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Transgender / Transformation stories in English
	It was a perfect Saturday morning in Ovid. The sun was shining with 
the promise of a warm - but not hot - spring day. The humidity was relatively 
low for late May, and there was a light breeze from the north which meant I 
could open up the house and smell the aromas of spring. 

	Jerry was at the store, but he promised me he'd be home by three. My 
parents were due in by five to take the kids out to the farm for the rest of the 
weekend. That left Jerry and me free to go out to Winston's for a nice meal 
and then home to try out the goodies I had bought in the lingerie department 
at March's the day before. I felt a pleasant tingle between my legs that 
brought a smile to my face. How could I ever imagined this time a year ago 
that I, Matt O'Hara - All-American Boy, would become Cindy Patton, the 
mother of two darling children and a loving wife who couldn't wait to drag 
her handsome husband into bed for a marathon night of sex. 

	I sighed happily, leaning back in a kitchen chair to take another sip of 
my favorite coffee.

	"Mommmm!"

	I sighed again, this time not so happily. "What is it, Michelle?" I 
called.

	Suddenly, my six year old daughter came rushing into the kitchen, 
followed by Belinda Daniels, one of her little friends from school. "Mike just 
said a naughty word!" Michelle announced.

	I smiled in spite of myself. When Mike and Michelle had been two of 
my fraternity brothers along with Jerry, we had all used a number of naughty 
words. Well, Jerry and I still used a few, but not in front of the children. Of 
course, of my entire family, I was the only one who realized we had all been 
changed into the idyllic Patton family. 

	"Mike," I said sternly, not bothering to rise from the kitchen chair.

	A small boy, the twin of my daughter, reluctantly appeared in the 
doorway. He looked so cute it was all I could do to keep from getting up and 
hugging him. 

	"Now, what did you say to your sister and her friend?"

	He mumbled, "I called them dorks."

	I frowned slightly. "Well, I wouldn't call that a particularly naughty 
word, but it still isn't very nice."

	"But they're dorky girls," he replied, a little relieved that "dork" was 
apparently a milder term than he had imagined.

	"Girls, yes," I agreed, "but not dorks. Someday, my little lad, you'll 
be doing everything in your power to impress girls - not annoy them. They 
won't want to date you if you call them names."

	"Date!" he repeated. "Yuck!"

	I had to laugh. "Go on, you guys, time to play."

	Mike and Michelle bolted for the den, each trying to be the first to take 
control of the TV, but Belinda stayed behind. "Can I have a drink of water?" 
she asked politely. Of all Michelle's friends, she always seemed to be the 
most polite and the most mature. She had been a shade until recently, and as 
childish as anyone else her age. Now, though, she was real and had had 
several weeks to get used to her new identity.

	"Of course, dear," I replied, rising to get her a glass of water. When I 
handed it to her, she thanked me and took a sip. She looked as if she wanted 
to say something, so I asked, "Is there something you want to talk about, 
Belinda?"

	She nodded. "Yes, ma'am. Uh, Mrs. Patton, do you remember who 
you... I mean, were you ever..."

	I had heard others stumble over the question as Belinda was now. 
"Are you trying to ask me if I remember who I used to be?"

	Her face brightened in relief. "Yes! Oh, yes! You do remember. I 
thought you did." I thought for a moment, she would actually break into 
tears, but she managed to hold them back.

	I reached over and gave her a motherly hug. "So, of course, you 
remember who you were, too, don't you?"

	She nodded her pretty head. "Uh-huh."

	"Let me guess," I said softly. "You weren't a little girl before."

	"No," she agreed slowly. "I don't like being a little girl either." At 
that, she did burst into tears.

	"Belinda!" Michelle yelled from the den.

	"She'll be out there in a minute, honey," I called to her, grabbing a 
napkin to wipe her liquid blue eyes.

	"Th- thank you," she sniffed, practically cradled in my arm.

	"Now," I said, sitting her down next to me when she had stopped, 
"why don't you tell me all about it?"

	Of course, I knew all about it. I had been in the courtroom, doing my 
job as assistant to the Judge, who was, of course, the god Jupiter. I had 
watched as Belinda and her two friends, all male at the time, had swaggered 
into the courtroom, their black leather jackets emblazoned with the patch of 
the Screaming Eagles, a biker gang out of Houston. Within a few minutes, 
each of the tough, bewhiskered bikers had been changed into a little girl, the 
oldest of whom was only ten. The other two girls didn't remember who they 
had been, which was the more common situation in Ovid. Belinda 
remembered, though.

	I knew it was hard for her - probably harder than for most. When I 
was changed, I had been a college student. Although I had been masculine 
enough, I wasn't a rough and tumble sort of guy. I had adapted quite well to 
being female - better than most, I was sure. The same was true for some of 
my friends, like Susan Jager, a promising young attorney in Ovid. 

	For transformees like Belinda, though, things were particularly 
tough. She had been Screech McCracken, a tough biker who had been 
notorious for his antics in small towns all over the southwest. The Judge had 
taken special pleasure in changing Screech into a very pretty and very 
feminine little girl. Like everyone in Ovid, Belinda began to slowly adapt to 
her new role, but it had been very hard for her. A prison sentence would have 
probably been a milder punishment.

	"I don't want to talk about it," she replied softly. "I just can't. I- Mrs. 
Patton, I need to know. Were you a boy before?"

	"Well, that's a very personal question, sweetheart," I answered. I 
intentionally used the word "sweetheart" to reaffirm her sex and status. I had 
no intention of making things too easy for her. Screech McCraken had been a 
nasty customer and was now getting what he so richly deserved. Still, I had 
found myself liking the little girl he had become. I would have to tread softly. 
I wanted to help her, but making things easy for her might not be the best 
help. I was starting to understand the difficult task the gods had given 
themselves. They strove to make our lives whole, but not necessarily easy.

	"Okay," she said, accepting that I was not going to tell her about 
myself. "I understand, I think. It's hard to think straight any more."

	Yes, it was. One of the great difficulties in changing adults into small 
children was that they had lost the innocence of childhood. If they were to 
succeed in becoming whole, it was something they had to regain on their 
own. Belinda was slowly but surely returning to childhood. I knew that she 
had reluctantly agreed to play with Michelle that morning, but it was an 
important step for her in realizing who she had to become.

	"You'll do fine," I assured her. "The hard part is really already over."

	"The hard part?"

	I smiled. "You learned how to cry."

	She gave me a tiny hint of a smile. "Thank you, Mrs. Patton."

	"Any time, Belinda," I said, returning her smile. "Now, go play with 
Michelle."

	"Yes, ma'am." 

	It was almost a little girl who went scurrying off to the den.

	I returned to my coffee, another crisis solved - partially at least. I had 
taken just one more sip of the now lukewarm brew when there was a "pop" 
in the den, followed by the screaming of three small children. In horror, I 
jumped to my feet. Then, the screams turned to laughter. "Xena!" I heard 
Michelle squeal.

	An Amazon marched into my room, followed by three adoring 
children. She did, in fact, look something like Xena. She was tall - at least 
six feet - and had raven tresses flowing down her well-tanned back. She 
wore a leather tunic and high leather boots, both studded with gleaming 
silver. Of course, I knew at once who it was.

	"A little early for Halloween, isn't it, Diana? I drawled.

	"Are you Xena?" Mike asked with awe in his little voice.

	Diana, as in the goddess Diana, smiled at him. "No, little guy, but 
I'm sort of like her. I am Di-an, Warrior Princess. Now, go play and let me 
talk to your mom." She made a slight motion with her hand, and all three 
children wandered out of the room. I was sure she had made them already 
forget what they had just seen.

	Facing me, she mad another gesture, and suddenly, she was wearing 
shorts, a T-shirt, and sandals just like me. Well, better than me, actually. I 
was attractive, but Diana in any of her avatars was absolutely breathtaking. 
She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table with me. 
"Boy, it's good to get out of my working clothes," she said with a sigh.

	"Have I just seen the real Diana?" I asked.

	She frowned. "Oh, that stuff? No, those are just my working clothes. 
My brother, Apollo, is co-producing a movie. It's some sword and sorcery 
epic being filmed in Mexico. Lots of T and A in it. It's a little on the cheap 
and sexy side, so they'll probably release it directly to cable. I took a role in it 
just to make him happy. I'm getting too old for this sort of work, though."

	This from a woman who never looked over thirty.

	"Then why did you do it?" I asked, taking another sip of coffee.

	"Well," she explained, "it's been a little dull around here lately. Since 
we had the spies at Vulman a few weeks ago, the Judge seems to be slowing 
down his case load."

	Actually, that was true. Spies had slipped in, and until the other gods 
figured out how it had happened, the recruiting of new Ovid residents had 
been slowed to a crawl. Most of the recent additions to the population had 
been new shades, working at Vulman Industries on the new military contract.

	"I understand he did nail a big fish this month, though," she said with 
a sly grin. 

	"That he did," I agreed. "I suppose you want to see the whole thing." 
That was part of my job, of course. Recorded deep in my memory were the 
details of every Ovid case. When a god or goddess wanted to review them, I 
had to make myself available. Most of the gods chose to forgo the 
presentation, but Diana was always looking for a good story.

	"Whenever you're ready," she said with a smile.

	I took one more sip of coffee and began to fall into a trance.

				***

	I was staring directly into the blue eyes of Martin R. Brubaker. The 
eyes were usually cold and empty, animated only when excited by the rush of 
success. Then, they took on a cruel gleam which meant the person he had 
been looking at had been beaten. They were eyes that had shown no emotion 
when his wife had killed herself, presumably because she had been beaten 
down by him over the years. Not physically beaten, of course. That would be 
too crude for the God of Real Estate, as the Wall Street Journal had dubbed 
him. No, he had beaten her down mentally, his cold eyes mirroring the 
contempt he felt for her.

	Now, though, those eyes showed something else. I had a difficult 
time identifying what those eyes were conveying that night, but at last I 
knew. Martin R. Brubaker, the God of Real Estate, was frightened.

	He had good reason to be frightened, I realized. He was a passenger 
in a private jet which was threatening to shake apart somewhere over 
Oklahoma as storm clouds swirled just outside with strong winds buffeting 
the plane violently. We were all frightened. We had good reason to be. There 
was a definite possibility that we would not survive our flight. As much as I 
wanted to live, though, I had to admit to myself that even dying might be 
worth it just to see the God of Real Estate crap in his pants.

	It couldn't happen to a nicer guy, I thought sarcastically. I had 
worked for him for ten years, and in that ten years, I had learned to hate him 
more than I had ever thought possible. I had watched him treat everyone who 
had helped him to the top as if they were dirt under his feet. He had belittled 
and degraded enemies and allies alike, and he had treated me no differently. 
After all, I was only Martin R. Brubaker, Junior.

	I looked around at Miss Simon. She was the only other passenger in 
the plane, and she was as frightened as the rest of us - I could see it in her 
deep blue eyes. She was my father's secretary. She was an attractive blonde a 
few years younger than my twenty eight years. She looked both professional 
and sexy in her tailored navy blue suit with a short slit skirt. I had entertained 
a number of fantasies about her since my father had hired her only a few 
months before, but those fantasies were never to be realized. My father had 
strict rules about relations with the hired help, and Miss Simon was beneath 
me in status. Besides, my father had already picked out a wife for me.

	Lucinda Watson was the only daughter of Malcolm Watson the Third, 
president and principal stockholder of one of the largest insurance companies 
in the country. His company had a real estate portfolio that was second to 
none. A merger of our two families through my marriage would mean my 
father would have an investment partner who would be able to finance many 
of his new projects. I sighed. At least marrying Lucinda would give me some 
useful function in the company. In spite of a Harvard MBA, I was reduced to 
a role not much greater than Miss Simon. What was I saying? She could at 
least type a letter. That was probably beyond my authority.

	I was the laughing stock of the company. I knew it, of course. Sure, I 
had the title of Vice President, but I wasn't vice president of anything. What I 
was was an errand boy for my father. Ever see Fierce Creatures? I was like 
Kevin Kline in that movie. I hoped I didn't act as stupid as he did, but I 
certainly was like him when it came to job authority. 

	"Miss Simon!" he barked over the roar of the jet engines. "I want you 
to go forward right now and find out what that lunatic in the cockpit thinks 
he's doing with my airplane."

	Miss Simon looked frightened, and I couldn't blame her. The plane 
was being buffeted by heavy winds which made it rise and fall wildly without 
warning. Flashes of lightning were adding noticeably to the brightly lit cabin 
of the plane. Standing went beyond stupid. It was downright dangerous.

	"Father, I'll do it," I offered, starting to unbuckle my seatbelt.. Damn 
that streak of chivalry, I thought. It had made me stupid, and as Forrest 
Gump would say, stupid is as stupid does.

	"If I wanted you to do it, I would have told you to do it!" he snapped. 
"Stay exactly where you are. Miss Simon can handle it."

	In a perfect world, I would have looked directly into Miss Simon's 
deep blue eyes. I would have gained the strength from them I required to defy 
my father. To his shock and amazement, I would demand to be the one to go 
to the cockpit. Miss Simon would fall instantly in love with me, and my 
father would develop a sudden deep respect for me. But it wasn't a perfect 
world. Sinking back down in my seat, I did as I had been told. I couldn't 
bring myself to look into Miss Simon's eyes.

	Dutifully, she unbuckled her belt, grabbing on to the side of her seat 
to avoid being smashed into the bulkhead. She made her way carefully to the 
cockpit, her lovely body twisting unnaturally as she clung from seat to seat. I 
felt her arm brush against my shoulder as she grasped my seat, and I felt 
deeply ashamed.

	"That's your biggest problem," my father began to lecture me, 
ignoring Miss Simon's travails. "You can never be an effective executive 
until you learn that menial tasks are to be performed by menial employees. Is 
that what you want to be - a menial?"

	"No, sir," I muttered just loud enough to be heard over the straining 
engines. There was no sense in arguing with him. Storm or no storm, he was 
back in his true form. He seemed to actually gain strength from browbeating 
me. It had taken his mind off our peril.

	It was his fault, though. It was my father who had given the order to 
the pilot to fly in spite of the gathering storm. We had been in Branson, 
Missouri, trying to determine what was required to turn a sleepy little town 
into a country music center second only to Nashville. If we could determine 
how to duplicate Branson's success in some underdeveloped community, 
Martin Brubaker would once again perform another godlike miracle like the 
ones he had already performed in seven different states on projects too 
numerous to mention. 

	We were going to check out several potential communities in 
Oklahoma. My father had already met with the governor and gotten the 
political backing he needed. Healthy donations to the campaigns of several 
key legislators had ensured that whatever community we chose to be the next 
Branson would have millions of dollars poured into it for new roads and 
community services. The state would bear the expense and my father would 
garner the profits. That was why he was the God of Real Estate.

	We had appointments set in several small towns on the edges of the 
Ozarks, and our schedule was tight. Although our pilot had recommended 
that we delay our flight, my father wouldn't hear of it. "If you can't fly us 
there, I'll find myself another pilot - one with the balls to fly me where I need 
to go," he told the pilot.

	Our pilot, Rusty Stoker, had flown fighters in the Gulf War. He had 
balls the size of watermelons, and he wasn't used to be talked to like that. His 
face red with anger, he had replied coldly, "It's your party."

	"Yes it is," my father had responded impassively, "and don't you 
forget it."

	So here we were, flying into the heart of a Midwestern thunderstorm. 
Storms over states like Oklahoma produced some of the most intense weather 
imaginable, from hail and straight line winds to torrential rain to tornadoes 
with winds so intense they could drive a stalk of wheat right through a 
wooden telephone pole. I had never been so afraid in my life.

	Miss Simon disappeared into the cockpit just as the plane shuddered. 
Through the cabin window, I could see a bright flash followed only a couple 
of seconds later by the crash of thunder roaring over the sounds of our jet 
engines. There was again a moment of fright in my father's eyes. As terrified 
as I was, I took some pleasure in seeing that the great man was actually 
concerned about his own mortality. That the man who had been instrumental 
in wrecking so many other lives could be concerned for his own was 
gratifying.

	He recovered quickly, though. After all, he still had me to kick 
around. "Do you have those files on the towns we have to visit?" he asked 
gruffly.

	"Yes, sir," I replied, pulling five folders from the pocket in the side of 
my seat. With my father, I was expected to call him "sir" at all times. I don't 
remember ever calling him "dad."

	"Let me see them," he snapped, grabbing them from my hands as the 
plane shuddered again.

	What was it like outside, I wondered, staring into the dark night. The 
clouds were boiling masses of gray and near-black. Rain was swirling 
through them, I knew. The winds were whipping it back and forth on its long 
trip to the ground. Only the power of our two jet engines kept us from being 
tossed on those winds, mixed with the rain through the dark Oklahoma skies. 
How much longer would we be in the storm? It couldn't go on forever. 

	"This town has promise," he said, holding up a folder. I couldn't see 
the name on the folder, but it didn't really matter. He wasn't really talking to 
me anyway. Besides, whichever town he picked would be altered beyond all 
recognition in a few years anyway. He would go in, making everyone in 
some little town think they were going to be rich. Greed would get him 
whatever he wanted out of local city councils, banks, even schools. Everyone 
would be following him around as if he were Professor Harold Hill in the 
Music Man. Then eventually, they would all find out that the only person 
who was going to get rich from the new venture would be Martin R. 
Brubaker.

The cockpit door opened again. Miss. Simon's husky alto called out, "Rusty 
says we'll - "

	Whatever she was about to say would be lost forever. There was a 
bright flash just outside the plane, filling the cabin with white light. There 
was a loud rumble outside the plane which translated into a violent shaking of 
the entire aircraft. Suddenly, I felt my stomach twist and turn as the plane 
dropped precipitously, my seat belt practically cutting through my abdomen.

	I watched in horror as Miss Simon seemed to fly through the cabin, 
striking her head on the overhead with a sickening thud. Rusty apparently got 
control back, for I felt the plane level off and continue normal flight, if it 
could be said that turbulent shudders constituted normal flight.

	I unstrapped my seat belt and rushed to Miss Simon's side. She was 
unconscious but seemed to be breathing normally.

	"Get back in your seat, you goddamned idiot!" my father 
commanded. 

	"She's hurt!" I protested. I wanted to help, but I didn't know what to 
do.

	"You will be, too, if you don't belt in!" my father warned. "Leave her 
where she is until we land."

	It was actually good advice. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I 
knew I was in danger. Just because we had survived so far didn't mean we 
were out of the woods. Still, I couldn't leave her there, sprawled on the cabin 
floor. Another bout of turbulence like the last one and she might be hurt more 
- even killed.

	As I held her gently in my arms, I realized it was the first time I had 
ever touched her. Her skin was soft and warm as I had imagined it would be, 
and I found myself wishing that I had never heard of Lucinda Watson.

	The plane shook once again. I looked out of a cabin window in time 
to see another flash of lightning. For a moment, I was actually able to see the 
clouds. They looked like a human face. I could almost see the face of a man, 
perhaps middle aged, in glasses. Maybe it was the face of God, I thought. 
Did that mean God was nearsighted? I had to stifle an hysterical giggle at the 
thought.

	"If you're going to play the hero, get her up in her seat and strap back 
in!" my father demanded. I had no illusions about him really caring what 
might happen to me. No, if I were injured along with Miss Simon, my father 
would have no one to fetch things for him. He would have to perform menial 
tasks for himself.

	Still, it was good advice. Clumsily, I managed to lift her limp body 
back into her chair and belt her in. Her head slumped to one side, and for a 
terrible moment, I wondered if her neck was broken.

	I made a quick decision and ran for the cockpit over my father's 
protests. We needed to get help for Miss Simon at once.

	Rusty was fighting the controls. I was shocked to see his face was as 
pale as I suspected my own face was. His hands gripped the wheel so tightly 
that the knuckles appeared twice their normal size. He turned for a second 
and yelled, "Get back in your seat, you idiot!"

	Rusty and I got along great, but he had no more respect for me than 
any of my father's other employees did. I jumped into the copilot's seat and 
buckled in. Looking out of the windshield, I could see nothing but a river of 
rain, sparkling like a Christmas tree in the dim cockpit lights.

	"We need to land!" I yelled over the noise of the storm.

	"You're telling me?" he yelled back.

	"Is there anything I can do?" I asked.

	 "Not unless you can conjure up a landing field," he told me. "This 
plane was never meant to take this kind of stress. If we don't find someplace 
to land quickly, we're all toast."

	"Can I put out a Mayday?" I asked, reaching for the microphone. 
"Maybe I can get somebody to light up a field." There are a large number of 
small airports all over the country which have lights, but only turn them on as 
needed.

	Rusty shook his head. "Forget it. That last bolt of lightening fried the 
radio."

	"I thought that wasn't supposed to happen."

	"So sue the manufacturer!" he snapped.

	I looked out the windshield again. "What's that over there?" I asked.

	"Where? Oh, wait. It looks like an airport."

	It did, indeed, look like an airport. Through the sheets of rain, we 
could both see two strips of parallel lights below us in the distance. There 
were even lines of approach lights.

	"Damned if it doesn't look like a big airport," Rusty muttered over a 
now abating storm.

	"Could we be off course?" I asked. "It might be Tulsa."

	"You don't get off course with GPS," Rusty explained. "No, we're 
out in the middle of Nowhere, Oklahoma. Even Muskogee doesn't have a 
strip that modern, and we're at least fifty miles from there. That airport's five 
miles at the most."

	"I don't care if it's Twilight Zone International," I laughed. "Let's just 
get this plane on the ground." I probably wouldn't have been so anxious if I 
had known how close to the truth my little joke was.

	Rusty's landing was flawless. Of course, he was helped by the fact 
that by the time we landed, the wind and the rain had all but stopped. It was 
as if the area around the airport had some sort of shield which kept the worst 
of the storm away. I looked around as we came in, trying to find some 
landmark that might tell me where we were. There seemed to be the lights of 
a small town a couple of miles away, but there was no development around 
the airport. Apparently it wasn't as big as we had thought. I couldn't even see 
a terminal - just a couple of small, dimly lit metal hangars. There seemed to 
be a collection of vehicles around one of them, so Rusty taxied over to them.

	I rushed back into the cabin without waiting for the plane to stop 
taxiing. Miss Simon was still unconscious. I rushed to her side.

	"Where are we?" my father demanded to know. "Why have we 
landed? The storm's over."

	"We have to get her to a hospital!" I snapped at him with 
uncharacteristic courage.

	He snorted, "She'll be alright. It's probably just a bump on the head. 
We have a schedule to keep."

	I bit my tongue rather than tell him what I thought he could do with 
his precious schedule. Instead, I brushed the hair out of Miss Simon's face, 
regretting that I had never gotten to know her better. She was the kind of 
woman I really wanted to know.

	I didn't even hear the hatch open. Before I knew, it, two white men 
and a black woman in medical greens were pushing me away from Miss 
Simon as they began to check her out.

	"It's a concussion," one of the men proclaimed. I looked at him 
through tired eyes. What was wrong with him? It was almost as if I could see 
through him. Not really, but almost. I chalked it up to exhaustion.

	"Will she be alright?" I managed to ask.

	The black woman answered, "She'll be fine. We'll get her to the 
hospital right away."

	I looked at the woman. She appeared to be somewhat transparent as 
well. I knew it had to be exhaustion. What other explanation was there? 

	The woman led us from the plane. Rusty and I were pretty shaky as 
we made our way down the ladder, but my father had, unfortunately, 
regained his composure. He was his usual overbearing self. He pushed away 
a man at the bottom of the ladder who tried to help him down and blustered, 
"Get this plane back into the air! We're not supposed to be here. For that 
matter, just what is this place anyway?"

	"You're in Ovid, sir," came a voice from out of the darkness. Then, 
as he stepped into the light, I could see that the speaker was a police officer. 
He was tall and slender, with a handsome face and impeccable uniform. He 
moved with incredible grace as he faced my father. "Ovid, Oklahoma."

	"Well, I'm not supposed to be in Ovid, Oklahoma," my father 
growled. "I don't even know where Ovid, Oklahoma is!"

	"It's right here," the officer said, not intimidated in the slightest. Did I 
detect a thin smile at the corner of his mouth?

	"Obviously it's right here," my father conceded, "but I'm not 
supposed to be. We need to leave at once."

	"I'm afraid that won't be possible, sir," the officer said, pointing to 
the tail of our plane. There was a large black scar on the tail, and if I looked 
closely enough, I could see that at the center of the scar, there was a small 
hole, maybe six inches in diameter. 

	"You were struck by lightening," the officer continued. "You were 
very lucky just to get the plane down. It won't be flying again for some 
time."

	"But I have a schedule to keep!" my father insisted. 

	"Sir," the officer said politely, "if you'll provide me with a list of 
your scheduled appointments, we'll make certain that you aren't missed."

	My father thought about it for a moment. I could see the wheels in his 
head turning. There was nothing to be done now except cooperate with the 
Ovid police officer. "All right," he said at last. "My son can give you the 
names of the people you need to contact. We need to arrange transportation to 
get to our next destination. Where can I rent a car?"

	The officer shook his head. "The car dealers all rent cars, but there's 
nothing open this late."

	"Then call Tulsa," my father ordered. "They'll send a car from Hertz. 
My son can give you our authorization number."

	I was still fumbling through my attache case for our agenda. Now I 
had to try to find our Hertz number as well? The officer saved me the trouble, 
though.

