Hank Sawyer was born Henry Alexander Sawyer, but to all his friends he was better known as Ox. Tonight found him sitting disconsolately with a small group of friends from the football team in the small bar across the street from the mall. Under normally circumstances, Hank would never dream of even touching any alcoholic beverage during the football season, but today was totally unlike any other day in his life. Today was the day that Ox and his gridiron buds had gathered together to commiserate about the loss of his football scholarship.
"Tough break, Ox." said one.
"Yeah, absolute bummer, dude." said another.
"The team's gonna be up shit creek without you." said still another.
Drinks flowed like water. No one cared.
"It's bad enough losing my scholarship because my grades aren't so good." said Hank. "But when I tell my parents, the shit's really gonna hit the fan. They're really gonna lose it. And I'm gonna have listen to their 'we're really disappointed in you' sermon again."
Now, there was the real problem. It had always been, and probably always would be, the problem. No matter what he did, Hank could never please his parents or measure up to either their standards or their expectations. His mother was a junior partner in a highly successful marketing agency. And his father held a founding partnership in one of the most lucrative law practices in the state. They'd always rubbed it in Hank's face that they considered him as nothing more than some dumb old football jock, and that _they_ were far superior than he could ever hope to be. And, at least it seemed to Hank, they never missed an opportunity to tell him what a major disappointment he'd always been to them. Sometimes he thought he'd been adopted, while at other times he wondered if the hospital might have accidentally switched him at birth with someone else's child.
But Hank knew, even if his parents didn't, that he was not just another dumb old football jock. He been highly ranked among all the collegiate defensive ends in the country when the preseason polls were announced. Some even considered him a sure fire, can't miss first round draft selection. All he had to do was graduate and be drafted by one of the professional teams to be able to enjoy watching his parents eat several years worth of crow.
However, Hank had another problem. His guidance counselors referred to him as "academically challenged." He wasn't stupid, just slow, very slow. His time in high school had been one long academic struggle. If he hadn't the motivation to prove his parents wrong, he would have probably dropped out. But his football skills had earned for him a scholarship and an entry into college, where, unfortunately for Hank, his academic woes continued unabated. Even the special classes reserved for athletes proved difficult for him.
But once out on the football field, things were different for him. Very different. Everything about the game came intuitively for him when on the field, almost as if he knew the thoughts of his opponents. He had a rare and natural gift. And for the few things that didn't come naturally, he found ways to compensate. As he raced in for a sack, the opposition quarterback might become his father or his mother, whichever of the two topped his shit list for the day. Occasionally he would become so intensely focused on his projected illusion that he'd be penalized for a late hit.
Hank remembered the day he told his parents about the scholarship at the small nearby college. They'd listened to his news with total disbelief written on their faces. For a moment, despite what he read on their faces, Hank had thought them actually pleased by something _he_ had accomplished. But that was a fleeting thought, which lasted - at most thirty seconds - until it became known to his parents that it was a football scholarship he'd earned. Immediately afterwards, they'd given him their standard one-hour lecture outlining what a disappointment he was to them.
And now, that scholarship, his one moment of pride before his parents, was gone.
With it went his dreams.
Hank's memories of the past were interrupted when Jack Treadwell, one of the team's interior linemen, approached and asked "Want another drink, Ox?"
"Sure. Why not." he answered. "By the way, have you seen Tom tonight? I'm sorta surprised he's not here yet."
"I'll bet he's waiting for Stacey. You know, it must be really tough on Tom to be dating the head cheerleader." Jack grinned at the thought, wishing he could have that problem. "Especially tonight when they inconsiderately scheduled this major practice session for all the cheerleaders, while we're having this wake for the team."
Just then Tom Daniels, the team's star quarterback and Hank's best friend ever since they'd been in grammar school, entered the room. Draped all over Tom was his girlfriend Stacey Minwell.
"Sorry we're late, old buddy, but Stacey couldn't get out of that big cheerleader practice tonight. She'd bumped her headed at the practice and afterwards she wasn't feeling very well. For a while, I was really afraid we were gonna have to miss the party, but then, after we got back to her sorority house, she suddenly felt fine again. She decided we just couldn't miss this party, Hank. What can I say, except who can figure girls anyway?"
