Email 2: Anne to Laura
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From: Anne Hartz <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, Feb 24, 20-- at 9:25 PM
Subject: Your letter
To: Laura Vance <[email protected]>

I got your letter yesterday. I think I got Internet service back Friday, but I was too busy to use it until today. I expect you've been working extra hours too. We've had hardly any suicides and suicide attempts, certainly not as many as you had in Athens, but just the car wrecks last Saturday alone filled us up -- in Nashville and the surrounding area almost every car that was in motion at the moment of the changes crashed, and we got a bunch of the overflow from the Tennessee hospitals. Even after Saturday I think there's been a higher rate of all kinds of household and workplace accidents, what with people in north Bowling Green getting used to the changes in their bodies and people here on the south side just being distracted with the general strangeness.

I feel horrible about you and Robert's wedding and honeymoon being ruined so, but at least you and him -- her, it? -- I'm sorry, I shouldn't joke -- at least you and Robert are still members of the same species. Maybe you're immature members of the same long-lived species and when you're a hundred or two hundred years old you'll go through puberty again and develop new sex organs, hopefully of opposite sexes... Last Saturday when the changes happened, I was at work, here at Greenview Regional on the south side of town, and Dave was at home; and the dividing line between two of the change-regions ran right through downtown, between us. I became -- well, physically I'm not noticeably any different, but I feel... I'll get to that. Dave, like all the other men in north Bowling Green and the suburbs and country for fifty miles north of here, now has five eyes spaced evenly around his head, and no hair. The women in that region got the extra eyes and lost their hair, too, but they've also got pouches like mama kangaroos. And those of them that were four months or more pregnant all went into labor at 12:41 last Saturday, and gave birth to babies that should have been premature, but seemed to know what they needed better than the obstetricians -- they crawled into their mamas' pouches and have mostly stayed there since.

The staff and patients who were here last Saturday at 12:41 all sort of bonded together, and so did various other groups of people who happened to be near each other at that time of day all around south Bowling Green and a region extending east to Glasgow and south almost to the Tennessee line. Some of them were people I've known for years, some I'd just met days or even hours before, some I'd never met before; some I loved and some I could hardly stand; all of them feel like family now. I get uncomfortable when I'm away from them for too long. It wasn't until yesterday that I could bring myself to leave the hospital and go home -- or to what used to be home. Dave and I ate supper and talked, very awkwardly, for an hour or two, and he gave me your letter. Then I left and drove straight back to the hospital as fast as I could. It just felt too weird. I still like him as a friend, but there was no romance there anymore; I couldn't feel attraction for a male of a different species, and he made it clear, after he worked up the nerve, that he felt the same way about me. (I won't go into detail, but google "marsupial reproductive system" sometime.)

Of course the patients who were already here last Saturday recovered so thoroughly that they would have left any other hospital, but they feel uncomfortable leaving, and we can't stand to see them go; the people who were visiting sick friends and relatives Saturday afternoon are family now, too. We've found things for them to do to help out around the place; God knows there's plenty of extra work. We've modified a lot of the offices into apartments for the staff and our former patients and visitors; we've found we sleep more comfortably together, like kittens in a big pile. I'm sleeping on a pile of pillows and crumpled-up sheets on the floor of what used to be an accountant's office with three other nurses and two ladies from housekeeping.

I said I didn't find Dave attractive anymore since the change? I'm feeling a pretty strong attraction to most if not all of the men, staff and patients and visitors, who were here last Saturday (though I've managed to avoid acting on that attraction so far), but not to any of the men who weren't here then, the staff who weren't on duty at the time of the changes or the patients who've been admitted since then. Not just the five-eyed marsupials from the north side of town, but the normal-looking guys who were somewhere else at 12:41 last Saturday.

We're understaffed most of the time, since none of the staff who weren't on duty when the changes happened, if they were anywhere in the south Bowling Green change-region, can stand to be away from their new ad-hoc family groups for more than a few hours.

I'll stop here. Tell me what's been going on since you wrote?

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