110 A Logical Error

I had specifically saved my logic homework to work on when Jeremy and I got together, figuring that as an engineer it would be easy for him. Of course, I didn’t actually need help with it; I was repeating the course I had started as Marshall, but which Marsha hadn’t taken. I had done the work, and figured that I might as well get credit for it.

Jeremy came over to our dorm to pick me up shortly after dinner. I had told my roommates of our plans, and they had told some of the other girls and, well… when he got there, there were seven of us in the living room, waiting for him. I’d explained that it wasn’t really a date, but that he’d arranged to pick me up just so I wouldn’t get lost trying to find his dorm in the dark, but the girls were very eager.

“I’m really sorry,” I said as I opened the door. “My friends just all wanted to meet you. Um, Lee Ann, Terry, Lisa, Chandra, Sheila and Susie, this is Jeremy. Jeremy, you sort of saw them a couple of days ago, but these are my roommates Lee Ann and Terry, and our friends Chandra, Lisa, Sheila and Susie.”

I could see he was overwhelmed, but he shook hands with everybody and didn’t seem too phased by the whispers and giggles in the background. As we left, he said, “Do you mind if I say that that was kind of strange? I hope I’m not supposed to remember all of those names.”

I shook my head. “The important ones are my roommates. Lee Ann is the blonde in the green top and jeans; Terry is the tall brunette.”

“Tall?” he asked, looking amused.

“To me, she’s tall,” I retorted, elbowing him in the ribs.

He snickered. “To you, everybody is tall.”

A few months ago, I would have been really annoyed by a comment like that. Now, I tried not to grin and failed. “This is a side of you I haven’t seen,” I observed. “You sound really… comfortable.”

He shrugged. “I guess I am, a bit. Being back at school, and now that we’ve been seeing each other for a while… and accepting the idea that you really do want to be with me. It makes a difference. Plus, getting together for something as low-key as studying together…”

“We’re really just going to be studying?” I asked, trying to put just a hint of seductiveness in my voice. I wasn’t sure I succeeded, because he gave me a really innocent look and I couldn’t tell if it was feigned.

We reached his dorm, which wasn’t all that far from mine; he hadn’t really needed to come get me, although it was more fun this way. We took the elevator to the third floor and I followed him to his dorm room, which turned out to be a fairly utilitarian single. His bed was placed at the end of a shoebox-shaped room that actually seemed to deemphasize its odd dimensions, with his desk along one wall and his closet and dresser along the other. I didn’t see a gaming console, which suggested that he either didn’t game, or just used his computer. His room was actually a bit tidier than most guys’ rooms in my experience – certainly, it was tidier than mine had been.

He only had the one chair and there was nowhere else really to sit, other than the bed, which made me suspect that I had been wrong – this wasn’t just a study session. But I hadn’t had much time to process that thought before he grabbed some books and led me back out, saying, “OK, this way.”

We walked down the hallway to a small lounge that was already occupied by several people sitting at tables. Well, that certainly answered my question. He helped me off with my coat and introduced me around, but I was a bit off balance, and didn’t actually remember any of the names. I think there was a Jon and a Michelle and a Grady or Gary in the crowd, but I couldn’t be sure. It was pretty obvious, though, that they were as intrigued about Jeremy having a girlfriend as my roommates were about Marsha having a boyfriend.

We sat at a table that was already occupied by another guy and a girl; I couldn’t tell if they were a couple or just friends, but they were softly discussing what I think was a history reading assignment. Jeremy took out an engineering text of some kind and I took out my logic notes. I had intended to do the ‘helpless girl’ bit, remembering how well that used to work on me, but I didn’t think that would work with somebody else at the same table.

To my surprise, though, I found that I didn’t actually remember all that much of the subject. True, it had been close to three months since I had looked at it, but surely it should have seemed more familiar than this; even worse, I was having trouble making sense of some of my notes. I know I remember it being pretty easy. Had I just discovered a case of memory loss?

On the other hand, it did give me a clear excuse to ask for help. I didn’t have to pretend to be confused at all. “Jeremy,” I said quietly, leaning my head near his. “Can you explain what an ‘exclusive disjunction’ is?”

