Career Day: The Wheels On The Bus Go Round And Round. Part 2

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The next morning, I peeked out of my blankets. Carefully touching my revised plumbing and almost painfully sensitive beasts, I breathed out relived. It hadn’t been a dream. I was still in this alternate past transformed into an Asian girl.

    A rather annoyed, “Meow!” under my covers made me giggle. Shaking herself, the cat sniffed at the cold air before deciding she would stay where it was cozy a while longer.

    Last night I’d berated myself for forgetting, of all things, our pets. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on myself considering the train wreck like series of shocks I’d gotten yesterday, but still you know it’d been really cold last night.

    All my family’s pets worked for their living just like on any farm. Living out in the country meant our house was surrounded by farm fields. Looking at it from afar, it was like an oasis of trees surrounding our house in a sea of whatever was being planted that year. That also meant we were under siege by armies of field rats, snakes and other vermin. Our dog, part Collie, and Shepard mix, Lady was the general in charge of Home defense. She took care of any threats bold enough to challenge our perimeter. Our next line of defense was a good offense. Fearlessly patrolling deep into enemy territory like Special Forces and recon teams were our cats.

    Like all outside cats, sometimes they leave and don’t come back. They’re cute, furry, and huggable, but they’re also predators. It’s a dangerous world out there for any hunter. Their numbers varied as kittens were born and they came and went. We gave away legions, but sometimes we found a new boarder had taken up residence. That was Smoky.

    She simply appeared one day at feeding time. I suspected she was someone’s runaway because of her so soft fur. It was bluish black, but when you looked underneath it was a silver gray. That was how she got her name. She was so soft it was like touching smoke. You could feel the warmth under your fingers and yet it was nearly insubstantially soft.

    We did have a protected room for our pets, heated by the same high wattage light bulbs used for incubating eggs for weather like this. Even by the standards of animal care in 2010 it was probably enough, but if I couldn’t bring in all of them. I could sneak in Smoky.

    From her contented rumbling, I didn’t think she was complaining. On the other hand, I had to get her back outside without being caught. It being a Saturday, Mom and Dad was sleeping in, but from the sound, my brothers were up. Saturday cartoons were too much for them to resist even with all the snow still falling outside.  

    Dressing, I hid Smoky under my jacket. Doing my best to stay quiet, I tip-toed though my parents room first to the bathroom. Okay maybe girls’ bladders are smaller because I really had to go. I didn’t flush because I didn’t want to alert the terrible twosome. Peeking outside, I made my break for the door.

    I expected a problem getting the screen door open since it opened out. The snow had drifted blocking the door, but not as bad as I feared. A sharp shove and I was outside!

    Smoky, “Meowed” sticking her blue gray head out of the top of my jacket to see.  I found my breath taken away not just by the cold, but by the beauty of the sight and the memories it invoked. Sensibly, she decided it was better to stay where it was warm.

    Softy running my finger over her fur, I felt the chilly tracks of tears running down my face. Snowing all night, the accumulation had to be nearly a foot, but it would grow to about another foot before it was all over. Taking a deep breath I tried to take it all in so I would never ever forget this moment.

    Even if I’d found a Genie’s Lamp or some other plot device from Transgender Fiction could all of my dreams be so fulfilled. Not perfectly since all I wanted was to be a more feminine me. This whole Asian girl thing was never part of any wish fulfillment of mine. However, the time I’d spent with my Mom had more than made up for that small detail.

    I sighed my breath frosting before me. As wonderful as this was, it was also temporary. If I wanted to keep this, I would have to work for it. Reaching for the shovel, I began clearing the porch and steps.

    Way back when in the Thirties when Daddy first built this house it’d been smaller. It’d lacked indoor plumbing among other things. The outhouse still sat a distance away a snow covered mound. As time passed he’d added on a bathroom, and the small room I now called mine. Most recently, when he married my Mom she insisted on having an electric washer. He’d expanded the back porch tacking on an outside washer room.

    That room became multipurpose sheltering our pets as well as a makeshift greenhouse at times. As I cleared the snow away Lady, our Collie Sheppard mix stuck her nose out to see what was up.

    Ready for a break, I found a small thirteen year old girl had nowhere near the muscles or stamina of even a worn out overweight 49 year old male. Resting on the shovel, Lady greeted me with a wet doggie kiss slobbering all over me. To my surprise my Career Day transformation didn’t faze her at all. Some of our platoon of cats were a little hesitant, but then again Smokey hadn’t doubted who I was for an instant either. Like Star Trek TNG Data’s Spot, Smoky was a one person cat. 

    Tail wagging, Lady gave the rest of the felines just beginning to nose about a disdainful eye. I smiled remembering finding them all, dog and cats alike cuddled together even though it wasn’t that cold. I could almost hear her asking, ‘So where’s breakfast?’

    That reminded me I was hungry too. While I was bound and determined not to end up fat, this body, transformed or not was used to pigging out. Just like the way to stop smoking was not to start, the best way to lose weight was not to get fat to begin with. On the other hand I didn’t want to got the other way into anorexia. Hopefully feeling better about who I was would help besides knowing the consequences of having been at over a hundred pounds overweight.

    Smoky peered out again disturbed by my shoveling and add her own voice to the gathering chorus wanting breakfast. “Meow!”

    While I could begin cooking, there was much I didn’t remember about how much Dad usually fixed or other details that could cause problems. From helping with lunch and supper last night I saw that they must’ve just come back from picking up the weekly groceries when they got called about the ‘snowday’.

    We did however live frugally and me wasting food would be, however good my intentions, frowned on. I was trying to build goodwill not cause problems. The solution for that was me to watch carefully this morning and cook breakfast for the family tomorrow morning.

    With that decided I got back to work. This was good because I was learning my physical limitations, but it was awkward relearning how to move my remodeled bod.

    Finally finished I did a bit of ‘touching up’ of the exposed areas that already was covered back up in white again. “There,” I announced to my audience of dog and cats. “What do you think?”

    Unimpressed they were a tough sell. I however wasn’t above a little bribery, doling out a bit of dog food we used to supplement their diet. Mostly they ate our leftovers. This family wasted nothing if it could help it.

    Smoky decided that food was worthy enough cause to leave the warmth of my jacket. Leaping down she asserted her place in the pecking order at the food dish.

    Shaking off the cold and snow, I went back inside. Immediately, I was confronted by Adam.

    “What were you doing out there, girl?” He interrogated sneering as if that was the worst possible thing he could think of. 

    Knowing Adam it probably was. He was after all only 10 and still in that girls had cooties stage. He’d grown up the stereotypical redneck male and proud of it. The last time I’d seen him in my old world, he’d been doing the Civil War reenactment thing and proud of it for goodness sakes.

    However the one standing in front of me right now was still only ten years old.

    “I was cleaning off the porch and steps,” I replied.

    He got this glint in his eyes. “Have you done both the front and back?” He asked more like a demand than a question.

    I gave him an annoyed glance. “No I did not! I did the back porch so I could get to the washroom to check on Lady and the cats. It is snowing after all. They’re fine by the way. I gave them a little food since it’s so cold and icy out.”

    Adam puffed up. “Now you need to go do the front. You’re girl now so you have to clean up after us men.”

    I looked down my nose at him. “Oh really?” I replied dryly. “And what if I don’t?” I asked looking down at him. I might be the smallest kid in my sixth grade class but I was still taller than any of the fourth graders.

    He put his hands on his hips trying to sound tough. “I have to beat you up.”

    My new ears heard movement from inside our parents bedroom. Adam was so busy posturing he didn’t hear a blessed thing. However as tempting as it was to let him dig his own grave, I really needed to gain if not his respect or even fear, a mutual understanding.

    I crossed my arms giving my brother a cold stare. “What’s makes you think you could do that now when you couldn’t come close before?”

    He leaned forward and said, “You’re a girl. I’m a boy. Boys beat up girls.” He said ‘girl’ again like it was the most horrible thing he could imagine.

    Not able to help myself, I giggled. “You say that like that’s a bad thing. I have no idea of who you’ve been hanging with but I know you didn’t get that from Mom and Dad. But first let me tell you why you’ll lose any fight with me. First size matters and I’m still bigger than you are. Second, you’ve forgotten all about me being contagious as well as the cooties.”

    Listening hard I was guessing that it was Dad right outside the door. Younger brother however kept digging his hole deeper. “Size doesn’t matter because boys are stronger and tougher. You’re not contagious, I asked Dad last night and I don’t think you’ve been a girl long enough to get the cooties.”

    I had to keep from rolling on the floor. Because we’re surrounded by farm fields, we’d been corp dusted so many times it was silly. This was the age of DDT, cooties otherwise known as lice and just about any other bug, but never had a chance anywhere near our house. Fortunately, none of us had any health problems that could be trace to that. Although Dad’s death and Mom’s breast cancer as well as my own Transgender condition did make me wonder from time to time.

