71 Packed With Emotion

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” I asked Ron, as we cleaned up our work area at the end of Wednesday’s lab.

He looked up. “Nothing much. My sister and her husband are coming over, and we’ll probably go out to a movie Friday night. What about you?”

“We’re all going up to my grandmother’s house in upstate New York. Our family, grandma, and my aunt, uncle, and cousins.”

“Oh, well, it’s always nice, getting together with family. Are you close with your cousins?”

I shrugged as I pulled on my coat. “My cousin Tara is nice, although she’s closer to my sister than to me. Tyler is pretty cool, he–” I stopped myself just in time. Tyler had always been enamored of my guitar playing; I wondered what our relationship would be now. The six-year gap between us would probably loom a lot larger, now that we didn’t have music as a bond. “He’s into video games – a lot,” I finished.

“My cousin Joey, on the other hand…” I paused, and Ron looked at me expectantly as we walked out of the lab. “Well, we’ve never been all that close. He’s into cars and I’m really not, and he’s not musical at all, so we don’t have a lot in common, even though he’s much closer in age to me – he’s just a year younger than I am.” I didn’t add, and I’ll probably never forgive him for selling my guitar. Seeing him for the first time after finding that out would be strange. I suppose Marsha had already told him off about it, so I couldn’t get the release that yelling at him might bring.

“Well, you can’t choose your relatives, I guess,” he laughed. “Have a great break.”

“Yeah, you, too,” I answered, and walked back to my dorm room. All the way there, I kept thinking about the past week, unquestionably the most emotionally exhausting one of my life, from the realization that I wasn’t in control over when and if I changed back, to the somewhat embarrassing talk with Nikki in the costume room yesterday. And I tried not to think to hard about the results last night of following her latest advice.

As I reached the dorm, I forced myself to think about the task at hand, instead. After all, I wasn’t finished packing, and my family was going to be picking me up in about an hour. As I started up the stairs, the elevator on the first floor opened and Lee Ann walked out, wheeling her suitcase.

“Hey, Lee Ann,” I called. “Have a good Thanksgiving!”

I had only gone a few steps up when I realized that she hadn’t answered me, which was more than unusual for her. “Lee Ann?” I tried, but she just walked toward the doorway, a slightly dazed look on her face.

That worried me, so hurried back down the stairs and to her. “Lee Ann, is something wrong?” I waved my hand in front of her face to get her attention.

“Oh, Marsh!” she said, looking up in surprise. “The strangest thing just happened. Geoff asked me to House Parties weekend.”

“Why are you surprised? You guys have been spending a lot of time together.”

“Yeah, but just for fun! I mean, we’ve never gone beyond a friendly kiss. I don’t understand it. Chandra said that she had told him about Stephen and me. I don’t think I led him on…”

Guiltily, I remembered that I had intended to tell her just exactly what Chandra had told Geoff, and had never actually gotten around to it. I hastened to rectify my error. “Actually, according to Geoff, Chandra told him that she and your parents were… well, that your parents didn’t approve of Stephen.”

“What?! My parents love Stephen! Why would she say something like…?” She looked very thoughtful, then her eyes filled with distress. “No. She wouldn’t…”

“Wouldn’t what?”

“Well, she and Stephen got into a big fight last May. You don’t suppose she was trying to break us up, do you? That she was still angry about that?”

“I couldn’t say. I mean, she’s your friend.”

Lee Ann wrung her hands. “I don’t believe this. I never meant for anybody to get hurt. Marsh, you need to help me out, here.”


“Go with Geoff to House Parties, OK? I mean, I know you guys talk. You have that chemistry class together, right? If he has a date for the weekend, he won’t feel so bad, and I won’t feel so bad… and he’s your friend, right? You said that it was OK for you to dance with a guy if you knew he wasn’t going to make a pass at you, and Geoff’s clearly not interested, so it should be OK, right?”

“I–” The idea was revolting. I mean, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of dating any boy, but Geoff had been my roommate! We’d… done guy things together. Joked about girls. The idea of having him think he should treat me as a girl he was on a date with… well, that was just too much. “I– I mean, no. No, Lee Ann. I’m not going to House Parties. Geoff will just have to find another girl. There are plenty of them, here, and he’s got more than two weeks.”


“Really. Look, it’ll work out. I warned Geoff that he was wasting his time with you. I mean, trying to make something serious about a relationship with you. But I’m not the solution. And neither is he.”

I could see that my answer wasn’t making her happy; quite the contrary, actually. Her eyes widened in dismay. She clearly needed a hug – so I gave her one. “Lee Ann, you can’t blame yourself. He wanted to believe that he had a chance with you, so he listened to Chandra, and ignored me. You didn’t do anything wrong. He did it to himself. He’s a big boy; he’ll deal with the disappointment, and maybe next time, he’ll listen to me.”

