Night and Day, part 12 of 12

“Cool! Were you this smart before you transformed? I wasn’t. I transformed while I was doing some science homework, and suddenly everything made a lot more sense, and I read to the end of the textbook by the end of the week, and asked Mrs. Taylor for some more books...”

Night and Day

part 12 of 12

by Trismegistus Shandy

This story is set, with Morpheus' kind permission, in his Twisted universe. Thanks to Morpheus, epain, and Karen Lockhart for reading and commenting on earlier drafts.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

But I never got an angry email from Jamie about the toenail polish. Apparently, it being Saturday and cool weather, he never got around to taking off his socks to take a shower until Sunday morning before church, by which time I’d already removed it using nail polish remover I borrowed from Mom before she went to bed. Jared overheard our conversation, and promised to tease Jamie about wearing toenail polish all day. I pleaded with him not to mention it, and he said he might think about staying quiet until he needed blackmail material.

I got an email that Saturday night from Jamie, asking how the sleepover went, and saying:

“I hope you got along well with Angie and Teryn, but if you don’t like them, try to pretend you do. Don’t mess this up for me. I think Angie looks at this as a package deal, she’ll be my girlfriend if she can be friends with you.”

I wrote back saying yes, I’d enjoyed the sleepover (I might have exaggerated a bit; it was definitely a nice break from staying in all the time, though Angie and Teryn weren’t the friends I’d have chosen if I could pick from any of the girls at school), and I wouldn’t mind doing another one or hanging out with Angie in the evening after Jamie went on a date with her. If he could talk Mom into allowing it, or sneak it past her.

The toenail polish started me thinking about what changes carried over between us and which got reversed when we changed. When I’d had an IV in, getting a transfusion, and wounds in my arms, the IV had popped out when Jamie woke up, and the wounds were gone when I came back. But the nail polish didn’t flake off when Jamie woke up. What if I got my ears pierced, and was wearing studs when Jamie woke up? I suspected they’d pop out when Jamie woke up, and the holes would have closed up by the time I woke again. What if one of us got a tattoo? Not that I wanted one, but I wrote Jamie an email asking him to promise not to get one either, until and unless we understood more about what carried over and what didn’t.

Back in the spring, Dr. Ware had told us about a new support group for kids who were transformed and their parents. It took a while before one of their meetings fell on a Saturday when Mom had the day off and some cash to spare, and she left Jasmine with Jared and took Jamie to it. To hear him write about it on social media, it wasn’t that great. And I didn’t think I’d ever have a chance to go, since the meetings were once a month, Saturday at noon; they met at a restaurant, the kids at one table and the adults at another. But then they planned something more elaborate for a Christmas party, and Mom told me it was going to be in the evening so I could be there for most of it. She was taking Jasmine and Jared too; the siblings of the transformed kids were invited.

So one evening in December I woke up looking out a western window of a building strange to me. Jared was standing by.

“Hey, Diana. We’re at that party Mom told you about.”

“Where’s the party?” We were alone in what looked like a Sunday School classroom; there was a map of the Holy Land on the wall, and a whiteboard, and a shelf of books I didn’t take time to examine.

“This way.”

“Did Jamie bring... oh, good.” I realized there was a clothes bag draped over a chair; I picked it up and Jared led me to a ladies' room, where I went in and changed into my underwear, blouse and dress pants, and nicer shoes. When I came out, Jared showed me the way to the party, which was in the fellowship hall on the east side of the church.

There weren’t a lot of people there, probably less than forty, and some were adults or kids too old to be transformed, and some were too young like Jasmine. She was running around with a couple of other little kids, and Mom was keeping an eye on her while standing talking to three other ladies of roughly her age. There were only eight kids about my age, who I figured were transformed.

“Diana!” Mom called when she saw us come in, “I want you to meet some people.”

So I went over and let Mom introduce me to her friends, all mothers of transformed kids, and then one of them introduced me to her daughter, Megan Hughes. Megan was a little shorter than me, and more than a little overweight.

“Wow! So you’re like the same person as that Jamie guy who was here earlier?”

“No, we’re different people. But he transforms into me at sunset, and I transform into him at sunrise.”

“So he went somewhere to transform in private, I guess. He didn’t tell us a lot about you, he mainly talked about his compulsion to watch the sun set every day, and about his superpower. Do you have the same power?”