    “There is one other thing you’ve overlooked young grasshopper.” I told him playing my hole card.

    Still bowed up and confrontational, he replied, “What’s that?”

    I turned letting him see my profile. “I’m Chinese now. Everyone knows the Chinese all know Kung Fu.”

    He blinked caught unawares. We both watched that show with David Carradine. It was really our first exposure to the martial arts. I didn’t count the professional wrestling on TV on Saturday afternoons. Needless to say I’d seen him awkwardly spinning around and kicking in the backyard afterwards.

    Not having a good answer for that one Adam backed off.

    Dad apparently had heard enough. Coming out the bedroom suddenly, he caught my younger brother by surprise. “Have you gotten the porches and steps cleared off yet? If we’re going hunting for rabbits, we’ll need to get a start right after breakfast.”

    I giggled again understanding what he was trying to pull now. History was already changing. In my original timeline, it’d been me that’d gone hunting. We didn’t find anything fortunately for the little furry critters, but it’d helped define how I thought about hunting. I’d much rather pet than eat them.

    Before Adam could take credit for what I’d done, I said, “I fed Lady and the cats a little pet food since it was so cold. I had to shovel some to get to the door.”

    Dad’s face was as still as stone but I saw a smile in his eyes. “Well that only leaves the front for you to do Adam. You should thank Ernie for doing some of your work for you.”

    Adam was blushing at being caught, but muttered something that could possibly might be thanks.

    I however choking back more giggles, smiled sweetly. “You’re welcome Adam. I left the shovel by the washer room.”

    Dad and I watched him go outside.

    “If he does start fighting with you, tell us,” Dad told me. I knew it wasn’t a suggestion.

    “I don’t know where he got those ideas about how to treat girls and women, but that stops right here.” I heard the steel in his tone. “But you shouldn’t tease him like that though,” he said shaking his head to keep from laughing.

    “Okay, Daddy,” I replied.

    He looked at me since I hadn’t called him that in a while, but let it pass.  “See that you do,” He said starting breakfast.

    I sat next to Darryl who was intently watching the ’The Superfriends’ on TV. Taking out pen and paper I made quick notes on what I need to know to surprise my parents tomorrow morning. I paid close attention to those things I knew was tricky, like for instance just how much water to add to the grits to give the consistency Dad liked. Most of the rest was looking ahead at the possible problems I would have being smaller now and cook.

    Mom with her usual timing got up just in time for Dad to start serving. She certainly had him trained well, I grinned to myself. Putting my notes safely in my pocket I evaluated the possibility of giving them breakfast in bed. 

    Adam came in breathless and tracking snow though the house.

    Mom glared at him, and I knew he was a heartbeat away from trouble.

    I decided to butt in saying, “It’s okay Mom. I’ll mop it up if  Adam will clean up from breakfast.” Not giving anyone a chance to say anything else I jumped up going for the mop. While everyone else was seating I did a real fast job of damp mopping.

    Running back to the table in time for the Blessing, I got back up finishing and put the mop away.

    The whole time I felt Adam’s eyes on me. He really had no idea how to behave around girls. I had to keep from ruefully shaking my head. Truthfully, I didn’t either. I’d spent my entire life stumbling along with the few relationships that I’d managed ending in disaster and ruin. It wasn’t till I began seriously trying to come to terms with my feminine nature that I’d started to heal the years of hurt I’d done to myself denying my true nature.

    Slipping into my chair I heard my stomach rumble. Looking down at my plate full of food, I divided it out again. This time I noticed Adam and Darryl eying my leftovers. “Darryl you want a piece of my bacon?” I asked offering him the choicest part.

    At his nod and grin, I passed it over ignoring Adam’s scowl. Then I asked brother dear, “Do you want the rest?”

    He really want to say no, but greed will get them every time. “Yeah,” Adam grunted.

    Darryl happily gave me a ’thank you’ around a mouthful of food despite Mom’s warning not to talk with his mouth full. He grinned a three year old’s respect to authority.

    Adam hunched over his food much like one of our cat’s jealously guarding its share. Mom and Dad had stormy expressions as they waited to see if he remembered his manners. Predictably he didn’t.

    Like I said my parent’s are old fashioned believing in manners. We might be poor, but never ever trashy. One of the keys to that was discipline as my brother was about to find out.

    Adam tell your bro… err Lil Ernie thank you.” Dad commanded.

    Younger bother looked up unhappily. Recognizing that he’d crossed over a line he really shouldn’t have said. “Thank you Lee.”

    Mom and Dad stared at him for using my middle name. Adam had yet to realize just how much baiting his big brother game had changed.

    I however, rather liked it. Lee was androgynous enough to pass as male or female. However something else that’d always bothered me was being a junior. Thirty-seven years ago, being Lil Ernie was ‘annoying.’ Now let’s not even go there.

    Before the situation got worse for Adam, I spoke up. “I like that, Lee. What do you think Mom? Can I go by my middle name for as long as I’m like this? It fits better than Ernie,” I said intentionally leaving off the Lil prefix.

    Mom and Dad exchanged one of those silent communications things parents do so often.

    I wondered if I dared say anything else. It’s possible I’d already dropped too hints and clues as to what I really wanted. Preparing the ground is one thing, but it’s easy to over do it too. In theory they should come to realize what I wanted by themselves with as little help from me as necessary. However, when you wanted something really bad, restraint is hard. So I bite my lip and said nothing.

    Using their parent’s telepathy, Dad had apparently given Mom carte blanche for this one.

    “I think that is a good idea Lee,” she said. “This Career Day thing is suppose to be a learning experience. Let's do that.” Mom sipped her coffee.

    “You’ll get to know everything about the other half lives, and your brothers will learn how to act properly around girls. I can see you all need to work on your manners.”

    She then glared at Adam. “As for you young man. You know better. If I don’t see a change in your attitude, in a few years when it’s your turn to got though this thing, I’ll make a special request. Do I make myself clear?”

    Poor younger Bro turned nearly white.

    “Yes ma’ams,” echoed around the kitchen table.

    The rest of breakfast was much subdued, but I’d gotten my answer. Yes, I’d gone a mite too far.

    Adam was most unhappy about helping clean up from breakfast and doing dishes. Even little Darryl who grew up to be quite a hell raiser in his own right kept quiet.

    I decided since I’d already started cleaning floors to finish the job. With so much of the house unheated, I settled for sweeping and touching up with a damp mop. That did take care of the drips Adam left behind that I’d missed before breakfast. It also let me attack some of the clutter. Taking care of that let me secure what stuff I recognized as mine from the mischief of my two recently chastised brothers. 

    Dancing with broom and mop continued the lesson I’d started with the shovel this morning. I was learning how my much younger transformed body moved now. Despite my hope it wouldn’t happen, I was guessing Adam would force a show down. Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance. I meant to be ready. This was my first step. The next needed me to find something to work out in.

    That was going to be a problem. I really doubted I would be able to find any kind of pants that would work. My regular jeans wouldn’t let me really push the limits of how flexible I was. The poor thing again, I didn’t have anything else other than jeans and a pair of ‘Going to meetin’ pants. It was either shorts or hope there was pair of sweat pants hidden in the bottom of that suitcase.

    Mom had kept an eye on me as I cleaned. That was a good thing. Since finding a daughter she’d been much more ‘engaged’ with the world. Usually she retreated into herself letting Dad deal with running the family and handling us boys.

    From my worldly prospective, I could see she suffered from major depression and perhaps anxiety disorder as well. She’d also attempted suicide several times. I blame her childhood abuse. I might not be a doctor but having suffered from anxiety and depression myself, it was a good guess.

    I’d no idea if the gee-whiz process that made me look like Bruce Lee’s little sister could help her. The Career Day machine did pickup on my feminine and adult neural patterns. That was a hopeful sign since effective antidepressants were still years away.

    This did make me think. For years one of the linchpins of my denial was my childhood. The conditions and situation let me rationalize that it was better that I hadn’t been born a girl. Being poor in the 1970’s with the rising drug culture made it likely that I would’ve ended up in a bad way if I’d been born female.

    I could see now just how utterly selfish that was. It had to be all about me, but what about my Mom? Already I could see Lee was making a difference in the quality of her life. Could this continue? I didn’t know. Already the history that I’d known was diverging further with each day. My thoughts of using my future knowledge and becoming rich were fading. However, I felt more at ease with myself and confident that no matter my sex or gender I could and would have a positive influence on the ones I loved in this strange second chance I’d been given.

    Getting the distinct feeling Mom was trying to show me every negative aspect of femaleness, she asked, “How do you like wearing a pad?”

    Truthfully I answered, “It feels like I’m wearing a diaper down there.”

