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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What About that Speck?

Matthew 7:3-5 states:

3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Isn't it interesting, that it's never said that there is no speck? The speck is real, you are just expected to get yourself right first, before you would presume to "fix" others.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Really, nothing tastes that good...

Today is my mother's seventy-first birthday. If she were alive today, she'd be seventy-one. Unfortunately for me, she's been dead for almost ten years. Doesn't mean I still don't miss her.

I don't always think about her being gone, but I don't ever forget it, either.

I miss you, Mom. I'll see you again - hopefully not soon, and hopefully not in shame, but some day.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ch 8: School Daze

As L.L. put our car through its paces, slaloming around shoppers, sightseers and such, I had a bit of time in which to wonder how it was that I had gotten out of showing my lack of familiarity with a stick shift, and the choir area. At least, I pondered it some, when I wasn’t giggling and laughing at L.L.’s awe-inspiring, exciting and yet fully controlled driving. While both thrilling and scary, it was no less thrilling to watch her face, as she calculated where to drive straight, where she could sneak through traffic, and where we could get totally nuts on a stretch of empty road and do a little drifting. The best part of it was how I could recognize her very familiar expressions, on her not-so-familiar face, and how I couldn’t help but feel a swelling tide of love for my sister. I set aside, for the moment, that I would have to wake up from this dream someday, and get back to my own life, and just enjoyed what I was able to experience here and now.
We pulled in to the parking lot right at the start of school property, since that’s also where the running track is, with the music building on the opposite side from us. L.L. set the fuel disconnect, grabbed her duffle, pocketed the key and started off across the track, leaving the top off. Quickly, I hurried after her and retrieved the key…after standing in front of her, two hard tugs on her arm and threatening to assault her ticklish spots. I didn’t put up too much of a fuss otherwise, though, and after that little jaunt, I completely understood; our little speedster is fun! I paused for a bit, contemplating going right back in the car, but decided that I needed to pee, I wanted to get a better look at my script, and I had to hear L.L.’s singing voice. Somewhat reluctantly, I put the key back in my purse, and turned once more to follow her to the Music building.
This close to starting, the entrance was busy, with various people going in, and slightly fewer red-and-blue-clad ones coming out. We threaded through the crowd with relative ease; my small stature worked well for me, especially when slipping through the huge wake caused by my bigger “little” sister. Just before going in, as she got her sheet music from her duffle, I caught L.L.’s attention.
“Hey, L.L., Good L…ighting is important to keep your eyes healthy,” I sagely smirked. The initial spike of fear on her face was both upsetting and entertaining to me; the spike of fear on my face when I caught her oh-so-casually tossed duffle, and struggled to keep from pitching over, seemed to satisfy her. I hammed up moving the bag, and laughed with her, as she went in, then dropped it as soon as she disappeared, breathing a little hard. Ten seconds later, she poked her head back out, so I had to lift the thing again, and head-nodded her to get back inside. I think she was more concerned for her stuff than her poor, put-upon sister, but such is the life…I snorted, as I got too corny for myself to stand. Still, that bag was heavy. I got my legs into it, and managed to shuffle the two of us over to a bench outside the practice room. I timed my stagger to chuck the bag underneath the bench, and gratefully sat down.
Ten minutes later, after all of the stragglers finally made it in, I was listening with half an ear for my sister, while I looked over the musical script. After a few more minutes, I had to stop – I recognized her singing, and even though I was just getting into the script, I had to acknowledge, li’l Sis was good! She had a great range, and better modulation. It occurred to me that she was singing 2nd soprano, so she had to get some real high notes, as well as blend with the altos. My own voice was starting to hit baritone range, but was still strongest in tenor. I’d even sang alto for a couple years in church choir, as I went through puberty, and my speaking voice is, to me, still too high-pitched for my comfort. «Well, now it’s just fine for a 5-foot-3-inch woman, slightly higher-pitched than Mom’s, and likely so is my singing voice. I should check it out when we get back. » I closed my eyes and listened for more nuances in her voice. Which is why I jumped like I got goosed, when an unfamiliar baritone spoke in my ear, “Good music or bad wishes?”
“Ssh, my sister is singing in this part,” I whispered, blushing. I turned towards my interrupter, and started blushing more; he was cute. I turned away and motioned towards the door, as my sister’s nice soprano voice came through. We listened until my sis finished her solo, and was singing in part again. «Nice job, Sis,» I remarked to myself, then apologized for shushing him.
   “No, that’s fine, she sings well. I’m Lee, by the way, L-E-I-G-H, Leigh Templar.”
“JoJo Bates,” I introduced, turning back to shake the hand of the man that had me jumping like a “Scream” extra, and get a better look at him.
I couldn’t help but get a better look; the more I looked the better it got. He wore navy slacks and a red-with-white border-trim cardigan, over a collared, navy shirt, a nice step up from jeans and a T-shirt. Now, don’t get me wrong, most folks can do quite well in jeans and a T, but it’s so typical, it’s almost a uniform for the college-aged. He was slightly hunched and leaning on the wall next to me to talk, so I could only estimate his height as near to my old height of six feet.  His face, though, was another step up. A straight jaw line, but with just a little baby fat for cushion, and a matching chin. His mouth was wide, “generous”, with full but not too-thick lips, just enough to press on. A nose long and straight as an airplane’s wing, yet gently rounded in a ball at the tip, just big enough to nibble on….A smattering of freckles high on both cheeks, of roughly equal number, but arranged differently. His ear lobes blended smoothly into his face, which seemed a good thing as his ears might have stuck out otherwise; they also had a distinct, thick ridge line on the outer edge that just begged to be played with, especially since his hair was long enough for his ear tips to be playing “peek-a-boo” in. His hair auburn, and matching eyebrows, that didn’t want to keep still; best of all, green eyes, beautiful green eyes, not like cartoon grass-green, but brighter than usual in shade. I’m a sucker for green eyes, and his were like opals. They had slight traces of brown in them, like freckles in his eyes…
I had to turn away; “How about that choir singing,” I lamely ad-libbed. «I can’t concentrate, and if I can’t concentrate, my ears will stop working. If my ears stop working, I’ll miss…. Wait, what in the world was that? Why am I staring at his eyes, besides that they’re bright green and gorgeous? Was he listening to her, when she sang, because she’s really good, and good things should go together. Why am I working so hard to breathe?» I glanced at him again; he sat down next to me, his lower lip sticking out as he nodded in appreciation. « Oh, yeah, that’s why. Is my mouth closed? Is my tongue still in my mouth? Say something, dumbass, and quit staring!» I dropped my eyes –«No, his crotch isn’t any better than his face!»– to the ground, and I swear on my mother’s life that I did not try to check out his butt…more than twice. Honest, I was looking at the door, and his butt just got in the way…ahem. « So why is he here, again? »
“So, why are you here?”
   “Someone told me I’d see some cute girls here.”
“Aren’t you a little old for high school girls?”
   “It depends on what they’re doing. Take my sister, for instance.”
“No thanks, I already have one.”
He snickered. I giggled. It wasn’t that funny, but his snicker was; it sounded like he was choking a duck. I couldn’t help it, if he did that snicker, I was going to laugh at it. I hope he never thought up a good joke at a funeral, because he might get away with strangling that duck, but my giggle would attract attention.
   “Wait – Bates…you wouldn’t happen to be Ella’s sister, would you?”
“Nope, sure wouldn’t. L. L., on the other hand…”
   “–has four fingers and a thumb, I hope, or things could get awkward.” He waggled his eyebrows as he said it, and it cracked me up.
After I put myself together again (Take THAT, Humpty-Dumpty!), I continued the conversation. “So who’s this guy suggesting you find cute high school girls in Choir?”
   “What guy? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“But you said, ‘Someone told you you’d see some cute girls here,’ right?”
   “Hey, you got that right, congratulations!”
I grabbed at the far corners of my skirt and nodded in a sit-down curtsey, which started another round of duck-strangling and giggling.
“So, who…oh, duh.” I nodded behind me, towards the practice room, saying,  “Your sister is in there, isn’t she?”
   “Yes, Sandy is in the choir; from what I hear, her and… L. L.” – so he is learnable, good for him – “are friends, even.”
I nodded noncommittally; I’m sure L.L. talked about Sandy, and if I hung out here, I’d hear more about her. For now, though, I was flying blind. I racked my brain for new topics of conversation…
“So, does she have those same funny eyes like you do?” « What?! NO!! Don’t talk about his eyes, get off…stop talking about his eyes!»
   “Hmm? No, hers are regular brown eyes. Why, what’s wrong with my eyes? Are they blood-shot? My cat’s eyes aren’t showing, are they?” Staring right at me, he crossed his eyes.
Out came the giggle laugh-track, again. «I hope I’m not messing up the choir practice.» I put my hand to my mouth, then full-blown covered it, as I snuck another glance at him. “Um, no, your eyes are fine, nothing’s wrong…well, when you’re not crossing them like a freak, and making me laugh, please stop!”
   “Stop what? I don’t know what you mean.” He shrugged, eyes still crossed. “What’s so funny about my eyes?”
“I’m not looking at you…” I determinedly faced the choir room. “So, why does your sister want you to see cute high school girls?”
   “Well, the ugly ones are a little hard on the eyes, or so I hear; I wouldn’t want to get any funny looks. Okay, seriously, what’s wrong with my eyes?”
“Nothing, I’m sure they work just fine, forget I said anything about them.”
  “About what?”
“About your eyes.”
   “What about them?”
“Forget I said…oh, ha-ha, you got me. So why are you here checking out – HA HA! –“ I had turned back around to begin a regular conversation again, and the dingbat still had his eyes crossed! All that time he’d waited until I was looking at him again, and he was still clowning around! I had to stick my right hand in my mouth to stop the explosion of guffaws. I whacked him on the shoulder, a good L.L.-worthy hit. He winced, hamming it up, but just a little. «Yeah, you better recognize…at least you stopped crossing those…those eyes. Not gorgeous, they’re very nice, but…who am I kidding, they are gorgeous, and girls must love them.» Glaring at him, daring him to do something else goofballish, I asked again, “Why does your sister want you checking out high school girls?”
   “What? She doesn’t, she’d be mortified if I even gave any of her friends a second glance. But just because this is a high school, doesn’t mean that I’ll only see cute high school girls here.” He winked as he finished.
I smirked in reply. “Nice recovery, I’ll give it an eight; you were a little wobbly on the dismount. So, what else do you do, besides check out high school girls and make goofy faces?”
He sighed; «Yes, » I said to myself, «I’m going to ri…rib you on that “I see cute people” crack you made. Just bow down to me, and everything will be just fine.»
   “I’m a college student, a junior in fact. Pre-med, majoring in Chemistry. How about you?”
“I like mature men, not high schoolers.” I grinned at him, watching as he got steadily more uncomfortable. Once his mouth started drooping, I gave him a break, momentarily touched his arm, and gave him my own stats. “I’m a sophomore, Electrical Engineering. So I guess I engineer being shocking, and you…are still making your own chemistry.” I smiled, and nodded toward the choir again. “Is this your kind of music, Mr. Chemistry, or are you just in it for the chicks?”
He hung his head down, and cruel me, I smiled at it. Then, he lifted his head…and his eyes were crossed again. I bubbled silently in appreciation. He uncrossed it, and said, “Not just for the chicks. Sandra’s the singer, I’m just a fan. I love choral music, musicals, Gregorian and Carmelite chants, anything polyphonic. We live just far enough from here that it makes more sense for me just to wait here for her, and lucky me, I’ve gotten to hear them polish up the songs and get them really good, like now.”
Being a music lover of broad tastes, I was rapt with interest. “Ooh, so what about the more dramatic rock groups, like ‘Within Temptation’ or ‘System of a Down’?”
His eyes lit up. “What, no Evanescence?” Again, with the eyebrow waggling.
I smiled ruefully. “Well, I love Amy Lee’s playing, and her voice is good too, but weren’t you talking choral arrangements? I mean, if you’re just going for ‘axe and fiddle’ music, why not bring up Metallica’s S&M album?”
   “Hey, if you want to bring S&M into a music conversation, I guess it’s nice that you’re so, uh, confident, but I’d like to get to know a girl first.” He winked some more and brought out a cheesy grin.
I didn’t get it;  Evanescence was okay to mention, but Metallica isn’t? “But Metallica is a rock legend, sure they had some down time in the ‘90’s, but they’re still a great…” Then I noticed the smirk, and the waggling. “okay, not Metallica..oh, ‘S&M’, what, are you, eight inside?” I brought the back of my right hand up to my forehead, as I gazed imploringly to the heavens. As I hoped, he recognized overly dramatic when he saw it.
   “Seven; maybe I’ll be eight next year. So I guess you’re a big rock fan, huh? Funny, I wouldn’t have expected an engineer to be so passionate about music. Or about…other things.”
“Well, engineers have to be passionate some time – how else are there going to be little engineers in the world?” I smiled and winked back at him. “But, while I prefer rock, I love all kinds of music – well, except rap, and rap-like hip-hop. Hmm, I’m kind of weak on jazz; I like to listen to it, but I don’t pay much attention to the details.”
   “Right, I guess because that’s L.L. thing.”
«…sure, let’s go with that theory.» I gave a little encouraging smile at that line. «I need to find out more stuff about this family I never had, especially if I keep running into folks who know more than I do.» “Right. Wait, you said you like musicals? What kinds of musicals do you like?”
   He just gave a soft, warm smile, and pointed at my script. “That one is one of my favorites.”
The ambient noise level went up a notch, as some people had come in; I thought I recognized a few as returnees from the rush at 10:30. I picked up the script and hugged it to my chest, scooting close to Leigh…to let the other people sit down, as well as to be able to speak softly over the increasing population. “Now you’re just pandering; you saw that I’m doing this one for school, so it’s a favorite of yours. Are you serious?” I wasn’t mad at him, but I wanted to be able to talk straight with him some times. «I like talking with Leigh, and I feel almost disappointed that he’d feel the need to change himself to try to match up with me. Now that’s some irony for you; if there’s one person in the world that should not have anyone else changing for her sake, it’s me.»
   “This time, I’m serious as a heart attack. I like good stories set to music, so that, Phantom, Godspell, I really like.”
    “Really, it’s no joke.”
“Prove it. Sing something.”
   “Well, I don’t really sing that well…”
I think he started to say more, but there were a lot of people around. As I looked at my watch, a couple of marching band guys wandered in, raising the level even more; I almost couldn’t believe it, but that clock-in-my-head agreed with the one on my wrist saying it was just before noon. « Wow, I didn’t think it was possible to suppress that time sense.» I leaned in close to his ear, traced that prominent ridge, and whispered, “To quote from ‘Phantom,’ .”
I smiled and looked at him. He looked at me. He started to lean forward to talk, but the choir door flew open, and L.L. came storming out, looking mad enough to chew rocks. She saw Leigh next to me, and her face got a little “sad” in it, but then went back to mad. She bent down to get her duffle, muttering something about being glad to knock dust off her feet. For a bit, I wondered if she wanted to leave early, but she went over to the girls’ bathroom, while another, angry  girl, with suspiciously similar features to Leigh, stormed up to us, and started shouting, “Get up Leigh, we’re outta here!” She grabbed his hand as soon as she got in range, and looked as if she would just as soon bite it as use it to drag him off. With a puzzled and embarrassed look, Leigh got up, and tried to calm the girl down, but she was having none of it, continuing to storm off out the door, when she couldn’t get him moving fast enough. With an apologetic expression, Leigh followed the Storm Girl. «Sandy, I guess that was. I wonder what happened at the end of their session, to get the two of them so upset?» A couple of minutes later, L.L. came back out, shoved the duffle in my hands, and barely stuck around long enough for me to waddle out the door, hands full of big bag. She had a sports bottle in her hand and ran over to the track as if she were doing a relay. Hopefully, running her brains out for an hour-and-a-half would calm her down. I continued to stagger through the mini-crowd, and past the track, to put the duffle in the car.

