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Skin Deep II foreward chapter 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 epilogue

Skin Deep -- Chapter Eight: And in the End, by Mark McDonald

Portrait of Neve Campbell -- A Work in Progress # 21 of 21 by Earle Wood

Chapter Six:
First Date

by Mark McDonald
©2001 Mark McDonald -- all rights reserved

Journal> Journal Date 12/23/2081: 10:18 am.
Journal> Voice dictation journal editor, open...  Proceed.

  It was very cool in Gary's house, and my skin started to pimple up in goose flesh. I rubbed my arms as I walked in trying to rub off them off. "Wow, it's cold in here! Can you warm it up some?"

"Sure, I'm sorry. Dad's a bit heavy; he likes it cooler than the rest of us. Go on into the living room and turn the Vid on. I'll be right back."

I headed off into the other room while Gary started to gear up the house. I could hear the Enviropump wind down. And lights started to come on all over the house.

The living room was a large space, nicely done in light and dark colors of cream and burgundy. One large window dominated the front with cream-colored shears and dark burgundy drapes. The shears offered a great deal of privacy. One could see out but not in from the street, even at night with the lights on.

The living room opened up into a huge kitchen/breakfast area. Off of that was a formal dining room, separated from the entire house by the kitchen to the left and accessed from the living room by a small passageway in the corner. To the right was a narrow hall that led to the three sleeping quarters. Mr. and Mrs. Shipley's home office and study were up stairs.

The living room was furnished in large, oversized chairs and a huge fluffy sofa. The sofa sat at a right angle to the large picture window to the right and faced a very large Vid screen connected to a VR Theater system. This was the centerpiece of the room. Gary's Mom was a huge sports fan and she and I had spent many hours watching Penn State massacre other teams in this place. And watched the Gators in SEC slaughter other southern teams.

As I had been surveying the living room looking for changes and reacquainting myself with the surroundings Gary had moved off somewhere into the house without my noticing. "Hey Mike," Gary called out from somewhere in the back, and then muttered, "Damn it! Ah, I mean Michelle -- man that sounds weird -- feel free to grab yourself a beer from the fridge."

"Beer? Gary. Your folks are going to be pissed if you give away all their valuable stuff."

"Don't worry about it," he said, coming back into the room. "Dad brings it back from the restaurant. Hell, we've got a freaking brewery in the basement, foreign and domestic. They'll not only not miss it, but will more than likely bring more home at the end of the week.

I have to admit, I didn't understand such privilege nor did I understand why Gary continued to risk his existence doing things like this when his future was set. It was a mystery to me, and I probably knew him better than anyone -- perhaps, even better than his parents.

I went to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. I had never seen anything like it. There had to be twenty or thirty bottles and cans of beer, all kinds of beer. I grabbed one in the front in a green bottle and funny label. I held it up to read it. "Tennents." It was from Scotland. I got the cap off and took a deep swallow; it was crisp and strong, heavily carbonated. It tasted great; much different from the few American beers I had tasted. Contentedly, I pressed the cold glass to my forehead and allowed myself a moment of relaxation.

I must have been much more tense that I thought I had been. I suddenly felt very tired. Sneaking around and being uptight all the time about the fix I had gotten myself into had taken its toll. Even after sleeping later into the day hadn't help. I had spent so much energy worrying and bitching about when I could get back to being Mike and how much longer I'd have to spend as this girl that I felt all used up now.

I leaned against the kitchen counter, took another drink of my beer and closed my eyes. I had allowed myself to truly relax. It felt good. I could feel muscles throughout my body relax. I could have fallen asleep. Could have that is, if Gary hadn't have come in and caught me drifting off.

"You look relaxed."

My eyes snapped open. "Yeah, sorry, I was just... I haven't let myself do that yet. It felt good."

"Don't let me interrupt then, you need it."

"No that's OK, I just needed a minute. Now I feel better." I smiled at him and it happened again, that moment where he seemed to glaze over and become hypnotized.

"Gary?" I said, breaking the trance, "What do you want to do now? The Lakers have a game tonight, you want to watch it?"

"Naw," he said, "You go watch it. I'm going to cook dinner for us. Hey, you know it's too bad Mom couldn't get to know you as you are now. The way she loves sports, you two would probably become the best of friends.

"Let's see, steaks I think. We deserve it. Besides, if I remember correctly my parents think you and I are supposed to be on some hot date, remember?"

I ignored the comment and asked, "Can I help with something?"

"If I need any water burned, I'll let you know." He said grabbing my shoulder from behind and guiding me out to the living room. "You need to take some time and relax now that you have remembered how to. First, however, your skirt and sweater are getting stale. I dug some of my Mom's old clothes out of the back room. I think what I found will fit you. My mom was about your size a few years ago..."

I guess my dislike for wearing anyone's Mother's clothes was showing on my face.

"Don't get strange on me. It's just temporary, besides, you're going to attract a lot of attention with dirty clothes."

I said nothing, only stared at him.

"Look, I can wash what you have here, but there are shorts in the back. It's all there is that will fit and I think you'll be happier in something closer to pants Mikey, er... sorry, Michelle. Are you sure you still want me to call you that?"

"No, I'm not." I sighed, "But I also don't want to have to explain to someone that overhears you call me Mike and wind up being detained at the police station. I realize that the chances of that happening are remote, but I don't want to take any more chances than we already have, so I guess I'd better get used to the name.

"And you're right." I continued, "I should change clothes." He raised his eyebrows at me, "I'm OK. Really, I'll be a good girl. Just keep the beer coming and I'll get better and better at it, you'll see."

"Good man," he said and it was my turn to raise eyebrows.

"Er... Good girl?" It was a question. He was seeing if I was truly OK with it.

"Where are the clothes Gary?" I said with thin lips and grim determination.

"They're back in the guest room, last door on the right. I'll turn the game on for you."

I started toward the hall and the guest room. I turned and looked at him again and smiled, "Thanks pal." And it happened again, that thing with his eyes. I was going to have to watch it with the smiling. I had a bad feeling that it could lead to trouble. Surely not all girls have to worry about things like that. It had to be the situation. We were both under a huge amount of strain. Any distraction from our situation seemed to enhance the experience of escapism. I felt sure that he no more wanted to spend any more time as Gary/Tonto than I wanted to as Michelle.

I found the room at the end of the hall; the door was cracked open. I pushed it open and walked in. The room was small, with a window looking out onto the small backyard behind the house. Out there would be an equally small pool. Against one wall behind the door was a small closet and, next to the closet, an apparently unused dresser and mirror. On the wall on the opposite side of the room was a small single bed, larger than the one in my dorm room, but small for a bed.

On the bed were a pair of white shorts and a nice soft, but warm, red sweater a pair of small white socks and a pair of white women's canvas deck shoes. I picked up the shorts and beneath that I found underwear. The shorts seemed odd to me, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong with them.

I turned and caught my reflection in the mirror of the dresser. I jumped with surprise at the image there and a small eek of surprise escaped my lips. I had spent only one whole day as a Michelle. It just wasn't enough time to get used to seeing that image as my reflection.