    Scoring herself a point she, added, “Are you ready to go back to being a boy?”

    I made a show of sighing and stopping my cleaning. “Well, that part of being a girl isn’t very comfortable, but there’re good things too.”

    Mom picked up a stack of books and started to put them away. With so many readers in the house there was always books to be shelved. “Really?” She said kneeling to reach the bottom shelf.

    I knelt with her nodding. “I guess I must be weird, but I like the time we’ve spent with each other. That’s nice.”

    She couldn’t hide her own smile as I went on.

    “It’s cool to be able to show my feeling without anyone making fun of me about it. Boys don’t cry or other stuff like calling Dad, Daddy if I want.” I explained helping her with the books.

    “Oh I know there’s bad things too. I know a little about the biology part with periods although I expect you’ll set me straight on the details. Can’t say I’m looking forward to any of that, but it is possible because they provided those napkin things in the suitcase.” I said ruefully.

    “Adam gave me a taste of even more of the bad with that hmmm… stuff he was talking. Some men seem to think peeing standing up gives them some kind of special privileges besides being able to write their names in the snow!” I giggled.

    Mom bowed her head thinking about old memories I think.

    “Right now, I’m bigger than Adam, but if I stay this way that’ll change. I’ll grow another two or three inches but then I’m finished. Be lucky if I end up as tall as you are. Everyone will be taller than me. Size does matter after all,” I acknowledged.

    “On the other hand, there are ways to make up the difference by fighting dirty. There’s the martial arts thing and other equalizers. All those things won’t help finding a job where I could be paid the same wage as man for the same work. I know the world isn’t fair.” I felt the tears start to well up inside. Oh damn.

    I knew I should stop but having come so far I couldn’t. “But what is so great about being a boy?”

     “Not getting beat up? No, that still happens when you’re as small as I am.”

    “Maybe not being so small? Let’s be real. There’s always going to be men and women who’s going to be taller than me, even as a male.”

    “How about beating up other people or the whole sports thing? You should know I’m not like that and couldn’t care less about football, or most other sports. The only sports I really watch are the stuff girls are into anyways, like gymnastics and figure skating.” The first tears began to fall.

    “So the only reason to be a boy is because I might be able to get a better job. I have to hide my feelings, and be miserable doing something I probably don’t like so I can make a few more dollars.” I sobbed unable to continue.

    She hugged me. “Is that really how you feel honey?”

    Sniffling, I nodded.

    Mom held me tight sighing, “The world isn’t a good place. There’re so many who think nothing of it to take advantage of women and girls. I figured out you wanted to stay like this almost as soon as you got in the car yesterday. That's besides Adam catching you in my pantyhose last year.”

    Blushing, I thought I did a better job of covering up than that. As for the pantyhose, well at least that embarrassing incident was the same as I remembered.

    A little sadly she laughed seeing my face. “Dear you were doing everything, but skipping down the sidewalk. I don’t think anyone thought you were anything, but joyful.”

    “But,” She said. “You can’t stay like this. There’re so many who would hurt you. Okay the world isn’t fair. I’m so sorry that because of your speech and learning problems you know this already. It’s hard for anyone but it’s worse for girls. Far better to be a boy no matter how you feel.”

    Another tear stung my eyes as it fell. I knew exactly why she felt that way. If it was within my power I would try and make it right, but I couldn’t. Those horrible events happened even further back in the past.

    Obviously my so devious plan had unraveled before I’d hardly started. Somehow I had to make her understand. “Mom, I know Granddad hurt you from listening to you and Dad talk. Maybe one day you’ll be able to tell me about it, but please don’t think being a boy is going to somehow protect me from the bad out there.

    “Yeah, I’ve known for a long time that inside my heart I was more girl than boy. I can’t tell you why. Maybe it just happens sometimes like babies with hare lips or Adam with his cross-eyed thing.” I tried to explain. The reasons were still unknown even three decades from now, but I couldn’t tell her that.

    “This isn’t a phase I’m going though. I didn’t decide one day I wanted to be girl because I think the grass is greener on the other side. I didn’t decide anything at. It just is.”

    I tapped my heart. “In here, I’ve always been feminine. The games I play, and the pictures I draw all show that. The only remotely boy-like thing I’ve ever done is build model air planes. But flying isn’t only for men. Look at Amelia Earhart or …” I caught myself before I said Valentina Tereshkova the woman cosmonaut. There was no way to know if she was the first woman in space in this strange new world.

    “Or any of those women pilots who flew during WWII ferrying planes all over the world,” I tried to cover for in my near snafu.

    Opening my mouth to say more, Mom put her finger across my mouth stopping me. “I believe you.”

    I saw the anguished sadness in her all parents feel when they know their child is in pain, but can’t make the hurt go away. “We didn’t want this done to you to start with. I don’t think they’re going to listen if you say you want to stay like this.”

    Truthfully I said, “Mom, I’m happy because this is as close as I’ve ever felt to being whole. I only want to be your and Dad’s daughter. This Chinese girl thing not so much.” Whoops, modern slang, but I think she understood me anyways.

    “As for Career Day, well. ‘Please Brer Fox don’t throw me into the briar patch,’ I said grinning.

    Mom smiled as she wiped my tears, “I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.”

    I had more ideas on the matter but thought it best to keep them to myself for now. More research was needed. Hell, I still had a lot of prep work to do.

    “I have to try Mom. Even if I fail and I go back to being Lil Ernie, the know-how is still going to be there. I’ll try again.”

    Shrugging I said helping her to her feet, “But I think the younger I begin the better. There is so much I’ve already missed out on. Starting as a girl now, I have a lot of catching up to do. If I’m older, there’ll be even more stuff for me to learn.”

    Sighing she hugged me again. I felt her tears on my shoulder. “I did want red headed grandchildren from you, but if you stay this way I’ll never see them. You don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for wanting to be a girl.”

    I couldn’t tell her that any children from me was a pipe dream anyways. I’d never could get past all my problems and make any of the relationships I’d had, work for more than a year or two. No woman with any sense wanted anyone as messed up as I was. Low self-esteem was insidious like that undercutting all your efforts.

    Holding her, I said, “Who of us ever do? All we can do is trust our hearts and do our best. You said everyone could see my happiness. How long has it been since you’ve been able to say that?”

    Adding to our pile of tissues, I said with glistening eyes, “Besides, I have you and Dad to help me with the hard parts.”

    “I see you’ve thought about this some. When did you get so smart?” Mom lovingly accused me.”

    “I don’t know,” I replied. “Maybe because you’ve given such good role models?”

    She gave me a playful shove. “Don’t sass your parents!”

    Still wiping our sniffles and tears away, the door to the kitchen opened.

    Little Darryl stood there dragging his jacket behind him. “Mama, me wanna go outside. Play in the snow!”

    Little brother still didn’t know what to think of me.

    Mom surveyed our work. “We did a good job. I think we can afford a little play, don’t you Lee?”

    Silly me grinned as she used my feminine name. “Sure! My brogans are a little loose now, but should be okay with a second pair of socks.”

    “You do that and I’ll get Darryl bundled up.” Mom said taking his hand.

    Watching them leave, I exhaled happily. I’d no idea if I was doing the right thing, but I think both she and I were the better for it so far. Then I was rushing to get dressed.

    Soon we were outside in the cold wet white stuff. I showed little brother how to make snow angels, and he showed me the lopsided snowman he and Adam made yesterday. Then Mom sneaked attacked us with a snowball. Lady, our dog, bounded out into the snow barking joining the fun trying to catch the snowballs. I think our poor dog was a little confused thinking they were her usual toys.

    Darryl did score a near miss on the peanut gallery of kitties curiously watching our insanity. Smoky meowed loudly protesting while daintily shaking her paws clean. The rest of the pride who weren’t so trusting scattered like the wind.

    Knowing he didn’t understand that while playing snowballs with the dog was okay, but it wasn’t with the cats, I distracted him with a tickling tackle. It didn’t take long for both of us to have snow in places we’d rather not, but we’re laughing so, we didn’t care.

    Mom stood over us chuckling as she dug us out of the snowdrift. “Okay you two,” she said. “I think it’s time to thaw you both out.”

    Winking at Darryl I slipped a snowball into his hand, glancing up at She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.

    Laughing manically, he threw it at her in that funny over the head way toddlers do. Maybe I should’ve said, he threw in her general direction because it didn’t even come close.

    Catching it in midair, somehow the fragile thing didn’t fall apart as Mom eyed us. “So that’s the way it’s going to be huh?”

    Scrambling up, I scooped up little brother but didn’t make another step before she nailed me right in the back of my neck sending yet more snow where it wasn’t suppose to go.

    Squealing, I dropped Darryl hopping up and down like crazy as the ice ran down my back.

