Chemical Ali

Chemical Ali


Melanie Brown

Copyright  © 2012

Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed...

“It’s all in the technique,” said my best friend Steve as we walked to our lockers. “Girls are basically dumb. They’re easy to manipulate. All you have to do is tell them how smart they are, cause they like that, and how pretty they are. They all want to hear how pretty they are. See Megan down the hall? She’s going out with me tonight.”

Laughing, I said, “I don’t think it’s all that easy. I didn’t know you had asked Megan out.”

“I haven’t yet. Watch this.” Steve walked up to Megan, one of the prettiest and most popular girls in the ninth grade at Leonard McCoy Middle School.

Megan transferred a few books from her book bag to her locker as Steve walked up and said, “Hey Megan! Wow, I heard you aced that test in Algebra. A lot of people wouldn’t think that such a pretty girl as you would be that smart!”

Megan stood up straight and closed her locker. “Ooookay.”

Smiling, Steve said, “So, would you be interested in going to a movie with me tonight, since it’s Friday and everything?”

Megan gave Steve an odd look but before she answered him, her attention changed focus and her eyes brightened as she said, “Scott! Hey!”

Scott Branson, athlete of the year said, “Hey Megan! Pick you up at seven!”

They both headed off in different directions for their next class, leaving Steve just standing there with an odd expression on his face.

“I think your technique needs some work.” I said as I walked up to Steve.

“I just need to tweak it some. Like I said, girls are basically dumb.” Steve said, frowning. “Hey, would you like to go to a movie tonight?”

“Can’t,” I said. “Dad’s taking me to the Tiger’s game tonight. I’ll be on that team next year, so Dad wants me to watch them play.” I was already at six foot, one and the Tiger’s coach was already drooling at the thought of me playing on their team.

“No problem.” Steve said. “There’s always the Xbox. See ya at lunch Allen.”

“See ya, bro.” I said and hurried to my next class.

I walked through the door of my Physical Science class just as the bell rang. A few steps later, I was at my desk. The teacher, Mr. Bower, didn’t even notice as he was busy looking at some papers on his desk. I glanced over to my usual lab partner, Amanda and she smiled back. We’d been friends since the third grade when her family moved in next door to us. She was cute and very nice, but we’d always just been friends and I thought of her more like a sister.

From his desk, Mr. Bower said, “Okay, class. I think you’ll enjoy the lab today. We’ll need to be extra careful as there will be quite a reaction created.” He continued to drone on for several minutes before he stood up and passed out the lab instructions. My mind was elsewhere as I thought back to the last game we played. Our team was undefeated so far.

My reverie was broken when I noticed everyone getting up from their desks to head to the back of the room to the lab tables. The tables already had beakers of various chemicals and the ever present Bunsen Burner.

As I sat at the stool and set down my papers and pen on the table, Amanda looked at me and shook her head. “Do you even know what the assignment is?”

I just smiled and said, “No, but you do.” I picked up a beaker with God knows what inside and swirled its contents.

“Don’t spill that, Allen” scolded Amanda. “I think that’s an acid.”

I set the beaker back down and started looking over the lab instructions. I said, “Oh, Steve did something dumb again this morning.”

Amanda rolled her eyes and asked, “Now what?”

“He asked Megan out for a date, almost right in front of Scott.” I said. “I don’t think Scott heard him because he’s still breathing.”

Amanda shook her head and wistfully said, “Steve needs to stop trying to ask out the already taken mega-babes. I mean, there are plenty of nice non-mega-babes around to ask.”

“Like you, maybe?”

“Maybe,” said Amanda. “I like Steve. He’s a misguided dork, but I think he’s nice.”

“Do you two think there’s any possibility of concentrating on the task at hand?” asked Mr. Bower who was standing behind us. “If I was grading commentary on the student social life at this school, you two would have an ‘A’.” He frowned at us and walked away.

Amanda grinned and said, “I do have an ‘A’ in this class. I guess we should get started.”

