135 Unexpected Reactions

The first order of business was to get back inside. All this walking in the snow was chilling me, and since I wasn’t as large as I used to… no. I laughed at myself. Remembering that my memories were mostly somebody else’s was going to be hard to get used to. It was really a good thing that I hadn’t found out for months; that I hadn’t found out until I realized that I liked being a girl. I shudder to think how I would have reacted if I’d learned this the first time I’d gone hunting for the lab.

It was getting on to mid-afternoon and the snow had stopped, leaving a 6” field for me to tromp through. The streets in town were at least being plowed continually; on campus, it wasn’t all that easy even to tell where the walkways were supposed to be. While I was glad that I wasn’t Marshall, and had never been Marshall, just for the next hour or so, it would be really nice if I could borrow his long legs.

The first group of students I spotted seemed to be enjoying the snow a lot more than I was, but were at least apologetic when one of their hurled snowballs missed its intended target and caught me on the arm. I brushed off the little bit that sprayed into my face and smiled an acknowledgment. If all wasn’t quite right with the world, at least the main things were, and a little bit of snow was hardly going to kill my mood.

My roommates were out when I got back to my room, so I stripped off my clothes and luxuriated in a hot shower. I thought about Jeremy’s suggestion that memories hadn’t actually been overwritten; would that mean that I had two sets of memories, now? And I just didn’t know how to get at the other set? Would that work the same way amnesia did? Maybe I could do some research on how amnesia worked and whether it was curable.

I saw Lee Ann’s door open when I came out of the bathroom in my bathrobe, so I poked my head in and said hello.

“Hello yourself,” she replied, looking up from her computer. “Didn’t see you at lunch.”

“No, I had lunch with Jeremy.”

“Must have been a good lunch,” she observed. “You’re bubbling.”

“I guess I am,” I laughed. “I need to tell Terry and you about it.”

“I look forward to it!”

I got dressed and called Vicky. “Are you busy?” I asked. “I have something incredible to tell you!”

“Oh?” she asked cautiously. “About what?”

“I want to tell you in person. I want to see your face when you hear it!”

She responded in a very neutral tone. “I’m doing some drawing, so why don’t you come over?” It would have been nice to hear some enthusiasm to match my own, but then she didn’t know what a bombshell I was about to drop.

“I’ll come right over,” I promised, trying to imagine her relief at learning the truth. It wasn’t until I was actually at her dorm that I realized I wasn’t actually sure that she would be relieved. What if she was disappointed? Well, I’d started the day with a focus on truth, and I certainly owed Vicky that. I just wished I knew the best way to tell her, just in case.

My worries, it turned out, were optimistic.

“You found them?” she exclaimed when I’d gotten to that part of my story. “Then why are you still a girl? Why haven’t you changed back?”

“There is no ‘back,’ Vicky. I’ve always been a girl. The memories we have aren’t our own!” I told her what I’d learned. I could see that she wasn’t taking it well.

She just stared at me for a moment; I felt like a schoolgirl who had been called to the Vice-Principal’s office. “Let me get this straight,” she hissed. “You’re saying that we never dated? That we were actually complete strangers until a few months ago? That everything I believe about us is a lie?”

“Well, not actually a lie,” I tried to explain. “It was Marshall and the other Vicky who dated. We just have their memories.”

“What a load of crap!” she snapped. “Do you really expect me to believe that?”

“Well,” I said awkwardly, “It makes sense, doesn’t it?”

“You’re telling me that two total strangers built up the kind of relationship we’ve had for the past few months? You told me that it’s not true that all the guys I’ve been dating are jerks, that I could know I’m good enough to find a decent guy because I dated you, and now you’re saying I didn’t? That I’m not good enough?”

“Uh…” I hadn’t thought of that interpretation. I scrambled to find a different way to look at it, but she just kept right on going.

“You know what I think? I think you’re estrogen-poisoned, Marshall. I think you’ve been a girl so long, and you think you’re in love with a boy, so now you want it to be true that you were always female. I think you think it would be easier for you that way. It solves all your problems, doesn’t it? No need to feel guilty about your change messing up other people’s lives. No need to face whatever might happen if you change back.

“I think you fantasized the whole thing. Well don’t worry, Marshall.” She patted my cheek. “We’ll find them for real, soon enough. And we’ll get you changed back and you’ll be able to think clearly again. When you’re yourself, you’ll be much happier, you’ll see.”