“The physics is really similar, Dr. Darrington said, but the effect is kind of the opposite. He makes the light brighter, and the colors weird, and I make it pitch black, but only for other people — I can still see. We both just shift light frequencies around.”

“Cool! Were you this smart before you transformed? I wasn’t. I transformed while I was doing some science homework, and suddenly everything made a lot more sense, and I read to the end of the textbook by the end of the week, and asked Mrs. Taylor for some more books...”

“I might be a little smarter, but it’s hard to tell. I’m interested in more stuff, anyway, mainly astronomy and mythology. I’d kind of like to be an astronomer when I grow up, but I don’t know if I can even go to college with my condition.”

“You mean living only at night?”


Megan introduced me to the other transformed kids, and over the course of the evening a few more families arrived, with three more transformed kids. We didn’t really have much in common besides the experience of being transformed; the ways in which we’d transformed, our interests and personalities were all over the map. One girl wouldn’t tell us how she’d changed, except that it wasn’t physical; she was apparently really embarrassed about her personality change or compulsion, whatever it was. There was a guy just over fourteen, a few months older than me, whose orientation had changed; he’d been bi before, and now was purely gay.

“I sort of know what that’s like,” I said. “I used to be attracted to girls and now I’m asexual.”

“I don’t think that’s the same,” he said.

“No, I guess not.”

I talked at least briefly to all the transformed kids, except one who was really shy and wouldn’t talk to anybody except her older sister and dad. I spent most of the evening hanging out with Megan and a twelve-year-old Asian kid with pointed ears and white hair, Aaron Rothschild, who was also into science. He wanted to figure out how our superpowers work, and asked me a lot of questions about mine and Jamie’s powers. He also mentioned he hadn’t been Asian before his transformation, though I could have guessed from his name; he was Jewish.

Several of the kids had some odd feature like Aaron’s white hair and pointed ears, but none were completely inhuman-looking like a few kids I’d seen on the news or read about on the web. Those of us who had superpowers showed them off; I begged off at first, saying I’d throw a damper on the party and scare the little kids if I made it pitch-dark in the fellowship hall, but Megan and Aaron begged me, so we went down the hall toward the bathroom and a little way past it, where I showed them my power.

Almost half of us had some kind of compulsion like my need to watch the sun rise. “Dr. Ware figured out that learning new stuff about science is a compulsion for me, not just something I enjoy,” Megan told me. “If I go too long without learning something new, I get bored and frustrated.”

“I’m kind of like that when I can’t go out and watch the sun rise. When I was grounded and couldn’t go outside... that was horrible.”

“What were you grounded for?”

“...I’m not supposed to tell.” I wasn’t sure if it might be okay to tell Megan, but I remembered Mom telling me not to tell that reporter. I added in a whisper, “I might tell you later, in private.”

I would have liked to have stayed longer, but Jasmine got tired and cranky, so Mom gathered us up and we went to the bus stop. Jasmine was asleep by the time we had to change buses, and Jared carried her to the bus stop, onto the next bus, and into the apartment.

I hadn’t gone out walking at night again for a while, and I was getting antsy despite the relief afforded by visits with Angie. She invited me over again a couple of times in December — not for sleepovers; her mom or dad drove me home a couple of hours after sunset — and again for New Year’s Eve. She and I and several girls from school had our own party upstairs while her parents and their adult friends were partying downstairs; Angie even stayed up long enough to see me change back into Jamie, after her parents' guests had left and her parents had crashed so hard they couldn’t wake up to chaperon Angie and Jamie.

I think that was the first time Jamie got lucky. I’m not sure, because I’d asked him and Angie not to tell me how far they went. He probably wouldn’t have anyway, but I think Angie would have.

Megan invited me (and Jamie) over too, but that was tricky because she lived out in the suburbs, where the city buses didn’t run. I — or rather Jamie — would have to change buses three times, switching from a city bus to a county bus at the county line, and then walking almost a mile to her house from the nearest bus stop. So after a considerable amount of negotiating and planning by Mom and Megan’s parents, it was arranged that Megan’s dad would pick Jamie up one Friday afternoon after work, we’d spend the weekend at Megan’s place, and Megan’s dad would drop me off at school early Monday before work. I had a blast; it was much more enjoyable than my sleepovers with Angie, though I was grateful for those too. I gather that Jamie didn’t get on quite as well with Megan and her brother Will as I did.

