Veronica Carter is an amoral young gold digger who wants it all, but when she breaks into the safe of her fiance's elderly grandmother she finds an item that might make her rich but will exact a terrible price. A female to female transformation.
This story is one of six stories in the compilation, Talons of the Hawk by Emma Finn, a book of transformation and body swap stories available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
Veronica Carter didn’t see herself as “evil,” or as resting on any part of the moral gradient if Neutral was in the middle and Good and Evil were at opposite ends. In fact she rejected that the gradient even existed.
In her observation, people who claimed to be good had selfish intentions at their core just the same as a junkie or a rapist did. They might try their best to hide it – try hard enough that they actually believed it themselves – but they did their laughably “good” deeds to justify their own existence. Nothing more.
Veronica wasn’t like that. She wasn’t a hypocrite. She studiously kept herself well clear of the moral graph. As far as she was concerned, identifying oneself with any part of the moralistic spectrum was weak and unimaginative.
She didn’t believe in God, nor, by extension, heaven and hell. Beyond that, north on the so-called moral compass was a human invention from centuries, probably millenia, earlier. Outmoded by definition, and certainly far outside their original context.
Could those ancient forefathers predict the world of today when they scratched out their commandments on stone and tried to pass them off as divine ruling? Could they have comprehended the internet? Or international travel in a matter of hours? Or governmental policy that could dictate economical impact the world over?
Of course they couldn’t.
The way Veronica saw it, an entirely new code was required with each successive generation, or better yet, no code.
She was wealthy – not as wealthy as her fiancé’s family, but well off – and she wasn’t exposed to the same limitations as the masses. Morality had only ever been an invention to keep those masses in line. Why should she impose limitations on her own life if she didn’t have to?
She smiled to herself to think of that as she opened the door to the study in her fiancé’s grandmother’s mansion and walked over to the safe.
She liked the idea of having no code at all; true freedom to take any action without the need for guilt. Guilt was just another lower middle class soporific designed to pin them, squirming, to the moral gradient. She preferred to fly free.
Veronica had seen the safe by chance a few days earlier, when Brandon’s doddering old gran had shuffled unsteadily up to it to retrieve for him the engagement ring his mother had still been wearing when they pulled her out of the wreck of the head-on collision she’d had down on the spur road one rainy day.
Veronica wasn’t supposed to see – she wasn’t supposed to know Brandon was planning to propose – but she knew people and her curiosity had not allowed her to wait patiently when she came to suspect what his plans were.
When he had asked her to wait in the summer house while he “talked to his gran,” her interest had been piqued enough to follow him and listen in. By extension, she had seen the dowager check the combination on a post-it note on the desk before turning the dials and opening up.
It was interesting. Seeing that had thrilled Veronica more than the confirmation that Brandon was going to propose.
She closed the door of the enormous study firmly. Everyone was fast asleep - it was unlikely she would be disturbed – but it paid to be careful. She turned on the desk lamp and scanned the desk for the post-it. There it was, exactly as expected. The safe was in the usual banal position, behind a painting on the wall. When she owned this house; alongside her husband obviously; she would see to it that valuables were kept far more securely.
She turned the dial on the front of the safe then smiled again when she heard the final click. Inside was a packet of cash; probably ten thousand pounds or more; and several jewellery boxes. Veronica could only imagine how these were going to look on her. She’d been hoping they would be here. That had been her chief motivation; to try them on for size. That and to flex the muscles of the potential of this upcoming marriage. It really was going to be spectacular to be elevated to such levels of wealth.
She went to pull out the top jewellery box, only now noticing a heavy object inside a cloth drawstring bag on top of it in the shadowy interior.
“Now what could that be?” she said, smirking to herself and picturing a gigantic diamond. But surely that was ludicrous.
Forgetting the jewellery boxes for a moment, she withdrew the pouch, surprised by its mass and opened it up. Inside was a block of smooth stone. Or... She took it out and examined it from all sides. Not just a block of stone.
It was a piece of old broken sculpture: the head of a bird... an eagle maybe. It didn’t seem to have any value that she could see. It might have been nice when it was made but it was so worn and chipped now that the detail was no longer clear. The stone it was made from was a dark grey but the cracks and crevices glistened in the pale light from his desk lamp.
She had no idea what made it so important that it would be locked away.
“It’s a lovely piece isn’t it?”
Veronica jumped at the sound of the voice, spinning to look behind her, and gasped when she saw Brandon’s grandmother sitting in a high-back armchair in the gloomy back of the room, watching her, gripping her cane with fingers tangled like tree roots.