	"It wouldn't do any good," he explained. There are flash floods 
between here and Tulsa. You'll just have to wait until morning."

	My father sighed. He didn't get to be the God of Real Estate by 
running into brick walls. Like it or not, we were stuck in Ovid for the night. 
Tomorrow, we could get a car and be on our way, but not tonight. I handed 
the officer a copy of our agenda.

	The officer smiled. "Now that that's settled, you'll need a place to 
stay. I'll take you both to the Ovid Inn. They have rooms for you."

	"Wait," I said looking around for Rusty. "Our pilot will need a room, 
too."

	"He's been taken to the hospital for observation," the officer told me.

	Observation? There had been nothing wrong with him when we 
landed. Rusty was an ex fighter pilot. He wasn't hurt during the landing, and 
he was too much of a John Wayne type to complain about nervous 
exhaustion or the like. 

	"Maybe I'd better go see how they're doing at the hospital," I 
ventured.

	The officer shook his head. "The nurse said they would be fine. As 
soon as you get in your rooms, you can call and find out what their condition 
is. Now, if you'll come with me, I do need to get you to your rooms.

	We followed him to his police car without further protest. My father 
was uncharacteristically quiet as we drove into town. Then I realized I had 
seen the mood before. He was sizing up Ovid. Perhaps this would be the 
town he was looking for.

	As we drove into town, the two lane road became four lanes, and we 
were treated to the usual display of gas stations and fast food restaurants that 
graces the main highway strip of every small town in America. I noticed no 
national franchises - no McDonald's or Burger Kings. The most prominent 
fast food joint on the strip was called Rusty's Burger Barn. In fact, it was the 
only place still open. I checked my watch. It was only ten thirty. Apparently, 
the sidewalks rolled up early in Ovid.

	The Ovid Inn looked like a small town version of Best Western. It 
was neat and clean, the white stucco front recently repainted. It was an L-
shaped building two stories high with all rooms opening to the outside. In 
front, across the parking lot was the typical motel swimming pool. It was 
about the size of the hot tub at my father's home. Scattered around the pool 
was the usual collection of cheap plastic lawn chairs. I doubted if the Ovid 
Inn had a place in the Mobil Travel Guide.

	"Here are your keys," the officer said after we had parked. "Your 
luggage is already in the rooms. Good night."

	Tired, we both muttered good night and got out of the car. After we 
had shambled half way to our rooms, I stopped as a thought struck me.

	"What's wrong?" my father asked.

	"How did that officer make all these arrangements? I didn't see 
anyone get our luggage out of the plane. And how did he get these room 
keys? We were with him all the time."

	My father shrugged. "I don't know and I'm too tired to find out. I'm 
sure there's a good explanation for it. Just let it go. We have a long day ahead 
of us tomorrow."

	He was right about that, I realized, so I went to my room. It was a 
pleasant room - nothing fancy - with cable TV and a comfortable bed. As 
promised, my bag was already in the room. I got ready for bed, relieved to 
still be alive after our harrowing flight. I could have used a drink, but I was 
too tired to get dressed again and find a bar. I settled for channel flipping.

	As I half watched TV, my suspicions rose again. It wasn't just the 
police officer's actions that had me wondering. I also began to wonder how 
during an emergency landing at a seemingly closed airport, there was already 
an ambulance and a police car waiting to meet us. And why had they taken 
Rusty away? He had seemed fine to me. 

	For that matter, where was Ovid, Oklahoma? I pulled a map out of 
my case. I had been charged with setting up our travel arrangements, and I 
had never heard of an Ovid, Oklahoma. It appeared to be a large enough town 
to have captured our interest, but I didn't remember discussing it or ever 
seeing it on the map. I checked the map index. No Ovid, Oklahoma was even 
mentioned. I scoured the map, just in case there was a mistake in the index. 
Maybe that was why we hadn't considered it. But no - I looked from 
Muskogee to Tulsa west to Oklahoma City and east to the Arkansas line and 
found no town called Ovid. 

	But the town obviously existed. We were in it. Towns didn't just 
crop up over night, I thought as I lay back on the bed. Did they?

	I must have been more tired than I realized. I had fallen asleep 
wondering about Ovid, and suddenly, it was morning. Someone was 
pounding on my door. "Open up, Junior!" my father's voice was yelling.

	Damn, I hated being called "Junior" I thought as I ambled to the door. 
My father was framed in the bright morning light. There was a look of utter 
excitement on his face.

	"Look at this," he said, thrusting a phone book in my hand. "And 
why aren't you dressed? We have a busy day today. Get some clothes on."

	I could have used a shower, but I knew from his voice that he meant I 
was to get dressed that very minute. I set the phone book down on the 
nightstand and staggered to my suitcase for some clean underwear. 

	"You didn't even look at the phone book," he noted, sitting in the 
only comfortable chair in the room.

	"So what's in the phone book?" I asked, my voice still clogged with 
sleep.

	"Just the background sketch of Ovid," he said. "This town is perfect. 
It has a population of about fifteen thousand, so there's already an 
infrastructure here. It looks like just a farming town with a little light 
industry, so it's clean and folksy. There are lakes and hills all over the area. 
It's perfect for our new Branson."

	"It would be," I agreed, "except for one small detail."

	He frowned. "What's that?"

	"It doesn't seem to exist."

	"What in hell are you talking about?"

	"This town - Ovid." I threw him the map. "It's not on the map."

	He threw the map back at me. "So? Some dipshit cartographer 
screwed up. Maybe they should get together here in Ovid and sue Rand 
fucking McNally."

	I silently cursed myself. My father's usual foul mood had been 
replaced by childish glee and I had ruined it. I had to open my big mouth and 
tell him that there wasn't any Santa Claus. Now he would revert to form and 
be an overbearing bastard all day. 

	"Okay," I agreed, trying to recover. "You have to be right. It has to 
be an oversight on the part of the mapmakers. Obviously, the town is here."

	"Of course it is," he agreed, somewhat mollified.

	"Just let me call the hospital," I said, picking up the receiver and 
opened the phone book to look up a number. "Then we can discuss the 
situation at breakfast."

	"Why are you calling the hospital?"

	"To check on Rusty and Miss Simon," I told him. It would never 
have occurred to the self-centered bastard to call himself.

	"Well, make it quick," he ordered. "We have a lot to talk over."

	A receptionist answered almost at once. "Ovid Memorial Hospital."

	"Yes," I said. "I'd like to check on the condition of a Rusty Stoker."

	"One moment, please." I was treated to thirty seconds of elevator 
music when she came back on the line. "I'm sorry, sir but I don't show a 
Rusty Stoker here."

	Maybe they had treated and released him. He might even be here at 
the Ovid Inn. "Then how about a Miss Simon?" I asked.

	"Do you have a first name?" 

	I was suddenly surprised to realize I had no idea what her first name 
was. Dad required his staff to be Mr. This and Mrs. That. Since he made sure 
I never got too familiar with her, I had never asked her for her first name. 
"No, I'm sorry but I don't." No way was I going to ask my father and 
receive another caustic reply.

	"Just a moment, please."

	The elevator music in the background came on again. This time, it 
sounded like a lethargic version of the old Helen Reddy song, "I Am 
Woman."

	"Hurry up!" my father prodded.

	"Just a minute," I told him.

	"Sir?"

	"Yes?"

	"There is no Miss Simon listed here at the hospital."

	That just wasn't possible. She had been out cold when they took her 
off the plane. No doctor in his right mind would have released her in that 
condition. "Then is there another hospital in Ovid?"

	"No, sir. We're the only one."

	"But - "

	"Have a nice day, sir." The line was dead.

	"They're not there," I told my father as I hung up the phone. 

	"Not where?" he asked.

	"At the hospital," I said. "They acted as if they had never heard of 
them. Yet that's the only hospital in town. What's going on around here?"

	Never mind," my father said, grabbing my arm and pulling me 
toward the door. "We have a lot of work to do today. We need to talk to the 
mayor - get him in on the action for a small percentage - then we need to 
check into land prices. We can probably even get the local bank to help us 
and - "

	"You don't care, do you?" I asked, stopping at the door. "You don't 
care what happens to Rusty or Miss Simon as long as you have your land 
deal."

	My father's enthusiasm took a back seat to his anger. "Listen, you 
ingrate, they are employees. No matter what happens to them, I can always 
get a new pilot and a new secretary. I'm trying to tell you that this town is a 
potential gold mine. We can buy up half the town before they even know 
what happened, and you're worried about two employees whose combined 
annual earnings probably couldn't pay to have my suits cleaned."

	"I'm talking about two human beings," I told him, my voice rising.

	His eyes narrowed. "Fine, you worry about them and I'll worry 
about business. I gave you a good education. I thought it would teach you 
what you need to do to succeed. Apparently it was all too theoretical. You 
haven't got an entrepreneurial bone in your body. When we get back to New 
York, you're fired. You can go see what your fancy degrees will get you out 
in the real world."

	"That's fine with me!" I snapped.

	I don't know what we would have said to each other next. I had never 
stood up to my father so vehemently before. I have to admit, though, that I 
would have probably backed down and ended up begging for his 
forgiveness. Such was his power over me. We were both glowering at each 
other, fists clenched, when there was a knock on the door. "Mr. Brubaker?" 
a familiar voice said pleasantly.

	I opened the door. The same police officer who had taken us to our 
rooms the night before was standing there in the morning light.

	"Good morning, officer," I said pleasantly, wondering if he had come 
by to bring us news of our pilot and secretary.

	My father made a different assumption, more in keeping with his 
character. "Good. I'm glad you're here. I want to see your mayor as soon as 
possible. I have a proposition for him that I know he will appreciate. Let's 
go."

	The officer continued to stand in the doorway. "I'm sorry, sir. I'm 
not here to escort you to the mayor. The Judge has issued a warrant for your 
arrest. Now, if you will come with me..."

	My father's face reddened at once. "What are you blabbering about? 
My proposition is more important than some trumped up charge from some 
tank town Judge. You'd better give me the name of that Judge so I can have 
him reprimanded."

	"What is the charge, officer?" I asked as politely as I could. I had 
heard stories about how small town justice worked. Often, it was a matter of 
quietly paying a small fine and moving on. I knew my father's attitude was 
bound to raise the ante.

	"Unsafe operation of an aircraft," he replied seriously.

	My father exploded, "What the hell are you talking about? We weren't 
operating the aircraft. Our pilot was. Haul him in on your dip shit charges 
and let us go about our business."

	I think he would have been furious under any conditions, but our 
argument had meant that he was starting from a higher level of irritation. We 
would be lucky if the officer didn't pull his gun and shoot us for resisting 
arrest the way my father was carrying on. I finally laid my hand on his arm 
and said softly, "Come on, sir. We can get this taken care of quickly. I'm 
sure Officer..."

	"Mercer, sir."

	"Yes. Officer Mercer will be happy to take us to see the mayor after 
we've taken care of this in court, won't you, Officer?"

	Without changing his expression, Officer Mercer replied, "If you still 
want to see the mayor after the Judge has dealt with you, I will be happy to 
escort you to see the mayor."

	"There, you see, sir?" I said calmly. "We don't have to be concerned.

	"Very well," he huffed at last. "But this had better not take long or my 
lawyers will be all over your little kangaroo court. Is that clear, Officer?"

	"Very clear, sir."

	As we rode to see the Judge, I began to see what my father had meant 
about Ovid. It was a typical Midwestern community in many ways, but there 
was a difference, too. Everything looked clean. Not new, necessarily, but 
clean. There was no trash lying in the gutters, no graffiti on the buildings, 
and all the lawns were neatly trimmed and sidewalks clean. It was almost a 
Hollywood version of small town America, showing all of its virtues and 
none of its faults.

	Then, I was the first thing which disturbed me. As we stopped at a 
stoplight, I saw what appeared to be a daycare attendant ushering her charges 
into a nearby playground. As we drove past, I got a good look at the ten or so 
children she was supervising. All but two of them had that same strange 
transparent look I had noticed at the airport. There, I had chalked it up to 
fatigue, but I was now operating on a full night's sleep. Even the attendant 
looked a little transparent. Strangely enough, the two normal children didn't 
seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. The light changed and we were 
on our way before I could comment on my observation.

	When I was a boy, I used to watch old reruns of the Twilight Zone. 
Ovid was starting to remind me of that show. Why? Because it was too 
normal. It was like those Heaven on Earth fantasies where someone from the 
big city finds relief from his troubles in the small, nearly perfect town of his 
youth. Well, sorry, Ovid, I thought. I was born and raised in the city, and 
while I might not have enjoyed growing up under my father's thumb, I 
certainly didn't want to settle down in Ovid. In fact, I wasn't too sure I even 
wanted my father investing in Ovid. Something wasn't right in this perfect 
little town, I realized.

	Officer Mercer pulled into the parking lot of a building that I assumed 
was what passed for a municipal building in Ovid. It wasn't an unattractive 
building, but why the city fathers had decided to place Doric columns in front 
of a fairly modern building was beyond me.

	There was none of the activity of large city courts in Ovid. I had 
attended many court hearings, and I had observed dozens of lawyers rushing 
from room to room, conferencing with clients, and on the phone. There was 
none of this in Ovid. The halls were deserted.

	Officer Mercer led us into a fairly impressive courtroom. There was 
only one person in the spectator's gallery - an attractive blonde who seemed 
to be watching our ordeal with mild amusement. Another woman, a fairly 
attractive brunette, was seated at one of the attorney's tables. She appeared to 
be fresh out of law school. She was stylishly dressed in a beige business suit 
and was intently reading a document she held over her open brief case. She 
seemed to be having a little trouble reading it.

	"Damn contacts," she muttered as we approached. Looking at Officer 
Mercer, she said, "Tell the Judge that right after this case, I need to go get my 
glasses. These contacts aren't quite right."

	"He said that's fine," Officer Mercer said. It sounded like an odd 
thing to say. How could he say it was fine when he hadn't heard her problem 
or been in the room to reply to her? The bad feeling I was getting about Ovid 
was getting worse.

	Turning to us, the woman said, "I'm Susan Jager. I'm your attorney 
for today's trial."

	"No you're not," my father said belligerently. "I'm not about to be 
represented by some little cheerleader fresh out of some podunk law school. 
I'd rather represent myself."

	She nodded at me. "Does that go for you, too?"

	"It goes for him, too," my father replied.

	She looked at us with what almost looked like pity. Then, with a 
sigh, she closed her briefcase and said, "Suit yourselves."

	"All rise," Officer Mercer suddenly intoned. "The city court for the 
City of Ovid is now in session, the Honorable Judge presiding."

	A rather distinguished looking man of middle age stepped out of 
chambers and assumed his post at the bench. I couldn't help but think he 
looked a little like that face I had seen in the clouds. He looked down at us 
over the top of gold rimmed glasses and said with a soft accent, "You may be 
seated. Next case?"

	"The case of Martin R. Brubaker and Martin R. Brubaker, Junior," 
the officer said formally. 

	"You are charged with unsafe operation of an airpcraft. Counsel, how 
do your clients plead?'

	The young woman rose to her feet. "Your honor, the defendants have 
refused to accept me as counsel."

	The Judge looked at my father and me with utter disdain. "Let it be 
noted that the defendants have declined counsel."

	"Your Honor!" my father said leaping to his feet. "This is a travesty 
of justice. My son and -" 

	"Are you an attorney, sir?" the Judge asked in a cultured Southern 
voice.

	"No, but - "

	"Then I will thank you to be silent in my courtroom until you are 
addressed. Is that clear?"

	In my entire life, I had never seen my father back down from anyone, 
but he backed down from this strange magistrate. The Judge's frown was 
almost a personification of the expression "if looks could kill." The Judge's 
look at us seemed almost lethal. My father self-consciously sat back down.

	"Now that we have that matter settled," the Judge said, "let's continue 
with the trial. How do the two of you plead?"

	My father rose with as much dignity as he could still muster. "Your 
Honor, my son and I plead not guilty."

	The Judge shifted in his seat. "Very well. Officer Mercer?"

	"Yes, Your Honor?"

	"Did you see these two men disembark from an airplane which had 
just been observed operating unsafely over the city of Ovid?"

	"I did, Your Honor," the officer replied formally.

	Turning to us, the Judge asked, "Did you disembark from the plane in 
question?"

	If it hadn't been such a serious situation, I would have laughed. It 
was if the Judge was intentionally making a travesty of the trial. Surely he 
must have realized that the results of the trial would be overturned as soon as 
my father got to his attorneys.

	"Of course we did!" my father snapped.

	"And who owns the aircraft in question?"

	"I do, Your Honor," my father admitted.

	"The it seems obvious to me that you are responsible for the unsafe 
operation of the aircraft," the Judge said.

	My father was practically sputtering. "But I wasn't flying the 
airplane. That was my pilot's job. If you want to accuse someone of unsafe 
flying, charge him!"

	"I've already dispensed Judgement on your pilot," the Judge replied 
to our surprise. "I must say he accepted his fate much more civilly than you 
are. I must also point out that while he flew the plane, you were the one in 
charge of it, Mr. Brubaker. No pilot would have made the decision to fly into 
that storm. Only a fool like you would have put so many lives at risk."

	"You can't talk to me that way!" my father shouted. Then, to my 
astonishment, the Judge made a sudden motion with his hand and my father 
stopped speaking. He didn't close his mouth. In fact, his mouth was still 
open, and he was trying to yell at the Judge, but nothing was coming out. In 
shock, he reached for his throat, trying to determine what had gone wrong.

	The Judge smiled. "That's more like it, Mr. Brubaker. Don't worry. 
Your condition isn't permanent. You'll be able to speak in a few minutes, but 
not in the voice you are expecting to hear. I must say, Mr. Brubaker, I don't 
like you. Many men have faced my Judgement, and I have dealt with them 
fairly to the best of my ability. I shall do so with you as well - with pleasure.

	"I don't need to hear what you were about to say. I know it from your 
mind. You were about to threaten me by telling me that you know the 
governor."

	One look at my father's widening eyes told me that that was exactly 
what he had been about to tell the Judge.

	"Well, I know him, too," the Judge went on. "In fact, I play golf with 
him this afternoon. I would give him your regards, but by tee time, he won't 
have the slightest idea who you are.

	"I also know about your little scheme to turn Ovid into the next 
Branson. Well, let me tell you something, Mr. Brubaker, Ovid is far too 
valuable to be turned into the tourist trap you propose. You will not have the 
opportunity to disrupt the lives of the people in our community, or any other 
community for that matter. Now, as to the matter of Judgement."

	My father lurched around and walked awkwardly to face the Judge at 
the foot of his bench. Then, I felt invisible hands grab me and pull me to his 
side. It was if I had lost complete control of every part of my body. In 
moments, both of us were facing the Judge. 

	"Mr. Martin Brubaker, Senior," the Judge intoned, much as I 
suspected God would do when my father was called to his last judgement, 
"you have controlled and manipulated people all of your adult life. I think it is 
time you learned how the other half lives."

	Then, he began to speak in a language I had never heard before - at 
least not the way he spoke it. It sounded vaguely like Latin, but not the Latin 
you hear in high schools or from the lips of priests. This Latin was a living 
language, fluid and robust, and the words seemed to have a power I could 
feel. I watched my father actually cringe under the force of the words. I don't 
know what I had been expecting, but it wasn't this. My father had changed 
from indignant to frightened, and I was beginning to become frightened 
myself.

	Then, the Judge was silent. In fact, the entire courtroom was silent. 
My father just stood there with a tired, defeated look on his face.

	"And now for you, Mr. Martin Brubaker, Junior," I felt my blood 
suddenly run cold. "You have not had a chance to follow your father's path 
to selfishness and vanity. There may, in fact, be hope for you. My sentence 
of you carries with it a chance for happiness and contentment, if you are 
intelligent enough to find it. Good-bye to you, Mr. Brubaker."

	With that, the Latin chanting began again, but the words were 
different. I never took Latin, so I had no idea what he was saying, but I 
began to feel the power of the words much as my father must have felt them. 
I felt an odd tingling sensation which seemed to come simultaneously from 
every part of my body. Then, as suddenly as it began, the sensation stopped. 
The sudden silence was finally broken by the sound of a gavel.

	"Case dismissed. Next case," the Judge said, a note of satisfaction in 
his voice.

	Case dismissed? Why was he letting my father and I go with just an 
odd speech in Latin? That didn't seem likely at all.

	"Come on, let's go," my father said. Or at least the words came from 
my father's mouth. There was something odd about the way he said it. His 
voice had developed a slight twang, not unlike a milder version of the twang 
that seemed to be endemic to everyone who lived in Oklahoma.

	My father began to stride from the courtroom, and there was nothing, 
I realized, that I could do except to follow at his heels like the obedient puppy 
I had been most of my life.

	We were silent as we walked from the courtroom, but there was 
something odd about my father. In addition to the twang in his voice, he 
seemed a little shorter. His suit didn't fit him quite right. I was so busy trying 
to figure out what the problem was that I nearly tripped on my own pants leg. 
I looked down. My pants seemed too long suddenly, and they felt as if they 
didn't fit properly.

	"I swear, it gets harder and harder to get your driver's license 
renewed every time," my father muttered.

	"What did you say?" I asked. I had a sudden feeling of panic. What 
my father had said made no sense whatsoever. I was beginning to wonder if 
the anger he had exhibited in the courtroom had brought on a mild stroke. I 
had heard of such things happening. 

	"Weren't you listening?" he said. "I was talking about driver's 
licenses. Why, when I was your age, it didn't take no time at all to get a new 
one. Now, you got to wait in a line that looks like the line in front of St Peter 
on Judgement Day."

	My father used a double negative, I realized. I had never heard him do 
that in my entire life. He was a Harvard graduate in his own right. I didn't 
think he knew how to be grammatically incorrect. And what was this 
muttering about a driver's license?

	As I pondered these issues, I felt a sudden tingle run through my 
body. It was as if I had suddenly been moved almost imperceptibly from one 
point in the universe to another. Something was rubbing on my chest. 
Something else was tickling my neck. It felt almost as if my entire body were 
suddenly encased in thin spider silk, shifting in the breeze as I walked.

	My father made his way to an aging Ford F-150 pickup truck, white 
except for the innumerable rust spots. He opened the door with a key that 
seemed to suddenly appear in his hand. Unlocking the other door from 
inside, he called, "Well, what are you waiting for? Your daddy will be 
expecting us home for dinner. You know how he gets when it ain't on the 
table on time. Now get in."

	What was he talking about? Shaken, I did get in - not because I felt I 
had to, but because I was just too stunned to do anything else. I felt almost as 
if I was an observer in my own body. My actions seemed to be independent 
of my thought. 

	My father methodically put the truck in gear without difficulty. I had 
never seen him drive a manual transmission in my life, yet he handled it 
effortlessly. I looked at him closely. There was something different about 
him, but I couldn't quite determine what it was. Then, I realized what had 
happened. He was no longer wearing his suit coat, yet it wasn't on the seat 
beside him. He had been wearing it when he got in the truck, yet now it was 
gone. That suit cost more than most people made in a month, yet he didn't 
seem upset that the jacket was missing.

	I continued to stare at him, only to realize that whatever was 
happening was ongoing. His body seemed to lose focus, almost like an 
image on an aging TV. It blurred around the edges and seemed to be 
changing as I watched. My father had been balding, but now, he sported a 
full head of hair, long and pulled back in a bun. It was mostly a dull brown, 
but here and there were streaks of gray. His sallow, unhealthy pallor had 
become much pinker, almost rosy, and the wrinkles in his skin seemed to be 
disappearing. If I hadn't known his actual age, I would have mistaken him 
for someone in their late thirties - early forties at the most instead of the fifty-
five I knew him to be.

	As we drove along the Ovid streets, even his clothing was beginning 
to change. His white dress shirt had already turned to a faded denim blue and 
seemed to be cascading over his body like a waterfall until it had formed a 
long, shapeless garment which I realized in shock to be a dress. The sleeves 
had shortened, revealing slender, nearly hairless arms. I caught my breath as 
I watched two shapes begin to rise from his chest.

	"My father - if the person seated next to me could even be called my 
father - stared at me as we came to a stop at a traffic light. "What's wrong, 
honey?" The voice was a full octave higher than my father's voice. Equally as 
odd was that there was genuine concern in his - her? - voice. 

	"Nothing..." I managed to say, uncertain as to what I should say. 
Was I supposed to tell my father that he was swiftly becoming what appeared 
to be a woman? What would he think of that? Or worse yet, would he think 
anything of it at all?

	Then, I realized I had been so mesmerized watching my father's 
transformation that I had paid no attention to what was happening to my own 
form. My voice, I suddenly realized, had also changed pitch, becoming 
higher like my father's. Also, there was a little of the twang I had noticed in 
the voices of Oklahoma natives.

	I looked down, not entirely surprised to see that I no longer wore a 
suit. The top button of my now plaid short sleeved shirt popped open of its 
own accord, and I was greeted with the sight of two substantial mounds of 
my own. My arms were smooth and hairless, my hands small and delicate. I 
was wearing jeans as well, but they fit oddly, contracting at the waist while 
pooling around my hips. I felt a sudden length of hair down the back of my 
neck and seemed to know instinctively that it had arranged itself into a long 
ponytail.

	There was no question as to what I was becoming. The only question 
was how. Even in my stupor, I realized that this was the sentence the Judge 
had spoken of. I was to be a girl, as was my father. But what possible force 
of law or nature could do what had been done to us? I wasn't a religious 
individual, but to my knowledge, even God Himself had never doled out 
justice of this sort.