"I quit trying to figure out girls a long time ago." replied Hank. Laughter rumbled through those present.
"You know, Hank, we're really gonna miss you." added Tom. "Things won't be the same with the team with you gone."
"We certainly will miss you, Oxy." said Stacey in a pouty little voice. She brushed away several strands of long blond hair out from in front of her blue eyes.
Hank wondered if that _we_ meant Tom and Stacey, or the team. After all, she was the head cheerleader. Surely she couldn't be the flighty little airhead she often appeared to be. And just as surely she had to recognize what his absence would cost the team. But then, even though he didn't actually know her all that well, there were many times that she'd seemed uncommonly familiar to him. If she hadn't had such enormous boobs, he would have wondered why Tom was attracted to her. And she was also a member of that new sorority everyone on campus was constantly talking about. But that came as no surprise to anyone. She was a natural for the sorority that had quite obviously made huge breasts one of their entry requirements.
"What are you going to do?" asked Tom.
"I don't know. I'm not real anxious about going home and telling my parents that the school cancelled my scholarship. You know how they are."
"You know, Oxy." said Stacey. "Over there in the mall, there's this little shop run by this old guy who sells magical stuff. Maybe he's got something that will patch things up between you and your parents."
"Yeah, right." replied a disbelieving Hank. "Maybe he's got some magical trick that would turn me into someone really smart. Or even better, maybe he's got a magic wand or something else I could wave at them that would make them vanish in a puff of smoke. But I doubt there's any magic in the world that could ever be potent enough to affect them."
"You never know, Oxy." smiled Stacey enigmatically. "And you never _will_ know if you don't go to Spells 'R Us and talk to the old man."
* * * * *
Even though he held no belief in magic, Hank found his thoughts continually drifting back to Stacey's suggestion to seek out the old man who ran the magic shop in the mall. "Spells 'R Us" she'd called it. Not an overly original name, thought Hank.
But it wasn't long before he found himself saying his goodbyes and giving in to that irresistible compulsion to leave the party. As he opened the door to leave, he was surprised that Stacey had come over to say goodbye. He was even more surprised when she gave him a quick peck on the cheek, then smiled at him and wished him "luck." He found her behavior very strange, inasmuch as she'd never paid him anywhere near this much attention before.
And when he turned to leave, he had strangest feeling come over him. Leaving the party now was wrong, he felt. He should stay, at least for a little while longer. But what resistance he felt to seeking out the old man at his shop in the mall quickly melted away in the face of the compulsion to leave. Not only was the compulsion strong, but it grew stronger with each moment he delayed.
And when he finally arrived at the shop, which he quickly found in its surprisingly prime mall location directly across from Sears, all of his thoughts centered on how silly he felt standing in front of this _magic_ shop and actually thinking about going inside to ask for help. What made him, or Stacey for that matter, think this old man could be of any help whatsoever?
Sheepishly, and more than a little embarrassed, Hank turned to walk away. But as he did, the door of the shop opened and he heard the little bell above the entrance tinkle. In spite of all his doubts and misgivings, he turned back in the direction of the tinkling bell.
"You're late, Henry." called the old man from the doorway. "I expected you here over a half hour ago. Don't just stand there gawking, young man. C'mon in. I guess, its better that you made it here late, instead of not arriving at all."
"How'd you know my name?" questioned Hank.
"Now really, Henry. Or would you prefer I call you Hank or Ox. This _is_ a magic shop. Don't you remember Stacey telling you I sold 'magical stuff' here?"
"Well, yeah... but..."
"Stacey likes to find people who either want or need my help, but would never think of coming here on their own. She's better for my business than any advertisement I could ever hope to imagine. I'm sure you'd agree that there is absolutely nothing better for a business than getting referrals from satisfied customers."
"You mean Stacey..."
"Please, don't ask, Hank." interrupted the old man. "I can't reveal any details - those fall directly under 'customer privilege' - but I can tell you that you'd never recognize the Stacey of today as the person who first entered my shop."
"Then you can really help?" asked the still dubious Hank.
"Cross my heart." replied the old man as he dramatically crossed his heart. "All you need to do is tell me what you want. Then I can take over from there."
"Anything?" queried Hank suspiciously.
"Certainly." replied the old man. "Anything at all."
