18. Unexpected
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The last ten days of June were something of a blur. I started looking at colleges to find a good photography program, and paid attention to which colleges also had a good drama program as well. I was kind of imagining me and Melissa going to the same school again, she could be an actress or model like she always wanted, and I could be her photographer or whatever.

On Friday, mom and me were back downtown at the lotto offices. That took another couple hours but I was giddy again, while mom was sort of happy but reserved. At one point they got us both to pose with a giant novelty cheque while they took PR pictures, and I found myself paying attention to all the equipment, the lighting and how it was set up and everything.

Then in the end mom was given a certified cheque for seventeen million, and that was just wild.

We didn't have time to go to the bank that day so she put the cheque somewhere safe, then she went to work.

On Monday the two of us were back at the bank to meet the manager again. We were there all morning while mom set up more special accounts and investments and things. Turned out she'd spent some time over the past week reading up on this stuff.

She made it clear we wouldn't be going on huge expensive trips or doing any silly spending sprees. She was investing, she was being careful, and she wanted that money to last. For both of us.

Then we spent a couple days at car dealerships doing test drives and stuff. Mom wound up getting herself a little silver-coloured four-door sedan. It wasn't the least bit fancy, but it was her first brand new car ever and she was excited about it.

I really wanted to be happy and enjoy all that, but the Sunday before we visited the bank I thought I was coming down with something. I felt tired and sluggish, and my mood kept alternating between depressed and bitchy. Then later that afternoon I discovered the blood, and finally knew what was going on.

That was a real eye-opener, and it was definitely one aspect of being a girl I never fantasized about even once. Mom helped me through it and gave me some quick lessons on women's health, which was kind of awkward for both of us. The worst of it was over after a few days, but it was kind of annoying knowing I'd have to go through it all again every month.

Through all the other stuff, Mom kept working her regular shifts at the restaurant, but she did give them her two weeks notice. She also told me she was looking at going back to school too, since she didn't have to wait tables anymore she wanted to learn something useful.

And finally, we started looking at houses online. Mom wanted a bigger house, something with a nice yard. Our little two-bedroom bungalow was ok but it was a bit cramped, and the backyard was tiny. Mom wanted grass and trees and a garden. She also wanted more bedrooms, and a proper dining room and stuff so we could have guests over.

I wasn't sure but I had a feeling part of that was from her thinking about my best friend. I told mom about Melissa's situation with her parents, and of course she said Melissa was welcome to stay with us if her folks kicked her out. It would be really cramped in our tiny home, but if we were going to move soon to a bigger place that would be way better.

I didn't see Melissa at all the last part of the month, but we talked a lot on discord or through texts. She was busy studying of course, then the last week she was writing exams.

Neither she or Lily said anything about their conversation that afternoon, and I didn't ask. I figured it was probably like a preliminary discussion or whatever, and once school was over maybe Melissa would talk with Lily again. Or maybe not, but either way it was up to her and I wouldn't pry.

Today was Saturday, and it was kind of mom's and my first day to relax in a week and a half. Mom was still working for another week yet so she was up late last night. And she'd be at work again tonight, so this morning we both slept in.

I made us a nice breakfast, I was kind of teaching myself to cook better. It was fun though and I enjoyed it, and I think mom liked it too. I made us pancakes and bacon, then the two of us sat at the kitchen table and ate. Mom had coffee, I had orange juice, and neither of us bothered to dress. I was in a nightshirt, she had a t-shirt and track-pants.

As we ate, mom asked "Do you have any plans for today?"

"Yeah," I smiled. "Melissa's coming over this afternoon, we're going to hang out and maybe talk about college plans and stuff? We'll probably order in something for dinner."

Mom smiled, "Sounds fun. Do you know if she's said anything to her parents yet?"

I shook my head, "She said she was waiting till school was over before she did anything? Yesterday was the last day though, so maybe she talked to them last night? We messaged a bit last night and she didn't say anything."

"I hope that goes all right," mom said with a little frown. "She's always welcome with us of course, but I'd hate for her to have to go through that."

I nodded, "Yeah. I hope so too."

Mom was quiet again for a bit and the two of us ate in silence. Eventually she asked, "How's your uh, other friend? I haven't heard you talking to her lately."

I nodded, "I realized that kind of bothered you or whatever, so me and Lily sort of made a point to not do it around you. She's fine though."

"And you're still ok with her uh, being in your head?" Mom sounded a little hesitant, like maybe she wasn't sure if she wanted to know the answer. Or maybe she was worried the question might upset me or something.

"Yeah," I nodded, and gave her a smile. "It was weird in the beginning, and there were some things at first that I wasn't comfortable with? But I've been working with her to get more comfortable. And I kind of realized..."

I paused and said "I hope this doesn't make you upset or uncomfortable mom? But yeah. I realized without her I'd just be dead. She brought me back to life and gave me this body, and she's sharing this life and this body with me. So I've stopped thinking of it as 'my' body. It's ours. I'm still me and she's her, we're like two separate people or whatever? But we're both in here. So it's ours."