Ch 7: Weird Science

  “You see, you are a very special person, not so much for you, but what’s happened to you. More importantly, what’s happened to you, when it’s happened, and what has happened next.”
“How about we get to the part where you’re doing cross-time experiments on me? What in the world is that about? And how do you know how wrong it’s gone, are you part of it?”
   “I am involved in what’s going on, yes. Mostly, I’m here to help get you the information you need to get things going right.”
“So, what are these ‘cross-time experiments’ going on, and why are you doing them on me?”
   “The experiments are to understand how human perception and the mind work. Actually, there are two experiments on perception, mind and time. One is going on now, in this time, which you participated in as a sophomore. For some reason, crucial details about that experiment are hidden, so you’ll need to find out who is conducting them, how it was done, who were the patients, and who else knows about it.”
“So what’s the second experiment?”
   “The second experiment involves experiencing the past, not just as memory, but as direct events.”
“So, the second experiment lets you see what’s going on in the past as it happens, and you’re using it to figure out what the first experiment is?”
   “Yes, that has become the main goal of the later experiment.”
   “Why what?”
“Why worry about what someone’s already done in the past? Why not just do what is supposed to be ‘the main goal of the experiment’? Why are you side-tracking yourselves? For that matter who…never mind, that would be side-tracking myself. What was the original ‘main goal’ of the experiment?”
   “The original purpose was exploratory. We wanted to see if it works at all, before trying to step out blindly.”
“…and yet, here you are blindly messing with people’s heads, and bodies. Fine. so, what’s so blessed fascinating about this first experiment you found?”
   “There is something involving the first experiment, and those who participated in it, that is overwhelmingly affecting the data available to the second one. It’s like a road block in time. Until we clear it, we can’t get around it, and any attempts to go elsewhere are sketchy at best.”
“I’m curious; how far in the future is the second experiment?”
   “The second experiment occurs in 2020.”
“So how’s your hindsight?”
   “Highly affected by double vision.”
“So what’s the economy like?”
   “Limping along, but getting better.”
“So, uh, who won the Le Mans?”
   “That data is not available.”
“Why not?”
   “Because our perspective, it hasn’t happened yet.”
“Well, why don’t you peek ahead and find out?”
   “Because we don’t know where to peek, since it hasn’t happened yet.”
 “So, who am I doing all of this investigative reporting to, and why doesn’t that person get off their duff or duffs and do it?”
   “It’s obvious, isn’t it, when you think about it. Here, amaze yourself, and read my mind. Who is asking for this information?”
“I don’t know who’s asking for it! That’s why I’m asking you! What, are we doing an Abbott and Costello routine, now?”
   “No, this is important, you need to do this yourself, otherwise things doesn’t work out right. Now, concentrate, who would be so interested in getting details of your life?”
“Oh. You’re saying that I’m doing this?”
   “Yes. You’ve sent yourself back in time to fix what went wrong.”
“Okay, that’s a nice story. So riddle me this, Mr. Stoner-From-the-Future: what if sending me back is what went wrong?”
   “What do you mean?”
“I mean, what if, because you sent me back, you messed yourself up, because I’m not the one you were supposed to send back? Because you sent me back to a world where I’M A FREAKING GIRL!!!”
   “I said it before, you’re eight–“
“No, you glowing freak! Not a girl as in underage, a girl as in I’m not supposed to be in a female body. I am a guy!”
   “Hmm, this situation is outside of my expected parameters. I need more info. I will return in a few hours. Meanwhile, get more info on the experiment here, and try to get closer to your sister. It’s good for you both and it will steady the connection to help us get you back.” He closed his eyes, clapped his hands, and reached for the closet door, only instead of opening it, he slid into the crack between it and the wall…and disappeared.
Well, crap.
This is no dream, but some bad experiment, gone wrong. So wrong that not even the experimenters know what’s going on. Scared, frustrated, shocked silly and faced with an impossible situation, I did the only sensible thing I could.
I sat back down on my bed, hugged a pillow and cried.
I didn’t understand; that seems fair to me, since it doesn’t seem to make any sense. So somehow, two different groups got to playing tug-of-war with the fabric of the Universe, and reeled me into their chaos? I’m not involved with any of this; I’m from a different timeline completely! I’m a huge sci-fi fan, I’ve read the classics, Turtledove, Heinlein, Anderson, Barnes, even Cliff Simak. The guys in their stories are supposed to be intrepid explorers, eager for adventure– you know, overweening knuckleheads that never saw a situation they couldn’t jump into without thinking and mess things up more. Well, now one of those types went and jumped in the puddle of my life and splashed it all over Creation! And left me holding the bag! And by bag, I mean now I’m a chick with a totally different family structure! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love women, as often as I can «cue rimshot»; I like to be with them, but I don’t want to be one! I want to be a guy! I like being a guy! I really like being six feet tall!
Suddenly, it intruded into my awareness that I was not handling the weirdness in a way a typical eighteen-year old man would be, but more like an eighteen-year-old woman would. Which only got me crying even more. I mean, sure, this family is still together and living in the house I remember growing up in, with a brother and a sister, which is better, if only from a the-family-is-still-together perspective. However, it means that I’m going to have to interact with two people I have no freaking clue about, and two other people that I only used to have a freaking clue about! Plus, I have to do it as a girl! With boobs, and a vagina and…oh Lord, I’m going to have periods, aren’t I? Maybe I’m going to have one right now, I mean, my emotions have been pretty yo-yo-like and I’ve only been awake for two-and-three-quarter hours…and why am I so conscious of the time, anyway? I never had a strong time sense at all before this; I was notorious for being on “me time” in fact. I didn’t know if it was because I was no longer an only child, or because I was the eldest child, or if it was some side-effect of all of these crazy boneheads tossing me around into totally different versions of the world. For whatever reason, I now had a nagging feeling that I had an hour and fifteen minutes left to get ready before leaving to take L.L. to wherever her practice is. I only wish I had a nagging feeling of how long it would be until I had a penis and testes again.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around how willy-nilly this future operation seemed to be being run. Why didn’t those folks go talk to whoever had done that experiment? Why not go right to the source and find out what they had done, and what they were trying to do? Why even involve me at all? Why involve me in such a way that I get sucked into some parallel dimension where I’m the wrong sex? Why me? Fine, I “know” that the right answer to “why me” is always “why not?” But seriously, why frickin’ me?! I’m a Computer Engineering student, and just starting to get into topics involving digital electronics, instead of analog. As for volunteer experiments, I remember doing a lot of Economics experiments (‘cause you get pi-zaid), and maybe a Psych one, but I never did anything with Physics experiments outside of my own classes. My parents both studied microbiology, so they wouldn’t know anything helpful, either.
I sniffled and tucked the top of the pillow under my chin. Tears on the pillow will dry out, but snot is just disgusting. I saw a tissue box on the dresser, with my makeup stuff, and gave a contemptuous frown at the collection of little containers. «Crappy makeup! I’ve got gorgeous looks already, and I wear contacts, so I can’t have too much goop on me anyhow. So why are there so many of those stupid things there?» I snagged a tissue one-handedly, being unwilling to let go of the pillow. I blew my nose, delicately, like a frickin’ girl should; I almost hadn't stopped myself from using the back of my hand, and so, almost brained myself on that big clunky bracelet I had on. I tossed the used tissue at – and deliberately not in – my wastebasket, a tall tube with something about Queen Nefertiti on it, instead of the Redskins one that my uncle gave me. «It’s probably in B-4’s room,» I groused. I leaned over and grabbed a few more tissues, and snorted, hard, into one. Not hearing the loud honk my deviated septum produces, I felt along my nose. No deviation here; I wondered if it was another glorious difference of being a girl, or if I’d gotten my parents to get an operation for it. Either way, it was just another difference irritating the piss out of me, just like that  hour-and-eight minutes – I glanced at the clock to confirm –of time still nagging at me. Why is it nagging at me? I don’t know how to put on makeup, and if I’m going to be crying my brains out more, I don’t want to. Scratch that, even if I were dry-eyed forever after this, I still wouldn’t want to. For that matter, why the heck am I so pale? My parents aren’t this pale, maybe some cousins are, but still, what the heck gives? I punched the pillow and hugged it, not so much for comfort, but because I didn’t have anyone conveniently nearby to strangle in a similar manner.
