I was a fairly happy 16 year old. Okay, my family wasn’t rich, and maybe my job was a bit less than completely satisfying, but I had my Dad’s old green 1979 Chevy Stepside, and a small loft apartment over my parents garage, so I thought was doing pretty well. I really had nothing to complain about.
I got good grades in school, and I was in pretty good shape. I looked a lot like what people think a Viking would look like. I guess it comes from my Dad’s side of the family. I was six foot three, 240 lbs, with kind of long blonde hair. I was the backup quarterback (sounds so much better than junior varsity) for my school team, the Neil Armstrong High School Rockets. I had a few female admirers, but I was really focused on my schoolwork and sports. I wanted to get a scholarship to the college of my choice (although I really hadn’t made a choice, but hey, I was only a sophomore-I still had a couple of years to decide), and I guess I was a bit driven at the time.
Meeting Debbie Holloway was a major turning point in my life. Suddenly, school seemed unimportant. She was IT. Tanned and toned, long silky chocolate colored hair, she turned my world upside-down, and I couldn’t focus on anything but her. We dated for two months, almost until Easter, and I thought it was real love, until she dumped me for the Varsity quarterback, Tim Davies.
I thought my life was over. Nothing mattered to me, and no one could pull me out of my misery-at least, not until I learned what had truly happened.
My depressed and angry attitude got me into trouble frequently, and I was sitting in detention, reflecting on how lousy I felt. It was a warm spring day, and the windows were open to allow fresh air in the room. I could hear Debbie and some other girls chatting outside as they walked by on the sidewalk below. I quietly moved over to the desk by the windows, listening to her beautiful voice.
“Tim and I are going to spend the weekend in New York with his parents, some kind of business dinner they have to go to. We’re going to see the sights and do some shopping-it should be a blast!”
“What ever happened with you and Gabe Randall?” Jenny D’Angelo had been trying to get a date with me since 8th grade. “You two were always together for a while there, did he do something awful?”
“Oh, Gabe was very nice, but really, I was just practicing for the real deal. Tim’s family is VERY wealthy, and I have every intention of getting a share of that for myself!”
“How do you get these great guys to throw themselves at your feet? I always thought Gabe was so dedicated to schoolwork.”
Debbie laughed. “Girl, Gaby-baby was just a test. I cast a love spell over him from this weird book my Mom had hidden in her dresser. When I saw how well it really worked, I broke up with Gabe and cast the same spell over Tim.”
The voices faded as they walked on down the street.
A spell? Debbie had cast a spell on me?
Now you have to understand, I knew all about magic. My mother is a nurse with a strong healing talent, which she carefully uses to help her patients. My grandmother is the strongest elder in the region, and she has led the local coven for many years.
See, magic isn’t the “mumbo-jumbo” that most people think it is. It’s a hereditary ability, which allows the women of certain families to manipulate reality on a quantum level. I understand it, but don’t ask me to explain it. Quantum physics gives me a headache.
I’m told I carry the gene, and can pass it on to my children, but only the females can actually use the power. As strange as it sounds, the male mind doesn’t have the right “connections” to do magic.
All magic leaves a sort of leftover residue, a trace of the spell, I guess. Too much careless magic can result in a rare but dangerous accumulation of residue, called ‘free” or “wild” magic. This can create unpredictable and uncontrollable effects, so any magic is supposed to be used very carefully and responsibly, and if Debbie is recklessly casting spells, all heck could break loose. She risked exposing the entire community of local “witches” and causing great havoc for everyone around her.
As soon as I got released from detention, I got in my truck and headed home. I knew Mom and Grandma would want to check on Debbie’s new talent. I pulled into the driveway and shut my truck off, grabbed my backpack and headed into the house. I had almost made it to the door when I saw the green flash and everything went black.
I woke up in a strange bed, but there was something over my eyes, and I couldn’t see. I could tell by the smell that I was in the hospital. I felt a little strange, but I could feel my hands and feet, and I carefully moved them a bit to see if I was bandaged or something. I felt all right, and it all seemed to move comfortably.
It was very quiet in my room, but I could hear someone breathing and turning the pages on something, a book or magazine. My throat was very dry, so I had to struggle to speak.
“Who’s there, please?” I asked. I sounded kind of squeaky. I heard a book fall as someone jumped to my bedside.
“It’s me, baby.” My mom said. I could hear the relief in her voice.
“Could I have some water?” I rasped, coughing at the dryness in my throat.
She brought me a cup with a straw, and told me to sip it carefully, or I could make myself sick.
“What happened?” I asked. Odd how my voice seemed different to me. "I was going to tell you about Debbie Holloway casting spells, and then I wake up here."
“Sweetheart, you were kind of hit by lightning. You’ve been in a coma for a while now. Your body needed some time to recover from it, and you’ve been out of it since the day before yesterday.”