“Dania,” she said. “I didn’t see you there.”
“No,” replied the old lady, smiling coldly. “I don’t suppose you did.”
The two women regarded one another in the light of the desk lamp.
Dania, Brandon’s grandmother, was very frail. Her face was drawn tightly across the bones in places; a mess of wrinkles; but there were points of fat as well. The fat was pooled in places so she had an odd kind of shape, prevalent in many elderly ladies, with thin forearms but thicker upper arms, skinny legs and a round belly. She could look saintly when she smiled, but she wasn’t smiling now. She wasn’t angry or upset but there was a total absence of affection or benignity. It was startling. Veronica had never her so guilelessly hostile.
“I was just...” Veronica started the explanation, her voice light, as though it were a throwaway remark. But seeing the steadiness in the old woman’s glare she lost the momentum she had expected to carry her through a lie and out the other side. She couldn’t think of one reason why she would be slinking around in the middle of the night, sneaking a peek inside the safe she wasn’t supposed to know about.
Dania raised one eyebrow. “Yes?”
“I er...” Still she could think of nothing to say under that unrelenting and openly condemning stare. Why couldn’t she think of some easy excuse? The dowager didn’t even need to believe it. She could play along, just to avoid this uncomfortable conversation. But the old woman showed no signs of giving Veronica an easy way out. All she could do was put the broken stone bird head back in the safe and go back upstairs.
“I want you to know something important young lady,” said Dania, before she could settle on an action to take.
Veronica felt guilty then hated herself for it. There was nothing to feel guilty about. She was just looking at some objects. She was sick of people trying to make her feel bad for doing whatever she wanted. “What?” she asked, and it came out sullenly, almost accompanied by a pout.
“Only how transparent you are Veronica, and how transparent your relationship to my grandson is; on both sides.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked Veronica, pointing her voice up into the pitch that turned a straight question into indignation.
Dania smiled. “You already know exactly what I mean, but I’ll tell you anyway; mostly because it will make me feel better to get it off my chest.” She made a slight pointing gesture with a curled index finger that was gnarled like an old tree root. “I have a feeling it will make you feel better too.”
That surprised Veronica enough to keep her mouth shut.
“I know that you don’t love Brandon,” said Dania, her voice scratchy and tremulous. She raised a palm to stop Veronica’s inevitable exclamation of disagreement. “We are both women who know how to get what we want and you want what he has: the money.”
“That just isn’t true,” replied Veronica.
“Yes it is dear; even if you don’t admit it to yourself. And I bet you do. I bet you know exactly how ruthless you can be. I bet you’re proud of the fact. Am I right?”
Again, the accuracy of the old woman’s analysis surprised Veronica into silence.
“I thought so,” said Dania. “And perhaps you know in that merciless head of yours that Brandon doesn’t love you either.”
“Of course he does.” That came out like it was rehearsed but she did think it was true. Of course he loved her.
Dania just shook her head. “Neither one of you is suited for the other. You see a handsome prince willing to carry you off to a life of luxury. He sees a beautiful face and a beautiful body. Neither one of you is thinking about your long term happiness.”
Veronica started to speak but caught herself; not wanting to say how she really felt for fear it would confirm her dark intentions.
“Go on,” said Dania. “You don’t have to edit your words. I know exactly what kind of woman you are. There’s nothing you could say that would shock me.”
Veronica’s lip trembled with the words waiting on her tongue, then she gave a mental shrug and said, “You’re rich. You’re happy.”
“And you think the money made that happen?”
Dania gave a brief cackle of mirth. “Oh my dear; how little you know. But I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I don’t hate you and I’m not angry. I don’t intend to support your marriage to my grandson – I intend to block it in any way that I can – but I actually like you.”
Veronica frowned, perplexed and caught completely off balance by this trail of the conversation.
“My father was shot and killed by Nazi soldiers when I was a girl in Germany. I was very nearly sent to one of the death camps. It was hell keeping away from patrols; making my way out of the country with no money. But I did it. I came to England. I survived. I was wounded by what had happened to me but I never stopped yearning for a better life; fighting for it. I saw England as a place of new opportunities. It wasn’t a place that invited women to assume positions of great potential; not then; but I didn’t let that stop me because I had that same fire in me that I can see could just as easily burn inside of you.”
Veronica was rapt by this entire situation. It was so unexpected, all she found herself wanting to do was listen.