I got myself back under control as soon as my brain recognized the image as my own. Once that happened I saw the condition of my clothing. My skirt was truly smudged and gross looking. My sweater was looking a bit oily. Disgusted, I stripped off my top, unzipped my skirt and stepped out of it. Then, I kicked them both aside.

I picked up the shorts, stepped into them and pulled them up. I pulled the zipper up and buttoned the button. They felt funny -- like I had them on backwards. Then it struck me. I knew why they had looked strange. The zipper didn't have the familiar flap of fabric over it. Instead, it had two narrow flaps that met over the middle of it. The zipper was supposed to be in the back. Great!

I undid the shorts and put them on correctly. They felt better this way, but as I looked at them, I wasn't sure I could bring myself to wear them. The skirt was one thing. It hid my hips and crotch. These shorts showed it all off. Inside I started to distrust Gary's intentions again. And then felt bad for suspecting him and shoved that thought out of my head. I grabbed the top and pulled on.

I checked myself in the mirror. Very nice. It looked good on me, really good. I was a bit more than impressed. I pulled the top down as far as I could. It was a big top and hid most of the shorts nearly down to my crotch. I was happier about that. I turned and checked the rear. My butt was a different story. The shorts were snug. And I could see a good portion of zipper showing in back. And a good bit of butt cleft too. I took one last look at the skirt on the floor. "Gross!"

I was resolved to wear this for now. I grabbed the socks and sneakers put them on. Then, I started back out to the living room. As I reached the end of the hall, I paused. I felt very self-conscious in these tight shorts. I wanted to look as un-sexy as possible. I was beginning to think that in this outfit it might be impossible.

"There you are," said Gary, as he inspected his selection in clothes. "Good. Everything fit OK?"

I nodded and waited for more reaction.

Gary shoved another beer in my hand and turn away and back into the kitchen. "Game's already started. Hawks are up by three already. I really think this is their year."

He didn't even take a second look. I felt very relieved, but I was a bit annoyed too, I had to admit it. Even I had noticed how nice I looked in these clothes. Was I just imagining it? Was it just me?

What do you want? I asked myself. First, you don't want him to get excited because you're a guy. Then you get upset that he doesn't notice how you look. You want him to notice you? Go in there, grab his head and plant your lips on his. That will get you noticed.

Yeah, OK, I get it. I'm back.

Instead of dwelling on my vanity, I tried to focus on the game.

"You know Gary, its comments like that that really expose your ignorance about sports. It will never be the Hawks' year. First round of the playoffs and they're gone, just like they have been since the beginning of time. Besides, Cleveland has it wrapped up."

"Whatever," he shouted back.

I took a long draft of my beer, dropped down in front of the Vid and lost myself in the game for a bit. It felt good to get back to something I was familiar with. I felt a bit more like my old self. I drained my beer and like magic Gary was there with yet another and different beer. This one was from Germany. It was almost sweet. It was thick and opaque. The name was Hacker-Pschorr.

Atlanta was driving the ball well, and shooting outside very well. But they couldn't get it to drop inside and if you can't do that against Chicago then you were going to lose, so, after a bit, I started rooting for Chicago.

Gary brought me yet another beer just before I was finished with the Hackershore. I shot Gary a curious glance: "How the hell do you know when I'm ready for another?"

"It's the mark of good waiter dudette."

"Oh," Then I noticed the smell. "You weren't kidding about those steaks were you?"

"Nope. Did you think I was?"

"Well, come on. Most people only have steak only once or twice in a lifetime. You just seemed so caviler about it. I just assumed you were joking. Hell Gary, I've never had a real steak."

"Well that's all about to change. Soon you will be a virgin no more," he said and blushed a bit with that. I couldn't help myself. The comment made me smile. It also seemed to help lighten the mood a bit more. He tried to recover by adding, "And I haven't even started cooking them yet. That's just the marinade you smell. You want to see what I'm doing in there?"

I was taken by surprise... That smell wasn't meat cooking?

"Hell yeah, I missed your show at breakfast this morning." I got up and started to make my way to the kitchen.

Gary hung back to turn off the Vid. At least that's all I thought he was going to do. When I looked back to see if he was coming, I caught him eyeing my rear end with wide eyes. I turned my head before he saw that I was looking at him. I didn't want to complicate the evening by making him feel bad. Things were going so well now and I was feeling so good I didn't want to ruin it and go back to the way things had been earlier. Besides, I had gotten my complement. I was satisfied.

In the kitchen, Gary had all sorts of pots and pans steaming and sizzling on the stovetop. The oven was on and I could see a dark glass dish inside but could not tell what he had cooking in it. As I got closer to the stove, I could see that there were, in fact, no steaks cooking on the stove. Instead, there seemed to some sort of fish in a pan covered with what appeared to be grated potatoes.

"Hey, that's not steak," I said sounding a bit disappointed.

"Oh boy, nothing gets past you, does it? I said I wasn't cooking them yet, the steaks are right here." He pointed to a clear glass dish on the counter. It had two round pieces of meat about two inches high and four inches across. They were floating is some nasty thick brown liquid.

"Those are Filet Mignons my dear friend. And the marinade is my recipe. Those get cooked on the grille out back."

"My God Gary, this is a lot of food! I can't eat all this. Even as a guy, I couldn't have eaten all this. I'm just a bit smaller now, in case you haven't noticed."

"So eat what you feel comfortable eating and leave the rest."

"Leave steak? You've got to be kidding!"

"OK, then don't eat the salmon then," he said and turned to dig in the refrigerator for something.

"Salmon! Is that Salmon?" My head snapped back to the covered dish near the stove, "I love salmon. How can you get away with this Gary? Won't your parents be mad?" I asked as he handed me another beer.

He considered my question as he did he pulled a bottle from a rack over the sink, uncorked it and poured himself a glass of wine. "They pretty much let me indulge my cooking fetish whenever I want." He said and then took a sip of wine, "Dad wants me to go to work for him as a chief. He has offered to pay my way to the New York School of Culinary Arts. I just can't see leaving home just yet. Not my folks house but the place where all my friends are."

I was confused, "You like this stupid little town? Man, I'd do anything to get out."

"Really?" He sounded dismayed. "You could just leave your folks, your friends just like that?"

"My folks left me behind to grieve three years ago and never came back. As for my friends, yeah, I'd miss you but I we could keep in touch and hook up from time to time. But, I could leave." I took a deep pull on my beer. I was starting to get drunk, but I didn't care. I was finally feeling good and didn't want anything to come between that feeling and me for the rest of the weekend.

Now that the beer had loosened my tongue, I wanted to talk. I started to break the ice with my goals for the future.

"My fantasy, my goal now is that the band makes it. That the demo chip we keep sending off finally hits. That I wake up one morning and hear my voice blaring out of some radio speaker in a grocery store or in a bar some place when I'm out with you and Kit and Frank. Man, that would be the living limit. Then I'm off dude."

"That would be cool. I have to admit I would like saying that I'm best friends with a famous singer." Gary admitted.

"Yeah," I said and gulped another draft of beer. "I'm a singin' fool." I started to belt out "Killer Highway"; I got through the first two verses and realized that although I was in perfect pitch I was also singing about two octaves too high.

I stopped. I was crushed. I could tell I looked dejected, and I tried not to for Gary's sake but I just couldn't help it.

