After dinner, Caroline deemed it necessary to help Tina out with something she really needed: Clothes. Fearing the girl might not survive the embarrassment of actually entering a physical store, she suggested they order clothes online. Tina was extremely agreeable on this point.
At first, Caroline tried to show Tina various pieces of clothes on the iPad and have the girl decide, but Tina was clearly not comfortable with that plan. Or, at least, the clothes. Eventually, Caroline gave up and just picked what she thought was appropriate, occasionally accepting a veto from the girl lying next to her on the couch.
She made one big mistake: Allowing Tina to see the sum for all the clothes before ordering. The girl seemed to sink to the bottom of a debt-induced resignation. “Don’t worry about it,” Caroline tried to console Tina, “There’s no need to worry about money for now. Think of it as a very long-term investment in a friend.”
Tina formed a somewhat weak smile at that. Truth be told, Caroline wasn’t exactly sure how she would describe their current relationship. The English language seemed to lack a term for “former classmate turned into a younger girl living in your house and triggering some motherly feelings”. The word “Friend” was not exactly the best description. For a start, their relationship lacked the feeling of equality she felt a friendship should encompass. Could they become friends given time? Possibly? She still entertained the idea of adopting the girl, but had to admit it would pose its fair share of emotional challenges as well as more practical ones.
After the shopping was done, Caroline decided to let the girl rest. It seemed her muscle soreness was getting worse, not better. The best course of action was probably to give it time.
Apparently, a night was not enough time. Tina was still feeling sore in the morning, though the pain seemed to have moved from her butt and a bit further up her back. That was a bit peculiar. Maybe she just hadn’t noticed the pain in her back before because her butt had screamed too loudly?
Caroline decided that some pampering was in order. She served the horizontally confined girl breakfast on the couch, eliciting much gratefulness.
Unfortunately, Caroline’s schedule did not allow her to play full-time nurse. She had errands to run, as well as the weekly Skype-meeting with her editor. In order to be back in time for the meeting, she needed to be efficient. She quickly dressed and saddled October. Ideally, she would have picked September, but she had decided to go for a ride on her own. Caroline lacked the time to properly exercise five horses, so they mostly did so when they felt like it. September, in particular, was so full of energy she needed to go for a run at least twice a day not to grow restless.
The ride to town took about twenty minutes. Her farm was pretty far into the forest, after all. It would not have been any faster with a car; she knew all the shortcuts which no wheeled transport could ever hope to utilize. Not that she had a choice: She had neither a car nor a driver’s license.
She returned to the farm about two hours later, just in time to make lunch before the online meeting. When passing the living room, she noticed Tina looking rather flustered. She obviously had something on her mind.
“How are you feeling?” Caroline ventured.
“I have figured out why my back complained,” Tina spoke, clearly uncomfortable with the situation. Caroline decided to give the girl time to volunteer the information.
“I … appear to be menstruating,” she said so softly it was barely audible.
Caroline blinked twice. This should not have been completely unexpected, yet it was. Menstruation was a source of back pain. Tina was a young girl now. It made complete sense. Except for the part of her brain that still had a hard time placing her former classmate into the “100% female” category.
Tina noticed her hesitation and appeared at loss for words. ‘Pull yourself together, Caroline. You are supposed to be the adult’, she mentally chided herself.
“Sorry, I was just a bit surprised,” she said, quickly putting down her bag on a nearby chair. “Let me fetch some pads from the bathroom.”
While moving through the house, she felt grateful that Tina wasn’t completely ignorant about the subject. She tried to imagine how it would have felt to find blood leaking from a body part you hadn’t possessed previously.
Once she returned to the living room, Tina explained how she had just put some toilet paper into her underwear once she discovered the problem. It was a logical solution, but not a very wise one. Toilet paper left close to the crotch had a tendency to uncomfortably stick to the skin of the outer lips. Caroline handed her a new pair of panties and showed how to position a pad to best absorb the blood and then sent the girl to take a shower before changing.
Tina’s movements clearly conveyed how uncomfortable she was with all this, but she did as she was asked to. She emerged from the bathroom wearing underwear and a towel just as Caroline finished preparing lunch.
“Feeling any better?” Caroline asked as Tina took the seat opposite her. Apparently, the muscle soreness from the riding had eased enough that she could sit more or less comfortably.
“To be completely honest, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m wearing a diaper,” Tina replied, still a bit flustered.
Caroline couldn’t help but smile. “I’m a heavy bleeder, so I need to use large pads. But let me tell you, compared to what you need to use right after giving birth, these pads are nothing.”
Tina did not immediately answer. She reached for a toast and butter.
“If I had written a top-ten list of the most unlikely scenarios I’d ever find myself in prior to all this, personally menstruating would probably have been pretty high up on the list.”
Caroline snickered a bit. It was obviously an attempt to lighten up the situation.
“Above or below ‘discovering magic is real’? Or for that matter, ‘experiencing childbirth’?” she joked in return.
It did not have quite the effect she had hoped. Tina stopped in the middle of cutting cheese, suddenly deep in thought. She resumed her motion after a moment, resulting in a ruined slice of cheese.
“I can actually have a baby…?” she half-asked, half-stated almost in disbelief.
“That’s not strictly exclusive to being female,” Caroline pointed out. “But yes, barring genetic mishaps, you are most likely capable of bearing your own child. Though I wouldn’t recommend you attempting it anytime soon.”
Tina looked appalled.