She hugged me back. “Thanks, Marsh.” Then she suddenly held me at arms length and stared at me. “When did you suddenly become so confident?”

I reddened. “Oh, I guess I just decided… I don’t know. I think deciding that I wasn’t going to worry about House Parties was kind of liberating for me.”

In fact, it had probably been the realization that my way back to Marshallhood wasn’t going to be easy, and that the terms of my boast no longer applied. I was no longer intentionally delaying speaking with the experimenters – not if they weren’t around and easy to find. It was out of my hands. I had been playing the role of Marsha as timid. OK, I guess I had actually been timid, but if I no longer needed to think about playing a role, if I actually was a girl now, and for at least a while, I could act however made sense to me.

Deciding – and pretty much accepting – that I was asexual, that I wasn’t actually attracted to anybody now, meant that I didn’t have to think about my sex. If I wasn’t going to be intimate with anyone, to be cuddling with anyone, did it really matter how my body was shaped? No sex for me, now. Well… masturbation didn’t really count as sex, did it? Especially when my fantasizing was about my own body in certain types of clothing? I wasnt very good at it yet, but my conversation with Nikki in the costume room the day before had left me a fair bit to think about. I doubted that Id have a chance to act on her suggestions until after break, though.

Lee Ann shook her head and smiled. “I can’t say I understand, but if you’re happy, I’m happy for you. Um… and thanks. Have a great Thanksgiving!”

“You, too, Lee Ann.”

I watched her leave, and then headed back up the stairs and into my room. Terry had left before lunch, so I left my bedroom door open. I wasn’t quite done packing about an hour later, when I got a call from Dad’s cell phone.

“Hi, Dad,” I answered, totally forgetting that I was supposed to call him, “Daddy.”

“It’s me, Marsh,” Tina answered. “We’re just pulling into the parking lot. Are you ready? Do you want help with your suitcase?”

“I’m almost done, Teen,” I replied. “I can manage, but if you’d like to come up, we can talk while we walk to the car.” I hadn’t spoken with her since the night I’d decided I was stuck, and Chad had said that she was upset. I probably should have called her then, but I didn’t know what to say. Talking about my situation wouldn’t be possible in front of Mom and Dad – “Daddy” – so this was going to be our best chance before we got to Grandma’s house.

It was a few minutes before she knocked on the outer door and I let her in.

“Wow, so this is your dorm, huh? Are your roommates here?”

“No, they’ve already left. I’m the only one of us with afternoon classes on Wednesday. Come on in, I’m almost done.”

She followed me into my bedroom. “So… how are you doing?”

I grinned at her. “I’m dealing with things. That’s all you can do, right? Deal?”

“You really sounded bad when you called me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be bothering you if I called before Thanksgiving.”

I nodded. “Yeah, it was a tough few days, but I have some good friends, and they’ve helped me through things.” I hadn’t spoken with Vicky since the party, though, and that bothered me.

“Friends… who know about you?”

“Some. One, especially. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

“How much stuff are you taking?” she asked, as I threw yet another dress into my suitcase. “We’re only going to be at Grandma’s for four days.”

“Yeah, I might have overdone it a bit. I’m really not used to packing as a girl. I mean, I don’t know how much to bring, and I thought I’d err on the side of having too much.”

“Well, don’t. You’ll never be able to carry all of that. Um…” she looked into my suitcase and pulled out a couple of outfits. “You don’t need these…”

“I thought you wanted to talk about… what I was doing.”

“Not if you don’t want to,” she said, still throwing my clothing around, with more force than I really thought necessary.

“Well… I suppose I should. I’m just not sure what to talk about.”

She turned on me. “You said that you were really eager to change back. Now you’ve found that you can’t. And you’re saying that it’s all right?”

“Well… it’s not as if I have choice, right?”

“I was ready to disappear – to have my memory wiped out, my identity destroyed – and I was going along with it, because I love you. Because you’re my sister. I mean… you’re my–”

“Sister is fine, Teen. That’s what I am now, and that’s the only way you really remember me.”

“So why aren’t you screaming and jumping up and down or crying and sulking or… something?”

“I… I did all that, Teen. I was horribly depressed; I couldn’t even get out of bed. Lee Ann had to take over and make me get dressed, and everything.”

Tina stared at me. “And now you’re OK, just like that?”

“Well, I spent some time talking with Nikki over tea. I think she might have put something in my tea, actually. She helped me a lot.”

“So, everything’s OK, now? And you never called me to work through things?”

“I didn’t want to bother you. I knew you were upset.”

“Upset? Marsh, I don’t know how things work in that boy brain of yours, but if a girl you know is upset, you talk to her. And if you’re upset, you don’t ignore your own sister, who is more than happy to talk to you, any time. I mean, you could at least have done ‘take a lemon’ with me.”

“I couldn’t, Teen. ‘Take a lemon’ is more for when you’re surprised and angry and upset. I was depressed. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to talk to anybody.”