"You can fix things so my parents would be proud of me - you know, so I'd measure up to what they think I should have always been - and would give me some respect. And would it be possible for you to make me capable of learning things at the same speed as everybody else, so I won't have any more problems keeping up with my school assignments."
"No problem, Hank. And while we're busy changing things, is there any other little detail you'd like to have thrown into this deal?"
"Well... Could you make me this smart all the way back to my days in high school?"
"Of course." grinned the old man. "Stay right here, I believe I have in stock exactly what you need. If I remember correctly, it should be on one of the top shelves in the backroom."
The old man was in the back for only a few minutes. On his return, he held a small bottle containing a colorless liquid. "Here you go, Hank. Just drink the full contents of this bottle before you go to sleep tonight, and, when you wake up tomorrow morning, all of the current problems and troubles of Henry Alexander Sawyer will have faded into non-existence."
Henry reached out and took the proffered vial from the old man. Its colorless contents looked suspiciously like water. In fact, he was certain that the old man had simply filled it with plain ordinary tap water from a faucet in the backroom.
"How much?" he asked suspiciously.
"Gratis, Hank. That is, it's on the house. Think of it as a favor to Stacey."
It ought to be free thought Hank, wondering why the old man owed Stacey a favor. But as Hank left the shop, he was completely unaware of the smile that crossed the old man's face.
* * * * *
"You what?!" screamed his father. "How could you do this to _your_ mother and _me_? It was bad enough when I had to tell _my_ friends you were going to school on that totally impractical and utterly useless football scholarship, but what will they think of _me_ and your _poor mother_, when I tell them that you weren't even intelligent enough to hold on to it."
"Oh, Henry." sighed his mother. "What are _we_ going to do with you? You know you are such a disappointment to _us_."
Suddenly unable to take it any longer, Hank snapped back. "Would you two shut the fuck up." he yelled. "I'm fuckin' sick and tired of you two giving me nothin' but crap all the time. All you ever worry about are yourselves and how you feel. You never worry about me, and you couldn't give a damn about how I feel."
"How dare you speak to _us_ like that, after all _we've_ done for you, young man." came his mother's haughty and imperious voice.
"Go to your room!" came the order from his father.
"Fine." replied Hank storming off.
"And you can stay there until you're ready to apologize to _us_, young man."
Hank slammed his bedroom door.
"Can you believe he talked to _us_ that way?" said Hank's mother.
"But he's always been a major disappointment to _us_." replied his father.
* * * * *
"I can't believe they sent me to my room." grumbled Hank. "I can't believe I let them send me to my room. Damn it, I'm twenty-three years old. I'm an adult, not some spoiled little teenager."
Hank reached into his pocket and pulled out the bottle that the old man had given him. He stared at it for a couple of minutes, before finally deciding to drink it. "So what if its only water. I'm not expecting anything miraculous to happen, so I can't be disappointed, but maybe the old man slipped something in there that will make me feel better." He unstoppered the bottle and chugged its contents.
Suddenly sleepy, he stifled a yawn. As he undressed, he let his clothes fall to the floor in a heap.
He slid into bed and quickly under the covers.
And yawned again.
Within less than a heartbeat, he was sound asleep.
* * * * *
Hank's dreamless sleep was interrupted when the music began playing from his clock radio.
When had he set it?
He didn't remember setting it. After all, he had no reason to set it.
Today was just another a day now. A nothing special day, which started with him having no place to go and would probably end exactly the same way. So, with every intention of going back to sleep, he rolled over and pulled the covers back over his head.
There came a knock at his door.
"Are you up yet, sweetheart?" came a cheery woman's voice. "You don't want to be late for your first day of school, do you?"
First day of school?
Something really weird was going on.
"Mom? Is that you?"
"Of course, it's me, dear. Do you want me to come in and help you pick out your clothes and get dressed?"
"No. That's okay, I'll do it myself." came his confused reply.
"Okay, honey. But you need to hurry up and get dressed, breakfast is almost ready. And after you finish eating, your father is going to drive you to school."
What the hell was going on?
Then suddenly it dawned on him.
"The bottle the old man gave me!" thought Hank. "The old man had told me that if I swallowed its contents last night before I went to sleep, then all my problems and troubles would no longer exist when I woke up. And, if what's been going on so far is any indication, then it seems, he was right. He's worked a fucking miracle here.
