112 Working Through It

As I walked to Jeremy’s dorm, I called Nikki and explained my problem. “It’s just really messed up,” I said. “I’m crazy about him and I want to be physical with him, but then things happen and I start seeing myself as male again, and I freak out.”

“I can imagine,” Nikki laughed. “That’s not the kind of problem most girls have.”

“I know, right?” I said. “So what am I supposed to do about it? I just know he’s going to expect to walk me home and come inside and cuddle, and I’d really like to, but the whole idea grosses me out.”

“That’s really rough,” she sympathized. “You’re going to have to be honest with him upfront, so he doesn’t expect it.”

“Yeah, that part I’ve figured out. But how do I get past it? I don’t want to be an ice maiden or anything like that. I need to stop seeing myself as male, at least when we’re together.”

“Any ideas on how to do that?”

“Well,” I noted, “I don’t have any troubles when I’m naked…”

She chuckled. “Are you really ready for that with him?”

“No, it but it would certainly be effective.”

“Oh, yeah, that it would. Oh, Alvin wants me to remind you of Sweeney Todd auditions for tomorrow.”

I laughed. “I’ll be there, but I hope he isn’t expecting too much.”

“You know Alvin; he expects everything!”

“Yeah, I know. Well, I’ll do my best.”

“Take care,” she said, “and good luck, both tonight and tomorrow!”

I found the study group without any problems, and several of the students nodded at me in recognition as I made my way to the table where he was sitting. I wasn’t quite sure how I should be behaving towards him now; my resurgent male identity wasn’t preventing me from finding him really hot, but the combination was horribly uncomfortable. I forced myself to give him a chaste kiss – or tried to – but he flinched away.

“Is something wrong?” I whispered.

“No, just… not in front of everybody, if you don’t mind,” he whispered back.

I nodded, a bit embarrassed at having forgotten. “Would you be able to help me with my Logic homework again?” I asked, switching to a safer subject.

“Of course,” he answered, “What’s the problem?”

“We learned about ‘implies’ in the lecture today,” I answered, reaching for my notes, “and most of it makes sense, but he said this one statement was true and I can’t figure out how.” I’d found the page and read from it. “’If I am a frog, then there is life on Mars.’ Now how could that possibly be true? The two have no connection!”

He laughed, and I got chills. I really did like that laugh. “Nor do they have to; it’s not ‘if I were a frog there would be life,’ and so on. It’s not cause and effect.”

He was very patient in explaining what I had missed, and when he was done, it really did start to make sense. He said that I had been over-thinking it, and showed me a simple way to understand it. I tried working out the problems on the homework sheet, and when Jeremy checked my answers, he only saw one place where I’d made a mistake. Maybe Marsha’s brain could handle this, after all. I was pretty sure it had been easier before, but it no longer seemed beyond me; at least not as I long as I had Jeremy to explain it to me.

“You know, you’re good at this,” I said. “Have you ever thought about teaching?”

He shrugged. “I do like to teach, but I can’t see standing in front of a class and lecturing. This one-on-one stuff is a lot more fun; especially when I have a student who’s so quick and… and beautiful.” He stuttered a bit as he complimented me, and hurriedly looked away and back at his own studies. I found myself reddening, even as I stammered out thanks. Thinking back, I couldn’t remember him ever complimenting me like that; at least not on my looks. To my surprise, I really liked it. I mean, I’d never been all that vain about my appearance, before; now I was mostly just doing what seemed appropriate for Marsha. But it really felt good, having him call me ‘beautiful.’

And what about you feeling like you’re a guy stuck in a girl’s body? I asked myself. I did: I really did, and yet I found myself preening a bit. It was nice to have him tell me things like that. He’d gone back to his own studies and I wished he hadn’t; I’d have liked to hear him say more. And at the same time, I wasn’t really ready for it.

Focus, I told myself. You’re here to do homework, not flirt. But what I really wanted just now was to get back to my room and be alone to sort out what was going on in my skull.