He looked surprised. “Do you understand the difference between Boolean ‘and’ and ‘or’?”

I nodded. “’And’ just means that it’s true if all the parts are true, but ‘or’ means that any of them is true. Right?” It is a measure of my confusion that I wasn’t even completely sure I had that right.

“Well, ‘disjunction’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘or,’ but an exclusive ‘or’ is one that is only defined for two inputs, and is true if exactly one of the inputs is true, but false if they are either both true or both false.”

I blinked. I felt stupid. I still didn’t understand it.

He must have realized that, because he tried again. “Let me put it another way. It compares two inputs and is true whenever they’re different. So it’s like a ‘not equals’ operator. It means ‘one or the other, but not both.’”

“OK,” I said slowly, still feeling stupid. I know I hadn’t had this much trouble last semester. “Thank you.” Why didn’t I remember any of it? Now that he had explained it, it was easy – the problem had been the stupid name. If they had just called it a ‘not equals’ operator, I’d have gotten it easily.

Doing the problems after that was fairly easy. I only needed to ask for help on one more problem, but I asked him to check over my answers anyway. To my embarrassment, he found a few mistakes and it took several minutes of explanations before I thought I understood what I had done wrong.

“Don’t worry about it,” he soothed me. “Logic is one of those funny classes, where some people grasp it immediately, and some people have a lot of problems with it. Chances are, for what you’re studying, you won’t ever really need it.”

I nodded gratefully, but my mood was pretty dark. Last semester I had been in the ‘grasp it immediately’ group. What had happened to me?

I moved on to some Spanish review after that, and wound up actually getting ahead of the night’s assignment. After my problems with logic, I was relieved to see that I could at least do well with Spanish and hadn’t forgotten large parts of it. So my brain still seemed to work – except for that one course.

I was more than ready then when Jeremy suggested we call it a night. “Let me drop off my books and I’ll walk you home,” he said. Home seemed like a good idea to me. Even though we were going back to his room on the way, just now I wasn’t in the mood to cuddle. The idea that I was not only forgetting my old life, but also losing some of my abilities was terrifying. I didn’t want to lose everything I had been, however much fun some parts of my current reality might be. I really needed to hear from Nikki whether her brother was experiencing something similar. Vicky probably wouldn’t be a help here, since her reality hadn’t changed so much, but Ben’s change was pretty significant, even if much less so than my own.

As we walked back in the cold, Jeremy put his arm around me, which I really appreciated, for both the warmth and the comfort. “Don’t feel so bad about having trouble with Boolean logic, Marsh. Some people’s brains just don’t seem right for it. And I’m not say you’re not logical or anything, but if you haven’t spent much of your life doing puzzles and logic games, you can’t expect this to come easy.”

“I’m a science major,” I pointed out. “I’m supposed to be able to do this kind of reasoning. What if I can’t even do science any more?”

“Well, how did you do last semester?”

“I got pretty much straight A’s,” I admitted.

“So you’re clearly capable of doing this kind. You just need practice. Look how quickly you got it once I explained it to you. You’re a smart girl, Marsh. I’ll help you, and you’ll be fine.”

“Thanks,” I said, a bit mollified. “It’s just kind of a bit humiliating.”

“Well, look at it this way,” he continued, giving me a squeeze. “You’re letting me have a chance to look out for you. A guy should be able to look out for his girl, right? And I’m hardly going to be able to help you with your Bio class.”

I nodded, and a smile worked its way to my face. Maybe he was right. I was trying to think with Marsha’s brain, and maybe she’d just had a lot different experiences than I’d had. For example, I knew that I was – or had been, at any rate – a better musician than she, since she was just a singer, while I had been an instrumentalist. Pure singers almost never seemed to develop the same grasp for rhythm and music theory that instrumentalists do, and both of these can correlate well with mathematical logic. I used to love to do logic puzzles; maybe Marsha hadn’t. I knew that she hadn’t been into science fiction. So maybe I just needed to pick up some of my old habits and I could train this brain I was using.

