116 Not Yet the Moment

As soon as I hung up, I called Chad’s house. “Hi, Mrs. Barnes,” I said hurriedly. “It’s Marsha Steen. Could you ask Chad to call me when he gets home?” I figured I could get away without a long discussion. I was wrong.

“Jennifer!” she said. “We haven’t spoken in so long! I’ll definitely have him call you. How are you? How’s the new school year?”

I bit my tongue and answered, telling her about Sweeney Todd and my classes. Then I felt a bit guilty and told her just the tiniest bit about Jeremy. And then she said, “He’s here” and handed over the phone.

“Marsh?” Chad said, surprised. “Is something wrong?”

“No, I just remembered that I was supposed to tell you some things that I didn’t really want my Dad to hear.”


“Well, you said I had to tell you everything, even if I didn’t think it was relevant, right? So…” I took a deep breath. “Jeremy and I are dating.”

“I knew that…”

“I mean… you know, really dating.”

“Wait a minute. You mean… like sex?”

“Well, not yet,” I admitted, “but he took off my shirt the last time we were together, and–”

“Whoa. Whoa! Whoa!” Chad yelped. “You know what? Let’s qualify that. I do not need to know those kinds of details. Geez, Marsh, you should know better than that! Did you really used to tell me about how far you’d gone with girls?”


“I don’t want to hear this.”

I bit my lip. “You did say everything. You sure you don’t want to know?” I teased. “It was kind of hot…”

“How about… just tell me how you’re feeling about him and guys in general – that you’re acting and responding more as Marsh and less as… Marshall… is important. But I really don’t need more than that. Um… how did that happen? His taking off your shirt?”

“Well, we had stopped off in his room…” I started.

“Wait!” he exclaimed, cutting me off. “Not the details! I mean… well… it’s kind of relevant how you felt, right? That’s a reasonable question. But… I mean…”

“… you’re uncomfortable with a girl telling you about her sex life.”


“Although,” I pointed out, “given your passion for porn, you’re probably also dying to know.”

“Marsh, you’re making this har– uh, more difficult than it needs to be. Can I take it that you didn’t object?”

“You could say that,” I giggled.

“OK, look… um… this is going way wrong for me. All I want to know – all that matters here is, are you, um, looking to… wait, you said that you didn’t think he was going to get serious about you.”

I really did try to speak in a more sober tone, and I could tell what I was doing to Chad, but his reactions were so funny. “I didn’t say he was getting serious, Chad. We were just, well, making out. Come on, it’s normal for healthy adolescents–”

“Normal? Normal? How is anything about you, normal? Just a couple of months ago, Marsh, you were whining about not finding girls attractive, and now you think it’s normal to be making out with a boy?”

That did shut me down. “I’m sorry, Chad, you’re right. The thing is, I am a girl just now, and I’m reacting to things the way a girl would. I’m almost comfortable with it, and… well… who knows?”

“What do you mean, ‘almost comfortable’?”

“Wait, didn’t I tell you about that? Um… I was cuddling with him one time and I suddenly freaked out, imagining doing it as my real self. I never told him why, but this last time I worked really hard not to let it bother me.”

“And you succeeded?”

“Um, yeah. That’s when I sort of teased him to take off my shirt.”

“Because you wanted to see how comfortable you felt with… this whole idea?”

“I… guess so. I mean… well, I am attracted to him, too.”

“Yeah, but if you’re having these kinds of freak-outs, that would be a problem if you can’t change back, wouldn’t it?”

I sighed. “Probably. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. After all, we have found the lab, so there should be a way back, right?”

“I hope so. Anything else?”

“Not that I can think of. Thanks, Chad. Have a good night.”

The next morning, as my roommates and I were about to head to breakfast, I noticed them look at one another, nod, and then look at me.

“So what’s going on with the two boys, Marsh?” Lee Ann asked, almost too casually.

“Not to mention your friend, Vicky.” Terry added.

“Oh… well, I told you, we were working on a video,” I said, surprised that they were asking.

“And how did that come out?” Terry asked, meaningfully.

I looked at her for a moment. She seemed to suspect something. I wasn’t sure what I had said or done. “It didn’t,” I said after a moment. “It’s turns out that we couldn’t use the video.”

“Uh huh. This would be a video of the experiment?” she said.

I stared. “Um… what are you talking about?” I asked looking back and forth at the two of them.

“Miss Big-Ears here overheard you and your friends talking about an experiment, Marsh,” Lee Ann said.

“My ears are not big,” muttered Terry.