"What's wrong?" Gary asked. "You sounded great! You sounded better then than I've ever heard you before."

"Gee thanks," I mumbled and stumbled off in to the living room.

"Hey, wait! What did I say?" He asked. He seemed at a loss for my mood swing. He followed me out to the living room.

"Nothing, I'm OK. It's just hard to take the idea that she's a better singer than I am."

"She is you. You bring the talent to the body, not the other way around." He stepped around in front of me and took my shoulders, but I wouldn't look up him. "I don't think it would matter what body you were in."

"Look Gary, that's a nice sentiment but I know it's not true. What just came out of my throat was programmed to sound that way. She's..." I was looking at Gary's face; it had gone slack and waxy again. He was hypnotized. And then it hit me. My heart started to pump harder in my chest. I could feel it shaking my boobs. "I mean, I'm a better singer than Mike was. It just surprised me that's all."

My mind instantly started screaming, MIKE WAS??? What do you mean was? I'm right here you bitch! I'm still here. Don't you bury me. But somehow the conscious me simply ignored the panic below and continued.

"I guess I just got a little flipped out that I suddenly sounded so different and good. It's not what I'm used to hearing come out of my mouth, that's all." I took a step toward him.

"Good thing I didn't turn out to be a blonde huh?" I said and giggled as I moved even closer to him. My heart was now pounding, trying to hammer its way out of my ribcage.

"See, it didn't take me nearly as long to get over the shock this time. I'm getting better at this." I was now only about a foot way from him and I couldn't take my eyes off his. Gary had said nothing to me in return. I took one final step forward and closed the remaining distance between us. When I did, I stumbled over one of his big feet and fell into him.

We both went crashing to the floor. The thud was tremendous, it shook shelves and books and furniture and things all over house. We waited in silence, I on top of him, both listening and waiting for the house to come crashing down on us. But the noise subsided. When it did we both burst out laughing. I could feel the last of the tension we had been under the last twenty-four hours drifting away. It really felt good.

"You really have to lose some weight girl," he said with an evil grin.

"Me! I bet I don't weight more that a hundred and ten. You're the one who weighs a ton my massive, burly friend."

We laughed again but neither of us moved. As the laughter died, I just lay there on top of him looking down at him. Smelling him. Feeling him under me. And my body started reacting.

"Well, are you going to let me up?" he asked.

I said something that surprised me as much as it surprised Gary I think. "No."


"I said 'no.' What part of 'no' do you not understand?" I regarded him questioningly.

I pushed up off his chest and was now straddling his waist with my legs. Not very lady-like I know but I was new to this game. What was really new were these feelings I was having, the sensations my body was trying to sell me.

I was getting wet in the crotch, badly wet. My body seemed to know what to do to help with this. It told me to squirm down on Gary's waist more. The feeling was unbelievably warm and exciting. I could feel my nipples tighten within my bra.

Gary's eyes looked as though they were going to pop right out of their sockets. "What are you doing?"

"Feeling good. You do want me to feel good don't you?"

"Mike," he started to say as I leaned over and put my hand over his mouth. 

"Nope. He's not here. Look around, do you see him anywhere?"

He shook his head no but his eyes were still wide open. I scrunched down again on his pelvis and moaned a little with the waves of pleasure. Beneath me, I could feel something in Gary's pants that was struggling to get out and meet what was in mine.

"Oooooo! Something down there's trying to escape." I could feel him smile under my hand. I sat back up and gyrated my hips again. It was suddenly very hot in that house. Gary had turned the air off but boy it felt like the heat was on now. I reached down and grabbed the hem of the sweater I was wearing and yanked it off.

I looked down at Gary looking up at me or rather my breasts. And I said to him "You see something you like?"

"Mi..." he tried again and I cut him off.

"Ah," I warned and I saw resignation in his eyes.

"Michelle, we shouldn't do this," he said in a shaky voice.

"Why? What can we hurt? Besides, you were the one who said that our bodies make us what we are, how we behave, and that I should pay attention to the signals that my body sends me. Remember that?"

He nodded again. "This isn't what I meant, though," he countered, but he was fighting with himself -- his body -- and it seemed he was losing the war.

"You also said that in most cases our bodies knew what was right and that it might be impossible to resist the signals."

"Here help me off with this thing." He was shaking his head no, but when I took his hands in mine and slowly guided them up my sides to where the bra was, there was no resistance. I shivered as he caressed my skin. He paused for just a moment and then began working with the clasp in back. After a short time he undid the clasp and the bra hung free on my shoulders. I gently allowed it to slide down my arms and tossed it aside. Gary's hands gently worked their way around to my front. He gently cupped my breasts and gave them a soft squeeze.

"Huuuhhhh" I exhaled a hard shuddering breath as the first electric wave hit me and I involuntarily lowered my head with its force. My fingers dug into Gary's arms as another wave hit me hard. My breath was coming in short shudders now. I could feel Gary's member still trying to break through his pants. That idea scared and thrilled me at the same time. I pushed down with my hips on his crotch, forcing my butt backward. That was met by another wave of electricity this time from below. This jolt was different, it was instantly addictive and I pushed down harder.

When I had pushed down and back as far as I could, I kind of wiggle-walked back up Gary's body to start over. There was something in my pants that was tight and hard now too -- and it wanted to be touched. Gary was right. Our bodies send us signals and we are the robots compelled to obey the signals. We do not control, but are the controlled.

Gary's hands were still on my breasts working them harder. I began to wonder if Gary was getting any stimulation from this and that was when he took me by the hips and forced me back as I had been doing when I was trying to stimulate myself through my shorts. Gary now ran his hands over my body, the sensation made my breath come in short jabbing breaths.

I couldn't take it any longer. Using my legs, I lifted my rear end off Gary and started to work on his pants clasp. Once it got it opened, I unzipped them and started to force his pants and underwear down. He helped by lifting his butt and pumped his legs to add to the shedding effect. Once his pants and briefs were off, Gary's little bishop was standing at full attention. I eased myself back down just in front of it. It now occurred to me that behind me was my best friend's penis. My former self screamed at me that this was unnatural -- and a very dangerous situation. You're a man for God's sake... stop this! But the fire in my body refused to listen.

Gary was working with the waistband of my shorts. His hands were working the button at the back I felt it release and his fingers went to the zipper. He slowly worked the zipper down, working one hand into my shorts feeling the satiny texture of my panties as he did. I scooted back just a bit making my rear stroke his still stiff member. With that, he jerked the zipper down and started folding the waistband of the shorts down toward my legs. He stared stroking my mid section, working my underwear down trying to get at the prize.

I suddenly remembered what it was that had always given me a rush when sex was close at hand. I reached behind me and squeezed Gary hard. I could feel him stiffen even harder.

My mind was a blur. I can't tell you what I was thinking, only that I was happier than I ever had been before in my life. I never clearly understood what it meant when a woman told me she was "wet," but the revelation is enormous. It's more than a physical state. It's more than something that happens in your crotch. It happens in a girl's head, her lips and her breasts. If you touch her hips when she's wet, she'll gasp. If you stroke her hair when she's wet, she'll feel faint. Tell her that you love her when she's wet and she'll belong to you. It's happens on an emotional level that men are only be able to dream of but never experience.