What happened in the middle of our experiment was one of those strange, bizarre and totally random events that makes you wonder if you just pissed off God that morning or something. Because of its speed, no one heard it coming and most of the events that followed I can’t recall to this day.

We had just mixed all the chemicals, the Bunsen Burner was bunsing away and the reaction we were waiting to observe was just starting when there was a loud crash through the ceiling and a bright flash of light in front of Amanda and me. A meteor…yes a meteor, smashed right on top of our experiment, splashing me with the contents of the hot beaker. The meteor partially vaporized on contact with the table, the gas line feeding the burner severed and the heat from the meteor igniting the gas. A sparkly vapor released from the meteor enveloped me and then was ignited by the burning gas. And just for good measure since apparently none of this was enough to subject me to, for some strange reason, an electric arc erupted from the power outlet behind me, arced through my body engulfed in chemical flame to terminate at what was left of the meteor causing it to blow apart and knocking me against the wall. I guess I remembered more than I thought.

Amanda was screaming and the rest of the class stood around in dumbfounded shock. I was screaming from the blistering pain of being on fire. It was a strange greenish flame and my skin felt like millions of pins were pushing from the inside out. I thrashed around and rolled on the floor trying to extinguish the fire, but it instead stuck with me like a flame to a wick. Mr. Bower tossed a blanket that he kept in case of a fire, over me and the green flame just grew more sparkly and burned through the blanket. I continued to writhe and scream in pain until I passed out.

*          *          *

“…third degree burns over the entire body … it’s a miracle he’s still alive…oh my boy! Allen! Allen! ... my baby! ... yes, he’s in an induced coma … Allen? Can you hear me? It’s me, Amanda … get some ice packs, he’s at one hundred four … his condition is still serious … get her out of here! ... clear! ... ”Allen? This is Dad. I love you son. I can’t wait to see you in your Tiger’s uniform … it’s a beautiful day today. I remember when we were kids and we’d ride our bicycles together … Allen. Allen? ... this is Mom. The doctor said you’re showing signs of improvement … Doctor, I was changing his dressing and his skin came off with the old dressing. But look at his skin underneath! ... How odd… it’s like a protective covering … Didn’t you see this kid’s skin? It looks melted. I’m going to throw up… Nurse, I need your help … Oh my God! ... we need more tests to be sure … this is impossible!...”

*          *          *

“The patient is starting to respond, Doctor.” I couldn’t open my eyes, but I could detect light. The fog in my head seemed to be lifting.

“Thank you nurse. Rob, this beats everything I’ve seen. Look at the development. I have no explanation.”

Another voice said, “I know. There’s no precedent. I’ve seen something similar in frogs, but not human beings. And it’s only been three weeks since the accident. The patient should be dead, not in this condition.”

“Doctor, the patient is awake.”

“Yes, you’re right. Let’s this discuss this in my office. Nurse, could you cover the patient please?”

*          *          *

Everything was still fuzzy, but I managed to open my eyes. A face bobbed into my view and I heard a woman say, “You’re awake! Let me get your doctor. He’s just in the next room.” The face disappeared from my view.

I heard the woman again, but from several feet away, “Oh! Doctor! She’s awake!” There was a pause as I heard a man’s voice, but couldn’t make out what was said, “I’m sorry doctor. The patient in 415A is awake.”

Did the woman say “she”? I’m sure I misheard. At first I couldn’t figure out why I was in a hospital. Then I winced as the memory of the fire started to roll into my mind. I had really thought I was going to die.

A man’s face suddenly appeared in my view and said, “Good morning! How are we feeling today?” A bright light was suddenly flashed into each eye. “Normal response. Can you talk, or move your arm or maybe just a finger?”

I was still groggy and I thought I said “Good morning”, but to be honest, I’m not sure what I said. My arms felt like they weighed a ton. I managed to wiggle a finger.

