Session 14: Can’t Even Shine In A Prism
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I wasted little time leaving my first period once the bell rang and began rushing halfway across the school to Maxxie’s next class, Ceramics. It was hardly as much of an ordeal to traverse the halls than it was during my time in Shiaka’s body. But I still felt burdened by both the hefty weight of Maxxie’s backpack as it slung on my shoulders, and the lack of vision imposed upon me by my reduced stature. Still, I managed to make it to the classroom in time, where I was caught off guard by how unfamiliar everything was.

I was greeted by a group of students from all four years and a teacher who I did not know by name. This lack of familiarity made it hard for me to get into the mindset I needed to be in to impersonate Maxxie. And as such, I spent most of the period acting like I, Jad Novus, would in a situation like this. I was distant, standoffish, and far from the bustling ball of energy that I assumed Maxxie would be in a class like this. I tried to imitate her speech patterns and vocabulary, but I became less and less convinced in my own performance as the period went on.

As for the class itself, all we did today was look at some clay bowls that were made last week, baked over the weekend, and painted on Monday. Some of them were pretty crappy, lumpy, or had developed cracks in them as they hardened. Maxxie’s, however, was perfect by comparison. I mean, I am not very well versed with clay craftsmanship and such, but it was very smooth, its shape was symmetrical on all fronts unlike some of the others, and it was really well painted too. 

Okay, just glancing at it you might assume somebody threw violet and teal paint all over it, but the colors were vibrant and gelled well together, while the actual brushwork was very consistent throughout the bowl. It looked pretty cool all things considered, but as I looked over it, I quickly realized that Zoe was the one to paint this bowl. A fact that picked away at my already flaking self-confidence.

You see, Verde, assuming you are still listening, I really never took that many art classes. I was never very good at any field, and while Maxxie tried to get me to at least learn some basics, she is not a very good teacher. I know that anybody can learn how to draw well with enough time and dedication. While I have tried time and time again to draw something half decent, everything I draw with a pen or pencil looks like it was made by a third-grader. 

It sucks. It sucks to be around somebody so creative and talented and have no artistic capabilities to call my own. It sucks even more to find somebody else in my circle of friends— one who has never expressed any interest in the creation of art— and see that they are way better at art than me.

Third period was creative writing, a class I normally had with Maxxie, meaning I had it with Zoe(J) today. We did not talk to each other or anything, as Zoe(J) is not the sort of person to speak during class unless it is explicitly requested. Instead, we just were given random classmate’s short story to critique, and for the writer to edit over the break. They were only two to three pages long, so I went through a couple. 

A nifty little story about a world where fifty percent of humans can fly, but only gain the ability if they are in a situation where flight would save their life. 

A tale about forced feminization, likely written by somebody who never heard of the term, and whose views of gender norms were a decade out of style. 

But I also, somehow, was given the story Maxxie wrote for this project. I guess someone screwed up the directions for distributing these things. Anyway, the story took the form of a series of diary entries about an disabled child, Viktor Bitz, who learned of a “blue jam-like substance known as Krängus.” Which I was 90% sure was just some gibberish she made up. A substance that could be used to relax one’s bodily parts, allowing for easy removal, and allowing one to merge body parts together, no matter what part and what species. The story ended with Viktor living the life of an eccentric billionaire woman who lived on an isolated island. With her looking over a group of human animal hybrids she used to populate a zoo of her own creation.

It was a bit light on content, but mostly dark, with some of the descriptions of the creatures were disturbing, such as ‘the one known as Gregg.’ 

“Despite having such a mundane name, this critter was naught but that! Their body was topped with the head of a shaven elk, its face adorned six eyes in total, all from a creature of a different phylum. Its torso was that of a man, a strong one whose fine muscles were obscured by the red feathers poking out from his skin. Its waist was that of a woman, one carrying a child that will, most certainly perish before birth, and whose skin was covered with a reptilian hide. Last were its legs. Tall, thin— extracted from a moose, still coated with a thick fur, making them almost look like a set of pants and shoes, granting the critter a veneer of humanity. A veneer that, much like its name, was not reflected in its behavior as it stomped at the rodents released in its cage, before chewing their limp dying bodies with its metallic teeth.”