"Mom certainly sounded sugary sweet - definitely an improvement from her normally sour demeanor towards me. Although she's definitely going to drive me up the wall if she keeps it up for very long. And Dad is going to drive me to school? What school? Did they listen to anything I told them last night or not? Or could it be that, just maybe, my school trouble was one of those problems blown away when I drank the old man's potion.
"This is really great. But I suppose I'd better get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast. It's probably in my best interest to humor them while they're being so nice to me. There's no telling how long the effects of this potion are going to last.
"But if my problem with the school's been fixed, then I wonder if any of the guys will remember the party from yesterday. Damn, I wonder if there even was a party yesterday?"
But when Hank's eyes opened, he was instantly struck by a peculiar sense of disorientation. For a few fleeting moments, he wondered where he was. Then just as suddenly the feeling passed. However, there was something very different about the _feel_ of his room. And somehow, his room also looked different than it had last night. But, if anyone would have asked him why, he couldn't have fingered anything specifically as being different.
It was just another of those incredibly strange feelings - again.
And in that same strange fashion, a feeling of difference had spread across his body. But just as before, he couldn't tell what, if anything, had changed.
Jumping quickly out of bed, he scanned his room attempting to discern just what was different, what had changed. Impossibly, things looked bigger than he remembered. It was as if his perspective had changed to one of a shorter person. How could he have shrunk during the night, he wondered? Wasn't that impossible? But still, that inalienable sense of difference continued to pervade upon his thoughts.
Lost in those thoughts, he absently reached up and brushed his long brown hair away from his face and out of his eyes.
"Wait just one minute!" exclaimed Hank, suddenly realizing what he had just done. "I don't have long hair."
He rushed to the mirror -- where had it come from? -- standing atop his dresser. He gasped at the image of the young girl staring back at him.
"This is fucking unreal." he muttered to himself, as he continued to stare in disbelief at his new reflected image.
It wasn't as if he'd become some great ravishing beauty overnight. He thought the girl in the mirror was kind of pretty - no, on second thought - she was cute. Definitely cute - that was a far better description for her then pretty. But other than that, average best described her. She appeared to be an average, ordinary, fifteen, possibly even sixteen, year old girl. Average figure. Average sized boobs. With stringy, shoulder-length brown hair. In fact, she could have been the younger sister that Hank had always dreamed of having.
"What was in that bottle?" he thought. "I've got to get to the mall. I hope I can talk that old man into reversing this."
But first, he had to get dressed.
He found silk panties and bras in one of the dresser's drawers. And in the closet, next to the pair of jeans he took out to wear, hung several dresses. Dressing his female form was a totally new experience for him, but somehow, exactly how he didn't know, he managed fairly well. And after he brushed out her hair, she looked, at least to Hank, reasonably presentable.
Without much hope of his reflection being male again, he quickly took another peek into the mirror. He was still a girl, but he noticed a purse (had that been there before?) sitting on the dresser. Cautiously and somewhat nervously, he picked it up and opened it. Quickly perusing its contents, he found only two things that held any special interest for him - a credit card and a driver's education learner's permit.
Both were issued in the name of _Heather Alesandra Sawyer_. And, if today's date were still the day after the date Hank considered yesterday, then, according to the date of birth on Heather's permit, she was just four months past her sixteenth birthday.
The old man's potion had made her a teenaged girl.
* * * * *
When Heather joined her parents at the breakfast table, she was amazed at how courteous and polite they were to her. They'd never treated her this way when she was Hank. And strangely, it seemed they were always complimenting her on something. They were acting downright eerie.
Her mother had been super-sugary sweet to her all morning long. And her father had been so nice, he could have given maple syrup lessons in sweetness.
"I have this really bad feeling that this potion and spell shit wasn't such a hot idea after all." she thought, as she found herself wishing her parents would just shut up for a while and leave her alone. "If this is really their idea of respect, then I'm almost glad I didn't get any when I was Hank."
But as worried as she might have been about how her parents now treated her, she might have been even more worried, if she'd realized that she was now thinking about Hank in the third person, or thinking of herself with female pronouns.
* * * * *
Heather was relieved when the ordeal her mother called breakfast mercifully came to an end. Their niceness had been pure and simple total hell to endure. She now found herself in desperate need of time away from them.