    He rolled around in the snow helplessly red faced and laughing. Lady bounded up to him nosing him with her cold snout. Soon both of them were happily wrestling.

    Grinning, me and Mom separated the two.

    I was ready to go inside now. Wet and cold, I’d enough fun for now. Besides it was still snowing. If history repeated itself, our snow angels and footsteps would be covered in few hours.

    Then I saw Mom smirking behind us.

    There was Dad and Adam back from their hunting trip. Since they’d left about the time Mom and I started cleaning, I guessed they’d been gone about two hours. More than enough time for both of them to get chilled and ready for something hot.

    What was so funny was their expressions.

    Dad had this dumbfounded look that guys get when they see something they really liked. Adam however seemed to be torn between wanting to join us and trying to do the stoic guy thing.

    Mom solved his dilemma. Her snowball caught Dad right in his shoulder.

    Now, she was years younger than Dad. He was past old enough to be her father, but he was everything her own wasn’t. Maybe it was simply two lonely people trying find happiness and doing the best they could regardless of their ages. The point here is he grew up during WWI and was part of that ’Greatest Generation’ thing.

    Dad looked down at the remains of the spattered icy projectile and did that Clint Eastwood ‘tick’ if you know what I mean. I swear sometimes Clint must’ve made Dad teach him how to do it just right. However, I truly believe my father was still the master of that ominous glare.

    Belying, his 69 years, he scooped a snowball and let fly like big league pitcher.

    Now it was Mom’s turn to squeal.

    Time stopped as frozen as the snow we stood in as we three kids looked at each other. Did we really see our stoic tough guy dad throw a snowball? What should we do? With a gust of blowing snow, time resumed. Then we indiscriminately started tossing snowballs at everyone.

    But all good things must come to an end.

    Dad turned up the heater as we got out of our wet things. Adam and Darryl were in the bathtub making the most of the heat and hot water. Because of my transformation, I was going to get to have one by myself.

    While I was waiting, I dug into that suitcase looking to see if a pair of sweatpants was hidden in the bottom. While I did found a couple of nostalgic wide sleeve blouses, and even a denim skirt, but no such luck for the pants. 

    A knock at the door announced Mom. She looked a bit tired, but as I well knew escaping from reality though the pages of a book didn’t do much for keeping one in shape. That snowball brawl got energetic there at the end.

    Her green eyes didn’t miss the open suitcase. “You’re going to wear that?” Mom asked inclining her towel wrapped head at the denim skirt on the bed.

    I tried to explain why I was looking for exercise gear, leaving out the part about maybe fighting with my brother. “I was looking for sweatpants. Girls are supposed to be a lot more flexible than boys. I wanted to find out just how much. You know the gymnastics thing.”

    She nodded, but I saw her eyes was still on the skirt.

    Feeling strange, I asked, “Would you like for me to model it for you?”

    Mom smiled nodding again. Talk about weird. Growing up I think I would’ve killed for her permission to put on a dress. I was as giddy as if I’d the whole world on a platter.

    Picking out a cream colored peasant blouse, I slipped on the skirt. Nervous like never before, I spun around for her enjoying the swish against my legs despite the cold. I think maybe this was a test for her to see just how far I wanted to go, but for me it was so much more. Emotions trapped within me for 40 years bubbled up as powerful as day they first began to bloom.

    No wonder I’d failed tying to hide this. I’d had just as much chance of stopping Mt. St. Helen’s eruption or Hurricane Katrina’s Gulf Coast rampage. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I was overwhelmed by my feelings.

    Then Mom’s arms were around me. “I'm sorry honey. I shouldn’t have asked.”

    Slinging wet tears away, I shook my head. “Mom! These are happy tears. You have no idea of have how long I’ve waited to do this for you.”

    She wiped my tears. “I’m going to have to start carrying a box of tissues with me if we keep this up.”

    Despite our talking I knew she was still resistant to me staying female. Smiling up at her I wondered if she was softening. I saw the change in her face.

    Taking my hand Mom said, “Come with me.”

    She led me to her wardrobe. Giving me a crooked smile she started digging in her closet. “I don’t have sweatpants, but I think these will work.” Mom held out a pair of black leggings.

    I didn’t need a mirror to know my eyes were bulging out. It was one of those contradictory things. Because of her past abuse, Mom often tried to cover up her femininity. However, I guess because she liked the comfort she also wore these very form revealing leggings.

    That was how Mom had met Dad after all. She worked as a carhop at this drive-in he liked. The leggings were part of her uniform back then. You could say they were the reason why my brothers and I existed at all.

    At my old age of 49, my parents’ sexuality didn’t bother me. If anything, from that look Dad gave Mom at the start of Snowball Fight Part Two, they might be looking for time together. Okay, yet something else for me to do along with everything else.

    “Do you think it’ll fit?” I asked her my hands shaking a little.

    Mom searched my face. “I think so. I’m only a little taller than you and they do fit snug. Go ahead and change.”

    Happily I complied. Like she said they were snug, but still a little loose because I was shorter and only in the first stages of puberty. Still, I felt a rush looking into the mirror.

    Turning to her, I hugged, “Thanks Mom! These will be perfect.”

    She critically evaluated me. “You do need to stay out of your father’s sight wearing those. I think he might hurt himself. He still hasn’t got over what those people did to you. Mind you, he hasn’t forgotten that you got into my clothes last year, but this would be a bit much I think.”

    I smiled changing back into the skirt.

    Mom laughed, “I don’t think that is going to help any.”

    Giggling, I had to agree. “Well I still have to shower.”

    Glancing back into the mirror I saw another area I needed help. “Mom? What do I about my hair? I never had it long before.”

    She ran her fingers though my tangled locks making wince when she it a snag. “The easiest way is to cut it.”

    Raising an eyebrow seeing my pained expression, she suggested, “We could also braid it. If you’re set on keeping it long you’ll have to get used to brushing often and spending a lot of time keeping it nice.”

    I nodded. Knowing all too well my tendency for procrastination, I might end up with it short. However, I wanted to have it long at least for a little while. I’d spent most of  my old life with crew cuts or shorter because of my military service as well as all the dirty jobs I worked afterwards. Long hair was a luxury I wanted to experience.

    “Mom, I know it’s going to be a lot of trouble, but I would like to try it long.”

    Her eyes kinda flashed. I had the feeling I just had another test. Well, fine then!

    “If you’re planning on bouncing around, now might be the best time. Your brothers are going to stay near the heater until their hair dries. Best for you to get sweaty now, before you bathe. Then you can get cleaned up and I’ll see what I can do about your hair. You might end up in pigtails. Does that bother you?”

    “I would rather have one braid in the back than two,” I said holding my hands to the side of my head. But you fix it the way you think looks best. You know more about this than I do.”

    Mom chuckled, “I don’t know. For a boy, You have pretty clear ideas about what you like as a girl.”

    Trying to look innocent, I replied, “I might’ve been looking at what girls are wearing. Thinking about what I did and didn’t like, kinda sorta,” I said looking bashful.

    She shook her head still trying to wrap her head around all of this. “Go, but mind don’t shake the house!”

    Going back to my little room I almost had to turn crossways to change clothes. Good thing I was so lithe right now. Peeking into my brothers room to make sure the coast was clear, I found one of my ‘boy’ sweatshirts to go with Mom’s leggings. Another double pair of socks kept my feet reasonably warm as I went into our living room.

    It was the only room in the house that had enough open space for me to really stretch out. Being closed off more or less for the winter the last time anyone really spent anytime in here was Christmas. In this house the kitchen was the heart of our home.

    Reaching for the ceiling, and slowly lowering my arms, I touched my toes without really trying. Letting myself unwound, I found my nose on my knees. Okay test one was a success. I was limber as a snake!

    Next was going to be harder. I spent time testing my balance and coordination. I stumbled a time or two but it mustn’t been very loud since no one came running to see what was up.

    After spending so long as an obese middle aged man with the beginnings of Arthritis, this was exhilarating. There were rough spots but over all not bad. Settling into Tai Chi’s modified ‘horse stance’ I began the first movement. I’d just begun this a few weeks before my time dimensional shift or whatever.

    Relying on cheap DVD instructional video, I knew my posture needed lots of work. It was what I could afford and was better than nothing. The other martial arts training I’d was years in the past. Even then I never went very far. I used to joke I knew enough to get myself hurt.

    On the other hand, the self-defense aspects had come in handy any number of times. In fact, part of what I was doing was seeing how much of what I remembered could be used without inflicting real harm. Heel stomping, eye gouging, and other fun and popular ways of telling someone to please go away usually meant a trip to the doctor or even the emergency room. I really didn’t want to hurt anyone at all, much less my younger brother.

