An Original Transformation
I was young when I first learned about sex transformations. My parents allowed me on the computer, and I found my way to a video website. After some random browsing and searches for cartoons I watched, I happened upon a video of a man with a blanket around himself.
Wide-eyed, I saw his muscular limbs change into soft, slender arms. His hair went from short to long and back again. It was like a magic trick. This was the excuse my parents used when I asked them about it.
I accepted their answer, but I still watched the video when I got the chance. Before long, I found more videos like it. Instead of blankets, they involved foods, charms, and other objects. But the form was the same. A man became a woman, or a woman became a man. The variations were so captivating that I kept watching.
Eventually, my parents noticed what I was doing. They sat me down and had the sort of chat no kid wants to have. Their stern faces and sharp words pushed me to shiver and hide my face.
In crumbs they doled out to me, I learned of the world beyond mom’s homeschool lessons and the small private school I’d started attending.
“The sanctity of what it means to be a man or a woman is under fire!”
It took me a while to piece it all together. They called it a blend of “witchcraft” and “perverse science”. I listened with a twinkle in my eyes, hearing beyond the growls and finger-wagging. It was like old promises of Santa Claus had been given back to me. The world seemed strange and new again.
I was forbidden to look further, and a heavier block was placed on my computer. But my parents couldn’t be everywhere at every time. I would sneak a glance at samples of silver cheese. Focusing on a cereal box while looking past it, I saw the blur of a small young woman become a lanky, muscular man with shiny hair. I was about to watch a boy barely older than me sample a piece before my mother dragged me off for another lecture.
Before long, I knew enough from library books to get around any blocks my parents put on my computer. I learned the rules.
Transformation tech was regulated but common. There were safeguards for children that could be maintained or overruled by family. Most parents transferred authority to their children at age fourteen. At which point, it became like a membership. You had to give permission. That was as far as I understood it at the time.
Fourteen felt like an eternity away. But I soon came up with a plan: The long game.
I made sure my parents saw a model son who took care of his homework, squawked all the right phrases, and got all the right praise. It earned me a degree of privacy online, despite the fact I’d long ago subverted their meager efforts to block content.
Aside from a forest of transformation enthusiast sites, I found my way to strange science fiction movies, quirky novels, and, randomly, soccer groups. I had the appearance of a well-rounded individual. I could talk about anything that came up. I impressed my parent’s friends. But lurking beneath the surface was a vault of esoteric rules about transformation usage and methods which bubbled through my neurons.
As the years went by, transformations became less of an oddity. Recreational methods were limited by design and I could’ve put together an encyclopedia on those limitations. I knew medicinal methods would be out of reach for me, but it was interesting to read about therapeutic transformations for the very young with body identity concerns, alongside the elderly given young forms. Of course, it didn’t mean eternal youth and I could tell you exactly why, if you had an hour or so.
At my original private school, people talked about transformations like everyone was doing it. It was always the cousin of a friend who got an exception and ate a special food. Everyone tried to hide their giggles.
Eventually, I parlayed my academic success into a transfer to a more open school with college credit options. The first week, I saw more transformations take place in front of me between classes than I imagined possible.
I watched a girl tie a ribbon in her boyfriend’s hair which turned him into a long-haired, blond girl. I watched the new girl’s smile, halfway between calm resignation and amusement. A few people looked their way but no more than at a couple sharing a sudden kiss in public. My pulse thundered as I tried not to stare. I kept glancing with little jerks and stops to the point I nearly collided into a mass of bright-pink hair.
The hair dashed back with the smell of orange, chocolate, and almonds trailing in its wake. Standing before me was a girl who made my neck tingle as though I’d touched a live wire. Looking at her gave me a rush which echoed like my first transformation video.
Later, my mind would put together the details but right then all I could understand was the darker-than-cotton-candy-pink at the top of her hair with long dark locks over her shoulders and spiraling out from her roots. Her eyes looked like cut glass as they flicked away from me and I noticed a glinting silver stud barely bigger than a snowflake on the side of her nose.
She brushed her hair back with a fingerless glove and said, in a squeaky, small voice just a shade from being a cartoon character, “Sorry. Counting cracks. Umm…bye!”