“And now?”

“Now? Now, I’m just dealing with things. I don’t know, maybe I’ll start freaking out again, or maybe I’ll just curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head one day, but for now, I’m focusing on getting through things one day at a time.”

She came over and hugged me.

“What was that for?” I asked.

She laughed. “Do I need a reason to hug my sister? I thought you needed it. Anyway, I think you’re all packed now. Let’s go.”

So we went.


  1. scotts13 says:

    Oh, no you don’t. Where is Marsh, and who is this new actress who’s playing her role? Not only standing up for herself, but speaking out about it, and even giving Lee Ann good advice? I don’t buy it for a minute. Also:

    – It would have been nice to hear some build up to Marsh’s plans for the break. Unless I missed something (again) we’ve gone from zero to sixty in no seconds.

    – “Now you’ve found that you can’t…” Shouldn’t Marsh be leaving the possibility, however slight, open in Tina’s mind? Or has she decided it’s kinder not to let her sister know?

    – “… and I couldn’t yell when I saw tonight, since Marsh already had.” For clarity’s sake, shouldn’t that be Marsha?

  2. Hoopla says:

    Like the chapter, but the story takes quite a jump – did we miss a chapter?
    70 leaves us with the promise of another talking to by Niki and a meeting for costumes the next day to leaving for Thanksgiving break. This seems disjointed to me, anyone else feel that way?

  3. Russ says:

    There had been hints earlier, of Marsh starting to show a little more backbone. See the reaction to Pete, for example. The old Marsh would have been completely flustered.

    You’re right, it should be Marsha.

    And no, nothing was skipped. I felt it better to handle the conversation in memory rather than showing it.

  4. von says:

    >>Oh, no you don’t. Where is Marsh, and who is this new actress who’s playing her role?


  5. Hoopla says:

    I was looking forward to that conversation 🙁

    We’ve gone from hints in one chapter to almost a complete turn around in the next, hence it feeling disjointed, in my opnion anyway.

    I do like the chapter, it really moves the story on, I’m looking forward to see the reaction to the obvious (you are building up to it) differences in the Aunt, Uncle and Cousins relationships.

  6. von says:

    >>I was looking forward to that conversation

    I won’t say I was looking forward to it, but the jump in the story… well, everyone else has already said it. There is a chapter missing, maybe even more than one.

  7. scotts13 says:

    Correction to the correction:

    “…and I couldn’t yell when I saw tonight, since Marsha already had.”

    “…and I couldn’t yell when I saw HIM tonight, since Marsha already had.”

  8. von says:

    >>I can’t say I understand, but if you’re happy, I’m happy for you.


  9. von says:

    >> I suppose Marsha had already told him off about it; I didn’t have the release that yelling at him might bring – and I couldn’t yell when I saw tonight, since Marsha already had.

    Besides repeating himself here, why would he think that Marsha even cared about he guitar? She probably advised him to sell it.

  10. Russ says:

    Besides repeating himself here, why would he think that Marsha even cared about he guitar? She probably advised him to sell it.

    In an earlier draft of the story, Tina had stated specifically that Marsha had done so. That disappeared, so Marsh has no obvious reason to assume it. I will fix it…

  11. von says:


    I C you fixed the ‘since Marsha already had’. I am still confused as to why he would think (unless he is using his own emotions as a guide) why Marsha would have cared. I certainly wouldn’t have, and I am a guy, and interested in guitar (acoustic and folk, but still). It was his guitar, why shouldn’t he have sold it to someone who might have appreciated it.

    But, as I say, perhaps he is just playing off his own emotions.

    Just wondering, is this dorm arrangement a new thing? A common room with separate bedrooms? Our college didn’t have it, but perhaps a lot of others do.

  12. Harri says:

    This is a strange, standalone chapter to the rest of the story, I do like that Tina hugged Marsh because I was waiting for it but I wanted Marsh to hug Tina. Meh *shrug* can’t have everything I guess.

  13. Hoopla says:

    Rereading this, I’ve been re-reading the whole thing this week, and I realised that something seems to be amiss with the Lee Ann part of this story. Lee Ann has been pushing Marsh into getting a date for the House Parties, and yet when Lee Ann gets asked by Geoff she is all surprised and stunned. If she wasn’t going to go with Geoff then who did she thing she was going with? Especially as Lee Ann is insisting that it doesn’t mean anything, just some fun.

    I’m confused by this part.

  14. Russ says:

    It’s been established since the very first chapter that Lee Ann has had a long-distance boyfriend (Stephen) for three years.

  15. Hoopla says:

    I know that! So, from that I take it she is going to take him to the House Parties?

  16. Hoopla says:

    I think I should just shut up – sorry Russ.

  17. Russ says:

    I have now added a couple of sentences of Marsh thinking about the conversation with Nikki; the details of that conversation, however, will not be shown for several more chapters.

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