    Now that I was warmed up, I tried a few punches and kicks. If nothing else they might serve as deterrents assuming I looked like I knew what I was doing. Practicing throws and falls was more of a problem without a partner. I did walk myself though what I could remember. At that swiveling of the hips that used to give me so much trouble seemed easier.

    Feeling a lot more confident I played a little trying a handstand. That was an eye opener, because it told me just how much arm strength I’d lost. The answer was a lot! Trying a men’s style pushup told me fate was laughing at me again.

    Ironically, I’d started the Tai Chi as an attempt to lose weight without exercising my already bulky shoulders and arms. I wanted a more androgynous body. Working out those thick arms and barrel chest was a no-no.

    Now, that was exactly what I had to do. My arms needed work, a lot of work. The one thing that hadn’t change was trying to do it on the cheap. My family besides being miles away from the nearest dojo, didn’t have the money for me to take classes anyways.

    Huffing a little from the effort I heard the door open. Pretending I hadn’t heard, I stretched upwards again going on tippy toes. Then I reached down for the floor. It was even easier this time since I was well stretched out. Wondering, how far I could take this I actually put my shoulders pass the plane of my legs. Wow!

    Slowly I straighten enjoying the play of muscles while I peered at who was watching me.

    Darryl was looking around the door frame leading to the dinning room. His eyes were wide with amazement.

    I didn’t blame him. Hell, the first time I’d seen anything like this was on the old ABC’s Wide World of Sports thing about Taiwanese Acrobats. I’d stared at our little black and white TV in awe at those seemingly boneless, limber entertainers.

    Smiling at my shy little brother, with a wink I leaned backwards. I couldn’t quite go all the way back and touch my hands to the floor. However I did go far enough I could see him still spying. Straightening, I made a promise to try and keep as much of this so cool flexibility as I could.

    Not really knowing, I guessed that this was fairly normal for a girl to be this lithe. However like everything else I would have to do this on the cheap. Lots of kids are permanently injured for life in accidents involving trampolines, tumbling and other gymnastics activities. I did not want to spend my new life in a wheelchair. That meant I would have to be careful and plan. Oh great, more writing and thinking to do!

    Sinking cross-legged onto the floor, I gestured at Darryl to come over, “Hey, come on in. I’m finished.”

    Darryl and I had mostly got along while growing up. Unless you count his testing the aerodynamic properties of my fragile plastic aircraft models, there was too much of an age difference for us to really conflict. Now he and Adam used to get into it with some Gawd awful fights sometimes. Both were trying for the same limited resources, but I think it was also because they also competed for Dad’s attention too. Sometimes, it seemed Adam was fighting with everybody.  Again something I never did much.

    It was the son thing that at heart, I never was. After I left for the Army, and Dad died, he became a real hell raiser. Trouble in school, and my poor Mom unable to deal with any of it, had him joining the Navy one step ahead of the law.

    Following a dishonorable discharge, he took up truck driving. Trouble still followed him, as he left a string of women and kids behind him. The last I heard he was working on his fourth marriage while paying alimony to the other three.

    Darryl giggled and crept closer to me. He looked at me really intensely and then shook his head. “You ain’t Ernie.”

    That sent a bolt of fear into me. It was back to my family thinking I was someone else. Trying not to freak out, I asked, “Why is that squirt?”

    He got that expression young kids get when concentrating really hard. Darryl smiled big. “You smile lots!”

    I couldn’t help giving him another one as I answered, “So I didn’t smile very much, huh? Well, I’m happier now.”

    I knew it was coming when he asked, “Why?”

    Just how do you explain to a three year old that a government bureaucracy using what you suspect are ETI artifacts changed his big brother’s gender and race because of some stupid jerk was indulging in pet theories of social engineering. Oh and let’s not forget the whole transgender deal where your self-image and who you identify with doesn’t match up with your physical appearance.

    Well little brother used to like Sci-Fi and fantasy like me so let’s try this. “Well let's tell a story okay?”

    He scooted closer as I held out my arms. After a moments hesitation he sat in my lap. “Once upon a time there was an evil witch. One day in May the sun was shining and everyone was out happy and having fun. It made her so very mad. She hated seeing everyone so happy so she started looking for trouble.

    “It didn’t take her long to find a stork carrying a baby girl to her new family. Being crafty she waited until the bird put the baby down and knocked on the door. Then she wave her wand and magicked the girl into a boy!

    “The Mama opened the door and found her new baby. She and the Daddy were a little confused because they thought they’re suppose to get a baby girl not a baby boy. But they were good parents and were happy with their new baby no matter what.

    “The witch crackled with glee every time she looked in on the family. The baby was confused and sad. She didn’t understand why she was being dressed in blue and given all the boy toys. Her parents tried the best they could but they didn’t understand either why their baby boy seemed so sad.

    “As she grew older, things got harder. She loved her parents and tried to do what they taught her, but she was a girl trying to do things a boy’s way. That didn’t work out so good. However no matter how hard she tried, things never worked out the way they were supposed to. The eggs got cracked, and the milk went sour. No one in the family was happy. Everyone the village was sad. They missed their eggs and milk. That made the old evil witch very happy. She liked making people feel miserable.

    “The great kingdom they lived in had a powerful King. He knew the reason why his kingdom thrived was because of all the different people living within its borders. There were peoples of all shapes and sizes from the big blue people in the South to the tiny purple ones to the North and every size and description in between. They traded ideas and different ways of how to do things. That let their kingdom thrive in a way that other, lesser lands, couldn’t match. 

    “However, because they were all so different, they began to quarrel and fight. This made the king sad because he loved his kingdom and all of it's people. So he called all his wizards and wisest advisers together to find a solution.

    “One wanted to change everyone so they were all the same. That way they would have no reason to fight if they were a nice bright orange, his favorite color. But the King knew that would destroy his kingdom’s greatest strength, their difference. Find another he ordered.

    “One wily sorcerer wanted prove how great he was. He wasn’t interested in the Kingdoms benefit only in his own glory. He thought he saw a way to convince the King to try his plan.

    “Great King,” he said, “Rather than change everyone why don’t we instead change their children so that they look like those they fought with. Surely, they wouldn’t hurt their own offspring, and it will make them see how much they are alike instead of how much they are different.’

    “The King thought and thought. ‘No,’ he said. ‘The people might come after me thinking I’d stolen their children. Instead we will change them only for one week. During that time we will teach them how wonderful it is to be different, and that we are all brothers and sisters belonging to the same Great Kingdom.’

    “The Wily Sorcerer gathered up a great number of witches and wizards to cast the spells the King commanded. Because he was interested only in his own welfare, he wasn’t too picky with who he selected to help. While many believed in the King with all of their hearts some were like the evil old witch wanting only to hurt others.

    “One of those was a Sorceress who before she found her magic was fat and ugly. She used her powers to make her self slim and beautiful, but never forgot all those who used to make fun of her.

    “Instead of obeying the king’s command to transform the children and teach them kindness and how we are all one people regardless of how we look, she wanted only revenge on everyone who wasn‘t ugly or fat like she used to be.

    “Fortunately the King, being wise, made sure the magic spells couldn’t bring harm to anyone. But the Sorceress was clever. She used her powers to turn their children into those the parents most feared and hated. Then instead of teaching them love and kindness, she made them feel ashamed and little. When she finally turned them back, they were all unhappy and sad. That made the Sorceress very happy because that made their parents who used to pick on her miserable and upset.

    “The parents shouted their unhappiness with this Sorceress, but there were many ohters who were also unhappy with the King. Their voices were lost in the roar of discontent.

    “The young Sorceress’s revenge went on and on as she traveled. Finally she came to the village of the Boy who was a Girl. She found the family the evil old witch had cursed, but being inexperienced and full of vileness she saw only that the parents loved their son.

    “That morning at the village school, everyone was afraid and angry. They’d all heard of this Sorceress and how she twisted the King’s decree to cause hurt and mayhem.

    “Like she’d done so many times before, she used the King’s magic to change all the kids. Some were now blue or red and one was even purple. But for that one sad boy she wanted something really mean. Not seeing the curse and wanting to hurt the parents the Sorceress cast her spell. She turned him into a her.

    I looked down at Darryl to see how he was taking this but he urged, “What happened next?”

    Smiling I went on. “A big snowstorm came out of nowhere and everyone scurried home before the Sorceress could be mean and nasty making everyone feel bad.

    “Safely back home where it was nice and warm, well the Girl found she was a Girl. She was worried about her parents and what everyone would think. That was because she truly cared about people. However, now that she was a girl and had to do things in a girl way, nothing went wrong anymore. The eggs didn’t get cracked and the milk stayed fresh.

    Darryl interrupted, “What color did she get turned into? Yellow?” He asked.

    Oh but the joys of growing up in the intolerant South. If I stayed looking ’Chinese’ as my parents called it, I would have to get used to this. Smiling I shook my head. “No silly! What color are my eyes?”