“Very good. Very good. Nurse, have the patient set up, turn on the TV for them and have a breakfast sent up. Let me know when the patient is fully awake. I don’t want to notify the family until the counselor has been here.” The man disappeared from my view. My vision was starting to clear.

“Yes doctor,” said the nurse.

“Let’s set you up a little so you can eat your breakfast,” the nurse said to me as the bed was raised up to put me in a slight sitting up position. I was starving. Even hospital food sounded good.

For the longest time, I just sat up in bed, watching TV. The channel selector was built into the bed and I had managed to find it, despite not being able to see it. Finally a tray was brought in with a covered dish by some member of the hospital staff. She positioned a narrow table in front of me and set the tray down.

“Here you are, sweetie,” she said. She removed the cover from the dish and walked away.

How hungry are you when something from a hospital kitchen smells wonderful? I could barely see that it was a couple of pancakes, a milk carton and some juice and something I couldn’t identify. After a moment of willing my arm to move, I managed to reach for the fork. I stopped before my hand touched it. I looked at my hand. I rocked it palm to back. I know the back of my hand like I know… This wasn’t my hand!

My mind racing, I lifted my other hand. I had a matching pair of hands that weren’t mine. My hands seemed smaller than I remembered, and with soft, fine hairs. And since I had been burned, shouldn’t my arms and hands still be wrapped up? I started looking at my arms as well. All my muscles were gone. I poked my arm with the other hand and I could feel it. What the hell has happened to me?

The nurse stepped in. saw me examining my arms and hands and said, “Aren’t you going to eat your breakfast, sweetie? Do you need some help? The doctors thought you might be a little weak.”

“I’m suddenly…” Several long strands of hair suddenly fell across my face. “…I’m not really hungry any more.” I tried to push the hair out of my eyes, but I couldn’t get my arms to move that high. The nurse smiled at me and brushed the strands away.

The nurse said, “Well, the doctor said as soon as you were done with breakfast, he wants to have a talk with you.” She gave me a reassuring smile and left the room.

A few minutes passed before the nurse returned with two other nurses and a wheelchair. They detached the glucose bag from the bed and attached it to a pole on the wheelchair. The nurses then helped me move from the bed to the wheelchair. Hair fell back across my eyes and I felt a shift of weight on my chest. Nothing felt right, but it still seemed normal. I’m not sure what had happened, but this was not my body. Brain transplants are impossible.

I pushed back against a nurse and weakly said, “Stop. This is all wrong. I don’t recognize my own hand.” I lifted my hand as they struggled to move me as I started to resist. I screamed and the voice was not mine. “This isn’t my hand dammit! What have you done to me??!”

Losing some of her poise, the nurse said, “Please calm down, miss. The doctors will try to explain everything they can to you.”

“Miss”…she said it again. What that suggested was impossible! My hands were impossible! What had to be tits on my chest was impossible! And yet, here I was. A fact I couldn’t just deny away. I abruptly relaxed and slid into the wheelchair.

I sat silently as I was wheeled down the hallway, all three nurses escorting me, to see the doctors that have been examining me the most. One of the nurses behind me said, “You have such pretty hair.” She was shushed by one of the other nurses. I began to shake I was so frightened from imagining what might have happened to me. The nurse again said, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to upset her…um…I mean him…”

The doctor I’d seen before was standing in the hallway, apparently outside his office. He smiled at me and waved his hand, indicating to the nurse pushing the wheelchair to roll me into the office. The office wasn’t all that big, but two other people dressed like doctors were already standing in the office. The doctor from the hallway, directed the three nurses to stay.

After I was situated, the doctor who had been speaking sat on his desk and cradled his chin in his hand as he just stared at me a moment. Finally he said, “I’ve been trying for almost a week to figure out the best way to tell you what is going on.” Every muscle in my body began to tense up.