After a while, I started fantasizing smacking around that weirdo with the lights. I imagined coyly peeking at him, batting my eyelashes at him, while getting close enough to leap up and slap the silliness right out of him. I wanted to smack him so hard his mom would say “Ow!” I wished I had heels on, just so I could stab his feet in with them.« Next time,» I promised myself, «next time.» I moped around a bit more and hugged the pillow. It really was a comfy pillow for hugging. I wished it were a guy instead, nice firm muscles and strong arms to hug me back…. I heard the needle-ripped-off-the-record noise in my head: a guy to hug? Geez, stupid girl hormones! I quit hugging the pillow, shove-threw it back into place, hopped off of the bed, picked up the dumb tissues and threw them in the trash, then went to stand in front of my dresser to see what sort of stupid cosmetics I had to deal with.
I looked at my glaring, pouting visage in the mirror, first just to survey my lashes and brows (they looked fine to me, and I didn’t feel like dealing with “mass-scarier” along with contacts), then just checking myself out. «Yes, I know I only have forty-seven minutes left, I can even see the clock behind me. What a worthless waste of mental energy, to tell me what time it is when I have clocks all over the place!» Even pissed off and annoyed, I still looked cute, and not cute-to-my-relatives-only, but genuinely cute. I stuck my tongue out at my reflection, which looked just as cute. I put my hands on my hips and put another gripe on my list – I just now decided that I was making a list of all the things I hated about this change, just because it seemed more productive than weeping my little girly eyes out – nice skirts don’t have pockets for your hands…. Then I saw the obvious left pocket at my crotch, yanked my skirt a quarter-turn around my hips, jammed my hands in my pockets, and changed my list entry to “stupid girl clothes” instead. Once the clock-in-my-head went to forty-three minutes left, I added “stupid self-absorbing cuteness” to the list after it.
Sighing, I looked down at the mushroom patch of cosmetics sitting on the dresser top. I saw some promising “Dusky Rose” blush, and what looked like a fat lipstick tube by it. I twisted the tube, and the cap pulled back to reveal a blush brush instead. I jabbed it in the blush and took a couple of swipes at my cheeks with it, just enough to put some color on my cheekbones, to match the slowly fading red of my cheeks. I replaced the stuff, and looked for some lip gloss. Then, sneering first, I grabbed the strap to an envelope-sized purse hanging on the corner of the mirror, opened it, and found a pen-sized tube of something marked “lip stain.” It said “lip” on it, so I shrugged and put some on. It put enough color in my lips to look less washed out, but not so much as to look like a clown. Whoo-hoo, success. Success enough for me, anyway. I went and got my blouse on, and grumbled at my inner timekeeper about how I had over a half-hour to play with. Then I looked at the chair the blouse had been on and noticed something else to grumble about – and put on my list.
I had one of those stupid, pickpocket-delighting, “cute” mini-backpack purses! Gah! I jammed my hand under my jaw to keep myself from reflexively sticking a finger down my throat. Well, looking closer at it, it looked to be an actual daypack, with a pouch in the back for my wallet. My white-with-golden-brass-trim girl wallet, which looked just like one my mom would own. I opened it and received another shocker; in a convenient side pouch by my Drivers’ License, I found my student ID. For some reason, of the three main universities in the whole state, I was going to the one that my dad did not get a degree from, the one on the other side of the state from here. «The other side of the state; methinks someone’s little girl is trying to be her own woman. Just one more bit of information to show that learning anything about what’s going on in this wacked-out corner of the universe is going to be “a big pain in the buttocks”, as Forrest Gump would say.» I noticed that the school colors were blue and white; «Well, that explains my wardrobe.» Also, the (blue) pack had the school’s name and symbol near the bottom of it, just like on my ID. Inside I found my school books, and better yet, a semester schedule, including my major (Electrical Engineering) and residence (Bunyan Hall, 207W). Strangely, also in my pack was a script for a musical, my favorite musical ever, “My Fair Lady.” I reflexively looked around, sure I’d see some cameras on me if I looked carefully enough. « Okay, now I know I’m dreaming, because there’s no reason why I would have a play script with my name on it, for the lead in my favorite musical, since I’ve never done any acting or singing other than in church! I don’t even sing in front of my friends!»
I put it back, and grabbed the pack – oof! Thirty pounds of engineering books are heavy enough when you’re seven times their weight; when you’re only four times their weight, they’re a Klutzy Nerd comedy scene waiting to happen. I was reminded of a friend of mine in…the school I used to go to…who is roughly my…current…size. «When I get back, I’ll have to make sure she has a steady boyfriend to carry her books for her; it’s no joke when you’re this, er, petite. » Instead, I pulled out the script and wallet, put the latter in the purse and left my room. Well, I almost left; I stopped with the door open, turned back and got a stack of mini-Post-Its® for my purse, too. «Now I know why Mom carries a Tote bag around; I’d rather carry a backpack, but they weren’t as popular thirty-five years ago.»
Outside my room, I met L.L. “Did you want to go in early?” I asked.
   “ Actually, I guess I need to put the top down, but I was wondering, would you mind if I drove the car in? I promise you can bring it home, but….” I have to admit, the kid was smooth, she looked almost bashful about asking.
“You want to drive with the top down? I wonder if we’ll get to choir at all…”
   “Well, I have to be there, so we won’t be late, and it’s just a few months before I get my Permit and we’ll be doing it this way legally. Besides, with all of my four-wheeler experience, I drive a stick better than you anyway.”
« Stick? Ooh, crap, the guy in “Farnham’s Freehold” was used to driving a stick; I can do it, but I’m used to automatics. It’s funny that I’m more of a “girly” driver as a guy. It’s funnier that my younger sister is manlier still. Maybe I should bring that back pack; I could use the extra weight for when she hits those hills and rills on the main road…» “Well, I guess I have had it all through school.”
   “Yeah, and I need to get used to it when I get it next year…”
“Get used to it? I thought you were already such a hot-shot driver?” I smiled for real, to soften the bite of the remark, and opened the purse…my purse, now.
   “…ah, well I meant –“
“Eh, don’t worry, I was just kidding around with you…here,” I said, after pulling the key from my purse. She snatched it from my hand so fast that I looked at my fingers to make sure they hadn’t caught fire. L.L. kissed me on the cheek, looked at me curiously, shrugged, and zipped down the hallway to get the car ready.
By the time I got outside, L.L. was buzzing around the back of the car to finish undogging the lock levers to take the top down. Seeing the car, I didn’t quite get why she was so big on driving it. It was an old Mazda RX-7, from the nineties, painted a conservative dark green. It looked sporty, but I was frankly wondering why JoJo even had it. Then what L.L. said nagged at me; « She thinks she’s getting this car when she turns sixteen? There must be something special about it, otherwise she would’ve just got it then, wouldn’t she? I’ve heard they’re good cars from somewhere, but I don’t remember where.»
L.L. finished undoing the latches, and got my help to loosen the top from its place. «Whoa, I can see why I would leave it on, that’s kind of a two-man…or –woman job to – yow!» L.L. got the top up and lifted it by herself, to go into a clever compartment in the front part of the trunk. It looked like there should have been a way to install something to do it itself, but either it rusted away, or (more likely, I guess) L.L. may have done some tinkering with it to make it easier to remove by hand. I got the feeling that, keys regardless, this was really L.L.’s car, and I was just using it until she came of age. I just tried to stay out of the way while L.L. went buzzing around the thing like a girl in love…with a car. « Well it is green, so I guess it being L.L.’s eventually, fits. I’ll have to practice in the parking lot while L.L.’s busy, so I can at least shift it into second without herky-jerking all over the place.»
Finished with the transformation, and duffle bag sitting on the bare-looking back bench, L.L. giggled, kissed me on the other cheek, buckled up while advising me to do the same, and turned the key. I felt the engine purring through the floorboards, but it wasn’t particularly loud, which I appreciated. I prefer cars that are quiet and powerful to loud and flashy. Then she backed out of the driveway, popped across the cul-de-sac to our neighbors’, stuck it into drive…and drove.
I’ll admit, once she started driving the thing, I understood why L.L. was giggling so much, and why I tolerated tooling around in such a bare-bones thing. It was a fast, responsive thing. I think I started giggling a little, too, as L.L. crept downhill at ten miles-an-hour past the mini-sac behind ours, then goosed it to forty in about a second-and-a-half, tearing out of our neighborhood to the main road.

