We Can Work It Out: A MORFS Universe Story

By Terry Volkirch  



Chapter 9: May 26 to May 28, 2035

The weekend promised to drag by in spite of my usual fun activities. The last few
days before my birthday always seemed long because I loved birthdays so much. I
loved everything about them, and this one was special - for a girl. I was turning
sweet 16, the half way point through the teenage years. I was on my way to becoming
a woman and I couldn't be more excited about it.

Daddy had already gone off to work on his strange project, whatever it was, leaving
me alone with mom. I remember feeling curious about the project when I was a boy,
but then it was because I was interested in it from a technical standpoint. The only
reason I wanted to know about it now was because I didn't like secrets. I just
wanted to know. Mom and I were having oatmeal together and I had to bring up the
subject - in my own roundabout way.

"I wish daddy would have breakfast with us. I don't get to see him much during the

"Your father works hard, Bobbi. He needs a little time to himself on the weekend."

"I know but I still wanna see him," I pouted, earning an amused look from my mother.

"We have breakfast together Sunday mornings, and we nearly always have dinner
together. I'm afraid that'll have to do."

"What time did he have breakfast this morning? Maybe I could get up earlier and eat
with him." Here's where I played around with the truth. I knew he didn't usually eat
breakfast on Saturdays. He once mentioned something about grabbing a small snack in
the morning with his buddy so they could dig into their project as soon as possible.

"That wouldn't work. He skips breakfast, or has a bagel or something over at Fred's."

Fred was the name of my father's friend. I always thought it was funny that my
father's name was Will and his best friend's name was Fred. I put the names together
to make Willfred, the two-headed beast that stole my father away every Saturday. It
used to be funny but I didn't find it funny any more, especially when I thought
about my father skipping breakfast. Breakfast was supposed to be the most important
meal of the day.

"That's terrible!" I acted horrified. "He should always have breakfast. I should
take him something."

"I don't like it either," my mother said. "But your father's a grown man. I have to
let him misbehave once in awhile or he gets cranky."

That earned a laugh from both of us. It doesn't take much to get my father cranky so
I didn't want to do anything to set him off. I still had a mission though. I
wouldn't give up.

"It wouldn't hurt if I took him something once in awhile, would it? Maybe I could
bring him some orange juice."

"The only thing your father would drink in the morning is coffee. You know that."

"Oh. Right." Daddy was a coffee addict but I wouldn't bring him that. He drank too
much of it as it was. I was running out of ideas.

"What about a banana?" I asked sheepishly. "They're quick and easy."

My mother's eyes narrowed at that point. Her intuition was in fine working order
that morning.

"Let it go, Bobbi."


"I said, let it go, sweetie. Fred's workshop has more security than Fort Knox. I
know because they caught me snooping around not so many months ago."

"Mother! You?"

"I was out on one of my walks and I just happened to be in the neighborhood so I
wanted to drop by. Your father warned me not to visit but I conveniently forgot
about his warning."

I had to snicker at that because I was planning on doing the same thing. My mother
shushed me and then continued.

"I walked up to the workshop and the most obnoxious siren went off, scaring the life
out of me. Then Fred and your father came running out and made even more noise than
the siren. It isn't worth it so just let it go."

"Oh fine then." I was back to pouting but I hadn't given up. I was determined to see
what daddy was up to. Maybe if I secretly followed him and got binoculars, I could
see though the open door as he went inside.

"You're not letting it go, are you." Mom knew me too well. I was lost in thought and
it was obvious what I was thinking about. "Okay, but you've been warned."

I spent the few couple hours plotting to uncover my father's secret. It was fun, and
it felt like I was getting close to a solution. That's when Michelle called of
course. She wanted to compare notes about our date last night. It totally threw me
off balance. I didn't understand what the big fuss was about but she wouldn't take
no for an answer. She was crazy about Jamie and wouldn't stop talking about him. My
plotting would have to be postponed.