"It's time to go to school, princess." said her father.
"Can I drive, daddy? Can we stop at the mall on the way? There's someone I just absolutely have to see there."
"I don't think so, princess. I'll drive, dear." replied her father. "Maybe after you get your driver's license, I'll buy you a car of your own. How would you like that? As for the mall, it can wait until after school."
"Oh, all right." pouted Heather, as she wondered if her father would really buy her a car when she passed her driver's examination. Now that would be even better than the credit card he'd given her for her sixteenth birthday.
* * * * *
It was a short drive to the school. Fortunately, for the sake of Heather's future sanity, she'd quickly decided en route that a short morning walk to school would be far less aggravating then listening to her father's inane and perpetual chatter. Even worse than that, it seemed her new identity tended to take control of her from time to time when she spoke with one of her parents.
But more importantly, at least for tonight, the mall was between home and the school. And she fervently hoped that the old man would be able to reverse the unwanted effects of his potion tonight.
But, as her father pulled in the driveway at the school, Heather was totally surprised at having arrived at Aggie Tech. "This is a high school, daddy." she'd blurted out.
"Of course it is. Just where else would my little princess be going to school?"
"Yeah. Where else? I guess I should get out, and start trying to find my way around my new school." I can't believe this is happening to me, she thought.
"I'll come back and pick you after school lets out, honey. I wouldn't want you to have to walk all the way home tonight, princess."
"That's okay, daddy. I'll be alright walking home - its not really all that far. Besides, I'm going by the mall after school. Remember?"
"Oh yes, of course, sweetheart. Whatever you want, dear." replied her father. "But, don't forget, if you need anything, don't hesitate to call me at work, and I'll be here as quickly as I possibly can."
"I will daddy." said Heather as she opened the car door and stepped out on the sidewalk which would lead her down the halls of Aggie Tech.
"I love you, sweetheart."
"I know you do, daddy." said Heather closing the car door, then silently watching her father drive away.
She sighed. "Oh shit! Is this ever going to be . . . Heeeyyyy. Stop that, you asshole!" she screamed at the boy who had just come up from behind her and groped her breasts.
"You'd better run fast!" yelled a nearby girl as the boy fled. "Damn it. I'm sorry you had to meet Aggie Tech's resident pervert on your first day here, Heather. That was Marty Nichols. He's such an ignorant pig."
At the mention of her name, Heather turned to look for the girl who had spoken. She had short light brown hair and was probably the same age as her. Strangely, she very looked familiar. But how could that be, wondered Heather, who didn't know any high school girls. Suddenly, the mystery cleared and she knew exactly who this girl was. "You're Sarah Daniels, aren't you?" she asked the girl. She wanted to add "You're Tom's little sister." but thought better of it and didn't.
"I'm surprised you remember me, Heather. Its been a couple of years since we went to summer camp together. If you'd like, I'll show you around the school, and, if you want to file a complaint about Marty, I'll take you to see Principal Thompkins. He's been trying, without success, to convince Marty that we don't like it when he grabs our breasts, but Marty acts pretty dense sometimes. Although I wonder if its really an act. You know, sometimes I wish he were a girl with big breasts, and had to put up with assholes like him all the time."
"I'm sure that would give him a new and vastly improved perspective on the things he does." sighed Heather in agreement.
* * * * *
"I'm sorry I couldn't give you the longer tour," said Sarah, "but, if we're going to stop and see Mr. Thompkins before class starts, then you'll have to settle for just the highlights tour right now."
"That's okay. Where's Mr. Thompkins office?"
"Before we go, let me show you where your home room is, so you won't be late and get into trouble on your first day. Who's your home room teacher?"
After looking at her schedule, Heather replied, "Mrs. Larkins."
"Hey, that's great, Heather. We're in the same home room. And even if we're a little late getting to class, she'll understand completely once we tell her we were in Principal Thompkins' office complaining about Marty Nichols."
"Hi, Sarah." interrupted a male voice. "How's it going today? Who's your friend."
Sarah turned around. "Oh, hi Keith." she replied. "This is Heather Sawyer. This is her first day here at good old Aggie Tech." Turning back to Heather, she adds, "Heather, this is Keith Helms, a friend of mine from Future Teachers."