Ch 6: Manna from Heaven

Sure enough, the articles of clothing on my desk chair were in fact a cream satin blouse and a knee-length navy skirt. When I saw the pumps under the chair, I literally bowed my head and gave thanks to God Almighty; I’ve seen enough funny shows and movies to know that learning how to walk in heels under time pressure is only funny if it isn’t you. I grabbed the skirt, zipped it down and stepped through it, buttoned the inside and zipped it back up – BAM! Done. Then, after I stepped into the shoes, I had the most brilliant idea ever – I went to get some breakfast before I got my pretty, white blouse on.
I went through the family room just in time to see Dad and B-4 going out the back for a morning walk; I remembered those walks well, and was a little sad that I was going to miss one. Then I recalled some of the things Dad and I talked about when I was thirteen, and thoroughly agreed that this was a good time for a man-to-future-man talk with no ”gurlz” allowed. Not that L.L. or I would have a problem with the discussion, but…it’d be good for them to bond. Dad turned back to the house before going down the outside stairs, and I smiled and waved. He returned the favor. Interesting that, as a girl, I was much more aware of my dad’s handsomeness. Not attracted, per se, but…kind of the way I imagine I’d feel about L.L., as a guy. Then again, maybe he was just happier, having both girls and a boy. I breathed in the crisp autumn air, while it was still cool and crisp, then I closed the sliding door so it wouldn’t get too chill inside.
I poked around in the ‘fridge to see what we had on hand for provisions. I saw an old familiar item inside, and some more in a crisper bin at the bottom. I checked the pantry to confirm the last, and then went to knock lightly on the master bedroom to see if Mom would like me to make breakfast. I cracked the door open enough to see that she was still sleeping, and whispered, “Sorry.” «Silly me, if she’s sleeping, don’t say anything!» Still, it felt more polite. I closed the door again, and went over to L.L.’s to see if she wanted some.
   “Yeah! Lemon and apples, please?”
“You got it,” I replied, and returned to the kitchen.
Five minutes later, she came out in a pair of blue shorts and shirt with “Saguaro High Cougars” in red, chopped to barely cover her breasts– or, no, the shirt was just tucked under to work like a cover over her sports bra. She sat at a bar chair at the end of the counter separating the kitchen and family room, and I dropped a 16-ounce mug crammed full of yogurt, Grape-Nuts® and apple slices in front of her.
She looked at it as if it were going to force itself down her throat, then reluctantly pushing it aside. “I can’t eat that much, I’m singing – and running – later.”
I scooted it back in front of her. “You’ll need the energy and two-plus hours is plenty of time for your stomach to settle. Also, it’s morning; you’re hungrier than you think you are and you’ll finish once you start eating. So eat!” She pulled out an apple slice and nibbled on it as if it were going bad, or something. I crossed my arms and frowned at her, until her taste buds kicked in, and she started eating for real. Then, just when she started getting into it, I started “slyly” moving the mug around…until she “cheated” and got me in my super-ticklish ribs again. Not being able to get her hips or knees, I immediately called “Truce,” pulling her mug back, and wrapping my arms around her in a hug. I interpreted her snort and continued munching as acceptance of my more-than-generous terms. I kissed her cheek, and then I got a spoon and worked on my own mug, one with peach yogurt and peach slices.
Just as I finished, I heard the bedroom door open, so I popped in the fridge and got out the third mug of sweet-n-crunchy goodness; peachy-peach, just like me. Well, , I mean like my breakfast. Anyway, when she came around the corner, in her oval-lensed glasses and Mickey Mouse nightshirt, I felt a pair of conflicting emotions: love and wariness. «It’s Mom! My mom…but not my Mom. Will she know it’s not “really” me, and what’ll happen if she does…» “Hi, Mom! I got your breakfast right here.”Along with breakfast I gave her the state of the Home: no menfolk, just us chickens here
   “Hello, girls. Thank you, Johanna.”