Gary ordered me to get up. It was so abrupt that I simply obeyed. He reached up and pulled off my undone shorts and panties. As he did this, I began to feel a bit uneasy. I was now up and away from the heat. And even though my body was still singing like a high-tension wire, clearer thoughts were beginning to prevail. I was having sex, dangerous sex with my best friend. I was not a woman, not born a woman, yet here I was attempting vaginal sex. I was out of control. Did I want to do this, really want to do this?

I really want to do this, was the answer that came back and I eased myself down on to Gary. I felt the head of his member on my genitals and I tensed. There was resistance I could feel the folds of flesh part but when he tried to penetrate me I felt pain. It wasn't bad but it was unexpected. I hadn't thought that this was going to hurt. I was suddenly unsure of what we were doing here. I wanted off. I didn't want to do this any more. Gary was pressing down on my hips trying to ease me down onto him.

I put my hands on his chest, "Um... Um... Gary, it hurts."

"It's OK, you're a virgin. It won't hurt long"

"No... Please, I'm scared."

"I've got you. Don't worry," he said and pressed me back down.

I remembered saying the same thing myself to girls I had slept with. I had said it to the Klingon herself when I took her virginity. Gary was to the point where he wanted sex at all costs... I didn't want to disappoint him. I wanted him to... I don't know, approve? Like me? I guess I just wanted him when you get right down to it.

As he did, the pain came back and then I felt myself part and Gary glide in to my body.

There was a moment of brief, sharp but bearable pain and then I was fading. With is hands still on my hips he eased me down the rest of the way. And shortly I was flush with his pelvis and he was inside me. As scared as I was with that idea suddenly I was filled with a peace that I cannot describe. We had done it. I had done it. I was almost proud of myself.

The friction was so much more intense than I had experienced as a male. The sensations were coming from everywhere. My breasts, my nipples had hardened into tight little pebbles. Each time Gary stroked them they sent warm waves of electricity to me. The sensation sent warmth and an excited feeling into my groin. The walls of my vagina were very sensitive, sending a constant stream of pleasure to my body.

With Gary's help and the distracting sensations from my body, I had forgotten about the brief pain. It was gone, a distant memory. I started rubbing my crotch back and forth against Gary's pelvis. The shock waves that came back each time were the stronger than any thing I had ever felt when I had been a man. I honestly thought I was having an organism. But the waves got bigger and bigger, and soon I was out of breath and was bearing down hard on Gary. He didn't seem to mind. His hands were pumping me back and forth and forcing me down even harder. My hands, which had been on his chest, were digging into his flesh.

The sensations became so strong I felt I would pass out. And with each new level of intensity, my hips pumped harder and faster. This only increased the intensity of the shock waves again and the cycle fed on itself. I was briefly aware of a warmth and slickness inside of me and Gary started to grunt a bit. His thrusting became a bit less rhythmic. He's coming! Good! Hehhhhhhh...

Maybe I can catch my breath.

I couldn't stop. Like the old joke, the waves of pleasure just kept coming and coming. Then I was rocked. My vision blurred and my eyelids were forced closed by some chemical reaction in my body. I had no control over it. I seemed to have lost a great deal more bodily functions that just my eyes. All the muscles in my body were contracting, almost having spasms. For the third time in twenty-four hours, I couldn't breathe. Only this time I wasn't complaining.

I was dimly aware that I was no longer pumping against Gary. The sweat was pouring down my body. I was shuddering from the passing effects of my orgasm. I was no longer in any doubt. That had been an orgasm, an orgasm roughly the size of Godzilla, with great big hairy teeth.

I was beginning to understand why I sometimes heard that some women work hard to control them. Some women, I had heard, are even afraid to let themselves have one. The only way I can begin to explain it is this way. From the male perspective, an orgasm is great, we live for them, orgasms and food, give us some of each every day and we won't wander far from home. But I had read that some people have equated an orgasm with near death experiences. I never understood that philosophy until that very moment. Now I could easily see how someone might expect to see a long tunnel and feel one's self separating from one's own body with sensations like I had just felt.

My head was hanging over Gary's. My hair, which I had always felt was very pretty, was now stringy and oily with sweat. I noticed this but didn't care. I was trying to recover from being electrocuted.

Gary was panting below me. "You OK?"

I nodded my head Yes, thought about it and then nodded No.

Gary laughed at that.

"You," huh... huh... "ought to"' huh... huh... "feel that! Whew!"

"I'll have to take your word for it. You want to go again?"

I nodded my head No and whispered, "Yes."

I'm not sure Gary ever came during our second parlay. This time he teased me by bringing up to the point where he could see I was about to peak and then would stop and ease me back down only to take the roller coaster a back up to the top of the hill again. After an eternity of this I begged him to finish me off, "Go ahead and kill me! Kill me now, please!" He did, but only after two more trips around the track on Gary's roller coaster of pleasure. When I climbed off Gary, I was a train wreck.

I was lying on the floor letting my body enjoy the moment of peace that had come over me when I was disturbed by a most unexpected feeling. It felt as if something was leaking out of me. I sat up and looked at myself. That's no good. I can't see anything from here. I scooted back to check the spot where I was sitting, Yuck! Well it brought me back to reality. I got up and put my underwear back on.

"Where are you going?" Gary asked.

"Got to clean up and get dressed." I wanted a towel. I didn't want Gary to see the mess that I had left on his carpet. "I want that steak now."

"Oh shit! The steaks, I gotta take them out of the marinade." He got up, paused, looked at me and suddenly kissed me. "That was beautiful," he said. "I wanted you to know that," and he kissed me again. Then, pulling on his underwear and jeans, he raced into the kitchen. The thought warmed me to the core of my soul.

I floated into the bathroom and looked around for that towel. And of course, once again I found my reflection in the mirror, but this time there was complete recognition. There was no surprise at the face staring back at me. I knew that it was my face. And the first thought that came to mind seemed just as natural as it could possibly have been, Damn, I look like someone just slipped me the worm. The thought made me grin just a bit. So that's what all the fuss is about, huh? The thoughts were coming in the first person and the voice in my head was no longer the voice of Mike Vello but the voice I now heard when I opened my mouth. The idea was no longer troublesome. I couldn't deny it any longer... I was falling in love with Gary.

I sat on the toilet and peed and then washed my hands and face and rinsed my hair. I toweled off the remaining "yek" and took the towel out to the living room, dropping it on the wet spot. I picked up the bra and slipped it on, then picked up my shorts and examined them. They seemed OK; I guess the panties took most of the punishment. I slipped them on and zipped them up. Then I slipped the sweater back on.

I should have felt very strange. As a heterosexual man who had just had sex with his best friend, I would have. But that's not what happened. It was heterosexual sex all right and for some reason, all my fear and apprehension about this body seemed to be completely gone. I felt completely normal and at home in here. Don't get me wrong; I still wanted tomorrow to come for all the same reasons. I still wanted to be my self again just as badly, but that feeling of desperation was gone. The fear and loathing at what I had become was gone, replaced with a satisfaction of who I had become, however temporary.

I slipped on my shoes and made my way to the living room. There I mashed the towel into the wet spot with my shoes to dry it up.

