128 Making Resolutions

Author’s Note: First, a big thank you to April King, who got my blog running again when an interrupted installation brought it down. Second, here we go to the ending. I’ve actually written 12,000 words so far and I’m not quite done yet, but I should be by the time these next few chapters have shown up. We’re going to finish with a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, just as I had originally promised.

Terry had spent the night with Greg, so it was only two of us in the room the next morning. After we got back from breakfast, Lee Ann commented, “You know, I’ve been wondering about something. If your old life was different, why are you able to do all the things that our Marsh can do? You know, acting, and sewing, and taking her subjects. Were those the same for you, too?”

Neither of us had any plans for the day, so we were just hanging out in our living room. Well, I did have something I wanted to get to – the search for Brian – but it didn’t look as if it was going to be quick, so there was no real rush. Besides, it was way too early to call Maddy.

“Believe me, I spent a lot of time worrying about that,” I laughed. “A lot of my old life was pretty similar – acting and a lot of the same classes – and I got help. You should have seen me when Terry asked me to take in her gown – I had no idea that I was even supposed to know how to sew, and had to pretend to know what I was talking about!”

She looked at me curiously. “Your mother didn’t teach you to sew?”

This time I was ready with an explanation. “My grandpa left me his guitar, and I spent most of my free time learning to play it. I’m sure Mom would have taught me if I’d asked, but I wasn’t really interested. It’s funny, though. I can sew now, but I’m not so great with the guitar. However those guys did it, I have my own memories, but this body’s reflexes.”

“Huh. You know, I realize that you didn’t really know us, but I can’t help wishing that somehow you’d realized sooner that you could have trusted us. Maybe we could have helped.” We smiled and nodded at one another, pleased that I was now able to be so trusting. I firmly ignored the area in which I still didn’t dare trust them – it wouldn’t be relevant soon anyway, once I threw away this life and all the relationships I’d made in it. However much it hurts, it’s for the best. I had to believe that.

“Actually,” I said, ignoring the yammering doubts, “maybe you can help me know. I’m trying to locate the grad student who was involved in the experiments, and I thought I could use Facebook.” I outlined my plan to search through the names of students at Rocky Lake, and also to have somebody totally unassociated with Piques to try to contact him.

“Why not just make a new account?” she asked. “Lots of people have multiple accounts, and if you’re afraid they might recognize your name, just register with your first and middle names. Some of my girlfriends do that, so they don’t give away too much information. They probably don’t even know your first name, so ‘Jennifer Marsha’ wouldn’t be familiar to them at all.”

“Lee Ann, that’s a great idea!” I enthused. “It’ll be so much easier than having somebody else do it – and I can post messages on their university’s page, too, asking if anybody knows him.”

She laughed. “They’ll probably think you guys met at a party and he promised to call and never did!”

“If he has a girlfriend, he could get in some real trouble,” I grinned back.

“I know, right? Serve him right, the jerk, for not calling you!” We both laughed. “You know,” she said, “it sounds as though you’re starting to come out of your shell. I think Jeremy’s been really good for you. Hold on to him, Marsh. When you find the right guy, it’s just magic.”

Magic, right. My smile was suddenly plastered-on. I hoped she didn’t notice. “Well, then, I’ll just go create that account, right? Thanks for your help!”

“Is something wrong? You guys didn’t have a fight or anything?”

“No! No, no, nothing like that. It’s just… well, I better take care of this.” I walked quickly to my bedroom without looking back. What am I doing? I asked myself. This is the right thing; I know it is. It’s really my only option, and it’s best for Jeremy. I just wish it didn’t keep it hurting.

Creating the account was quick, and then I found the “Rocky Lake University” page and liked it. That let me post a simple message:

I am trying to find a boy at Rocky Lake named Brian; I know he’s a grad student in physics and his advisor’s last name is Davis. Can anybody help me?

Let them assume whatever they wanted. To cover my bets, I tried finding a list of Rocky Lake students, but that wasn’t as easy as I had assumed – at least I couldn’t figure out to get it from Facebook. I tried a web search, but while several major universities made it easy to find their grad students online, Rocky Lake wasn’t among them. OK, I’d have to wait to see if my post brought any results.

In the meantime, what should I do about Lee Ann? She’d recognized that I was upset about something related to Jeremy, and after our little talk about trust, I didn’t see an obvious way to put her off. Was there a way I could be honest with her about my feelings without telling her something that would creep her out?