	"You look a little faint, Donna Mae," she - for I knew it was now she 
- said to me.

	"Just a little hot," I managed to respond, trying to be as nonchalant 
about the changes as possible. It was apparent to me that whatever had 
happened to my father had affected his mind as well as his body. She seemed 
to notice nothing out of the ordinary, as if she had been whoever she now 
was all of her life. Would that also happen to me? My transformation seemed 
to be a few minutes behind my father's. Perhaps I would slowly lose the 
knowledge of who I had been, suddenly believing myself to have always 
been this Donna Mae she thought I was. I shuddered at the thought. I wanted 
to be me. I wanted to remember who I had been and become that person 
again. To be changed in body was bad enough. To be changed in body and 
mind was like a death sentence.

	She laughed, "Honey, it ain't hot yet. It ain't even June yet. This is as 
nice a day as you'll ever see."

	Actually, I was hot. The truck lacked air conditioning, and the air 
blowing in from the partially opened windows was warm and humid, a 
harbinger of an Oklahoma summer yet to come. I suspected, though, that my 
profuse perspiring was due more to the shock of what was happening to me 
than to the heat. 

	"Soon as we get home," she continued, "I want you to go out and get 
me a dozen fresh eggs. I'm gonna devil 'em for your daddy. You know how 
he likes 'em. Make sure you just have a couple and leave most of 'em for 
him."

	"There's a supermarket," I said spying a place called Duggan's IGA."

	"What do we want with a supermarket?" she asked, puzzled.

	"Eggs," I reminded her.

	"Since when do we need a supermarket for eggs?" she asked. 
"Something wrong with the chickens?"

	What chickens?

	We drove right on past the market, off past the edge of town. There 
was nothing but cropland ahead, as far as the eye could see. She seemed to 
know where she was going. I let her drive and tried to concentrate on what 
had happened to me. Looking into the side mirror, I saw the face of a young 
woman, perhaps sixteen or so. She had nondescript brown hair and eyes to 
match. Her skin was lightly tanned with a few freckles on her cheeks and 
nose. She was not unattractive, but the apparent absence of any makeup gave 
her a girlish rather than a womanly look. I looked down at my hands. I was 
relieved to find that my nails were cut short and manish.

	After about two miles or so, we pulled into a graveled driveway. 
There was a mailbox attached to a post, and she drove as close to it as she 
could.

	"Well, aren't you going to get the mail?"

	"Huh?" I responded.

	She sighed, "I swear, girl, you are addled. Now get that mail or 
you'll have to run back out here on foot to get it."

	I climbed out of the truck, feeling for the first time the odd shift of 
weight in my body. I seemed to be projecting outward both in the front and 
the rear, and the ponytail running down my back flopped up gently from side 
to side. I was shorter, too, I realized than I had been when I got in the truck.

	The mailbox had the name Potter printed in neat white letters on the 
side. I reached in the box and pulled out several letters and advertising 
circulars, dutifully taking them back to the truck. On top of the stack, now 
resting in my lap, was an advertisement inviting Donna Mae Potter to check 
out careers in today's Army. So that's who I was. I had become a Donna 
Mae Potter. Sitting next to me, presumably, was a Mrs. Potter - my mother. 
What was going on?

	"So the Army wants you," she commented, slipping the truck back 
into gear. "I don't know what they'd want with girls. It just don't seem 
right."

	It didn't seem right - that was for certain, and I didn't mean the fact 
that the Army wanted girls. 

	"A girl like you needs to settle down and have a family now that your 
school is over."

	School was over? That made me more like eighteen. It had to be the 
absence of makeup that made me look so much younger. That was fine with 
me, though. I had no interest in wearing makeup. I didn't care if I looked like 
I was ten years old. No way would I wear makeup. Not now - not ever.

	As for the settling down and having a family life, it sounded very 
ominous. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I certainly didn't plan on 
having a family. I planned on finding out why I had been changed into a girl 
and what I could do about changing back. In the mean time, a little voice told 
me I should act the part I had been given until I could determine what could 
be done to return me and my father to our normal states. I hoped I could pull 
it off. I didn't have the slightest notion how to be a teenage girl.

	Not far from the road was an aging farmhouse. It was neat and had a 
fresh coat of white paint on its clapboard siding, but it was old, showing 
obvious signs of wear. It was nestled in a grove of trees which had obviously 
been planted many years ago to shield the house from the hot Oklahoma sun. 
Not far away was a barn with a tractor and several items of farm equipment 
whose functions I could only guess at parked haphazardly.

	As we approached the house, I could see a man in overalls stand up 
next to the tractor. He had apparently been working on the machine, for he 
was wiping his oily hands on a white towel which was becoming blacker by 
the minute. He was tall, perhaps six three, although with my reduced height, 
I might have overestimated that. He was lean with a dark skin tanned from 
continual exposure to the sun. A shock of dark hair, thinning at the front, 
blew in the light spring breeze. But his most striking feature was that he was 
transparent. Again, by transparent, I mean that if I tried very hard, I could 
almost see through him, just like the children on the playground and the 
people at the airport.

	"'Bout time you got back," he said calmly in the ever-present 
Oklahoma drawl. "Thought you must'a done some shoppin' while you were 
in town."

	"Haven't got nothin' worth shoppin for," she said, getting out of the 
truck. "I know how you hate for me to spend money on frills."

	"Ain't enough money in farming for frills," he drawled. "I ain't had 
no dinner, though. You'd better get me somethin' real quick."

	I didn't like the way he said that to her. I supposed she was my 
mother now and he was supposed to be my father, whatever he really was. 
He was overbearing, though, acting as if she were the hired help instead of 
his wife. Could I have guessed wrong about their relationship? I didn't think 
so.

	After she had descended from the truck, I got my first good look at 
the woman my father had become. She was short - even shorter than I. I 
guessed her to be no more than five-two or three. She may have had a 
pleasant figure at one time, but now she was a little on the pudgy side, 
walking with a bit more of a waddle than a sway. 

	"I'll have dinner ready in a jiffy," she told him, unperturbed at the 
way he had talked to her. She turned to me. "Donna Mae, you go get them 
eggs like I told you."

	I looked around. Where were the chickens? I knew nothing about 
farms. I had never been on one in my life. I was strictly a city kid.

	"What are you waitin' for?" the man growled. "I gotta show you 
where the hen house is or something?"

	Actually, that would have been helpful. I was saved asking that 
question when I heard the sudden squawk of a chicken from somewhere 
behind the house. I rushed to the back of the house in search of eggs.

	Of course, I had never been in a hen house before. The smell that 
assaulted my new nose was a strong one of chicken feed, feathers, and 
waste. Several chickens were nesting - or whatever chickens do - in the 
poorly lit and ventilated space. There was a basket on a small shelf next to the 
chickens. I picked it up, trying to determine how I would find the eggs. Did I 
have to lift the chickens? No, I realized. The eggs rolled down a little chute, 
collecting in front of the chickens. Apparently my first chore was going to be 
an easy one. Quickly, I filled the basket with eggs and made my way back to 
the house.

	I assumed correctly that the kitchen was toward the back of the house. 
My new mother was already preparing food with a couple of mixing bowls 
on the counter while three steaks popped and sizzled in an open skillet. Pan 
fried steak, I realized. She was making a meal that would harden the arteries 
of the heartiest individual. I had always tried to be care what I ate, and this 
food was deadly. I knew, though, that I would have no choice but to eat it. 
The thought of eating so much unhealthy food was almost as unsettling as 
becoming a girl - almost, but not quite.

	"Well, girl, set the table and make the drinks," she ordered. "I still got 
to make these devilled eggs for supper."

	Set the table with what? Make what drinks? My shoulders slumped in 
resignation. There was no way in the world I could pull off this 
impersonation. I didn't even know where the glasses were. Then a strange 
thing began to happen. On a whim, I simply cleared my mind. I was, after 
all, suffering from a mental overload, probably not too dissimilar from what 
people experience during a nervous breakdown. My body just seemed to 
respond to knowledge I lacked on a conscious level. As I walked forward 
toward the kitchen cabinets, my hands reached instinctively upward into one 
of them, opening it to expose a collection of tumblers. I removed three of 
them without thinking.

	Now, what to put in them? Again, my body froze. I had no conscious 
idea what drinks to make. I willed myself back into the near-alpha state again, 
and my body walked to the refrigerator, filled the glasses with ice, and 
withdrew a large cold pitcher of lemonade from one of the shelves. I set the 
glasses on the table and allowed my body to find knives and forks. When I 
took full control again, lunch was ready.

	As relieved that I was that I had been able to perform a few simple 
functions without giving away the fact that I was an imposter, I was also 
unsettled at the thought that I could so easily surrender control of myself to 
some unknown force which required me to act like Donna Mae Potter. How 
pervasive was this force? If I surrendered to it entirely, would I become like 
my father had become? Perhaps that was what he had done. Perhaps the 
shock of his transformation had caused him to slip into a mental fugue, now 
held prisoner in his own transformed body while another personality ruled 
his very existence. It was not a pleasant thought. I would have to be careful 
how I used the autonomic state.

	"George," my new mother called out, "dinner's ready."

	Dinner? Then I remembered. In many rural areas, lunch was called 
dinner. Supper was the evening meal.

	My "father" ambled into the room, carrying a thin newspaper which 
declared itself to be the Ovid Clarion. He plopped down wordlessly at the 
head of the table, buried his face in the newspaper, and waited to be served. 
The effrontery of this clod, I thought! He began to shovel food into his 
mouth boorishly, offering no acknowledgement as to if it was good, bad, or 
indifferent. It was as if we weren't even there. I had seen this type of 
behavior before when I was younger. My father - that is to say, my real 
father - often treated my mother in a similar fashion. As much as I was 
disgusted by my new father's behavior, it was poetic justice to watch my 
father - now apparently my mother - suffer the fate he had dealt out before.

	As for my new mother, she watched him take the first few bites with 
a nervous expression. Then, once he had chewed and swallowed without 
criticism, she relaxed and began to dish up food for herself and for me.

	The food was actually quite tasty, but there was far too much of it. I 
noticed my "mother" was just a little pudgy, and the diet was obviously part 
of the reason. My "father" was slimmer, and I assumed it was the hard work 
of farming that kept him that way. As for my new body, it was slim, but 
hardly model slim. I realized if I became stuck in Ovid for the rest of my life, 
I would have to learn to eat sparingly or I would begin to resemble my 
mother.

	Another point about the food - it was all bad for us. There was 
obviously too much fat in the diet, and the fried steak, accompanied with 
fried potatoes, was probably hardening even my young arteries rapidly. 
There was at least a helping of corn on my plate. I resolved to eat it and leave 
as much of the potatoes and steak as I could.

	"Honey, you're hardly eating," she commented. "Do you feel okay? 
It isn't that time of the month for you, is it?"

	Time of the month? Holy shit! I had that to look forward to also. 
What else could go wrong? "No - mom - I'm just not hungry."

	She smiled a motherly smile. Was my father still in there at all? 
"You're probably just excited about graduating and all. Is Charlene still 
coming by to pick you up to get your gown?"

	I hoped she meant a graduation gown. I was now eligible to wear the 
other kind as well. "Yes," I replied, although I didn't have the slightest idea 
who Charlene was or if she was coming by for me.

	She nodded. "Then you'd better go get ready. She'll probably be here 
any minute."

	As if on cue, there was the sound of a car coming to a halt on the 
gravel driveway. A horn honked twice. Apparently, my ride had arrived. I 
started to run out the door. Anything to get away from this madhouse. 

	"Don't forget your purse!" 'mother' called out to me. Where was it? 
As if reading my mind, she said, "I saw it on the couch in the living room 
this morning."

	I grabbed the worn brown purse that was lying on the couch and 
slung it over my shoulder in what I hoped was a normal fashion.

	"Now be careful," my new mother said, scurrying to fill my 
"father's" now-empty plate again. With any luck, maybe the son of a bitch 
would have a coronary before I got back. I had a feeling I was in for 
treatment no better than my mother. He was a misogynist if ever I had seen 
one. Just because I was his daughter, I could not expect decent treatment 
from him. After all, I was only a girl. I flushed in anger at the thought. I 
hadn't asked to be a girl. Of course, when I thought about it, girls that are 
born that way didn't ask to be girls either.

	Charlene proved to be a girl about my size and build, although there 
the resemblance ended. She had long red hair, flowing freely down her back 
and wore flattering makeup on her pretty face. As I got into her car, I saw she 
was wearing a tank top and shorts. She was a real person, too - not one of 
those oddly transparent people. She gave me a broad smile.

	"So what do you think?" she asked.

	"About what?" I returned.

	"The car, silly," she said as if I was the fool of the day. "My mother's 
car - she let me take it today. Isn't that great?'

	"Yeah," I responded, not having the slightest idea what she was 
talking about. "That's terrific."

	I was living in hell, I thought as we retraced the route into Ovid that 
my "mother" and I had taken earlier that day. This morning, I was a young 
man with a bright future. I was heir to one of the largest real estate fortunes in 
the country, in my twenties, due to marry a girl with all the right connections, 
and an MBA from a prestige school. Now, I was fresh off the farm waiting 
to pick up my high school diploma which would probably qualify me to 
waitress in that burger joint I saw last night. And of course, I was a girl. I 
didn't have the foggiest notion how to be a girl, and I didn't want to learn.

	Here I was, in a car with a girl I presumed was supposed to be my 
best friend. I had no idea who she was, other than her first name. I supposed 
it could have been worse. The person who picked me up for a ride into Ovid 
could have been a large hulking lineman from the high school football team 
with an IQ slightly lower than the car he drove, and he could have called me 
"Babe" all the way into town, his meaty arm draped over my tiny shoulders. I 
shuddered again. Shuddering was starting to be what I did best in this body.

	"After we get our gowns, let's go to Personnel at March's," Charlene 
said brightly.

	"March's?" I had no idea what she was talking about.

	"Yeah," she said. "I want to put in an application there. I hear they 
pay sales associates pretty well - for Ovid, at least."

	"Oh." Whatever March's was.

	"You know, you should apply, too," she said. "That nonsense your 
dad is always spouting about how girls should be raising families instead of 
working is really a pile of crap. I mean, Jeez, it's almost the twenty-first 
century. That barefoot and pregnant horse shit went out with high button 
shoes and celluloid collars."

	Not on the Potter farm, I realized. What had I gotten myself into? 
Whatever it was, it didn't look good.

	I had been on the fringes of Ovid's business district when I had been 
driven to my trial, but this was my first opportunity to see it close up and 
personal. It was really Small Town America, but most certainly a prosperous 
version of it. My father and I had traveled all over the region in search of the 
next Branson and had been greeted with decaying business districts and 
declining populations wherever we went. Small towns were dying, unless 
they were close to cities, and there they grew as bedroom communities, 
slowly losing their identities until they were connected to the cities they 
served by a never ending string of fast food restaurants and discount stores. 
Ovid, though, showed no signs of decay, and it certainly wasn't close to any 
large city, I imagined. In fact, I wasn't even sure Ovid was on the planet 
Earth. It was as if it existed... somewhere else.

	There wasn't a boarded up store or vacant lot to be seen in the 
downtown area. Even the offices over the retail shops appeared occupied by a 
variety of professionals. Storefronts were clean with up to date window 
displays and inviting entrances. The residents of Ovid were dressed casually 
but prosperously, and everyone seemed to be happy. I felt like I had been 
suddenly thrust into the movie Truman, complete with smiling, happy 
citizens and clean streets. Of course, there was one important difference. 
Many of the residents of Ovid were semi-transparent.

	We parked on the street about half a block from a three story building 
which had the name March's prominently displayed on the front and side in 
large red letters. It wasn't exactly Bloomingdale's, but it would have to do. 
For a small town, it actually looked like a fairly impressive store.

	Fortunately, Charlene knew just where to go. I followed her up to the 
third floor where the Special Services department had our graduation gowns 
and mortarboards. We were each issued one by a smiling clerk. The gowns 
were gold with black trim while the mortarboards were black with a gold 
tassel. Charlene was excited when she tried hers on. Graduation from high 
school was the biggest event in her life. I wonder what she would have 
thought if she had known that the last time I wore an outfit like the one I now 
had on was to receive my MBA at Harvard.

	Our gowns on hangars wrapped in plastic, Charlene said, "Personnel 
is on this floor. Let's go fill out job applications."

	"Charlene," I began, "I don't think I want to... well, I mean..." 
Suddenly, I realized I didn't have a single good reason not to fill one out. 
What was I going to do with myself after I got my high school diploma? 
There was no wealthy father waiting in the wings to send me off to the best 
schools. Living and working on the farm would be a true version of hell. It 
would only be a matter of time until my new father decided it was time to 
marry me off to some other farmer. Of course, I didn't want to stay in this 
form in the first place, but something told me that I was probably doomed to 
be Donna Mae Potter for the rest of my life.

	"Okay," I said at last. "Let's fill out those applications."

	Charlene squealed with excitement and practically ran to Personnel.

	We sat together at a table in the break room with our applications. 
Charlene was working diligently on hers, but I had paused on mine. I 
suddenly realized I didn't know most of the information required on the 
form. I dug into my purse, pulling out a worn wallet and sorted through the 
cards that were there. No credit cards, I noticed, but there was a Social 
Security card, a driver's license, and a high school ID there. I managed to get 
most of the information filled in from them. Of course, I had no idea how to 
answer the work history questions, but I suspected Donna Mae had always 
had to work on the farm after school. I wrote that down on the application.

	As I finished the application, I happened to think that working at 
March's might be a good thing after all. It would get me off the farm and 
provide me with a reasonable income. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the 
rest of my new life clerking in a department store, but it was a start. Anything 
would be better than living on the farm.

	A clerk took our finished forms and with a smile said, "If we have 
any openings, we'll be giving you a call in the next few days."

	We thanked her and turned to leave. Maybe it was because I was still 
sleepwalking into my new life, or maybe it was because I wasn't used to the 
balance of my new body, but when I swung around to leave, I swung too 
wide, colliding with someone in the process.

	"I'm so sorry!" I apologized to the woman I had run into. Then I took 
a good look at her. She was without a doubt the most beautiful woman I had 
ever seen in my entire life. She had hair the color of spun gold, literally 
gleaming in the overhead lights, and every strand of it was long, full, and 
absolutely in place. Her body was incredibly beautiful and in absolutely 
perfect proportion. Her face was flawless and almost angelic, but with a hint 
of mischief which made her look both complex and intelligent. She was 
dressed in a gray suit with a lavender silk blouse underneath. It made her 
look both professional and feminine at the same time. As much as I wanted 
my masculine form back, I found myself experiencing feelings of awe and 
envy - awe because of her great beauty and envy because as a new woman, I 
had none of it.

	She smiled, and it was as if soft music played when she spoke. 
"That's quite all right. You're new here, aren't you?"

	"New?" I asked.

	"To Ovid, I mean."

	I looked around. Charlene was out of earshot, talking with someone 
who looked to be about our age. I realized she must have met one of our 
school chums. "Yes... yes I am," I admitted. "I didn't know anyone else 
knew about me."

	She laughed gently. "Most people will not know. Well, if you will 
excuse me, it was nice running into you, Donna Mae." With that, she was 
gone, her body swaying gracefully. 

	"Wow!" Charlene said, moving to my side. "That should help you get 
a job here."

	"Why?" I asked, puzzled.

	"Are you kidding?" she laughed. "That was Vera March."

	"As in March's Department Store?" I asked with a gasp.

	"None other."

	My spirits fell. For the few minutes I had spent filling out the 
application, I had visions of a life independent of an overbearing father and 
passive mother. No more farm life for me. I would move into town and work 
at someplace like March's. At least I would have my own life - not just the 
one the Judge had assigned me to. Now, I realized that I didn't have a 
chance. Vera March would want women working in her store who had at 
least some style and grace. I was fresh off the farm in my new body. Had I 
actually been a girl, I might have had a chance. At least I would know the 
fundamentals of clothing and makeup. But I knew none of that. Maybe I 
could get a job in the local feed and seed store.

	Then on the way out of the store, a thought struck me. Vera March 
had asked if I was new, and yet she called me by name. How strange...

	Charlene dropped me off at the farm. It was about four, but already 
the smells of cooking food were wafting through the house. My new mother 
came bustling out of the kitchen when she heard me come in. 

	"Thank god you got home early!" she gushed. "You've got to go get 
all dressed up. Your daddy invited over that nice Mr. Spencer from down the 
road."

	I was missing something here. Why did this mean I had to get "all 
dressed up?"

	"Mr. Spencer?" I repeated. I seemed to be doing a lot of that lately.

	"You know, the young man who inherited his family's farm last year. 
He's a nice looking fella, and he's single, Donna Mae."

	Oh my god. The significance finally got through to me. My new 
mother and father's little comments about the role I would be expected to play 
in life were making sense now. They intended to introduce me to an eligible 
bachelor and get me married off as soon as possible. But they couldn't do 
that, could they? I mean, this was the United States. Things like arranged 
marriages just didn't happen here, did they? Apparently they did, and if I 
didn't think fast, I would be part of one.

	For now, though, there was nothing to do but go along. If I refused, 
I might be thrown out of the house on my ear. My new father seemed 
perfectly capable of doing that if I defied his will. I would have to cooperate 
until I had an alternative. 

	"What do you want me to wear?" I asked with a sigh.

	Was it my imagination, or did "mom" suddenly look relieved? I 
wondered if she thought I would balk at her request.

	"Wear that nice little blue dress you got for your birthday," she 
suggested.

	"Could you help me, mom?" I asked. I had no idea what dress she 
was talking about. "Maybe you could show me what to wear with it."

	She was silent for a moment, as if debating whether to desert her 
kitchen to help me or not. At last, she decided it was such a rare treat to have 
a teenage daughter ask about apparel and accessories that she couldn't resist. 
I think I really realized at that moment that either my real father was 
completely gone or embedded so far in the person he had become that he 
might as well be gone. Then a thought struck me as we made our way 
upstairs. What if my father was still in her somewhere, observing everything, 
yet unable to act, or at least unable to act out of character? If that were so, it 
was the most diabolical prison ever created. I found myself hoping for my 
father's sake that it wasn't so.

	So for the first time in my life and embarrassed practically to tears, I 
slipped on a dress. The dress she had suggested for me looked like 
something out of a bad movie. I didn't know much about women's fashions, 
but I knew a rather turquoise blue dress with plain short sleeves, a skirt that 
came down to my knees, and buttons up the front was anything but the height 
of fashion. Add to them a pair of white flats with no stockings and all I was 
lacking was a straw hat with the price tag still on it. 

	"Here, let's let your hair free," mom said, pulling off the scrunchie 
that had kept my hair in a ponytail. I had to admit, it looked better loose. I 
was still rather plain, but I could imagine something could be done with that 
hair... What was I thinking? The only thing I really wanted was to cut all that 
hair off - to try to look male again. Not much chance of that, though, I 
realized, looking at my breasts sticking out from the cheap, unstylish dress.

	"There, now you're all ready," she told me with a motherly smile. I 
kept thinking, if my father was still conscious inside this parody of a farm 
mother, he would be silently screaming by now. At least she hadn't made me 
wear any makeup.

	Ready at last, it now became my job to set the table and start making 
drinks. Right at six, our guest arrived. I supposed farm families ate dinner - 
excuse me, supper - early so they could get to bed early and get out and tend 
the fields and milk the cows early the next day. My mother shooed me into 
the hallway to greet our guest.

	"And you remember Donna Mae here," my new father said, feigning 
pride in me as I walked into the hall.

	Mr. Spencer was nearly my father's age, I realized. He was a pleasant 
enough looking man, but hardly handsome. His sandy hair was thinning, 
almost lost against his farm-tanned skin. His eyes were his best feature, 
sparkling blue in color. He had a slender build, but solid muscles from heavy 
farm work. He didn't appear to be one of the transparent people. He held a 
large-boned hand out to me shyly. "Yes, I do remember Donna Mae," he said 
in a tone of voice that made me want to run for cover.

	I bit the bullet and stuck out my own tiny hand, which was 
immediately covered by his. "Mr. Spencer," I managed to say, trying not to 
show the pain of his unintentionally powerful grip.

	"Just call me Jess," he said with a pleasant smile.

	Dinner was hell. It was obvious my new parents had made it their 
mission in life to marry me off to Jess Spencer. They kept steering the 
conversation to my domestic prowess. Maybe the Donna Mae who had 
existed before I was thrust in that role had such abilities, but I had none. I 
scarcely knew how to boil water, yet my new father busied himself making 
remarks like, "If you think this chicken is good, you should see what my 
little Donna Mae can do with a bird."

	Yes, I would have liked to have flipped one at my "father," but I 
wasn't sure what would happen if I incurred his wrath. Something told me 
the results would not be pleasant.

	"Well," Jess drawled, "if she can fry up a chicken better than this, she 
sure would be a fine cook, 'cause Mrs. Potter, this here chicken is about the 
finest I ever tasted."

	My "mother" smiled with pride. "I'm glad you like it, Mr. Spencer." 
She had limited her conversation, deferring to my "father" most of the time. It 
was a woman's place. I'm sure that's what she thought, anyway.