    Wide eyed he peered and squealed, “Green and gold!”

    “That’s right. But being a different color didn’t bother her. After she’d spent her whole life looking like a boy. No longer sad, guess what she did a lot of?” I asked my little brother pointing to my smile.

    Giggling he answered, “She smiled a lot!”

    “Yes she did!” I said. “But she had a big problem. No matter how mean the Sorceress was she had to turn all the children to back to what they were after a week.

    “That was the last thing the Girl wanted. She didn’t like cracked eggs and sour milk any more than the rest of her village. So she came up with a plan to help her parents and brothers understand this was how she was supposed to be all along.

    Enthralled, Darryl asked again, “What happened next?”

    The Daddy and her younger brother went hunting, while the Girl helped her Mama clean their house. Then they went out with her baby brother and had a big snowball fight! “ I said tickling him.

    “Not a baby!” He protested laughing rolling on the floor, “I’m a big boy. I’m three!”

    Not so easily deterred, he demanded, “But what happened next?”

    I countered, “What do you think happened?”

    Unsurprisingly he said, “There was a big fight!”

    Shaking my head no, I grinned, “Nope, although a lot of people were really, really mad at the King, when the magic changed the kids back, it cured all their diseases and made them all well. No one likes to have a sick child. They were still mad, but sorry squirt, no fight. Try again.” I told him.

    “They beat up the Sor-cer-ess,” he said loudly unable to pronounce it quite right.

    I tousled his short cut brown hair. “Nope they didn’t do that either. She was still doing the King’s business and guarded by his knights even if she was doing it all wrong. Try again.” I said.

    “Aw please!,” he pleaded. “What was her plan?”

    I stood up pulling him to his feet. “Well, she tried to be sneaky and just let everyone figure out on their own that she should’ve been a girl all along. Then she was going make the Sorceress so mad she would leave her a girl anyways no matter what the King said.”

    I shook my head giving little brother the ‘sad eyes’ treatment. “But that didn’t work.” I told him sighing.

    Walking towards the warm kitchen, he asked, “Why?”

    I grinned at him just before we rejoined the rest of the family, “Seems like the Girl was so happy, she couldn’t hide it. Everyone figured out way before they were suppose to. Even her little baby brother knew she was smiling way too much.”

    His understanding brighten his face just like that proverbial light bulb. Taking my hand he earnestly whispered if a mite loud, “So what happens now?”

    I took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I‘ll have to get back to you about that.”

    He puffed himself up. “I won’t say nutting. You’re lots more fun than Ernie. I like you.”

    Opening the door I took that in the spirit the three year old meant it as instead of an insult. “I like you too squirt.”

    Despite my quick exit to grab my bath stuff, Adam saw me in Mom’s leggings. Of course he ratted me out to Dad. That was how I got caught the last time I’d dared dress in Mom’s stuff, the little rat! The good news was Dad didn’t have a heart attack or anything. However I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the last problem I had with Adam.

    On the other hand, I enjoyed my bath. I finally had a chance to really examine myself. Last night since I was sharing my cot with Smoky, I couldn’t do that. The weird part was my mature mind saw this lithe girl with the cute face, but she was just entering puberty. That felt really uncomfortable even though it was me I was looking at.

    Some TG girls have hang-ups about kids. Don’t get me wrong! I loved them and wish I could have some of my own. But I was very sensitive about avoiding possible allegations that because I was TG, I had to be a pedophile. It’s not true, but what people don’t understand they demonize. I’m afraid that was what many thought and believed even four decades into the future.

    I hugged myself refusing to let those old fears ruin this second chance of mine. I made myself calm down. First figure out how to stay a girl then I can freak out about the whole sex thing. It was way too early to worry about who I might be attracted to or any the rest of it.

    It was clear I needed to sit down and read that damn book. Of course I’ve not had distractions like being reunited with my father who’ve been dead for 30 years or finding beloved pets I thought I would never see again. And were just a few of the issues I faced.

    Dressing in clean jeans, I noticed again how the pair I’d worn the day before had altered just as I was. The tags and all still said the same thing, but the cut and fit was different. Comparing the two showed significant changes had been made so they would fit the new me.

    Putting on a green button up blouse from the suitcase, I found my brothers enjoying mugs of hot cocoa. Mom motioned me to sit in a chair where she had her old ‘bubble top’ hair dryer hooked up. It looked a lot like those bee hive things you see in the salons, but this one was more or less portable. I think she’d gotten it as a wedding gift, but she didn’t use it very often.

    “Here sit down, and I’ll start on your hair,” she said handing me a steaming mug and sitting down behind me.

    I wasn’t sure what she was doing back there, but my goodness was Dad doing his best not to see if you know what I mean. Adam decided to follow Dad’s cue ignoring us and watched the wrestlers on the tube.

    Darryl however was staring at Mom and I. This was all new to him. Haircuts in this family were just that. Buzz cut it so it lasts as long as possible. Mom dealing with her depression and other issues didn't have the world’s most feminine hairdo. Me, introducing this into the family added something different he’d never seen before.

    Mom explained what she was doing. “You should really let your hair dry before combing or brushing. But you’d some tangles we needed to comb out. Let’s get you under the dryer now.”

    Sliding back she lowered the dome over my head turning it on. The warm air hit my head. The old 60’s hair dryer sounded like I had a leaf blower on my head.

    Dad reached up and turned the TV up while Adam just cut me some more unfriendly glares. Darryl kept reaching up to feel the air. I pulled him giggling into my lap. Sitting there, little brother could feel the air blowing over me. He was happy sitting there.

    It seemed to take forever, but I guess it wasn’t really that long. I did have a chance to think. That snowball fight had never happened in my original timeline. Dad and I had gone hunting but hadn’t found a thing. Mom had stayed inside while my brothers had played for a while, but had gone inside way before, we’d returned.

    We mostly just watched it snow and not much else. Nothing like was happening right now. Darryl pretended he was driving a race car to the roar of the hair dryer as I leaned him left and right.

    Mom was smiling at us as she checked to see if my hair was dry yet. Dad if you didn’t know him might seem disapproving. I think it was more like he was holding his tongue so to speak. If he officially noticed then he would have to do something, but since Mom was handling this, he was off the hook.

    I couldn’t miss how he was looking at Mom too. She was more alive and involved right now then she’d been in my memories. Yes, she was happier. I think seeing her happy made up a lot for whatever discomfort he felt over my situation. He was above all a practical man.

    Adam was probably the most confused at this change of fortune. The middle son, he was used to getting his way. He was always more aggressive than me, and adept at playing our parents. Things had changed and he didn’t like it.

    I didn’t know if I the changes I was making to the future was for the best. I hoped and prayed that they were. So many things to worry about:  My parent’s health; staying true to myself; keeping Darryl out of trouble, and more I’ve haven’t gotten around to think about yet.

    However the question about Adam was a hard one. In my future he was happy being an unrepentant redneck. Hell, he was proud of it! On the other hand, I wasn’t about to let him make my life any harder than it needed to be.

    The best philosophy was be true to myself and do my best to have a positive influence on those I love and all those whose lives I touch.

    Seeing how hard younger brother was trying to emulate Dad gave me an idea. I rather liked it because it was definitely a more girlish way of handling Adam.

    Then Mom bought me back down to Earth. “There! You’re dry enough I think.”

    Removing the noisy machine, she began brushing and combing. “Here’s the deal. You let your hair get in a mess. I know you didn’t know how to take care of it, but it is pretty and looks good on you. I’m going to put you up in pigtails and ribbons. When you show me, you can take care of it yourself we’ll put in a single braid.”

    “Mom!” I protested. “I’m thirteen not six.” 

    Even though I could see her I knew that tone. “No whining young lady! Right now you’re more like five than six. You’ve a lot to learn about long hair. Do you understand or do I need to go after my scissors?”

    “I understand Mom.” I replied.

    Adam was smirking failing to ignore our little drama. Dad’s mouth twitched, I think from amusement. He seemed to be still in ’let-Momma-handle-it mode. Little brother Darryl was content sit in my lap and watch Mom work on my hair.

    I wasn’t really surprised by her deal. Both Mom and Dad were old fashioned. I half suspected they would’ve happily sent me to school in pigtails and pantaloons.

    Mom didn’t take long. She did grow up in a larger family with six girls. Lots of practice I suspect doing braids. Guiding me to the mirror, I got my first look at my new do. The twin braids fell onto my shoulders. She’d tied them with green ribbons I assumed was leftover from Christmas.

    Smiling I hugged her, “Thanks Mom. It looks good.”

    I must’ve surprised her again. “What? No complaints about looking too childish?”

    I let the joy I felt show. For me, this time and place were long gone. All I had were memories. To be here with those I loved, was a precious gift. Yes, even Adam, no matter how much of a pain in the ass he was dead set on being.