“I started a business,” said Dania. “I built on it.” She chuckled. “I practically invented women’s lib, carrying it by the shirt tails until it caught on, and then riding the wave of business development alongside the man I married; building the empire that made it possible for us to retire here to Nockton Heights.
“When my son and his wife were killed in the accident I went on, like I always did; like I had to; because there was nothing else I could do.” She smiled then at Veronica and showed the first warmth she had since the conversation started. “It was only age that stopped me. I could have gone on doing and living until the end of the world quite happily.” She gave a little bob of her head that functioned to point in Veronica’s direction. “You have so much potential child and you don’t even know it. So much potential. You’re young and beautiful. You’re extremely intelligent; that’s plain. You could do anything. Go anywhere. If you marry my Brandon then all that glorious potential would be wasted. I mean it.”
Dania’s brow furrowed in a vein of sadness. “If I were in your shoes I would finish it with Brandon before you could say Jack Robinson. Then I’d get out there into the world. I'd find out all about this incredible new technology that’s everywhere nowadays. I’d start from scratch. I wouldn’t need any previous wealth. I could make it all again and more. I could see everywhere; do everything.”
Veronica sneered, unable to contain herself any longer. “It’s easy for you to sit there and say that. You’re a millionaire. You got your lucky breaks and now you think you actually earned it.” She knew she shouldn’t be saying these things but Dania’s words had cut her more keenly that she had expected; perhaps because there was no redundant talk of morals. The old woman had spoken only of potential and Veronica felt the pinch of that. She always had.
“All you have to do is lounge about here in your mansion all day,” she continued. “You can imagine what you want about what you’d do if you had another chance. It’ll never be tested. It’s only because you’re so wealthy that you can afford to be blasé about your money. If I were in your shoes I wouldn’t stay cooped up in here, wasting away. I'd get out there and spend all the money. I’d travel. I’d wear the finest outfits. I’d act like a queen.”
She thrust out the broken statue piece. “Look at this. It’s worthless but you cling onto it in here like you cling onto the dust and your bank book. You’re the one who is wasting her life. I wish I was in your shoes. Then I’d show you that money is meant for spending!”
But the moment the words came out of her mouth, Veronica lost all the breath in her lungs, She felt a tightness in her chest and a dizziness that ran right through her.
“Are you alright dear?” asked Dania. “You don’t look at all well.”
“I don’t feel... right,” she replied. “I don’t...” She gripped her stomach, looking down. Then she frowned; a deep frown that creased up the centre of her forehead. “Huh?”
She wasn’t wearing her own shoes.
She’d been wearing some lilac two inch heels. But they were gone.
Her frown deepened still further.
Those weren’t the shoes on her feet anymore. She was wearing a pair of very old-looking slippers with a fluffy covering for the toes and an open heel, flat to the floor; just like the pair that Dania was—
Veronica looked up and across the room, at the old lady in her armchair looking back; at the wrinkled and swollen feet now squeezed into a pair of pretty lilac heels.
“What the hell?” said Veronica.
There was simply no way that the switch of shoes could have happened; no way that the old lady would have chosen those shoes with the silk nightgown she had on underneath her long dressing gown. Similarly, Veronica hadn’t yet got ready for bed. She was still wearing the same skirt and sleeveless blouse she’d worn all evening. Why would she ever have coupled that ensemble with a pair of worn slippers that didn’t belong to her?
“What is it?” asked Dania.
“My shoes,” she replied. “You’re wearing them. I have on your...”
Veronica didn’t reply. She was, instead, staring at her wrist; at the thin gold watch that was on it. Not hers. She didn’t wear one. She never had. Had never liked the feel of the tightness. And it was an old fashioned timepiece; the kind of thing “... an old lady would wear.” She muttered the words then gaped at Dania. “Something’s happening to us,” she said urgently. “Your watch. Your slippers. Look.” She held up her wrist.
Dania checked her own feet and hand. Veronica looked across to watch her, incredulous, then saw something that jarred her heart, her trembling finger reaching out to point in the old lady’s direction.
Underneath her dressing gown, Dania was suddenly wearing the same lilac blouse as...
Veronica clutched at her top, taking two handfuls of the silk nightie she was now wearing over her skirt.
“Oh God,” she said. “Oh my God, what’s happening?”
Dania looked just as perplexed. “I don’t know.” She opened the flaps of her dressing gown, revealing more of the sleeveless blouse, showing that her skin wrinkled legs were now bare and exposed. Veronica gaped at them; up at the jowls and rheumy eyes of the old lady before her, having an awful preternatural sense of dread; even of doom.
