123 Perchance to Dream

When I hung up with Mom, I felt better, even though I hadn’t actually resolved anything. I don’t really get it; it must have something to do with the way girls think. I’m a girl now, but I still don’t understand them.

Mom had told me to think of myself as somebody with a unique perspective, and said that I might have to look very hard to find somebody who could appreciate that; telling the truth about myself might well be a way to figure out when I had. That didn’t make me ready to tell Jeremy, of course, but it did make me feel worse about not doing so.

Between rehearsal, my talk with Nikki, and my phone call with Mom, I’d lost a lot of study time, and now I was going to pay for it. I still had notes to recopy, a bit of online research to do, and a bit of backlog on my clothing rack. Unfortunately, one of the perils of online research is that there are so many possible distractions, and in the end I didn’t fall asleep until almost three, having barely made a dent in my backlog.

Even if I’d been tempted to ignore my alarm and sleep through breakfast, my roommates never gave me the chance. “Marsh… time to get up,” Terry sang, knocking on my door. That meant that the other girls had already showered, and if I didn’t get up now, I wouldn’t have time to throw on even basic makeup. I wondered if I could get away with no makeup at all, just this once. Probably not. I’d look terrible and I’d draw unwanted attention to myself. With a sigh, I pried open my eyelids and climbed out of bed. At least I could drink coffee with breakfast.

I didn’t think my tiredness was all that obvious, at least once I’d touched up a bit under my eyes, but Jay noticed immediately. “Wow, you look horrible, Marsh,” he commented.

“I love you, too, Jay,” I shot back, testily.

“Seriously,” he said. “You shouldn’t be pulling an all-nighter this early in the term. You don’t have an exam today, do you?”

I took a deep breath, hissing through my teeth. Given the way he’d been on my case since midterm break, I didn’t think he had any right to be asking me things like this. “I had something I needed to study, OK?” I snapped.

He leaned back and put up his hands as if to show he wasn’t being aggressive. “I just wanted to say that I know about the pressure pre-meds have, and maybe if you need to do something like an all-nighter to catch up on study, you should wait for Founder’s Day, OK? We ought to be getting plenty of snow soon enough.”

“Jay!” a couple of people hissed, pointing at Susie, and Jay flinched, looking chagrined, while Susie and I looked at each other in surprise.

“Susie’s a transfer student this year,” Terry whispered in my ear, explaining Jay’s gaffe. Marsha would have known that, of course.

“Well, you’ve blown it, Jay,” Lisa told him sardonically. “If we don’t tell her, she’ll just google it, so you might as well explain now.”

“I’m sorry, Susie,” Jay said our still-mystified friend. “It’s a Piques tradition that on a day in January, usually after the first decent snowfall, the administration cancels all classes. It’s big fun day with everybody running out and playing in the snow like kids, and it’s supposed to be a surprise for freshmen, so we don’t talk about it in advance. I forgot that you weren’t here last year.”

“Right,” Lisa added, glaring at him, “and some people just stay in and study or catch up on projects or whatever. It’s really a lot of fun, but the surprise is the best part.”

“You should have seen Terry last year when they posted the announcement on the web site,” I laughed. “She ran through the hall, banging on everybody’s door, yelling ‘Woo hoo! No classes!’”

A bunch of the others laughed as well, and Susie shrugged. “Well, it’ll still be a surprise when it happens, right? I can’t wait!”

I didn’t feel quite so tired by the end of breakfast, and had no problems getting ready for class. I noticed Lee Ann looking at me curiously as I left for Organic Chemistry, but she didn’t say anything, so I didn’t worry about it. If it were important, she’d tell me.

At least Geoff was cheerful as always, greeting me with his usual, “Good morning, Marsha!”

“How are you this morning, Geoff?”

“Not bad, not bad. Beat my roommates in the Tsukuba endurance race last night. By three hours in, I was already five laps ahead.”

“’Three hours in?” I echoed incredulously. “Are you saying that you played one video game for three hours straight and all you did was drive around and around the same track?”

“Four hours, actually. Had to stop for new tires about every fifty minutes, but I won.”

“Uh… huh. I think you need a girlfriend.”

He chuckled. “Bored with what’s-his-name already?”

“No,” I said, embarrassed at him coming on to me again, even if it was just teasing, “I mean for my friend Vicky.” At his impatient look, I quickly added, “She’s breaking up with her boyfriend. She told me so.”

“She’s still a bit of a nutcase,” he said, shaking his head.