I wasn't able to get a word in edgewise so I just let my mind wander. It was a
pleasant trip at first. I thought about how happy I was for my friend. Then I
started thinking about Reggie. What was I going to do about him? I did sort of
encourage him after all. I was sure I'd be seeing more of him. Was I okay with that?

"Earth to Bobbi!" Michelle shouted.

"Ow! That hurt my ears. I'm here. I was just... thinking."

"About Reggie?" I could imagine the playful smirk on her face as she said that but I
answered truthfully anyway.

"Yes, but it's not what you think."

"I knew it! Nice first kiss by the way. I'd rate it a 7 out of 10."

"Now you're just being mean." I pouted.

"I am not! Look, Bobbi. You did sort of leave him an opening. I had the window
rolled down. I heard what you said."

"I know. I know. I couldn't stand to hurt his feelings. So what can I do about it?"

"You'll just have to date him again... and again and again and again!" Then she had
a giggle fit. She was incorrigible.

I managed to change the subject and ask Michelle how she escaped to date last night.
I know she's 16 but her mother seemed so protective, I didn't think she'd be allowed
to date until she was 30. Michelle explained that she had to send text messages at
several points during the date to let her mom know where she was. She thought it was
a minor inconvenience but well worth the outcome. I thought it was nothing short of
amazing. Maybe I'd have to rethink my opinions about her mother.

When I finally got off the phone, it was well past lunch time, and I had to hurry to
make it for my assigned hospital time. I was only a volunteer but I didn't want to
be late anyway. Today I was to read to a wonderful elderly patient named Doris. She
had a delightful sense of humor and was always so nice and thankful for my time. I
couldn't imagine making her wait. My ever thoughtful mother handed me a lunch bag as
I left the house so I could eat on the train. I just hoped the train wasn't late.

Once I was on my way, I tried to resume where I left off before Michelle called. It
was impossible. There were too many things going on in my life, and since I was
going to the hospital, I naturally thought about finding Sandy. I hadn't had any
luck so for now, I could only hope that she'd eventually change her schedule to
overlap with mine. I'd have to wait until I was out of school before I could
volunteer on weekday mornings.

* * *

Sunday was different. I was invited over for lunch at Michelle's house. I'd never
been there before so I couldn't wait. I was especially interested to see her
bedroom. I was dying to see how it was decorated, and of course I wanted to check
out her closet. I liked her taste in clothes and I wanted to see them all.

My mother dropped me off on her way to run some errands, and she'd be back to pick
me up after she was finished. I knew some of the errands would probably involve some
shopping but I had to admit that I couldn't shop all the time. Yes, there was more
to life than shopping.

The front door opened before I could knock twice. Michelle's mother must have been
waiting for me. That was creepy, but nice I suppose. She was her usual, friendly but
distracted self, and wore her usual outfit of slacks and cardigan sweater. She
always wore the same thing when I saw her. The only thing that varied was the color.
She invited me in and called Michelle down from her room. That's when the tour

I was about an hour early for lunch so Michelle gave me the grand tour of her house.
It was slightly larger than mine but similar, except that the two car garage was
detached and a couple rooms were switched around. The walls and rugs were slightly
different colors too of course, and there was an assortment of African woodcarvings,
masks and stone sculptures. Every house was as unique as its owners.

We ended the tour just outside every teenage girl's shrine: Her bedroom. The dark
brown door was closed and there were small pink letters that spelled out "Michelle's
Room". It was a nice touch. They matched the color of her hair. I thought about
doing the same thing with my door. Then, with a slight fanfare, Michelle threw open
the door.

I expected a color scheme involving her favorite color but I wasn't prepared for
what I saw. Inside, there was an explosion of pink, and I wasn't ready for it. As I
entered, it made my head spin and I flopped down immediately on a bean bag chair.
Virtually every single thing in the room, walls and ceiling included, was a shade of
pink, from dusty rose to fuchsia.