“Maybe not until you spent all that time with them pressed to Marsh’s door.” She looked at me again. “You’re still going on about that time travel experiment, aren’t you Marsh? You haven’t mentioned it at meals recently but you’re serious about it, right?”

I stared some more, trying to think of what I could tell them; they didn’t seem hostile, and they were my friends, so… “Yeah, we found the lab, and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on.”

“You mean it is real?” Terry gasped. “There really is an experiment? Not just a joke?”

“Well, I know people who volunteered and were… changed, yeah. Including me,” I added ruefully.

“That’s kind of hard to believe, Marsh,” Lee Ann said. “I mean, if people were really changed, how could they keep it a secret?”

“What happened to you?” Terry asked, obviously ignoring Lee Ann’s doubts.

I hesitated for a second; telling my family had been OK, but I was living with these girls and I was pretty sure that they’d be uncomfortable thinking of a boy looking at them in their underwear from behind my eyes. So I temporized. “Well, I am a bit smaller, now…”

“Oh my gosh,” Terry gasped. “That girl who lost…” she indicated her bust, “… that was you wasn’t it?”


“Seriously, don’t worry,” she said, putting her hands on my shoulders. “You look great. It’s probably easier for you now, isn’t it?”

Maybe I can find a way to tell them another time, I thought. “It’s definitely different.”

“Are you serious, Marsh?” Lee Ann asked, staring. “You were actually changed? I mean, physically changed?”


“And nobody remembers the old you?”

I shook my head. “Well, actually, Vicky does – since she was changed, too. And… well, I don’t know that she and I ever met in this timeline.” I turned to Terry. “That’s why you don’t remember her. We were close for a long time, but…” I stopped, not sure what I could say that wouldn’t reveal more than any of us would be comfortable with.

“So it’s not just physical changes, then?” Lee Ann asked, quietly. “Is that why… wait! Did this happen over midterm break last semester?”


“So that’s why you seemed so unsure of yourself – I mean, more than usual, even for you. That must have been really tough. Why didn’t you just tell us? We’re your friends, Marsh. We’ve known each other for a long time – I mean, you’ve known Terry since you got to Piques, practically. Don’t you think we would have understood?”

I hesitated again, and before I could say anything, Terry jumped in. “Or did you know us?” she asked.

After a moment, I shook my head. “I had different roommates, before, and they don’t remember me… the only ones who remember me are you guys, and the rest of our friends. Even my family doesn’t remember the old me.” To my surprise, I seemed to be crying, and I found myself sitting on the couch with my roommates on either side of me.

Terry put her arms around me. “Marsh, I hope by now at least that you know you can trust us?”

I nodded, but I was roiling inside. It’s not a question of trust, I told myself. It wouldn’t be fair to them to tell them the whole truth. I tried to relax. Besides, I’m reacting more like a girl now anyway.

“So what else is different for you, now?” Lee Ann asked.

My heart clenched. The truth would be so much easier, but how could I possibly tell them? “Well… Jeremy is actually the first boy I’ve really gone out with,” I ventured. It was the truth, after all.

“Wait!” Terry exclaimed. “What about Dirk? You didn’t date Dirk in high school?”

“No… I mean… no, I didn’t.”

“Were you self-conscious about your chest? Was that the problem?” Lee Ann asked. “I know I used to be. The boys just keep staring at you, and won’t look you in the eyes.”

“I can’t believe you ever had a problem,” I said, my head popping up. Lee Ann seemed to be so incredibly at ease with boys.

“Well, this was in middle school,” she admitted, “but I definitely remember the discomfort.”

“Oh yeah,” Terry laughed, “not to mention being taller than all the boys in my class. I swear, half of them managed to be boob-high on me for most of seventh grade.”

I have absolutely no idea why I laughed along with her; was that really funny? But I did laugh, and so did Lee Ann, and suddenly we were standing up again and Lee Ann was adjusting her clothing, and saying, “We really should get to breakfast. And Marsh? Be sure to come to us, next time, OK? This is why you have friends.”

“I’ll remember,” I promised.

And if I thought the matter was settled, Lee Ann disabused me as we walked to breakfast, pulling me aside to whisper. “I know there’s still something you’re not telling us, Marsh – like why bigger breasts would have changed who your friends are. But we’ve got time. I’ll get it out of you eventually.”

I was really afraid she might be right.

Jeremy called just after lunch to see if I was coming to the study session. “I can’t,” I told him. “I have my first rehearsal for Sweeney Todd tonight. But I’ll be over tomorrow, OK?”

“OK…” he said.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, noting the tone in his voice. “I’ll be over tomorrow.”

