We Can Work It Out: A MORFS Universe Story
By Terry Volkirch
Chapter 15: Spring, 2036
School was a pain. First there were all the forms to fill out. I had to prove who I was again. Then I got introduced to my classes by each of my teachers. There was still no laughter but this time there were many loud gasps, most of them coming from the girls. I'm sure they couldn't think of a more horrible fate than to become a boy. I know I couldn't.
During class, I avoided eye contact with my classmates at all cost. I couldn't face anyone I knew, not even John. I wondered if he'd try to renew our friendship now that I was a boy, but decided it didn't matter. I wouldn't give him the chance. The only thing I couldn't avoid was lunch.
Lunch time was worst of all. I had no excuse to keep quiet so I was vulnerable to my friends. I couldn't fend them off forever so it was with a heavy heart that I made my way to the lunch room. I took my time getting there, and by the time I sat down, two of my friends were already at the table. Only Jill was absent. That was no surprise.
I actually sat at the opposite end of the table from where Adrian and Michelle were sitting. I considered going to a completely different table but I was afraid I'd be ridiculed anywhere else. I just hoped I could get through the lunch hour without having to say anything. Of course it wasn't meant to be.
I could feel myself being watched, and then I sensed a presence directly across the table from me. I stared down at my food and tried to make myself invisible to no avail.
"I'm sorry," I heard Adrian say. "I'm so sorry you had to change. I know you were much happier as a girl."
A single tear dripped onto my paper lunch bag. I thought it made a lovely pattern when it splattered until I realized it was my own. I sniffed sharply and steeled myself. It didn't take any intuition to know where this conversation was heading.
"I'm sorry too, Adrian. I'm sorry for that stupid kiss. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"I know," she said quietly.
"But you don't know," I said. "I haven't told you everything about Jill and me."
So I explained everything. I told Adrian about my dreams and my apparent future with Jill. I told her how I thought Jill and I were destined to be together and I thought I heard Adrian sniffle. I still didn't dare look her in the eye for fear of breaking down. When I was finished, there was only the background chatter of the other students. I looked up and Adrian was gone, not just gone from the lunch room but gone from my love life. It was over. Our relationship was over.
It didn't take a genius to figure out Adrian and I were no longer an item. Even if I could make her believe I still loved her, I was sure she was no longer attracted to me. I dearly wished there was still a chance for us but I pretty much ruined that.
All I had left were my tears to keep me company. I looked over to see Michelle was gone too. She was probably off consoling Adrian, and that was for the best. I was supposed to be a boy now. Boys don't cry. Boys don't need consoling. I cried anyway.
* * *
The rest of the week went pretty much the same way except there were no more conversations at lunch. I was left alone, and I was happy at first. By Friday it started to get to me though. I still craved the incessant chatter I'd grown to love as a girl. I was still a girl inside.
My loneliness was especially acute after I quit candystriping and my jujitsu class. I didn't really feel like helping anyone at the hospital - not when I needed help myself - and I quit martial arts because I didn't feel it was really necessary. I'd no longer be a target.
I still needed to get away from home now and then so I started running again. I did it mostly to keep myself as slim as possible to make any future shapeshifts easier, but it also seemed to improve my mood. I found it hard to be depressed when I was so full of energy.
I also started looking for a job. I figured I'd better get used to the idea of working and start saving up for college. I also hoped to meet new people. I thought it best to make a fresh start.
I considered getting a job at a department store but soon realized that would be a bad idea. I'd be reminded of clothes shopping and all the things I could no longer wear. Flipping burgers or dishwashing was also out since I still had some self-respect. It wasn't until after I wandered far from the mall that I found the perfect job. There was a little used bookstore with a help wanted sign in the window. I darted inside the store and was in luck. The owner was currently running the place and we had a good chat. She was a tall, slender middle-aged woman with curly brown hair and horrible taste in clothes, but she was very nice and we got along well. After she found out how passionate I was about science fiction and fantasy, I was given the job. I was happier than I'd ever been since changing back into a boy. My life was still at a very low point, but things were moving in the right direction. I had hope again.
I told my parents over dinner and they were pleasantly surprised. I explained to them that I needed a distraction and I could use the money. I'd work after school and on some Saturdays. I wouldn't make a lot of money but it was better than nothing, and it was better than staying at home and crying. There were no arguments from them.