Alone in Megan’s room at night, I told Megan about my brief campaign of vigilante justice and how it had ended, and she told me about how she’d lost all her popularity at school and most of her friends when she gained twenty pounds in thirty seconds. “I can’t get it off,” she said, a few tears leaking from her eyes. “No matter how little I eat or how much I exercise, I don’t burn off fat. Mom and I tested it one time — I went a whole day without taking in anything but water, and she checked my blood sugar every four hours. I felt hungry, but my blood sugar never got low and my weight didn’t drop. On the bright side, I don’t gain weight when I eat more, either. Dr. Darrington says it’s my superpower,” she added with a bitter laugh. I hugged her.

“I know it sucks,” I said. “It sucks to never see daylight either, though I guess the sunrise is the best part of the day and I do see that. But never seeing Tony and Ali — their parents won’t let them stay out late and won’t let a girl sleep over with them — that sucks too.”

After a while we got off the subject of our troubles and started talking about science, which was a much cheerier subject. We also watched several science fiction movies over the weekend, which Megan said she didn’t like before her transformation.

“It’s kind of fun to pick them apart and figure out how many things they got wrong,” she explained, after telling me why time travel couldn’t work the way it did in the film we were watching even if it were possible. “But once in a while you find a movie where they did get a lot of the science right, and it’s a real gem.”

Jamie’s and my fourteenth birthday was coming up in a few weeks, and then the one-year anniversary of our transformation a month after that. Mom arranged her work schedule so she could be off the Saturday after my birthday, which fell on a Thursday that year. We had a small family dinner with just us and Jason on Thursday evening, and then a bigger party on Saturday afternoon and evening. It started at four and went on until a couple of hours after sunset. Megan and Angie were going to spend the night.

When I watched the sun rise Saturday morning, I still wasn’t sure if Tony or Ali’s parents were going to let them stay after dark. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Ali there, along with Mom, Jared, Jasmine, Bobby, Angie and Megan, when I woke up at sunset. “Happy birthday, Diana!” they all said, more or less in unison.

“Ali, man! It’s so good to see you!” I hadn’t seen him in almost a year, though we’d chatted online a bunch of times.

“Hi, um, Diana.”

“It’s okay, I don’t have cooties or anything.” Jasmine picked that moment to come over and give me a birthday hug, and I knelt down and squeezed her back.

“I know.” He smiled awkwardly. “It’s just, well, I hear about you and I’ve seen photos, but seeing you change, it’s...”

“Weird, I know.”

“You know what it’s like to lose time,” Bobby said, “but you don’t know what it’s like to watch one of your best friends turn into another of your best friends.”

“I guess so. Hey, is Tony still here?”

“His mom only let him stay about hour,” Mom said. “He had to leave right after Jamie opened his presents. He left one for you, though.”


And it was pretty cool, though not as cold as Mom said February evenings used to be when she was a girl. We went inside and warmed up. Aunt Alice, Megan’s mom, and Ali’s mom were sitting on the sofa chatting.

Mom gave me a hug, and then Aunt Alice got up and did the same.

“Do you want to open your presents now?” Mom asked. “I don’t think Ali can stay much longer.”

“Sure,” I said.

I went to Jasmine’s room and changed clothes. When I got back, Mom put a candle on one of the remaining cupcakes and lit it. Everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” and I blew out the candle. I wished that if Jasmine transformed when she got to be my age, she’d get something easy to deal with. But I didn’t really believe in birthday wishes anymore.

Then Mom pointed out the presents Jamie had gotten that were for both of us. Mom and Aunt Alice together had gotten us a used tablet, so Jared and Jamie or I could work on stuff at the same time, and Ali had gotten us an old handheld game system and a couple of cartridges.

After that, I opened the presents that were just for me. Bobby had gotten me a book on plans for Mars colonization, and Megan a book on exoplanets. Jared and Jason gave me Amazon gift cards. Angie gave me a makeup kit, which I thanked her for and really did appreciate though I didn’t know how often I’d have a chance to use it. I obviously didn’t need it to attract boys, but maybe it would help me fit in better with other girls once in a while. Tony had given me a cartridge for the game system Ali had given me — they’d obviously coordinated that.

