With a sly expression, she urged me to guess. I tried a few polite numbers before I settled on her actual age, more than fifty. She certainly didn't look it. She ran a hand across her sleek face, which looked paler than Allison's. It was a light pink but also a cream more colorful than alabaster. The closest color I knew was probably 'forget-me-not', which looked nothing like I expected when I started researching colors. In shadow, her flesh had a dusty-pink tone.
I complimented her about her appearance. She bent up a hand and gazed at its shape. "Some days, I don't even remember what I looked like before. And that is fine by me." She gave a quick chuckle and asked a bit about me.
I hesitated and tried to search for the words. I worked slowly. I said I was a high school junior at Eakins High. I had indeed changed a lot. I was tempted to just show her my driver's license or school ID so I wouldn't have to say aloud what I knew all too well. But both pictures were thoroughly terrible and even more embarrassing.
It took a couple breaths before I admitted, "My name is Kenny. Kenneth." Saying the name in a voice that sounded like Allison sucked on some helium, I felt my face grow hot. My blush was probably painfully obvious with my new face.
Her thin mouth opened a slight, dark slit and then sealed it as she gently nodded. "My name is Cordelia. And I see…I actually have a nephew who is an animated girl now. But then he always would look sadly upon his sisters."
I told her quite clearly I wasn't like that, highlighting, "I mean…I don't know why I'm turning into a girl. I never wanted to be one. It doesn't make sense to me."
Cordelia gave a slight, soft chuckle and touched a hand to herself. "I certainly didn't pine for white hair and my favorite color is blue, not lavender. I always wanted to be stronger and wiser, if I had to change. But this is what happened to me. I actually slept through most of it."
She settled back and talked a bit. She chuckled as she recounted revealing herself to her relatives. Most thought she was playing a practical joke on them. A few even renounced her, spewing forth all sorts of claims. But it was her eldest grandmother she reflected on most fondly.
"She worked tirelessly in the mills back east till they closed. She lifted massive loads all throughout her life but can't even lift herself out of bed anymore. It was last year, when she was still good enough for light work around the house. I visited her a few weeks after my change. She looked curiously at me through the door till I smiled. Then, she just about dragged me in and set about making food for me. I remember the energy in her eyes. I felt like being there recharged her. She clasped my hand and marveled at how my color spread to her. She asked so many questions. It was like years long past. And she told me something which really helped."
Cordelia cleared her throat, settled her tone, and seemed to take on the essence of her grandmother as she said, "You are the only person who knows who you truly are. What has happened to you is a gift to show you more of yourself. It might not make sense but that's how it is. We are all puzzles, especially to ourselves. Some, those who live in confusion, anger, and fear, have the gray side of the puzzle showing and nothing makes sense. But you have all your pieces turned right-side up. All you need to do is put it together, my dear. Then, you will understand and find all your joys." She smiled at me and spread out her hands.
I clenched my hands and asked her, "Have you? Have you put it together?"
She giggled softly and remarked, "Some days better than others. But it's a long journey and I much prefer the journey to the solution."
I reflected on her words. I didn't feel any closer to some great personal truth with my hair bright pink and my body turning female but I gave Cordelia an appreciative smile and a quick thanks.
She relaxed her gaze at me and said, "You're still young. Give it time. Life doesn't even get that interesting until after your thirties." She gave a sly snicker and reached for a mug of steaming tea she had hidden behind the counter.
I shifted the questions back to her. She recounted a few stories of how often she got flirted with by awkward, preening teen boys and the devious games she played on them. She reflected on how she considered going back to school and dropped in a few censored curses about the state of education.
She worked at the arcade because it was something she did way back when she was "young and stupid". It was where she met her first husband. He helped her get a job at a computer game company back in the days when bits and 'blast processing' mattered. Mostly, she did filing work and cleaned up around the office but she learned enough to debug when things got hectic.
With a wave of her hand, she noted, "If only I owned this arcade, I would make sure it was truly loved and cared for but I do what I can with what the owner is willing to spend. Realistically, it probably won't be around more than a few months. I fully expected to be fired weeks ago yet somehow I'm still here." I figured that had something to do with her anime-styled appearance but I didn't say.
Turning her tea around a few times, she told me, "You're gonna be alright. First days are always the worst with the change. But it does get better." She led the discussion a bit into "lady" issues but I tensed up and informed her that I had a sister and a mother who I knew would help me with all that (if necessary).
She relaxed and mentioned, "Also, there's a small washroom in the back if you haven't seen yourself in a while. Just push really hard on the door."
I thanked her but didn't get up from my chair quickly. I wasn't keen to see the full picture but I figured I'd have to eventually and it was better to do so somewhere private instead of the ladies' room or (less likely now) the men's room with Candace hovering over me. The latter had actually happened more than once and got Candace banned from two restaurants in the next town over.
The washroom wasn't much, crammed with broken joysticks and miscellaneous old game boards. I pushed some aside with my shoe, flicked the light switch, and looked for the mirror. It was on the wall nearest me.
There she was. Or rather, I was.
So much pink hair. It appeared closer to a magenta with the dim halogen bulb above me. And my eyes. They were close to Candace's shade of blue, only much bigger in size. But not as big as mom's. They filled up almost all the white and they were clearly animated.
The halo looked like a swoop at the front of my pink hair with little flecks of white accenting where the light caught it. The mirror wasn't big enough to get the whole scope of my body. I felt my neck. It seemed smaller but it didn't look animated yet. I took off my shirt.
While the animation hadn't finished my face, it had spread across my chest. My torso looked so small. My nipples were altered, which made them look a little bigger than normal but that was all I saw there. Everything was sleek and smooth. My waist was so tiny and, if you ignored the flatness, I presented an absolutely feminine shape.
Bad but not terrible. Not yet. I slipped a hand to my pants and slid them down. I was…smaller. That much was clear and it was disturbing to see that part of my anatomy as living art. I was different there but even more so at my revealed hips. They were what my mom always used to mock grandma about as "child-bearing" hips. I grimaced and pulled my pants back up.
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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.