Transplanted Life
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Weird and exciting and exhausting, Part II
So, where was I? Falling alseeps sometime between three and four, when it's not quite "last night" and not quite "this morning". I slept better than I usually do in a strange bed. I didn't wake up until almost noon, and the house was oddly quiet. I wandered a round a little to find the bathroom (didn't take long; it's not a very large house), took a shower and was heading back to "my" room wrapped in a towel when I bumped into Mrs. Garber. She looked at me and grumbled something about my certainly making myself at home; I stammered something about having left my clean underwear in the bedroom. She grunted and said that Shelley hadn't been a morning person, either, but I must really not be her because there might still be hot water left. Well, I said, that's how it works sometimes: I get her sleep-cycle and Martin's, uh, whatever makes one shower quickly. She grunted again and walked off, saying there was coffee on in the kitchen.

I got dressed, came out, and there was; Shelley handed me a mug. "My second favorite", he said, drinking his out of one for a radio station that has changed call signs since it was made. The three of us are sitting in the kitchen, not talking, and I say "Telly?"; Mrs. G says "fetching your grandmother". I'm like, oh, I didn't realize I had one. "You do." I say "Merry Christmas", which is just stupid, because that's something you say at the end of a conversation, and we're all just sitting there afterward.

Eventually, Telly arrives in the truck with a little old lady who needs a little ladder to climb down. She hobbles up to the front porch, where we're waiting. She hugs me around the waist, with her head on my left breast, which is weird - totally nonsexual, but familiar in a way I'm not really comfortable with. Then she shakes her head and says "I thought you'd gotten out of here." Then she grunts (I am really glad the new generation hasn't yet inherited that mannerism) and says that at least I've found a strapping young man. Telly says, no, Nana, remember what I told you about Shelley being in another body and someone else being in hers? She looks at him, then us. I kind of wave and smile nervously. "Nonsense", she says, and walks in the house. Telly shoots me a look, and I'm like, hey, it took you long enough to come around.

We have a ham for Christmas dinner, then go to the living room to unwrap presents. Telly has been cool enough to go out and buy me a sweater and Shelley the last two Harry Potter novels, and I feel bad that I gave him his present almost a week earlier; he must have bought these the night before. His grandmother gives us sugar cookies, apologizing that there's not many, but she had to split them among more people than she was expecting. It's homey but awkward. She calls me Shelley a lot, and after a while I stop correcting her. Telly brings her back to her assisted-living community.

That evening, we're sitting in the living room watching football because Telly wants to and that's all there is, and Mrs. Garber says that Telly says I'm a receptionist. I say, yes, for another week, but I'm starting a new job with the new year. I make a joke about it certainly simplifying taxes that way, and Telly says that's great to hear, and what was it again? Now, I know I told him already, but Mrs. G's put some rum in the eggnog and I'm feeling kind of mellow. I tell him I'm writing queries against the back end of a database that tracks call-center usage, which sounds cryptic enough to be impressive. Mrs. G says that at it's funny to hear stuff like that come out of my mouth, since she couldn't imagine Michelle doing that. I say she certainly could have, since even if the skills were learned in a different body, I have to use her brain to put them to use. So she suddenly gets all so, what are you saying, that something was holding her back beforehand? That she had messed Shelley up so badly that it took me with my college education and no memory of her being put in her body to get her life on track? I can't even follow the pronouns, but I say, no, to the contrary, our lives had just gone in different directions, and I considered myself lucky that I had landed in Michelle rather than someone else. And she says I shouldn't, that I'll get in as much trouble as she ever did (whether Mrs. G was referring to herself or her daughter, I'm not sure), and I shouldn't go thinking I was better than her, because I'm not.

At that point Shelley walked off, and I followed him back to my/his/her/our room, and try to spin it well. She's just taking it hard, I say. My mother at least got news of a grandchild on the way to soften the blow. He's like, don't you see, this is why I had to get out; and now that I got out, halfway around the world and literally becoming someone else, why did I have to come back here? Well, I said, you must have at least missed Telly; he's a pretty good kid. Yeah, he says, that must be it.

He waits until Mrs. G has gone to bed before reclaiming his spot on the couch. We spend the next couple days catching up with his old friends from growing up. It's... weird. It's a small town, pretty rural, so the ones who are still around ten years later aren't the cream of the crop (she said condescendingly). It's tough to explain what's gone on in a way that's not confusing. I think we're trying to stay out of the house as much as possible, since we wind up in the middle of the same argument every night.

I take two days (the warehouse was closed Monday), and announce that I'm heading back to Boston. Telly takes us two towns over to visit with Nana. She still calls me Michelle a lot, saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But I think she gets it; she says she's proud of us, and this proves that her Shelley always had potential, and she just wishes there'd been money for college.

As we leave, and Telly's about to drop me back off at the bus station, I ask Shelley what he intends to do. He says he'll probably come back with Telly on Friday after he checks out a few of the old things a little more anonymously. After all, Boston seemed like a good plan three years ago, and why should three body-switches that put him in a foreign country for a couple years discourage him? I say it's a good plan, since the only other two folks who know what it's like to be living someone else's life are there, and Carter and I will be around for support. Just make sure you check in with Agent Khalil Jones at the local FBI station; he's probably got a million questions.

And then back here, and working eleven hour days to make up for lost time. Still, I must admit, I am looking forward to showing Shelley around my life and support system this weekend.

I'm happy to hear Shelly isn't some old guy on his deathbed as she was originally when the first change took place. I assume your bedroom will be one of the stops on the tour eventually? I wouldn't blame you and why not. it should prove to be a very interesting coupling if it happens
It might even be the one that lasts. I think we all seek understanding in a mate, and here's the potential for unmatched understanding both ways. Sounds like the chemistry is there to overcome that old 'I'm making love to the body I was born in' brain-twist.
Maybe the FBI people can nudge the system for a green card for him, nominally to keep a very mobile loose end of this case within reach, if they're not willing to push over Shelley's birth-data to him outright.
Personally, I think that a male mind wouldn't have much trouble with "I'm making love to the [female] body I was born in" thoughts. It's just sex to the male mind.

Now vice-versa, I've pondered that one myself. Might be too weird to enjoy.
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