The doctor dragged a chair over next to me and sat down. He smiled at me again. The smile was starting to annoy me and make me worry even more. The doctor finally said, “Mr. Goodall…can I call you Allen? I am Dr. Robert Murray.” He then points at the other two doctors and continues, “And this is Drs. Armstrong and Dodson. We have been monitoring you closely for the past few weeks. What has happened to you Allen, is extraordinary to say the least. And we are at a complete loss to explain your condition. I’m sure you have already noticed there are things different about you.”

“What is wrong with me!” I croaked. I didn’t hear my voice. I sounded like…like a girl.

Dr. Murray shook his head. “That’s the problem, son. We have no idea what is wrong with you. When you were brought in, you were the victim of a severe chemical burn, fire and electric shock. In all honesty, I’ve never seen anyone survive burns that severe. But it seems the mixture of the chemicals you were using in class, combined with this odd metallic dust from the meteor and the fire as well as the electric shock caused a change in you we can’t explain. These changes affect you right down to your DNA and chromosomes.

“Look, Allen. I don’t know any gentle way to say this to you, so I’ll just be blunt. Allen, in a way that can’t be medically explained…you are now a girl. I mean completely. You are now double-X chromosome. You have ovaries and well…everything a girl has. You are no longer, in any way, a male.

*          *          *

“Hey Dad.” I said when my Dad appeared in the doorway.

“Hey, son.” My dad sat on the bed next to me. He gave me a weak smile and said, “How’re doing?”

Still not used to my girlish voice, I said, “Okay, I guess. They said I get to go home soon.”

Dad smiled and patted my leg. “I heard. Mom and I can’t wait to get you home again.”

“Where is Mom?” I asked, not seeing my mother around.

“At home. I just wanted to visit a minute…just us.”

Dad looked at me with a pained looked. “I’m sorry Dad. I know how disappointed you must be.”

“Allen, I mean Allison. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to calling you that. But Allison, I’m just glad you’re alive. I thought I was going to lose you.” Dad looked like he was on the verge of tears. Growing up, I actually had thought he was incapable of crying. “When…when we…saw you lying there burned so badly we couldn’t even recognize you…I…we…” Dad put his hand over his eyes and started to cry. I put my hand on his

He gripped my hand, running his thumb over my knuckles. He stopped crying and continued, “Your mother and I were over-joyed when they said you were going to survive. I was so afraid I was going to lose my boy…” He stopped there and dropped his eyes from me to the floor.

I squeezed Dad’s hand and sat up suddenly and almost shouted, “Dad, I don’t want to be a girl! I want to play for the Tigers. I wanted you to be proud of me! What am I going to do now as a stupid girl?”

Dad forced a smile and said, “You’ll always be my son. You didn’t ask for this. It’s not your fault. We’ll find some way through this, okay? Just don’t give up on yourself.”

*          *          *

My mom, dad and I were all crammed into small meeting room along with the two doctors who had been treating me, a counselor, and four others I didn’t recognize. Even though I felt I could walk, a nurse insisted that I be wheeled around in a wheelchair. My parents took seats on either side of me while almost everyone else sat opposite us. I would have laughed at the sight if everyone didn’t look so grim.

Dr. Murray cleared his throat and audibly swallowed. He looked at the gathering and said, “Looks like everyone is here. I thank everyone for coming on such short notice. The reason for this meeting of such a diverse group is of course Allison, the girl in question.” He pointed at me and I felt my cheeks redden. All these people were here to discuss me. I wanted to crawl under a rock.

Dr. Murray continued, “We have a problem of truly monumental proportions. We’ve been trying to contain this issue from the press, the medical establishment and scientific community. We can’t continue to do so. The staff who know about the girl and those who think they know have been have been informed in no uncertain terms that any word to friends or the press about her that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by HIPAA.”

Draining a cup of water before continuing, Dr. Murray looked mostly at my dad and said, “Mr. Goodall, I’d like to introduce Mr. Sweeny. He’s the hospital’s attorney. Next to him is Ms. Todd, the counselor assigned to help the girl.” One by one, Dr. Murray introduced various important people from the medical and scientific communities.