I tried again. “Vicky, it’s real. I did find the real guys. I spoke with Davis and Harlin.”

“Why are you doing this to me?” she asked, sounding hurt.

“I’m not doing anything to you,” I said, starting to have a bit of trouble speaking patiently. “I’m just telling you the truth.”

“It’s Kevin, isn’t it? You’re getting back at me because of Kevin, right? But I broke up with him, Marshall. I did.” She started to tear up. “Please stop this. Tell me you still love me. Tell me you still want us to be together. That’s what we’ve been working toward isn’t it?”

My jaw hung loose. I stared. What was I supposed to do now? I started backing up. “Vicky,” I said tentatively, “I think I’d better come back another time, OK?”

“But you will come back, right? We’re still working on finding Professor Davis, aren’t we? Aren’t we?

“Uhhh… absolutely, Vicky. I’ll call you tomorrow.” I didn’t wait for an answer. I backed out of her room and shut the door before she could say anything more.”

I found myself actually trembling. That had not been the way I had expected her to react. I’d been so ecstatic to learn the truth, that it hadn’t occurred to me that she wouldn’t be. And what did that mean about telling Nikki’s brother, whom I didn’t even know?

I called Nikki as I started back to my dorm, feeling definitely deflated. I had to talk this out with somebody I knew would believe me. Would she still want me to speak with Ben? “C’mon, c’mon,” I muttered as the phone rang. And rang.

And went to voice mail. “Hey, this is Nikki. Leave me a message, OK?”

I snapped my phone off. Stupid. She’s not spending the day waiting around for your call. She’s spending it with her boyfriend. I wished that I could be doing the same thing. Why did Jeremy have to be working downtown? Of course, if he hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have found Davis, and I wouldn’t have learned the truth… and I wouldn’t have just really upset Vicky… whom it turns out that I hadn’t dated for six months…

Should I blame her? I’d heard the truth from the horse’s mouth, and I was still struggling to keep things straight.

I was most of the way back to my dorm when Nikki called back. “Hey Marsh, what’s up?”

“I’m starting to have second thoughts about explaining this to your brother,” I admitted. “I just told Vicky, and things did not go well.”


I explained about Vicky’s refusal to believe me, and her accusation that I was making it all up. Nikki sounded thoughtful as she listened.

“Wow, that’s really not good.”

“And worse yet, I think some of it might be my fault. I’d told her that the ‘fact’ that we’d dated proved that she was better than she thought she was. Now what do I do?”


“I can’t leave her expecting me to want to turn into a boy, Nikki. We might not have had the relationship we both remember, but we’ve spent a lot of time together over the past few months. Whatever the past, we’re friends now, and you don’t abandon friends. At least I hope I never have.” Uncomfortably, I remembered that I hadn’t spoken with Maddy and the others much since winter break, either. I’d figured I didn’t have all that much to say to them, since they were really Marsha’s friends. What a mess.

“How do you convince her of the truth, though? You can’t do the impossible, Marsh.”

“No, I know that. And the same applies to your brother, I suppose. I mean, I have a sort of idea of something I could try with him, but it might not work, and I need something more for Vicky and maybe some of the others.”

“Could you bring them to meet the experimenters?” she asked.

“I could try that,” I said doubtfully. “They didn’t seem too comfortable with me being there, but they did talk to me. I do have Davis’s number and email. I suppose I can ask.”

“OK. What’s your idea for Ben?”

I’d reached my dorm, so I sat on the steps. There wasn’t much traffic, so I wouldn’t be heard by anyone I didn’t want to let in on the secret yet. “You remember how quickly I ‘learned’ how to sew? Obviously, it was because I really did know how. So it makes sense that Ben really does know how to play the guitar – all I need to do is get him to try. I may not be able to play, but I have Marshall’s memories, so I bet I could coach him through it. All I need to do is get him to try.”

“I don’t know, Marsh. He’s been pretty resistant.”

“But do you think it’s worth a try? If it doesn’t work, I can still hope to get Davis to talk to him.”

I heard her hesitate. “You know what? At this point, I don’t think you could make things worse – and maybe he will try for you. Good luck.”

“Thanks, Nikki – for everything.” I hung up and went inside. Things weren’t exactly resolving, here.