Then as she was watching there was a streaking shift and a matching skirt appeared, closing round Dania’s thighs, leaving her frail lower legs exposed.
Veronica clutched down at her own skirt but it was already gone. The nightie fell to below her knees, and though her own smooth and shapely legs were visible beneath, that sense of imminent catastrophe was swelling in the back of her neck.
She looked up into the eyes of the old woman in her seat, seeing her own fear and wonder reflected back, then flinched as the dressing gown vanished off Dalia’s arms and shoulders and appeared with a flourish of air on her.
“Oh God,” she whispered. “Oh God, no. Please. I don’t want this to happen. I don’t want this to happen.”
She looked at the old woman’s wattled neck; her chubby upper arms. She looked at her white curly hair and sunken cheeks; her sagging breasts and pot belly.
“I don’t want it,” she muttered; but the words didn’t come out smoothly. Not at all. Her voice sounded cracked and weak. She gripped her throat, desperately; hopelessly; for she knew now without doubt what was coming.
Her voice sounded exactly like Dania’s. She sounded just like an old woman!
“No. This can’t be,” croaked Veronica. “My beautiful voice.” She clawed at her neck and her chin; touched her lips.
“Why are you talking like—” Dania stopped mid question, her eyes as wide as Veronica’s, and her own quivering palsied hand rose to touch the hanging wrinkled skin below her chin. When she looked back at Veronica, her eyes were lit up like an evening sun. “I sound exactly like you!”
It was true, and hearing the velvety tones was like a vice clamping tightly on both sides of the younger woman’s head.
There was a small mirror on the same wall as the door. She discarded the little stone bird head, forgotten on the desk and rushed anxiously over to it, feeling the swish of the dressing gown; the flap of the old lady slippers she was suddenly wearing. But there was nothing wrong with her. Her face was her own. The worst hadn’t happened.
“Why is this happening to me?” she asked, hating the scrawny fragility of her voice now. She touched her cheek. “What could be doing this to—”
The words caught again in her mouth as she stared at the back of her hand in the reflection then darted her eyes down to it, lifting its partner up to clarify. “No. No. No. No!” There were liver spots on the once unblemished skin and even as she watched, the skin there became looser, the joints swollen.
Veronica looked back at Dania but the other woman had started to laugh and when she heard how pure and musical the sound was she laughed even more.
There was something different now in the way she looked and moved. Her hair was darker; streaks of yellow breaking up from her crown.
Veronica looked back at the mirror in alarm and saw her own beautiful full hair with streaks of grey in it; saw it withdrawing a little from her brow giving her a great semi-circle of pale skin on her forehead. She clutched at her hair but it had lost its shine; its body. It felt brittle and dry beneath her increasingly arthritic fingers.
She ran to Dania desperately and took her arms, hating the encroaching ache in her legs that almost made her hobble. “Help me! For God’s sake, stop this! It isn’t fair! I’m young. I’m not old. I’m not old!”
But Dania couldn’t take the smile off her face. She felt light for the first time years. She felt a new energy and strength as the aches in her body receded.
Tears pooled in Veronica’s eyes as Dania’s arms shifted under her fingers becoming slimmer and more athletic, then she gaped down in dismay at her own arms as the skin got looser; as her upper arms bulged; as all definition sagged away.
She staggered back, grasping at her chest. Her bountiful breasts were deflating; losing all their pertness; sagging down horribly. Her trim stomach swelled out and beyond she saw her legs shrivel, becoming almost bone thin, the skin loose there too and wrinkled.
“This isn’t happening,” she croaked. “It can’t be happening.”
Dania’s form was filling out; her arms becoming toned and athletic. Her chest filled out as her waist narrowed. Her thighs took on a young and well-exercised shape as she laughed all the more.
Veronica couldn’t laugh. She could hardly breathe. She shambled back across to the mirror, her legs and back aching terribly, and stared in horror at her face, at the old twisted hands that came up to touch the new crop of wrinkles; the sunken cheeks; the sagging jowls and wattled neck. Her hair was curly now and pure white and the tears were streaming down her cheeks.
She looked back at Dania, but it wasn’t Dania standing there anymore. The woman looked exactly like she had: the same well-tailored clothes; the thick blond hair; the athletic body; even her beautiful face.
