44 Man of Her Dreams

Ideally, an actor can keep the character he’s developing, and the feelings he’s acting, completely separate from his real life. In practice, though they tend to leak. That’s probably what Alvin meant when he’d talked about “cleaning the emotional canvas.” He’d wanted to make sure Jared and I didn’t have inappropriate strong feelings towards one another that would affect our acting.

It works the other way, too. At a cast party last year, one of the seniors mentioned how the girl he’d been doing romantic scenes with had developed real feelings for him, and almost wound up breaking up with her boyfriend about it. I’d never done any kind of a romantic scene before this, and in fact this show was my first ever “stage kiss,” and I was clearly feeling some of the effects. All of that work I had done establishing the proper feeling for the kiss was leaking into my dreams.

I saw myself, as Marshall again, walking from the Grill with Jared. It was odd to be taller than he was, this time, but comfortable to be my real self once more. I wasn’t sure how we got there, but suddenly we were in a dormitory furnace room. Jared turned to me and asked, “Shall I stoke the furnace?”

I looked at him lovingly and said, “already done,” and kissed him. I kissed him – as a guy!

What in the world? I sat up in shock, suddenly wide-awake. I’d never dreamed of myself kissing a boy before. I looked around wildly to make sure I was alone. I was, and I was still female, but what had brought that on? I’d made certain to establish that it was female me – me as Mollie – who was kissing “Giles.” It wasn’t me, Marshall. I’d never do such a thing. Never.

I calmed myself; it was one in the morning and nobody was around. It had been a fluke. It didn’t mean anything. I needed to sleep.

I was back in the Melodee Music lounge, listening to Tina sing, only I was Marshall again when Jeremy came in and we started talking. He was telling me that mathematicians were really musicians in disguise and that his sister was a better singer than mine. As he talked, my focus moved in and all I could see was his mouth, his beautiful mouth, so distinguished, so articulate, so kissable…

I woke up again. This was getting serious. I was straight. I knew I was straight. Hadn’t I had lots of girlfriends? Hadn’t they all thought I was so manly and wonderful? It hadn’t been lack of attraction to them that had made us break up after a few months. I know it hadn’t. I wasn’t attracted to boys, not at all. The Jeremy thing was a fluke. I had been confused, not known who I was, thought it was just a dream.

But I knew, now. I knew that this body was just one I was forced to wear. It wasn’t me; it wasn’t permanent. All I had to do was find the lab where they had changed me; I had plenty of time before winter break. There was no reason for me to be fantasizing about kissing boys! It was disgusting.

Unless… I’d heard that some guys were latent. That deep down they were really gay, but in denial. What if that were me? It wasn’t possible, was it? Had I really, subconsciously, preferred my own sex? Was that why my relationships had all failed? I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. It couldn’t be true, but… why the stupid dreams?

I couldn’t sleep. I lay in bed and tried not to think about it, but at the same time I was afraid to dream again. I kept looking at the clock, hoping that somehow I would just fall into sleep without dreaming. It was two o’clock. It was two-thirty, it was…

I thought about Vicky, and how I had loved her, lusted for her. That wasn’t how a gay guy would feel, was it? And Jackie before her. And Maddy, and…

Vicky and I were at a party; we had found a secluded spot and were starting to make out, when suddenly a musician appeared with a flute and started playing a strangely familiar tune. He repeated it over and over before I recognized it…

It was my ringtone for Chad, telling me that he was calling my cell phone, and it was a bit past seven-thirty. I mumbled a hello.

“Marsh,” he said, sounding excited, “I had an idea for you. Did you ever find those experimenters?”

“No,” I admitted, yawning. “I haven’t been through the whole building, yet, and some of the labs were locked when I went by.”

“Well I thought of something else. How would you feel if you found somebody who actually remembered you as a boy?”

My eyes opened. “I didn’t think that was possible. Didn’t we already figure out that nobody else should remember me that way?”

“Unless you have a friend who did the experiment – their memories should be from the ‘old’ life if it’s actually real, right?”

Now I was fully awake. “That’s brilliant, Chad! Maybe you should be the one in college, not me.”

“Oh, please. Like I wanted to spend four more years in classrooms. No offense, Marsh, but I’m doing something real, here. When I do my work, I leave something lasting behind me. Something that people can see and appreciate. Not just words on a computer file.”

I had to laugh. I had always prized his different perspective on things. It was nice to have somebody I could talk to who disagreed with me but was never disagreeable about it.

“Anyway, I think there’s just one flaw in your suggestion, Chad. I’ve mentioned the experiment to my friends, and they all scoffed at it even happening. So none of them actually were volunteers.”

“Not Marsha’s friends; Marshall’s friends. Do you even talk to them anymore?”

“Oh. Damn. Oops, I mean, ‘oh rats’ – I wasn’t thinking. Yeah, I speak to one of them pretty regularly, since he’s in my Organic Chemistry class. But I wouldn’t know how to raise it with him.”

“That’s where my idea comes in, Marsh. The guy who wrote that newspaper article obviously spoke with a number of volunteers. Maybe he has a list of people who came forward. Maybe one of your old friends is on that list.”

“Huh. You’re right. If he would help me out… Chad, that is an incredible idea. I’ve got the article with me, and the writer’s name should be on it. Thanks an awful lot, buddy!”

He chuckled. “No problem. I’m still getting used to you calling me that. Glad I could help out. Let me know how it goes, OK?”

“Will do. Talk to you later.”

That was the solution. I had known that it was dangerous to stay in character too long, and I had been playing the role of Marsha non-stop for weeks. I’d had no connection to my old life, no anchor that would hold me to it; remind me who I really was. My confused dreams had to have been caused by that. I’d been working hard at doing feminine things, at kissing a boy convincingly in my ‘play within a play’ and it was getting to me. That had to be the cause, not any real doubts about my sexuality. But if I could find somebody who remembered me as Marshall…

It was later than I usually woke up, and I probably didn’t have time for breakfast, if I was to manage to put my makeup on properly, but I did have time to send an introductory email to the author of that article. I fished out my copy, and used it to look up contact information for the writer, whose name was given as “George Cracraft.” I told him that I was another of the victims, and that I was trying to find out if any of my old friends had been part of the experiment, and asked him to send me what names he had.

At lunch, Sheila looked particularly concerned. “Marsh, are you alright? You missed breakfast.”

“I’m fine,” I assured her. “I just overslept.”

“Thinking about Jeremy?”

I stared at her, wondering how she could possible know what I had dreamed. Then I figured it out.

“Oh! My roommates must have told you about our conversation.”

“Yes, I and I know how painful it is when your feelings aren’t returned.”

I laughed. “It’s really nothing like that. I’m not interested in him; I just needed the memory for my play.”

She nodded. “Tell yourself that. It’s much better that way.”

Great. So now I had to deal with the girls assuming that I was pining over a guy.

When I got back to my room after lunch, I checked my email and found an answer from the reporter, George Cracraft. His reply said, simply:

Miss Steen,
Hope you are well. Unfortunately, please understand that I cannot divulge my sources. Good luck in your search – G. C.

He might well think that that was the end of the matter; he didn’t know me very well, though. I needed that list. I needed him to connect me with anyone who might remember me, the real me. And I had an idea for how to go about changing his mind.


  1. von says:

    Most comments will be sent by private mail (stalker indeed). However one technical note; the letter at the bottom came out in a weird format, with a scroll bar and all.

    Spam! Ha!

  2. Harri says:

    “He might well think that that was the end of the matter; he didn’t know me, very well, though.”

    Take out the commas.

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