But I did get another chance when I got to my room and found Terry and Greg there. After quick hellos Terry asked, “Is this a good time, Marsh? Lee Ann said you had something exciting to share.”

Hoping that this time might be luckier, I nodded. Greg got the hint. “Roommate talk, huh? OK.” He gave her a passionate kiss. “I’ll call you later, Gorgeous. Bye, Marsh.” And he left.

Terry ran to get Lee Ann, I put away my coat, and then we all assembled back in the living room.

“So,” I started, “I’m afraid I hadn’t told you guys everything about what happened to me in that experiment.”

“Told you,” Lee Ann said, nudging Terry.

“And it turns out that I was wrong about what had happened, in any case. For one thing, I, um, didn’t used to have a bigger bust.”

They watched me, patiently.

“It turns out… that I was never changed physically at all.”

“Then what did happen?” Terry asked, sounding confused.

“They gave me different memories,” I explained. “Memories of a different person – somebody I might have been if I hadn’t been me.”

“Clear as mud,” Lee Ann muttered.

“Memories…” I continued, watching them carefully for a reaction, “memories of who I might have been if I’d been born a boy.”

For a few seconds, they didn’t move. They just froze in place, both of them. Then they looked at each other. Then back at me. And then, as though they had rehearsed it, they both said, “Whaaat?” at the same time.

I spoke quickly to get it all out as fast as I could, before they might stop listening to me. “Most of my memories before last midterm break are those of a boy named Marshall who is my sister’s big brother in a different reality, and until this morning, I thought that I was Marshall and that this wasn’t really my body.” I tried to see some understanding in their faces, but mostly what I saw was shock. “I did say that I used to be bigger…That’s really what I meant. Marshall is about eight inches taller then I am.” I hung my head. “I’m really, really sorry for not telling you guys sooner; I was just super scared of what you’d say and I didn’t want people to see me as a freak, and I was afraid you’d kick me out and nobody would want to talk to me or room with me…”

The next thing I knew I was in the middle of a group hug.

“Omigosh, Marsh,” Lee Ann said. “That’s terrible.”

“Why would we kick you out?” Terry asked.

“Well, when it first happened, and I was measuring you, and you… took of your underwear… I thought I should be turned on, so… I snuck a few peeks.”


“And… I wasn’t turned on by looking at you at all!”

To my surprise, she started laughing. Laughing! “Well, I would hope not! Oh you poor thing. Did you forget that we’ve been friends for like a year and a half? I knew you’d been acting strangely for a few months, but I had no idea why.”

“And I’ve known you for almost a year, Marsh,” Lee Ann added. “We’re friends, although you didn’t really know that when this happened to you. Nobody’s kicking anybody out.”

I felt like crying. Actually, forget that. I did cry. I tried to resist for just a second out of habit before I remembered. The two of them just held me.

After they finally released me, Lee Ann gave me a thoughtful look. “Marsh, if you have a boy’s memories, does that mean that you know how boys think?”

“I think so,” I answered. “At least I know how Marshall thinks.”

“That might be very useful,” she said with a grin.

The two of them pumped me for “inside information” on boys until almost dinner time. Lee Ann thought it hysterical that I remembered Geoff and Rajiv from Marshall’s life, and asked about their previous love lives. I cautioned her that what I remembered might not actually match our reality – and then told her everything.

Eventually, we decided to do just a bit of work before dinner. I checked my mail and went through the usual chore of deleting the spam emails that had gotten past the school’s and my filters. One of them make me take a second look.

The subject “Are you the girl I met today?” and the from address “sender15a6b@anonymizer.nu” sure seemed like indicators of spam, but the contents said:

Not sure if I have the right person, but if you’re the girl who came to our administrative
offices today, please reply with the room number.

It was them – and suddenly they wanted to talk.



  1. von says:

    >>@von: If you plan on posting you take on the “Warior’s Apprentice”

    @Walt, remind me what you are talking about.

  2. BMeph says:

    @von: See http://www.takealemon.com/story/?p=1269&cpage=1#comment-2894 especially the last para, “I want more too. Luckily I am a writer and so can work off my frustrations by writing more!”

    It’s my “dances around wolves”-way of saying I want to see more of your writing.

  3. von says:

    @ Walt

    Well, I have a whole site with my writing, and lots more on my computer, so feel free to read and ask for more. But let’s keep this off Russ’s site, feel free to go to my facebook site:


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