* * *
My next therapy session with Gwen went well, after I was made to see the error of my ways. She made me realize that I was cutting off my friends. I thought it was the other way around but I was wrong. I wasn't giving them a chance. I chased Adrian away by telling her all about Jill and I acted so pathetic the rest of the time that it wasn't surprising no one wanted to be around me. I was acting out a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I knew I shouldn't throw away my friendships. The only problem was, I didn't know how to get back together. I didn't know what to say. Luckily, Michelle beat me to it. She left a text message on my eCom asking to meet with me and I practically ran all the way to our rendezvous.
We met in a small park near her house and sat on a bench together. It was awkward at first but I tapped into my inner girl and got the words flowing.
"Thanks so much for contacting me, and meeting me. I've missed you terribly. I wanted to talk to you but I've been so upset with... this." I pointed to my male body and wrinkled my nose with disgust. Then I cried. I couldn't stop myself.
Michelle hugged me and made soothing sounds to comfort me. For a brief time, I could almost forget I was male. I took in the light scent of her perfume and it felt like I was wearing some too. I also imagined wearing a matching outfit and my usual small amount of makeup. It was nice while it lasted.
My friend pulled back when I stopped shuddering and gave me a sympathetic look at first. Then her face hardened as she struggled with something she wanted to say.
"I'm so sorry this happened to you... Rob."
There it was. She said my boy name. The fantasy ended and I was a boy again.
"But you have to move on," she continued. "Please let me help. Talk to me, okay?"
I just nodded, afraid I'd break into tears again.
"There's something else you need to do too," she said with a stern look. "You need to talk to Adrian."
That made me gulp. I knew she was right but I dreaded talking to Adrian. I didn't want to hurt her any more than I already had. I was afraid that I'd say the wrong thing and spiral down into that lurking pit of despair that crawled back into my life.
"I... I don't know what to say to her," I confessed.
Michelle frowned but she wouldn't give up.
"Do you still like her?" she asked. "Telling her that would make a good start."
"Of course I still like her. I love her. I know I do. It's just that Jill complicated things."
"Right," Michelle nodded. "I know. So are you sorry then?"
"Yes! I already told Adrian that. I didn't want to hurt her. I got carried away with that kiss. You know how I feel about Jill."
"So exactly why did you want us all to kiss? Didn't you worry about getting carried away?"
Okay. Now I was getting suspicious. Michelle was acting like she'd written more date shopping dialog. She sounded like she was reading a script. I tried to relax, but there was a nagging feeling in the back of my mind. I had to shake it off to focus on the conversation.
"That kiss," I spat. "I wish I'd never thought of it. I wanted to do it for a couple reasons. I actually wanted to make Adrian a little jealous with it. I felt a little neglected the past couple weeks and I was trying to get her attention. She was distracted by her precious gadgets."
Michelle couldn't help it then. She laughed. That surprised me.
"Oh my," she said. "I'm sorry but that's funny. You were jealous of Adrian's gadgets?"
"Yeah," I grinned. "I know it sounds silly... but I was a little upset about it."
We both paused to reflect on that, but Michelle's stern look soon returned and my nagging feeling was back with it. She was up to
something. I knew it for sure.
"So what was the second reason?" she pushed. That's when I figured out what she was doing.
"I pretty much already told you," I continued in spite of the warning buzzer in my mind. "It concerned Jill. I wanted to see if there could ever be anything between us. I wanted to know if Jill was the least bit bisexual."
"What about Adrian? What would happen if you found out Jill was bisexual?"
"I certainly wouldn't drop her as a girlfriend if that's what you mean. I just had to know. I half hoped Jill wasn't bisexual so it wouldn't distract me from Adrian. But that kiss left me wondering...," I trailed off.
"It was rather heavy," Michelle said. "It must have really upset Jill. Have you noticed she hasn't been sitting at our lunch table? She hasn't spoken to me or Adrian since it happened."
"I really messed up. I know. And now I'm paying for it... paying dearly. My doctor is sure the stress had something to do with me changing back into a boy."
As I was speaking, I noticed Michelle's gaze drift over somewhere behind me and returned to my earlier thought. I knew what she was up to and it was time to end this.
"Thanks," I said suddenly.
"For what?" she said with a puzzled look on her face.
"Adrian is behind me, listening," I accused. "Isn't she."
"Oh Bobbi!" Adrian said behind me. "I'm so sorry."
She used the wrong name but I ignored it. I could forgive her almost anything after the way I upset her.
I sprang up off the bench and we embraced. It was a little difficult at first with her being so much shorter than me but I lifted her up on a rock by the bench so our heads were level. Then we resumed where we left off.
"No," I said. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I'm sorry again for kissing Jill, and I'm sorry for not telling you earlier about my dreams about her."
So Adrian and I finally got back together - and then we officially broke up. I saw it coming really. Adrian was no longer attracted to me. I could easily tell that. So far we'd hugged but she made no move to kiss me.