“Am I okay? Why are my eyes covered?” I started to panic. “Oh God, am I blind?”
I felt Mom quickly grab my hands.
“Stop, hush now! Just relax, baby, you’ll be fine. Grandma and the doctor will be here in a few minutes, okay?”
I didn’t say anything, but I could tell something must be really wrong. She’s always given me direct, honest answers in the past. Dad has always said that Mom doesn’t waste words, she’d tell you the truth and let the buffalo chips fall where they may.
I heard voices coming into the room. I could tell that one was Grandma Liz, and I guessed that the guy I heard with her was my doctor.
“Honey, I want you to hold very still, all right? The doctor is going to take your bandages off, but it’s very important that you don’t open your eyes until we tell you, okay?”
“All right Mom, I won’t.”
I heard someone doing something beside me, and I found out later that the doctor had injected a sedative into my IV to help keep me calm. He pulled the bandages off, and I felt his hand over my eyes.
“Okay, Gabe, I want you to open your eyes very slowly. If at any time it gets too bright, close them immediately, all right?”
“Yeah, all right, Doc.”
He pulled his hand away, and I could see Mom and my grandma. Everything seemed fine, but from the looks on their faces, I knew something was wrong.
“Okay, what is it? I can tell you’re upset.” I knew I should be worried, but I was feeling kind of relaxed, and I didn’t really get scared or anything.
Mom looked at the floor, then at me. “I’ve got something to tell you, but it's difficult, okay? Just...try to be calm, and give me a minute. I’ve gotta figure out how to say this.”
“Is Dad all right?” Oh, no!
“He's fine, and we'll see him after work, okay? Now let me finish. Remember when I told you that you kind of got hit by lightning?”
“It wasn’t a lightning bolt, honey. It was actually wild magic, and because you were still under that spell, your body acted like a grounding point for the magic. Like electricity, it went to the path of least resistance-you.”
Grandma sat on the edge of my bed. “Sweetheart, what your Mama's having a hard time telling you is that you’ve been changed a bit. Free magic, you know, is very unpredictable. Fortunately, you're still you, except that you’re a girl now-just as if you had been born that way.”
Okay, it took a minute while my sedative fogged brain processed that. “Uhm, you can change me back, right?”
“To be honest, it might be very dangerous to even try it. If it had been a typical spell, we would be able to kick the ass of whoever cast the spell, and force them to reverse it, but free magic? It’s a wonder you’re even alive, let alone human.”
“So in other words, I gotta get used to it-right?” I felt a tear run down my cheek. Wow, I should seriously be freaking out about now!
Mom had tears in her eyes, too. “I’m so sorry, honey, but yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it means.”
Wow, I must be high or something. I seem to be handling this fairly well.
“So...uhm...how do I look? I really hope I don’t look like the same old Gabe with breasts.” I giggled. “That would really be scary.”
Grandma rolled her eyes and sighed. “No sweetheart, you look the same as Gabe would have looked if he had been born female. You probably shouldn’t expect to win any beauty contests, but you are definitely attractive.”
Mom smiled. “As you might say, you are ‘definitely datable’. We’ll have to get you some clothes, though.”
Mom closed her eyes, and suddenly a pair of gray gym shorts dropped onto the bed, along with some plain white panties, a yellow t-shirt, a black hoodie, and a pair of white socks with some well used, almost white tennis shoes.
“You look like you might be about the same size that I am, so I grabbed some clothes that wouldn’t be too girly, but still comfortable.”
“Why can’t I just wear some of my jeans and a t-shirt?” I asked.
“You can’t tell it while you're laying there, sweetheart, but you’re quite a bit smaller than you used to be.”
Oh shit, this just gets better and better. Crap. I guess I might as well bite the bullet. I held the back of my gown together and stumbled over to the bathroom with “my clothes”. Locking the door behind me, I got the first look at myself in the mirror.
Oh, my… damn. That girl in the mirror’s not really what I’d call beautiful, but she is pretty damn cute. I touched the mirror, just checking to see if it really was a mirror. Looking as carefully as my foggy brain could handle, I realized that I looked a lot like I always have in the face, but my body is, well, kinda wimpy, I guess. Almost all of my muscle mass was gone, my face looked more rounded than before, and my hair looked a lot longer and shinier.
Of course, my body was a lot curvier, and Tab A had been replaced by Slot B. My new breasts were surprisingly nice looking, although they were smaller than I would have guessed from the way they felt on my chest. I giggled when I remembered what Larry had said in the locker room, “ More than a mouthful’s a waste.”
Oh God, looking in the mirror it suddenly hit me that I’m gonna have guys wanting me, maybe even masturbating to their nasty thoughts about me. I thought about what I would have dreamed of doing to this body, and I almost wanted to puke.
I suddenly wanted to be covered up, so I started getting dressed. The panties went on okay, and they surprisingly felt pretty good. The hardest thing was trying to hook the damn bra together. There’s got to be an easier way to do this!