I have no idea why the English teacher for this class, Raiyne Underwood, allowed Maxxie to write this sort of thing. I mean, yeah, Raiyne did know Maxxie on a decently close level on behalf of her being both my mother’s friend and our English teacher for the past four years. But this still doesn’t seem appropriate for high school.

Meanwhile, I did not have a particularly captivating idea for this project. My story was a simple and well-trodden tale about a man who witnessed a murder and had determine what the right course of action was. If he should run, hide, intervene, call the police, take a photo of the criminal, and so forth. But looking back at it… it was a wordy and elongated story, filled with too much pontification for a decision that, realistically, would be made within thirty seconds.

I tried to offer honest criticism for all of these stories, but I felt it had to be worded as Maxxie would, meaning I had to start emulating her tastes and wording in writing. This meant that I wound up erasing a lot of my comments in favor of an assortment of astronomically awful alliteration and an amazing amount of asinine asides about anything my mind’s manifestation of Maxxie may muster. Unfortunately, my struggle to produce perfectly… screw it. I had trouble keeping up with what Maxxie did so effortlessly despite technically having the same biological brain she normally possessed. 

It was a discouraging, demeaning dirge that inspired a sour sense of sorrow to stew within me as I made my way to the final class I had before Lunch, Studio Art.

As I realized when I looked at Maxxie’s notes earlier, Zoe handled the presentation of her project yesterday, standing in for Maxxie, and supposedly doing a bang-up job. She did not say what her project was, but as I looked at the art on display out of the room, I immediately found it. An elaborate art print featuring the characters from the early 90s anime series, K.O. Beast.

Back when I first met Maxxie, back in 2003, her favorite thing in the world was this obscure 7-episode anime by the name of K.O. Beast. She would watch and rewatch the series pretty much every day after school, and it inspired her to pick up a pen and start drawing anime as well as she could. Without it, she might have never decided to become an artist… at least that’s what she liked to say.

Her parents, Kenneth and Eleanore Flare, realized how much she loved the series and, for her 16th birthday, they purchased the rights to the series, making her the legal owner of the IP. Meaning she not only owned the anime series and the Super Famicom game, but anything she produced related to K.O. Beast was technically official art.

For a decade, Maxxie viewed K.O. Beast as her artistic goal. She wanted to make something that not only looked that good, but looked exactly like it. It was why her normal style was 90s anime to the core, and… her hard work certainly paid off. While there were some stylistic differences, and some of the character designs were tweaked, it looked like K.O Beast. And if I didn’t know Maxxie, I would be shocked that this was done by an ‘amateur’ 18-year-old high school student. It just goes to show what someone can accomplish with enough time, determination, and professional tutoring…

I was actually a bit upset that she never showed it to me before… but then I realized that she probably was going to show it to me on Saturday. It’s just that we got distracted by the whole body swapping affair, so this probably slipped her mind.

After spending enough time gawking at Maxxie’s excellent art, I made my way into the classroom. What followed was a series of presentations from about ten or so students, showing off their illustrations, describing their intent, forming a narrative, and asking questions from students and the teacher… but mostly the teacher. Personally, I was taken aback by just how skilled most of these students were. None of them were as good as Maxxie, but I still found this showcase to be… disheartening. Because right now, these students are probably better at art than I ever will be.

With my spirits low, I headed to room 1337 for fifth period and to reconvene with my friends. As I arrived, I saw Maxxie(Z) pushing together four student desks, sliding them across the tile floor instead of lifting them. Because it’s not like that causes a screeching noise. Before I could question her actions Maxxie looked at me and immediately dropped what she was in the middle of.

“Gah! You spooked me there, Maxxie!” Maxxie(Z) shouted.

“Well, maybe I wouldn’t spook ya so darn easily if you weren’t moving the desks like a dummy. You’re a big strong tree man, so try lifting them!” I said with a bit of sass, trying to ease my depression with some Maxxie-isms.

“Well, I guess I should’ve. But good news! If you check your beg, you’ll see that we have a special surprise for lunch. Because Babs bake a bushel of bentos at my behest!” Maxxie(Z) triumphantly declared, standing with her arms on her hips.

I then put down my backpack, and Maxxie(Z) began setting the makeshift desk table, pulling out four Bento boxes that were each individually wrapped in a cloth napkin. Each held an assortment of treats tailored for each one of us, likely as an attempt at showing off the differences we all have in regards to taste. 