"What do you think?" Michelle asked with a big smile. She was obviously proud of her
decorating skill.

"You really like the color pink," I said in a daze.

"Well, duh."

At least the photographs and some posters on her wall were different colors. Most of
her photos were black and white, and the gray tones went well with the pink, but
that's as far as I was going to go.

"Michelle," I began tentatively. "Not that your mother would allow it, but I suggest
you never bring a boy here."

"Well, yeah. Guys don't like pink. Duh!" Then she giggled. She wasn't getting it so
I thought I'd try one more time.

"What I really meant to say was, don't you think it's a bit excessive?"

"No! I love pink. What's the big deal?"

"Never mind," I sighed. "I guess I just need to get used to it."

I sat and concentrated on the black and white photographs. There were a few dozen
glossy 8 by 10 inch prints spread among the two opposite walls. Almost all of them
portrayed people of all different ages going about various activities. One wall had
a lot of photos of young children playing on monkey bars, swings and a
merry-go-round. The other wall contained a more random mix. One that caught my eye
displayed several elderly men playing chess at a park with children playing in the
background. I thought that was clever. It was like each child represented the inner
child of one of the old men.

"These photos are really good, Michelle," I said after a minute of studying them.
"Did you take them?"

"Yeah. I told you I liked photography. Wanna see my camera?"

She didn't wait for an answer. Her camera was her pride and joy and she couldn't
wait to show it off. I think she said it was a fixed-lens digital SLR camera,
whatever all that means. I just thought it took great photos. They were all so clear
and sharp.

"You have a good eye," I told her. "But why did you print them all as black and
white? Is it because they go well with your pink walls?"

"You catch on fast, girlfriend" She teased. "I have color copies of the same pics of
course. I keep them in a scrapbook." She pulled a large photo album out of a desk
drawer as she spoke. She pushed the album into my lap so I opened it and flipped
through the pages. How could I say no.

Again, most of the photos had people in them, and most of them were taken in urban
or suburban settings. I would've liked to have seen more wildlife photos but that
wasn't really Michelle's style. I couldn't see her slogging her way through the
woods to get a picture of a wild animal. I didn't think she owned any outdoor or
casual clothes.

After looking at all the different people in the album, I suppose I should've seen
it coming. It was inevitable. She asked to take pictures of me, and again, I didn't
have a choice.

The camera was odd. I thought all expensive cameras took zillions of pictures a
minute but not Michelle's. She only took about one pic every couple minutes. She
fussed with lighting and location, and had me try several poses between every shot.
I was concerned how they'd turn out with a pink background but my camera obsessed
friend assured me that my lavender hair, matching blouse and violet jeans were

I was shy at first, but I slowly warmed up to the idea of being a model. By the time
we were pulled away for lunch, I was actually enjoying myself. I forgot all about
wanting to check out Michelle's clothes. Michelle kept telling me that the camera
loved me. I was a star!

Lunch time was upon us so we both reluctantly trudged down the stairs and entered
the dining room. I was hoping to meet my friend's father and see what sort of
influence he might have on her but he was out playing golf. Sunday was his play day,
and Michelle also whispered that he mentioned lunch would most likely be too
feminine for him. Then she giggled that silly giggle of hers and I couldn't help but
join her. It was contagious.

Michelle's mother smiled and let us get the giggles out of our system. Then she had
us help set the table, and as soon as the table was finished, I was ordered to sit
while my two hostesses brought everything out.

It was a wonderful spread. We started with fresh fruit and several different
tropical fruit juices. I'd never heard of guava juice before but it ended up being
my favorite, and it was pink. How weird is that. After nibbling fruit and sipping
juice, I was treated to a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich along with a small bowl
of lentil soup. It was fantastic and I finished it all. Then came dessert - freshly
baked brownies. They looked and smelled great but I wasn't too interested once I
found out they had bits of walnuts in them. It was just as well because I was

Michelle's family name was Dyson so I tried calling her mother Mrs. Dyson when we
first met. That just wouldn't do however. She insisted we be on a first name basis
so she only answered to Gloria.