	The kitchen table was small to begin with, but they had arranged it so 
I was sitting uncomfortably close to Mr. Spencer. He had made no attempt to 
disguise his gazes at me, taking me in as if I were the reigning Miss America. 
It took all my willpower to keep from running from the table as fast as my 
new legs could carry me.

	At last, dessert was finished and coffee drunk. The evening was 
coming to an end, I thought. I could hardly wait to bid Mr. Spencer good 
night. It wasn't to happen so quickly, though, I realized with a sinking 
feeling in my stomach, for my father said, "Lucille, why don't you and I 
clean up and let these young folks get to know each other a little better."

	It was done with such a heavy hand that had I been a casual observer, 
I might have laughed. But for me, in the sudden role of Donna Mae Potter, it 
was no laughing matter. Mr. Spencer was being given an opportunity to 
examine the merchandise. What would I do if he... if he... I didn't even want 
to finish that thought.

	He ushered me out onto the front porch, where the setting sun had left 
the sky a brilliant orange. He guided me to a waiting porch swing and sat 
down beside me.

	"Your folks are fine people," he said by way of an opening gambit. 
That's right. That's how to get to a girl's heart, I thought. Tell her how 
wonderful her family was. Well, this girl had been a girl for less than a day, 
and as to her family, they could roast in hell for all I cared.

	Of course, I voiced none of this. I merely smiled and mumbled a 
demure "Thank you."

	"Y'know, I lost my folks early," he went on. "Dad, he died when I 
was just sixteen. Never sick a day in his life, but a tractor turned over on him 
one day. Mom and me ran the farm after that, but it wore her out. She got 
sickly and had to be taken care of for the last six years."

	Where was he going with all of this?

	"After she died last year, running the farm just got to be a full time 
job. I never had much time to do any courting."

	Courting? Is that what this was? But I didn't want to be courted!

	"So I was wondering," he began shyly. "Do you suppose we could 
see each other again? I mean just the two of us. I'd like to get to know you 
better, Donna Mae."

	Only a day before, how would I have answered a question like that? 
Well, it would have been a question about a business proposal and not a 
relationship, so I would have said something to the effect of "I'll be happy to 
consider your proposal." I didn't think that answer would fit here. Should I 
tell him no? I wanted to, but I wasn't sure what the ramifications of that 
response would be. I certainly didn't want to lead him on. An affirmative 
response might have found me crushed in his arms while he babbled about 
setting a date for the wedding.

	"I'll think about it, Mr. Spencer," I said with a bland smile.

	"Call me Jess," he said softly.

	"Jess, then."

	He stood up. "Then I'll take that as reason to call again," he said 
formally. "You tell your folks again thanks for dinner. I'll be calling you real 
soon."

	That was it. There was no good night kiss, no pawing me on the 
porch swing. He ambled down the porch steps, got into a new Dodge 
pickup, and drove away, leaving one relieved new girl in his wake.

	My parents were still doing the dishes when I went into the kitchen.

	"So is he gonna call again?" my father said hopefully.

	"He said he would," I replied.

	He grunted and put down the dishtowel he had been half-heartedly 
using. "Then I'll leave this to you two." With that, he strode off to the living 
room where I heard the rustle of a newspaper.

	With a sigh, I picked up the dishtowel and began to wipe the dishes 
as my mother washed them. I was able by now to figure out which shelves to 
place them on.

	Mom smiled at me. "He really just wants what's best for you," she 
said, noting how distracted I was.

	"By setting me up with someone his own age?"

	"Nonsense!" she scoffed. It was odd how I was accepting this person 
who had once been my father as my new mother. "Your daddy is forty one. 
Mr. Spencer is a good ten years younger."

	"That still makes him - what - thirteen years older than me," I pointed 
out.

	"You don't want some young pup," she argued. "What's a young 
pup good for except in bed?"

	My face flushed. I didn't want any pup, young or old. Underneath 
this farm girl exterior beat the heart of a red-blooded man, and to have my 
new mother think all I was interested in was somebody my age for better sex 
was almost enough to make me run screaming from the room.

	"It isn't that," I replied honestly as I nearly dropped a dish. 

	"Of course it is," she insisted. "I'm not that old, you know. I still 
remember what it was like to be a young girl like you."

	You only think you do, I thought to myself. When you think you 
were a young girl, you were already grinding competitors into the dirt while 
you became one of the wealthiest developers in America. Deep down, do you 
remember any of that? 

	"Why, when I was in high school, I had the boys just flocking 
around me."

	It was so hard to believe that even if she had existed in some form that 
long ago, the boys would be flocking around her. She looked like Ma Kent 
for god's sake.

	"Anyhow, Jess Spencer would make you a fine husband. He could 
provide for you and make you happy if you let him. I saw the way he looked 
at you at dinner. He's definitely interested in you. I wouldn't be surprised to 
see him pop the question to you on your first date."

	My god! What a terrible thought!

	"But what if I don't... want him?" I managed to ask. "What if I don't 
want to get married?'

	"All girls want to get married," she replied, adding, "At least all 
normal girls."

	Well, I wasn't exactly a normal girl. 

	"Dad" had gone to bed early, as was apparently his habit. I suppose 
that was fairly normal on a farm. After all, where else could the expression 
"up with the chickens" have come from. This gave me some time to spend 
with "mom," just talking about inconsequential things - girl talk, if you will. 
She told me about her own girlhood, growing up the daughter of a tenant 
farmer in Oklahoma (that is, one where the farmer didn't actually own the 
farm, but rather rented it for a share of the crop). I could detect nothing about 
her that would indicate that she had any memory of her previous life. Here 
she was, formerly one of the most powerful real estate barons in the country, 
reduced to a few hundred acres of Oklahoma farmland, and I would have bet 
her name wasn't even on the deed. 

	It was, I supposed, a fitting punishment, although the woman she had 
become would not have considered it a punishment, I was sure. She was 
limited to her high school education, had gotten pregnant unexpectedly and 
subsequently married in her senior year. In fact, she hadn't even graduated. 
In those days, she had told me, pregnant girls weren't welcome in school. 
My "father" had been the only man she had ever known - sexually, that is.

	It explained a bit about him, too. As the only son of a farmer, he had 
hoped to marry well, possibly the daughter of another farmer. Then, two 
small farms could be merged into one large one. It hadn't happened that way, 
though, and now he was a bitter man who worked hard but never seemed to 
really get ahead.

	That apparently was where I came in. As his "daughter," I was 
expected to improve the family fortunes by marrying well. Jess Spencer's 
land bordered on ours, and together, we could have a large farm - run, of 
course, under the benevolent hand of my father. 

	I was forced to appreciate the cosmic justice the Judge was capable of 
dispensing. I had a pretty good idea who he was. In college, I had been 
forced to read Ovid, so I knew his writings of the gods. The Judge either was 
a god in the old Roman sense, or he had enough powers from wherever to 
think of himself as one. I suspected he really was one. Which one? Well, 
Judge and Jupiter both started with the same two letters. He certainly seemed 
to have Jovian powers. I wondered if Ovid was an existing town he had co-
opted or if he had created it out of whole cloth. Whichever was true, he was 
probably one of the most powerful beings to ever walk the planet.

	And he had a sense of humor, too. That much was clear. After all, he 
had "punished" both my father and me in most creative ways. My father had 
browbeaten every woman he had ever known. I don't know exactly why. 
Maybe he had a domineering mother and he was just getting even. I hadn't 
known my grandmother, so I couldn't say for sure. Or maybe he was just a 
misogynistic son of a bitch. Whatever the correct answer, he was paying 
now, I realized as I headed off to bed. He would spend - presumably - the 
rest of his new life taking guff from a man who would have been a poor 
man's version of his soul brother in his original life. He would be one of the 
people he hated most - a woman.

	And what of me? Was justice done in my case? I had never hated 
women, so was it justice for me to become one? Perhaps, I thought, as I 
pulled a cotton nightie out of a drawer after a futile search for something less 
feminine, being female was somewhat incidental to my case. What was it that 
the Judge had said to me? He said that my sentence carried with it a chance 
for happiness and contentment, if I was smart enough to find it. 

	Happiness? Contentment? How was I supposed to be happy as some 
eighteen year old freckle faced farm girl with an Oklahoma twang in her voice 
and all the fashion sense of a rock? Was that what Jess Spencer was all 
about? Was he supposed to make me happy? Yeah, right.

	I stripped off my dress, really taking the time to look at my new body 
for the first time. Well, I was a freckle faced farm girl all right, but not a bad 
looking one. My face was smooth and soft, in spite of some obvious time 
working on the farm in the hot Oklahoma sun. The rest of my skin was more 
pink, and I had practically no hair on my body, except on my head and a tiny 
thin patch at my crotch. My breasts were full, although not overly large. I 
checked my bra. I was a C cup, but not a particularly large one. The breasts 
did look a little larger, though, on my slender frame. Waist and hips were 
undeniably feminine, and my legs were about as nice as a girl's pair of legs 
could be. 

	Now what was I supposed to do with this body to gain that happiness 
and contentment the Judge spoke of? Did I have to marry Jess and be a 
dutiful farm wife, milking cows and raising children? Maybe that was the 
Judge's idea of happiness and contentment, but it didn't sound right to me. 

	But what other choices were available to me? I wondered as I slipped 
on the nightie and crawled into bed. College was out. I lacked the money, 
and I was sure that my new father would see no value in that for me. As for 
work, that was fine, but with no special skills in a small town, there didn't 
seem much opportunity there. Perhaps the morning would bring answers 
instead of questions, I thought, as I slowly drifted off to sleep.

					***

	"Come on, you lazy girl!" a deep voice barked in the half light. 
"There's no call to be sleepin' in. The chickens gotta be fed."

	Girl? Chickens? I groaned, surprised to hear the high pitch of my 
voice. What was going on? I began to awaken slowly, realizing in tiny 
fragments where I was, and more importantly, who I was. As I lay on my 
back only semiconscious, I became aware of the weight of my new breasts, 
the tickle of my long hair, and most insistently, an urgent need to pee. That 
was the strangest feeling of all. Rather than manifesting itself in a semi-
erection of my now absent penis, the feeling seemed to be coming from 
inside my body. Of course, I realized, where else would it come from? There 
was nothing sticking out any more.

	With a sigh, I got out of bed, feeling the soft nightie swirl about my 
legs and trundled off to the bathroom. I had had nearly a day to get used to 
voiding in this fashion, I thought as I squatted on the toilet. Leaning slightly 
forward to allow for what little aim I could manage. Still, I couldn't get used 
to the feeling. Somehow, taking a leak wasn't as satisfying any more. With 
resignation, I wiped myself and began to prepare for a new day as a girl. 

	I suddenly realized I didn't have the foggiest notion what to do next. I 
supposed a shower should be the first order of the day. Girls were supposed 
to smell nice, and I was smelling a little pungent. With a tired sigh, I turned 
on the water in the shower and let it turn warm while I stripped out of my 
nightie. I stepped into the shower, relaxing as the warm water cascaded over 
my newly softened skin. 

	Most women I knew preferred the luxury of a bath over the utility of a 
shower. I might be female now, but I realized in that moment that I was 
always going to be a shower person. The only problem, I noted was keeping 
my newly long hair from getting wet and not allowing the water to strike 
directly on my sensitive nipples. 

	It felt odd to wash this new body, though. My male body had been 
hard and angular. This new flesh of mine was soft and gave way when I 
sponged it off. Also, the curves made it a series of different motions. 
Reluctantly, I realized this new flesh was much more sensitive than my male 
flesh. Washing it could almost become a sensual act. Its smooth, delicate feel 
was akin to lying on silk sheets, smooth and cool to the touch. I found 
myself closing my eyes and sponging my soft breasts, then reaching for - 

	A loud bang on the door almost caused me to wet myself. "Girl, are 
you gonna be in there all day?" My father's growl interrupted my reverie. In 
shock, I looked down at where my hand had been about to go of its own 
accord. Embarrassed, I rinsed quickly and got dressed in my farm girl outfit 
of jeans and plaid shirt. I wasn't sure what else to do to get ready. 
Thankfully, I had been wearing no makeup when I was changed, so I 
assumed I needed none now. I again gathered my long hair into a rough 
ponytail and applied the scrunchie I had used the day before. A look in the 
mirror told me that I looked about right.

	Feeding the chickens was a simple enough chore. There weren't 
many of them to feed for one thing. This wasn't a chicken farm, so the only 
birds we had were apparently for our own use, the way suburbanites plant 
small gardens to satisfy their own needs. I had no idea what the primary crop 
was. It was probably wheat or corn, but I wasn't sure and didn't want to 
know. The chicken feed was in a bag on a shelf in the hen house. I took the 
large tin cup resting at the top of the bag and poured it into the wooden trough 
in front of the chicken's roost. Then, I threw some more in the small exercise 
yard in front of the hen house. Several birds rushed over and began pecking 
at once. The chore done, I walked back to the house.

	"Well, where are the eggs?" my mother asked, looking over her 
shoulder from the frying pan filled with sizzling bacon.

	"Eggs?"

	She sighed, "Honestly, Donna Mae, you can't seem to keep your 
mind on anything these days. You're not going to make much of a farm wife 
if you can't keep your head on straight."

	"Sorry," I mumbled, backing out of the house and heading back to 
the hen house.

	I took a basket off the shelf and filled it with eggs. At least I had 
performed that chore before, so I knew what I was supposed to be doing. I 
hurried them back to my mother and began the task of setting the table and 
making drinks without being asked.

	Breakfast was eaten in relative silence. My new father wolfed down a 
full plate of bacon and eggs, washed down with cold milk and coffee. From 
the look of him, he had already been working for some time and was getting 
ready to work again. I was beginning to realize that life on a farm was not as 
idyllic as I had once imagined. Like most city boys, I had imagined farming 
to be more technologically oriented as we neared the twenty-first century. No 
such luck - at least on the Potter farm. Farming here was hard work. I could 
almost understand why he seemed to resent me. If I had been a son instead of 
a daughter, I would have been more helpful to him in running the farm. As it 
was, I was a weak girl, fit only for cooking and light farm duties, and of 
course, for being married off to a farmer. 

	I certainly wished I was his son instead of his daughter. I had no 
interest in being a girl. Maybe I could see the Judge and ask him to change 
me again. Being the son of... gee, I suddenly realized I didn't even know his 
first name... But being Farmer Potter's son instead of his daughter would be 
better for everyone. My "father" would have someone to help him on the 
farm, and I would have my male identity back again. It wouldn't be the same 
as being scion of the God of Real Estate, but it would be better than wearing 
dresses and having periods - or worse yet - missing periods.

	My father looked at his watch. "Eight o'clock," he pronounced. 
"Time to go to work."

	"Get the dishes, dear," my mother told me sweetly. 

	As I rose to do my next chore, the phone rang. My mother answered, 
listening for a moment before handing the phone to me. "It sounds like 
Charlene," she told me.

	Charlene was gushing pure excitement. "She called me!"

	"Who called you?" I asked.

	"Vera March." When I said nothing, she explained. "You know, from 
March's Department Store. They want to interview me for a sales job."

	"That's great," I replied, trying to sound cheery. When we had filled 
out the applications, I had been ambivalent about the idea of being a sales 
clerk in a small town department store. Sure, it sounded better than being a 
farm girl, but it was still a long fall from the life I was accustomed to. Now, 
though, I found myself more than a little envious. Charlene would be off the 
farm, building a modest career. Me? I would be stuck on the farm, trying 
desperately to avoid the clumsy advances of Jess Spencer.

	"Listen, have you heard from them?" she asked.

	"Not a word," I admitted, chagrinned. I guess freckle-faced farm girls 
weren't in high demand, even at small town department stores.

	"Well, I'm going in at ten for an interview. I'll let you know how it 
goes."

	I found myself actually depressed as I hung up the phone. Here I 
was, mentally an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and yet I couldn't 
get a job clerking in a store. Try as I might to stop them, there were actually a 
few of my tears mixed into the soapy dishwater that morning.

	Then, at eight thirty, my life changed. 

	The phone rang again. "It's for you again," my mother said, 
exasperated at becoming my answering service.

	It was probably Charlene again, I thought, grabbing the phone. I 
really didn't want to talk to her again, so I was probably a little gruff when I 
mumbled, "Yes?"

	"Donna Mae?" I recognized the voice. There was only one like it in 
the world, I was sure. It was Vera March.

	"Uh... yes," I replied, chagrinned.

	"I've been reviewing your application," she said smoothly. "I think 
you have some potential. I'd like to discuss your goals with you. Is there a 
time we could meet this morning?"

	"Uh..." I stammered, trying to think of a reply. I had no car, and I 
was pretty sure I wouldn't be given the use of the family truck when there 
were plenty of chores to be done. I would have to catch a ride with Charlene. 
What time was her interview? Ten? "Would ten thirty do?"

	"That would be fine, dear," she said cheerfully. "I'll see you then."

	As she hung up, I realized how important the interview might be to 
my future.

	"Oh god!" I cried out.

	My "mother" put her arm around me. "What's wrong, dear?"

	"I have a job interview," I told her, so flustered, I didn't know which 
way to turn. "I need to call Charlene to get a ride. I need to get changed."

	"Mother" frowned. "A job interview?"

	"Yes," I confirmed. "Charlene and I applied at March's. Vera March 
wants to see me at ten thirty."

	"I'm not too sure I like that woman," my mother said in measured 
tones. "Besides, we need you here on the farm."

	"But I can't stay here on the farm forever," I told her as I dialed 
Charlene. There it was again - that ability to act as Donna Mae when I let my 
subconscious take over. I had dialed her number without having the slightest 
notion what it was. "Charlene... I got an interview, too! Can you pick me 
up? Nine thirty? Great!"

	"I know you can't stay here forever, dear," mother agreed, "but if 
you and that nice Mr. Spencer were to get married, we could run the farms 
together."

	The cat was out of the bag. The "M" word had been used for the first 
time. Apparently my new parents had it all figured out. I was to marry Jess 
Spencer whether I wanted to or not. What a nice, simple arrangement! The 
two farms were right next to each other. We could run them as one. I 
wondered if "that nice Mr. Spencer" had any idea that the farms would have 
to be run according to my father's wishes and not his own. I was to be used 
like some medieval princess, married off to the neighboring baron for an 
alliance. 

	Or like Martin R. Brubaker Junior being forced to marry Lucinda 
Watson, I thought grimly. Yes, I had been willing to do that. I felt I had no 
choice. My father had decreed it for the good of the company, and I had 
agreed to it. Did I love Lucinda Watson? Of course I didn't. She was slightly 
overweight, had a strident voice, and looked down her nose at everyone who 
hadn't appeared in the society pages in the last three months. Yet I had been 
willing to marry her.

	Was it any worse to be asked to marry Jess Spencer? Jess was a nice 
guy, pleasant looking if not handsome. He would make a good husband and 
a good father. Yet I just wasn't attracted to him any more than I had been 
attracted to Lucinda Watson. Why should that make such a difference to me 
now? Oh, sure, I was now a girl, and I had to admit that the thought of sex as 
a girl wasn't the most pleasant thought I had ever experienced. As Martin, I 
could have forced myself to go to a loveless bed with Lucinda, have sex with 
her, and then go on with my life, maybe with a mistress on the side. But as 
Donna Mae, could I slide beneath the covers with a man I didn't love? Was it 
that different as a woman? 

	"I just don't want you to go," my mother said suddenly, breaking my 
train of thought.

	"But I've already said I would," I argued.

	She folded her arms. "Then I forbid it."

	"Mother, I'm eighteen," I said, bluffing. I wasn't sure if I was 
eighteen or not. "I'm an adult. I'm going in for that interview."

	She was obviously shocked at my resistance. "Then wait until your 
father finds out about this," she called to me as I hurried to my room.

	I suddenly realized there was sometimes truth to the old woman's 
lament of "I haven't got a thing to wear." There was nothing in my somewhat 
Spartan closet which would look right for the interview with Vera March. I 
finally decided upon a drab brown suit and plain white blouse, as well as a 
pair of brown flats. I realized it wasn't a very stylish outfit, but the Potters 
weren't a very stylish family. Besides, even if I had found nylons and heels, 
I wasn't sure I could handle them. I would just have to let my charming 
personality do the work for me. I wished I could ditch the Oklahoma twang 
in my voice, but realized everyone else had it, too, so it wasn't out of place.

	There were no good-byes from my mother as I hurried out to join 
Charlene. Mother sat in the living room, pretending to be engrossed in the 
morning paper as I hurried out the door.

	Charlene put me to shame. She wore a linen suit, peach colored, with 
a silky white blouse. She had stylish gold jewelry and attractive makeup. Her 
two inch heels and nylons gave her legs a very sophisticated look. It was all 
enough to make me cringe. I looked like something that had just wandered in 
out of the depths of the Ozarks. Charlene noticed my alarm. "Oh, don't 
worry, Donna Mae. You look just fine."

	Sure I did. I looked like a man pretending to be a woman. I had no 
makeup, no heels, no nylons, and a suit the color of cow shit. I had about as 
much chance of impressing Vera March as I did of winning a Miss America 
pageant.

	We got to March's with a few minutes to spare. Charlene led the way 
confidently while I lagged behind, looking over the store to see if there was 
any role I could take on there. I saw a rather dumpy woman - not one of the 
transparent people - with a mop cleaning up a mess made by a spilled coffee. 
Maybe I could do that, I thought. Maybe I was qualified to be a custodian.

	The next sensation I felt was running into an immovable object. 
Tottering and nearly falling, I felt a strong arm pull me back to my feet. I was 
suddenly looking into the most gorgeous pair of blue eyes I had ever seen. 
Then, shocked, I realized they were the eyes of a young man. 

	"Are you all right?" he asked releasing me.

	Dumbly, I nodded. I had been a man only a day before, yet I found 
myself practically awestruck gazing into the eyes of this man. He was not 
terribly tall - only about six feet, although that towered over my new five-five 
height. He had brown hair and the aforementioned blue eyes, and strong, 
handsome features.

	"Okay," he said softly, turning back to the counter of sport shirts he 
had been looking at when I had bumped into him.

	That was it. There had been nothing about me to cause him to give me 
a second look. I was just some clumsy farm girl who had run into him. I was 
on my own again.

	"Hurry up, Donna Mae," Charlene called to me. As if in a trance, I 
followed her to the office.

	I waited nervously outside Vera March's office as Charlene went in 
for her interview. Here was my best chance to get away from the farm and I 
had blown it. I almost envied my "mother." She didn't realize how far she 
had fallen - from real estate baron to farm wife. I knew, though. Oh, did I 
know.

	At last, the door opened. Charlene and Vera March were both smiling 
happily. 

	"Then you'll start at nine o'clock tomorrow at the cosmetics counter," 
Vera was saying. "I think you'll do a marvelous job for us. I'm so happy to 
have you on board."

	I was happy for Charlene, but in the center of my being, I was also 
hopelessly jealous. She had done it! She was going to move into town and be 
somebody, even if it was as a clerk at the cosmetics counter. I wouldn't even 
be able to do that.

	"Well, it looks as if you're next," she said to me. Today, she wore a 
double-breasted silk suit in a tasteful plum color with dark hose and matching 
shoes. Of course, she could have been wearing a gunny sack and would have 
still looked incredible. I felt so terribly inadequate that it was all I could do to 
keep from running for the exit.

	When I was seated in her office, she looked over the application I had 
filled out the day before. Then, she asked me a most unexpected question. 
"Well, are you settling into being Donna Mae? I'm sure it's quite a change for 
you."

	I nearly fell out of the chair. "You... you know who I was?"

	"Oh, yes," she laughed. 

	"Are you... one of them?" I asked.

	"One of what?" she asked patiently.

	"A... god?"

	Just for a moment, she lost her composure. "You know who we are?"

	"I think I do," I answered carefully. "I read a lot of Ovid in college. 
Since he was Roman, I'm assuming this has something to do with Roman 
gods."

	"That's something of a leap of logic," she commented with a smile.

	I shrugged. "Maybe. But it makes sense. To do what the Judge did to 
me and my father would take magical powers. If you had asked me a couple 
of days ago if magic existed, I would have said no, but now, it's obvious it 
does. I didn't become a girl by any non-magical power."

	She looked at me carefully. "Perhaps the Judge was right about you. 
There's more to you than I would have first imagined. Let's see how much 
there really is to you. Who is the Judge?"

	"Jupiter," I said quickly. I wasn't entirely sure of my answer, but it 
seemed to make sense.

	"And who am I?"

	If Judge and Jupiter had the same first two letters, what would match 
Vera or March? Mars? Mars was male - it couldn't be that. V... e... "Venus!" 
I said confidently.

	She shook her head. "I don't think anyone else has ever put that 
together as quickly as you. The disorientation of a new identity keeps most 
people off balance for some time." She looked at me quietly for moment. "Do 
you know what I had planned to do with you this morning?"

	"No," I said honestly.

	"I had planned to interview you and turn you down," she explained. 
"When I first heard about you and your father, I decided it would be a fitting 
life for you two to be stuck out there as simple farm wives for the rest of your 
lives. Now, I'm not so sure. There is more to you than I would have 
imagined. You might make an interesting project after all."

	"Project?"

	"There is more to Ovid than you could ever imagine," she told me. "It 
is populated by gods such as the Judge and me, people like you who 
remember who they were, and people like your father who don't remember. 
Of course, most of the population we call 'shades.' They are not entirely real, 
but are needed for our little town to work. People like you are our true 
projects. More, I cannot say, but I am offering you a job."