With a quick flutter of black boots and glossy dark pants bearing a Decepticon buckle, she snuck by me and back into anonymity. As her gray hoodie dwindled away, I glimpsed a Hello Kitty figure and a purple blob that looked like no cartoon character I’d ever seen.
The moment lingered with the slowing of my heart and that unique aroma swirling in my nose. It was the kind of moment which never crossed my mind before but immediately burned through my brain.
My next class was just a cacophony of sounds and people. I leaned against the wall and avoided the old poster tacks. Ripples of conversation about the soccer logo on my backpack were nearly enough to clear my head. But each flash of bright color caught my eye, even a can of pink lemonade at the bottom of a trash can.
If that had been it, I might’ve forgotten her, only to see the beacon of her hair during random lunches for a fleeting second. But she sat right in front of me during history class.
I clutched the table and breathed as the aroma returned. She slipped sideways into her desk and half-heartedly raised a gloved hand to say a small, chirpy, “Hey.”
“Oh, hey.” All I said. Any other words oozed ridiculousness and pain on my tongue. I managed a polite smile and my best effort not to stare. Her backpack didn’t look like it came from a store. It had uneven double stitches and the rough look of black denim. Its colorful adornments were a rainbow blur from my angle.
I kept wanting to look at her despite shifting my eyes away. I’d seen plenty of girls at my other school. I’d even been on a few dates with ones my parents smiled about when I introduced them. There was nothing wrong with them. I liked a few of them, especially when they weren’t sealed up in their sky-blue collared tops and long, tartan skirts. They made sense.
I tried to catch up on the class introduction as it flowed into the roll call. My name came first.
I darted my hand up, answered in the affirmative, and flicked my eyes over the girl. She was crouched over her desk with a pen, her silver nails shifting like sparkles.
Her hand launched into the air before creeping back. She stated “here” twice, once with a squeak that nearly overwhelmed the word and then with it digging out of her throat before she coughed.
Fleur. It sounded like a name I might’ve read once in a book.
I watched Fleur while trying not to watch her. I noticed how she took notes. I couldn’t tell if they were a messy scrawl or an attempt at artful chaos. She often massaged her arms. Regularly, she took out a slim pair of glasses, just to read something specific, before returning them to a soft case.
If Fleur had arrived in my world with a rough, gravelly curse and a scowl before slipping a cigarette between her lips then maybe I wouldn’t have noticed her. But she sat before me, inscrutable.
She hopped up during pauses in the lecture to fan the textbook before the teacher and ask questions that vanished beneath the murmurs of side conversations.
If I was bold then I would’ve leaned in with an academic question while she was working. As it was, we didn’t properly talk until a random study pair placement for the first quiz.
All the desks turned chaotically with skull-scratching groans. She looked right at me and then down at her paper.
“You want to start on Ancient Greece? I was skimming the part on laws and the courts.” Her voice came out so small that I needed to lean forward to catch everything.
I flipped through the last part of the textbook I could remember. She rubbed at her glove.
While she exhaled a high-pitched treatise on Aristotle which seemed to go beyond what I was reading, I was relegated to single words and little sounds.
After a few minutes, she stopped and clutched her hands together to squeak, “Uh…sorry.”
I assured her it was fine and there was a stutter of silence as the rest of the room came rushing in. I pushed it back by saying, “Study questions…might be helpful.”
She vigorously agreed and went to work drafting her first one.
I came up with a couple myself, but I was outnumbered both in amount and complexity of questions. I noticed her hand trembling as she set her pen aside.
“Are you alright?”
My own trembles hit my neck in the silence after my question.
Fleur leaned back and flexed her wrist. She shifted in her seat with her gaze down. Then she tried on the weakest version of a smile followed by undulating words rising just above her sounds so far.
“Oh. Of course. It’s nothing.” The words weighed heavy long after she had spoken them.
I leaned forward and clutched the edge of the desk. “Alright. So…”
Gripping the paper covered in her words, Fleur announced that she could type everything up and email it to me.
“That’s cool, but how about we go study somewhere this weekend?” It was beyond the scope of a study pair for the class, but if I didn’t ask then, that would’ve been the end of it.