"Still friends?" Adrian whispered in my ear as we continued to hug.
"Till the end of time," I answered sincerely.
At least it was clear we'd remain very good friends. That would never change. We both cried a little and then smiled at each other as we ended the hug. I lifted her down off the rock and let her go. I loved her and let her go.
In spite of the break up, Adrian and I stayed together in the park along with Michelle to talk. Me missed each other terribly so we spent the rest of the day catching up. That was a relief. I found out something interesting too. Gwen was actually the mastermind behind my odd meeting here in the park. My psychologist was very concerned for my state of mental well-being and was able to get my two friends to share her concern. They all conspired to give me a way to express myself without holding back in Adrian's presence. I didn't hold back because I didn't know she was there - for most of the conversation anyway. It was quite devious and I appreciated it.
So three of us were friends once again. Now we only had Jill to collect. I was sure she'd come back in time but I had no idea how long it would take. Jill could be so wise in some ways and so difficult in others. I'd never understand her - and that made her my perfect match in my mind. I'd just have to be patient and see how my future with her played out.
* * *
It wasn't long before Jill made her first appearance. I was sitting at the lunch table with Adrian and Michelle when Jill came up behind me.
"Hi," Jill said. "Sorry about staying away so long. I needed time to think. Mind if I sit down?"
Adrian and Michelle quickly responded with an enthusiastic welcome while I remained silent. Once again, I had no idea what to say.
Jill sat down next to me and I started to zone out until I heard her ask a question. It actually shouldn't have come as a surprise since Jill had avoided everyone, but it was a surprise nonetheless.
"So who's this?" she asked, pointing to me. "And where's Bobbi? I think we need to talk."
Michelle was taking a sip of orange juice at the time and she ended up spraying it all over the table in front of her. Then she just stared down at the mess she made. Adrian was even worse in her own way. Her eyes were wide and she stared at me. Her jaw twitched and her mouth was slightly open like she was trying to say something, but no words came out.
"What's wrong? What did I say?" Jill asked with growing concern.
"Hi Jill," I said, saving my two speechless friends from getting involved. This was my issue to deal with. It was my responsibility.
"Do I know you?" Jill asked.
"It's me... Bobbi," I told her. "But I go by Rob now."
"What?! What kind of sick joke is this?!" Jill shouted. I thought she was upset right after I kissed her but I hadn't seen anything yet.
"I changed back into a boy. I'm a shapeshifter but I can't control it. The kissing incident upset me enough to trigger the change."
"No! You're not Bobbi. You can't be!"
Jill was getting hysterical now but I had no idea what else to say. I figured I had to at least get her to stop denying what had happened to me. Only then could she face it and come to accept it. As Bobbi, I was her best friend, and now Bobbi was gone. It had to be very difficult for her but she'd get over it. I got over it and she would too. She had to.
"I was Bobbi a little over a week ago," I said in a flat, emotionless tone. I didn't want to add any more emotion to the conversation. There was already too much. "Remember my picture in the yearbook? I still look enough like Rob before I changed into Bobbi. Take a good look. I'm a couple inches taller and a year older but it's me."
"No!! Where's Bobbi?! Where is she?! Tell me!!"
Jill turned to Michelle and Adrian and they slowly pointed to me while slowly nodding their heads. It was three against one. Maybe now Jill would accept it. No such luck.
Jill started crying and ran off, saying something about finding Bobbi herself. She was quickly followed by her remaining two girlfriends who recovered enough to help her. That was good. She'd need them to calm her down and help her accept the truth. I tried and failed miserably.
"That could've gone better," I muttered to myself as nearly everyone in the lunch room looked in my direction.
Jill eventually settled down and listened to reason, but she didn't like what she heard. That was understandable. No one wants to lose their best friend. The worst part about the situation was that she was angry at me. My friends tried to convince her I didn't do it on purpose but I could tell she still blamed me. She glared at me every chance she got until I finally gave up my spot at the lunch table. The weather was nice enough that I ate outside - by myself.
Michelle and Adrian promised to soften Jill as best they could. I thanked them but continued to eat lunch outside at school. At least when I was alone I didn't have to hear my voice. There were no glaring signs like my deep voice to remind me I was no longer a girl. My imagination always carried me back to Girl Land where I could be happy for a little while.
* * *
I carried on with my job at the bookstore. It was great. When times were slow I could read. Mrs. Lange, the store owner, actually encouraged it. She insisted that reading made people smarter because it exercised the brain and made it stronger. That image made me laugh but she had a point. If you don't use it, you lose it. That could apply to any part of the body, even the brain.