	My heart skipped. "Thank you!"

	"Don't thank me yet," she said. "I see very difficult times ahead for 
you. First, I don't hire uncultured farm girls for my lingerie department."

	Lingerie?

	"You will have to learn to fit in as a woman," she told me. "You start 
tomorrow at nine."

	"What should I wear?" I asked, realizing I should probably be asking 
salary questions, but somehow, this seemed more important.

	"It doesn't really matter," she said. "We'll be changing your outfit 
here. I think you're in for an interesting day tomorrow, Donna."

	I couldn't believe my good fortune as I left Vera's office.

	Charlene read the look on my face. "You, too?" she practically yelled. 
With only a grin and a nod, I answered her question. She hugged me so 
tightly I thought my new breasts would be squashed flat against hers. "That's 
terrific!"

	We talked together on the drive back like two schoolgirls. Then, I 
realized with a little private smile that that was exactly what we were. I 
wondered who Charlene had been before she was transformed. It was 
difficult to imagine that she had ever been anyone other than this cheery 
redhead. Had she been male like me? It was certainly possible, but she 
seemed to have no memories of anything but her life in Ovid. I was actually 
happy with that. It forced me to conform to my new life, and the sooner I 
conformed, the more I would be able to control who I had become.

	"See you at graduation tonight!" Charlene called out to me as she 
spun out of our driveway, spraying gravel. I had forgotten all about 
graduation. It was a little hard for me to see it as a significant event in my life 
when I had never even attended the school. I wasn't even sure what time the 
ceremony would be.

	My new mother knew, though. "It's about time you got home," she 
grumped. It was only eleven thirty. I didn't know what she was so upset 
about. "Help me with these mashed potatoes and I'll get the rest. It's going to 
be a busy afternoon if we're going to get you in for graduation at five."

	"Mom," I said happily as I did my best to mash the potatoes, "I got 
the job."

	She shook her head. "Your father isn't going to like that."

	"But I'm an adult... now," I argued. "I need to make my own way." 
Translate that as I need to get off this hellish farm as quickly as my newly-
shaved legs can carry me.

	"We've gone all over that," she said. "I just hope you're ready to take 
the consequences."

	Consequences? What consequences?

	Before I could ask, my new father opened the door. "I don't have 
much time to eat," he announced. "There's a problem down in the south 
field. Looks like it could be blight."

	That didn't sound good, and it had put him in a foul mood. I resolved 
to not mention the new job to him just yet. I hoped my mother had the good 
sense to remain silent as well. He sat down without ceremony and gulped 
down a glass of iced tea while wiping the sweat off his forehead with the 
back of his hand. Silently, my mother placed a pair of pork chops and a 
mountain of mashed potatoes in front of him. We all ate in silence.

	"What time's graduation?" he finally asked, wolfing down the last of 
his food.

	"We need to get Donna Mae in for rehearsal at five," mother told him. 
"You and me should be there at six thirty."

	He shook his head. "Can't make it by then. Too much to do. You 
take her."

	Although I hadn't actually attended the high school in Ovid, I found 
myself flushing in anger. Here was a man who was supposed to be my own 
father, and yet he couldn't be bothered to attend my graduation. Of course, 
when I thought about it, my real father hadn't attended mine. He had been 
closing a multi-million dollar land deal in New Zealand at the time. I 
suspected, though, that my new father chose not to go because it simply 
wasn't an important event. Education obviously wasn't very important to 
him, and the education of a girl ranked particularly low on his scale.

	Mother actually frowned. "But it's her graduation."

	Good for you, mom! You couldn't be bothered when you were my 
dad, but now that you had a sudden helping of maternal instinct, you were 
right there to help your little... girl.

	My father frowned back. "Damn it, woman, I told you I was too 
busy. Now don't make me tell you again!"

	He made no motion to physically strike her, but she flinched 
nonetheless. It was like a trip back in time when my real father had similarly 
treated my real mother to verbal abuse. The Judge's justice could be quite 
poetic, I was beginning to realize.

	"All right," she sighed, giving way to his unquestioned authority. 
"Donna Mae, you go start the wash. I'll clean up down here."

	"Yes, ma'am," I replied, anxious to be out of the room as quickly as 
possible.

	He wasn't a violent man, I realized as I gathered the washing as best I 
could. Rather, he was a cruel man. Yet I was certain if someone had 
confronted him with that fact, he would have denied it. He would contend 
that he was just being sensible. I could only imagine what his "sensible" 
reaction to my new job would be. He wouldn't strike me - I was pretty sure 
of that. But he would forbid me to work at March's - I was equally sure of 
that. I had to keep my new job a secret until I had actually begun work. 
Otherwise, he would forbid me, and my mother would not be able to help. I 
only hoped she didn't say anything to him.

	She didn't. She told me so as we made our way into town for 
graduation. "No telling what the man would have done if I'd told him," she 
muttered to me as we drove past the first buildings of Ovid. "He's riled 
enough at you as it is."

	"At me?" I asked innocently, trying not to feel like a fool in my gold 
and black graduation gown. 

	She nodded, looking solemn in her dark blue suit which I suspected 
was normally reserved for church. I didn't know much about women's 
fashions, but it looked somewhat unstylish. "I want you to go into that that 
Mrs. March tomorrow and tell her you don't want the job. Better yet, you can 
call her."

	"I'm not going to do that," I replied stubbornly. If I was to make my 
own way, I had to have that job - no matter what.

	"Then it'll be on your head," she said. 

	She dropped me off in front of the high school stadium. I gathered 
my robe and mortarboard, thankful as I got out of the truck that I had opted 
for a comfortable cotton blouse, shorts, and sandals to wear under the robe. 
It was going to be a warm evening. The sight that awaited me was the 
strangest I had seen yet in Ovid. It was strange for its normalcy, for students 
- some real but most transparent - gathered in little groups laughing and 
talking as if nothing was wrong. I counted - what? - twenty or so "real" 
people, including Charlene and myself. No one seemed to notice the 
strangeness of the scene, or if they did, they kept it to themselves. 

	"Well, here we are!" Charlene said happily as she gave me a hug. 
"Come on, let's talk to Alice."

	Alice was a young girl, dark skin and black hair hinting of Indian 
heritage, who was talking to a young boy of similar blood near the edge of 
the crowd. Both she and the boy were - what was the expression Vera had 
used? - shades. Yet as we approached, I realized they appeared perfectly 
normal in their actions. Alice happily hugged Charlene, then me, and I was 
surprised to realize that shades were completely solid.

	"This is so cool!" Alice laughed. "Charlene told me you guys would 
be working at March's. Then we'll still get to see each other while Charlie 
and I are at Capta."

	I had no idea what Capta was, but I wasn't about to ask. The four of 
us walked in to the rehearsal together. 

	"Say, Donna Mae," the boy, Charlie asked as we waited to be 
arranged for the ceremony. "Are you going with anyone right now?"

	Only Mr. Spencer, I though to myself grimly. I hesitantly answered, 
"No... not right now."

	"Well, I was talking to Danny Grady yesterday. He said you were 
pretty cute for a farm girl."

	Charlene and Alice snickered. 

	"So he doesn't think Alice and I are cute - for farm girls?" Charlene 
asked sweetly.

	"Nope," he responded. "I almost decked him for you. What an ass!"

	Pretty cute for a farm girl, eh? I thought as we were sorted into our 
proper chairs. I had gone to an expensive private high school. There weren't 
any farm kids there. If they had been, they would have had very rich parents, 
just like the rest of my fellow students. I had never realized before that in 
small towns, there were farm kids and town kids. They were reasonably civil 
to each other, but they moved in different circles. I had been turned into a 
farm kid. That apparently made me some sort of yokel in the eyes of many of 
the townies. Well, so be it. 

	It did make one thing harder, though. I had been thinking that I would 
move to town as quickly as I could, assuming that I had a high school 
"friend" I could room with. If my close "friends" were all farm kids, my 
options for moving to town might be more limited.

	The ceremony went off without any problems. I tried to act just like 
all the other kids as I marched up to receive my diploma from a line of people 
I assumed were school dignitaries and administrators. They each smiled, 
called me by name, and warmly shook my hand as they congratulated me. I 
realized they all knew me and meant their congratulations. I simply mumbled 
my thanks and moved on back to my seat.

	"Time to party now," Charlene announced as the ceremony ended. 
Alice, Charlie, and several others agreed. "Come on, Donna Mae."

	"Thanks, but I can't," I replied, seeing my mother waiting patiently 
for me.

	Charlene groaned, "Oh, come on! We only graduate once. We're all 
going down to the lake for a party."

	"We've got to go to work tomorrow," I explained. "I need you to 
pick me up. We have to be there by nine."

	"No problem," she laughed, giving me a hug. "I'll pick you up. Now 
let's party."

	I hugged her back. "I can't. I'm sorry."

	She smiled. "Party pooper."

	I smiled back. "See you tomorrow."

	When we got home, my father was already in bed, for which I was 
thankful. That meant I didn't have to tell him about my new job, and mother 
couldn't either.

	In bed at last, I had a few quiet moments to reflect on my first full day 
as a girl. I thought it had gone fairly well. I had a job, had graduated from 
high school, and made a couple of new friends. It had been a real eye opener 
to find that there was a rift between town kids and farm kids. All evening, I 
had seen evidence that the girls from town considered themselves to be much 
more sophisticated than their country cousins. I smiled, thinking what girls 
their age I knew back in New York would think of their "sophistication." For 
that matter, I wondered what they would think if they knew that through my 
father, I had met a number of their TV and movie idols. What would they 
think of their "farm girl" if they knew I had met Matt Dillon, for example?

	Come to think of it, I still had Matt's private phone number twirling 
around in my head someplace. He and I had met at a party in LA that had 
ended up as a private party back at his place with a few friends - mostly 
female. Maybe I'd give him a call, I thought smiling at what that would be 
like. I mean, it would be interesting to meet him this way, wouldn't it? What 
would we do? I could imagine having a drink with him now, his arm slipping 
around m.. - wait a minute!

	I shot bolt upright in bed. With a shock, I could feel a strange tingling 
in places I had been trying to ignore. I hadn't planned on thinking of Matt that 
way. I had just been thinking about what every girl in Ovid would say if they 
knew that I knew him. Why had I suddenly started thinking of him... that 
way? There was more at work with my transformation than I had realized 
before. Maybe my mind wasn't so unaffected after all. I would have to be 
careful, I realized, as I drifted off to sleep.

	I awoke the next morning with no prodding. My father was still in the 
shower, and I could already smell bacon frying in the kitchen. I hurried into 
the kitchen in a white cotton robe. I was afraid my mother had actually said 
something about the job to my father. Mother was setting the table when I 
entered the kitchen.

	"Have you told him?" I asked, nervous with anticipation.

	She shook her head. "No. He woke up in a bad mood. I told him you 
were going to be helping Charlene today, so he doesn't know."

	I breathed a sigh of relief. If his schedule held true, he would be out 
in the field most of the day. He wouldn't notice when I left or when I 
returned. It wasn't going to be a satisfactory long term solution, but once I 
had actually started the job and learned my way around Ovid, it would be 
harder for him to stop me.

	Thankfully, I had no fear of physical abuse. He wasn't a hitter for all 
his other faults. He was just a man with no respect for the worth of women. 
He probably never thought to hit a woman - not because he felt it was wrong 
- because women weren't worth the trouble. Of course, that didn't mean he 
would never hit a woman. It just meant he hadn't yet.

	I dressed quickly if not well. Vera had said it didn't matter what I 
wore since she would take care of that when I got to work. I assumed there 
was some sort of uniform I was to wear, although I had noticed no uniforms 
in the store before. Taking her at her word, I dressed in a pair of tan slacks 
and a white polo shirt and flat sandals. With my hair still tied in the ever-
present ponytail, I didn't think I looked too bad. I certainly didn't look like a 
boy, for my curves were obviously feminine, but I looked boyish. I smiled at 
myself. It was the look I had hoped for. I ate quickly and rushed out to meet 
Charlene as soon as she pulled up.

	Charlene looked as if she were dressed for a party. Her hair was 
stylishly curled and her makeup gave her a somewhat sophisticated 
appearance. She wore a Kelly green dress that made her red hair look like 
living flames as it curled over her shoulders. Matching two inch heels and tan 
hose displayed long, lovely legs, and gold earrings and jewelry gave an 
almost regal air to her appearance. She looked like an Irish princess. If I had 
still been male, I would have been instantly in love.

	"Wow!" I said, almost without meaning to as I got in the car. "Look 
at you." 

	She smiled. "I'm glad you like it. I'm starting out in dresses today. 
You're awfully casual, though. Where had she got you starting?"

	"Lingerie," I replied with an involuntary blush.

	She looked at me quizzically as we pulled away from the house. 
"Lingerie? Dressed like that?"

	"What's wrong with this?" I asked, embarrassed in spite of myself.

	"Well," she explained, "it might be a suitable look for sportswear or 
something, but it's a little casual for lingerie."

	"Vera said it didn't matter," I told her. "She said something about my 
changing when I got there."

	"Oh."

	We didn't speak of it again while driving in, but I did start to feel a 
little uncomfortable. Here was Charlene, all dressed up, and here I was, still 
the country bumpkin. Had I misunderstood Vera's instructions to me? Maybe 
she would take one look at me and decide she had made a mistake in hiring 
me. My stomach churned. If that happened, I would be back to square one. 

	March's opened at nine thirty during the week and it was - what? - 
Wednesday. It was odd, but without my Daytimer, I had lost all sense of 
time. Had it only been two days since I had been transformed? It seemed as if 
it were a lifetime ago. We reported in at Vera's office at five until nine.

	Vera was dressed in a pastel green suit with a soft silk blouse. She 
had a cheerful smile on her face as she inspected Charlene. "Just right," she 
said. "Go ahead and report to Cosmetics on the second floor. Ms Jensen will 
get you started."

	As Charlene walked out of the office with a happy smile, Vera's 
attention was turned to me. She didn't exactly frown, but there was a look of 
concern bordering on pity when she inspected me.

	"Well, Donna Mae, I think we'll have our work cut out for us, don't 
you?"

	I didn't answer, unsure of what to say.

	She motioned to a chair. "Sit down for a moment."

	Silently, I sat.

	She folded her hands and leaned forward with catlike grace. "Donna, 
if we are going to succeed in making a silk purse out of a sow's ear..."

	Is that what I was? A sow's ear?

	"...then we will have to work hard at it. Tell me, what do you think 
about being a woman?"

	A woman? Is that what I was? Believe it or not, I hadn't really 
thought of myself as one. I mean, I knew I was female. That was obvious 
every time I had to pee, or every time I felt the sway of my new breasts or 
heard the soft soprano voice I now owned. But what did it mean to be a 
woman? 

	"I'm not sure," I replied honestly, realizing it for the first time.

	"Then let me explain it to you," she said kindly. "Being a woman is 
more difficult than being a man. Men can do whatever they want without fear 
of becoming an object. Do you understand that?"

	"I... No, I guess I don't."

	"When you were a man, you could be dressed in a thousand dollar 
suit and it might define what sort of a man you were - wealthy, professional, 
cultured - but it wouldn't define you as an object. You were still a man. You 
were important because you were a man, whether you wore the thousand 
dollar suit or the work shirt and jeans your new father wears. But when you 
are a woman, you must constantly assert that importance. It's not 
automatically granted to you. In fact, how you dress and conduct yourself 
may detract from your importance. Dress correctly or incorrectly and a man is 
still a man. When a woman dresses, she may become a twat or a cunt if she's 
not careful. Do you see what I mean?"

	"But a man can be a dick," I argued.

	She nodded. "Yes, but it doesn't mean the same thing. When you call 
a man a dick, it's as if you were calling him a moron. You aren't reducing 
him to an object - a sexual one in particular. But when a woman is reduced to 
a cunt, she becomes an object."

	"Then why was this done to me?" I asked. "Why was I changed into 
a woman?"

	"You would have to ask the Judge for a specific answer," she told 
me, "and I doubt if he would give it to you. I can speculate, though. My 
guess is that he saw in you qualities which would be strengthened if you 
were to be given the opportunity - and that is what it is - to be a woman."

	"What qualities? I'm not attracted to men - or at least I wasn't before. 
I've never been anxious to dress in women's clothing. I was happy being 
who I was."

	"Were you?"

	"Of course," I replied, although I had to admit, without much 
conviction. Had I been happy being Martin Brubaker Junior? Sure, I was 
wealthy, or at least, my father was, but I had no authority over anything, 
including my own life.

	"You see it, don't you, Donna?" she said softly. "Your life was 
empty. You had no true identity. You were forced to go through your life 
being what your father expected you to be - him. Like him, you would have 
followed your father down a path that would lead to a career whose only 
satisfaction was to participate in the destruction of others. That's what your 
father was all about, wasn't he?"

	It was, of course. He had followed his own father into the real estate 
business. I didn't remember much about my grandfather - he had died when I 
was ten. But I never remembered him hugging me or smiling at me. I 
remember him being formal, gruff, and distant, like my own father. He was 
like the robber barons, playing the game of real estate to win, and he had 
taught my father well.

	"It was too late for your father," she went on. "Too many years of 
bitterness and a loveless marriage left him without enough potential to be 
offered another chance. You would have been just like him before you knew 
it."

	"I would never have been like him!" I protested, surprised at my own 
vehemence.

	She shook her head sadly. "Yes, you would. Already, your life was 
more empty than that of our own shades. They at least have in many cases the 
appearance of a happy life, but they are empty. They live lives that are 
dictated for them, as did you. Now, though, all of that must change."

	Her voice was becoming calm and soothing. I felt myself almost 
drifting into a quiet reverie. Thoughts of my former life seemed to drift away 
with a mental tide, replaced by a yearning I couldn't begin to understand. Oh, 
I still remembered my former life. It was just it seemed so insignificant. What 
was the old quote in the Bible about gaining the world while losing your 
immortal soul? For me, just the opposite seemed to be happening.

	While I was still in this reverie, listening not hearing the words that 
Vera spoke to me, but still absorbing their meaning, I suddenly rose to my 
feet. Vera smiled at me and led me into another world.

	"Well, what do you think?"

	It had taken nearly three hours, but a new person stood in Vera's 
office, gazing unbelievingly into a full-length mirror. I wasn't sure what to 
think. The person who looked back at me from the mirror was almost more 
of a stranger than the person who looked back at me right after my 
transformation.

	First, Vera had taken me to the beauty shop in the store. There, as I 
relaxed in what had to be a magical trance, my mousy brown hair was 
transformed. First, it was washed, then cut, curled and set in a style that was 
full and loose, but kept its shape whenever I turned my head. In the mirror, I 
saw that the rinse they had used had given it an almost reddish highlight.

	Next, Vera had me put on a bra and panties which were silky to the 
feel and trimmed in scalloped lace. I was surprised at how good they felt 
against my skin, unlike the cotton bra and panties I had used before. She 
showed me how to put on panty hose, having selected a very sheer pair in a 
smoky shade. Next came a conservative but stylish gray dress with trim in a 
deeper shade of gray. It was nothing like the dress I had worn to dinner my 
first night as a girl. It seemed custom tailored to my new shape, with the skirt 
coming well above the knee and the tailored top giving just a glimpse of my 
new cleavage without being unduly provocative. As I was admiring myself in 
the mirror, Vera held up a two inch pair of heels in black leather.

	I shook my head. "Oh, no. I can't wear heels. I don't know how to 
walk in them."

	She smiled. "Surely you must know you can. There's nothing any 
other girl can do that you can't." Reluctantly, I took the shoes from her and 
slipped them on. Then, I took my first steps, wobbling unsteadily.

	"Oh, Donna," Vera sighed. "You're trying too hard. Just relax. Relax 
and walk to me."

	Her voice was once more mildly hypnotic, and I found that I could 
suddenly walk in the heels as if I had worn them all my life. I felt the odd 
shift and sway of my rear as I walked, realizing for the first time in this form 
how provocative my walk must look. I turned back to the mirror and watched 
myself as I glided with ease and grace across the office floor. I turned 
naturally and smiled at Vera.

	She smiled back. "Now, for the finishing touches."

	The first finishing touch was jewelry. Before I knew it, my ears had 
been pierced and I wore small delicate gold hoops on my ears. A small gold 
necklace and matching bracelets for my right wrist were next, followed by a 
small feminine watch, also in gold.

	I suddenly had a terrible thought as I admired the watch. "Oh, Vera, 
all of this is so expensive. I don't have any money."

	"Most of it, we'll take over time from your paycheck. You won't 
miss it," she assured me. "As to the watch, though, consider that my gift to 
you."

	I smiled.

	Last was a trip to the cosmetics counter. In some ways, my 
introduction to the world of cosmetics was the oddest part of my 
transformation. I had to learn about foundations (which I had previously 
thought of only as what is at the bottom of a building). Then there were 
blushes, eye shadow, mascara, eyebrow pencils, nail polish, and eyeliners. 
Had I left anything out? Oh, of course - lipstick. How did women ever get 
used to the odd, greasy feeling on their lips, impregnated with a perfume that 
changed both my sense of smell and taste? 

	Back in Vera's office again in front of the mirror, I now knew, 
though, how Cinderella must have felt when her fairy godmother was 
finished with her. I don't know that I was ready to try out for the Miss 
Oklahoma contest, but I had been transformed into a very, very attractive 
woman. Slowly, I approached the mirror, seeing for myself the gentle sway 
of my hips and the graceful sweep of my legs. Looking down at my fingers, 
I saw frosted pink color on newly shaped but not particularly long nails. 
Tossing my head, I felt the gentle wave of my styled hair, moving with the 
grace of wheat in the soft summer breeze.

	Turning to Vera, I said, "You've enhanced me with your magic, 
haven't you?"

	"No, dear," she laughed merrily. "What you see is all you. I'll admit, 
I gave your movements a little boost at first, like training wheels on a bike, 
but that wore off an hour ago. You're now the Donna Potter who will 
represent March's."

	"Not Donna Mae Potter?" I asked.

	In response, she pinned a gold name tag with the March's logo on it. 
Beneath it was the simple word "Donna."

	"I think Donna Mae sounds a bit farmish, don't you?" she said.

	I smiled and nodded.

	I felt like an actor - or rather actress - ready to deliver her first lines 
before an audience as I walked into the lingerie department with Vera. A sign 
on the wall said "Intimate Apparel" while displays of women posing in bras 
and nightgowns made the place look vaguely like the pages of a Victoria's 
Secret catalogue. As a man, I had never been able to really look at such a 
department. If I had, I would have risked being accused of voyeurism or 
cross dressing.. Now though, this was my temple, and I was one of the 
Vestal Virgins responsible for its success. An appropriate analogy, I thought, 
considering my employer.

	There was no manager for the department per se. Instead, I reported 
to Nora Garcia, a very nice woman, about forty, with a pleasant smile and an 
honest desire to help young sales associates like me. She was also a shade - 
the first one I was to have an opportunity to get to know well. Within fifteen 
minutes, I was thinking of her as a real person. I wondered where the shades 
came from. Except for the little transparency problem, she seemed as real as 
me. Once she taught me the fundamentals, she left the department for 
Accessories, which was her main responsibility.

	The noon hour was a busy time in the store, so most of us had lunch 
hours after one. I found myself getting a little hollow as noon approached. It 
was probably just as well, I told myself. Farm food could get to be habit 
forming, and it seemed as if it was always heavy and filled with calories. I 
resolved to start eating salad for lunch.

	Customer traffic started to get heavy around eleven, as people took 
early lunch hours. It was a difficult time for me, for I was expected to 
recognize some of the customers. After all, Ovid was a small town. Also, I 
was expected to know a little about the products I sold, partially from 
experience. Of course, since I had only been wearing bras and panties for a 
couple of days, I was hardly an expert. Still, I managed, and soon was 
talking about cup fit and giggling with the customers as we speculated on 
what their husbands would think of them in the sexy teddies on one of the 
racks.

	Just a little after noon, two girls about my age came into the 
department. They both called out to me by name, but of course, I had no idea 
who they were. One was a very well endowed blonde who the other one 
called Myra. In my previous life, I would have probably left a trail of saliva 
down on the floor as I followed her around. She was very well endowed, 
which her pink knit blouse did nothing to hide, and her legs, covered only by 
the shortest of white skirts, were nothing short of perfect. She had on open 
toed sandals with a small heel and wore no stockings. To be honest, she 
didn't need them. I was about to write her off as a bimbo until she began to 
speak.

	"Look at this, Sam," she called to the other girl, holding a particularly 
sexy nightie up to herself. She was teasing her friend. "Do you think it's 
me?" she said in an obvious parody of the bimbo I had assumed her to be.

	Her friend, a very attractive girl in her own right, laughed tossing her 
head back as auburn hair bobbled in amusement. "Oh, of course," she said, 
holding up a hot number over her own body. "And how about this for me?"

	Both girls laughed, and I found myself smiling.

	Then, Sam looked at me, as if really seeing me for the first time. 
"Myra, could I have a minute with Donna?"

	"Sure," Myra agreed. "I'll be over looking at swim suits."

	When she was gone, Sam turned to face me. She was dressed in a 
peach T-top and denim cutoffs, and she made them look good. She grinned. 
"You remember who you were, don't you?"

	My mouth fell open. I hadn't suspected. "Are you a go - g - " I 
couldn't see to get the word out.

