting was just too awkward for both of us but I knew she'd be back. I also went to the hospital on Wednesday but there wasn't much to do so I came home early. That's when I finally decided to break the news about my date to my parents. I imagined my father wouldn't like it so I'd been putting it off. I'd had some intense therapy on Monday and was busy with my bad juju class on Tuesday. Now it was time for some intense juju with my parents. It was truly intense because I did something unheard of. I called a family meeting. I knew better than to sit in daddy's recliner. Instead I stood and delivered a very short speech that I'd been mentally rehearsing on the way home from the hospital. "Mom. Dad. Please listen up. I have an important announcement. I have a double date this Friday night with Michelle and her date. I've been asked out by Reggie Langston and I accepted. We'll be going out to dinner and then see that sci-fi movie I told you about. You've already said I could see the movie so I assume it's okay to go out on this date." My parents gave me a blank look. Then they looked at each other and smiled. I didn't like it one bit. It was the same sort of smile I shared with my mother during our last family meeting. That meant they were probably communicating in the same sort of way and I was left out of the loop this time. Thankfully, my mother turned to me and let me know that they were thinking. "That's wonderful, sweetie. Your father and I have been discussing the possibility of you dating for some time now. You already told me about the subject when you had your conversation with Michelle, remember?" "Yeah," I said warily. This was too easy. I was sure there'd be some objection or problem. Didn't all fathers have a problem with their daughters dating? "We only have one ground rule," my father spoke up this time. "You're to be back by 10 PM. No exceptions. Do I make myself clear young lady?" "Yes daddy," I smiled. "Thank you daddy." Then I moved to hug him. He tensed up briefly but relaxed soon enough for a proper hug. Mother had trained him well. * * * Friday night rapidly approached. The four of us daters hung out after school and eventually agreed on pizza for dinner so everything was mostly set. The only thing left was to decide on what to order. I loved pizza but I was very fussy about where to go to and what kind of pizza to get. There weren't very many I liked. Luckily, my date was very open to my suggestions. We left from school, with Reggie driving us all to the pizzeria in his parents' large, electron guzzling car. We had a wonderful dinner, and I didn't even have to pay for it. I completely forgot about that part. It made me feel a little guilty - and obligated. That was slightly disturbing, and it didn't help when Michelle passed out after dinner mints. I declined using the excuse that it would spoil the taste of the popcorn. I insisted on having popcorn. The movie was rather good, though you'd never know it by the way Michelle and Jamie were carrying on. They kissed through most of the second half. I think Reggie was disappointed in me but he perked up when we started discussing the movie after it was over. He seemed to enjoy the fact that he could talk about an action packed sci-fi movie with his date without her eyes glazing over. All of us left the theater in a good mood that night, though mine changed as we got closer to the car. I had a debt to pay to Reggie. "I'll have that mint now," I said quietly to Michelle just before we got to the car. She smiled at me and handed me a mint when Reggie wasn't looking. She knew this part of the date wasn't easy for me. The discussion about the movie continued on the drive home, though I got a bit quiet. I kept thinking about the good night kiss. It was actually a relief when Reggie pulled up at my house first to drop me off. I felt relieved because it meant that I'd get the date over with more quickly. The longer it went on, the more nervous I got. My anxious date got out of the car and quickly went around to open my door for me. He was being a gentleman and I really liked the attention. I almost wish I could feel more for him. He walked me up to my front door and then the awkward pause started. I glanced back at the car to see Michelle giving me the thumbs up sign. That didn't help. "Thanks Reggie," I started things off. "I had a nice time. It was a great movie." "You're welcome," he said. Then he hesitated. His confidence was faltering a little. I think he really liked me and was afraid of saying the wrong thing. It broke my heart to see him so nervous, to see that I could have that effect on him. Boys and girls have just as much power over each other. If only they could see it and not abuse or ignore it. I noticed it, and I refused to ignore it, so I did the unthinkable. I kissed him. It was short and sweet but I had to do it. He deserved that much. Besides, I wanted to see if there could ever be anything between us. I promised Michelle and I promised myself that I'd give boys a chance. If I could like any boy, it would be someone like Reggie. My kiss was all he needed. He swallowed hard and finally managed to speak again. "So," he said with a hopeful smile. "Can I call you again?" Now I hesitated, and I'm afraid I took a little too long. "I guess not," he said with a pained expression. "Hey. I'm sorry. I really like you. I did have fun tonight. I'd like to go out again as friends." Oh no. I just put Reggie in the 'friend zone'. It really shouldn't be a bad place to be but I'm sure it hurt nonetheless. I felt terrible. He turned and walked back towards the car with his head hanging low. That poor boy. I had to say one more thing that I hoped would ease his pain. "Reggie?" He turned and looked at me with the saddest puppy dog eyes I've ever seen. It was difficult not to cry but I pressed on. "This wasn't just my first double date. It was my first date ever, and my first kiss. I didn't know what to expect and I'm not sure how I feel, but I'm trying. Okay?" I ended with a shy little smile and the most amazing thing happened. He smiled back. It wasn't the brightest smile I've seen but it was a start. He started back for the car with his head held a little higher, his step a little lighter. I breathed a sigh of relief and went inside. As soon as I closed the front door, my mother appeared out of nowhere, and over her shoulder I saw my father walking upstairs. Of course they'd waited for me to come home. My mother waited until my father was out of sight. Then the grilling began. "Okay. Let's hear it. How did it go? Did you have fun? Did you kiss him?" "Mother!" I huffed. "At least let me get out of the entry way and sit down." We went into the living room and sat on the couch, and I told her all about the dinner and movie. When I mentioned that I liked the movie and described it, it was obvious that there was no kissing involved in the theater. Mom seemed more disappointed than relieved like I expected. I wasn't sure if she was disappointed because she wanted me to find someone to love or if she thought I might not like boys. I liked to think it was the former but I was afraid of the latter. I wouldn't tell her about Jill any time soon. I ended my date summary by telling her about my encounter on the front porch. I tried to make it sound dreamy and wonderful. I added a lot of sighs and closed my eyes when I talked about the kiss. I wanted her to think I loved it. Evidently, I went too far. "You didn't feel a thing for him, did you." She said it as a statement rather than a question. I was caught, but at least she didn't appear too concerned about it. "Nope," I confessed. "Not a thing."
To Be Continued...
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/