I also continued therapy of course. It was painful but I was making slow and steady progress towards accepting the new me. The two friends that were still speaking to me helped too, though I noticed we met in person less frequently. Instead we chatted online most of the time. When I was online, I was able to free my inner girl. I looked up at my picture of Bobbi above my computer monitor and pretended I was still her. I suspected my two girlfriends were much more comfortable that way.
I found out something from Dr. Johnson recently that improved my mood so I relayed the information. He checked my sex chromosomes and found out I was XX. That meant I was still a genetic girl. It made me cautiously optimistic that I'd revert back to a girl one way or another.
My doctor also told me I could father a child, but since I didn't have the male Y sex chromosome, I could only father girls. That was fine by me. It was nice to know I could father a child in case that was important to Jill. I was sure I'd be discussing the subject with her sometime in the future.
Chatting with my friends in girl mode helped pass the time while I waited for Jill to return to my life. I fell into a comfortable rhythm and counted the days until I could see whether all my dreams really would come true.
* * *
Things weren't really as dire as I made them out to be. I had some good times. For one thing, I got my driver's license. I didn't get my license until spring because I was waiting for the snow to melt. There was no way I'd try taking a driving test in the snow. Driving gave me enough trouble as it was.
Getting a license was a rite of passage for teens. It meant more freedom and more independence, as long as we could borrow the family car or somehow afford our own. All we had to do was pass a couple tests.
For me, the whole process filled me with a strange mix of anxiety and excitement. The written test was easy. It was the driving test that made me nervous. I didn't like driving with a grim faced stranger who criticized my every move, but somehow I held on and passed the test. I didn't pass by much but I passed. Now if only I could borrow the car. That would prove to be even more challenging in the months ahead.
So things were looking up. I got my driver's license, chatted online with two of my best friends and even held regular conversations with my parents at dinner. Except for not having Jill to talk to, I didn't think things could get much better, but there was one moment that stood out quite well. It was actually rather entertaining.
Adrian reminded me of my father's project and the android video demonstration. I'd forgotten about it since becoming a boy but now I was actually looking forward to it. I still loved my father and wanted to see him do well, even though we weren't nearly as close as we'd been when I was a girl.
I was sure my father loved me. He just had trouble showing it. Before, when I was a girl, I loved enough for both of us. Everything was different since my change though. I couldn't seem to express myself like I did before. I certainly no longer felt comfortable using the word "daddy" when referring to my father.
My father was obviously uncomfortable with my change, and I was sure he dearly missed Bobbi. I only hoped he could see that she was still a part of me. I hoped he could love me as a boy as much as he seemed to when I was a girl. Even if he couldn't, I'm sure our relationship would improve if I could just manage to switch back to a girl again. Until that time, we'd both have to make the best of things.
It's not like we didn't talk. We talked a little more now than we did before I morfed into Bobbi. The conversations were brief but they were better than nothing. We had an interesting conversation on the day of the android video.
"Rob?" dad called. "There's an online video that I think you may be interested in."
"Oh?" I tried to be cool but it was extremely difficult not to snicker. I debated telling him I knew all about what he was about to show me and decided against it. I didn't want to spoil his day in the sun.
After getting my mother, we all went to my father's den to watch the event on his computer. I settled in the chair at the desk - a rare treat for me even when I was Bobbi - and thought about baseball. I didn't care much for baseball. I found it slow and dull but it helped keep me from giggling. I was on the verge of a severe giggle fit. It didn't help that I winked at my mom and mouthed the words "Saturday morning". That got her eyebrows up. I never told her that Adrian and I figured out what my father's secret project was all about.
The 24 inch flat panel screen displayed a countdown timer that showed how much time was left before a special video was to be run. There was also a count of the number of web page hits since the first of the year. I was impressed. Fred and my father had baited the hook rather well. There were several million hits already. I don't know how they advertised it but whatever they did worked.
When the timer read one minute to go, my father started muttering to himself. I could make out something that sounded like he hoped Fred would stay out of view or he'd scare away half the audience. I had to count out loud along with the timer to drown him out or I'd start laughing for sure.
The video started off very well. I recognized Fred's voice narrating in the background but I didn't say anything. I just made all the appropriate sounds of surprise and awe. It wasn't difficult because I was stunned, even though I knew what the video was all about.
The androids were fantastic. There were two of them and they looked like real women dressed in French maid costumes. One had a feather duster and the other had a floor mop. They began cleaning with a cue from Fred, and that's when it all went horribly wrong.
I found out later that some malicious technopaths hacked into the video feed. It had to be technopaths. No one else could do what they did.