The violet box with an M sticker on it had two large pork onigiri rolls slightly smooched in the plastic container along with… Look, I am only going through the rest of the story in hopes that you are listening to me, but for fuck’s sake, give me a goldarn sign if you are, okay?



Oh, alright, you changed the surroundings to a pleasant view of the cosmos, nice to see that you can still manipulate this little room-sized pocket dimension… And you removed your chair, which is just lovely. The door is still behind me, and… goodness have I gotten used to saying everything that’s on my mind. 

However, unless you ask me all proper-like, I’m just going to summarize the actual food part of lunch. After Terra(S) and Zoe(J) arrived, we began digging into the food Babs prepared for us. The portions were small, and Babs knew what we liked, so the actual lunch part breezed by pretty quickly. Much like with dinner on Saturday, I was overwhelmed by how sensitive my palate was, with every bite packing oodles of flavor. Hell, even the white rice managed to have a bit of a kick to it… somehow.

However, it was not as pleasant for everyone, namely Zoe(J).

“I’ve got to say, Jad… I am surprised your taste buds are—”

“So bad? I assumed as much. I never had a good sense of smell, mostly because of how bad my seasonal allergies were as a kid. Which is possibly the reason why foods taste a lot more bland in my body.”

“As the current occupant of Zoe Xing,” Maxxie(Z) declared, “I would like to posit the theory that dude’s just have worse tongues than girls. Because your tongue ain’t that better, Zoe-Zoe. Furthermore, I hath an addendum to introduce to the board!”

Maxxie then shoveled the rest of her bento into a box and… I keep saying that Zoe’s body looks like a salaryman, but what is more ‘salaryman’ than shoveling food down your throat to get back to work? Not much!

“Aight,” Maxxie(Z) began before letting out a belch. “So the other day I was complaining about how I thought that Jad’s school life and persona were pretty dang boring. Zoe, you sex dawg you, are way, way, way, worse! I mean, with this bod, this sexy swimmer and track star body you built, I just wanna try blazing a trail through a boy, girl, whatever. I just wanna make ample use of the eight inches that have been begging for freedom all day long.”

Now would be as good a time as any to clarify that Maxxie is a virgin.

“…Please don’t tell me you—” Zoe(J) muttered.

“I did use your ruler to measure your penis,” Maxxie(Z) confessed. “But you probably put soap on your kielbasa before you go to school. So I figured it was kosher for me to go all touchies with it after Physics was let out early. Anyway, the glasses, the uniform, and— ahem— the necessity to imitate the vernacular and mannerisms of one who I could reasonably call my opposite on that front. That all makes this shaz a helluva lot wacker than I figured it’d be on the Sunday.” 

“…You were positively fuming when we ran into Yuccot Kikansky.” Zoe(J) said as he logged onto one of the computers in this room.

Guh! Don’t get me started on that AssBlaster82-ass A-hole! That memory is being forwarded onto the garbage at the dumpster dot com and will be marked as spam!” Maxxie(Z) shouted.

“Erm, who exactly is Yuccot Kikansky?” The quiet Terra(S) meekly asked from the background.

“We mentioned him before, Terra,” I said. “Really obnoxious super senior who annoys the hell out of everyone and has taken a ‘liking’ to us as of late. Ring a bell?”

“He has also shown himself to be quite an unintelligent, racist, sexist, bigoted, hateful little peach pit of a human being.” Zoe(J) mentioned, his brow furrowed as he spoke.

“On this day he doth declared that Zoe and I were touchin’ peppers, which I don’t mind, I’ll mess with some boys love ish from time to time, watch some dongs going into another man’s bum. But what boiled my broth is how he said we got gay because we were tired of our ‘half-breed whores’… Yes, really.” Maxxie(Z) said with scorn.

“Ugh…” Terra(S) moaned.

“As for my time in your body, Jad,” Zoe began, changing the subject, “I felt that it helped me obtain a greater understanding of the differences between people physically. Being a generally smaller and leaner person than I normally am was not much of a jump for me after spending time in both Maxxie’s and Shiaka’s original bodies. However, it was a more than worthwhile decision to spend a day in your form.”

“Okay, but did you, I mean, do you like it?” I asked.