Mom stopped eating while I talked. She was listening carefully, and had a thoughtful look on her face. She stayed quiet for another minute or so after I was finished, and seemed to be thinking it through.

Eventually she asked, "Does that mean Lily can uh, take over? Sometimes it's not you there, but her?"

I blushed but nodded "Yeah. It doesn't happen often but it does happen. And I didn't like it at first, but like I said, I realized we're sharing? And I'm only here because of her. So I've been making an effort to get used to it."

She was quiet again for a few moments, then finally commented, "You've changed a lot in the last three weeks Mara. I don't just mean the obvious physical differences. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but... I think in some ways, you've grown up?"

She quickly added, "In other ways, you definitely haven't. So don't let that go to your head, hon."

I grinned and shrugged "I get it. It's been a pretty wild couple weeks, that's for sure."

Mom nodded, and we both finished the last of our breakfast. Then she went into the living-room with another cup of coffee while I did the dishes and tidied up the kitchen.

Once that was done I had a shower and did my hair, then got dressed and put on some make-up. I wasn't planning on going anywhere but I wanted to look nice for when Melissa got here. Though I didn't bother with fancy clothes, I just pulled on some leggings and a tunic-style top. It was comfy for hanging out around the house.

It was about half past noon when I heard the knock at the front door.

"I'll get it!" I called as I hurried to the door and opened it up. Then for a moment I just stood there and stared.

Melissa and I had texted and stuff, but I hadn't actually seen her in the last ten days. And she'd changed.

The first thing I noticed was her face. It looked softer, like some of the hard lines had been smoothed out. And there was no sign of any facial hair on her. Her skin looked a little more fair too, normally she had a sort of tanned complexion and being the start of summer that would usually get a little more pronounced. It seemed to have gone the opposite way and gotten a little lighter. It almost gave her a slightly delicate look.

Her hair was longer too, and I was positive it was lighter. She normally had sort of dark sandy blonde hair, and last time I saw her it was trimmed in a usual 'guy style'. Now it was more like a golden blonde, and it looked like it'd grown a couple inches since I last saw her.

I realized she'd lost weight too, her clothes all looked a few sizes too big. She was wearing a pair of black trousers and another pink top. She had white sneakers on her feet that looked new.

Overall she looked really good. The only thing that was worrying was her expression. She was smiling, but there was a nervous look in her eyes.

We stood there in the doorway staring at each other for a few seconds, and I realized she was blushing. Her fairer skin made her blush show up even brighter, it was really kind of cute.

Finally I snapped out of it and smiled at her as I said, "C'mon in! It feels like I haven't seen you in ages!"

"Thanks Mara." She sounded nervous. And her voice didn't quite sound the same, it was a little smoother, and maybe a slightly higher pitch.

Mom was still on the sofa, she looked up and stared for a moment before she said "Hello Melissa, nice to see you again."

My friend replied "Hi Ms. Carter, nice to see you too."

I grabbed her hand and pulled her towards my bedroom, "C'mon we have to talk!"

Melissa didn't resist, and a moment later we were in my room. I closed the door so we had some privacy, and we both sat down on my bed facing each other. She was still blushing, and had that same expression. Smiling but slightly anxious.

"Well?!" I asked impatiently. "What's going on?"

She took a deep breath then sighed, "Ok um, I guess it's obvious but Lily did some magic for me when I talked with her in the car that day at the park?"

"Yeah," I nodded, "I guessed that as soon as I saw you. Is everything ok?"

Melissa replied, "It's been fine. Like when I talked with Lily about it, she said she could make it happen slowly? I figured that would be good, since it meant I could start right away but I'd still be able to finish classes and everything. Like it wouldn't be a sudden abrupt change, so nobody would really notice it?"

"Ok? But?" I was positive there was a 'but' coming.

She shrugged, "It was fine at first. Like my parents didn't notice, they saw me every day and I guess it was subtle enough? But with exams last week, basically the last three days I was writing exams for teachers who hadn't seen me since the week before? So it was like, well it wasn't subtle for them. I guess like the look on your face just now when you opened the door? I got a bunch of awkward comments and questions."

I frowned, "That's ok though right? I mean it's just teachers you'll never have to see again."

"Yeah," she nodded. "It was still a bit worrying though. And with school finished yesterday..."

She looked a little more anxious as she explained "It's going to happen faster. Like it's not a constant thing? It started off slowly but each day it's a little quicker and a little quicker..."

"So how long till it's all done?" I asked. "And I guess what you're saying is it's going to become noticeable even to your parents?"

Melissa's blush got brighter as she nodded, "It'll be done in another week to ten days? Maybe sooner. And my folks finally noticed this morning."

"Uh-oh," I was nervous now too. "What happened?"

She sighed, "First dad said I needed a haircut, and mom said that was odd since I just got my hair cut two weeks ago. Then mom noticed how my clothes were hanging off me, and said my face looked paler than usual. She thought I was sick, and both of them wanted to take me to the hospital. So I told them the truth."

After a deep breath she stated, "I told them I was trans, that I was really a girl. And I told them my name was Melissa."

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