80 Cutting Corners

Grandma cornered me the next morning when I came down for breakfast.

“Would you like to tell me what this is all about, Hon?” she said, crossing her arms.

“Well, it’s really something between me, Mom and Dad,” I protested. “I don’t think I should talk about it.”

“Marsha, I just had to go out with the family without you. I don’t get to see you that often, and I think I should be allowed to know why. Exactly what did you do?”

“Um,” I dithered, looking over my shoulder. “I really really don’t want to discuss it…”

“Afraid of being overheard? Fine. Let me take you out for breakfast and we can have a private chat.”

“You can’t, Grandma. I’m grounded, remember? I can’t go anywhere. Not until we all leave as a family.”

“Very convenient,” she scowled at me. “OK… fine. I won’t press you now. But I expect a phone call next week, and I want you to tell me all about it. Can I count on you, Marsh?”

“I have rehearsals all next week, Grandma. I’m going to be kind of busy until pretty late…” Then I saw the determined look in her eyes and hurriedly added, “but I can call you when I get back from rehearsal, if it’s not too late.” Next week at least gave me a few days to decide what to tell her. It would be so much easier if I could just lie to her and have her drop the subject, but I knew that wouldn’t work.

“I’m usually awake until ten o’clock. If you can’t call during the week, I expect a call by Saturday at noon. Is it a promise?”

I sighed. “I promise, Grandma. I’ll call you.”

I called Vicky a bit after lunch, and she answered in kind of a neutral tone. “Hi, Marsh… what’s up?”

What’s up? After all that I’d agonized over calling her, I’d been expecting a bit more than that.

“Um, I just called to see how you were feeling.”

“Oh,” she answered, still showing no particular enthusiasm, “I guess I’m alright.”

“You don’t sound alright,” I observed. When she didn’t answer, I pressed on. “I guess I was really hoping you would call. You were really upset when you walked out on me at that dance.”

“Well, you gave me reason to be, didn’t you?” she said, sulkily.

“I didn’t do anything to you, Vixy. All I did was try to be social, and you practically took my head off.”

“Well, what do you expect?” she grumped. “Do you have any idea how hard this is for me?”

“For you?!” I automatically snapped back. “How do you think it’s–” Then I caught myself. I’m going to be more in control, I had told myself. I am going to be more mature, I’d said and meant it, my little meltdown in front of Mom and Dad notwithstanding. Biting my lip, I explained, “I’m going through an awful lot, Vix. I’m just trying to get by.”

“Well, you seem to adapting pretty quickly,” Vicky said, bitterly. “Got right back into that boy’s arms, didn’t you?”

“What? What are you talking about?” I was pretty sure that she had left before Lee Ann had browbeaten me into taking the slow dancing seriously. I was really glad that she didn’t know about that.

“Well, I…” she paused and I heard her take a breath. “I sort of called Lee Ann a couple of days later, and warned her to lay off you. I told her you weren’t interesting in boys, at least not just then.” Her voice turned saccharine. “And guess what she told me? That you went right back on the floor and threw yourself into his arms and generally had a really cuddly high old time.”

“Well, that’s not–”

She cut me off. “So how do you expect me to feel? Not only are you turning all girly and flirting with boys, you apparently now even have a boyfriend! And I’m not sure if I do. You’re not supposed to be out-feminizing me, Marsh. It’s not fair! You’re supposed to be my boyfriend! Not another girl competing for the few decent guys on campus! It’s not fair!”

“Vicky…” I said, trying to be placating.

“What?” she snarled at me.

“I don’t think Lee Ann gave you quite an accurate picture.”

“Oh?” Her challenging tone might have put my back up, but her reactions had brought to mind Nikki’s analysis, that she was seeing me as a girl standing between her and Marshall. It made it easier to be sympathetic. While she was obviously not going through what I was, she was having a hard time of her own. I’d always sort of been the strong one in our relationship, hadn’t I?

“In the first place, you missed the bit where Lee Ann jumped down my throat for being rude to Bill. She forced me to go back on the dance floor with him, and told me that I was being rude and unreasonable.”

“But you enjoyed it, didn’t you?” she said, skeptically.

“Well… I guess, sort of yes and no. I mean, having somebody hold you in their arms is sort of nice.”

“Even a guy? A guy who’s putting the moves on you? Where exactly did he put his arms, Marshall?”

Be mature, I reminded myself. Be calm. “He put his arms around my back, above my waist. That’s it. He didn’t fondle me, or anything like that. And he has a steady girlfriend, and he didn’t come on to me at all. We just danced. Nothing else. Vicky, he didn’t even offer to walk me home or ask for my phone number. Nothing.”

“Hmm,” she replied, sounding as though she might be accepting this, however grudgingly. “But you still enjoyed it.”

“And what if I did? Is that so wrong? Vicky, I’m asexual. I’m not attracted to boys or girls, but having anybody hug you can be comforting, if they’re friendly about it. I don’t know what’s going on with you and Kevin, but you have a chance for a relationship. How do you think I feel about that? Don’t you know how much that hurts me? That he can be a guy with you, and I can’t? Knowing that you should have been mine, were mine, and now we can’t be together? Not unless Eric…”

“Oh. I guess… I guess I wasn’t really thinking about that.”

“But you know what? I’m going to be happy for you, if things work out. I’m going to hate it for me, but I’m going to be happy for you, ‘cause you deserve it, and I can’t be there with you. I’m going to happy for you, because I want you to be happy, because that’s what it means when you lo– when you really care about somebody.”

She didn’t say anything for what seemed an eternity, but was probably no more than about fifteen seconds. When she finally spoke, it was in a quiet, pleased voice. “Thank you, Marsh. That really means a lot to me. I… I’m sorry for what I said. I know what you’re going through is horrible – much worse than what I am. I just wish…”

“I know, Vix. I know.” Then I remembered what Tara had said yesterday. “Vicky… a few months ago, when we… when I started paying a lot of attention to Lee Ann… why did you just let me go? Why didn’t you fight with me and try to keep me?”