Mom knocked on the door. “Are you okay, sweetie? Do you need help?”
Yeah. Turn me back into a guy! Please!
“No Mom, I’m getting it figured out, I think. Gimme a few more minutes and I’ll be out.”
“Okay, honey. Just…yell if you need me.”
I pulled on the T-shirt and the shorts, then opened the door, nervously. I decided to make it at least look like I was cool, anyway.
“Ta-daa!” I said, hamming it up, but Mom wasn’t fooled. She pulled me into a hug, and I started to cry. It just kinda hit me. I’m not Gabe anymore, and I’m never going to see him in the mirror again.
Mom was crying, too. “Go ahead, baby, let it out, it’ll be all right, you’ll see. We still love you, sweetheart, nothing can change that, nothing!”
It took a few minutes before I got it under control, and started getting my shit together. I sniffed a few times, and when Grandma handed me the tissues, I blew my nose, then grabbed a fresh tissue to wipe my eyes and dry my cheeks off.
I walked over to the bed and started putting the socks and shoes on. The shoes just had Velcro closures, so it didn’t take me long. I stood up next to Mom, and I realized how much smaller I had become. I used to tower over my mom, and now I think I might be actually be a few inches shorter than her 5’4”. I wanted to start crying again. I had been so proud when I first realized I was taller than Mom. Shit!
Grandma Liz took over. She got me into a chair in front of her, and started messing with my hair, despite my objections. She brushed it out and put it into a ponytail. I put on the hoodie, and Mom told me that Doctor Gantz was getting my paperwork signed so that I could leave.
Apparently, all those hospital stories on the tube are true. Even though I can walk just fine, I had to leave the hospital in a wheelchair. Mom grabbed the bag with my old clothes and my personal stuff, and then we had to stop to fill out paperwork at the nurses’ station, but soon I was riding in the back of Mom’s Tahoe, heading home-or at least I thought we were heading home.
Instead, we drove into the Mall parking lot and found a parking spot fairly close to the door. Naturally, I immediately start to freak all over again.
“Mom! I can’t go in there! What if somebody sees me, then what?” I’m bawling in panic, screaming and breathing in short, rapid breaths. Even I know I’m hyperventilating, but I can’t stop, I’m scared shitless. My friends hang out here! I don’t want them to see me like this!
“Calm down, honey. Shush, it’s all right! Now take a deep breath and listen to me, Gabrielle! Calm...down. You are NOT a boy in drag. You are a real, very cute girl, and nobody would guess that my daughter was ever my son. You could wear your football jersey with your name on it, and nobody would believe that it was you.”
What she says makes sense, and I try to get control of my breathing, but I’m still scared. Grandma reaches back and holds my hand, and I suddenly feel more relaxed. I close my eyes and sit quietly, gathering my strength. Finally, I open my eyes, and breathe comfortably. I know she did something to calm me down, but it’s cool.
“Okay, you’re right, Mom. I can do this. Thanks, Grandma, I really needed that. Before we go in, Mom, can we change the name? Gabrielle? Sorry, but no, Mom. That’s way too close to Gabriel. How about something like…uhm…”
“How about Emily?” Grandma says, as Mom looks at her with a smile. “It was my Momma’s name, and I’ve always liked it. It’s pretty.”
And that gives me an idea. “Okay, then, how does Emily Elizabeth Randall sound?”
I nervously look at Mom and Grandma, waiting for a reaction. Elizabeth is my grandma’s name. When I see tears in their eyes, I know they like it.
“Thank you, sweetheart.” Grandma says with a big smile. “I’ll put things in motion tomorrow. I can’t change everything by myself, but we’ll get the coven together and cast a spell that will give you a whole new identity.”
“So everybody will forget that I was Gabe?”
“No, it would be much too difficult to pull off something like that. We can, however, create the paper trail that everyone amasses in their lifetime-school records, birth certificate, driver’s license, that kind of thing. It'll take a bit of effort, but I think that your cousin Gabe is going to go visit your Uncle Bob and Aunt Brenda in Arizona over spring break, where there will be a 'random' crash, and everyone in the car, besides you, will be killed. You end up flying here to live with family. I’ll call Amy, she’s the Elder out there.”
“But I have no idea what Arizona is like, and there will be questions from the kids at school…”
“I know, Emily. You’ll know all about it tomorrow morning, though. By Monday, we’ll be able to get you registered to go to school after break is over, and we can deal with the grief from losing your parents and your cousin in an accident.”
That grief would be real, I knew. Gabe was dead, and it was going to take me a while before I could think about it without crying. I wasn’t sure what Grandma was going to do, but I knew that by Monday, I’d be able to fool anybody.
Hmmm. I’ll have to see if I can get Grandma to maybe pump up my GPA a bit…?
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