“I attempted to dodge the question, but quite frankly, I do not particularly care for your body Jad. I do appreciate the feeling of a trim waistline, but it lacks the sense of strength I am accustomed to. Furthermore, it lacks the feeling of… cuteness that I had recognized after spending time in Maxxie’s and Shiaka’s bodies.”

“Got it Zed, but now comes the question of how my dear sweet sister has been enjoying her day as a high school girl.”

“Right, so, um, I think I said that I was a bit freaked out by all of this during… second period, right?” Terra(S) murmured as she played with her dark navy skirt.

“Yeah… you feeling alright?” Maxxie(Z) said as she stood up and got closer to her sister.

“I— I guess so, it’s just that… I feel like I am… I am trespassing, I am stealing Shiaka’s life— even though she let me have this. Every person who sees me as Shiaka, and… It all feels wrong. I keep thinking that everybody at this school, they’re all looking at me and seeing through this lie I have built. It is horrifying, and I… I felt that I was going to hyperventilate at any given moment and just ruin Shiaka’s life because of that.” Terra(S) confessed, her blue eyes filled with tears.

Maxxie(Z) rushed over to her sister, ready to comfort her with a hug, only for Terra(S) to jolt to the other side of her seat. She clearly was discomforted by the idea of being hugged by a taller man in a moment like this.

“Hey, Terra, would you feel better if you hugged me?” I asked, seeing as how I was in Maxxie’s original body.

Terra gave a nod in response, so I switched seats with Maxxie(Z) and began hugging her sister. She began wetting my pink blazer with tears, but I did not care. I simply held her softly, began slightly rubbing her back, and began humming the song Miss Stiletto Heels from Deadly Premonition

It was a call back to a time from four years ago, where the three of us decided to play through that bizarre, busted, yet wonderful game together over spring break. The memories flooding back to her, combined with her sister’s original body’s delightful voice, were enough to subside Terra(S)’s tears. Once she was ready, she eased out of my grip and looked at me, her face beaming with joy.

“Thanks, Maxxie… I screwed that up, didn’t I?” Terra(S) mumbled.

“It’s alright Terra, we know what you meant.” Maxxie(Z) sighed.

“Not to be rude, but do you feel up to continuing this conversation, or…” Zoe(J) questioned

“I… I like it but it feels weird and not quite what I expected,” Terra continued. “The way long hair feels fluttering down my neck. The way the skirt brushed against my legs, and the… softness to everything, it is something I was worried I’d never get to feel. But I didn’t really expect for the, um, breasts, to be so… big. And then there are the scars on my torso, which reallyreallyreally did not help with anything…”

…Yeah, we did not tell Terra much about Shiaka’s troubled past, as it’s pretty dark stuff for a ten-year-old.

Silence encompasses the room as Terra(S) looked to be on the verge of confessing something, only for her to slowly open her lips.

“I’m afraid that everything I want is wrong. I feel that… even if I go through all of this crap with gender transition, that I… I still will not feel like a woman as much as I do now. That it will all be futile, a waste… and I will never be comfortable as myself.” Terra(S) said with sorrow, looking down at her skirt and sweater vest.

Unfortunately, this conversation was halted by the ringing of the familiar chime to move to the next period, and unfortunately, she would need to be alone for the next hour. I wonder if that was for the best though, as she would reconvene with Maxxie(Z) come seventh period, and Zoe(J) come eighth. Part of me was relieved at how I did not need to deal with this, but another part loathed the fact I even had that thought. I felt like I was running away to live a lie… 

You know, Verde… Ah screw it.

In case you’re curious, I’m doing this for myself, not for you. I don’t want to repress this crap and have a sense of guilt gnaw at me when I lose these memories, because I doubt you were ever going to let me keep them. 

I mean, Verde, you abducted me and put me in an alternate reality… and then wanted to talk about it with me? You have the ability to reshape reality and that is what you decide to do with your powers? I guess I always knew that something was up, but… I should have called you out on your massive loads of BS before you abandoned me. And all because I got a bit angry at you? You should have seen the horrors of mankind over the three years you’ve been alive, but one person having an emotional outburst screws with you beyond belief… I just don’t understand…

…I’ll get started on recapping the sixth period then… And sorry for snapping at you again. I’m just… ugh!