Taking a deep breath, Dr. Armstrong said, “Basically a boy changing down to the cellular level into a girl is hard to keep quiet, as well as at least locally a story about meteor setting a boy on fire with no word of his status. Since it was such a spectacular story, the press has been hounding us for weeks. The press is always trying to dig dirt on this hospital and…”

“Rick,” said Dr. Murray shaking his head.

“Anyway, they’re getting impatient with us on releasing information. A lot of speculation has sprung up. Basically, we need to make an announcement soon. But you just can tell the world that a boy caught on fire and turned into a girl!”

Dr. Dodson then cleared her throat and said, “To make a long story short, ladies and gentlemen, is that we have an individual who is the center of interest to many in the medical community who want to run tests on her, poke and prod her in order to try to figure out why this occurred. We may never know. The problem is, how do we make this girl available to science, keep her safe from whackos, who would try to do her harm, and let her attempt to lead a normal teen’s life with school and other socializations? She is a human being and not a lab specimen and none of this was her fault and she deserves to try to have a normal life. But her condition makes her invaluable to science. We could learn much from studying her.”

Dr. Murray leaned forward and clasped his hands before saying, “Mr. Goodall, Mrs. Goodall, we’re not here to discuss ideas on what to do. We have all met previously over the past week or so and we have a plan of action. We know this plan will upset you and the girl. But we have to put the interests of your daughter first.

“What we’re going to recommend is that we announce that Allen has died from his burns. In essence, this is true. A funeral to provide closure for the press, the school and Allen’s friends. And yourselves as well. This separates Allen and Allison. Allison can continue on without the constant questions about her metamorphosis as well as the bullying she’s bound to be hit with and such.

“Of course, this presents another problem. If this girl shows up in your household after Allen is declared dead, it might cause some uncomfortable questions.”

Dr. Murray slid some papers over to Dad. He said, “If you don’t consent, this can be reversed later, but for now, the girl is now the ward of the state. We recommend that the girl be placed in a foster home so she can be re-inserted into normal society without a lot of questions. Plus she will be available to be brought in once a month or so for examinations.”

Dad’s jaw set and his neck muscles tightened. I could tell he was fighting tears and anger. With tension in his voice, Dad said, “You expect me to just surrender my son to you? That we’re not going to be involved in his life at all? Are you out of your fucking minds?” Dad’s fist came down hard on the table. “He’s still our kid! He’s not your medical toy!”

Looking like he wanted to be elsewhere, Dr. Murray said, “We know this plan is upsetting to you. But Mr. Branson…” the doctor pointed his finger at me. “…your son is for all practical purposes dead. That girl next to you has your son’s memories, but her DNA is not the same as your son’s. Her chromosomes are XX. She has a fully functional reproductive system. The differences between Allen and her are similar to what you’d have between a brother and sister, but that is a completely new person.”

Dad’s face was reddening as he shouted, “I don’t give a shit! Girl or boy, that’s our kid!”

Mom closed her hand around mine and said, “How can you talk of taking away our child? I accept her as my daughter. We can move. We can tell nosey neighbors to go to hell. You can’t take my daughter away from me.”

A cold sternness clouded Dr. Murray’s face as he said, “We’ve already taken legal possession of your daughter, Mrs. Goodall. We can put her in foster care and hash out a visitation policy. You have to consider your daughter’s welfare…”

Bursting out in tears, I blurted, “Anyone give a shit what I want? What I think? Huh? Anybody?” I stood up, causing the wheelchair to roll backwards against the wall. “Well, I’ll tell you!”

Dr. Dodson said quietly, “Sit down, miss. We’re trying to decide what’s best for you.”

“No!” I shouted. “I’m not some person in the abstract. I’m me, dammit! Me! And I think I should have the biggest say in my own welfare.”

