“Uhh... uhh... what... what... what... Ummm... Wh-what about my older brother?” I asked, trying my best to spin up a reasonable lie.
Emma was not convinced by my floundering, however, just giving me the most skeptical look I think I’d ever seen. “I’m pretty sure that just confirmed it...”
Yep. It figured. I did say my improvisation was terrible, didn’t I?
She continued, “But... what? I don’t understand. How are you...” her eyes traced my much smaller body.
And suddenly the fact that I was in her arms was flustering me even more. She... she knew who I was, and we were so close... She knew who I was, and we were touching like this... I was feeling all warm and tingly inside again.
I was still just as overwhelmed as I’d been with the whole clothes fiasco, but... it had... changed, somehow. The rest of the drama class had faded, the excitement, the students... all that was left was Emma and I, and the fact that I was still in her arms... the fact that I could feel her warmth, the fact that my now very soft and feminine body was pressed against hers.
“You can’t be Warner,” she murmured. “There’s no... there’s no way. Your reactions are so... different. But... I... At the same time, I can still see you in there. So much of you.” Emma stared at me for a moment longer, then let out a small laugh. “You know, I’d have assumed you were your sister if you hadn’t made it so painfully obvious that you weren’t...”
“I don’t know how this happened,” I mumbled back. “Mrs. Barrows said something about a curse because I broke rule #13? It sounded like nonsense, but... well...” I looked down at my body bashfully, still clad in these super bulky men’s clothes that definitely did not fit my new form.
“So you got punished for asking me out after all?” Emma pursed her lips. “That’s not what the rule says, though!”
“Ahh... Actually...” I shook my head. “That’s probably not what caused this...” I blushed deeper, opening and closing my mouth a few times before finally buckling down and admitting, “Right after you said no, some goth girl asked me to go out with her, and I said yes.”
My friend just stared at me for a moment, then breathed a really long sigh. She shook her own head, shoving me off her lap with a roll of her eyes. I tried very hard not to pout at not being in her arms anymore, but I’m not very confident I completely succeeded in that one.
“You brought this on yourself, then, didn’t you, doofus? I thought I’d warned you pretty well against dating...” she waved a scolding finger at me, then sighed. “Is this temporary, at least?”
At the mere suggestion, my breath caught, my train of thought frozen solid like a block of freezer-burnt ice cream that’s been sitting opened and unfinished in a too-cold freezer for half a year. My already exhausted arms simply dropped all the clothes, and...
Wait, was I... Wow, with just that, tears were starting to form in my eyes, my stomach churning uncomfortably. “It... it better not be...” I choked.
“Wait. Y-you want this?” My friend blinked in surprise. “You?”
I wiped my eyes, then took a deep breath and nodded emphatically. “As silly as it probably seems, given how I’ve always acted... This is what I’ve wanted the whole time. I was just... uhh... way too dumb to see it,” I looked down at this body again, and gave myself a little hug. When I looked back up at Emma, I said, “Mrs. Barrows called it... ‘transgender?’”
She rubbed her temples. “Yeah, you didn’t act anything like... well, this,” she gestured to my awkward, even more bashful wringing my hands and looking at my feet. “You’re totally different now.”
“Yeah... I... I was... umm... a bit misguided,” I mumbled. “And I think I was trying to live as a girl vicariously through a girlfriend, or something... So, I’m sorry about that.”
She opened and closed her mouth, just as I had just a bit before... She did it a few times, before slapping a hand to her forehead. “Oh my god you really are a doofus!” she laughed. “I told you you needed to come to the queer club, too! I bet you would’ve figured things out so much sooner.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I smiled back. “Oh, and I was actually thinking about joining — you know, now that I know and all — but—”
“Miss Williams, are you planning to talk with my student for the rest of class? Time’s a ticking!”
I finally looked up, the rest of the class fading back into existence around Emma and I. Miss Match was holding the pile of clothes I’d dropped, and wore an expression even more suitable for scolding than Emma’s before.
“S-sorry!” I said, grabbing something off the top of the pile.
“That’s a good girl,” her expression softened. “Head on back behind the curtain and try it on!”
I did so, but I was very unfocused — far too busy blushing as I thought about what it’d be like if Emma called me a good girl instead... A happy little tingle sat beneath my tummy as I pulled the curtain closed.
By the time the bell rang, I was utterly exhausted. Luckily, I was now wearing a cute outfit that seemed pretty casual — though the shorts and long-sleeve white shirt didn’t fit perfectly, they fit well enough that I didn’t feel out of place anymore.
And more than that, too... like... Dang. When I’d looked in the mirror after some of those outfits — the dresses, especially — the feeling of... I don’t know... warmth? Rightness? It bubbled up from deep inside and it pervaded every inch of my body.
Like... I couldn’t even explain it. It was clear that it was just... well, euphoria. Seeing a girl in the reflection... short and petite, with wavy hair and a pretty face, and especially seeing her in cute clothes... And then knowing that that girl was me... It was like nothing else I’d ever experienced.