My name is Johanna?
What happened to Wilma Georgia?

I’ll explain; One day when I was, I don’t know, maybe ten or eleven, my mom and I had a talk about, among other things, how I got my name. Obviously, when it was just me, naming was a non-issue. Dad’s name is William George Bates III, and Mom let Dad name me, thus “William George Bates IV, AKA B-4, ‘Little Will’ or ‘Willy’”. She told me, though, that if I’d been a girl, that she would have been the one to name me instead, and that she would have chosen Wilma Georgia Bates. I thought it was kind of a mean way to treat a poor defenseless baby, no matter how painful the labor was. I could have thought of about three names that still have that “WGB” initial pattern. I myself liked “Katherine” with a “K”, if you’re going for fun patterns with initials. It’d be kind of fun, someone tries to call me “Kitty”, and I make it known that it’s a bad choice of nickname by scratching their face off. How’s that for a “cat fight”?
Anyway, using your middle name for stuff is a time-honored Southern tradition, and I’d been in the process of getting folks to call me “George,” if only to stop Dad’s friends from calling me “Will Jr.” I wasn’t a “Jr.”, I was a Fourth, dammit! If you’re gonna use generationals, get it right. Anyway, George, or “Geo”, which I use when I write, kind of side-steps all of that “Jr.” junk, and since both “G”s get sounded more in the female version, I had simply assumed that “JoJo” was a stylized form of “Georgia”. Especially since I’m the oldest, I should have the George/Georgia name. Yet, here, I am, with a younger brother named William George. This tells me that something changed here, even before…before I was born. What the heck is going on here?

L.L. was shaking my arm, trying to get my attention.
“Yes?” I looked coldly at this younger sister, who had so far given me such joy.
   “…you still need to get ready, if you’re still taking me.”
I paused. I was still disturbed at something not being right with my name, but L.L. didn’t deserve to be grumped at, not when I had just told her I wasn’t going to be so bitchy. “Sorry, sis, you’re right,” I declared. “Thanks.” I gave her a hug. Then, I gave Mom a cheek peck and shoulder-hug, and semi-excused myself, with a “got to finish getting dressed, and take L.L. to practice,” before going back in my room. L.L. stayed with Mom in the kitchen, likely to rinse out the mugs, since all she needed to do was put her choir clothes on over her track stuff.
I went back to my room, and closed the door…and started to freak out. At least, I felt like this was what was happening. It started with a soft tapping on my closet door, the far side, by my desk. Without thinking, I went ahead and opened it with my right hand – the one with my bracelet-watch on it. As I slid open the door, a brilliant white light inside shined forth, causing me to squint and blink, and my bracelet to glow. Reeling my hand back to shade my eyes, I saw what looked to be a glowing boy in my closet.
He was a cute, if scruffy-looking white boy, about L.L.’s height, or taller, with medium-length white hair, and golden eyes; his eyebrows were also white, or “platinum blond” I should say. Sticking out through his hair on one side, at least, was the tip – the pointed tip – of his ear. His jaw line was well-defined, and had a light dusting of stubble, somewhere between blond and his seeming platinum. His skin was pale, but not sickly; in fact, he looked as if part of the pallor was from light coming out, not because of not enough light falling on it, his closeted visitation habits notwithstanding. He wore one of those fleece-lined jean vests and blue jeans. He was holding a hand-rolled cigarette in his hand, and the scent of it was sharp, but not that of tobacco. He smiled…handsome. And very weird. I closed the door again.
The knocking began again.
I found myself backed into my bed, and sat down, drawing my legs up, and wrapping my arms around them.
The tap-tap-tapping at my closet door went on. I looked at my window, to see if it would start at my sill, like Poe’s poem says it’s supposed to be. No dice.
The tapping stopped.
Then the snickering began. Well, not exactly snickering, more like air leaking.
And giggling.
Some seconds later, he started tapping again.
“Who in Hell are you, and why are you in my closet?”
   “---- - --  - -----  - -  ----- - - - --- ---- -…”
I got the hint, and reached to open my closet again. I then noticed that my bracelet was glowing, even before the door was open. «How dare you!» I thought to myself, «I like this bracelet, quit making it glow!» I shook my wrist, and it dimmed…as far as I kept it away from the closet. I reluctantly opened it again.
“Are you gay?” I asked belligerently.
   “Not the way you mean it, no.”
“Then why are you in the closet?” I stuck my tongue out, and slammed the door shut.
   “A-hem,” came from behind me.
 “GYAAAH!” I remarked with poignant eloquence. I spun around and put my back to the closet doors, confirming with my eyes, that my ears had indeed placed the weird stranger in the middle of my room.
   “Courtesy,” he enigmatically said.
“How-do-you-do,” I said automatically.
   “Why I Appeared in your closet – courtesy.” He smiled again…and then he looked down from my face and really smiled.
I Snapped my right hand fingers in his face, and used the time-honored formula, “My eyes are up here, bucko!” As I did, I saw that he was looking at the bracelet. For just a second, I felt…insulted. I crossed my arms, hiding the bracelet under my left arm. Then he looked at my breasts. «That’s better…wait, no it isn’t!» I grabbed my blouse and put my right arm in it, neatly hiding both lingerie and bracelet. “Turn around, please,” I asked, thinking how impressed Mom would be at how I could still be polite…sort of.
Incredibly, he did, and answered my earlier questions, somewhat. “I am here to Guide you, in your Time of Trouble. I am Esebiel." He called it “Eh-SEB-ee-el". "If you like, you can call me 'Sebby'.” It sounded French.
   “Hebrew, actually.”
“Oh, okay…WHAT?!?”
   “The name, it’s Hebrew. It means, ‘God is my herb.’”
«No, I meant, you can read my mind?» I thought at him.
   “Only when it’s obvious what you’re thinking,” he replied.
«Like now.»
«So, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?»
   “Whatever that was, wasn’t obvious, though I gather it was funny.”
Finished with buttoning my blouse, I smoothed it down, and was about to say I was done, but he must have freaking-read-my-mind again, and turned around on his own. Disturbingly, I noticed that his butt was somewhat cute in those jeans. Even more disturbingly, I noticed that I felt regretful at not checking it out more while he was turned around. Freaking girl hormones.
“So, by ‘Time of Trouble’ do you mean my being a girl?”
   “Technically, since you are eighteen, you are a woman. Although, you’ve likely looked the way you do since you were sixteen. But mostly, it means why you’re here in your childhood home, and taking your sister to choir and track practice.”
“You said ‘track practice’ but she’s running cross-country. No track.”
   “Ah, right, this is autumn, so longer running times are in.”
“So, not meaning to be totally self-absorbed, but... wait, what’s so important about me taking L.L. to practice?”
   “Well, you’ll need her help to figure out what happened to you, as well as allay suspicion on you.”
“Suspicion? Why, what do you think I did?”
   “I think you’ve been trapped in a cross-time experiment gone horribly, if selectively conveniently, wrong.”
“…what the talk are you fucking about?!?”