There was a sudden silence in the room and I took advantage of it. “Mom. Dad. I agree that Allen is dead and should be buried. I don’t want to be a girl, but that’s what I am. I’m so sorry Dad. I wanted you to be proud of me. And Mom, don’t try to fool me. I know you always wanted a daughter. And Dr. Murray, I am grateful for the care you have provided me, and I appreciate your concern for my well being. That being said, you have no right to take me from my parents. I don’t want to live with strangers. I want my Mom and Dad.”

Mr. Sweeny said, “As the hospital’s attorney, I strongly recommend that you follow the plan we have formed. We’re trying to protect you.” He spoke in an arrogant voice, one that is used to having his way.

“Like Mom said, we can move. It won’t be easy, but we have other options. We don’t have to have a total break between Allen and…and…who I am now.” Tears were streaming down my face and I felt that some of my words were blurred from the sobbing while trying to talk.

While trying to be dramatic, I hoped I didn’t look silly as I struck both my fists on the table and leaned on them as I said, “It’s my life and you are not taking me from my parents. Period!”

*          *          *

“Hello, Amanda” I heard my mom say after she opened the front door. “It’s nice to see you. Yes, Allen…Allison, is in her room. I’m sure she’d love to see you.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Goodall,” I heard Amanda say. I then heard the door close. A few minutes later there was a soft knock on my door.

“Hey, Amanda,” I said, opening my bedroom door.

It was her first good look at me since THE change. She stopped and gaped at me for a moment before saying, “Wow. Sorry, but you look so different. And oh! I love your room!”

Mom was trying, maybe too hard, to get me into the feminine mindset. We’d moved to a new house in a nearby town. Mom had repainted the walls of my room to a light pink with white trim around the door jambs. From my old room, down came the heavy metal posters and posters of bikini clad girls. They were replaced with girly posters and posters of a few popular teen heart throbs.

“It really is so good to see you, Amanda,” I said earnestly. “I’m really feeling lost lately.” It was really great that her parents had driven her over for a visit. Her parents knew nothing about who this new best friend of Amanda’s was.

“I can imagine!” exclaimed Amanda. “I’m still having trouble accepting it.”

“You’re having trouble!” I said as I jumped onto my bed. Amanda climbed up on my bed and we sat there, cross-legged staring at each other.

After a few moments of silence, Amanda said, “How do you feel?”

I bit my lower lip for a moment before answering. “Worried. Scared out of my mind. I don’t know what I’m going to do! I’m…I’m a freak!”

Amanda shook her head and said, “No, you’re not a freak. You’re still my best friend and you’re a very pretty girl.”

Tears welled up in my eyes again and I said, “I don’t want to be a girl, Amanda!”

“I’m a girl, Ali,” Amanda said quietly. “And it doesn’t upset me.”

Frowning I said, “You were born a girl. It’s different. Being a girl is…is…”

Amanda laughed and said, “You can’t say it, can you? You can’t really say why you don’t want to be a girl besides the fact that you were once a boy!”

I continued to frown as I said, “It’s hard to put into words, exactly.”

Amanda folder her arms and said, “Name me just one reason why being a girl is bad.”

I didn’t spend much time thinking as I said, “Well, girls are sissies!”

Laughing, Amanda said, “Am I a sissy?”

“You don’t like getting dirty,” I suggested. “That’s being a sissy.”

“No it isn’t!” exclaimed Amanda. “I just don’t like to get dirty. Try another reason.”

“Girls wear dresses,” I said.

“You don’t have to wear a dress. I usually wear jeans to school,” Amanda said, rolling her eyes. “But I do like dresses. You may find you enjoy wearing dresses. You won’t know until you try.”

“I already have. And my mom plans to make me wear them,” I said.

“Well, you can still wear pants,” grinned Amanda. “Name something else.”

“Girls wear make-up! No way am I wearing make-up!” I said defiantly.