It seemed an eternity before he leaned over and whispered, “I think I’m done for the night; how about you?” I nodded in relief, gathered my books and papers, and stood up. Quietly, we slipped out of the room to avoid disturbing anybody. “Let me just drop this stuff in my room,” he said, “and then I’ll walk you home.”

“Uh… you don’t have to do that,” I said, awkwardly.

He stopped and stared. “Is there something wrong?” he asked.

I looked around, not wanting to be overheard. “I… I’m just not in the mood to cuddle tonight.” And I had to be upfront about it. I really didn’t want to be touched while the two me’s inside my head were fighting things out.

“Marsh,” he said quietly. “I’m not walking you home because I’m expecting to cuddle with you, although that would be great; I’m walking you home because you’re my girlfriend, and guys are supposed to walk their girlfriends home. I want to make sure nothing happens to you – you know, just in case – plus it gives me that much more time to be with you.” Then he raised his eyebrows at me for a moment, and starting walking again towards his room. It took me a second to react before I hurried after him.

We didn’t actually talk very much on the way back to my place, although I was thinking furiously. Did I do that, too? Walk my girlfriends home without ulterior motives? Or did I always expect some kind of good night kiss or cuddle at the end? I couldn’t quite remember. I only knew that I really respected Jeremy for it, and I was feeling really inadequate as a guy by comparison. Suddenly I realized what I was doing. I am walking with my boyfriend, I reminded myself. Why am I thinking about myself as a guy?

I felt his hand touch mine and looked down. It took me by surprise last night, I told myself. I’m ready for it now. Taking a breath, I forced myself to hold his hand. I forced myself to remain calm. I’m an actor; I can do this. It’s just like when I had to kiss Jared. We walked on together in silence.

It wasn’t working. I was supposed to be Jeremy’s girlfriend, not a fellow actor. This was life, not a play. I didn’t want to have to pretend. I didn’t want to feel male when I was with Jeremy. It wasn’t fair to him, or to me. I had to find a way always to feel female when I was with him, no matter what.

He must have noticed something, because he asked, “Marsh, what is it?”

“I’m just… just… I don’t know,” I said.

“Am I making you uncomfortable?” he asked, sounding really concerned.

“No, you’re not,” I answered, looking up at him. “You’re not, really. I’m just working through some issues.”

“What kind of issues?” he pressed.

“Um…” How was I supposed to answer that? “Nothing important.”

“Really? It seems to be bothering you a lot.”

I shook my head. “Can I just say that I don’t feel ready to talk about it?”

“Oh. OK. Um, are you coming over again tomorrow?”

“Um, no. I have an audition. For Sweeny Todd.”

“Really? So I’ll get to actually see you on stage this time. What role are you trying for?”

“Just chorus,” I laughed. Marsha probably could have done better; I had to hope Alvin would understand.

“Well, good luck anyway. What about Friday? Can I take you to a movie or something?”

“I’d like that,” I told him as we reached my dorm. “And thanks for walking me home.” Looking around to make sure nobody was watching, I closed my eyes, stood on my tiptoes and kissed him quickly on the lips. As kisses went, it was pretty sad, but it was a kiss – a goodnight kiss.

“Good night,” I whispered and quickly threw myself through the door into the first floor hallway before he could react. Fortunately, nobody was there to see my gasp in relief. This has to stop, I told myself. I need to do whatever it takes; I need to be unambiguously female when I’m with Jeremy. If I had sex with him, that would do it. I knew from experience that sex fundamentally changes a relationship, and I needed to change this one – or at least my part in it.

By the time I got to my room, I had made my decision. Neither of my roommates were in the living room, so I knocked on Lee Ann’s door, knowing that at least she wouldn’t be entertaining a guy.

“I need some advice,” I said when she opened the door. “Do you have a few minutes?”

“Sure, come on in,” she replied, backing out of my way. “What’s up?”

I hesitated. “Actually, I was hoping to get Terry’s thought’s too. Do you know if she’s free? I didn’t want to knock if Greg was there.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s not,” Lee Ann said, pushing past me to knock on Terry’s door.