By the time we got back to my dorm, I was in a much better mood. If I had to go through this, at least I had a guy who would be watching out for me. A rather cute and sexy guy, at that.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see my roommates waiting for me, although they acted surprised.

“Oh! I thought you were already in bed–” Terry said, and got kicked in the ankle by Lee Ann. “I mean, I thought you were in your room!”

“Yeah, we didn’t expect to see you up,” Lee Ann chorused.

I snickered. “It really wasn’t a date, guys. All we did was study, in a room full of his friends.”

“We weren’t expecting…” Lee Ann said, but trailed off as I looked at her impatiently.

I turned to Jeremy. “Come say good night to me,” I suggested, wishing he weren’t so averse to kissing me in front of the girls. I really wouldn’t have minded letting them titter over me sharing a long passionate kiss with him.

As soon as we were in my bedroom with the door closed he took me in his arms and gave me exactly that sort of kiss. We broke and just stared at each other, lips as close as I could get without standing on my tiptoes.

“They’re still out there, you know,” he whispered.

“I know,” I whispered back. “They’re probably making bets on how long you’re going to be in here.”

“And how long am I going to be in here?” he teased.

I raised my eyebrows. “Are you in a hurry?”

“I just hate to make them wait…”


“Not a bit,” he chuckled, and kissed me again, longer this time.

We went for a third kiss and this time he surprised me by picking me up and sitting on the bed with me on his lap. I didn’t exactly protest, although I got a bit giggly at the thought that my roommates might be listening at the door. We kissed for a while more, and this time he even got a bit daring – for him – and starting kissing me on my neck and even lower.

After a few moments, I whispered, “Do you think they’re still there?”

When he whispered back, “I have no idea,” I jumped off his lap and ran to my door and pulled it open. I startled Terry, who was just outside the door, while Lee Ann was still sitting on the couch, looking amused.

“Hear anything you didn’t expect?” I joked, and then all three of us laughed. But Terry looked really embarrassed, said goodnight, and walked more quickly than absolutely necessary to her own bedroom.

“I think I’ll head off to bed, too,” Lee Ann said, hastily, picking up her book.

Once they were both gone, I closed my bedroom door and climbed back onto Jeremy’s lap. “The coast’s clear,” I giggled.

“Oh, are you trying to get rid of me?” he murmured, nibbling on my chin.

“No, you can’t leave,” I said. “I’m sitting on you to keep you here.”

“You think that’s going to do it?” he shot back. And then he started tickling me! Now, I am very ticklish, so there wasn’t a lot I could do – but I could tickle back. It turned out that he was ticklish, too, and in less then a minute, the two of us were lying side by side on my bed, exhausted with laughter.

We looked into each other’s eyes for a moment, and then he started kissing me again, up and down my neck. He reached across my body and started stroking my side, and I held my breath, because I knew what was coming next. His fingers were working closer and closer to my breast as though he was uncertain that I would accept the touch, uncertain that he would have the courage to offer the touch.

So far, we had mostly only kissed and hugged. Having my breast touched by a boy, though; I could imagine that was a whole different thing. It was a type of virginity for me, a uniquely feminine experience, and I was both nervous and eager. All of my sexual experiences as Marshall – they didn’t count, just now. Anything Marsha had done with Dirk or anybody else – I didn’t remember them, so they didn’t count, either. This was me, Marsh, girl Marsh, about to experience something brand new and exciting and scary.

Slowly, he dragged his fingers up my breast, not quite touching my nipple. And I really wanted him to. I wanted him to touch me more and more. I melted closer against him, catching his mouth with mine every so often as he continued kissing me all over my neck and face.

And then he rubbed his nose against mine and I jumped in shock. Such a simple, innocent gesture – but Vicky used to do that, and so did Maddy, and I had a sudden image of myself male and in bed with Jeremy – and I tensed.

He obviously noticed and pulled up in alarm. “Marsh? What’s wrong?”

I tried to speak, but nothing was coming out.

“Are you OK?” he asked, urgently. “Did I go too fast for you? Do you want to stop?”