When I left my room, she was sitting in the living room, playing a game I didn’t recognize. I started to walk past her as though I had always intended to head to the bathroom, but she paused the game and asked, “Did you want to talk about it?”

How did girls do that? I wasn’t even looking at her as I walked past. Why hadn’t I been granted these mind-reading powers? I could imagine several times they could have come in handy. I turned back and sat back down on the couch next to her. “Might as well,” I said, resigned.


“So I told him last night that we had to stop seeing each other.” It felt even worse now that it had last night.

“Oh no! Why…?”

I opened my mouth but nothing came out. I spread my hands to show that I was having trouble putting it into words, and all the while my heart was falling to shards; but it wasn’t until she actually put her arms around me and hugged me that I began to cry. “He even told me he loved me,” I sobbed. “I can’t do it.”

She just hugged me and rocked me back and forth for a while before speaking. “And how do you feel about him?” she asked.

“I… I love him, too,” I sniffled. “And I told him so. That’s why it’s so hard.”

“You know, Marsh, I realize that you don’t have a lot of experience dating boys, but usually when say that you love each other, that’s supposed to be a happy moment.”

“I know,” I whimpered.

“OK… so what is it you can’t do?”

“I can’t… Lee Ann, I… I don’t know how to… you know…”

“… have sex?” she asked, sounding surprised.

“No! Love. Relationships. I don’t know how to do that; it’ll just fall apart. How did you manage to stay with Stephen all this time? What’s the secret?”

She laughed and released me after a quick squeeze. “I sometimes think Stephen’s and my secret is that we don’t see each other very much. That’s probably not very helpful. The only time we get to be around each other a lot is summer vacation and breaks.”

“Isn’t that frustrating?” I asked, forgetting even to worry that she and Marsha had probably had this very conversation in the past. Then I remembered to worry, and then I remembered that she knew I wouldn’t remember if they had. Having my roommates know about the experiment made things so much easier!

“Well,” she answered, smiling, “We’ve talked about him transferring here, or me transferring there, but mostly we don’t want to change what’s working. In the future, well… I don’t want to get too far ahead of things. What we have works for us, at least for now.”


“Yeah, I guess that didn’t really help you,” she admitted. “I can’t say I know what works and what doesn’t. But you don’t run away from a relationship that’s making you happy. So how did you guys leave it?”

“We’re still together; I’m just really afraid I’m going to hurt him, disappoint him.”

“And breaking up with him now won’t?” she asked, incredulous. “Marsh, it’s taken you so long to get to this point, and you really lucked out. Have a little patience!”

I nodded in agreement; the advice was sound – or would be if I were actually the girl she thought I was. “Thank you,” I said, meaning the talk more than the advice. “So… you have plans today? I don’t really feeling like doing any studying right now.” And I wanted to stay out of my room for a little while to keep myself from obsessively checking facebook every few minutes.

“You see how busy I am,” she said wryly, pointing at the game controller she’d just dropped, so she saved her game, found one the two of us could play, worked hard and doing absolutely nothing important until lunch.

After lunch, I did check facebook and found nothing. I knew it could take days for me to get the answer I wanted, so I tried putting it out of my head and doing something relatively mindless – sewing. Of course, that just left me free to think about my discussion with Lee Ann.

I knew that I didn’t really have any future with Jeremy – even if I got over the whole I’m really a guy thing, I had more than enough experience with relationships to know that I couldn’t sustain one – but now I was regretting it even more. What if this latest effort to reverse my change didn’t work? Was there a way for me to deal with the relationship problem? Lee Ann hadn’t had any great ideas for me, and I just didn’t see an answer.

It was after I’d finished my third simple repair job that it occurred to me how easily I was taking this for granted. Just a few months ago, I couldn’t sew at all, and now I could do a lot without really even thinking about it. How did that work, anyway? It was one more question I had for Davis when I found him.

I had just started a basic alteration for a girl who was in denial about her weight problems when I heard a knock on our outer door. I paused to listen, to see if Lee Ann would get it, but when it was repeated about twenty seconds later I sighed, put down my work, and went to answer the door.

“Hi, Marsh,” Vicky said, when I had opened the door. “You busy. I thought we could start doing those searches we talked about.”

“Actually,” I said, ushering her in, “Lee Ann gave me an idea that I think will be easier and might work better.” I explained about the “Jennifer Marsha” account.

“You told Lee Ann?” she whispered, shocked, as we entered my bedroom.

“Only that I had been changed. She and Terry think I’m the girl who lost inches,” I answered, indicating my bust.

