Friday, January 02, 2004
Getting ready this morning seemed to take forever. Part of it's the whole on-again, off-again nature of the last couple weeks - two holidays in the middle of the work week makes it tough to get a handle on which days are for work and which ones are for play. Part of it's the beer I knocked down last night, trying to take the edge off the depression. But I think most of it was just standing in front of the mirror, trying to figure out what I feel.
There's a birthmark on the bottom of the left foot. Nothing pretty or anything, just a red splotch. And this body can grow hair; not just out of the head, but the legs could use shaving tomorrow, and the bush can get away from me pretty quickly if I'm not paying attention. So far, shaving's been all right, even if having a blade down there seems downright unnatural. I could find myself considering waxing at some point, though, depending on how teeny I wind up liking my bikini. That'll depend on my workout plan, I guess, because the butt's starting to get a little extra jiggle again. It's tough to psyche yourself up to go running when it's around freezing.
There's an indentation where a hole for a navel ring used to be, but it's closed up. Has been since I got here, so I guess even the real Michelle decided they weren't so cool any more a while ago. There's a tan line a bit above the belly button, still, from where a lot of the summer or club clothes cut off. Not really a tan line, but my skin fades to white fast enough to see a demarcation. My boobs look good in a fancy bra or swimsuit but seem just a little too big when I'm naked and alone; they're big and round enough to look like something attached to the body, rather than being a part of it. There's no scars to indicate that they're anything other than natural, but I'm starting to think puberty was overly generous to this body, especially now that I really think that I'm going to feel them pulling on my back for the rest of my life, and that they're evenually going to sag and look grotesque. Maybe not if I keep in shape or keep them supported - I seem to recall there's some kind of yoga technique that prevents sagging - but this body's 25. In ten years, they're going to go from an asset to a potential liability, and that's without the lovely thought of getting pregnant and having them bulge further with milk.
The arms are skinny; maybe if I start working on the butt again I can find some what to bulk them up. The shoulders are a little bowed - am I doing that by not standing up straight enough, letting the bra straps pull them down? The neck is nice, the face isn't bad, although some crows' feet are starting to show up. The brain inside seems capable enough; I haven't found that it takes longer to do any math or recall a word or anything than I remember it taking in my old body. There's good enough raw material in there that she could have done pretty well in college if that's the way her life had led her.
And it's all mine. A "gift" from someone who had no more right to this body than I do, and says I should be happy because the alternative is some sort of oblivion. Meanwhile, he's got my body with no plans to give it back. Maybe under the right circumstances I could take it back, but I don't even know what kind of machine switched out minds. I don't think it was some big, B-movie Frankenstein thing with two bodies strapped down and a bunch of electrodes protruding from our heads, but for all I know that's exactly what it was. I don't even know if it's bigger than a breadbox.
And even if the real Michelle - presuming that's who she is - decides she trusts me, and we get a hold of the machine, and I can give her what's rightfully hers back, I'd still wind up having to get used to another woman's body. One that sounded even smaller and frailer than this one, judging from the combination of how far off the ground the voice came from and the click-clack sound of high heels as she walked away. And even the voice wasn't the squeaky sort of thing that already gets on my nerves coming from Maureen, it wasn't the voice of a person confident they can back their actions up with force, either. Barring a miracle where I can dislodge Whoever from my body, this is as good as it's going to get.
And it's not bad. I can live with it, I guess; I've been doing so. After I shower, and I'm staring in the mirror as I brush out my hair, I really do think I can make this work for me. I convince myself that the face has character. I even tell myself that I've got the same eye color I always did, and that if I look hard enough, I can even see a resemblence, and if I can see me in there, maybe others can too.
Then, after getting dressed, I look in the mirror again. "Hello," I say, "I'm Martin Hartle.
"I'm Martina Hartle.
"I'm Marty Hartle.
"I'm Marti Hartle.
"I'm Michelle Garber.
"I'm Shelley Garber."
None of it looks or sounds right. But it's going to have to, eventually.
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