But eventually, the fashion show ended, and their “costume design” lesson did as well. That’s how I’d ended up with my current outfit, which I was allowed to wear till I had other clothes.
And with that, the room had mostly cleared out, leaving Emma and me alone once more.
“You tried on a lot of outfits, there,” Emma laughed, patting my head.
I pouted up at her in response. “I would’ve tried on less if I could’ve.”
“Still not comfy in girls’ clothes yet, then?”
I shook my head. “No, these clothes are great... It was just that I was super overwhelmed and mentally exhausted and I would’ve preferred to pick my own outfit rather than dressing up how they wanted me to.”
Emma chuckled, getting her bag loaded up and ready to move to the next class. “You really are just a girl now, aren’t you?”
“I’ve found my true calling,” I giggled back.
If I had to be honest, she’d been right about things being different now — and it wasn’t just with how differently I was able to act, now. Before when I would spend time with Emma, it had been... extremely different. Back then, I’d been too focused on how pretty Emma was and how much I’d needed to be with her, and all my actions tailored around those things...
Now, though... Okay, granted, I still thought she was really pretty, and I still thought it would be really cool to be with her — you could tell how much I still thought it based on how much I was blushing, actually — but... Yeah, now it was less an urgent ‘Do these things or you’ll never find happiness’ and instead a more passive just... liking her.
...If that made any sense at all.
And, actually, because the need to be with a girl had basically been dictating the entire direction of my life for... ever? Because that need had been so pervasive, it’d honestly probably been like my personality was cut down almost completely. Filtered. Almost like trying to look at it through... I don’t know. A dense fog? Maybe a fog as dense as I’d been!
Okay, well maybe not quite that dense. I’d been extremely dense, after all. Hard to top.
(...And then I snorted because of the unintentional innuendo about how now I was small and blushy and probably really easy to top, if you know what I mean... Luckily Emma didn’t ask why I was snorting, so I got away without saying that one aloud.)
Anyway, yeah, now that I’d transformed, and I was revealed to very clearly not be a boy... my dynamic with Emma had shifted so very drastically. It was weird, actually, this dynamic. Was this how Emma treated all girls? Or was it just because she knew me?
Like... as we got to the door of the drama classroom, she held it open for me. Like, that’s what I’d always done for her previously. I’d always charged ahead, ‘cause that’s what the guides had told me to do, and she’d always rolled her eyes at me... But now that all of the reasons I’d had to do all that stuff had gone away... I instead found out that she would do it for me?
And then that mischievous smirk down at me as I went through the door?
Good lord, my heart was racing!
“Just one more class, today,” Emma said, pulling me out of my embarrassing thoughts. Yep, she was right. It was Biology, one of the classes we shared. “Are you going to go?” she asked. “Mr. Darwin’s gonna roll call for you by your deadname, probably...”
“Oh.” I frowned. “Well, I still don’t even have a girl name. Mrs. Barrows said she could change it for me when I did, but... yeah.”
“Do you need suggestions?” Her face lit up, and my face turned a bit redder at her enthusiasm. “Maybe I could help!”
“You... a name for me... hmmm.” As much as I thought that would be really cute, I was also a little bit nervous of that kind of thing. What if she came up with a name and I had to choose it, but then I ended up not really liking it? “I... I do like the idea of that, but at the same time... I just need a list of names, I think.” I looked at my feet.
“Oh, well, that’s okay. There’s tons of websites that have name lists — you thinking you’re just gonna do a search on your phone?”
“...Yeah, that’s a good idea. Wait, but my phone is in my bag...”
Oh heck, I’d left all my stuff in History! And now I needed to grab it! With my new appearance!
Grabbing my stuff from History with my new appearance actually was no trouble at all. No, instead, the part I had trouble with was something I hadn’t even considered.
I’d walked in, a couple guys and girls giving me interested looks — yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve all never seen me before (or at least, that’s what you think! Muahhahaha) — and then I’d found my stuff, which had been piled up in the back of the room so someone else could use the desk I’d been at.
Nobody had called me out for not being the same person that left the stuff, because none of them actually shared the History class with me. That’s what made it so easy.
Anyway, I’d piled all the stuff into my arms — wow I was a lot weaker now, this pile had been so easy to carry before... Then I took a deep breath, and stood up. However, I’d underestimated the weight, and I nearly fell, losing a couple things in the process.
I breathed a long sigh. This was going to be a massive pain in the butt.
Well, maybe I could reduce my load... I looked through the pile. Oh, I could get rid of this, actually... I tossed my ‘special secret notebook’ over into the trash. Pretty much all the plans had been centred around getting a girlfriend, so, like... yeah. So much for the book being as important as the air I breathed.
“Do you need a hand?” a guy’s voice asked. “Looks like you’ve got a lot of stuff there.”
I looked up. Oh, it was Steve again. I frowned. Okay, earlier your waiting outside the bathroom was kinda sweet, dude, but what’re you doing now? Are you trying to hit on me or something? Listen. I can quite clearly handle this, it’s just going to be a pain in the butt.