“She’s a very nice girl, Geoff. She’s… just having a bit of a hard time. This guy was really wrong for her, and she needs a decent guy.”

“And I’m the sacrificial lamb, huh? Why are you so eager to fix this girl up, anyway?”

“She’s a friend; a close friend,” I explained. “I care about her a lot.”

He stared at me for a moment. “I don’t know, Marsh…”

“Think about it,” I insisted. “You don’t seem to be trying to commit to anybody, so I’m not asking for that. But give it some thought. I think you two would be good together.”

He shrugged. “Maybe. I’ll think about it.” I don’t know if he was just trying to shut me up, but at least it was a start.

By dinnertime, I was starting to get tired; actually I was practically nodding in my soup, or would have been if I had had any soup. “Marsh, are you OK?” Terry asked as we walked back to our room.

“Well, I was OK after lunch, and then I wanted to copy over my notes, and I had some reading to do… and I need to review my lines and a couple of songs, and then I still have a bunch of sewing I need to get done, and–”

“And you’re planning on doing all of this when exactly?”

“As soon as I get back from my study session with Jeremy.”

“If I were you, I’d skip the study session,” Lee Ann put in. “You need to make up for the sleep you didn’t get.”

“But I promised him,” I said.

“He’ll understand.”

“Maybe I’ll just go for a bit. We sort of left a conversation unfinished. Besides, the walk in the cold woke me up again,” I insisted. “See?” I dashed inside to grab my books and papers and headed out again before they could think of a good excuse to keep me there.

I was actually the first person in the lounge as a result, so I pulled out my script and started going over it quietly. I was doing much better in my logic class, and I didn’t really need Jeremy’s help, but it was nice having him review it with me.

I kept losing focus – I’d look over a line, look away and recite it from memory, and then I’d catch my head starting to droop. Shaking my head to wake myself up was only helping so much.

And then I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up into Jeremy’s eyes. “Hey, you don’t look good,” he said.

“I love you too,” I mumbled.

He sat down next to me. “Are you sleep-deprived?”

“Can’t sleep,” I said, desperately trying to keep my head up. “I have songs to sew and a whole rack of papers.”

He pulled me to my feet. “OK. Time to go, Babe. Night’s over. I’m putting you to bed.”

With an effort, I forced my eyes to open. “I’m awake,” I said, yawning.

“Yeah, let’s go.”

I let him put my coat on me and pick up my books and papers, and followed him out into the hallway. A moment later, I said, “This isn’t the way to my dorm.”

“No,” he agreed. “If I bring you home, you’re just going to try to do some more work. I’m putting you in my bed and I’m going to make sure you go to sleep.”

“If I’m in your bed tonight, I don’t think I’m going to do much sleeping,” I giggled.

“In my bed alone. I’m going to sleep on the floor.” He opened the door and ushered me in. While my mouth hung agape at the idea, he pulled a T-shirt from his dresser and handed it to me. “Get changed.” Then he turned his back, blocking the door, as if he thought I might try to make a break for it.

I was really too tired to resist anyway, and I wouldn’t have complained if he’d undressed me himself, but I pulled off my shirt and skirt and tossed them on the end of the bed, lacking the energy even to fold them. Then I remembered, and forced myself to take off my makeup as best I could with a face wipe and a mirror from my purse. I unfastened my bra and then pulled his t-shirt over my head. It hung most of the way down my thighs, and I took off my underwear under it.  “I’m done,” I announced.

“And sleepy?” he asked, turning around to look at me. I nodded. I couldn’t believe he was really going to do this. “Good. Into bed with you.”

Obediently, I climbed under the covers. “Don’t you want the blanket or something?” I asked.

“I’ll be fine,” he reassured me. “Roll over.” So I did, and then I felt strong fingers kneading my shoulders. I tensed briefly, and then relaxed as the soothing pressure moved from down my back and my sides. Off I drifted, until…

I was in a classroom, and the professor was droning on about something that sounded like anatomy, but what he was speaking wasn’t quite English, and I had to strain to tell what he was talking about. The strain traveled down my neck and into my chest and hit my huge belly and got stuck there and it was really painful and then a man said, “Time to go, Babe.”

I was lying in bed holding a baby and just as I was about to cuddle him against my chest, the professor came in and took him from me and handed me a clipboard. “You have 30 minutes,” he said. “Go.” And I flipped to the first page, but it was in Spanish and I didn’t know most of the words, and then I flipped to the next, and the next, and…

I was freezing, which wasn’t surprising, since I’d apparently kicked my covers off. I looked down, half expecting my belly to be bulging, but all I noticed was that my nightgown had ridden up almost to my waist. I pushed it down all the way to just above my ankles, pulled the sheet and blanket up to my chin and fell back asleep.