From the kitchen, I could hear the sounds of water running, and things frying. The first smells of the evening meal came floating out of the kitchen and hung in the air in delicate aromas that made my stomach growl. I tried to ignore my hunger so my stomach simply growled harder, hurting a bit this time.


"Ouch! Wow, I must have really worked up an appetite."


"Ow!" OK, OK, I'll feed you. Stay calm. Oh man, death by hunger pangs. "Gary!" I shouted. I left the towel on the floor to help dry the spot and headed off to the kitchen. "Do you have something I can snack on until dinner's ready?" I went in the kitchen in anticipation of a snack. He looked a bit stricken that I would want to spoil my appetite.

"Can't you wait? This is a masterpiece. You should be hungry when you sit down to eat this."

The force of the next one nearly doubled me over.


"Oooo! How hungry should I be?"

"Was that you? I'm sorry; I guess you haven't eaten since breakfast. You see, you should have let me fix you something for lunch."

Gary surprised me by kissing me again and then turned his attention away from the stove and to the refrigerator, as he did he asked me, "Watch that for me, will ya?"

"Me? Gary you know I don't know anything about that," I said backing out of the kitchen. "I'll be OK, really. See I'm all done growling."



"Just watch the fish, make sure it doesn't turn black on the bottom. If it starts to, turn it over on the other side with that flat thing there." He pointed to a spatula as he rifled through the fridge. I didn't want to burst his bubble but I did know what a spatula was. I had used one on many occasions to scrape the plates in my sink clean before I reused them.

I poked under the fish with the utensil and checked the color of the potato-covered fish. It was starting to turn a light brown color. OK, That's not black. This ain't so hard. I stared humming. It was a tune my sister liked. One my grandparents had taught her called "Crazy On You", an old song I had heard from time to time from some band called Heart.

The fish became golden brown. Since I had had good food in the past and I had seen commercials advertising the virtues of all things "Golden Brown," I made an executive decision. I turned the first filet. I then decided to turn the other one. It too was a golden brown.

See, I can do this. Cool.

I looked around to see how Gary was doing with the snack.

He was just standing, staring at me. "What? Were you going to just let me burn it?" I gestured to the pan where the fish was frying.

"Did you hear yourself?" He seemed to be in a state of complete disbelief. "Did you even know you were singing?"

"That bad huh?" I asked, hoping that it wasn't.

"No! No! Not at all! It was like listening to an enhanced version of the original. My folks have that on chip. I love listening to the guitar lick up front. But you sounded like the way I would have thought that singer, Ah... what was her name.

"Anne Wilson."

"YEAH! Just like Anne Wilson. Ooo shit, watch it."

He shoved past me, grabbing the spatula as he went and started turning the fish. The subject was dropped for the time being. I didn't really know what to think about it at the time, but I didn't forget.

Gary continued to work on the meal as I made my way over to the table where Gary had laid out some sort of gray ball of some meat like substance and some crackers. I eyed it with caution. I wasn't sure I really wanted to try it. It looked as though it might have spoiled. But my brain was communicating with my stomach with out my approval and my stomach let me know that there was nothing to think about. Act now, it growled or face the consequences. I spread a small portion of the mystery meat on the cracker, took a sniff and decided it was safe and popped it in my mouth.

It had the rich and musty meaty flavor of liver and was heavily spiced. I had never liked liver but this had a sweetness to it that was very good. I may not be a cook but I do know flavor and this was good. No not good, great.

I snacked until my friend the stomach was satisfied and peaceful. Then, I helped Gary finish the meal by running errands and fetching things he needed while he cooked. When I wasn't I doing things to help out I was at his side, my arm snaked around his waist watching intently as he worked. His concentration on the food never wavered except when he stopped to peck me on the cheek. His timing was flawless. It was as if he had a timer for each item he was cooking ticking away in his head. One would go off telling him the steaks had to be flipped, another would tell him that the vegetables on the grill needed to be turned. It was like watching a conductor organize a huge symphony.

All the parts of Gary's "Symphony for Surf and Turf" came to a staggering crescendo at once and he declared it a perfectly timed success. The fish was crisp in its jacket of golden potato shreds. It was served in a small pool of tomato sauce with some dill in it, I think. It was the most perfect fish I had ever eaten.

The steak was -- well -- I can see why people make so much of having a steak. It was soft and tender. At first, I thought that it was not cooked but Gary explained that it was best served a little rare. This was a lot rare, but it was warm and juicy in the center and the sauce he had poured over it was wonderful. My teeth sank through it with out any resistance from the meat. The flavor exploded in my mouth and I chewed it slowly, enjoying taste.

Gary had grilled an assortment of fresh vegetables and I tasted them with some trepidation as I had never been large on veggies. Of course, I had had them on pizza from time to time, or on the meatless burgers I got at some of the fast food joints, but, as a kid, I had gotten used to not liking them. Yet, I wanted to please Gary, to show him how much I appreciated what he had done for me by preparing this meal, so I politely tried them, convinced I would like these as little as others I had tried in the past. I was happily surprised. These were not the washed out, soggy veggies I remembered from my Mom's kitchen. The carrots were sweet and crisp. The broccoli was a rich, vibrant green and tasted fresh. There were also pieces of yellow squash, rich tasting roasted red peppers and bits of seasoned red potatoes.

Each piece of the meal was an harmonic cord in the symphony. I had never eaten such exquisite food before. If the sex had been unexpectedly great, the meal was orgasmic.

It was a lot of food and we ate every last morsel. As we ate, we talked about nothing and everything. I tried to coax Gary into the open about his hopes for the future. I was pretty sure he did have plans, but each time I did, he artfully dodged the issue or changed the subject. He tried to handle it just the way he always had when the subject had come up in the past. When you're with other friends, it's easy to make a joke of it and have everyone else laugh it off for you, but there in the intimacy of the kitchen it wasn't quite so easy.

Gary said he was just as happy to go on a few more years just "kickin' around" and having fun. He said that just getting over on everyone else was enough satisfaction for him right now. He was sure that something would present itself to him before long. It seemed to work for everyone else.

He did admit that his Dad had been pushing him to follow in the restaurant business. From tonight's performance, I could see why. But Gary told me that he was concerned about the business end of things. Sure, he felt could prepare any dish in the place with more flare and better flavor than any of the other chefs that his Dad ever hired, maybe better than dear old Dad himself. He had a talent for it; he knew that, but he had been a terrible student in school and he was afraid that he wouldn't be able to handle the business end of things.

I tried to tell him that his Dad didn't expect him to know how to run the entire business all at once. He would have to learn how it was done and he had to dive in and just do it if he was going to learn.

"Mostly Gary, I think it's a matter of learning how not to drown rather than learning how to swim."

"But what if I lose the restaurants?" he asked.

"Restaurants? There are more than one?" I was surprised.

"Yeah, Dad opened number two and three last week. That's why they left for a little vacation. He's all done in from trying to get the other two off and running while managing the first one."

I was impressed.

Gary continued. "If I screw that up, then Dad would be crushed. He built that place up from nothing, Michelle."