"That was wonderful," I sighed. "Thanks Gloria."

"You're welcome, dear. I'm glad you liked it." Then she turned to her daughter.
"I'll clear the table and clean up. Why don't you two go back up and have some more

"Thanks!" Michelle and I said in unison as we started to get up from the table.

"Has she taken pictures of you yet, Bobbi?" Gloria asked suddenly. "I'm betting she

"Oh yeah," I said. "I wasn't too sure about it at first but I think I'm getting the
hang of it now."

"She's a natural," Michelle chimed in. "Her outfit blends in well with my room too.
It'll make for some great photos."

"Oh?" Gloria smiled. "What do you think of Michelle's photos, Bobbi?"

"I really like them. I think she has a very good eye for photography."

"I agree," Gloria said, obviously proud of her only child. "I'm hoping she considers
it for a career. It's just too bad her father doesn't approve."

I didn't know what to say to that. I just looked sad and Michelle and I slipped
quietly out of the room.

"Do you think you'd like to be a photographer?" I asked my friend once we were
upstairs in her room again.

"I'm not sure. I think so. We'll see. For now, I just wanna have fun with it."

So we had fun. Michelle took a few more shots of me and then we transferred them to
her computer to look at them at full size. I was amazed, and very flattered, though
a couple of them embarrassed me a little. I tried the sultry, pouty look with my
lips pursed and I think it was a little too sexy. Phew!

I loved the results in general, and I found myself longing for a picture of myself.
I didn't have any photos of myself as a girl. It would be easy for Michelle to print
a copy for me but I didn't want to impose. Instead, I made it a point to linger over
a few of my favorites and hope Michelle noticed. It was my birthday tomorrow after
all. A couple framed photos of me would make a nice birthday present.

My mother came to get me soon after lunch so I didn't have a lot of time to drop
hints. I had to go to the hospital for some more volunteer work. Since I'd be going
to the mall tomorrow, I decided to volunteer for both Saturday and Sunday. I didn't
want to overdo the shopping and besides, I really loved candystriping.

I'd miss helping to care for patients after I finished stage 3 of MORFS and became
susceptible to illness again. I could still help retrieve gifts and medical supplies
but they wouldn't let me go near the patients. The hospital's insurance policy
wouldn't cover me if I got sick. The nurse I checked in with performed a quick test
to make sure I was still in stage 3. If I tested positive, I could go make the
rounds with her and see her patients. Visiting was my favorite part. I wasn't sure
I'd continue if I couldn't visit. I'd have to wait and see.

I suppose I'd still continue to candystripe as long as I hadn't found Sandy. She was
turning out to be quite elusive. I thought I saw her one Sunday morning but before I
could get to her, two men came out of nowhere and started asking me all sorts of
stupid questions. I tried to get around them but they kept moving to block my path.
It was very annoying and frustrating. By the time I got rid of them, the woman I
thought might be Sandy was long gone. It was almost as if they were keeping me from
her. That sounds kind of paranoid but that's the way I felt, and it was reinforced
by two strange voices I heard talking to each other. I caught bits and pieces of a
conversation that sounded like it was about me. What was really strange was that it
almost sounded as if the talking was coming from inside my head. I was afraid I was
going crazy, but thankfully the voices stopped after the men went away.

* * *

Happy birthday to me! It was Monday morning and not even the ritual of getting ready
for school dampened my mood. I laughed at my school uniform and playfully taunted it
into trying to do a better job of making me grumpy. It failed of course.