“Nope, I... am... good,” I said, lifting the pile back up and nearly collapsing under the strain.
I took one step. Then another.
I was okay. I could do this. My locker was only on the entire other side of the school, and down a couple flights of stairs.
I could manage this easy.
“Are you... sure?”
“Shut up, Steve!” I grunted. “I’ve got this!”
“Wow. Girl power,” Steve said, clearly quite impressed by my physical capabilities.
“Hell yeah,” I groaned, trying my hardest not to die.
I took another step.
After a few more, still struggling along, I turned around, straining just to accept his offer. “Okay... fine.”
He smiled and took two of my heavier books from me, just putting them under one arm like they were super light or whatever. I breathed out a ‘depressed’ little sigh at the sight. Things had been that easy for me, once, hadn’t they? Way back then... A time long past... (Less than an hour ago.)
In the end, I never even made it out of the classroom alone; instead, accepting my fate as someone with zero upper body strength, and honestly kinda weirdly pleased by it (don’t tell anyone!), I turned around and started once more towards my locker, this time with the help of a strong boy. If Steve was going to be so nice to me just because I was a girl... whatever, right? Might as well rely on him!
Was this a perk to being a girl? Could I just like, use the big dumb guys for my benefit? Hmm. I considered, for a moment, as I walked, what it’d be like to command an army of big dumb guys.
The image in my head was ridiculous, and I quickly dismissed it.
Also, like, at the same time... If dudes are doing stuff for me, they’re probably not doing it for nothing, right? But I knew they wouldn’t do this kind of stuff for free. They had to have some kind of ulterior motive. Like, wanting to date me. And I definitely was not going to to be dating one of them at some point, or something. Ew. (Heck, boys having an ulterior motive... that’s exactly what I’d been doing, before I’d... well, you know, Figured Things Out™. Ahhhh, past me, you über-dummy!)
Hmm. Once we arrived at my locker... I’d need to tell Steve that I wasn’t interested. You know, let him down gently. Boys needed that kind of thing, probably. Before they... got too into it, like I had. I should know, right? I was probably an expert! Considering I’d been so engrossed in being the perfect boy for so long.
Wow, didn’t that make me like some kind of boy psychology... master? Or something? I could get a Ph.D. in boys, or something! I was sure that a Ph.D. like that would be very useful, especially considering the zero interest I had in boys. (Yes, that was sarcasm, in case you were wondering.)
Anyway, we did eventually arrive at my locker, and I was able to put all that stuff inside. Steve looked in it from behind, confused. “Wait, isn’t this Warner’s locker?”
Oh heck. Oh heck! I needed damage control! Did I do the brother thing again? Pretend Warner was my older brother? Ahhhh!
Okay, wait, I had an idea. “No, it’s mine,” I said. “Wait, are you looking inside a girl’s locker?” I gasped, trying to sound horrified. This was a stupid idea. Why did I think this was a good idea?
...But Steve blanched anyway. “S-sorry, I didn’t know that I couldn’t! I didn’t know that was a thing!”
Wow, that was... surprisingly effective.
“It’s okay, Steve, I forgive you,” I said, magnanimously, and I heard a sigh of relief from behind me as I took out the bare minimum of stuff that I needed for Biology.
“Oh, and thanks for helping me bring that stuff to my locker, by the way,” I said, shutting my locker and standing up with my much-reduced pile of stuff.
“Oh! It’s no problem,” the tall guy’s nervous expression shifted into a smile. “I didn’t want to see you struggle, you know?”
“I’m a lesbian,” I interjected. Yeah, no, that was enough. I wasn’t going to let that go on any longer.
Steve blinked. “Wh-what?”
“I’m a lesbian, Steve. I’m not going to date you.”
The guy blushed. “I... I wasn’t... that wasn’t what I was trying to...”
I sighed, shaking my head. “Dude, you’re way too obvious. Believe me. I know what that stuff looks like more than most people.”
“But... I wasn’t...! In this school?” he pouted. “What kind of idiot would even try that?”
...Okay, ouch. True though.
Though, that idiocy had worked out rather well for me, hadn’t it?
Anyway, I raised an eyebrow and the dude pouted.
“I swear, I was just trying to be nice...” he mumbled.
“Yeah, yeah, tell it to the judge.”
By that point, the hallways had nearly entirely cleared, most students already having arrived to their classes. Biology was a separate direction from History, so Steve split off from me, and I waved him away. “Thanks again.”
He just blushed and ran on. What, had I been too mean or something? I was pretty sure he’d been being flirty, right? Although, you know, if he hadn’t been — I felt a chill — the stuff I’d said... it actually might’ve been kinda rude, maybe.
Oh well. If he was really a nice guy, he’d get over it.
“Ahem,” a girl cleared her throat.
Oh! I hadn’t realised someone was there. Looking up from my books, I saw her... She was leaning against a wall, arms crossed, with her black hoodie, hair and shoes, and all those very many rings. The only difference now was that I was the short one.
“I saw you with that guy,” she said, and a shiver ran down my spine.