When I woke up, the first rays of dawn were just beginning to peek through the window. I stared at the walls for a moment in confusion before I remembered where I was. Then I sat up and looked for Jeremy. He was sleeping on the floor next to the bed, curled into a ball. His coat, which he must have used as a cover, was draped partially over his legs, and his head looked quite uncomfortable on the floor.

I got up, pulled the blanket off of his bed and covered him, and then very gently wedged his pillow under his head. I was pleased that I’d managed to do that without waking him. Then I looked down. I was wearing my nightgown. Hadn’t I fallen asleep in his shirt?

The clock radio on his desk read 6:58; if I hurried, I could get back to my room without being seen. I just needed to get dressed, write a note and slip out quietly. I looked around for my clothes, and there, hanging on his closet door, was a dress… the same dress I had seen the first morning I’d awoken as a girl.


  1. von says:


    Half a dozen minor quibbles but, wow!!

    Def in my top ten fav’s

    Good job, Russ

  2. April says:

    Reality is sliiiiiiiipppppping…..

  3. Trax says:

    Very cool, interested in where this will go.

    You’re spoiling us with these frequent updates. 🙂

  4. April says:

    I find it extremely interesting that Marsh remembered a memory that only Marsha would know, and didn’t even notice it happening.

    Maybe it’s just commenting on the extremely obvious, but this:

    “You should have seen Terry last year when they posted the announcement on the web site,” I laughed. “She ran through the hall, banging on everybody’s door, yelling ‘Woo hoo! No classes!’”

    Would probably be extremely confusing to Lee Ann, especially after Marsha had already confessed that they hadn’t actually been roommates the year before. Although I suppose she would just figure that Marsha had lived in the same dorm hall in the other reality, just not with them. But Marsh not noticing that it was something she shouldn’t know? Very interesting.

    (Unless I’m remembering the details of the story wrong, but I’m almost certain that Marsha didn’t know Terry last year.)

  5. April says:

    ^^ Almost certain that Marshall didn’t know Terry last year, that is.

  6. von says:

    Good catch April. Combined with:

    “Susie’s a transfer student this year,” Terry whispered in my ear, explaining Jay’s gaffe. Marsha would have known that, of course.

    Things are interesting.

  7. von says:

    So, clues:
    1) He’s wearing a nightgown, not a shirt.
    2) His dress is hanging from the closet.
    3) Other than that things seem the same, it is Jeremy (not Dirk, or Geoff), it is Jeremy’s room, etc.

    So… what does this mean? I’m not up on this particular scene but… does a girl usually have a nightgown at a boys house unless they are at least sleeping together? And why is he on the floor if they are? A fight? Then why is she at his house?

    Just a few thoughts while we all wait for Russ…

  8. April says:

    I think she’s still at his dorm room, not at his house. And I think the reason why he turned around when she dressed, and why he slept on the floor, are because Marsha freaked out the last time she woke up next to him. Maybe he didn’t want to cause the same issue, especially since he wasn’t giving her any choice but to sleep in his dorm room.

    I personally have never kept any nightgowns or pajamas at the house or in the room of somebody I’m dating and not living with, either boy or girl. I’d either just sleep in my underwear, or borrow some clothing. That’s why I think that, as far as the nightgown and dress are concerned, I’m pretty sure Russ intended for neither one of them to have been there in the first place. They just magically appeared overnight, which could have any number of interesting explanations. Things are interesting, indeed.

  9. scotts13 says:

    >> Even I’d been tempted to ignore my alarm
    Needs an “if”

    >> I might have been just to shut me up
    Needs a “t”

    >> and maybe if you need to so something like
    Perhaps need to DO something

    There was another, too, but I can’t find it now. In addition to the typos, there’s an interesting shift in the way this is written – a bit more verbose, almost like something I’D write (if I had talent – people tell me I read like a German translation) Perhaps the author was tired, or used a different proofreader?

    Oh, the story. I’m guessing she’s still asleep at this point. If not, someone is tampering with reality again, and things get REALLY interesting. Beyond that, I refuse to speculate to avoid looking foolish.