She giggled a bit at that. “Technically, you did lose inches there, didn’t you? I mean, you used to have like a 40” chest, right?”

I grinned back. “I don’t think I was quite that big, but yeah.”

“So what’s this great idea she gave you?”

I explained and showed her my new Facebook account. There was one reply. “Forget him, Jennifer, he’s not worth it,” which amused Vicky no end.

“I don’t think Lee Ann’s suggestion is working out too well,” she laughed.

“Give it time,” I said, a bit annoyed and embarrassed. “My other ideas haven’t panned out, either. The page only lists a few people, and none of them are named Brian.”

“Really? Let me try something.” She sat at my computer and clicked to the Rocky Lake University page. “Huh. There’s no ‘see all’ link.”

“That’s what I mean. We’d need to find a student directory.”

“Well, let’s see.” She opened a new browser tab and tried some searches. “Rocky Lake Student directory” turned up nothing. “Rocky Lake Physics Department” gave us a listing of professors, but not students. “Rolf Davis” was there, of course, but the only contact information looked like a campus extension.

“OK,” she admitted. “This doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy.” She clicked back to Facebook. “Hey, you got another reply.”

This one said, “@Jennifer: no grad students in physics this yr are named brian.”

Vicky and I stared at each other. “Are you sure he was from Rocky Lake?” she asked.

“He said ‘this year.’ Maybe he doesn’t know about last year? We’re assuming that they’ve been away all year.”

“Maybe…” she agreed, “this really isn’t easy, is it?”

“Give it time. We only need a reply from one person who knows him.”

“I suppose so… I’m just trying to figure out why, if they are the ‘good guys’ that Luke thinks they are, they’re hiding.”

“Probably afraid of a group of furious teenagers tearing them limb from limb.”

“C’mon, you saw the Strangers; they’re more beaten down than furious, and Luke has to have told them so. Why couldn’t they just meet with us? If they wanted data, we could give them lots of it.”

“Luke seemed to believe that it was the administration, but what hold do they have on them? Money? Jobs? If Davis is a prof at Rocky Lake, I don’t understand why they couldn’t just go back there.”

“I’ll bet Martin would know,” Vicky suggested. “Do you want to call him?”

“I… why don’t we plan to get together tomorrow morning? That’s mostly been our pattern anyway.”

“Is there a problem?”

It was hard to explain my reluctance. It just didn’t feel right running to Martin so quickly. “I guess I want to give this idea a bit more time, first. I’ll explain it to both Martin and Eric when we get together tomorrow.”

She sighed in exasperation. “Fine. I’ll call them and set up another meeting here for tomorrow morning. So now what?’

I shrugged. “I don’t have any more ideas right now – I’m supposed to talk with that reporter on Monday… I suppose we just have to be patient.”

“OK, fine… I haven’t gotten far with my assignment, either. So… you want to do something tonight?” She must have seen me hesitate, because she erupted, “Oh c’mon, Marsh! Now what?”

“I… was just hoping to spend more time with Jeremy…”

“You’re unbelievable, you know that? Here we are, trying to get you back to being a boy again, and you want to play girl with this guy? Look, I broke up with Kevin – don’t you think it’s time you dumped Jeremy?”

“Are we going to have this fight every time, Vicky?” I said, standing up. “My relationship with Jeremy is going to end soon enough, one way or another; do you really begrudge me this time?”

“I just want to be sure you’re not holding back, Marsh. We’ve been trying to find Davis for months. Are you going to back away now?”

“No! What have we been doing all this time? Vicky, I’m the one who told everybody about what Dad found. I’m the one who came up with the idea of looking for Brian whatshisname. This is important to me. Only…” I sat back on the bed next to her and took her hands. “I just want what little time I have left to spend with him.” We stared at each other for a moment. “Besides, you know perfectly well that you could always out me to him, if you really thought I was going overboard.”

She looked away. “I wouldn’t do that to you, Marsh. I wouldn’t want something like that between us afterward.”

“Then trust me, OK? I really need to get this resolved and I intend to see it through.”

After a moment, she nodded. “OK, I’ll set up the meeting and let you know.”

One Comment

  1. TJ says:

    And then I remembered, and then I remembered that she knew I wouldn’t remember if they had.

    I assume you only want one, not both. Also while I have done it plenty of times, AND does not begin a sentence.

    “I just to be sure you’re not holding back, Marsh.

    I assume it “I just want to be sure”

    Good Chapter, I am really happy I check today. I wish Lee Ann would find out the other part of Marsh life, it killing me, but o well, looking forward to the next update.

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