Seconds after the androids started cleaning, another video cut in, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't keep from laughing. The video showed two real women mud wrestling in the nude. They were really going at it too. As funny as the video was, the audio was what really got to me. The voices of the two women wrestlers were replaced by buzzing mechanical speech. When one woman called the other a "bizzatch", I lost it. I laughed my ass off. I was literally rolling on the floor laughing my ass off. Whenever I came close to stopping, I'd think about the acronym "ROFLMAO" that represented exactly what I was doing and the laughter continued.
The only thing that sobered me up was my father's reaction. When I finally noticed him gritting his teeth and clenching his fists, I snapped out of it. Then I noticed a vein popping out on the side of his forehead, and I started to get concerned. I'd never seen him so agitated, at least not without shouting. It wasn't healthy to hold it in. He needed an outlet, and he needed it soon.
"What is it?!" I shouted at him to try to get him started. "What's wrong?!"
"They ruined it!" he screamed. "It was perfect and they ruined it! They ruined it all!! Shit!!"
Wow. My father almost never uttered obscenities. He might be angry but he didn't use four-letter words, not around me anyway.
"I'm so sorry, dad," I told him. "I know how important this must be to you and Fred."
Oops. I said too much. I had to be careful now. It would be so easy to mess things up. I seemed to be very good at upsetting people.
"I know you and Fred made the androids," I told him. I decided honesty was the best policy in this case. Besides, I thought it would help distract him and calm him down.
"How? How could you possibly know?"
"I was curious and Adrian helped me. She's a true genius, and she has a lot of gadgets. We listened in on you and Fred several weeks ago."
"What?! That's... that's... amazing!"
My father actually smiled then. He was proud of me! He smiled and I smiled back. It was only my mother who had a problem with the whole thing, and I knew exactly why.
"I'm sorry, mom," I told her. "I was planning on letting you in on it but I got a bit preoccupied with my gender change. Forgive me?"
She still gave me a stern look and didn't say anything so I used the magic word and gave her a weak grin.
"Please?" I said.
That did it. She smiled and hugged me. We were a close family again and I couldn't help letting a single tear of joy trickle down my cheek.
* * *
In spite of the hacked video, I thought the video countdown on the Internet was a great idea, and I loved the androids. They were wonderful and I repeatedly told my father so. I told my father's partner too once he showed up. Fred soon raced over to our house to discuss the hacking and the resulting firestorm.
Reaction to the hacked video wasn't good in Copely. Before the true video was hijacked, Fred mentioned being based in Copely. That turned out to be a fatal mistake. The city government was looking for the people responsible for the android video. It became a major scandal because the government officials couldn't handle the nudity, and they didn't realize it was hacked. They were out for blood so Fred and my father had no other option than to keep quiet. It would be a long time before things cooled down and they could try again. My father's dream of making it big by selling female android servants was put on hold.
After the excitement about the android video died down, I had one more loose end: Jill. By the time my 17th birthday rolled around, I was becoming upset that I still hadn't heard from her. For that matter, I hadn't heard much from Michelle and Adrian either. My only hope was that they were all planning a surprise birthday party for me. Too bad I was disappointed. Other than cake and ice cream, my birthday was quite sad and dull.
My birthday cards didn't help my mood. They were more like sympathy cards. They all had notes of sympathy written in them. My parents had informed my grandparents of my gender switch so at least I didn't get the wrong type of card this time. It would've been worse if I'd gotten cards for a granddaughter.
I received several brief phone calls but they all ended up matching the tone of my cards. Both of my grandmas called to offer their sympathy and ended up crying. That was awkward.
I suppose it was for the best really. I wasn't in the mood to celebrate, not even on my own personal holiday as I liked to call it. There were no gifts I wanted. I couldn't wear the kind of clothes I craved and because of my job, I had access to all the books I cared to read. My birthday actually would've been quite depressing if it wasn't for one very special gift that I received later in the evening. I got an email from Jill.
The email was short and sweet and I savored every word. Jill told me she was sorry I changed into a boy. She knew it was extremely hard on me. She also apologized for the way she'd been treating me and confessed she had trouble accepting my change. A terrible inner conflict raged within her. On the one hand, there was a strong physical attraction. She liked me! On the other hand, she couldn't help resenting me. It was irrational but when I changed into Rob, it was like I stole her best friend. Over the past few months, I'd spent little time with her as Bobbi but she still considered me - as Bobbi - to be her best friend. It would take her awhile to accept me as a new best friend.
What else could I do. I forgave her and continued to wait for her to come back into my life. I truly loved that girl.
To Be Continued...
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/