    To share experiences like this with Mom was real life wish fulfillment. “I like it because no one has ever braided my hair before. You did say if I learned to take care of it you would help me with other styles.”

    I nodded my head at the window. “From the way it’s snowing we’re going to be stuck home for awhile. No one else is going to see these,” I said lifting my braids.

    Darryl was still curious so I picked him up. “No pulling,” I warned him. 

    He examined my hair. “Pretty!”

    I giggled at the image that flashed before my eyes. Darryl the tough womanizing truck driver, becoming a hairdresser!

    Mom popped his hand, “Don’t put her hair in your mouth!”

    “Okay time for lunch. Let’s get the hairdryer put up and everything put back where it should be,” Mom ordered.

    Still carrying Darryl, I said, “Come on. You can help.”

    He laughed enjoying the game of pretending to help.

    A short time later we were cooking. She’d decided to do a heavy noon meal since it was a real possibility we would lose power with all this snow. Fried chicken, rice, cornbread, and preserved green beans from our garden during the summer. For Dad since he didn’t like chicken there was pork chops.

    Of course I was helping. It was a little rough in spots since I was still remembering where everything was kept, but nothing bad. Since Darryl had taken to following me, I helped him set the table.

    Usually that was what the boy-me did with Adam helping. Younger brother was ignoring us obviously hoping he could skate. I knew better. Mom was a big believer in everyone doing their share. He was used to me to doing most the work, but if he didn’t help he wouldn't like what was coming.

    Mom gave me an approving pat on the back. I didn’t miss the sharp glance she gave Adam. Nope he wasn’t going to care for it at all.

    Soon enough everything was done. This time it was much harder to cut my portion. This was one of my favorite meals from my childhood. However, I stuck to my plan. Regardless it was delicious!

    Poor Adam found himself washing dishes. He wasn't a happy camper. Taking a little pity, plus I did have a plan, I helped a little. Announcing I would help dry, I made it damn clear I wasn’t going to do his chore for him.

    While he got started, I took the leftovers to our pets. The new falling snow had covered up all signs of our morning frolics. I made sure everything was comfy for Lady and the cats. Smoky however made it plain she was ready to come back inside. That was a problem since I didn’t think I could pull it off the way I was being watched by everyone. I was sure Adam was up to some kind of revenge.

    Scratching her between her ears in the way I knew she loved I whispered, “Sorry little one. No can do right now. We’ll see what we can do tonight.”

    Her unhappy “meow” told me what she thought about that idea. Sighing I took one last look at the ever growing snowdrifts. Some were nearly waist deep on me now. It was still good to get back inside. With all the baths, hair styling, and cooking it was toasty warm.

    I helped younger brother with the dishes like I promised. Of course Mom was there to helping and making sure he did it right. Darryl did his best to help too. By the time we’d finish, he was ready for his nap. I decided it was a good time to kill several birds with one stone. “Mom, Darryl’s ready for nappy time. Why don’t we let him use my cot? I have to do some studying and can watch him.”

    Dad gave Mom a look that was pure invitation.

    With a little sparkle in her eyes she agreed, “Sure, that’ll be fine. We might lay down for a while too. But we don’t want any of you going outside. Doing your homework is a good idea.”

    “Adam have you done yours yet?” She asked.

    He shot me another dirty look, “No Mom, not yet.”

    She commanded, “This will a good time to get started.”

    Okay great! He’d another reason to plot against me. Forewarned is fore armed. “C'mon Darryl nap time.”

    Sleepily he took my hand. Minutes later I was tucking him in. “Sweet dreams squirt.”

    With a mutter he was asleep. “Nitie Lee.”

    Silly me just smiled. His acceptance was a precious gift.

    Alrighty then! Time to finally get to my reading. Pulling out the textbook sized volume. The cover proclaimed it the Career Day Program briefing manual.

    Taking out my notes, I opened checked out the index. The first few chapters dealt with the canned speeches to school administrators and teachers. Following that were the ones Robert had marked for me. The ones for the students. The Introduction, the Career Dialogue, and lastly the Graduation.

    There was also a Remedial section. Applying my will power I started at the beginning.

    Pretty much like I thought this whole abortion of a program was a heavy handed attempt at social engineering out racism. The idiot genius responsible was a Dr. Rekcuz. The basic idea was if you had a chance to walk in the other fella’s shoes you’ll have a better appreciation of what the other poor sod has to go though.

    I guess they couldn’t see a way of forcing adults to along with their loony plan, so they picked on the kids instead. I was right about the week long thing sorta. New students were changed on Friday, and given assignments to be done over the weekend. Then their chosen career choices were discussed taking into account their ’new’ appearance. Other possible jobs and career were then suggested, to broaden and open up the students to new horizons. ‘In theory,’ I added sarcastically in my notes.

    Then came Graduation where hopefully you were changed back. I say hopefully because the ‘facilitator’ could recommend your re-transformation be delayed. That led me to  the ‘remedial’ section. From what I gathered it was suppose to be an esteem builder for students who were really having negative self-image problems. Hell, there even was provision for permanent changes, but that required a hell of a lot of people signing off on it. Starting with the parent’s permission and an entire host of doctors and psychologists which had to give their okay.

    Given Ms. Witch’s attitude I couldn’t see that happening to my benefit. What surprised me was who initiated the program, President Robert F. Kennedy. Okay, another big change to this timeline.

    That got jotted down as another area of research. Thinking about it, I hadn’t seen anything about Vietnam on the news. I remembered that at times there was nothing but that on the evening news when I was growing up. Another note for me. Make damn sure I saw the news tonight.

    On to the next part of this book. The greater majority was nothing more criteria for selecting which students got changed into what. I didn’t want to see the committee from hell that came up with this. Some parts were written by radical feminists, and others by radical liberals. Every group that felt they had an ax to grind wanted to be represented. 

    About the only good thing about this ‘program’ was it got points for trying. At least it acknowledged the problem, but this thing was a royal mess. I think it made things worse instead of better.

    How in the world did sending the message that it was your race and appearance that was the problem, help empower the downtrodden to improve themselves? Where was the hope, tolerance and understanding in any of this?

    The only good news in this ‘manual’ was this was only a test in five states with the lowest education rates in the country. There would be a period of evaluation to see if it was worthwhile to expand it nationwide. Thank Gawd for small favors! Judging from the National Guard troops this was very unpopular. Time to jot down another note about how to derail this damn thing. Maybe writing our Senator, Representative, the President, hell, somebody had to be able to see this was traumatizing everyone rather than helping.

    I stopped putting down my pen. Okay almost everyone. For the small percentage like me who were TG this was a miracle. I sighed. It wasn’t worth upsetting and frightening entire schools full of kids to help only a few. For that matter, I didn’t know for sure if other TG kids had really been helped or not.

    Shaking my head I watched my little brother sleep.

    This thing had to be stopped. Maybe some other way could be found to help all my brothers and sisters of the heart who shared gender difficulties. Once again tolerance and compassion was the keys to success. The important element was the technology was out there. Here the entire hormone, and surgery procedures were replaced with something much better. It was society that hadn’t caught up yet.

    I hit the part describing the technical aspects. The Medical Scanner was invented by the Howard Hughes Medical Institution. That was it. No information about how it did what it did. Just nothing, except that it finds and cures diseases as well as injuries.

    During my transformation, Robert the technician mentioned something about the changes selected for me would engage the safeties. That was covered in some detail. The Med Scanner could change anyone into just about anyone else. It would not induce diseases or cause injuries. In some cases, however, even healthy alterations were rejected. The book suggested that it was because those would cause psychological harm.

    You had to wonder when the instruction book of all things didn’t know for sure. I still believed the thing didn’t come from anywhere around here. More and more it sounded like matter transmutation. The science for that was so advanced it might as well be magic.

    It was cool I’d been right about kids coming out of the Career Day program healthier than when they went in, despite the trauma. Okay maybe not that bad since most didn’t trip those mysterious safeties, but getting back to my point, any medical problems they had got cured.

    To add to that, their medical information got fed into a system that was available to any med-scanner. Another interesting datum was that name badge of mine. It was coded to display the name of the patient no matter what form they were in. This was to assure parents they were getting their kid back and not someone elses.

    I put the book down. Digging in my book bag, I found my badge. It read ‘Ernie.’  Looking down at Darryl I tried an experiment. In my world, little brother was delivered by C-section. He might be in their system.

    Placing the badge on his expose arm sticking out of the cover, sure ‘nuff it changed! It now read, ‘Darryl.’ Picking it up, the name change back to mine. I examined it, but it looked like a plain metal badge with a pin on the back. No battery or display, I could find. The black lettering simply changed depending on who was holding it. This was beyond what 21st century science could do. I shook my head. What a mystery!