“Yeah?” asked Terry, as she poked her face out of her room.


“Hey, Terr,” Lee Ann said. “Got a moment? Marsh wanted some advice.”


“Um… Jeremy,” I said. The two of them looked at me. “I want to lose my virginity.”

“Whoa!” Terry said, turning and tossing something that thudded onto her bed before coming out of her room, “Good for you, Marsh!”

“Really?” Lee Ann asked skeptically at almost the same moment. “Are you sure?”

“Um, yeah,” I responded, surprised. Since it was all three of us, I moved to sit on the chair in the living room, while the other two took the couch. “Why?”

“What’s the problem, Lee Ann?” Terry asked

“Well, how long have been seeing him?” Lee Ann asked.

“About… three weeks,” I answered. “Why?”

Lee Ann leaned forward. “You were seeing your last boyfriend for two years, if I remember correctly, and you weren’t ready for sex with him. Why is three weeks suddenly enough for this guy?”

Because I’m not the girl who wouldn’t sleep with Dirk, I thought. Because I like sex, and I want to experience it in my new body. But that wasn’t how I was actually reacting. I found myself stammering nervously and wringing my hands. “I… I just really…”

“Back off, Lee Ann,” Terry said. “Marsh says she’s ready. Isn’t that enough?”

“Marsh, I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I just think you need to be really sure. I’ve been with Stephen for three years, but we didn’t start sleeping together until we’d been dating for about six months. Boys… well, some of them aren’t really into commitment, and especially for your first time. I don’t think you’ll be too happy if he breaks up with you like the week after.”

“He wouldn’t do that!” I said, hotly. “He’s not like that.”

“How much do you know about him?” she asked, patiently. “You know, your friends haven’t had a chance to check him out, yet. How close are you to… sex? How far have you gone with him?”

“Well, we’ve cuddled in bed a bit, and that’s about all,” I admitted. I knew what she meant; as Marshall, I’d been no stranger to all kinds of intimacies, and Jeremy and I had basically done nothing, by comparison. I was just trying to think how to explain it away as irrelevant.

“No undressing? Has he touched you under your clothes at all? Below the waist at all?” I had to shake my head, and try to ignore Terry staring at me.

“At the rate you’re going, Marsh,” Terry noted, “you’re not going to have to worry about actual sex for months, if not years.”

“Well, that’s sort of my problem. I don’t want to wait years. I want to, you know, hurry things up a bit.”

“That’s going to depend on the two of you, Marsh,” Lee Ann said. “It really doesn’t sound as though the two of you are ready for it, and I think you’re really going to be happier if you wait.” I opened my mouth to protest, and she continued before I could say anything. “But if you’re seriously thinking about this, you at least need to deal with the birth control issue. Tomorrow afternoon, one of us is going to take you to the women’s clinic and see about getting you started on the Pill, and you’re going to need to get some condoms as well. But those are just in case. Don’t rush this, OK?”

I nodded, a bit disappointed. Maybe she was right; maybe we weren’t ready; I really did have a lot more experience than Marsha had, but I suspected Jeremy didn’t. But what alternative was there?

I was trying to decide if there was anything more I should say, when Terry asked, “You had another ‘study date’ today, right? How did it go?”

I shrugged. “Well, I was feeling really uncomfortable, and didn’t really wanted to be touched. You know?” They both nodded, although obviously their reasons were different from mine. “And I told him he didn’t have to walk me home, but he said he would anyway, just because he… well, you know… he wanted to make sure I was safe.” I got chills – good ones – just thinking about it.

My roommates clearly agreed. “That is so sweet,” Lee Ann commented.

“Yeah, he sounds…” Terry said and then shook her head. It looked to me as though she might be trying hard not to laugh. “I’m sorry, Marsh, but I’m picturing the two of you together – and I can’t help thinking how cute a couple you must make.”

“Cute” was definitely not what I was feeling at the moment. “Frustrated” seemed a lot closer. This was going to require a bit more thought and planning.