“Let me completely 100% assure you I’ll avoid getting pregnant by any means possible,” she stated with a surprising sharpness in her voice. “And even ignoring childbirth itself, the very thought of having a dick inside me is just disgusting.”
“Well, consider that there’s a possibility that you’ll change your mind in the future,” Caroline tried to suggest as empathically as possible. “On the other hand, you are fortunate enough to live in a time in which being openly lesbian is socially acceptable. Or you might be asexual. Don’t let any of the options shame you, including changing your mind.”
Tina apparently understood Caroline’s intent, and visibly relaxed. She took a bite of her toast. “I don’t know. I still find the female body sexy, or at least other female bodies apart from my own. Does that mean I want to have sex with girls? My feelings are too much of a mess to figure that out yet.”
She met Caroline’s eyes. “Take you, for example. I think you are incredibly beautiful. But having sex with you would be … extremely weird.”
Now it was Caroline’s turn to be a bit flustered. “Extremely weird indeed,” she replied, turning her head away. She was not into girls, and even if she was, it’d still be weird as hell. Maybe if she had confessed while she was still Martin…
Tina attempted to redeem the situation: “No, no, I wasn’t actually confessing to you. Just using you as an example. Sorry for causing a misunderstanding.”
They ate in somewhat awkward silence for a while. Finally, Caroline gathered her wits again.
“You know, at your age, most girls have … experienced certain physical feelings. Certain... urges. However you might think of your body, it’s not healthy to try to suppress them too long.”
This was a sensitive topic, hard to broach in any elegant manner. To her surprise, Tina seemed awfully calm about this.
“If you’re suggesting I should masturbate, no worries. Did you honestly expect a man suddenly finding himself in a girl’s body to not be curious at all?”
Caroline couldn’t debate this point.
“Despite my attempts so far, I have yet to figure out the correct spots and how to best stimulate myself to an orgasm.”
The older woman found herself at odds with the situation. How did Tina feel so comfortable discussing masturbation, when there were other parts of being female she was so obviously uncomfortable with? She had even been abhorred by the thought of having sex with a man just moments ago. Were the two prospects completely separate in her mind? She was pretty sure it was the opposite when she was that age herself. Masturbation and sex were closely linked; thoughts of sex would help stimulate her to an orgasm while masturbating.
Well, she’d have to do her best to cope with the situation. She started explaining how masturbation is different for every woman, and that some found it harder to reach an orgasm than others. With a hint of embarrassment in her voice, she shared how she herself could not bring herself to orgasm without the help of external stimuli, in the form of a vibrator or a showerhead.
She decided not to tell Tina that she never once had an orgasm while with a man. Sex felt incredibly good, but could never bring her to the very heights of an orgasm. She often ended sex sessions taking care of herself while her ex lay fast asleep next to her. It had undoubtedly been one of the reasons they drifted apart. Not that any other man had managed to do any better; she had just resigned herself to the fact that penetrative sex was not enough to satisfy her, and she had yet to find someone skilled enough in oral sex to do the job.
Even so, she was still into men. Women could be sexy, but she felt no erotic attraction towards them. If not for this whole incident, she would probably be attending a party this following Friday and possibly bring someone home. With Tina around, that was not an option.
She mentally sighed. What she desired was not a companion for a single night, but a more permanent boyfriend. Unfortunately, too many men at her age found the prospect of dating someone with kids from an earlier relationship scary. That was annoying, if somewhat unavoidable. In any case, the type of men that found bonus children scary was not very attractive as boyfriends in the first place.
It suddenly occurred to Caroline that her mental processes had left her completely oblivious to the present company. She noticed Tina staring at her with a contemplative expression on her face. She wanted to point out that it was rude to stare like that, but decided to keep silent and look away.
“Huh,” Tina broke the silence, “For some reason, the signals you sent were stronger than usual. I could tell you were thinking of orgasms, your ex, and something about other men.”
Caroline just looked baffled. This time, she was completely certain she had not sent out any signals, whatever that meant. Quite the opposite, she very much preferred to keep those thoughts private.
“Can you describe what you mean with ‘signals’?” she inquired, a hint of irritation tempering her voice.
Tina shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. It’s always been this way. I’m just very good at reading between the lines, and can often guess the next logical step in a conversation. It took several years for me to realize it’s not the same for everyone else. For a good while, I just assumed everyone around me was a bit slow-witted.”
“You mentioned something about the signals being ‘stronger than usual’. Can you elaborate on that, at least?” Caroline asked slightly disbelievingly. She was the one possessing magic, yet she had somehow assumed the ‘skeptic’ role in this conversation.
Tina shrugged. “Well, for some reason I got a more detailed impression than usual from you. I don’t know why, actually. Maybe I’m somehow more attuned to you?”
Caroline did not like the idea of her sex life being peeked at, but she was fairly certain Tina had not intentionally done so. The ability was intriguing, though. She could feel Tina’s mana pool dampening her own magic, so it made no sense that she was still somehow able to cast spells. The closest comparison would be the Ancient Witch, the only other person she knew of whose ability ignored magic dampening.
“We need to test that talent of yours out and figure exactly what it can do,” she decided.
Tina nodded with reluctant enthusiasm. “I guess it can’t hurt. You will be the first person I can openly test this with.”
Caroline smiled eagerly. She was surprisingly interested in finding out more about this ability. Right now, though, she had a more pressing concern: Glancing at the kitchen clock reminded her that she had a Skype-meeting with her editor in two minutes.
“Can you clean the table?” she asked. As soon as she saw the nod of confirmation, she dashed towards her office and fired up her computer.