    The forensic people must love these things, instant DNA testing. However I could really see a problem on the horizon. With the way these med-scanner things did extreme makeovers, if the bad guys ever broke the database, that’d be an unholy mess. I sighed, that was a worry for another time.

    I was little brain fried at this point well into information overload. Being careful I hid my notes. Afterwards I flipped though the book I found an useful appendix. Since, the machine did do sex changes, there was a nice simplified section on puberty.

    Turning to the part on females, I learned some useful facts. My body was about a year into Thelarche. There was approximately another  year till my breast development finished and I could expect Menarche, my first period. That explained my sensitive nipples and other symptoms. Gee, thanks Mom. I was wearing this damn uncomfortable pad for nothing. However, I breathed out heavily closing my eyes. No, it did have a purpose. It was convincing Mom that I was very serious about this. It would stay.

    Then I got that feeling that something was up. It didn’t take me long to find the cause. There at the door leading to his room, stood Adam. His scowl meant he wanted trouble.

    Listening, I hadn’t heard any hmmm… noises from Mom and Dad’s room for a few minutes which meant, they were resting or getting ready for round two. I’m sure in any case they wouldn’t care for an interruption.

    Darryl was still napping and probably wouldn’t care for one either. Okay time to try diplomacy.

    “Hey Adam,” I greeted. “You finish your homework? There’s something I wanted to ask you.”

    He got a crafty look. “Sure. What do you want to know?”

    I inclined my head at our little brother. “Why don’t we go to your room? That way we won’t wake up Darryl.”

    Adam agreed too quickly. “Sure thing.”

    I slipped on my sweater. It was still chilly in there.

    Shutting the door behind us I saw him tense up to try something.

    “How would you like to make some money?” I asked him.

    Adam stopped taken aback. He wasn’t expecting that. Money was in short supply in our family and opportunities for more even shorter.

    However he might be the middle brother from hell, Adam wasn’t slow. “Where would you get money?”

    I smiled again. “I asked if you wanted to make money. Not for me to give it to you. Will you listen?”

    His greed overcame his desire for petty revenge. “Okay. What do I have to do?”

    I spread my hands. “Alright, first lets talk about what was going to happen when I walked in. You would’ve done something to make me mad. I then would chase you as you ran to Mom and Dad for protection. You would’ve gotten your chance to hit me, and you would’ve gotten me in trouble with our parents, right?” I asked.

    Adam’s face turned sour, but he didn’t answer. Amazing how looking back on all the childish crap seems thought the eyes of someone nearly 50.

    I continued. “You still forgot something. I’m a girl now. The rules are different for me. I can still get in trouble if I chase you but I don’t have to now. Before I was expected to just take it as a boy, but not now. We’re too close in age for you to get away with hitting me. Now I can run to Mom and Dad and you’ll get in trouble. I expect Dad said something about this to you this morning didn’t he? That‘s why you decided against trying to beat me up and settled for your old game isn‘t it?”

    Unwilling he nodded. “Yeah he did.” But he kept quiet about the rest.

    Then his eyes turned shifty. “But you’re still a girl. Dad and I went out hunting this morning and you didn’t!”

    Bouncing excitedly on my toes, I went, “Exactly!”

    Adam was stunned. “Huh?” He asked so very intelligently.

    “Let’s face it okay? I never did the boy thing very well. I did my best to fake it, but that wasn’t very good. Remember how you caught me in Mom’s clothes last year? Now, I really am a girl. I like spending time with Mom and doing stuff with her. I don’t have a problem with watching Darryl or all the other things you hate.”

    Shock beyond belief Adam’s mouth hanged open. “You really are a sissy.”

    “Nope! Not as long as I’m the real thing. That’s why I want to stay this way and if you’re smart you’ll help.” I said making my pitch.

    Oh, crafty eyes was back! “Why should I?” He asked slyly, clearly wanting to know what was in it for him.

    Still smiling and bouncing I said, “Hunting, and all the other things Dad tried to get me interested in. As long as I’m like this guess who he’s going to want to go with him instead of me?”

    Figuring it out, Adam replied, “Me?”

    “Yes, you,” I grinned. “Remember all those extra chores he’s always offering me a little bonus allowance to do? Who is he going to ask now? You will have to work for it, but it will be an opportunity you didn‘t have before.”

    Then I added the hook. “As long as I stay a girl.”

    What I didn’t say was if I stayed this way I would need a lot of new clothes. My one reservation about this was I knew how expensive outfitting a girl could be. My experience in cross-dressing taught me that much. Adding to the back end of those costs, my castoffs couldn’t be reused by my brothers like they were now. I doubted he was wearing anything that didn’t use to be mine with the exception of his tighty-whities. 

    Because at least Adam’s clothes would be new along with mine, there would be much less of that ‘bonus’ money for Dad to spread around. On the other hand he did mention some sort of compensation from Uncle Sam. Something else for me to go looking for information about.

    He got it, repeating, “As long as you stay a girl. So you’ll spend more time with Mom, and I get to have Dad to myself?”

    I shook my head. “You know they’re not that way. She’ll still spend time with you. Dad will want to do the same with me. However, you will, I think, get more time with him than I. Mom has lots to teach me like she did today with my hair.” I said touching one of my green ribbon pig tails.

    Adam gave me the calculating eye. “So what do I need to do make sure you stay a girl?”

    Got cha’ I grinned, “Easy really. Stop this silly competing with me over everything. No need to anymore with me being like this. No fighting over who gets to do what.

    “That’ll help Mom and Dad see that my being like this is an advantage to the family. You know like helping with the cleaning and stuff like watching Darryl.” I explained.

    He muttered, “I don’t like doing the dishes.”

    I gave him a hard stare. “You know Mom wants everyone to help with meals. If you don’t want to do dishes you’ll have to do something else like set the table. If you do that it’ll have to be by yourself, since I’m helping more with the cooking. Assuming that happens, I’ll try to do the dishes.

    “I can’t guarantee that Mom will buy that. You’ll probably have to at least clear off the table, but that should keep you from doing the dishes. Deal?” I asked.

    Adam stuck out his hand. “Deal.”

    Darryl’s laughing from my room and Mom’s voice alerted us that everyone was awake.

    I wasn’t sure how long our truce would last, but I was going to enjoy it while it lasted! Gawd I loved being me!

To be continued in Part 3
 

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Tripping the alarm

Am I right to think that it is because of this that the reverse transformatin may be denied despite whatever the Snake may say?

A great idea - bargaining with the middle bro. I'm sure it'll be nice for a time.

Also, the nametags are definitely NOT foolproof. Depending on the design and internal workings, it will only be effective with people in a certain database, may or may not work to distinguish the people with the same names, or change for one and the same person depending on personal naming preferences.

Dr. Rekcuz - is it a facsimile for ruckus?

Faraway


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Seeking to put right what once was wrong!

Hi Grover,
I love the story and this universe that you've created which in some ways is like our own but in other ways so different. Excellent character development and world building at a minimum of distraction. I'm looking forward to coming along on the rest of the journey.

All my hopes,
Ariel Montine

All my hopes,
Ariel Montine

Getting better and better

So the changes go beyond that of social engineering in a southern state. Did I detect hints that JFK may have lived beyond Dallas? That Vietnam never happened or escalated? And despite all this, how is Lee in this world having crossed from ours?

It's interesting to watch this story unfold. I look forward to chapter 3!

A very interesting reshuffling

of the family dynamic. Since I am Asian, I know a bit about that time period and the prejudices and what nots that accompany said 'condition' though fortunate am I that I grew up north of the Mason-Dixon.

Beautiful handling of her two siblings. A selfless path is always the better path I believe. Knowing the future of course is a good thing in this case and being able to apply a solution to the problem.

Now the thing about the ethnic change is kinda interesting except I propose that one more thing is missing from such a transformation. A knowledge of the transformed for a foreign language though that would involve changing people supposedly beyond the scope of the program. However, that is a missed opportunity as language and culture is really an extremely important part of me being 'me'.

In essence what has happened here is the creation of an Asian-American person who is maybe 2nd generation and beyond who knows nothing of the original immigration family. A first generation child, who knows his/her parent's generation would have been a better object lesson. Oh Well.

Finally, I am looking forward to the next part(s) where my curiosity with regard to what the 'lighting up' thing the showed that girl and woman ( Lee's road not taken maybe? What she should look like grown up as the women she was supposed to be? ) when she was in that transformation thingy.

I like the personal blend of sci-fi like this.

Kim

Good So Far

Interesting premise. The different past makes the story more interesting and more of a challenge for the protagonist. I'm looking forward to part 3.

Good tale!

A very good tale so far.

It could use just a touch more proofreading or editing to get up to the very high standard of Once the Hero. Nothing much, just some grammar out of whack.

Once again, still very good.