End of Part I

Ch 5: Washed Beneath the Flood

 “So, speaking of sappy-sounding…junk, when’s this choir practice, and such?”
 “…uh, yeah. Choir’s at eleven, and for running we’re going to be doing a 15K at 12:30, with warm-ups starting at noon. “
“Apple and peanut butter?”
  “…yeah, that’s an easy snack. Oh, and a couple Gatorades® of course.”
“What, you drink Gatorade®? I Never Knew That…”
L.L. poked me in the ribs. I went for behind her knees; I figured, I was close enough to the ground anyway, ha-ha. Since she was also ticklish there, it was a “ha-ha” indeed. We called a truce again, before L.L. gave me one last hug, and reminded me, “Well, I guess you better go and start making yourself all beautiful, seeing as you’re not going to get all sweaty in a couple of hours. And…thank you, sis, for saying that you’re proud of me—“
“Uhn-uh,” I denied, holding my hand up, stop guard-fashion. “I’m not just ‘saying’ that I’m proud of you, I am proud of you. You’re smart, and you’re talented, and you’re beautiful. Not to mention,” I pretend-buffed my French-manicured nails, “your fantastic taste in older sisters!”
We hugged again, and my oh-so-tactful sister wrinkled her nose, pulled off my night shirt and told me, “You should wash until I don’t have that weird taste in my mouth!” I turned around and gave her my “Miss Thang” look.
“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice,” L.L. declared. I continued “the Look.” “I’ll get your underwear while you shower, just get that look off…” I gave her my cheesiest grin and thanked her.
L.L. just shook her head and reached for the knob. “Sometimes you change moods so fast, I wonder how you don’t get whiplash, JoJo.”
After she left, I went back to the full-length mirror at the door to check out “the new Me”, especially my “nethers.” «I guess that’s something else I get from Mom; light down. Being a girl should help that, too. Hopefully I don’t have to shave my legs too much, either. Mom always said that she had a flat stomach until I came along, and it looks like I got that too. Look at me, I’m petite! Big breasts for my size, thank God they’re not as big as Mom’s; I know she had big ones before me…and the rest of the kids. » I cupped my breasts, imagining how they’d look with a little support. I tried to smile alluringly, but holding up my breasts kind of took away from the hotness factor, making it look a little silly.
“Quit staring at yourself in the mirror, JoJo, we’ve only got three hours to get ready!” L.L. yelled from across the room. I jumped; «how did she know I was staring in the mirror? Maybe, » I ruefully thought, «because I’ve been checking myself out all morning. But I’m so cute, they could model dolls on me! And I’d buy one! » Just then, L.L. shoved the door open really fast. I think she was trying to hit me with it; fortunately, I was a good two feet away. I took the pile of clothes «Dang, that’s a lot more than just a pair of briefs…» with my watch on top, said “Thanks!” again and set it all down by the sink. Then I went over to the tub, turned on the water to mix, and pulled the shower knob; I wanted to have plenty of time to figure out the whole “dressing like a girl” thing.
Not sure if my hair was naturally curly or if this was a perm—and betting on “perm”— I put on a shower cap and hopped in. In the shower, I saw the cleverest thing; three shower carriers, of three different colors, green, white and blue, hanging off of the curtain rod, one beneath the other. They even had initials, —“L”, “J” and “W” respectively— to make the correspondence clear. «I wonder who decided to give me the white holder– ooh, with gold in the center, that’s Mom’s touch…or maybe “mine”. I can’t fault the logic of it, but it just seems to emphasize the oddball genetic mix we have. Oh, look, everything’s coordinated!» I pulled out a moisturizing face scrub and a loofa. I grinned. «It sounds funny, but at least in the shower, I think…I enjoy being a girl.» Closing my eyes and getting to work, I started humming that very song.
When I got to my groin, I almost didn’t notice. I was just working my way over my body, just like normal, actually. I think I paid more attention to under my breasts, I got introduced to a dirty little well-kept secret: that underneath a woman’s breasts is grungier that both belly button and armpit combined. Talk about your fantasy let-downs; having a female body to play with as your own is way up there on the list. I remember girls complaining about how bras made under their breasts feel sweatier, but never connected “sweatier” with “grosser than your armpits” before now.
Anyway, after that delightful new knowledge, I continued in the routine - stomach, hips, down one thigh, behind the knee (apparently not sexy when being scrubbed by a loofa), up the back of the leg, over to the other leg– wait-a-minute, there’s supposed to be extra stuff to wash here. For that matter, I usually used my pubic hair like a built-in soap foamer; now, I had a loofa, and frankly, I needed it, because JoJo had just enough hair to show that puberty had made it. I remember that I used to think that very phrase when describing my chest; «not any more», I snorted. «That’ll be convenient, if I stick around to swimsuit weather; of course, maybe I got a bikini wax sometime, and it hasn’t grown back yet, and WHAT AM I THINKING?!? Just keep washing! I can do an “in-depth survey” after I get back from chauffeuring L.L. around.»
Yeah, I know, not so sexy, what can I say; I fixate sometimes, and right now, I was fixating on getting L.L. to her practice sessions. It was a good thing I had, too, because just as I was rinsing off, B-4 busted back in, peed in the toilet and then flushed it, cackling as he ran back out, like the chicken he is! Fortunately, I was done, like I said, so I pushed the button to send the water out the spigot and turned it off. I called out, “Dork!” after him, just to let him know who’s boss; «Hmm, maybe there are some down sides to this whole “brother and sister” business.»
Anyway, I soon thereafter found something that had me change my mind; scented hydrating lotion. Individually scented hydrating lotion, with a hand-mixed formula. B-4’s was a kind of herbal, musky mix; I liked it, and tried to “memorize” it to see if I could find it when I woke up. L.L.’s was surprisingly (to me) heavily floral.  it smelled like a good match for L.L., strong but not over­whelm­ing­ly so and very, VERY girly. It would make sure folks knew that super-Amazon was a girl. I approved. I was disillusioned when I got to my scent. I figured it would be okay, like the others; my scent, though, was AWE-Some!
I loved my scent, and I immediately started slathering it on. It had hints of lemon, cinnamon, vanilla and something piney, like cedar; spicy and woodsy. I’d never heard of a woodsy scent for a woman before; not that I’d looked for it, but it felt uncommon. I noticed scents of things before, but never really went out and classified them somewhere. This lotion, I loved; it smelled bright and interesting, and made me feel bright and interesting. Moreover, naturally, it kept my skin so nice and soft…
«I’m feeling kind of torn here. On one hand, I feel like I’m acting very girly here, and yet, aren’t I supposed to be? I mean, I’m a girl, right, aren’t I supposed to be girly?» I put the lotion back in my rack, wiping the last of the lotion on my back and legs, before I, grabbed a towel from the towel rack, did the little buff-motion on my back to warm up a little, and wrapped it around my shoulders, while I dried my armpits and underneath my breasts with the ends.
Then I looked towards the sink counter top, at the pile of pretty underthings that L.L. had picked out for me, and the watch on top. It was especially nice since it wasn’t just a normal watch band, but a beautiful bracelet, either silver or white gold, with a gold filigree and occasional chips of topaz. I could see why I must have a lot of white blouses; I’d kill myself before wearing something that made me take off that bracelet. Under it was a folded-up bra with lace trim, some lace-trimmed boy shorts-style panties «A-ha! Those are my favorite style, not a girl’s.», a pair of tan «…Great Googly-Moogly, it’s pantyhose!» and what looked kind of like a smaller sleeveless nightgown or dress «Wait, I’ve seen that before, that’s a camisole…ah, those “shorts” I saw must be a skirt, then» .
Feeling like doing things all out of order, I put on the panties first. I was pleasantly surprised to see that even though I didn’t have that huge (relative) frame of L.L.’s, I could still sport some boy shorts well enough. The quality of the fabric was good, too; a nice thick cotton, so they wouldn’t fall apart on me too fast. They were a nice compromise, now that I thought about it; lace trim, so girly, but plain white, so not too girly. Of course, once I had them on, I didn’t mind them looking too girly; it was turning me on, in fact. Did I mention that I really like butts?
Anyway…a minute or so later, I got around to trying the bra on, which was also, like the panties, cottony and lace-trimmed. I started trying to hook it straight on, holding it over my stomach, before I remembered that I’ve seen Mom put on her bra before, by just spinning it around, hooking it on and spinning it back. The straps were straight, not criss-cross «Yay, C-cups!» so the only issue was the whole shrug-the-shoulders-and-set-the-straps maneuver at the end. Check the results…nice! I was minorly annoyed that I was more impressed with how cute the lace on the bra was than how cute the breasts in the bra were, but I’ve never been that impressed with breasts. «Not that I don’t like them, but maybe I’m spoiled by having a mom…and sister…so well-endowed; or maybe it’s because I think more about breasts functionally than ornamentally. Playtex makes bottles as well as bras, they have the whole market, er, “covered”. Yeah, yeah, bad pun, I’m full of ‘em.» Then I went for the hose…hose was right; they were stockings, not pantyhose. Being already rolled up, they went on easily. Strangely, to me, anyway, is that while they didn’t seem to add much to my legs, that small gap between where the stretchy band holding them up, and where the boy shorts started…was also a turn-on. I took the first two fingers on each hand, and ran them along the bands of flesh of both legs, from inside to out…ahem.
The camisole was simplicity itself; it and the stockings weren’t cotton, but they were smooth, and made my outline smooth as well. Feeling thoroughly naughty, I put my right hand on my hip, looked over my shoulder, and pulled up on my cami with the left…«Damn! Do that every day, and I’ll never need blush again…oh, no, makeup!» I grabbed the door handle in a panic, stopped myself with a hand on the jamb, slid open the nook under the mirror, found the deodorant (unscented) with my name on it, gave myself a couple of good swipes, and only then, did I go back to my room.