Author’s note: I know these are coming out very slowly of late. I am working through a bit of carpal tunnel in my right arm and it is making typing very painful and slow.


  1. scotts13 says:

    >> “Well, we’ve cuddled in bed a bit, and that’s a BIT all,”

    Small typo there, I think. More commentary when I’m awake.

  2. Hoopla says:

    Sorry to hear about your arm/wrist 🙁 Hope it recovers quickly.

  3. brich says:

    >>Author’s note: I know these are coming out very slowly of late. I am working through a bit of carpal tunnel in my right arm and it is making typing very painful and slow.

    That’s no good. I’ll still be checking in every day or two, because I really enjoy your story.

  4. von says:

    I must say I am rather mystified by Marsh’s motivation here. Hopefully it will all come clear in the end…

  5. scotts13 says:

    I’ve been staring at this chapter for almost a week without being able to form an opinion on it. It just doesn’t come together for me.

    >> “but the whole idea grosses me out.”

    I’m having trouble with how Marsh has gone from a moment of panic, based on a brief mental image to this statement. One would think her enthusiasm would be intact, and she’d simply be trying to avoid that image. Instead, she’s almost instantly gone from being trying to retain her masculinity intellectually (but succumbing to female instinct) to trying to embrace her femininity but being blocked by male instinct.

    Of course I can see that happening eventually, but the sequence seems… off. Trying to force the issue by plunging prematurely into intercourse seem an odd choice for either aspect of her personality – and for a character we’re supposed to have respect for. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see if it gels in future chapters, but for now I have to agree with von – I’m not getting her motivation. In other news:

    We really need to see this “logic trouble” expanded on or explained in the near future. We don’t need further examples, we GET she’s having trouble and more exposition is annoying.

    The same for “Or did I always expect some kind of good night kiss or cuddle at the end?” That he’s getting a different perspective on his male persona is a point already made; the only new bit is that the lesson may be lost, as he’s forgetting his former motivations.

  6. von says:

    >>we GET she’s having trouble and more exposition is annoying.

    My thots about this whole ‘in public’ thing for Jeremy.

    >>we GET she’s having trouble and more exposition is annoying.

    Interesting perspective, hadn’t thot of that.

  7. von says:

    >>Trying to force the issue by plunging prematurely into intercourse seem an odd choice for either aspect of her personality – and for a character we’re supposed to have respect for.

    Well, ironically, it isn’t… it is just that the aspect that it represents would seem to me the aspect that he is claiming is causing the problems. I would have thot that this was the male aspect as revealed by that conv with Chad way earlier in the book… ‘experiment, have fun, etc.” and was revealed in the ‘vibrator’ chapter.

    Now, as for the ‘having respect’… you know how I agree with that!

  8. Ponjos says:

    >> Author’s note: I know these are coming out very slowly of late. I am working through a bit of carpal tunnel in my right arm and it is making typing very painful and slow.

    In regards to this note: Any objections to dictation?

    I’m more than willing to type this out on your behalf.

  9. Russ says:

    Thanks for the offer; I haven’t figured out how to write via dictation. In any event, it turns out to be golfer’s elbow, not carpal tunnel, and I am wearing a brace which seems to help.

  10. BMeph says:

    >> and I am wearing a brace which seems to help.

    Well, take care of it, and take it easy in the meanwhile. We may miss having new story chapters, but we’d miss not seeing you online for months even more.

  11. April says:

    Nicki <- Nikki (this happens several times)

    Sorry to hear about your malady. For me, switching to Dvorak and using these IMAK SmartGloves really helped with my pain. I hope you find a solution!

  12. April says:

    “I’m pretty sure he’s not, “Lee Ann said, pushing past me to knock on Terry’s door. — quote is in the wrong place

    “Um…” How was I supposed to answer that? “Nothing important.”

    “Oh. OK. Um, are you coming over again tomorrow?”

    I’m not certain, if I was Marsha’s boyfriend, that I’d drop the issue so abruptly. I’d at least add an “Are you sure?”, at the very least.

Leave a Reply