I smiled a shy smile. When we had started, I honestly felt that neither one of us were going to get used to that name, but it rolled off of his tongue easily and sat comfortably there between us. That was my name. There was nothing odd about it any longer.

"I don't think I could handle disappointing him like that. It would kill him."

"Gary, Don't you think that he would be more disappointed if you failed to do something with your life because you didn't try? I'm sure that's all he really wants for you. If you didn't try the restaurant thing but did something you wanted to do, successful or not, I'm sure he'd be happy. But he knows you like to cook, maybe he's just trying to offer you something where your talents lie."

"I'm scared, Michelle." He had said that like we had always been this way. It was as if I had been the girl next door and like a hundred times before, we were bearing our souls to each other.

"I know you are. I have a little experience with fear too." He smiled at that and it warmed my heart. I finally had something to contribute to the team. "But as you said, if you let the fear kill the experience how can you possibly walk away with anything positive at the end?"

I could see him turning that over in his mind. I had never seen him show that he cared about anything before. This was very unusual for me and I felt hope for his soul.

Although his confidence about dealing with his Father's business still needed some strengthening, he loosened up some and began to talk about his ideas for the place as if he were in charge. The conversation was light and fun. We bounced ideas off each other. Some were pretty silly, but some seemed to make a whole lot of sense and you could see Gary's eyes light up as he made mental notes of the best of our ideas.

Then the light in his eyes darkened and his face seemed to cloud over. His jaw dropped open and he looked truly worried.

"What's wrong now?" I asked good-naturedly. I was convinced he had discovered another reason why he would fail. Sometimes Gary's lack of confidence was his worst enemy.

At first, I didn't think he had heard me because he didn't answer me. So I asked him again, and this time it was clear that something was troubling him.

At last he looked at me and said, "Nothing. Nothing is wrong, why?"

"Why? You just looked like the whole damned world was about to come to end, that's why. Is it something I should know about Gary?"

"It's nothing, really," he said again, but I could tell he wasn't convinced. He sure as hell wasn't convincing me at least. He gave up trying to conceal it once he saw I wasn't going to give up on the issue.

"That little romp in there," he said pointing to the living room and I smiled at the memory of it. "That was beautiful. I think I need to say that before I continue."

"Are you asking if we can do it again?" I said with a sly smile on my face.

"Ah, no," he responded. I was a little surprised and I must have looked hurt because he added. "Not that I don't want to. I do. Really. But what I want to tell you is this. I have to assume that all your plumbing is in good working order, probably more functional than that of most women. Genetic perfection. Remember?"

It didn't take long to figure out where he was going with this.

"God damn it!" It was all I could think to say. "What do we do?" I was once again on the edge of panic. "You don't think that I could..."

I could feel the blood run from my face. "Pregnant!" I whispered. "Oh God, you don't think this could be permanent do you?"

"That would be my first guess." His tone was low and his words were grim.

"Gary?" I looked at him. I could feel my eyes fill with tears.

"Don't loose it. OK? Don't get upset. We don't know anything yet."

I nodded yes but my heart wasn't in it. My hand went to my stomach and rubbed it.

Oh shit! Pregnant! You just couldn't keep your damn legs together!

My heart skipped a beat. Hell, half a dozen beats.

"I guess in the morning we'll have to get a pregnancy test. We can get one of those blood testers; they'll show if you're pregnant after only ten hours. Before that there's no way to tell."

We sat at the table considering our actions. I felt stupid. This was my body now, hopefully for just a few more hours, but mine nonetheless. And I should have been more careful. Once again, the pressures of being female versus male were brought to bear on me and my heart went out to women everywhere.

The responsibility always seems to fall on the woman. As a man, I had been guilty of the same mentality myself; always assuming that since she could get pregnant, she should be taking the precautions to prevent it from happening. But hell, I was new at this and deep down inside, I was just a little pissed off at Gary because his vantage point in this situation was just the same as mine had always been. He could have worn a condom or pulled out or something.

"What are you thinking?" Uh oh! It showed!

"I guess I'm just a little upset with you," I admitted, opting to be honest with him. "I know I shouldn't be. It's my body, and I clearly remember seducing you to start with. But..." I stopped. As I said it out loud, the excuse for my anger seemed lame.

"But what?" He didn't seem angry, curious.

"But... it sounds lame so just forget it."

"No, I want to hear what you're thinking. Please, tell me."

The sincerity in his eyes dug at me and for the first time I found myself melting instead watching him melt. That worried me. I knew I was finally becoming female, completely female inside as well as out. In the way I was thinking, in the way I was feeling and in who I was finding attractive.

"I'm new at this. I know I should stop and think about things before I act but I'm just too used to being a guy and reacting as a guy. I never had to worry about being pregnant before. But, in the past, you and I have both had to deal with concerns about getting the women we've slept with pregnant. I kind of feel you should have been in charge of that I guess -- and now we have this situation. I know I shouldn't feel this way. I know I was just as responsible, but the only one that pays the price here if we fucked up is me -- and that hurts just a little."

He sat and thought about what I had just laid on him. I thought he was finally just going to get mad and tell me how I had gotten it all screwed up and turned around, but he didn't. He got up and came around to where I was sitting. Stepping behind me, he placed his hands firmly on my shoulders, beginning to massage them gently. I could feel my tension loosen and fly away a bit at a time.

"I'm not much in the idea department. I guess I should have thought of some protection. I never meant to hurt you or take advantage of you and if for some reason you think I've done something that..." I stiffened at the prospect of the idea he was suggesting and I guess he felt it. "...well, I'm sure we haven't but if I ever did, I'd stick with you and make it right. And if I couldn't make it right, I'd at least make it the best that I could."

I reached up and took one of his hands in mine. I squeezed hard and he squeezed back. We didn't say anything else for a while.

We would just have to wait out the ten hours but Gary had made it somewhat more bearable. It wasn't right yet and I was deeply scared that we had done something that would trap me in this skin, but what else could we do.

We cleaned up the kitchen. We didn't say much. Conversation was limited to where things went, what to throw out and what to save.

He insisted that I sit and relax. He handed me another beer but I no longer wanted it. The stuff had caused enough trouble for now.

I went into the living room resolved to watch TV for a while. There on the floor was the towel that I had dropped on the floor to sop up... well you know. It was a grim reminder of what we had enjoyed and possibly everything it had cost me as well.

I picked up the towel and took it back to the bathroom. I searched around for a laundry bin and found it in the linen closet. I dumped the towel in the hamper and made my way back to the living room slowly. My mind was a confusion of thoughts and regrets.

I was starting to feel revulsion at the idea that I had just copulated with a man. Not an hour and a half earlier it had seemed perfectly natural to me. Then the idea of pregnancy had crept into the conversation and something had changed. A part of me that was being dominated by who I had become had woken up. The girl was no longer able to hold sway over the boy I guess.

I left the bathroom and stopped in the hall. With my back to the wall, I slumped against it, overwhelmed by a thousand different emotions. I slowly slid down the wall until I was sitting on the floor, my knees pulled up in front of me.

What the hell had I done?

And oh yes, it was you. There was all that delicious rubbing, remember? Oh God, It was so easy because it was the words of a friend coming from the face of a stranger. Who would have found out? You could indulge your weird fantasy with no judgment, no repercussions, with no thought to the workings of the machine.