Ch 4: The Everlasting Arms

 “Are you doing drugs? Seriously, I mean. You’re acting completely unlike yourself.”
I felt surprised, now; unsettledly surprised. What could I say, that this was all a dream, and I was really her brother, except not really, because I didn’t have a sister, since she didn’t exist?
“Quit scheming, JoJo; tell me the truth.”
«You can’t handle the truth » I automatically thought, remembering the iconic Tom Cruise movie with Jack Nicholson in it. ‘A Few Good Men’—sorry, no men here at all; get back to me when I wake up…and you’re just a fading memory. I shivered slightly; having my arms trapped, and L.L.’s heavy damned boobs sitting on my chest was not the most fun position I’ve even been in, but it was a whole lot nicer than reality, where she didn’t even exist. And how do you explain that to someone, when it sure feels like she’s pinning your arms to her chest? «You want answers? Well, you and me both. I’ll tell you what I know, at least what I think we both can stand. Maybe not the whole truth, but I’ll give you the rest of it…» I took a deep breath, wiggling a little bit, because of those heavy, all-natural, ridiculously large and well-formed breasts…yeah, JoJo’s not just jealous because of that butt, I see, even if L.L. works hard for that body…I gave a short sigh, and answered as truthfully as I thought I could.
“Truthfully, L.L., I’m not taking any drugs, except maybe Depo, and the occasional Sudafed. I don’t have any nitrous tanks stashed under my bed «…I hope; that’d be kind of funny if there were laughing gas under my bed… Funny – laughing gas. I smirked a little at that. I’m starting to think that I ought to be enjoying these boobs on me, sister or not, a lot more than how I’m not, right now. I’d never given a thought to how humiliating it felt to be weighed down with another girl’s breasts, why would I? When would this situation ever happen in real life—never, that’s when! I am so much her bitch right now…why aren’t I motorboating on these dumb things? Besides, of course, because she’s my sister, and here-and-now, I’m her sister, too.» “…and right now, your heavy boobs are making me crazy, could you get those things off of me?”
“’Making you crazy?’ What, you can’t blame being crazy on my boobs, you’ve been crazy my whole life.”
“Sure I can—see, it started with you, and now it’s concentrated in your breasts. Your ridiculously perky-for-their-size breasts! I’m jealous of them, a lot, okay? And frankly, your chest can support them a lot better–“ I gave a little hop for emphasis “– than mine!”
L.L. was staring intensely at me, as if trying to see inside my brain. «God, they really are making me crazy, and not in a ‘hubba-hubba’ way. Part of me wonders if being my sister is enough to suppress that kind of natural response; part of me wonders if it is just because we’re both girls. Well, there’s not much of that reaction to suppress, since apparently even here, everyone around has giant boobs, but me, so they’re not that much of a big deal... except when they’re being used like sand bags to weigh me down…» “Um, would you please let me up from being tackled by the ‘Bobsey Twins’?”
Apparently, that familiar name Mom liked to use for her breasts was enough to convince L.L. that I was acting weird, but wasn’t going to be a danger to anyone. She leaned back a little and let “Frick and Frack” drop back onto her sturdier frame. She still had my arms trapped, though. I sighed in relief, a great weight having been –literally– taken off of my chest. I think they were making me feel claustrophobic. «Remember that feeling, JoJo’s body; get over feeling jealous of those things, because L.L. is just the woman to carry those things around.» Noticing that “the talk” didn’t seem to be over yet, I exploited our closeness, and leaned forward, until my head was touching her shoulder. That it kept her from pinning me down with her breasts again was just an added advantage…at least, I was going to pretend that my reasons were ranked in that order, and not the reverse, nope, not the reverse at all. “Thank you. So, what else do you need from me; you’re in charge, L.L. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I just want to know why you’re being so friendly to me all of a sudden. Why are you apologizing for acting like you’ve always done, and trying to be all buddy-buddy?”
“I don’t know why now, instead of earlier, but I can do it now rather than later. As to why at all…well, you’re my sister, and I love you. I guess I’ve been a real bitch to you over the years, and I’m really sorry. I just don’t want us not to be close anymore. I want us to be real si…sisters.” «Ooh, I almost said “siblings”, but we’re not brother-and-sister; she has a brother. I’ll have to be her “sister”, and be as good, or better, at it than she is to me. » “I want to be a good sister, and be good to you, and you to me. I don’t ever want to see you crying, except because you’re so happy, and you can’t stop laughing. But of course, if you are, then I want to give you the first hug.”
L.L. stared at me like I’d said I’d converted to Mormonism. “That’s the dumbest, sappiest load of crap I’ve ever heard!”
«Holy …what?!?» I stood there and stared, my mouth wide open…then we both cracked up at once. «How ironic; my… or rather, our, parents were born and raised in the South, while I was born in the Midwest and grew up here in the West. One of the subtle ways that, and the generation gap, shows up, is that my tolerance for “naughty” language was not just more than…our parents liked, but more than my…our cousins back East. B-4 and L.L. were born and raised out here, so they probably have as much fun shocking me with their language, as I do shocking Mom and Dad. Family; they’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, they’ll make you want to break things…usually one of them. One more thing: they should make you glad to be around, and glad to have around. Dream or not, for this bit of family, I am very glad to be and have around.»

Ch 3: Blessed Be the Ties That Bind

I was starting to wonder what kind of dream this was, and how cruel it would be to go back to being an only child. Maybe it was a bit of a pity-party thing, but…I love my sister, and I’m just learning that I wasn’t just a tease to her, I was mean. I hoped I got to change things, even if it were all a dream; I’m kind of standoffish, but I imagine I’m fun once you get to know me. I never thought of myself as being out-and-out mean. How weird was this, I want to beat up the mean girl that upset my little sister, except…not only am I now her big sister, not her big brother, but it turns out I’m the mean girl that upset my little sister.
“You know I’m just mean to you because I’m so jealous of you, right?”
“What are you talking about, JoJo? You’re everything Mom and Dad every wanted in a girl, and—“
“No, no, no, don’t make it about me; we’re talking about you here. Come here…” I let her go, and she did the same. I dropped a couple of inches to the floor, and I giggled. My little sister was so big, she picked me up when she hugged me, and she has an inferiority complex? Okay, as long as this lasts, my mission is to make this girl the sassiest, super-hot girl that she is. I “pulled” her around the sink so that we were both in front of the mirror. I had to lean way into it to see, until L.L. pushed me back, reached across me, to the far corner of the counter-top, got my contacts case, and put it in my hand
I grinned, side-hugged her, rinsed my hands and put in my contacts. Weird; I never remembered putting in contacts in my dreams before. This was turning out to be pretty intricate. I noticed that my case was a sunny yellow, and — a-ha! —L.L. had those fancy wear-‘em-a-week-at-a-time-for-astigmatism ones. You know, those ones for an “active lifestyle”, which seemed to be the definition of the girl. Anyway, now that I could see, I looked in the mirror, and was stunned.
I got why L.L. would have a complex being my sister; she was cute, but I was a hottie.
Okay, maybe I was a little biased where the topic was concerned, but I was seriously good-looking. Light golden-brown skin, oval-shaped face and medium-full lips. Nose still Negroid-flat, but small enough to be called “pert”, topaz eyes and black hair maybe two inches long, laying thick and flat on my head in half-inch ringlets. I looked kind of like a mix of my mom and dad, my dad’s sister “Aunt Ruth,” and a bit of my mom’s “Cousin Tina,” especially in the coloring. My breasts seemed big enough to fill a good C-cup bra; since I didn’t have one on, they were about the size of softballs in width, and maybe two inches in thickness on my chest. «Like little Eggo’s®, but without the waffle-pattern. How poetic; I might be the “smallest” woman in our family.» I looked at L.L. in the mirror…who was looking at me. I smiled, pushed myself up on the sink counter, and leaned my head on her shoulder. «OMG, I have Mom’s dimples; I am so cute, I’m dangerous.» As I was hopping down, I used the reflection from the mirror in the door well behind us to check out…our “assets”.
Leaning on the counter had let me see enough definition through the thick nightshirt, to show that my butt was all right; I had hips, and I am black, so I’m not a total pancake ass; L.L.’ s butt, though had started with great potential, and all that running she did hadn’t hurt it. «She must do a lot of sprinting and weight-training, too.» I could feel a little frown sprout on my face, as I could see that my body would’ve been fine for gymnastics, if I’d ever gotten into it, but L.L. probably did some kind of sports year-long just to keep all of that from going to fat…I sighed, saying, “God, your butt is great.” I’ve always been a butt-man, and apparently, I was at least a butt-girl. Suddenly, I giggled again; I think I figured out why JoJo was so mean to L.L.; her butt was fabulous, and the meaner JoJo got to her, the more L.L. worked out, making it a vicious circle, one whose resentment was really biting JoJo in the butt! I laughed at me being the “butt” of my own joke, and how “old-JoJo” had worked to encourage what bugged her most.
“…you like my butt?” L.L. said skeptically. I just looked at her in the mirror…and raised one eyebrow. «I didn’t know I could do that…I wonder if I have to pluck those eyebrows…» L.L. was giving me that “you’re being strange” look again…and I started smiling. «Heh-heh, you have no idea how “strange” you’re gonna think I am. And, I’ll make you like it, too! » “Yes, I like your butt, you’ve worked hard for it, and it shows. Of course, I don’t love it as much as all the boys do, but I know quality when I see it.” L.L. snorted and nudged me with her elbow; I had to put my hand on the wall to keep from whacking it from the force. I just grinned more at my super-strong sister.
“They just look at me because they know I’m your sister,” L.L. scoffed.
Now I snorted. “They just look at you because you’re stacked like a plate of pancakes.” I rolled my eyes. She got a glint in hers. “No, you’re the one with the pancake ass…”
I made my mouth gape open, as if I could be mad at her. It helped me not to look like I was still grinning from ear-to-ear. “You did not just call me a pancake-ass!” I gave L.L. a playful swat on her fanny. Well I tried; she and her crazy athlete’s body just swung those awesome hips right out of the way…and right back over to “bump” me. I gave her a semi-serious whack…ow! It was like spanking the counter top; that damn butt was all muscle, not fair, not fair!
“Is that as hard as those puny muscles can hit?” she taunted, then poked me in the ribs. I let out a sharp “Eep!”; it seems I was ticklish there. She poked me again, and I “Eep!”’ed again. I poked her ribs…nothing. I tried her stomach…rock-hard abs, but no ticklish spot. I squelched the spike of envy I felt as touched those abs; «She worked her butt off for…well, I guess she worked her butt out for those abs, really. So, where is she ticklish, where? » I tried her hip joints, and — bingo! I was back in the contest!
“Truce,” L.L. offered, after getting me on both sides of my ribs. I used my smaller frame to advantage, crouching down to keep my traitorous ribs away from her, while giving her hips a few last good pokes before generously accepting her offer: “…okay, truce.” Both crouching, fingers wiggling like gunslingers, we then stood up straight — a shorter one who shall remain nameless, trying to stand a little straighter —and hugged again, my arms beside her breasts, and temple on her cheek bone. I felt such love for this sister-I’d-never-had, I wondered if I’d ever wake up, and a big part of me hoped I never would.
A minute or two of quiet, calming hugging later, L.L. asked a totally out-of-the-blue question: “JoJo, are you okay?” I felt a twinge of something, like she meant her question literally, not just as a turn of phrase. Not sure what the significance was, I just ignored it and murmured towards her ear, “I’ve never felt better.”
She shifted subtly, moving her arms down to trap mine against her ribs, and laced her fingers together behind my back. I could barely touch her back muscles, and she could likely just physically muscle my arms farther in and stop even that much touch; I was trapped, deliberately, and it sounded like L.L. was about to be serious again. I started to feel a little uneasy; serious meant referring to how we’d used to be, and I didn’t know anything about how we’d “used to be”; from my perspective, there was no “used to be” because I’ve never been in this situation before today. Her breasts were weighed heavily on the top of my chest; they were D’s, but her pecs gave them extra “oomph”, which my smaller (of course!) ones lacked. Mine were even more “pancakey” than my derriere. “…or not.” I lamely finished.