“I just… I was really embarrassed about what happened.”

“It’s really fine, B– it’s fine” I said, catching myself and flushing with embarassment. I’d almost called him, “Babe.” Pet names were for couples who were starting to be serious; we were just two people enjoying being together, that’s all. “If you want, we can talk about it.”

“Um… yeah, maybe tomorrow, then, OK?”

I agreed, a bit surprised at his hesitation; we said our goodbyes and hung up – and only then did it occur to me that I had wanted to talk things out and naturally, he hadn’t. The shoe was definitely on the other foot, and it wasn’t the greatest fit.

The first rehearsal for Sweeney Todd was similar to the first one for Mousetrap, with introductions all around, only this time I knew the people I was supposed to know, and I knew what shows Marsha had done, so things were a lot smoother. We didn’t actually do a read through, this time, since there is so much singing in the show. Instead, Alvin handed us schedules of when we were working with the musical director or him, and dismissed those of us who weren’t scheduled for that evening.

Nikki came over as I was picking up my score and script. “I’m done as well,” she said. “We haven’t spoken much, lately. Would you like to get some hot chocolate?”

I looked up, a bit surprised. We hadn’t been talking as much, I realized. A lot of the conversations we’d had before break had been about my discomfort with the life I’d been forced into, and now that I was becoming more comfortable, I’d been neglecting her. So the two of us grabbed our coats and headed to the Grill.

“Congratulations again,” she said as we walked. “How do you feel about the role?”

“Well, it’s my first lead in a musical, so I’m a bit nervous…”

“Alvin knows that; but you showed that you could do the role in Mousetrap, so he was confident that you’ll come through on this one. Even if you don’t remember Marsha’s life, you do seem to have her abilities.”

“And none of my own, I know.” We walked on a bit more before I asked, “What was the name of the boy playing Anthony?”

“Oh, Todd Phelps,” she said, sounding a bit amused. “He is a cutie, isn’t he?”

“I know, and we have a bunch of… romantic type scenes together. Does it make me bad that I’m sort of looking forward to them?”

She laughed. “No, but it certainly makes you different than who you were a few months ago.”

“Yeah… I keep thinking that it would almost be like cheating on Jeremy, but it’s just acting, right? I mean, it doesn’t mean anything?

“And his girlfriend is in the chorus, so if anything, he may be a bit nervous about doing those scenes.”

We shared a laugh at that, and walked into the Grill and ordered our drinks.

“I think I should warn you about something, Marsh,” she said as we sat down with our hot chocolates. “You’re clearly adapting well, and you’re even comfortable with your sexuality as a girl, which is great. But… I don’t think you’ve learned the cautions that girls do – and if you’re going to be lusting after boys, that’s something you need to know. If you let Todd know that you’re attracted to him, you could have a real problem, both with Jeremy and Todd’s girlfriend. And now that I think of it, maybe you need to be careful with Jeremy, too.”

“Jeremy wouldn’t do anything to hurt me,” I protested. “He’s not like that.”

“Oh Marsh, you’re so naïve sometimes. Were you ‘like that’ as a guy?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“Well, you’ve said that you dated a lot of girls, and slept with a number of them, right? Were they eager to have sex with you?”

“What? What do you think I am… was? I never forced myself on any girl, and I never slept with a girl until we’d been dating for a while. Well… except for Vicky, but she was a special case. And every time, my girlfriend was more than willing.”

“Uh huh. Or maybe you just assumed that they wanted to have sex with you, and didn’t pay as close attention as you should have to signs that they didn’t.”

I flinched back, hurt. “That’s… a heck of an accusation, Nikki.”

“I’m not trying to put you on the spot, Marsh. I’m just trying to point out that a lot of guys – especially the ones who do sleep with a lot of girls – are likely to believe what they want to believe about girls’ willingness. And on the other side, girls sometimes do things they wish they hadn’t if they’ve been cuddling with a boy they really like. I’m telling you that you need to be careful, that’s all.

“For a start, you need to pay attention to birth control. Some guys will take responsibility for it, but you can’t count on it. And if you forget, you can really mess up your life.”

“I know that, Nikki,” I said, a bit defensively. “Lee Ann gave me the speech about waiting; and… I’ve started taking the Pill, you know, just in case. I’m not stupid.”

“I’m not saying you’re stupid, Marsh – but boys are not as aware of these kinds of things as girls are. And a lot of girls manage to get pregnant by accident even so. You need to know in your bones what you’re doing. And that’s assuming you’re even seriously ready for sex. I’ve seen guys have sex and it’s like it doesn’t even matter so much, but most girls are really affected by it. Lee Ann is right. Waiting is the best idea right now; but you’ve been acting as though your hormones are driving you and you need to watch that.”