  10. von says:

    April, you missed my point. (But no, your answers were not pointless 🙂 )

    I am assuming, as you said earlier, that reality has shifted, as in the first chapter. So whatever *was* the case is not the case now. So here we have:

    A girl, presumably still named Marsha, in the room a a boy (Jeremy, ditto). Unlike our Marsh, this girl seems to have (as you say) been in a more serious, sexual, relationship with the boy… to the extent where she leaves her clothes over at his house to make ‘sleeping over’ more feasible.

    However if they do have a sexual relationship, this makes his sleeping on the floor odd for this new reality…. thus my wondering what happened. None of the beginning of the chapter, IMO, can be taken for granted anymore. Indeed, as we saw earlier, other reality is slipping as well, and Marsh isn’t noticing.

    I question the lack of an exclamation mark at the end of this chapter. Author’s mistake or… was he not surprised??

  11. von says:

    >>Beyond that, I refuse to speculate to avoid looking foolish.

    What?? That’s half the point!! And half the fun!!

    A bit of a different style, yes, but it fits the chapter as I see it.

  12. Russ says:

    Fixed some typos and phrasing as pointed out by my proofreaders. Thanks!

  13. Trax says:

    “You should have seen Terry last year when they posted the announcement on the web site,” I laughed. “She ran through the hall, banging on everybody’s door, yelling ‘Woo hoo! No classes!’”

    Good catch, I totally missed this fact (amongst others, I have a hard time keeping everything straight sadly, such as recalling Terry knows, at least partially.) I read it as if Marsh was reacting to someone else telling the story, which on retrospect is obviously not so.
    Major props for slipping this in Russ.

  14. April says:

    @Trax: As I was telling Russ, I’m a bit of a cheater: I had my eyes replaced with LASERS. It gets me a distinct robotic advantage when it comes to tracking tricky plot points.

    @Scott: I didn’t get a chance to edit this chapter until well after it was posted, but I have been trying to get Russ to do more action and more showing instead of telling. (I can give you an example from the writing, if that would make it easier to understand.) It can make things a bit more verbose, but it tends to make for more engaging reading. Of course, it would be the height of hubris to assume that it’s affecting his writing style, but that’s been my intent at least.

    @Von: Assuming reality itself has changed, you have very interesting questions and I’m afraid I don’t have any good answers for them. I’m inclined to side with Scott that this is either still a dream, or somebody is manipulating Marshall’s brain. Still, given the laws of the universe so far, there’s no reason why your hypothesis couldn’t be correct as well. Hopefully Russ keeps up his torrid pace and we get chapter 124 in no time!

  15. BMeph says:

    I have a theory, but I plan to keep it close to my vest…at times.

    I will mention though that I don’t think it “reality” that’s going a little wonky.

    On another note, I believe Terry and Marsha did know each other last year. I found the reference for it, too – Chapter 60 (Bitter Patter), when Marsh wonders how to explain knowing Vicky: “Terry’s comment made one thing obvious – she had met Marsha early last year, and would probably have known any really close friends she had had.”

  16. von says:

    >> Assuming reality itself has changed, you have very interesting questions and I’m afraid I don’t have any good answers for them. I’m inclined to side with Scott that this is either still a dream, or somebody is manipulating Marshall’s brain. Still, given the laws of the universe so far, there’s no reason why your hypothesis couldn’t be correct as well. Hopefully Russ keeps up his torrid pace and we get chapter 124 in no time!

    Well, Scott and I had quite the conversations with Russ way back in the beginning, and his implication, at least, was that there was, indeed, some changes in reality. I took a different tack in my book, as perhaps you know.

    Ironically, if that is the word I am looking for, I had actually thought of something like this (for Russ’s book, not mine)… except that mine would have a series of gradually ‘going away’ changes, starting with what’s his face, that brother of Nikki… I was thinking of just having him change into ‘this is normal’ without anyone particularly noticing (except the audience) and do it really subtly.

    But these changes are interesting, if a bit contradictory, IMO. It will be interesting to see what Russ does with them.

    (And as for the show vs tell, read my critique of this book on Web fiction guide)

  17. von says:

    >>And sleepy?” he asked. I nodded.

    I wonder how Marsh expected Jeremy to see him nod.

  18. scotts13 says:

    >> I wonder how Marsh expected Jeremy to see him nod.

    As amply demonstrated by needing to sew her songs earlier, Marsh isn’t at her clear-thinking best right now. And if Russ is smart, that’s the story he’ll stick to (GRIN)

  19. April says:

    Yeah, I like the way it is. The songs to sew line was pretty amusing. 🙂

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