	"Like the Judge?" she said in a low voice. "No, I'm just like you."

	"Then how did you know I was... someone else?" I asked carefully, 
not wanting to choke on the words again.

	"All newcomers seem to have a look about them," she explained. 
"When you've been here as long as I have, you start to recognize that look. 
Now, don't get all flustered. Most people would never notice. Even some of 
the ones who do notice wouldn't guess that you used to be male."

	My face must have turned fire engine red from the feeling of heat in 
my cheeks. I felt like I was in drag.

	Sam put a hand on my arm. "Don't get embarrassed. I used to be a 
guy, too. In fact, I was even a college football player. Can't you see me out 
on the field now?" she laughed.

	I actually felt relieved by then. Although Vera had told me there were 
others like me who remembered who they had been, this was my first 
experience talking with one. "No more than I can see myself in a business 
suit," I replied with a little laugh of my own. "I assume your friend doesn't 
know?"

	"Myra? Oh, she knows. I'll let her tell you her story some other time. 
Some people are sort of private about who they used to be, but Myra will tell 
you. It's just that the rules don't allow more than two of us to discuss this 
together."

	"Rules?"

	"Oh, you'll learn all about the rules," Sam told me. She got a slip of 
paper from the counter and wrote something down. When she handed it to 
me, I saw it was her full name - Samantha Wallace - and her phone number. 
"Give me a call some time and we'll discuss all this. Sometimes it helps to 
have someone explain the ropes to you. I'd do it now, but Myra and I are 
both working over at Rusty's Burger Barn this afternoon. You know, 
summer jobs. Bye."

	"Wait!" I called. She turned. "Why is all this happening?"

	She gave me a wistful smile. "We've all been asking ourselves that 
question. None of us knows. And the... ones who know aren't telling."

	I was still pondering that as I was leaving the store for lunch. Why 
would the Roman gods go to all the trouble of creating a small town in 
Oklahoma? I suppose we all flattered ourselves that there was some cosmic 
purpose to it. In fact, maybe we were just the god's version of an ant farm. 
They'd watch us closely every day as we built our little society, and we'd 
chug happily along, not knowing that it was all just a game.

	"Oof!"

	I practically had the wind knocked out of me. I was so preoccupied 
that I ran into someone, nearly knocking myself down in the process. 
Damned heels! A strong arm swept around me, pulling me upright.

	"Are you okay?"

	Oh lord, there they were again - those incredible blue eyes. What 
were the odds against running into the same guy two days in a row. I felt like 
such a klutz. Then, I realized he didn't seem to recognize me. Of course, I 
looked a lot different than I had the day before. Yesterday I was just little ole 
Fanny Farm Girl. Today, I was a sophisticated sales associate at Ovid's 
largest (and only) department store.

	"I'm... I'm fine," I managed. "I'm sorry, I wasn't looking where I 
was going."

	"The fault's at least half mine," he said gallantly. "I'm afraid I wasn't 
paying attention either. You look like you're in a hurry."

	"Oh," I replied stupidly. Why was I so tongue-tied around this guy? 
"I was... I was just going to lunch."

	He smiled. "Well, I haven't eaten either. Why don't you let me buy 
you lunch to make up for this?"

	I blushed. "Oh, you don't need to do that. I mean..."

	"But I want to," he interrupted as he broke into a disarming smile. 
"Please say yes."

	"Well... yes."

	Why had I done that? What was there about this guy? Maybe I just 
wanted a chance to prove to him over lunch that I wasn't a blithering idiot.

	He grinned. "Great. Let's walk over to the Greenhouse."

	I wouldn't have agreed to walk if I had known that the Greenhouse 
was two blocks away. No, it isn't that I was in bad shape in my new body, 
but I found out quickly why so many women taken athletic shoes with them 
to walk around at noon. Even on Ovid's smooth sidewalks, my feet were 
aching within a block. My toes seemed to be squished into the front part of 
the shoe while my heels hurt with every step. How did women walk in these 
things? Maybe it was how I was doing it. Although I handled the shoes fairly 
well, I still wasn't that experienced walking in them.

	"I'm Scott Gorman, by the way," he told me as we walked.

	Gorman was a familiar name, I thought, as I told him, "I'm Donna M 
- Donna Potter."

	"Are you a student at Capra?"

	There was that name again. And speaking of names, why was the 
name Gorman so familiar?

	"No," I replied. "I just graduated from high school."

	"You're kidding!" he remarked.

	I smiled at him as we walked. "Why? I don't look old enough to have 
graduated?"

	He laughed. "No, just the opposite. I'm twenty. I thought you were 
my age. You look a lot more... sophisticated than a recent high school 
graduate. But you look so familiar. Have we met before?"

	Happily, I realized that he didn't realize I was the same little hayseed 
he had run into the day before. "I don't think so." I wouldn't have exactly 
called the previous day's encounter "meeting."

	The Greenhouse was a nice little cafй. It would have hardly turned 
eyes in New York, but for Ovid, it was nice. There were lots of hanging 
plants and cozy little booths. Most of the lunch crowd had already left or was 
getting ready to leave. I even noticed the blonde from the courtroom, 
gathering up her purse and walking out. The woman lawyer was with her. 
They both gave me pleasant smiles as they walked past. Then, I heard one of 
them giggle. What was so funny? I wondered.

	Scott showed me to a booth, and we each ordered an iced tea while 
looking at the menus. True to the promise I had made to myself, I ordered a 
small salad. After all of the meat and potatoes on the farm, I found myself 
really looking forward to as simple a fare as a salad. 

	Scott ordered the club. With the waitress gone, he leaned over and 
said to me, "You know, I'm really glad we bumped into each other. My 
social life was getting a little dull."

	"Oh really?" I said, playing along. In spite of myself, I found I liked 
Scott. I'm not sure why. I've never really understood what attracts one 
person to another. Oh yes, I've heard of pheromones, but I've always been a 
bit of a romantic at heart. I've always thought attraction goes right down to 
the soul, whatever it is. Sure, I had only been a girl for a couple of days, but 
I was realistic enough to realize that if I was going to be a girl, I would 
develop a normal interest in guys. In fact, I had already realized from my little 
reveries that my attraction to men was growing steadily. I didn't plan to over-
stimulate it, but I was realistic enough to know it as probably inevitable.

	"Yes, really. You don't seem to believe me."

	I grinned. "Well, a good looking guy like you has to be pretty 
popular."

	"Too much time studying," he explained. "Here, I've dropped right 
into the middle of finals."

	"Dropped into?"

	He lost his composure for a moment, coughing, "I mean, I wasn't 
exactly ready for them this semester."

	"So what's your major?" I asked.

	"Business," he replied, taking a sip of tea.

	I envied him. Whoever he had been before, for he was real, here he 
had the opportunity to attend college, for that's what Capra had to be. And he 
was a business major as I had been. He had a life that I could have enjoyed. 
Why hadn't the Judge made me into someone like Scott instead of a farm girl 
with limited options? What had I done to piss him off?

	"I've always been interested in business," I told him truthfully.

	"Then maybe you should go to college and major in it," he suggested.

	"Sorry, no money," I sighed. "I'm afraid I'll just be like that line in 
Evita about being behind the jewelry counter - not in front."

	"I remember that line," he laughed. "Was it in the movie, too?"

	"I never saw the movie," I told him. "I saw it in Lon - I saw it on 
stage."

	He looked at me, his eyes narrowing. "You were going to say in 
London, weren't you?"

	My answer was delayed as our waitress delivered our lunches. When 
she was gone, I said, "Okay, you got me. I saw it in London in a previous 
life."

	"Well, that's great," he said. "I remember my old life, too. You're 
only the second person I've met who remembers."

	"Apparently there aren't a lot of us," I commented.

	He shook his head. "Not a lot."

	We just stared at each other for a few moments. Finally, I got up the 
courage to ask, "Were you... male before?"

	"It's not polite to ask," he admonished me with a smile.

	He was right, I thought, turning red. Why did I care anyway? He was 
male now. Besides, I would be obliged to respond in kind. Did I really want 
him to know I had been a man? No, I answered myself honestly, I didn't. 
What I wasn't sure of was exactly why I didn't want him to know.

	"Sorry," I said. 

	"Don't worry about it. I understand it's a common question," he told 
me. "I've just decided the less said about my previous life, the better. I've 
been given the chance to correct some old mistakes, so as far as I'm 
concerned, my previous life is a closed book."

	"Fair enough," I agreed with a smile. "Mine, too."

	Sitting there, looking at Scott, I meant it, too. I was never going to be 
Martin Brubaker, Jr. again, so there was no sense in discussing it. I needed 
to concentrate on what I was going to do as Donna Potter. And right now, for 
some reason I couldn't quite put my finger on, all I really wanted to do was 
to impress Scott. Fortunately, I seemed to be succeeding.

	"So what do you think about this place?" he asked.

	"It's a nice little cafe," I answered.

	"No," he laughed. "I mean what do you think about Ovid?"

	"I don't know what to think," I told him honestly. "I mean, none of 
this should be happening. With the g - I mean, with the powers that be like 
the Judge in charge, it's hard to imagine what their purpose is."

	"You started to say something else," he noted. "Do you know who 
the Judge is?"

	"Yes, do you?"

	He shook his head. "I'm not sure. Can you tell me?"

	"Nope," I said. "That seems to be one of the biggest taboos around 
here. If I try to tell you, I'll start gagging and won't be able to speak."

	"Strange."

	"That pretty well describes the whole town," I laughed.

	"Well, I guess I'll get to know it well. I'm signed up for summer 
school," he told me.

	That was great, I thought. He'd be here all summer and... I was 
getting very interested in him, wasn't I? The thought of being interested in a 
man was extremely alien to me. Maybe we'd just be friends, I thought. Yes, 
that was it. We would be friends. It wouldn't be a boy-girl thing. I wasn't 
ready for that yet.

	"So have you been in Ovid long?" I asked. "Or is that another one of 
those impolite questions?"

	"I've been here a few days," he replied vaguely. "And you?"

	"Just two days," I admitted. If Scott had been here longer than me, 
and it appeared that he had been, I was surprised that he hadn't realized the 
nature of the gods. Of course, Vera had said I had been unusually quick to 
discover that aspect of Ovid.

	We talked and laughed through lunch. Then, sadly, I realized I had to 
go back to work. He walked me back to March's, and I found myself leaning 
on him a little to avoid putting too much weight on my sore feet.

	"Sorry," I told him after we had walked a block. "These shoes are a 
little tight."

	"Well, why didn't you say something?" he asked. Before I could 
respond, he had picked me up, and to the astonished stares of Ovid's 
pedestrians, carried me the last block to March's front door.

	"Thanks for lunch," I said with a smile before he let me down.

	He pulled me closer to him and gently kissed my lips. To my 
astonishment, I felt relieved. I kissed him back. "Any time," he said, setting 
me down gently.

	I thought that was it. I turned to go back to work.

	"Say," he called out. "How about dinner and a movie tonight to 
celebrate your new job?"

	Why not? I thought. There was nothing holding me back. Besides, it 
would be a lot more pleasant to spend my evening with Scott than with my 
"father." I smiled and nodded.

	I gave him directions to our farm, finding myself a little embarrassed 
to admit that I was a farm girl. He didn't seem to mind, though. I was two 
inches off the ground when I reported back to work.

	"Who is he?" Charlene asked during afternoon break. We were seated 
together at a small table in the break room.

	"Who is who?" I asked innocently over my Diet Pepsi.

	"Don't be coy," she admonished me. "He is a hunk."

	Yes, I supposed he was. I told her about Scott.

	"This is great!" Charlene giggled. "I was starting to get worried about 
you. You never seemed to be very interested in dating."

	That was an interesting piece of information. I wondered why Donna 
Mae didn't date much. Maybe she hadn't been that interested in the farm 
boys, and maybe the town boys hadn't been very interested in her. If they 
saw her - me - now, I was sure they would have changed their minds. I had 
gone from hick to babe in just a few hours. Somehow, I didn't seem to mind 
being a babe.

	I was tired when Charlene dropped me off. It had been a long day, 
and I was looking forward to a bath and getting out of my heels. I was glad 
Scott and I had agreed to go casual that night. Shorts and sandals would cool 
me off.

	My mother was waiting at the door when I came in. "What have you 
done to yourself?" she asked me.

	I had almost forgotten that I had been transformed into a sophisticated 
sales associate during the day. "This is how I need to look on my job," I 
explained.

	She tsked at me. "Well, you look like some sort of a floozy. You get 
out of those clothes and wash your face. Mr. Spencer is coming over for 
dinner."

	"I won't be here for dinner," I said with a more casual manner than I 
felt. I could see a crisis was about to occur. "I have a date."

	The color drained from her face. "A date?"

	"Yes," I said, setting down the sacks containing my old clothes, more 
new clothes, and my new cosmetics.

	"You'll need to break it," she told me.

	"I won't." 

	She was silent. "Your father won't like this at all."

	I was thankful Scott was picking me up early. With any luck, I would 
be gone before he came in from the fields. I looked at my watch. Scott was 
supposed to pick me up in an hour. It would be one of the longest hours of 
my life, I realized.

	I risked a bath. I was hot a sweaty after a day at work. Even under air 
conditioning, Oklahoma starts to get warm in May. It felt good to ease down 
into the tub, especially my poor sore feet. At least I would be in a lot better 
shape for my... date, thanks to the bath. I dressed quickly in khaki shorts and 
a cream colored T-shirt. I slipped the most comfortable pair of sandals I could 
find on my feet. I was actually happy to note that the combination of 
instruction I had been given at the store and the auto pilot I had been given 
allowed me to put in earrings and do my hair and makeup about as fast as I 
would have been able to had I been a girl all my life. 

	Then, it was a waiting game. I wanted to be gone before my father 
found out about my date - or my job for that matter. I kept looking out the 
window of my room, listening anxiously and hoping not to hear the sound of 
his tractor coming in from the fields. My luck didn't hold, though. The deep 
rumble of the tractor engine could be heard approaching the house a good 
fifteen minutes before Scott was due. What would happen now? I wondered. 
Whatever it was, it wouldn't be good.

	I heard the kitchen door slam, and faintly through the walls, I heard 
him talking to mother. At least he wasn't yelling. In fact, he seemed pretty 
calm. Then, I heard the door slam again and saw him heading out toward the 
equipment shed. I rushed into the kitchen.

	"What happened?" I asked my mother as she busied herself at the 
sink.

	"I told him you had to go back to the department store for a meeting," 
she told me calmly as she pared the skin off a carrot.

	"He knows about my job?" I asked cautiously.

	"Of course he knows. I told him at noon when he came in for dinner. 
You weren't here and I had to tell him something."

	I felt like an idiot. I had been thinking like a townie again, or more 
specifically, like a city dweller. The concept of going home for lunch - or 
dinner, as farmers called it - was alien to me. Of course he had come in at 
noon for his meal and asked where I was. I should have realized.

	"And my job - that was okay with him?"

	"No, it's not okay," my mother told me. It was funny, but I was 
really starting to think of her as my mother now. "He just doesn't know what 
to do about it - yet."

	"He doesn't want me to quit, does he?"

	She shook her head. "No. To be honest, we can probably use the 
money. Crop prices haven't been that good lately, and expenses are high. 
That's why I got him to go along with the job - for now."

	I was actually proud of her. She might not be the God of Real Estate 
anymore, but she could still sell the customer when it counted. "Thanks, 
mom."

	"Don't be thanking me yet," she warned. "He has his eye on that Jess 
Spencer as a son-in-law. You'd better not get too interested in some other 
fella. If he thinks that job of your is interfering with that, he'll more as likely 
make you quit."

	I don't know what bothered me more - the effrontery of my father, 
presuming that he could make such a decision for me, or my mother, 
assuming that I was really interested in Scott. I mean, interested in Scott in 
that way. "Mother," I said deliberately, "Scott is just a friend."

	"He's a friend right now," she told me. "But you just wait until he 
has his hand inside your blouse. Then you tell me he's just a friend. You got 
hormones, girl. They don't always know who your friends are."

	Before I could answer, I heard a car pull up in front of the house. I 
was going to rush out to meet Scott, but before I could, there was a knock on 
the door. I silently cursed him for being so polite. If my father suddenly came 
in from the equipment shed and talked to him, mother's story of a business 
meeting would be exposed.

	Scott was neatly dressed in a polo shirt and a pair of shorts not unlike 
my own. He wore loafers with no socks and looked very preppy. As my 
mother opened the door to him, he smiled broadly and introduced himself. It 
was a good move, I had to admit. I could see my mother liked him at once.

	"Hi, Scott," I said brightly. "Let's go." I wanted him out of there 
before my father came in and all hell broke loose. He seemed a little surprised 
at my haste, but thankfully, he didn't argue.

	When we were safely away from the house in his little silver BMW Z-
3, he asked, "Was your father home? I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet 
him."

	"Well, maybe next time," I replied, hoping I could postpone that 
meeting for as long as possible.

	It was a special evening, the first I could honestly say I had enjoyed 
in a long time. It was ironic that I had to become a girl to have a good time, 
though. I really did consider Scott a friend. We had a quick dinner at Rusty's 
Burger Barn. I had to say, it was one of the best burgers I had ever eaten, 
and the waitress was the attractive blonde, Myra, who had been in my 
department earlier in the day. We even acted like old friends, in spite of the 
fact that we both knew we had known each other only a few hours.

	I got a reminder of what Sam had told me, though, about only being 
able to talk about our old lives in twos. I tried to say something about all three 
of us remembering our former lives, but when I tried, my voice just sort of 
trailed off into nothing. Myra and Scott both gave me an amused look. They 
knew what had gone wrong.

	"Sorry," I said meekly.

	Myra put her arm around me. "Don't worry. It happens to all of us at 
one time or another."

	As she hurried off to take care of a new customer, I decided I really 
liked her and resolved to get to know her better. I looked at Scott. "This is all 
kind of hard to get used to," I told him.

	"You're doing fine," he said with encouragement. "Just relax and be 
yourself - the self you are now, anyway."

	That was good advice, and I took it. We talked about lots of things, 
but never who we had been. When we spoke of our lives, we spoke of our 
current ones, as if they had been the only ones we had ever known.

	I found out why Scott's name was so familiar. His father was in real 
estate - or had been until his death. Scott was really Scott R. Gorman the 
Third, and his father had been an important figure in real estate along the 
Eastern seaboard. I remembered the name because he had been an actual 
person. To my knowledge, he didn't have a son, so my Scott was a creation 
of the Judge. I wondered why he had done that? I suppose the local college 
needed a few well-to-do out of state students to meet expenses. Why not just 
create a few? I asked Scott about that, and he agreed.

	"That's what I figure, too," he said between bites of burger. "In any 
case, it's made me the principle heir to a pretty hefty fortune."

	That explained the Z-3.

	"It sounds like you made out a lot better than many of the 
transformees," I commented.

	He looked at me seriously. "Including you?"

	I flushed. "I thought we agreed not to discuss our old lives."

	"I'm not," he pointed out. "I'm discussing your new life. I mean, it 
seems to me you didn't do too badly. When I was in court, I saw another 
defendant turned into an eight year old black girl. She didn't look like she 
was going to have an easy time of it."

	"Did she remember who she had been?" I asked, curious. I supposed 
misery loves company. 

	He shook his head. "I don't think so. She walked out of the 
courtroom with her new mother as if she had been the little girl her entire 
life."

	As we walked out together to head for the movie, I was thinking 
about the other information I knew about Scott's father. In my reality, he had 
made some serious mistakes. He had backed the wrong horse, so to speak. 
Scott's father had thrown in with a guy named Donald Trump, a real estate 
baron who thought he could topple my father from his pinnacle. It hadn't 
worked. Trump had been ruined, and men like Gorman who had backed him 
were ruined with him. I seemed to remember that Scott's father had killed 
himself over the entire affair. His father was dead in this reality as well, but I 
was sure it wasn't from the same cause.

	"What did your 'father' die of?" I asked as we drove downtown to the 
theater.

	"Heart attack," he replied. "Apparently, the success was too much for 
him as nearly as I can tell. I only know that because I talked with his - my 
now - lawyer about it right after I was changed."

	So even though reality had shifted, the dead were still dead. I actually 
felt a little better knowing that my father's actions had apparently not 
shortened Scott's father's life. Of course, maybe they did. It was just 
possible that not even the gods could bring someone back from the dead. 
Something else to ponder, I realized. If I remembered my mythology right, 
people came back from Hades on occasion. Come to think of it, the residents 
of Hades were often known as shades. Did that mean most of the residents of 
Ovid were dead? They didn't seem dead.

	In small towns, movies are often delayed by weeks or months 
compared to their runs in cities. Ovid had only one theater, an older building 
that had been remodeled into a twin screen. I doubted if the town would have 
even had two screens, except for the fact that there was a college in town. 
Titanic was just finishing up its week-long run. I got the idea that it was the 
second time around for the film in Ovid, but it was still doing a brisk 
business. I supposed with school out, audiences got bigger.

	Of course, like most people, I had already seen Titanic. From the 
conversations I heard in the lobby, most of the patrons had seen it before as 
well, either on its initial run in Ovid or someplace else, like Tulsa. Most 
people, though, probably didn't have the added experience that I had had 
seeing it for the second time. The first time, I had seen it through male eyes. I 
had been dazzled by the special effects and enthralled with the Herculean 
effort of the crew to evacuate the sinking ship. Now, though, I was seeing 
the film through different eyes. My mind seemed focused on the ill-fated 
romance of the two leads. The ship was just the setting for the romance. I 
found myself identifying with Kate Winslet's character, and during the 
romantic scenes, I found I had unconsciously snuggled up next to Scott.

	The love scene had a particularly odd effect on me. When I had seen it 
as a man, I had thought it was a rather mild scene. As a woman, though, I 
found my body actually tingling with delight as she made love to him. Then, 
in the scenes in the water, as her lover was dying, I found there were tears in 
my eyes. I couldn't help it. The more I tried to hold back, the worse it got.

	"Are you okay?" Scott whispered to me as we walked out of the 
movie.

	I snuggled up tighter against him. "Uh-uh," I sniffed. He held me a 
little tighter and I felt better.

	"What's wrong?" he asked me as we walked together back to his car. 
His arm was gently around my waist.

	"I just feel like such a wimp," I told him. "I mean, crying in a movie 
like that."

	"You weren't the only one," he pointed out.

	"I know," I agreed. I had heard other girls sniffing as well, and the 
number of red eyes coming our of the theater made it look like the passengers 
of an overnight flight from LA to New York. How could I explain it to him? 
He didn't know I had been a man before. When he found out, he probably 
wouldn't want anything to do with me - unless he had been a woman. I 
doubted that, though. He was just too good at being a man to have ever been 
a woman. "It's just that... I don't usually blubber like that in movies."

	He turned me to face him, his arms around me. "Well, I'm glad you 
did," he said, bending down to kiss me.

	So that's where I got my second kiss as a woman - right there on the 
sidewalk in front of the Rivoli Twin Theater. I didn't want to like it, but I 
did. I liked it very much. Hesitantly, I broke away.

	"What do you want to do now?" he asked. 

	It was an important question. When I had asked it as a man, I had 
always hoped the response would involve someone's bed. Not this time, 
though. I wasn't ready for anything like that, although I was realistic enough 
to realize I would have to come to terms with sex as a woman eventually. "I 
have to work tomorrow," I said softly. "I'd better go home."

	I knew he was disappointed, but he didn't show it. He bent over, 
giving me another kiss, this time less passionate, and said, "Okay."

	So there I was, on the front porch of my little farmhouse, watching as 
Scott drove away. We had kissed again parked in front of the house, but it 
had gone no further. My internal thermostat seemed to have raised my 
temperature by a couple of degrees. I knew it didn't really, but it had felt like 
it. Here I was, mentally a normal male, but my body was telling me 
something different. It was telling me I was a female with all the normal 
female drives. And it was telling me strongly enough that I knew it was only 
a matter of time until I had to give in to my body's needs.

	"So how was your date last night?" Charlene asked me as I hopped 
into her car the next morning.. 

	It was the first time I had had to answer that question. My parents had 
been asleep when I got home, and my father was already in the fields when I 
came down for breakfast. My mother had said nothing. I think she was 
curious, but I supposed that the less she knew, the less she would have to 
hide from my father.

	"It was fun," I said, trying to sound noncommittal. 

	"And how much fun was it?" she asked with a grin.

	"None of your business," I answered with a grin of my own.

	She laughed.

	Vera March was on the floor, I suspect to see how well I had learned 
my lessons in femininity. She looked over my makeup carefully, nodding 
with approval. "The earrings are a little plain for that outfit," she told me. 
They were just a pair of cheap ones I had bought in the store that morning, 
since I had forgotten to put earrings in that morning. I was finding that 
getting ready for anything as a girl was a lot more work than I had imagined. 
There was so much to remember - like earrings.

	"The blouse is fine," she commented. It should be, I thought. It was a 
light gray with enough ruffles to look feminine. I had bought it there in the 
store the day before.

	"Where did you get the skirt?" she asked.

	The skirt was a plum colored pleated skirt, coming down almost but 
not quite to my knees.

	"It was in my closet," I replied. "I haven't had time to build up my 
wardrobe yet."

	She smiled. "The skirt will do just fine. I hadn't realized there was 
anything stylish in that closet of yours. It looks good on you. I approve of 
the hose, too. They're just the right shade to go with that skirt. And the shoe 
- they're black and that's fine, but there's no heel."