I nodded, and she seemed satisfied, so we moved to other subjects. With less than six months to go before graduation, the two of them were planning for life after school. Alvin had gotten an interview with a regional theater and she was very excited about his chances. She had no idea what she was going to do, as yet.

We talked and talked until it was kind of late, and we got up to leave. And it turned out she wasn’t quite done. “One more thing, Marsh,” she said. “If you decide eventually that you are ready, and you really want to have sex with your boyfriend, fine. But be sure it’s what you want, and not because he wants to and you’ve gotten lost in the moment. It’s very easy to forget. That’s all I’m saying.”


  1. von says:

    IMO these kinds of lines:

    “Oh… well, I told you, we were working on a video,” I said, surprised that they were asking.

    “And how did that come out?” Terry asked, meaningfully.

    I looked at her for a moment. She seemed to suspect something. I wasn’t sure what I had said or done. “It didn’t,” I said after a moment. “It’s turns out that we couldn’t use the video.”

    “Uh huh. This would be a video of the experiment?” she said.

    I stared. “Um… what are you talking about?” I asked looking back and forth at the two of them.

    … do better without all the extra chatter (meaningfullly, she seemed to suspect something, etc.)
    But I could be wrong. OK. Next?

  2. von says:

    >>Lee Ann just got me to start taking the pill.


  3. von says:

    Question: Was it really a bigger deal that she took of her shirt than that he let her play with her breasts? Both together was big, I grant that, but of the two, wouldn’t the letting him touch be the bigger, more communicated, thing?

  4. scotts13 says:

    >> Were they are eager to have sex with you?”


  5. scotts13 says:

    >> And if forget, you can really mess up your life.

    Missing a word there, perhaps?

  6. Russ says:

    Yup, thanks for noting the typos. Should be fixed now.

  7. scotts13 says:

    Russ, is there a schedule to the chapters currently? Just wanted to know how often I should be checking – not anxious or anything.

  8. Russ says:

    There is no current schedule; chapters come out when I complete them, and sometimes when I complete them and Von doesn’t talk me into a rewrite… Your best bet, though, would be to use the RSS feed feed://www.takealemon.com/story/?feed=rss2 which will update when a new chapter is ready.

  9. von says:

    Hey! If you don’t want me to comment, I won’t comment. “Talk me into a rewrite” indeed! Von huffs.
    (And Von can’t figure out why Russ doesn’t implement the notification by email thing that wordpress has installed.)

  10. April says:

    Hey, Russ? Do you do any donations or anything, at all? I can’t help but feel that, since I got so much enjoyment out of the story, that I should at least contribute back a bit. Pay for a beer or two, or something.

    Speaking of beer, the whole story arc seems surprisingly devoid of alcohol for a story about college students. Maybe it’s just a much different environment than the college I went to, though.

  11. April says:

    >> Question: Was it really a bigger deal that she took of her shirt than that he let her play with her breasts? Both together was big, I grant that, but of the two, wouldn’t the letting him touch be the bigger, more communicated, thing?

    I think it depends on the woman. For some women, boobs are just lumpy (but fun) flesh bags on the front of their body, but nudity makes them feel vulnerable. And vice versa. Marsha seemed to enjoy having her breasts touched back in “A Logical Error”, so I don’t think it’s that unusual that she would mention the nudity over having her breasts touched.

  12. April says:

    “Yeah… I keep thinking that it would almost be like cheating on Jeremy, but it’s just acting, right? I mean, it doesn’t mean anything? — is missing an ending quotation mark

    read through, this time — don’t need the comma here

    speech about waiting; and — should be a comma, instead of a semi-colon

    mentioned it at meals recently but you’re serious about it — comma before “but”

    “It’s really fine, B– it’s fine” I said, catching myself and flushing with embarassment. I’d almost called him, “Babe.” — This really made my heart leap. I’m such a sucker for this sort of stuff, but this is one of the most memorable lines in the story for me. I may have, in fact, squealed with glee. BTW, you have “embarrassment” spelled incorrectly.

  13. April says:

    Sorry again for the consecutive comments, but I just wanted to note that it’s interesting that Marsha uses the same pet name for Jeremy as Vicky and Kevin do for both of each other. I don’t know if that was an intentional callback or not. I wonder if it grates on Marsh to see Kevin call Vicky “Babe”, when that was probably what he used when he was dating her?

    Lee Ann also uses it for Stephen, although just the once that I’ve seen.

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