"Nice to meet you, Keith." said Heather as she stuck her hand out.
"Definitely, my pleasure, Heather." he replied, as he took her extended hand and kissed it. "By the way, would you be interested in signing my petition. We're trying to get the dress code changed so guys can wear shorts when the weather turns hot."
"Sure. That sounds fair to me. Where do I sign?"
"Right here." replied Keith holding out a paper.
Heather took the paper and glanced through it without really reading it. After signing her name, she handed the petition back to Keith.
"Good luck." she said.
"I'm sure it'll be accepted. Principal Thompkins is a fair man." he answered. "By the way, Heather, would you like to go to the dance with me a week from Friday?"
"Can I let you know later?" blushed Heather, who definitely wanted to remain non-committal about making a date right now. Especially if that date were with a boy.
"Of course. But I'll just keep asking you until you say 'yes,' so you could save both of us a lot of time by saying 'yes' now. Don't you agree?"
"I'll let you know later."
"Suit yourself. I've got more signatures to collect right now. And anyway, I'll just ask you again, the next time I see you." said Keith as he left whistling a happy tune.
"Is he like that all the time, Sarah?"
"If you mean not afraid to speak his mind or champion some cause, then yes, he's like that all the time. On the other hand, if you mean his hitting on you and asking you out on a date, then I'd say no, he's only like that when there are girls around."
"Oh." mumbled Heather. And to herself she thought, "And what am I going to do if that old man can't change me back?"
With nothing else causing them further delay, Sarah and Heather finally arrived at the office of the principal, Theodore Thompkins. His new secretary, Jane Cabot, greeted them as they entered.
"Morning, Ms. Cabot." replied Sarah. "This is Heather Sawyer and today's her first day here. If Mr. Thompkins isn't too busy, can we talk to him for a couple of minutes."
"I'll check with him." said Jane. "Can you let me know what's it about?"
"It's about Marty Nichols. Again."
"Oh, that boy. I think he spends more time in here then Mr. Thompkins does. And it never seems to do any good." Turning towards Heather, she asked, "Are you all right?"
"I guess so." blushed Heather. "It's just that I've never had anybody grab my breasts before." And that's no lie, she thought.
"Why don't you sit down. I don't think he had anything planned for this morning, but let me check and see if he's available right now."
But before Ms. Cabot had time to rise from her chair, the outer office door swung open as a boy and a girl rushed in. The boy walked oddly hunched over, while the girl wore a baggy T-shirt apparently several sizes too big. Between them they carried some weird-looking kind of statue.
"We have to see Mr. Thompkins right away!" exclaimed the girl.
"Yeah, right away!" echoed the boy. "It's a matter of life or death!"
Without hesitation, they hustled straight past where Heather and Sarah sat waiting, and right on into the principal's office. And, as if to make matters worse, they slammed the door shut behind them.
"Who were they?" asked Heather.
"To put it bluntly," replied Jane, "those two are trouble. The girl is Bonnie Burke, whose mother is President of the School Board. The boy is Bonnie's boyfriend, Clyde Smith."
"Most of us just call them Bonnie and Clyde, for the obvious reason." added Sarah. "They go to the mall and shoplift things. Then, the next day they brag about their thefts and not getting caught. I'll bet they stole that statue."
"That wouldn't surprise me." remarked Jane. "But Mr. Thompkins will listen to whatever story they've concocted, because he wants to be totally fair to everyone."
"Isn't it a little unusual for a girl the same age as us to be that flat-chested?" asked Heather innocently. She was amazed when both Sarah and Ms. Cabot started laughing.
"Flat-chested???" chuckled Jane. "Bonnie Burke??? No way!"
"We'll have to find someone to check your eyesight, Heather." said Sarah. "It must have been the baggy T-shirt." And in an obviously envious tone added, "Don't tell anyone I said this, but Bonnie Burke must have the biggest pair of tits on campus. Everybody, with the exception of Bonnie, knows that they're the _two biggest_ reasons why Clyde likes her so much. He's so plastic, it isn't even funny."
And when the Sarah's and Jane's laughter resumed, a somewhat confused Heather, who had no doubts about seeing what she'd thought she'd seen, joined in.
* * * * *
Several minutes later, the door to the inner office opened. From inside, they heard a young girl's voice scream out "I ... want ... my ... mommy!!!"