She turned back to the mirror and her jaw dropped to show false teeth. There was nothing different now in the way she looked to the way Dania had looked only a minute or so before.
She had become Dania.
She had turned into an old lady.
She really was just a wrinkled and haggard old woman.
“It’s remarkable,” said Dania, marvelling at her smooth arms, feeling her firm body. “Truly remarkable.”
Veronica slumped into a chair below the mirror, her entire frame aching. She no longer had the strength to hold herself up. “Change us back; please. I don’t want to be like this.”
“That isn’t what you said a minute ago,” replied Dania.
“What?” The old woman looked up.
“You said you would love to be in my shoes so that you could show me the correct way to spend my money. It looks like you got your wish.”
“No. No. No. I wish I were young again,” she said rapidly. “I wish I was myself again.”
But there was no response. She remained exactly as she was: a withered old crone with receding hair and a bulbous ugly frame.
“I wish I were a young woman again. Please,” she said, but her voice cracked and tailed off as she slumped against the arm of her chair, quietly weeping.
Dania watched her for a moment then went back to enjoying the new sensations. She had actually forgotten how good it could feel to be young. Being old was such a long-enveloping sensation. To have that malady removed suddenly was euphoric.
She didn’t know what had caused this but she was glad of it; the universe acting out a path of rebalancing; rewarding the faithful and punishing those who didn’t appreciate what they had.
She felt sorry for the weeping old woman in front of her but it was hard to feel it too keenly. She had wished it on herself. Literally. And she was not a nice person; she really wasn’t.
Dania regarded her levelly for another full minute, then she made a decision and in a low voice said, “I’m going to leave here now.”
The old woman jerked her head up. “What? No! You can’t! That’s my body; my clothes! You have to stay and help me work out a way to change us back.”
Dania shook her head. “No. I’m sorry. I really am. But if my life has taught me anything it’s that you have to take an opportunity if it presents itself to you.” She shrugged. “You’ll get to keep my money. And I won’t be seeing Brandon again. Not like this. You can have him all to yourself.”
Veronica wailed with sorrow, burying her face in her sleeve, and Dania almost relented. But what could she do? She had no clue as to how this had happened. And no force on Earth could make her seek to climb back into that frail old form. She was young again! She could really do the things she had spoken of!
Veronica looked up at the beautiful young woman before her, her vision blurred by the tears and by her new short-sightedness. “I’m begging you,” she said. “Please don’t go. Please help me make this end.”
“I can’t,” replied Dania. “You wished you were in my shoes. Your wish came true. That’s all there is to it.”
Veronica couldn’t believe what she was hearing or feeling. The aches in her misshapen body were crippling. What did all the money in the world matter if she had lost her youth and her beauty? Oh how she wished she had not been so careless in her words. But how could she possibly have known? What had happened was impossible!
Dania went to the desk. “You can have everything that was mine,” she said. “I’ll start from the beginning. But I want this. I’ll take it with me.” She lifted the broken stone head of the hawk. “It’s the only thing I have left of my father’s.”
Veronica slumped down again, weeping and wailing.
She was a fat old woman. She was ugly and wizened. Her voice was ruined. Her limbs were scrawny and palsied and ghastly to look at. And there was no way back. She didn’t even know what had caused it. How could she possibly find a way to reverse it.
“I wish I was young,” she muttered. “I wish I was young.”
But whatever power had made the change was no longer listening.
Dania went to the door and looked back at her, but Veronica was consumed by her own despair and the acknowledgement of her own doom.
Dania slipped the stone hawk head back into its pouch as she climbed the stairs, marvelling still by how light and strong she felt. It was magnificent.
She still felt guilty about the fate of the former beauty, but it was all too splendid to be ruined by that. Besides, she reasoned, morality was a human invention and she had far more interesting things now to consider.
She entered her... former grandson’s bedroom. Brandon was fast asleep and snoring lightly. She went to the side of the bed, kissed the ends of her first and second finger, then touched them to his head. She watched him for several minutes then picked up Veronica’s handbag and left the room, leaving all her other belongings.
She descended the stairs and saw that Veronica had made her way through to the hall. “Please don’t go,” she said, her breathing laboured. “I don’t want to be an old woman.”
“I’m sorry,” replied Dania. “But that’s what you are.”
She gave the elderly lady a sympathetic smile and then went to the door, opened it and let herself out.
If you liked this then read the complete compilation of stories in Talons of the Hawk on Amazon.
You can also follow my serials every other day on http://transformation-stories.blogspot.co.uk/
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