I flew downstairs as soon as I caught the scent of my 'true' favorite breakfast. I
was in the bathroom applying my mascara and I almost poked myself in the eye when
the smell of French toast hit my nostrils. Bacon and scrambled eggs was actually my
common favorite breakfast, but my ultimate favorite was French toast. I rarely got
it as it was saved for special occasions - like my birthday. I didn't care much for
maple syrup but that didn't stop me. I used corn syrup instead. Most people thought
it was too sweet but I dribbled a small amount on each slice and savored every sweet
delicious bite.

"Happy sweet 16, Bobbi!" mom said as I entered the kitchen.

"Thanks mom!" Then I plopped down on a padded chair in an unladylike fashion and dug
into the stack of French toast slices.

I quickly guzzled my orange juice first - since it would seem too sour after the
corn syrup - and attacked my food. Between bites, I managed to ask if we could get
some guava juice. I'd had my first glass of it only yesterday but I was craving it
again already. Once is never enough.

My birthday was off to a great start. Too bad I had to go to school. It was dull
until lunch, when Michelle and Adrian got together to sing happy birthday to me in
the cafeteria. It was a little embarrassing but I still liked the attention. After
the song, Adrian surprised me by hugging me. He was really becoming a much more
pleasant person. I think Michelle and I were a good influence on him.

As I sat down to eat, I saw someone standing near me out of the corner of my eye. I
turned and there was John, my former best friend, looking down at the floor. He
looked very nervous. I think he wanted to wish me happy birthday and was probably
looking for some kind of encouragement. I wasn't about to make it easy for him
though. I gave him a slight frown and bored a hole into him with my eyes. I was
still upset that he left me.

John looked up briefly and gulped. Then he turned and walked away. Evidently, I put
a little too much anger into my look and not enough disappointment. I'd have to work
on that in the mirror later.

With a heavy sigh, I turned back and saw that my two friends were very quiet. They
had to have noticed my wordless exchange with John, but thankfully they didn't say
anything about it. We went on to other things like our shopping plans after school.
Adrian was invited but I told him it was okay if he declined. I didn't think he was
ready to handle two girls on a birthday shopping spree. This time I wasn't surprised
when Adrian told me he'd take a rain check.

Science class was notable. Michelle and I were giddy with anticipation so it was
very hard to concentrate in that class. We were even shushed more than once.
Michelle kept passing notes to me that cracked me up. At least her last note sobered
me up. It read, "I think you should talk to John." I hung my head and thought about
that for the rest of the class.

When school was finally over, Michelle and I impatiently waited in the school
parking lot for my mom to pick us up and take us to the mall. There was no serious
talk about John or school. It was time for my birthday shopping spree.

My mom showed up three minutes late. That was three less minutes for shopping but
she made up for it by handing me a gift card for Bingham's department store. I
couldn't help it. I squealed with delight, though I noticed Michelle looked a little
glum - envious even. She didn't have much money for shopping today. It was really
her own choice to buy camera accessories but I still felt bad for her. She really
loved photography and clothes both.

We got to the mall and Michelle and I left my mom in the dust after promising to
meet back at the car in 2 hours. The two of us made straight for Bingham's and
didn't look back.

Bingham's was an upscale department store, filled with very nice things. It was
rapidly becoming my favorite place to get clothes with the elegant casual look I
liked so much. Michelle approved. That's where she got most of her clothes too. She
said they were good for dates. I stuck out my tongue at that statement, causing a
fair amount of giggling. We controlled ourselves better though. There was no way
we'd do anything to get thrown out of Bingham's.

Michelle helped me refine my style a little. She found clothes that she thought
looked more flattering on me so naturally I listened. It didn't matter that I might
attract more boys. I just wanted to look my best. Having a girl's opinion didn't
bother me so much anyway. I'm sure she didn't see me the same way boys did.

We made it out of Bingham's with 30 minutes to spare. I had two shopping bags full
of clothes and Michelle even got something. She found a cute baby blue silk shirt
that looked beautiful on her. She had to buy it when she saw how I eyed her in it.
My attraction to girls made me even more valuable as a shopping partner.