When Principal Thompkins left his inner office, he was holding the hand of a sniffling, little freckled-faced girl. In her other hand she clung tenaciously to her little plastic _Ken_ doll.
"Jane, could you find out what's holding up the req's for those two new teachers. I have to take Bonnie back over to day care. Her mother will be there to pick her up in about an hour. I should only be gone a few..." Then, as he turned to continue out the door, he noticed the two waiting girls. "Oh, excuse me, Sarah. I didn't know anyone was waiting to see me."
"That's okay, Mr. Thompkins. _We_ understand" replied Sarah, while looking down at little Bonnie. "This is Heather Sawyer. Today's her first day here."
"Its nice to meet you, Miss Sawyer." responded the principal. "I've read your records. They state you're an exceptional student. I only wish we had more students with your academic abilities here. I doubt you'll find any reason not to like it here at Aggie Tech."
"Does that include, Marty Nichols?" asked Heather hesitantly.
"Already? You haven't even been to your first class and he's already accosted you. Damn, that boy.
"Jane, after you check on those reqs, would you find Mr. Nichols and bring him to my office as soon as possible. It looks like we're going to have another in our series of long discussions about girls - namely, what is and isn't proper when meeting a girl for the first time.
"And the two of you had better head for your homeroom classes. I'll take care of Mr. Nichols after I return from taking Bonnie to day care."
"Thank you, Mr. Thompkins." echoed both girls as they left his office headed for class.
But they hadn't gone far, when Heather turned to Sarah and asked "Did you notice anything strange or peculiar about Bonnie when she came out of the principal's office?"
"No. Not really." replied Sarah. "For as long as I've known her, she's been a spoiled little brat, but everybody says she'll grow out of it when she gets older."
And as they continued on to class, Heather wondered silently about all the strange things going on around her, and began to worry what would happen next. Maybe she was going crazy.
* * * * *
The rest of the school day passed uneventfully. That is, if you discount the fourteen additional times that Keith Helms asked her to go with him to the dance. He'd been so persistent, that she almost said "yes" the last time, just so he'd shut up and leave her alone.
But her common sense prevailed in the nick of time.
After all, if the old man could undo the effects of his potion, then _she_ wouldn't be an Aggie Tech student, nor would _she_ have to worry about the dance at all.
Of course, she couldn't explain any of that to Keith. He wouldn't have understood. She decided to just keep putting him off until either she became Hank again or, as Hank had previously experienced, Keith simply grew tired of being turned down or put off and went away. A simple solution.
But as she was leaving the school grounds, there was Keith waiting on the sidewalk.
"Have you decided to go to the dance with me, Heather?"
"Not yet. I told you I'd let you know when I decide."
"But if you wait too long, its just possible I'll have found and asked another girl who won't keep me waiting so long to say 'yes' to me. Then you won't have a date for the dance."
"That's okay, Keith. It's a risk I'm willing to take."
A car horn sounded.
"That's my mom." said Keith. "I've got to go." After getting in the car, he rolled down the window and waved. "I'll see you tomorrow, Heather."
"I can hardly wait." she mumbled, breathing a sigh of relief, as the Helms' car pulled away from the curb, then headed down the street away in the opposite direction from the mall.
Hopefully there wouldn't be any more problems - at least for the rest of today.
"Unless," came an unbidden and worrisome thought as she walked briskly towards the mall. "That old man can't reverse his potion."
* * * * *
As Heather walked along the road towards the mall, cars had whizzed by her and several of their drivers had tooted their horns at her. She'd never felt happier, or more relieved, in her life to get someplace then she had when she finally arrived at the mall. But even as she entered the mall through the side door, a couple of boys had whistled and leered at her.
"Boys!" she thought to herself thoroughly disgusted by their actions. "You'd think they'd never seen a girl before. Hank was certainly never like that."
But where was the shop?
Had it closed and disappeared overnight?
Heather looked frantically about until she spotted the little Spells 'R Us sign hanging over the little shop in an even smaller nook in an easy-to-overlook cranny next to Sears. Greatly relieved, she walked towards the shop, still annoyed at herself for thinking that it had been in plain sight directly across from Sears last night. After all, stores didn't change locations overnight.