I shook my head, but I was still making whimpering noises in my throat; he sat up and pulled me up next to him. He put his hands on my shoulders and tried to get me to look and him, but I couldn’t. “Oh my gosh, Marsh; I’m sorry. I didn’t think… I didn’t mean…”

“Alright,” I choked out. “It’s alright. I just…”

It’s not alright,” he contradicted me. “You’re white as a ghost and you’re trembling. Marsh, I’m really, really sorry. I didn’t realize.”

“Not that… I’m just… just… having a panic attack… I…” I took deep breaths and tried to calm myself. I remembered the breathing exercises Mr. Condrin had taught us to combat stage fright. I’m a girl, I told myself firmly. It was another reality in which I was a boy. I’m not going to change back while with Jeremy.

It was no good. I was too rattled. “I’m sorry, Jeremy. It’s not your fault. I’ll be OK.”

“But maybe I should leave,” he suggested.

“I don’t want you to,” I said, earnestly, “but that’s probably for the best.”

He pulled me to my feet. “Do you want to end this? Or maybe just take things more slowly?”

“I don’t want to end it, and we weren’t going too fast,” I insisted. “Something just struck me the wrong way and it all fell apart. I hope you don’t think me too crazy to go out with.”

He leaned down to put his forehead against mine, and I managed not to flinch. “Sometimes a bit of crazy can be a good thing. Are you OK with going to a movie with me on Friday?”

“Yes, please,” I nodded.

“Good. Then I don’t mine leaving, as long as I can come back.” We walked together to the outer door.

“May I kiss you good night?” he asked.

I nodded again, and he kissed me – a very chaste kiss, this time, lasting only a few seconds, but I trembled as he did; I don’t know if it was from fear or eagerness.

“Good night,” he said, opening the door.

“Good night,” I whispered, and closed it after him. Then I collapsed against the door, hugging myself. How was I supposed to be a girl for Jeremy if I started thinking of myself as a boy while we were together?


  1. von says:

    It was the best of chapters, it was the worst of chapters…

    >>He reached across my body and started stroking my side, and worked his way to my breast – the first time I’d had my breast stroked.

    When did Marsh get the mastectomy?

  2. scotts13 says:

    >> When did Marsh get the mastectomy?

    I re-read the paragraph several times, and I’m not seeing it, von – where do you get that Marsh has a breast missing? Oh, there’s a couple of odd images – “reached across my body” made me think he was reaching past her for some object, and “breast stroked” moved my mental image to a swimming pool. (I’d have said something like “first time someone else had touched me there”) Explain, please.

    While we’re on that scene – I think it’s entirely believable, even inevitable, Marsh would have some negative reaction triggered when dating a boy went from social to biological. For some reason it strikes me as odd that it would be noses touching – it’s not a gender specific part. No reason why not; it actually works dramatically the trigger is a non-sequiter – but noses?

  3. scotts13 says:

    BTW, I’m going to take a break from my natural cynicism and negativity to give Russ a “Thumbs Up.” We have hundreds of pages of good, entertaining story here, and the writing is competent and improving. Our author charges ahead with a project I’m guessing is less than half finished, where so many web authors have gotten bored and wandered off. Huzzah!

    (And, no one has done anything obnoxiously stupid for several chapters now. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

  4. von says:

    On Noses: I agree with Scott, but, after a chat with Russ, it seems he has something up his sleeve.
    On the mastectomy: the original language made it sound as if he has only one breast. Russ didn’t get it either, but the change eliminates the issue anyway.

    Who is this Sc0tt person who is praising Russ instead of being Cynically negative? Away with him and back with the original 🙂

    A better chapter… I still have some quibbles, but, overall one of the better chapters.

  5. Pickle says:

    Don’t mind me. I’m just here to point out the little mistake you made in the study room.

    “Can you what an ‘exclusive disjunction’ is?”

    Might sound a little better with some more words in there.

  6. April says:

    We walked together to the outer door <- missing a period

  7. April says:

    I haven’t reread the entire story yet, but if I had to guess, I would say that this was probably my favorite chapter in the entire story so far. 🙂

  8. TJ says:

    I really Felt for Marsh in this Chapter, i thought it was great.

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