I put my head in my hands and rested the backs of my hands on my knees. That's where Gary found me.

"Hey, are you OK?" Gary asked. I could hear him kneel down next to me.

"Oh yeah, I'm cool. How are you Dad?" I looked up at him and tried to smile. But I think my remark shocked him into reality a bit more than I had intended.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."

"No, you're right. I guess we need to think about what's going to happen if..."

"I don't want to," I said pouting. "The way my luck has been running Gary, I'm pregnant. And that means I'm stuck too. I'm gonna be like this forever. I just know it. I can feel it in my heart and I want to die!"

He allowed himself to slip down beside me and there we sat for a long time, hip-to-hip and silent. There just wasn't anything to say.

Occasionally, I would allow my hand to slide down and gently rub the belly of the body that was now very probably mine for good as I tried to feel something moving in there. My mind told me that there was nothing there to feel, not yet anywhere. But it was the not knowing. The possibility that I might confirm or deny my fate and spare myself the suffering of the hours to come, or perhaps rejoice that had yet a second chance to be male again. That perhaps my foolish actions and impulsive behavior had not yet sealed me in the body of a girl.

From time to time, he would grunt or sigh. I could tell something was on is mind but I wasn't really interested asking him what might have been bothering him and he seemed equally as happy not sharing these tidbits with me. At times, I could imagine that perhaps he was mad at me for tempting him with sex. I was certainly mad at myself for that very reason. As if he could sense this, he would occasionally reach up with one hand and rub my neck and shoulders gently, I didn't stop him, the contact was comforting.

I finally broke the silence by asking Gary a stupidly innocent question. "Can you please tell me everything is going to work out? That everything is going to be all right?"

He looked over at me and said nothing.

"I didn't think so."

When he did speak, it was in the form of a chilling omission that clearly betrayed his feelings on my chances.

"I'm sorry," he said. He seemed close to tears. I didn't want to start crying again too, so I looked away.

"I just don't know what to tell you. I want to reassure you that everything will be OK, but I don't want to lead you to believe one thing and find out in the morning..."

"That I'm trapped?"

"That, and the possibility that you're going to be a mother."

I could imagine that the gasp from my mouth could be heard outside on the street.

Not once had I thought about having to push a child out of my body, but Gary had.

"I..." I swallowed hard. "I can't have a baby Gary! I just can't!" I squeezed my legs together and clamped them together by wrapping my arms around them at the knees as if to keep what might be in me, in there forever.

"Look I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up but I felt that it might be better to ease you into the idea rather than turn that light on after a positive pregnancy test. I figure if that happens you're less likely to become hysterical.

"It's not just you either. If you're pregnant, I'm the father. This is something I never really expected us to share, so I'm having a bit of trouble with the idea too."

"You're not the father of anything," I retorted sharply. "The guy who's the father won't even exist after tomorrow and I'll be stuck here with his child growing in me. Then, in nine months I'm going to have to push it out of a hole that's way too small for it to come out of."

"Look, all I meant was for you to start considering the possibility not thinking of it as a certainty. There's just as good a chance that you're not pregnant and tomorrow you're back to your old self right in schedule. You have to try to think positively. If you start to dwell on what might be, then you're going to go crazy. Frankly I'm surprised that you haven't lost it already. I have to tell you Michelle, what I was going to say was that if it had been me that had gotten that skin. I really don't know if I could have handled it."

I was caught off guard by the omission.

"What about all that talk about learning something from the experience; taking something with me that I could look back on? Seeing life from two perspectives? Was all that just lip service? Because if it was then let me clue you in, it helped me cope with situation." I gestured at my body with my hands to emphasize the totality of it. "Those pep-talks you gave me are at least partially the reason you got laid earlier."

I saw him wince at that one and I was immediately sorry I had said it, but God damn it, I was beginning to really respect his advice. I didn't want to find out now that he had said those things just to shut me up or keep me from becoming hysterical. I wanted to believe that he had cared about the way I felt and was working to make the problem better for me. In retrospect, I guess that if I had believed otherwise, I probably wouldn't have wanted to have sex with him either, so, in a way, his thoughts and words had seduced me. I wanted to believe that he cared about me.

Gary looked over at me clearly upset. "You don't understand. It's easy to give advice from the outside of any situation. Sometimes the people outside have the clearest view of what's really wrong. I meant every word of what I said to you. Hell, if you weren't the friend you are to me I would have left you to stick this out alone. You see I didn't have any compunction about letting Rod and the others go off on their merry way. If the situation were reversed, I'm sure you would have been there with the same advice to help keep me sane."

He was looking at straight in the eyes. His focus was sharp and locked my eyes with his. I stared into his eyes as he spoke the words I had wanted to hear. Inside my stomach was doing flip-flops and my head was starting to feel dizzy.

You're falling in love with your best friend.


Oh yes you are. Part of it is due to your new body chemistry but the other part is that you really like this guy.


You can deny it all day long. But you still feel it. You can't turn that off. You're just as stuck with that as you are this body, girl.

No! No! No!

Yeah right!

"Well... good!" I said pulling at the legs of my shorts. I started to get up. I had to put a little distance between him and me before I did something stupid again.

"Where are you going?" he asked me.

"Nowhere! I... my... my legs were falling asleep." It was a lie but I've always believed that when asked a question you should try to answer it.

"You're blushing. You're legs didn't fall asleep. You're embarrassed about something."

"No. No, I'm not! I was just cramping up sitting like that all wound up in a ball with my knees pulled up. Really."

"Well you seem better anyway."

"I feel a little better," I said -- and I did too. At least I didn't feel as panicky as I had before.

"Good." Gary put his hand on my shoulder and without thinking about it I tilted my head and nuzzled it with my cheek. I guess I needed to be touched. He reached out and drew me in. It was dangerous. He could have taken me and I wouldn't have resisted, but all he did was hold me.

At length I cried on his chest and he just held me.

I wrapped my arms around his waist and still he just held me. He was warm and strong, and God help me, it just felt good to be held.

After some time, I'm not sure how long, I broke the hold. He stood back holding my shoulders at arm's distance and said, "I guess it's bed time. You and I both need some rest. To be honest, I would like it you would sleep with me, but that would probably be bad."

I didn't say anything. I didn't want to be alone. I wanted him to continue holding me, but I also knew he was right.

At length he said, "You can sleep in the guestroom, the bed's made up and there's fresh underwear on the dresser. In the morning we'll get the testing kit. You sleep as long as you want. I'll take care of the rest, OK?"

I stood on my tiptoes and kissed his cheek. His hand when to that cheek as I turned to the bedroom door and let myself in. "Good night, Gary and thank you for everything. I mean that. No matter how it turns out tomorrow, I'm grateful. Thanks."

All he said in return was, "Good night."

I closed the door and walked to the bed. I was going to lie down, but once again I saw my reflection in the mirror over the dresser. Standing sideways, I was struck by the way my shorts laid flat against my stomach and crotch. I still wasn't accustomed to the change in body shape.

Then a thought occurred to me. My hand went to the flat of my stomach and gently stroked it. What if?