Amanda shook her head and said, “You don’t have to wear make-up. There’s no rule. Lots of girls don’t wear it. I like make-up. You might find you like it too. What’s another reason?”

“I’m not wearing make-up,” I said. “Girls like boys. I’d rather kiss an alligator than kiss a boy.”

Chuckling, Amanda said, “Again, no law that you have to like boys. But I bet once you meet a guy you like, you’ll change your tune!”

“No way in hell!” I said a little too loud. “And before you ask, here’s another reason. Girls have periods!”

Amanda frowned and said, “Okay, you got me on that one. I agree that sucks.”

We were silent for a few minutes as we both just stared at the bedspread we were sitting on. Without looking up, I said, “Amanda. Amanda, I’m scared. I’m really really scared.”

Amanda took my hand and said, “I know, Ali. It’s a whole different world for you. But I’m here for you, girlfriend. In fact, I can’t wait to help you with your hair and nails and make-up! And I can help you with guys too. It’ll be so much fun!”

I looked up and smiled at her. I said, “If I have to be a girl, I’m glad you’re my BFF. Oh my God! I’m talking like a girl already!”

Amanda hugged me as we both shook in a fit of giggles.

*          *          *

I was with Mom at the mall in our old town shopping for a new dress for me. It was a risk, but the town we’d moved to didn’t have a good mall, so we’d occasionally venture back to check out the mall. I stopped outside the arcade where I’d spent many hours and a lot of my parents’ money as Allen. I just stood there, looking wistfully at some of my old favorite games.

“Are you Jamaican? Because your ja-making me crazy!” A voice next me said. I turned and almost choked as I saw my old friend Steve. He had no idea who I was. He laughed and said, “Funny, huh? But you know, I can tell you’re really smart. And you’re very pretty. Would you like to go out to a movie since it’s Saturday and everything?”

Did Steve just ask me out? Did he just say I was pretty? I can’t believe he used such a cheesy line on me. I smiled at him amused that Steve hasn’t changed since I last saw him. He smiled back at me. Oh crap.

“So…what do you think?” Steve said, grinning like a fool.

Slowly, I said, “I think…you should introduce yourself first before asking someone out.”

Steve suddenly had that deer in the headlights expression. I know he was thinking something like oh God, a girl is talking to me. He said, “Oh, yeah. Sorry. I…my name is um, Steve. Yeah, Steve. And…and what’s your name?”

“My name’s Ali.” I found myself looking at Steve. Besides being a goof, I had to agree with Amanda that he’s kind of cute. I thought Oh God! Steve is cute.

“Nice to meet you, Ali. My name’s Steve.” His face reddened as he said, “Oh, I said that already.”

I giggled and said, “Nice to meet you too, Steve.”

I could almost see the wheels turning in Steve’s head trying to figure out something to say before I just walked away from him, like most girls seem to do. “What school do you go to?” Steve asked.

Smiling I said, “Oh, I don’t live here. I’m here with my Mom to do some shopping.”

“Oh,” said Steve as he slumped his shoulders some.

“Allison!” called my Mom from a store entrance across the hallway from us. “We need to go.”

Waving, I said, “Okay, Mom!” To Steve I said, “Well, I have to go. Nice meeting you.”

Looking dejected, Steve said, “Yeah, nice meeting you too. Talk to you later?”

I started to walk away, and then paused. I opened my purse and pulled out a scrap of paper and a pen. I marveled how I ever survived before without a purse. I quickly jotted down my cell phone number.

I extended my hand holding the paper to Steve and said, “Sure. Give me a call sometime.”

Steve’s face lit up as he took the piece of paper. He said, “Gee, thanks! I will. See ya!” He turned quickly and ran right into an elderly woman. He looked up and then continued on his way with the woman scowling at him.

I started walking towards Mom and smiled. Maybe being a girl wasn’t going to be so bad after all.

*          *          *

The end of Chemical Ali

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This story is 5982 words long.