	"I thought flats would be okay," I told her. I cringed at the thought of 
walking the floor in heels again.

	She shook her head. "I'm afraid not, dear. They make you look a 
little too girlish. A nice sling back with a two - no, make that three - inch heel 
will add a degree of sophistication to that outfit. Go over to the shoe 
department and get some. Just put them on your tab."

	"Yes, ma'am." At this rate, there wouldn't be any paycheck at the end 
of my week. I owed my soul to the company store, as the old song went.

	"Oh, and Donna?"

	I turned. "Yes, Ms March?"

	"How was your date last night?"

	I gasped. Was nothing private from these... these... gods? 

	"It was fine," I managed to say with a gulp, turning again for the shoe 
department.

	As expected, by noon, my feet were killing me. I had bought a pair of 
dark gray sling backs and decided to live dangerously - they had a three inch 
heel. I had to admit, the shoes did improve the look of my outfit. On more 
than one occasion, I sneaked a look at myself in one of the mirrors. My legs 
were really quite pretty. I imagined as a farm girl, I would have had a fair 
amount of exercise, and my legs showed it. They were long and firm, and the 
higher heel made them look their best. The slightly gray shade of hose I wore 
made my legs part of an overall symphony in plum and gray. The gold of my 
jewelry, rather than conflicting, actually complemented the look. I was 
amazed at what I had learned about dressing as a woman in only a couple of 
days.

	Another more troubling thought crossed my mind as I helped a 
customer. A very attractive shade woman was looking for just the right outfit 
for her anniversary, and I had been helping her. She chose a very daring 
number. It was what I had come to know in my new job as a merry widow. 
It was in black, with demi underwire cups and removable garters. It was 
designed to show off maximum cleavage and make men stiffen at the sight of 
a girl dressed in it. The disturbing thought was that as the woman held the 
outfit up to herself and said "What do you think?", I found myself thinking 
not of how attractive she would be in it, but rather what I might look like in 
it. I had the right color hose at home. Of course, mine were panty hose and I 
would need stockings for the outfit. My new shoes would look great in it. I 
would make Scott - I meant any man - hot for - 

	"I said, what do you think?"

	"Oh!" I said, jerking myself out of the fantasy. "I think it's just... 
darling. You'll look great in that."

	"Do you think my Stan will like it?" she asked with a giggle.

	"Oh, I'm sure he'll love it," I replied with a little giggle of my own.

	As she walked away with her purchase, I couldn't help but envy her. 
She might just be a shade - whatever they were - but she was comfortable 
with her femininity. I wondered if I would ever be that comfortable. I 
wondered if someday, it would be me looking at that rack of sexy nighties 
and slinky underwear. I touched one of the silky nighties, sighing gently to 
myself. 


	"It's very pretty," a male voice said behind me.

	Embarrassed, I dropped my hand from the nightie and turned. "Scott! 
What are you doing here?"

	He grinned. "Just passing by. I thought you might be free for lunch 
again."

	I looked at my watch. "It's only twelve. I don't get off until one."

	"Oh, go ahead," Vera's voice called out to me from the aisle. Had she 
been watching me as well as I caressed the nightie. Oh, god! What must they 
both think of me?

	"But - " I began.

	"We're not very busy today," Vera explained. "I'll watch your 
department for a little while. Why don't you go have lunch with the young 
man?"

	It was a suggestion, but from the Goddess of Love, it somehow had 
the ring of a command. Yes, I wanted to be with Scott, but I could feel that 
need to be with him being amplified and widened in my heart. Scott offered 
me his arm. I took it with a smile, turning to Vera. "Thanks Ms March."

	"Happy to help," she laughed. I turned from her and looked only at 
Scott as we walked to lunch.

	"It's not as good as the Greenhouse," Scott explained as we walked 
into Moore's Cafe, "but since it's only a few doors from March's, I thought 
you'd appreciate not having to walk too far in heels."

	I smiled in appreciation. If I was going to keep walking, I would have 
to bring a pair of sneakers to work to walk to lunch in. I was indeed grateful 
for the opportunity to have lunch without the long walk. Safely at a booth, I 
kicked off the heels and rubbed my nylon clad feet together, sighing in relief. 

	"You don't know how good it feels to get those off," I told him with 
a sigh as the menus were delivered.

	"I can imagine," he said. Could he? I wondered if he was just being 
polite. Obviously, Scott had been someone else before he came to Ovid. 
Maybe that someone had been a woman. I didn't think so, though. He didn't 
act as if he had ever been a woman. He seemed content with being who he 
was. Of course, I was sure he had had at least a couple of weeks to adjust.

	"I'd stick with the simple fare here," he told me. "I hear the 
sandwiches aren't bad, but there's no good salads or anything like down at 
the Greenhouse."

	Ovid was lucky to have the Greenhouse, I thought. Moore's was 
more like cafes I had experienced in smaller towns. The tables and booths 
were dark wood, the chairs a little uncomfortable, and a slight smell of grease 
wafting out of the kitchen. It was strictly old fashioned Midwestern cuisine. 
Go ahead and order the hot beef sandwich with lots of mashed potatoes, but 
don't look for an Oriental chicken salad because it won't be on the menu. I 
settled on a club sandwich, which appeared to be one of the entrees least 
likely to stop my heart in mid bite. Scott was more daring, ordering a burger 
and fries. I sighed to myself. If I were still male, I might have risked that, 
too, but I remembered the old saying - a moment on the lips and a lifetime on 
the hips.

	"At least let me buy today," I offered. "You've bought almost all of 
my food for the past two days."

	He grinned. "Nope. I'll pay. It's the price I have to pay to eat all my 
meals with a lovely lady. In fact, how about dinner tonight?"

	"I shouldn't," I said reluctantly. "I really need to see my parents. I 
haven't talked to my father in two days." I needed to see what he thought of 
my job. Also, it would be a little hard to play the meeting at work card again.

	"Then how about dessert?" he suggested. "I can pick you up about 
eight. We can go get an ice cream. There's a little place over by the college 
that serves a great double dip."

	"Oh, all right!" I laughed, unconsciously laying my hand on the back 
of his. "But just for a little while. I'm a working girl now."

	He bought my lunch in spite of my protests and had me back at work 
by one.

	"Did you have a good time?" Vera asked pleasantly.

	"Yes," I admitted. Then, after a moment, "Vera?"

	"Yes, Donna?"

	I had a question, but I didn't know how to phrase it. I was very new 
at being a girl. By all rights, I should have been railing against my fate, but I 
wasn't. I seemed actually almost comfortable being a girl. In spite of the 
restrictions placed upon me by my strict father, I felt I had more freedom as 
Donna Mae Potter than I had ever had in my previous life. Vera was a 
goddess. I needed to know why all of this was happening to me. Why was I 
a girl? What was I supposed to be doing?

	"Those are interesting questions," she commented with a smile.

	"But I didn't say anything," I said.

	She smiled at me. "Donna, you may never know why you're a girl or 
why you're here, or even what you should be doing. You are here to live 
your life as best you can, just as you were before Ovid. You are a girl now 
because you are, just as you were male before because you were. Don't try to 
put too much meaning into these events. Just live your life as you think it 
should be lived."

	"You mean if I decide I can't take the idea of making love to a man, I 
can be a lesbian?"

	"I'm afraid not!" she laughed. "That's frowned upon here. We're a 
little too small town Midwestern for that. Besides, would you really want to 
be a lesbian?"

	"I might," I replied, more for the sake of argument than anything else. 
The truth of the matter was that the idea of having sex in this body with 
another woman had very little appeal to me. The problem was the better men - 
or specifically Scott - looked to me, the more frightened I became. As much 
as the void between my legs seemed to want to be filled, my mind argued that 
it wasn't normal to have a man stick anything there.

	"But it's very natural," Vera argued.

	"Will you stop getting into my thoughts?" I said with exasperation, 
turning away from her.

	"I wouldn't be there if you didn't want me to," she explained. "Let 
me help you, Donna."

	Before I could reply, I felt a sudden sense of well being. It was as if 
the aching void between my legs had somehow been filled. There was 
nothing physically inside me; I knew that. But there was a feeling. I felt... 
accomplished. I felt whole. I looked at her as the wave ebbed inside me. "Is 
that what it's like?" I asked in a whisper.

	"No," she replied. "When it's done correctly, it's much better."

	"But - " I turned to face her, but she was gone.

	When Charlene dropped me off that evening after work, my father 
was waiting for me in the living room. He put down the paper he had been 
reading and inspected me critically. I had not felt uncomfortable when Vera 
had inspected me, but my father's scrutiny was most unpleasant. He just 
stared at me with his brow furrowed. "Is this the sort of thing you have to 
wear to work in town?" he asked at last. He made it sound as if "working in 
town" was somehow immoral.

	"Ms March likes us to dress this way," I said in my own defense.

	"Like a whore?"

	I flushed. "I'm not dressed like a whore."

	He put his thumb and forefinger on my chin and examined my face. 
"Look at you! You're wearing too much makeup."

	I pulled away from him as he continued, "And that skirt. It's so short 
men will see your privates."

	Thank god he hadn't seen my skirt the day before. It was even 
shorter.

	"I want you to go into that bitch Miz March's office tomorrow and tell 
her you don't want that job."

	"But I need a job," I protested. "I have to earn a living."

	"No you don't," he told me harshly. "I talked just today to Jess 
Spencer. He's gonna ask you to marry him."

	"Marry him?" I asked. "I barely know him!"

	"You'll get to know him," my father replied. It wasn't a prediction; it 
was a pronouncement.

	"I won't!" I practically yelled, storming out of the room and up to my 
room. I slammed the door behind me and threw myself on the bed, unbidden 
tears streaming from my eyes. What was going on here? Why was I being 
treated like this? If the Judge had to turn me into a girl, why couldn't it have 
been someone more in charge of her life? Why did it have to be someone 
ruled by an overbearing father... 

	I sat up on the side of the bed feeling very sorry for myself. I had 
always been ruled by an overbearing father, I suddenly realized. When I had 
been a man, I had been told where to go to school, what to major in, who I 
would marry, what job I would do. Oh yes, I had led a privileged life. Many 
would have envied me. But my life had never been my own if I were truly 
honest with myself. My life wasn't my own as Martin Brubaker Junior and it 
wasn't my own as Donna Mae Potter. I would never be Martin Brubaker 
again, I was sure of that by now. But as Donna Mae Potter, I had to become 
my own person.

	But how? I had not been able to break away when I had been male, 
well educated, and well off in my own right from trust funds and savings. 
How was I to do it in the body of an eighteen year old, barely a grown 
woman, with no money, only a high school education, and a father who, 
although he had not physically hurt me, seemed capable of physically 
enforcing his will.

	There was a gentle knock at my door. "Donna Mae, are you all right?" 
my mother's voice asked.

	"I'm okay," I called out with a quaver in my voice.

	The door opened. She stood there with a look of motherly concern on 
her face. How ironic, I thought, that my real father whose only concerns in 
all the years I had known him had been money was suddenly given the role 
of a concerned mother. If there was anything of the old man left in there, he 
must have been ready to blow a gasket.

	"You know," she began, "your father only wants what's best for 
you."

	"He only wants me to marry the farmer next door so he can operate a 
bigger farm," I grumbled.

	She sat down beside me and put her arm tenderly around me. "I know 
it must seem like that, but Jess Spencer is a fine man. You'll not find a better 
one, dear."

	She might be right, I thought, but that didn't change the fact that I 
wasn't the least bit interested in marrying Jess Spencer - or any other man for 
that matter. I supposed I might have to consider marriage sometime in the 
future. I knew my perspective was changing. I was starting to notice men. 
Worse yet, I was starting to wonder what it would be like to... be with a 
man. There would come a time when I'd have to surrender to my new body. 
But not yet, and certainly not in marriage. 

	Could I love a man? It was an odd question, I knew. I was a woman 
in every way that it counted, and I supposed I could, but Jess would never be 
the one. And how about Scott? Yes, I could, I realized. That's not to say that 
I did love him. We were just friends. But the potential was there. Of course, I 
really didn't know much about him, but that didn't matter - yet. Maybe 
someday. Maybe not.

	I followed my mother downstairs, carefully avoiding my father who 
was busy sulking in the living room. I helped her fix dinner - excuse me, 
supper - then joined them in a mostly silent meal.

	One thing I had learned about my new father was that when he was 
angry at me or my mother, he tended to sulk quietly. It was as if he was 
trying to tell us that we weren't worth talking to. He thought he was being 
strong. I thought he was being an ass. At least, I was grateful for the quiet. I 
really didn't want to talk to him.

	Mother and I got dished put away just before I heard the sound of a 
car pulling up in front. I had almost forgotten that Scott was planning to take 
me out for ice cream. I hurried to the door, only to be stopped by my father's 
voice.

	"And where do you think you're going?" he challenged me.

	"Just out with a friend - for ice cream," I replied honestly. I heard 
Scott's footsteps on the porch. He knocked on the door.

	My father opened the door and just stared at a startled Scott. "Is this 
your friend?"

	"Yes," I replied.

	He turned to Scott and said, "You'd better go on, boy. She can't go 
out with you tonight." His voice was harsh and the tone final. 

	Scott looked at me as if for guidance. "You'd better go," I told him. 
"I'll talk to you tomorrow."

	He looked at my father and me, obviously trying to decide if he 
should stay or go.

	"Go on, Scott," I urged him. "I'll be fine. Just go." 

	"If you need me, give me a call," Scott said, leaving reluctantly.

	My new father and I stared at each other like two savage animals until 
the sound of Scott's car faded into the night.

	"You had no right to do that," I told him through clenched teeth. I 
was so frustrated in this body. I doubled my fists, longing to have the power 
to hit him and knock some sense into him. I knew I could do no damage, 
though. I was too weak - too much of a girl to be able to force my will on 
him physically. In that moment, even consumed by anger, I knew fear - the 
fear all women have when confronted with overwhelming physical force. I 
was too weak to hurt him, but he could hurt me in a heartbeat. Just because 
he hadn't physically abused me before didn't mean he couldn't do it 
whenever he chose.

	"I have every right!" he boomed. "I'm your father. Now, tomorrow, 
you're gonna quit tour job and you're gonna tell that fella that you don't want 
to see him again - ever. Do you hear me?"

	I said nothing, so he came closer to me, raising his meaty fist and 
yelling, "I said do you hear me?"

	I gulped. "I hear you."

	"Good. Then you get up to your room, and you get that whore paint 
off your face and get to bed. You've got a busy morning ahead of you."

	I obeyed. I wanted nothing at that moment but to be out of his reach. I 
practically ran to my room. I obediently removed my makeup, not sure if he 
would come up to check or not. I was frightened - truly frightened. I had 
never been so afraid in my entire life as either sex. I knew deep down that I 
had pushed him too far. If he sensed for a minute that the threats weren't 
enough, he would hurt me. 

	"Donna Mae?" It was my mother's soft voice at the door. She opened 
the door timidly and entered as I was getting on my nightie. "Are you all 
right, sweetheart?"

	"No," I said, trembling. "He's a... a... monster!"

	She rushed over to me. "Now you be quiet," she said just above a 
whisper. "He's still up and he's still mad. You don't want to rile him."

	"Tell me something," I asked her. "Has he ever hit you?"

	The question stunned her. "I've never given him any cause to hit me," 
she replied at last. "He's the man of the house. I wouldn't be a fit wife if I 
gave him cause to hit me, now would I?"

	I looked at her dumbstruck. Was that really my father inside this 
mousy little farm wife? Was it really the man who had stared down governors 
who was wearing that frumpy print dress and apron, afraid to disobey some 
ignorant farmer who barely made a decent living on a small Oklahoma farm? 

	"But it's not right!" I told her. "He may have figured out how to run 
you life, but he's not going to run mine."

	"Now you listen to me, Donna Mae Potter," she said seriously. "He's 
your father and you're going to do just what he tells you. You're going to 
quit your job, forget that town boy, and settle down to be Jess Spencer's 
bride and raise lots of farm babies. It's what your father wants."

	"But what about what I want?"

	"You're a grown woman now," she said primly. "You're not some 
little girl. What you want doesn't matter."

	Oh yes it did, I thought after she had left. That creature calling itself 
my father hadn't won yet, I thought as I gripped my pillow in the dark, tears 
welling up in my tired eyes. What I wanted was going to matter. I had a plan.

	I got up early the next morning - even earlier than usual. For the first 
time, since my transformation, I was happy to have to carry a purse. I 
selected the largest one I could find - not a new stylish one that I had 
purchased at March's, but an old ratty one, large enough to carry whatever I 
needed. I dumped as many of my new cosmetics as I could in the purse. I 
looked at my face, fighting back the urge to apply something to my face. No, 
I thought. I would probably have to stand inspection from my father. If I 
wore cosmetics, he would order me to wash off my face. I had no desire to 
confront him. If I did, he might decide to inspect closer.

	Next, I got dressed. I put on the outfit that I had gotten my first day at 
Marches, thankful that the skirt was shorter than anything else I had in my 
closet. It would make the next step easier. I next selected one of my "farm 
girl" dresses - knee length and drab tan in color, with long sleeves which 
were loose enough to fit over the sleeves of my good dress. I slipped on a 
pair of worn black flats, stuffing panty hose and my new two inch heels in 
the oversized purse. Jewelry to go with the outfit went into the purse, too. I 
hoped my father didn't find it suspicious that my purse was so full. I had to 
depend upon the fact that the contents of a woman's purse would always 
remain a mystery no man really wished to solve.

	I drew my hair back into a flat, boring ponytail. I looked awful, I 
thought, without a trace of the male I used to be in that rumination. But at 
least I looked like the farm girl my father expected me to be. 

	I rushed through my morning chores, thankful that my father hadn't 
interrupted his own tasks to examine me. With any luck, his inspection of me 
would be a short one as I walked out the door. My mother, too, was too busy 
to question me, but I thought as I hurried through the kitchen, setting the 
table as I went, that she wanted desperately to talk to me.

	I wolfed down a bite of breakfast on the run so I wouldn't have to 
stand close inspection at the table. I used the excuse that Charlene had said 
she might be early that morning. I was sitting alone in the living room, 
hoping with all my might that she would actually be a little early when my 
father walked in.

	He looked at me carefully, and I began to perspire, frightened that 
somehow, he would see through my disguise. How did all the comic book 
superheroes run around all day wearing two sets of clothes? Even early in the 
morning, it seemed too warm. At least I hoped it was the heat that was 
making me perspire. I hoped my father didn't notice.

	"Well, now you look like a proper farm girl," he finally allowed, 
almost affectionately. "I'm glad you've given up this nonsense of trying to be 
something you're not."

	Trying to be something I wasn't? I had to stifle a giggle. Here I was, 
trying to be a girl when my mind still told me I was a man. If that wasn't 
trying to be something I wasn't, I didn't know what was.

	Before I had to answer him, I heard Charlene pull up in front. "Gotta 
go," I muttered, picking up a purse that must have weighed as much as an 
army backpack. To my relief, my father did nothing to stop me.

	"What happened to you?" Charlene asked with a gasp as I slid into the 
car.

	"My father wants me to quit and marry Farmer John down the road," 
I explained. Charlene knew all about Jess; we had talked about the problem 
on breaks.

	"So what are you going to do?" she asked, concerned.

	"I'm not sure," I admitted. "Look, Charlene, could I spend a few 
days at your house?"

	She looked uncomfortable as she drove. "I'm sorry, honey," she said 
at last. "I'd like to help you, but things aren't so rosy at my house either. My 
dad doesn't think much of my working at March's. Besides, he and your dad 
are good friends. He wouldn't allow it."

	My heart sank. Charlene was my best hope. The solution was going 
to be more difficult now, but there had to be an answer that didn't involve my 
becoming Mrs. Jessie Spencer.

	Vera March saw me enter the store. There was no misreading the 
disappointed look on her face. "Is something wrong, Donna?" she asked me. 
"It doesn't look like you're dressed for work this morning."

	"Oh, Vera," I said, tears forming. "I've got to talk to you."

	In her office, I was able to tell her the whole story. She sat quietly, 
listening to every word. "And that's it," I said, finishing. "My work clothes 
are on underneath this dress. It will take me a few minutes to get ready, but I 
want this job, Vera. I want to be independent. I'm not going back to that 
farm, even if I have to sleep in the streets."

	She gave me a motherly smile. "I don't think it will come to that," she 
assured me.

	"Then... then you can help me?" I asked hopefully.

	Her eyes were a little sad. "Oh, Donna, I wish I could. I'd love to 
take you home with me and help you through this, but it's against the rules."

	"The rules?" I echoed.

	She nodded. "Yes, there are rules, even for us. Only the Judge can 
interfere so directly, and he usually doesn't."

	"But he could? Could he change me back - or at least change me into a 
man?"

	"He could," she admitted, "but he won't. Besides, do you really want 
to be a man again?"

	There was the question I had not dared to ask myself. Every hour I 
was in this female body made me more of a woman. If someone had asked 
me a week before what I would do if I were suddenly changed into a woman, 
I think I would have told them that I would roll myself up into a big ball and 
stay there until I either changed back or died. I would never in my wildest 
dreams imagine that I would learn to dress and act as a fashionable woman, 
and then risk my own personal safety for the right to go on dressing and 
acting in that fashion. Being Donna Mae Potter was becoming natural to me 
in ways I could never have imagined before.

	"Well, do you?" she asked again.

	"I... I don't know," I answered truthfully. "I guess no one gets to go 
back to their old life once they're changed, do they?"

	She shook her head with a faint smile. "It hasn't happened yet, at 
least."

	"Then if I have to be someone else, I think I like being who I am 
now," I finally admitted - both to Vera and to myself. "When I was a man, I 
never had the... courage." I snickered to myself. I had almost said "the balls 
instead of "courage." Vera smiled, too. I think she knew what I had almost 
said. "I just never had the courage to fight to be myself. I guess this is why 
the Judge did this to me. I guess he thought if I was not willing to fight to be 
my own person, I might as well be a little farm girl who did what her father 
told her to do - even if that meant marrying a man she didn't love."

	"The Judge doesn't always explain why he does what he does," Vera 
told me, "but I suspect you're correct. It would fit the pattern of his 
sentences."

	"So what can I do?" I asked, the tears coming again. I don't think I 
had cried more than twice since I reached puberty. Now, it seemed as if 
almost anything could turn on the water works.

	"Well," Vera began slowly, "your job is secure. According to Nora, 
you're doing an excellent job." She grinned. "I think so, too, especially for 
someone who never wore women's clothing before this week."

	I smiled in spite of myself. "I like my job," I told her. When I 
stopped and thought about it, it was really the first time in my life that I could 
say that.

	"Then go ahead and get changed," she told me. "And just have faith, 
Donna. This will all work out eventually. It usually does here in Ovid."

	I hurriedly made myself presentable, feeling almost as if I was 
stripping off a disguise as I did. I suppose I was when I thought about it. 
Because of my past life, I was much more of a town person than a country 
person, but to escape my father, I had had to wear a disguise.

	I managed to get out on the floor only fifteen minutes late. Nora had 
covered for me. It hadn't been a problem. There were very few early morning 
shoppers in Ovid. I settled into what was becoming a comfortable pattern for 
me, helping customers and straightening up the merchandise. Nora had even 
taught me a little about displays that would sell, so I even had a chance to 
experiment with that. 

	I never dreamed I would feel happiest working in the lingerie 
department of a small town department store. It seemed about the most 
unlikely fate I could ever experience. I realized that no matter what happened, 
I had made the right choice. I never wanted to see the farm again.

	"Good morning."

	I had been woolgathering - a common activity on a slow morning in 
retail. I hadn't even hear him come up behind me.

	"Scott!" I cried, turning to hug him. He returned my affection. I was 
so glad to see him. "I was afraid my father scared you off for good."

	"No such luck," he said, kissing me gently on the lips. "I'm afraid 
you're stuck with me. What happened last night?"

	I quickly told him the story of my fight with my father.

	"So are you quitting?" he asked.

	"Does it look like I'm quitting?" I laughed.

	He shook his head and smiled. "I guess not. What about the other 
part?"

	"The other part?" I asked.

	"About me," he said. 

	"Oh Scott," I said seriously taking his hand. He looked like a hurt 
puppy dog. "You're my friend. I couldn't change that even if I wanted to."

	"Well," he said, "if I'm going to be your friend, what can I do to 
help?"

	I thought about it for a moment. "Well, do you know of anybody I 
can stay with for a few days. I don't think I want to chance going back to the 
farm, and I need someplace here in town until I sort things out."

	He smiled. "That's a simple request. You can just stay with me until 
you find a place."

	I must have looked shocked, for he added quickly, "Look, it's 
nothing like that. It's a pretty good sized apartment. You can have the 
bedroom and I'll take the couch in the living room. No hanky panky. Scout's 
honor and all that."

	I wondered what the good residents of Ovid would say about my 
staying with Scott. I suspected this town, like most small towns, was a little 
blue nosed. I didn't want to be branded as the town harlot. But I realized I 
had little choice. All I had been to scrape up in cash was forty dollars, and 
even with my paycheck, that wouldn't be enough to stay at a hotel, even in 
Ovid. Charlene had turned me down, and I really didn't have many friends in 
Ovid - certainly none who I knew well enough to ask for help. If I didn't stay 
with Scott, I would have to go back home, and that meant I would be a slave 
to my father's wishes for the rest of my life.