Talk about a change in body shape. I couldn't conceive it. Well, perhaps that was a poor choice of words. I looked at my face. I knew that if that had happened I was already trapped and I would be looking out of that face for the rest of my life.

I got undressed, thought briefly about taking a shower and just a quickly, dismissed the idea. Instead, I put the clean underwear on and found that Gary had also left a T-shirt, which I unfolded and slipped over my head.

The cotton was cool against my skin and I reveled in the clean feeling it gave me. Lying on the bed, I felt certain that sleep would be an elusive creature this night.

...I was standing in the black void again. That guitar music was filtering back in to my head. I looked around and but there was nothing to see.

"Hello?" I said. It was my voice, Mike's voice.

I reached with my hands to cup them around my mouth and focus the next call when I noticed that the limbs were more delicate than the ones I was used to. I stretched then out in front of me, but they were someone else's arms up to the shoulders. Even worse, there was a very short sleeved girl's shirt where they joined my body. My eyes shot downward and there were the shorts I had been wearing the night before at Gary's. Beneath the shirt was my familiar, flat male chest and beneath the shorts the bulge of my male genitals. My hand went to back and thankfully there was a zipper. Perhaps this is what Erin meant when she said I would know when and how to remove the mantle.

I tried to work the zipper but all that happed was a tugging at the fabric. I tried to undo the button but it, too, would not come undone. The shirt seemed to be tucked into the shorts so I tried to pull it off. But that too was secured to the waistband of the shorts. I pulled and tugged on the outfit but nothing gave.

As I did these things, I noticed that my chest was growing and my crotch was flattening out. I had to get this stuff off. But I knew it was useless.

"What are you trying to do baby sister?" the sound of Erin's voice startled me and I squeaked in surprise as I turned to face her. My voice had now changed as well as my body.

"You can't get that off now," she said.

"Why not?"

"Because you chose to put it on. Beside it looks good on you. You really fill it in just right," Erin added.

"But I don't want to fill it in. I don't want to," I cried.

"You sound ashamed of who you are. Why is that?"

"Not who I am, what I am. I want to be Mike again.

"You will always be Mike, but you have also made a conscious decision to stay as this girl."

"WHAT!" I shouted in complete surprise. "I didn't either. You tell me what the hell is going on here Erin. If you care for me one little bit, you'll tell me how to get out of this mess, because if I have to stay like this for more that one more day, I swear, I'll kill myself." I was furious. This was the only time I had ever considered speaking to Erin the way I was. Dream or no dream, it wasn't fair. She wasn't keeping me like this.

She came to me and took my face in her hands. I tried to pull away but she held me firm and at last I stopped struggling.

"Michelle, you were given a choice to save a friend and thereby save yourself. I accepted the task of guiding you to the right decision, but that's all I did, guide you. You made all the decisions yourself." Looking back, I could see that at least, for what had happened up to this point, she was right. I was responsible for all the final decisions. I could feel the tears come again.

"Shush, don't cry," She cooed. "It's gonna be alright." She hugged me.

"But you helped do this to me. My own sister. Why?" I asked with my face in her shoulder.

"Because I love you and I didn't want to see you destroyed. By saving Gary you have saved your own life."

I shoved away from her. "You keep saying that. What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

She wouldn't answer me.

"No! I won't let this happen." I turned and ran into the blackness of nothing, my hand trying and failing to pull these women's clothes from my body.

Her voice followed me down into the darkness of my dream. "Michelle, You must go into the world and not look back. I don't know if we will be permitted to talk again. Please remember that all of this is because I love you. I have to go and you must face your future."

My conversation with Erin was over. I remembered having a dream but for the life of me couldn't remember what it had been about.

The light of the morning sun coming through the window bathed my face in warmth. I stretched, sat up in bed and looked again in the mirror. "You still here?" I asked to the reflection. "Don't you have some place to go girl?"

Naw, I like it here. I think I'll stay a bit longer. You don't mind, do you?

The thought gave me a little chill.

On the dresser, I noticed that Gary had folded my shorts and added a new top for me to wear. He had also placed the skirt I had worn out of the warehouse on the dresser next to the shorts. There was fresh underwear and socks as well.

When had he had time to do all this? I looked down at the clock on the table and the digits surprised me.

"Twelve thirty-four. Oh God we have get that test kit."

I grabbed my shorts and the new top -- and looked at them. In the back of my mind was a memory -- a memory of me in... something -- I couldn't make it clear enough to see. I looked over at the skirt but I really didn't want to wear it. That was just too funky. I decided that the shorts were better, so I threw them on and raced out in to the hallway.


No answer.

"Anybody there? Hello?"

Fear was trying to creep in just as Gary came bursting in the back door startling me.

"Hey, you're up. Did you sleep well?"

"Whew! You scared me. Yeah, I didn't think I would but I guess I just passed out. Where the hell did you go?" I asked. I was still shaken about waking up and finding myself alone. It was then I noticed the plastic bag he was carrying.

From it, he removed a pink, blue and white box. The lettering on the box said "SureSpot HPT."

I caught the box when he tossed it to me and held it, trembling. I wasn't sure I really wanted the truth.

"Well?" Gary was looking at me with raised eyebrows. "I can't take it for you."

"OK. OK. I'm going," I grumbled and trudged off to the bathroom.

I unpacked the box, there was the indicator bar, a small plastic box to put it in until the test was complete and a small sterile needle to extract a drop of blood with. It took several tries to get enough blood to make the test accurate. When I was done, I placed the indicator bar in the clear plastic box and waited. The minutes passed and nothing happened.

There was a knock on the door. "Any news?" Gary asked poking his head in the door. We sat and watched. And watched and waited. Slowly the indicator bar started to show a color.


I screamed and squealed with delight. "Not pregnant! I'm not pregnant!" I was leaping up and down, with Gary like a high school girl that was just asked out by the best looking guy in school.

I could see Gary was more relieved than happy but I couldn't resist the urge to fling my arms around his neck and plant a huge wet kiss on his lips.

"I know this is gonna sound weird, but while I'm still a girl, I want to say it, because tonight will be too late. I love you Gary Shipley. The girl that finally pins you down is going to be the luckiest girl in the world. Do you know that?"

He didn't say anything and I thought, for just a second, he looked just a little sad. Then the look was gone from his face, replaced by an enormous smile.

"In a strange kind of way, I'm kinda sorry it won't be me," I continued, bubbling with joy. This time he kissed me and I let him, kissing him back deeply.

It was all over but the waiting. I was going to be freed. I could let go and without worries now. I knew what to look for. I could give into the signals this body was sending and keep from going crazy from them by indulging them.

I knew I wanted him -- just one more time before it was all over.

Before I knew it Gary had picked me up in his arms was walking out of the bathroom.

"Don't worry, I know what to do," he whispered in my ear.

I can say that it's private and there was protection against pregnancy. That's all I'm willing to say about that. The rest belongs to me. I'm going to guard it greedily.

"Oh God, I'm never gonna get this done before Christmas. I have to though, I just have to. I'll just have to do some more tonight and the rest tomorrow.

"Close journal."

Journal> Journal Closed: 12/23/2081: 1:42 pm.

Skin Deep chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Skin Deep II foreward chapter 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 epilogue
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