Ch 2: We Shall Overcome

I flicked the switch, did a little dance as I hiked up the nightshirt, and sat on the pot. Whew, I had a lot of pee to get rid of…
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. “What’s up with the door slam, JoJo?” JoJo? Hmm, I must still be dreaming, because:
1)      I’m getting called “JoJo”;
2)      Someone’s using what sounds like a higher-pitched version of my own voice …or maybe younger…to do it;
3)       The whole “I’m a girl” thing.
Putting on my best nonchalant voice, I explained, “Sorry, I just woke up and really had to pee. Nothing to see here…”, then I giggled. I covered my mouth with both hands; that giggle was definitely a hysterical one. «Why wasn’t I waking up, wasn’t getting questioned by someone with your own voice shock-you-awake weird enough? »
I hoped I didn’t wake up in a puddle from peeing in my sleep; maybe I’m sleep-peeing, while I’m at it. I tried to remember if I’d “tucked” myself to pee “hands-free” while sitting down, somewhat hesitant to check it directly…okay, no “tally whacker” there, but plenty of pee. I grabbed some toilet paper with my other hand, to wipe off my now damp hand, in addition to my finally-drained “nethers”. Then a couple more knocks and a girl’s voice saying “Coming in” changed up the equation.
The door opened, and while I got a two-second glance at what looked like a maybe thirteen-year-old version of…normal me…at the door, a huge Amazon of a girl walked in. I could tell she was big—and that I was not—because when I stood up, not bothering to flush, I noticed that I was about an inch or so shorter than the boy-who-looked-almost-like-I-did-five-years-ago, and the both of us were at least four inches shorter than this other girl. She almost didn’t even look like a girl; not just because she was so tall, but because she had the muscles and curves to match the height.
“Cool, you can remind her about taking you to practice yourself, L.L.,” the boy said, yawning. “I’m gonna get some more sleep, maybe pee later when it isn’t so noisy out here…nice to have you home, JoJo, even if college didn’t teach you how to close a door right.” He turned around and plodded back his room, apparently the left of the three open bedroom doors. Being delayed a couple of seconds letting “L.L.” by me to use the pot as well, I only caught a glimpse of a poster of a robot/plane thing on the wall next to the window, and some bunch of clothes scattered on the floor, before he quickly, but quietly, closed his door.
 I remembered that room more as “the room that we kept our books and old magazines in, that was supposed to one day be Dad’s den,” but obviously it wasn’t that, now. I gave a little head shake, and thought to myself, «Well, three bedrooms for three kids, that makes a lot more sense than just one kid, but still…»
Centered  and roughly four-and-a-half feet up on the door, was a hand-sized ceramic tile, with “B-4” printed, or rather painted, in four-inch high blue letters. I could see what looked like similar tiles on the other bedroom doors, but using pink letters instead of blue. Sure enough, mine said “JoJo”; I couldn’t see L.L.’s, though—convenient that I didn’t have to —but, I figured that it was just part of the dream. The peeing part bothered me, but everything else seemed too unreal; between peeing in a dream and feeling an empty bladder, and being a girl, I’ll take the dream-pee; waking up with soggy sheets isn’t impossible, and who knows, maybe I’ll need to pee later, and that’ll wake me.
As I stood in front of the sink-and-mirror to wash my hands, I went back to eyeballing the sullen girl, currently doing what I had, but doing it much more impressively in a pink tank top and a pair of blue panties, currently at her ankles. Her complexion was maybe a little darker than my “real” complexion. Her breasts were easily D’s, maybe even DD’s, and she had the shoulders and hips to make them look almost proportional. She was in phenomenal shape, sleek and powerful, without bulging – well, not any more than she ought to, I mean. Her face was almost exactly like Mom’s, but with a little of Dad’s length in it to keep her head from looking like a bowling ball on top of a tank. She wore her hair more like Mom does (did? I just now thought that maybe Mom and Dad’s looks might have changed, too…); wavy from relaxing treatment, long enough to frame her face, but not so long that it would take too much time to take care of, like it was as long as she could have it, without interfering with her sports stuff. Wondering what kind of practice she had, I thought about checking out her room…but of course I didn’t have my contacts in.
Suppressing a yawn myself, I wiped my hands, and prompted, “Practice?”
 “Yeah,” L.L. explained, as she finished, and flushed. “It’s choir and cross-country today, so I’ll be giving my lungs a good workout.” I stepped back to let her wash her hands if she wanted; instead, she just stood on the far side of the sink. Fascinated by having a sister— a beautiful and athletic sister, to boot— I just moved back to the sink, and leaned across the corner towards her. She got a funny look on her face and leaned back into the toilet tank.
I asked “What’s wrong?” Simultaneously, she asked, “What’s wrong with you?” Figuring it was because I was crowding her, I answered, “I can’t see, I don’t have my contacts in yet.”
“So why are you grinning at me like you want to bite me?”
I reached up and felt my face; yep, I was grinning like a loon. I can’t help it; I’m definitely one of those “wear your heart on your sleeve” types. I’d be a horrible poker player, if I ever tried it, I’m sure. Right now, I was so proud of this sister of mine, I could contain it. I didn’t want to bite her, but I sure wouldn’t mind kissing her so much she needed a towel. It seems that I was not acting as nonchalantly about her accomplishments as she was used to. That’s too bad, because until I could see how much of a pain I was to her, or her to me, I wanted to be her best friend…a sister!
 «Maybe that’s why I was a girl, ‘cause I’d always wanted a sister; my “imaginary friend” was a girl, and even when I wasn’t trying to be romantic, I liked hanging around them, even from an early age because I really like girls and always have. I like doing things with guys too, of course, but it’s more because whatever we’re doing is fun; girls are fun all by themselves. I’ve wondered what I’d look like as a girl, and now I’d find out. I also wondered if my tastes would change because I was one. I sure hoped it wouldn’t change so much that I didn’t appreciate my sister, though. »
I reached out and grabbed her right hand in both of mine. We were both shaking, but I was just excited while she was either scared of me or really angry. Her expression didn’t help, but I don’t think I cared. I tried to pull her hand to me, but just wound up pulling myself closer to her. “Have I told you how proud of you I am?”
“What are you playing at, JoJo? You’ve never been ‘proud of me’ and you know it!” L.L. seethed. Well, that remark wiped that grin off my face, replacing it with horror. “You can’t really think that, can you?” This was ridiculous; I think my dream-me was kind of a bitch…not impossible, but not nice to know. “No,” I protested, “Come here….” Feeling like a child, I reached up and put my palm on her cheek, which she flinched at and shrugged off. I kept at it and put my hand behind her head, snaked my other arm behind her waist, and hugged her. She stiffened at first, and for a moment it felt like she was going to just physically rip me off of her, but I held on, saying nothing, just hugging. After a few seconds, she stopped bristling; a little more time and she sagged, and hugged me back. Gingerly, at first, but the longer I held her, she figured I was asking for a real hug, and gave me one back, hard.  I think if it weren’t for her huge breasts, she could have broken some ribs. It was the best hug I’ve ever had.