I rolled up my long sleeves, releasing my arms.
I waited. I figured public mocking would come next. At least I wasn't alone. But that was about it. I noticed some "normals" took a few, unconscious steps away like I was a plague carrier. The gigglers rose up briefly but then dwindled. When normalcy returned, Candace encouraged me, "Could you stand up a moment?"
I didn't really want to but I rose slowly, conscious of the fact I might actually lose my clothes if I'd shrunk by a lot. I rose and rose…but not by much. Candace rose and stood above me. By about a head. I felt like I was still on my knees. I stretched onto my toes in a vain effort to eke out one more inch. But that was all. Allison rose too and I grimaced. I was even shorter than her. She noticed and settled back in her chair.
Standing there, I also noticed that my hips seemed slightly wider. It helped keep my pants from sliding off. The hems were spilling all over my shoes, which barely stayed on. With some work and stuffing, I felt like an idiot but at least looked presentable. The shirt sleeves absolutely buried my arms and the formerly-tight top was hanging off me.
Before I could sit down, Candace insisted on Allison taking a picture of us side by side. She claimed she would just send it to mom. That didn't make me feel any happier about it. My little sister loomed beside with an arm around me. I certainly didn't give a smile to the pictures. Allison grimaced by way of apology for being an accessory and I finally sat down.
I slumped on the table, barely propping my head up with my sleeved arms. I was definitely leaning towards heading home and burying myself in covers. Allison put a hand on my shoulder and offered, "She's right. You're gonna be okay."
Allison glanced away when I met her eyes and then looked back. She didn't have Candace's intensity but I knew she meant it. I had no idea if either of them were right. I brushed far too much bright pink hair out of my eyes and puffed it with a bit of air before asking, "So, what now?"
Candace bent up and almost launched into one of her usual pronouncements but she slowly bent back down before saying, "Your call, bro."
I appreciated that, especially that she called me 'bro'. I thought about it a moment. Offhand, I knew that there was a salon somewhere in the mall. I figured Candace knew where. I recalled that they sold wigs. They were probably pricey though. Anything cheap would look lousy and weird.
I didn't particularly want to sit in a chair while a hairdresser tried to recolor my hair. Although I figured they would have some experience, it wasn't really the sort of thing I wanted to do, especially when I didn't know what else was going to change next.
Really, the only option was somewhere quiet where I could easily hide. It was time to head back to the bookstore. Candace narrowed her eyes but accepted my proposal. Not as though she disliked books. Far from it. We were a family of natural readers. And Candace was the most polyamorous of bookworms. She delighted in a multitude of teen fiction which littered her shelves, many of them choices I could find no fault in. But she tended to slip between one and the other with great glee, forgetting some for weeks at a time in an infinite cycle. Occasionally, she might actually finish one.
Allison clapped her hands softly and smiled. "Oh yeah! There are some books I wanted to check out. That's a good idea."
We finished up and gathered our belongings. I checked the back of my head. My hands slipped through dense extensions of hair on my shoulder. Leaning forward a bit, I received walls of blurry but brilliant pink. With a sigh, I hoisted up my sleeves and let my colorful, slender arms show as I gripped a handful of the bags. No sense in hiding the obvious.
In a way, it was a bit like jumping into that terrifying, deep end of the pool. Only it was a slow drift and the water was ice cold. I waded through the early dinner crowd. Mothers wrapped arms around their children and subtly tugged them away from me. Fathers gave me a calm but stern glare. Kids laughed. Other teenagers laughed too. People murmured. And it all loomed above me. Allison and Candace joined me on either side. It helped a bit, aside from the constant reminder they were both taller than me.
Walking, I noticed the subtle projection of my hips as I walked. Not a girly walk. Well, not any girlier than my typical walk. But I felt like a child with my height and now-bulky clothes.
During our trek across the mall, Candace passed time by mentioning movies she wanted to see in the next few months. She even mentioned one I'd been curious about.
There were only a few well-known animated actors. Some quit acting when they changed (some returned). For a while, having an animated actor or actress (especially the later) was regarded as a stunt. Then, there were films last year that ignored the fleshy or painterly qualities of the people involved and got a bunch of awards. So, it became even more of a stunt.
Allison mentioned a few movies too, and one film in particular with an actor who had gone through animation in a…complimentary manner. Her blush was subtle but clear as she talked about him. Candace offered up her own favorite actor. He wasn't animated but she imagined what he would look like in art all the time. I could recite his name by heart with the number of times I heard it mentioned around the kitchen table. Not that I was without an actress or two I liked.
The walk went quickly and I didn't even notice if people were staring at me. The bookstore was quiet, even quieter than earlier, at least until Candace got over to the magazines. I lingered there for a bit but ultimately wandered the narrow aisles towards the back.
I didn't really want to buy anything but there was plenty to browse. There used to be three stores like this one in the area. Now there was just this, an off-shoot of the megastore on the other side of town. Mom always fumed about that. I traced a small hand along the book covers. Lingering on one, I watched. No change to the book. Not yet.
I made my way to the current affairs section, where there were several animated issues books. Also, a few in the science section. I noticed one about hospital care for converted people. It had been a big thing during the last big political debate, despite the fact every single study didn't find a single thing persistent or infectious about spreading influence. Insurance couldn't deny coverage, especially for animated states. It seemed odd to me that they would, considering many animated people were in better health. The problem was that hospitals were still skittish. I remembered the time I went with mom to the doctor for a case of flu (which she still got seasonally). The nurses acted like they wanted to put her in isolation.
Then there was the time the news tried to make a connection between a number of elderly, animated people who died close to one another. They glossed over the fact all were quite old. As well, in one case, an old man was walking for the first time in a decade and even went so far as to start jogging. He died in his sleep but medical reports couldn't find a cause. However, animated biology can vary according to appearance. When a liver is considered healthy at a certain color, is it still healthy when it looks like a child colored it in?
I avoided the 'New Age' books but then I always had. The newest of them advanced wild claims about the cause of people becoming converted. Many were at least optimistic, touting a spiritual reawakening of the type which had been touted as coming for a long time with the Mayans. The first wave of new changes. The only ones I bothered with were the pantheistic ones which claimed a widespread "human spirit" energy which originally inspired the human form. Those who were "enbrightened" were closest to the energy source. Some went on about human art as a subconscious expression of this innate presence, connecting "anime" and the early Japanese conversions.
The feminist works made me grimace because they suggested that the ultimate embodiment was a serene and glowing female spirit race that guided human evolution. I flipped through one in particular before I shook my head and set it down.
Pink locks flicked against my cheek.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.