	"Thanks, Scott," I replied sincerely. "It'll be just until I can get on my 
feet."

	"Stay as long as you like," he said, looking around at two women 
who were examining some foundation garments. "It looks like you have 
customers. What time do you get off?"

	"Five."

	He smiled and gave me a gentle hug. "I'll pick you up."

	The rest of the day went by quickly. Our department was busy, and I 
had little time to think about what I was about to do. Finally, it was five 
o'clock, and I saw Scott walking toward me. It was time to set my plan into 
action. 

	I picked up the phone and called home. My mother answered the 
phone. Thank god, I thought. I didn't wasn't to talk to my father.

	"Have you quit yet?" she asked me without preamble. "I thought you 
might just quit this morning and come on home."

	"Mother, I'm not going to quit," I told her. "I'm not coming home, 
either. I've made arrangements to stay in town. I'll be moving into town, 
too."

	"Oh my god!" she exclaimed. "Donna Mae, you don't know what 
you're saying. Your father - "

	"My father is a good part of the reason I'm doing this," I interrupted. 
"I'm not going to let him run my life this way."

	"He won't give up," she warned me. "He won't rest until you quit 
and marry Jess Spencer. You know how bullheaded your father can be."

	No, but I was starting to have a pretty good idea.

	"Donna Mae, don't ruin your life like this. You go tell that March 
woman you're going to quit and get back out here. I'll come pick you up."

	"I'm sorry, mother," I replied as Scott walked up to me. "I'll call you 
tomorrow."

	"But where will you be?" she asked tearfully.

	"I let you know later," I told her, hanging up. Thank god we had 
never discussed Scott in detail. Even if they figured out who I was staying 
with, they had no idea who Scott was or where he lived.

	There. I had done it. The die was cast. I had no way of knowing what 
the cost would be, but I was determined to be my own person, and not the 
person my father wanted me to be. It was funny. If I had developed such 
resolve as Martin, I might not be in this position now, I noted. As Martin, I 
had made the mistake of letting my father run my life. I wouldn't make the 
same mistake twice.

	"Are you ready to go?" Scott asked softly. He could see in my eyes 
what I was going through.

	"Yes," I replied, equally softly.

	His apartment wasn't much, but by Ovid standards, it wasn't bad. 
This was a small town, after all, and there weren't large modern apartment 
complexes. It consisted of a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and a single 
bath. It was fairly Spartan in furnishings as well, but the couch looked 
comfortable, and good to his word, there was a blanket on it for later.

	"Ovid could really use more apartments," he told me. "Vulman 
Industries apparently has picked up a major military contract. They're hiring 
like crazy and a lot of new people will be moving in."

	"Real ones?" I asked as I looked around his apartment. There was 
evidence he had spent a good part of the day just getting the place shaped up. 
I couldn't help but think it was sweet of him.

	He shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. Apparently all sorts of 
people wander into Ovid for all sorts of reasons. The Judge doesn't seem to 
be short of raw material, although apparently there was an incident here not 
too long ago that has slowed down the process."

	"Where did you learn all this?" I asked, impressed.

	"Oh, around campus. Some of the other students remember who they 
were. They all talk back and forth, spreading information. Did you know, 
though, that only two people can talk like this at a time? If someone else were 
to join us, we couldn't discuss the magical aspects of Ovid." Then he 
stopped, remembering our little conversation with Myra, I was cure.

	"So I've noticed," I replied wryly, dropping my stuff off at the end of 
the couch. "Look, Scott, I really appreciate your doing this for me. I don't 
know what I would have done if you hadn't offered me a place to stay."

	He smiled. "Don't mention it. Look, let's keep it light. I'm a pretty 
decent cook. Let's make up a salad, some spaghetti, have a little wine, and 
celebrate your freedom."

	It sounds like a plan," I replied with a smile of my own.

	He was, indeed, a pretty decent cook. In fact, I had expected a little 
Ragu out of a jar, but Scott made the sauce from scratch. I started wondering 
as we made dinner together, then ate, just who Scott had been before. By 
mutual consent, we hadn't discussed our previous lives. I had assumed, 
thought, that Scott had been in Ovid for a few weeks. He was very much at 
ease with who he was, He must have been male before, I thought. Yet he 
handled himself in the kitchen like many women I had known. Yes, I know 
there are men who are excellent cooks; I hadn't been bad at it myself. But 
there were some more feminine mannerisms that came into play when he was 
in the kitchen. First, there was the way he cut things. Men tend to cut toward 
themselves while women cut away. Then, there was his neatness. Men are 
notorious for making a mess in the kitchen, expecting someone else to clean 
up, or just not caring. Scott was the neatest male I had ever seen in the 
kitchen.

	There was nothing effeminate about him, though. In fact, he was 
comfortably masculine. Of course, I was beginning to realize that it was 
easier to be a man than a woman. Oh, sure, men were expected to carry 
themselves in a certain way - to be strong, as it were. But women had to be 
correct in so many more ways. We had to dress properly, making sure 
everything was coordinated. We had to practically be artists just to get our 
hair and faces right. We had to be graceful as we teetered on heels and 
demure in our relations with others. And of course, many men - such as my 
new father (and the old one when he was male for that matter) - expected us 
to always defer to them.

	"More spaghetti?" 

	Scott's voice brought me back to where I was. "Oh. No thanks. It 
was great, but I have to watch what I eat." Another problem being a woman, 
I thought to myself.

	"Well," he said, "then go ahead and finish off your wine and I'll clean 
up."

	"No, I'll help," I told him. "Besides, I think I've had enough wine."

	I had, too, I reflected as we cleaned up. I had drunk three glasses of 
Chianti. As Martin, that wouldn't have fazed me. As Donna, though, I was 
feeling a warm buzz from the stuff. To make it worse, as we finished, Scott 
put a snifter of brandy in front of me."

	"Are you trying to get me drunk?" I asked suspiciously.

	"Nope," he grinned. "You have to be a real lush to get drunk on 
brandy. You're supposed to sip this stuff. I figure one shot of this should last 
about an hour."

	It did, too. We sat together on the couch - close together - and 
watched a movie together. He had rented When Harry Met Sally. I know, it 
had been around a hundred times, but it was one of those enduring movies 
most people enjoy over and over. Of course, I found myself unconsciously 
identifying with Meg Ryan's character instead of being desperately in love 
with her as my male self had been. I had never thought much about Billy 
Crystal as a handsome guy, and as a girl, I still didn't, but I found there were 
other things which made him endearing. 

	I don't know exactly when it happened. I think it was about the scene 
where Meg Ryan finds out her former lover is getting married and is busily 
crying her eyes out. Scott had had his arm around me at first, then I was 
snuggled up against him. Then, suddenly, I turned, right next to his face. We 
just sort of blended together in a long kiss. I was used to the sudden swelling 
between the legs when kissing someone I was attracted to. Not this time, 
though. Instead, there was this warm feeling between my legs - a sensation 
of yielding and softening, unlike anything I had ever felt before. Then, of 
course, there were the nipples. How odd, I thought in an almost clinical way. 
It was as if instead of one big erection, there were little ones in my nipples 
and my crotch.

	Then, I stopped thinking and started reacting. We didn't say a word 
to each other. Instead, we gently but insistently began to undress each other. 
I was starting to understand how important foreplay was for a woman. There 
was a desire building inside me, and the more it built, the more I wanted it to 
increase. I was nearly ready the moment Scott carried my now-nude body to 
the bed.

	How to describe it? I had made love many times as a man. I had 
enjoyed it immensely. But I had never enjoyed it like that first time with 
Scott. As a man, I had felt the sudden explosion, concentrated between my 
legs. Oh sure, there had been a sense of well being, but there was also an 
almost immediate sense of loss, as if the pleasure had somehow flowed out 
of my body with the orgasmic burst. As a woman, though, the pleasure was 
more like a wave, commencing when he exploded into me and rushing 
through my body. In a word, it was incredible.

	He held me tenderly afterwards, and I began to realize why that was 
important, too. It was almost as if in some small way, it allowed me to share 
the wave of pleasure with my lover. By holding me, it seemed to make the 
ebbing sensations last a little longer. Of course, it also gave me time to think 
about what I had just done and why as Scott slept gently beside me.

	I hadn't intended it to happen. There had been no nagging question in 
my mind as to what sex was like for a woman. I had planned on being 
entirely platonic with Scott, and I think he really had meant his promises to 
me to keep it that way. Maybe it was the fact that I had just broken away from 
my family, as artificial as they might be. Maybe I just needed someone, and 
Scott was the closest thing I had to a friend in Ovid. Maybe Billy Crystal was 
right in When Harry Met Sally. Maybe men and women couldn't be friends. 
How do they explain it at the end of the film? First, we became friends. 
Then, we became lovers. And then, we got... married?

	Oh god! Was that going to be next? Was this a one-night stand, or 
were we lovers? Would I become Mrs. Scott Gorman? I shuddered. I wasn't 
sure I was ready for that. But it might be necessary, I realized suddenly. 
Neither of us had considered protection. Oh good lord, could I be pregnant? 
What was in me now, swimming merrily upstream into a part of my anatomy 
that I could never have imagined having only a few days before?

	As I drifted slowly off to sleep, I began to realize the next day could 
bring an entirely new set of problems.

	I woke early. Being a farm girl had done that for me. So imagine my 
surprise when I saw Scott sitting naked on the side of the bed looking at me. 
I started to throw back the covers when I suddenly realized that I, too, was 
equally nude. I had a momentary pang of modesty before realizing that I had 
nothing that I hadn't already shown Scott the night before.

	"You're up early," I said, trying desperately to sound cheerful.

	"I couldn't sleep," he admitted.

	"Bad dreams?"

	He shook his head. "Conscience."

	I said nothing. I simply looked at him, confused.

	"Look, Donna, I know who you are - were, rather."

	My mouth fell open. "But how...?"

	"Look, it's confession time," he told me. "I'm Margo Simon, or at 
least that's the name you knew me by."

	Now I was really shocked. Scott was Miss Simon, my father's 
secretary. I mean, I knew she and Rusty, our pilot, had probably met as odd 
a fate as we had, but I never would have imaged her being change into Scott. 
Scott had seemed so comfortable with Ovid. I had just assumed that he had 
been around for a few weeks. His comment about finals threw me off. Most 
colleges would have been finished with finals by now, so I assumed he had 
meant that he had come to Ovid a week or two before me. Then there was the 
way he carried himself in his role as the young, wealthy heir. I could have 
kicked myself for not seeing through all of that.

	"But are you saying your weren't really Margo Simon?" I ventured.

	"No. My real name was Samantha Gorman."

	"But wait," I said. "Your last name is Gorman now."

	"That's true," he said with a sigh. "Look, do you know what your 
father did to my father?"

	"Wait," I begged. "I'm confused. Are you telling me that you... your 
father was Scott Gorman Junior even before you came to Ovid.

	He nodded. "Strange, isn't it? I was his only child. I always used to 
think that if I had been born male instead of female, I could have been more 
help to him. Be careful what you wish for, though. Now, I'm male, and yet 
it didn't seem to make any difference. Now, do you remember what 
happened to my father?" 

	"Roughly," I admitted carefully. "I know he was ruined along with a 
guy named Trump when my father outmaneuvered them."

	"Outmaneuvered!" he snorted. "That's a polite way of saying it. He 
arranged for loans for my father and Trump. What they didn't know is that he 
controlled the institutions that made the loans. He waited until my father and 
Trump were way out on a financial limb. Then, he made sure the loans were 
called in early. He ruined them both. That's when my father suffered a stroke 
and died. I blamed your father for it. I was going to college at Sarah 
Lawrence when he died. I couldn't help but think that if I had been at my 
father's side - and male - I could have helped him. But dad never thought a 
woman had any place as a real estate developer.

	"So after he died, I vowed revenge against your father. I dropped out 
of school. I had a friend in college whose father ran a large private 
investigation firm - J. L. Rickett and Associates."

	"I know them," I told her. "My father used them for background 
checks on key employees."

	Scott smiled. "That's right. I used that contact to get my name in front 
of your father as a personal secretary. I planned to get the job and gather 
evidence against him. I could expose him to any number of government 
agencies who would have joyfully tacked his hide to the wall."

	"But you might have gone down with him," I pointed out. "Everyone 
in his company signed non-disclosures."

	He put his hand on mine and looked into my eyes. "Don't you 
understand, Donna? I didn't care. My father was my only family, and I loved 
him very much. I would have done anything to get even with your father for 
what he did. I would have even killed him if I had to."

	I withdrew my hand and looked away. "Then this was all part of your 
revenge," I murmured softly.

	"At first, yes," he admitted. "The Judge changed Rusty into that little 
black girl I told you about. Then he changed me into Scott. After I was 
changed, I knew it would only be a matter of time until the Judge got around 
to you and your father. I hung around the courts, hoping he hadn't changed 
you first. I was about ready to give up when that odd cop - Mercer - brought 
the two of you in. Imagine my surprise when the two of you walked out 
unchanged!

	"So I followed you as you drove out to your farm. Then I saw you 
jump out at the mailbox and realized you had been changed as radically as I. 
It just took a little longer. From what I understand, that's not uncommon. 
The problem was, I wasn't sure if you were who your were or if you were 
your father. I staked out the farm the day you interviewed and followed you 
into town. I got too close, though, and bumped into you. I still didn't know 
if you were the son or the father."

	"Did it matter to you?" I asked bitterly.

	"Yes," he replied frankly. "I had nothing against you. Although I 
didn't get to know you very well - your father saw to that - I began to 
consider you as much of a victim of your father's machinations as I was. 
Then, on the plane, you tried to help me."

	"I didn't think you'd remember that," I said. "I thought you were out 
cold."

	"I was," he agreed, "but I seemed to remember hearing your concern 
for me. It was almost as if I could feel it. Also, I remembered that you 
volunteered to go up to the cockpit for me in the first place."

	"Then why take out your revenge on me?" I asked, breaking into a 
sob. "Look what you've done to me."

	He hurried to my side of the bed. Sitting next to me, he tried to put 
his arm around my naked shoulders, but I shrugged him away.

	"Look, Donna, you're wrong. I admit, at first I just wanted to get 
closer to you to get at your father. I had to know if he remembered who he 
had been. Revenge wouldn't be any fun against some person who thought 
she had always been nothing but a farm wife. But then I got to know you. 
Donna, I really do love you."

	That was too much for me to take. Exploding in tears, I rushed to the 
bathroom and slammed the door. To think, I had actually fallen for Scott! I 
had surrendered to this new female body of mine and given it over gladly to 
him. And he had used it. I felt dirty. Oh god, what if I was pregnant? I'd get 
an abortion. I wouldn't have his child. I'd show him. I wondered for a 
moment if abortions were even permitted in Ovid. Probably not, I realized. 

	There was a knock on the door. "Donna, please come out. Please 
listen to me. I'm sorry for what I did."

	"You're sorry for screwing me?" I yelled as I hurriedly dressed.

	"No I'm not sorry I made love to you," he corrected. "I'm sorry I 
deceived you. I should have been honest with you. You know the funny 
thing about all of this?"

	"I don't find anything funny about it," I growled, wrestling with a bra 
strap. Damned breasts! Damned vagina! 

	"The funny thing," he went on, "is that my father died anyway. I 
thought his failure killed him. But in this reality, he was successful and still 
died. I guess he was just meant to die."

	I finished dressing. It wasn't my best effort. It was just a pink spring 
weight knit blouse and a pleated gray skirt. A couple of accessories and a 
quick makeup job and I was about ready for work.

	"Donna, at least let me drive you to work."

	I looked down at my heels. It had to be over a mile to March's. I 
couldn't do it in heels. I would have to accept his offer. I opened the door 
and stared at him. "All right, but that's it. I'll be back tonight for my stuff. 
Then I never want to see you again."

	The look on his face was one of pain. Was I being too hard on him? I 
didn't think so. He had used me to get to my father. Then, as soon as he 
found out he didn't need to get to him (now her), he screwed me and... 
and... told me he loved me? No! He had lied to me. He must have.

	"Let's go," I said.

	We didn't speak on the way to March's. I made it a point not to even 
look at him. When we got to the store, he stopped in front and said, "Donna, 
I know I hurt you. I used to be a woman. I should have remembered what it 
meant for a man to hurt a woman. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I 
do love you."

	I didn't look at him and I didn't answer. I slammed the car door and 
marched into the store. I should have felt triumphant, but I didn't. I felt 
lousy. By the time I was riding the escalator up to my department, I was 
feeling even worse. He told me he loved me. He meant it, I realized. I also 
realized that a had feelings for him as well. Was it love? No, it couldn't be! 
The bastard had deceived me. But if it wasn't love, what was it?

	"What's wrong, Donna?" Vera asked me as she stepped out of her 
office.

	"Oh, it's just... I can't explain. You wouldn't understand. And I 
don't want you to read my thoughts."

	She laughed, "I don't really have to, Donna. I suspect it's about love. 
Think about it, dear. Who would know more about love than me?"

	I stopped. She was the Goddess of Love. Who else would know 
more? I had to speak with her. She ushered me into her office to the now-
familiar chair across from her desk. This time, though, she didn't sit behind 
the desk. She chose the mate of my chair and sat close, facing me.

	"Now, tell me all about it," she commanded.

	I did, leaving out nothing. I know I must have blushed when it came 
to admitting to having sex. I felt as if I had just admitted to some perverted 
exercise, but Vera merely nodded in sympathy.

	"So now here I am," I summed up. "For all I know, I may even be 
pregnant."

	"No, dear, you're not pregnant."

	"I'm... I'm not?" I asked hesitantly. 

	"No," she confirmed. "Usually, new girls like you are encouraged to 
take birth control pills. It's often included as part of the automatic responses. 
However, for girls like you..."

	"Virgins," I clarified with a sigh.

	"Yes, virgins, that often isn't practical. So all new girls - virgin or not 
- are given a ninety day grace period in which they can't get pregnant. I might 
add, new men get a similar dispensation, so with Scott, you're doubly 
protected."

	At least that was off my mind. I leaned forward, toward Vera. "But 
what am I going to do now?"

	Vera leaned toward me. "What do you want to do?"

	It was a good question. I had to be honest with myself. What I really 
wanted was - 

	"You can't go in there!" It was Nora's voice, frightened from just 
outside the door. The door was flung open, and there he was - my father. My 
mother was trailing close behind, concern in her eyes.

	"You're interrupting a private meeting between me and one of my 
employees," Vera said coldly, not in the least intimidated by my father's 
murderous stare.

	"She ain't gonna be your employee no more!" he boomed. "She's 
goin' home with us!"

	My mother rushed to my side. "Oh, Donna Mae, we were so worried 
about you! After you called we called the police, but that Officer Mercer said 
there was nothing he could do. Then your father and I drove into town, 
searching every street for some sign of you. We were afraid you had run 
away with that Scott boy, but we couldn't remember his last name."

	"It's Gorman," a voice from the door said calmly but forcefully. I 
looked over my shoulder to see Scott in the doorway, staring as defiantly as 
my father. To me, he said, "I saw them pull up in front of the store as I was 
leaving. I thought I'd better make sure you were all right."

	My father turned to him, his fists clenched. "Were you with my 
daughter last night?"

	Scott ignored the question. "Donna, do you need some help?"

	"I... I don't think so," I told him. I stood and faced my father, 
coming between him and Scott. "Where I was and what I do isn't your 
business," I told him, trying to sound calmer than I felt.

	"You're my daughter! It is my business!" he yelled.

	I would have loved to tell him that I really wasn't his daughter, but he 
would never have understood. Even if he had understood, I don't think it 
would have changed his mind.

	"Mr. Potter," Vera said suddenly, "do you love your daughter?"

	"You stay out of this," he growled, his gaze never leaving me.

	"MR. POTTER, DO YOU LOVE YOUR DAUGHTER?" Vera never 
raised her voice, yet somehow, her question drowned out every other sound 
in the room.

	My father turned to face her, his face white. "What?" he said softly. 
"Of course I... love her."

	"What is love, Mr. Potter?" she asked.

	"It's... it's just love," he replied, confused with the question.

	"Do you love her enough to let her go?" she asked quietly.

	"Let her go?"

	I know there was magic in the room. Vera was, after all, the Goddess 
of Love. I don't know what rules the gods were required to follow, but I 
know that Vera - or rather Venus - did something to let us all know what love 
was. It wasn't something that could be verbalized, but it could be felt. I think 
in that moment, my father understood for the first time in his life what it 
meant to love someone enough to let them go. He had, of course, rationalized 
that he was doing what was best for me. Jess Spencer was a good man, and I 
had no doubt he would make some girl a fine husband, but he wasn't right 
for me. Somehow, I could see into his mind and realized that he really did 
love me - and my mother as well. And he seemed to come to an 
understanding of what he needed to do if he was to have that love returned.

	He turned to me. The bloodlust had left his eyes, and the look he gave 
me was unlike any look I had ever gotten from a male parent. "Do you want 
to go, Donna Mae?"

	I shook my head. "I don't want to go anywhere," I said honestly. "I 
just want to be my own person. This the first time in either - in my life that 
I've had the opportunity to be my own person. I want to keep on being my 
own person, wherever that leads me. Do you understand?"

	"I... I think so," he told me. 

	It was impulsive, I know, but I rushed to him and hugged him. I 
think there may have even been a little tear in his eye. He gave me a little 
smile, and I smiled back.

	"Well, Vera said suddenly, "if that is settled, we do have a store to 
run here. Donna, Saturday is our busiest day. I need you out on the floor, but 
I'll give you a few minutes here to wrap things up while I help Nora."

	She was suddenly gone, leaving me with my parents - for they were 
now my parents - and Scott.

	"Honey?" my mother ventured, "are you coming home tonight?"

	I looked at them for a moment before answering. "I'll be there after 
work," I told them at last. "I'll get a ride with Charlene."

	"I'll take you home," Scott volunteered.

	I could see the look of suspicion rising in my father's eyes again.

	"I'd like to look over the Casper farm, so it's on my way," he 
explained.

	"The Casper farm?" my father asked carefully. "That's right next to 
our farm."

	"Yes it is," Scott agreed. "And it stretches all the way to the edge of 
Ovid in the other direction. I understand it's for sale. I think the edge next to 
Ovid would be a good place to build a few homes and some apartments. 
Ovid's growing, you know."

	"You've got that kind of money?" my father asked bluntly.

	"I sure do," Scott answered glibly. "I've been thinking about just 
settling down here in Ovid. Of course, there's more land there than I'd need. 
I'd have to lease the rest of the Casper place out for farming."

	My father thought for a moment. "I might be able to help you there."

	"I'd be much obliged," Scott said formally. "Maybe we can talk about 
it this evening."

	My father looked at my mother. The only signal she gave him was a 
smile. Turning back to Scott, he said, "Well, seein' as how you're gonna be 
bringing my little girl home, you might as well stay for supper. We can talk 
about it then."

	As they left, I saw the twinkle in Scott's eyes.

	"You bastard!" I muttered. "You had that all planned out."

	"It's a good business move," Scott protested. "Ovid is growing, and 
there aren't enough apartments here. I've got the cash from my inheritance, 
and I'm sure I can leverage it into a bank loan to buy that farm. Your father 
can farm the land and pay the debt service for me. Then I'll free up enough 
credit to build on the land next to Ovid."

	"Oh, it's a good business deal all right," I admitted grimly, "but you 
used it like a dowry to buy my hand."

	He laughed, putting his arms around me. "Oh, come on, Donna. 
Sure, it works out well, but you are your own person now, just like you 
wanted. I'll do that deal no matter what you decide. It's good business as we 
both know. But I love you, Donna, and I do want to marry you."

	"Marry me?" I asked in a tiny voice.

	"Marry you," he confirmed with a smile.

	I was silent for a moment, but I didn't shirk from his arms. Finally, I 
felt my own arms moving around his waist, and I began to feel the attraction I 
had felt the night before.

	"Well," I said coyly, "since you're going to be talking to my father 
tonight, I suppose you could ask him for my hand, too..."

				***

	"Wow!" Diana remarked. "I like that Donna. She sounds like she has 
cojones." 	 

	"Actually," I said drolly, "I believe the Judge took away her cojones."

	"There are different kinds of balls," Diana said with a dismissive 
waive of her hand. "Just because girls have their balls inside with an entirely 
different function doesn't mean they don't have them at least in a 
metaphorical sense."

	"So one question," I said as I refilled her coffee cup. "Donna 
speculated that some of the transformees who don't seem to remember who 
they were might really just be prisoners in their own bodies. Is it true?"

	I had asked the question for a reason. I hated to think that my former 
fraternity brothers might be trapped inside the bodies of my family whom I 
had come to love as a wife and mother.

	"Nope," she said simply, sipping at her coffee. "For the most part, 
the Judge lets random chance decide who remembers and who doesn't, but 
he hasn't created a situation like you described - yet."

	I was relieved. "Well, it sounds like the Judge has it all under 
control."

	To my surprise, Diana laughed. "You think so? Silly girl!"

	I didn't know what to say.

	"Well, she told me, rising to her feet and, with a wave of her hand, 
re-donning her leather and silver tunic. "coffee break is over. I've got to get 
back to the set. See you in the movies!"

	She was gone in the blink of an eye, but her laughter lingered on.

THE END


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