Michelle had very little money left but I had some of my own allowance. Since we
still had half an hour left, I insisted on continuing. I wanted to go to a little
shop that specialized in casual clothing and swimwear. Summer was nearly upon us.

Michelle wasn't crazy about the idea but she started to loosen up once we got
inside. She really liked a lot of the clothes there. It didn't matter that they
weren't dressy. They were cute, fun and comfortable; something I felt was just as
important a part of a girl's wardrobe as the elegant casual style.

It was when I caught Michelle lusting after some crop tops that I realized they
might make good birthday gifts for her. I thought about getting her some so I kept a
close eye on which ones she liked and would come back later with my mom to get them.
There was only one thing I wasn't sure of - her size. I didn't notice what size she
wore when she got the silk shirt but I had my ways.

"Hey Michelle. Those are cute. Let's both get one." Wearing identical outfits was
out of the question but having the same shirt style in a different color was
acceptable. They'd be fun to wear on a girl's only outing.

"I'd like to," she sighed. "But I don't have enough money. You know my camera habit
is expensive."

"I know. Consider it my treat."

"Bobbi! It's your birthday. I couldn't."

"But I really like crop tops," I whined. "I feel like I can't wear any with you. I'd
feel underdressed." Michelle just looked down at her dressy blouse and skirt so I

"Do you even own any?"

"I have one... somewhere."

"Yeah, but you spend most of your allowance on nicer clothes to look good on dates.
What about something fun for you?"

She thought about it for a moment and then smiled. I finally got through to her.

"Okay," she said. "Let's do it."

We sorted through the tops and found the perfect pair. They both had a single large
heart in the middle of the chest. Mine was lavender with a purple heart and hers was
light blue a dark blue heart. They were adorable, and they allowed me to get her
size. I'm glad I didn't try to guess. I would've over estimated. She was so tiny!

I was just about to suggest buying them and leaving when we walked by the bikini
rack. I didn't think I was ready for such a skimpy article of clothing but they
called out to me. Copely had some very hot summers that cried out for skimpy.

"Hang on a minute," I said to Michelle. I tried to resist but it was futile. What
was coming over me? "You might not believe this but I'm getting the strangest urge
to buy a bikini."

My friend stopped, but she hesitated before turning around. When she finally did
face me, I saw her biting her lower lip, and I knew exactly what that meant.

"Don't tell me you don't own bikini," I whispered. She ever so slightly shook her
head no.

"Well get back here then because you're getting one now," I told her. This time I
wouldn't accept no as an answer. She'd done it to me enough yesterday. She briefly
tried to talk me out of it but I just smiled and pounced on her with irrefutable
female logic. I explained that the bikinis were on sale and they were a boy magnet.
I finished her off by telling her about the potential for great photo opportunities
at the lake. The lake would be swarming with people this summer. Michelle didn't
stand a chance. She got a goofy grin on her face and immediately started sorting
through the bikinis with me. I had one other reason for getting her the bikini but I
couldn't tell her. Her birthday was in October. It would be far too late to get her
a swimsuit then. I might still get her a couple crop tops but I'd have to get her
some warmer casual clothes too.

It was difficult but we quickly decided on the style and color. Michelle got a
string bikini that matched her hair color. It was perfect. I wanted to get the same
style but I was talked out of it. I ended up getting a bright blue halter style top
for better support of my large chest instead. Then we rushed to the checkout stand
to buy them. There wasn't much time before we had to meet my mom in the parking lot.

In my haste, I wasn't watching where I was going. I nearly mowed down a brown haired
girl who was about my height. I stopped just in time and was about to apologize when
I saw her face. It was her - the girl of my dreams.

"Jill!" I blurted out.

"Do I know you?" she asked with the cutest confused look on her face.

No, I thought. But you will.


To Be Continued...  



The entire MORFS  Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/