“What good would it have done?” Her tone was back to bitter, just a bit. “Lee Ann is really beautiful, and I could understand you wanting to upgrade. What chance did I have?”

“Vicky, what are you talking about? You’re beautiful.”

“That’s very kind of you to say so, but I’m realistic, Marsh. I expected you to move on, eventually. I always knew being your girlfriend was too good to last.”

“How can you say that? Vicky, you’re spectacular! I was really lucky to find you, and really stupid for letting you go. Lee Ann was a mistake. And I didn’t even know how bad a mistake until… well, until I turned into a girl and talked to her about her boyfriend. There was never any chance that she and I would have been together, any more than Geoff had a chance with her.”

“She should have made that clear.”

“She did. Or she tried to, but Chandra kept telling me – and Geoff – that she was on the verge of dumping her boyfriend, Stephen. I only just found out that it was all a lie – that Chandra was trying to break them up because she can’t stand Stephen.”

“What a bitch!” she exclaimed. I decided to believe that she meant Chandra, not Lee Ann.

“Yeah, but the point is,” I continued, “that I was stupid, and not just because of Stephen. You and I had something really special, and I should have been more sensitive to your feelings, and not paid so much attention to another girl. I’m really sorry, Vix.”

“Hmm. You know, Marsh, being a girl seems to have made you a bit more sensitive.”

“Oh, please don’t say that,” I laughed.

“So… when are you getting back to school?”

“Well, I’m not sure what time we’re leaving tomorrow, but I have to be back sort of early for our tech walk-through. We open on Friday.”

“That’s great!” she said, sounding honestly enthusiastic. “Are you excited?”

“You know I am. This is the biggest role I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, I’m a bit nervous, but I’m excited at the same time. Do you know which night you’re coming, yet?”

“I’ll have to talk to Kevin. Um… that’s OK if he comes with me, isn’t it?”

I must have choked slightly, because she immediately started backing off. “Oh, I mean, if it’s a problem, he doesn’t have to. I can go with my roommates, or by myself.”

“No,” I forced myself to say. “If he’s the guy you’re seeing, you should come together. I’m going to have to get used to you being… with him. I’ll just… well, I just have to get used to it.”

“We’re not exactly seeing each other, yet. I mean, we’ve only had a couple of dates…”

“Plus he’s taking you to both dances, House Parties weekend, right?”

“Mm hmm.” She actually sounded apologetic.

“Then that counts.”

“Marsh, I really am sorry. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“I have to get over this, Vix. If I can’t change back, I’m just going to have to be a big… um… a big…” I laughed at myself a bit ruefully. If I couldn’t even say it…? “A big girl about this, won’t I?”

“Wow,” she said quietly, “that sounded really weird.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “and you have no idea how weird it was to say. So… yeah, bring him. I need to check this guy out, for you, don’t I? Isn’t that what a girlfriend is supposed to do for you?”

“Brrr… I really don’t think I’m ready to think of you like that, Marsh. As a girlfriend. But, OK… if you get to campus earlier tomorrow, give me a call, OK?”

“Sure, Vix…” Then it started feeling kind of awkward. Had we said everything we needed to say? We might be seeing each other tomorrow; after all… maybe we needed to save something to talk about then? Not that any subjects immediately came to mind, not beyond this guy who had succeeded me, anyway. So I just moved to end the call. “It was great talking with you,” I told her.

“Oh. Good talking to you, too, Marsh. Bye.”

“Bye.” And we hung up. Girlfriend, huh? Yeah, that was definitely going to take some getting used to.


  1. Trax says:

    Another great chapter. I like how Marsh is slowly coming to terms with his female side, potential Marsha take-over aside.
    The grandmother is pretty interesting, I cannot imagine if mine were that way. Mine always enforced my parents punishments. Compared to my family she appears quite self centered at times.

    The talk with Vicky was good, though it further makes me question if she is that good a person, and furthermore a good person for Marsh. What makes her so special beyond being the only one that really knows Marshall? I have a feeling that a falling out is inevitable.

    I applaud Marsh acting mature in this chapter and not taking the flame bait.

    A few minor typos I noticed:
    “Would you like to tell me __that__ this is all about, Hon?” she said, crossing her arms.

    Not sure if this is one or not…
    “Then I saw the __set__ in her eyes and…”

  2. Rook says:

    The Grandma does seem pretty cool, but at the same time she seems to just bully Marsh into spilling her guts just like every other character.
    explaining it away as “just a thing girls do” seems kind of a cop-out.

    I am really enjoying the story, though i wonder if Marsh was ever a man to begin with. It seems like he never had to change any mannerisms from his 18 or 19 years being socialized as a dude, he only had to learn the ones needed to pass off as a girl.

    also i think Marsh is more of an Autogynephilliac ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogynephilia ) than Asexual

  3. Hoopla says:

    I really like this chapter, I think it really opens Marsh up alot to accepting her fate.

    If you hadn’t noticed, I like to re-read the chapters a lot and even pick a starting point and read from there – this is why I end up spotting small ‘errors’ and then comment on them. This chapter I have already read 4 times, and I will re-read it every day until the next one come out.

    Thanks Russ for such an intriguing story, I really do look forward to each chapter with a lot of anticipation and excitment.

  4. BMeph says:

    Wow, good job, Russ!

    I’ve never thought of a woman as a slimeball before, but this part did it for me; nicely done.

  5. TJ says:

    I am a little upset grandma did not find out or figured out. Most stories always having the grandma know something wrong with there grandchildren, but it not like this is like any story.

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