Fluffing her papers, Fleur kept quiet and then offered, in less of a squeak than normal, “Sure. Where would be good for you?” I let her choose and she immediately suggested the new library branch which had opened up on the west side of town. A few careful questions revealed that she didn’t live far from me. After exchanging emails and restoring our desks, I said one last thing.
“I like your buckle.”
She glanced down as though the buckle was as much of a surprise to her as it had been to me when I first saw it. Cautiously, she let go of a bigger smile than before and told me, “I love Soundwave…”
Digging into the mental mire of a thousand webpages ago, I asked, “Is he the one who turns into a tape recorder?”
Those would be my fateful words. I learned more about the character than I imagined possible as Fleur whisper-spoke her way through the details. Her voice lost the tight squeakiness as I listened.
From there, I tagged along with her to her lunch club nestled beside the tallest oak on campus. It would’ve been nice to say that I instantly made lots of friends there. But the taller blond girl would drift off into her own little world or bicker with her brother, who didn’t so much eat lunch as try to bounce things off the gymnasium’s windows. Conversations with the one playing sim games on a small tablet were often brief. Tim, the only one I really befriended, could always be found laughing about some poster on his classroom wall. When he mentioned his mom’s boyfriend was leaving her, I waited too long for a punchline.
It was there I began to unravel details about Fleur. At first, they came in ancillary fragments. How she’d been really sick growing up and did a lot of TV watching which led to a menagerie of favorite cartoons. Her parents were small business owners of a salon and medical supply store adjacent to one another. I noted eagerly that her favorite books were ones I’d never heard of. And I was watchful when she would rub at her gloved wrists.
She arrived at our library study session in a pink Soundwave top, which accented her brilliant hair, and a pleated skirt. She curled close over the textbook notes as we wound our way through the questions. I wasn’t sure if leaning close or keeping back would be more comfortable, but she held a smile near to her lips either way.
As our study session entered a lull, I set aside the tingling of my thoughts and simply asked her, “Why pink hair?’
Her quick answer was, “I like it. It’s pretty.” But her words squeaked in on themselves, so I gave her a studied look. Carefully, she elaborated.
“It’s…not something I would’ve done before. Before now. There’s so much more. I mean. I didn’t really have much boldness when I was younger, you could say.”
I leaned forward to invite her to say more. Her eyes darted nervously. She sought out the questions for a quick refresher.
I offered, “I’ve been in love with transformations for a long time, but I’ve always been quiet about them because of my parents.”
I immediately saw that Fleur’s mouth twitched and she brushed her hands just short of rubbing them. She showed me a smile but with discomfort behind it.
Her swift words were, “I see. I…well…I hope you’re able to express yourself more and more…”
I resisted more scrutiny and Fleur stopped rubbing her hands when I did. We plowed through the study questions, but I knew I wouldn’t remember them a week after the test. What I did remember was how Fleur hopped up and went searching for books during a break. I watched the titles she lingered on and the ones she presented to me with squeak-less delight.
What lingered with me wasn’t anything about long-dead civilizations, but how I did actually know several of the books Fleur had mentioned to me. It was because they were lists of fiction that involved transformations. Some of them were written before widespread transformation use. Others reacted to the shifts during. And still more were recent and had accepted it as part of the background of life. None of the books stated this upfront on their dust-jackets or in their online synopses. I’d found them through forums and archives for enthusiasts.
I could’ve marked her selections as coincidence but, with everything else, I found myself watching and wondering over Fleur more and more. But I let her lead our conversations, especially whenever a thought about transformations popped into my head.
Such thoughts only trailed behind as Fleur leapt to music and movies as she rubbed her back. They were selections that even my parents would admit to listening to and watching. The classical and the lyrical.
When she put me on the spot, I had to admit that I didn’t really listen to much and I could barely name a single group. Except for one made of performers who not only used transformative aides on stage but also slipped them into the steam machines of live concerts for the audience. I glossed over that one when talking to her.
As with the books, Fleur showed smiles and radiant words in the bounty of what she enjoyed but kept the same feeling when listening as well. She may have held up her favorite works, but she didn’t push them on me. Another note which made me smile with her.
Our conversation flowed back into the last of our notes, until I asked one particular question. I wasn’t even sure what triggered it. It had to be about the divine in Aristotle. A rare note of intrigue in an otherwise antiseptically-phrased chapter.
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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.