Ali had to leave right after that. Bobby stayed for another hour, but he seemed a little uncomfortable being the only boy among a bunch of girls. (Jared had gone to his room after I opened my presents, though Jasmine was allowed to stay up a little past her bedtime, charming the socks off of Angie and Megan). And I think Angie was ready to have Bobby gone so we could start the girly part of the sleepover. Megan and Bobby got along well, though, which I was happy to see.

After Jasmine went to bed and Bobby left, Angie and Megan unrolled their sleeping bags on the living room floor, and we watched a movie. Afterward, we used my new makeup kit on each other, and chatted about various things. I realized that Angie and Megan didn’t have a lot in common, except basic stuff that nearly all straight girls were interested in — stuff I wasn’t interested in, like boys, and how to look nice for boys, and so forth. But since I remembered being a boy before my transformation, they wanted to pick my brain about how boys think. I tried to remember what it was like, and tell them something useful.

“I am sooooo sleepy,” Megan said after a while, and yawned.

“You could lie down,” I pointed out. She was sitting on the other end of the sofa from me, and we were watching a movie with the sound turned off and closed captioning on. Angie was already asleep.

“Not yet. I want to finish this movie. And I want to talk with you some more. I don’t see you enough.”

“I’m glad you could come.”

“Bobby’s really cute.”

“Do you want me to give him a hint that you like him?”

“No!” she said, alarmed, and then: “Did I say that out loud?”

“Maybe you should go to bed, if you’re that sleepy.” It was getting hard for me to relate to sleepy people. I sort of remembered what it was like, back before our transformation, but the memories were getting vague.

“Don’t tell him,” she said, suddenly seeming wider awake. “It wouldn’t work, we go to different schools and live thirty miles from each other, and besides I don’t think he likes me.”

“Sure he likes you. I’m no expert on romance but I could tell.”

“Not like that.”

“Maybe. Well, suit yourself.”

She curled up in her sleeping bag as soon as the movie was over, and was snoring softly a few minutes later.

But I remembered what she’d said, and made a point of inviting her over as often as Mom would let me, especially during Spring break and summer. It turned out, eventually, that Megan and I were both right; Bobby liked her, but it wasn’t until a long time later that he got past her appearance and liked her “that” way. That’s getting beyond the scope of my story, though. In the last few years what they call “Twist Narratives” have become popular; at first it was mostly second-generation Twisted who went through their Twists in the 2070s, and then some old-timers like me started getting into it. Not that none of us had ever told our stories before, but I at least have never told it at this length and in this much detail. Anyway, a Twist narrative is supposed to begin just before the Twist and continue a few weeks or months after it, and I’ve already run past the usual time. I only lived through half of our first year, though, so I think I should be allowed some slack.

I still went to visit Megan more often than she visited me, because her parents weren’t entirely comfortable with her visiting me in my terrible neighborhood, though they liked me well enough; they only let her visit when Mom was off work and could supervise us. I spent the first couple of days of our Spring break with her, though I had to return home Sunday afternoon as Megan’s school didn’t have their Spring break until a week later.

A few days later, the anniversary of our change arrived. I went out to the playground a few hours before sunrise and watched the moon rise. The moon wasn’t full this equinox, but waning crescent. I hoped Bobby would do as I’d asked. He’d been pretty reluctant when I asked him a couple of nights ago, but he promised he’d try. After the moon set, I sat down on the bench, took out our tablet, and read until about half an hour before sunrise, when I turned it off and started watching the eastern sky. It was barely ten minutes till sunrise when he came out, blinking sleepily.

“I’m here,” he said. “I set my alarm like you asked, but it was so hard to get up...”

“Harder than staying up all night?”

“That was different. No, probably not quite that hard, but we were helping each other that time.”

“Thanks for being here.”

“No problem.”

“You got your camera ready?”

He fiddled with his phone a minute, then held it up and nodded.

I turned toward the reddening sky, and said: “Hail, Apollo, lord of the day! Artemis, lady of the night, greets you and bids you farewell. When I return, you will be gone, and we will never meet in this world. But exasperating as you are sometimes, you’re still my brother.” I faltered, realizing that I hadn’t planned this as well as I’d thought. Then I said: “Thank you for helping make these last six months a lot easier than our first six months.” I gave Bobby the sign, and he stopped recording.

“And thank you, Bobby,” I added. “Without your help I don’t think Jamie and I would get on half so well.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll show him the recording as soon as he wakes up.”

“Any second now. See you tonight.”

And the glorious sun that I loved so well, but would never see for more than a moment, came fully into view.

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