As she entered the shop, she heard the little bell above the door tinkle. Standing behind the counter stood the old man.
"Good afternoon, Heather." stated the old man before she could open her mouth to speak. "Welcome back to my little shop."
"Can the crap!" replied Heather. "What the hell have you done to me, old man?"
"To you, I've done nothing. I gave Hank a simple potion to eliminate his problems, and remake those things that _once were_ into the things that _now are_, just as he wanted them to be."
"That's not true." she replied. "I didn't want to be a teenager. And I sure as hell didn't want to be a girl."
"Maybe not directly. Although I will admit, I am quite surprised that you even remember being Hank at all. Most of my clients have this tendency to forget who they _once were_ as they get help becoming who they _now are_."
More than a little confused by the double talk, Heather asked "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Simply speaking, you are not the only person providing input into what we shall call the potion's spell matrix. I really hate to anthropomorphize, but this kind of spell more often than not acts as if it were guided by rational thought.
"Basically, it simply starts with _your_ wants, needs, and desires. Then it probes the subconscious thoughts and desires of others near you in order to determine what is required for the best possible fulfillment of those wants. It throws these requirements into the mix, so to speak, more often than not with unpredictable results. And finally, as you sleep, you transform, normally without retaining any knowledge of who you used to be."
Heather lifted her arms, holding them away from her sides. "But why this?" she asked puzzled.
"Think about what you wanted."
"I wanted to be smarter." she replied.
"And are you?"
"I guess so."
"C'mon Heather, didn't Mr. Thompkins tell you this morning that your records 'state you're an exceptional student?' Didn't he also wish he had more students like you?"
"He did say that." smiled Heather as she remembered the principal's words. "I think I really must be smarter, but, with all the other changes, I hadn't really noticed. But why did I have to change into a girl to become smarter? That doesn't make any sense at all."
"And it shouldn't make any sense to you, because, quite frankly, your increased intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with your change of gender. An old witch to whom I was once apprenticed used to say all the time 'Brains ain't got no sex, and the sooner you learns that brains is just brains, the better off you'll be.'" Noticing the puzzled look on Heather's face, he quickly added "Don't worry, that old saying of hers never made much sense to me when I was a lad either, but sometimes things get clearer as you get older. And other times, they don't."
"But if that's true, then why am I a girl?"
"Do you remember what else Hank wanted, Heather?"
"The respect of his parents. He didn't like being treated like shit."
"Ah. I believe you've struck the proverbial nail squarely on the head." replied the old man. "Do they respect you now?"
"In their way, I guess they do. But I'm not too sure I'd call that nauseating sweetness of theirs respect. Sometimes it gets so bad I think I'm going to puke. But it is definitely better than all the verbal abuse they usually heaped on Hank.
"Wait a minute - you're telling me that I changed into a girl because I wanted my parents respect. That's total bullshit. Just when did parental respect become a function of gender? I would have thought my sex had nothing due with earning anybody's respect."
"In most cases," replied the old man, "that would have been one of life's few absolute truths. But, sadly, yours is not most cases, Heather."
"In your case, the spell had virtually no other option other than making you female, if you truly wanted your parents' respect. There was an extremely small probability of you remaining male, but, again, because of certain attitudes of your parents, that possibility was less than unlikely. Especially when you factor in the tendency towards extreme simpleness - some call it laziness - in the way this potion acts to realize its matrix.
"To put it simply, Heather, you are now a girl, because becoming a girl lay along the path of least resistance to that realization. Do you understand?"
"I think so." answered Heather. "I'm not quite as confused as I was, but just what the hell do my parents have to do with any of this?"
"A fair question. I'll try to explain how I perceive it.
"Before your parents, two young and successful professionals, married, they had decided not to have any children. But contraceptives fail from time to time and your mother became pregnant. As it sometimes happens, your mother fell in love with the idea of becoming a mother _and_ of having a daughter. And she, in turn, convinced your father that he wanted to be a father. Not many would have known of their disappointment when their son was born."
"I never knew any of this." whispered Heather.
"Hank was never meant to know." replied the old man. "And I have no idea, if even they ever consciously knew what they were doing to him. But now, none of that disappointment, particularly Hank's learning disability and his love of football, ever existed. Since the potion knew that Hank could never live up to the expectations your parents had for their child, you are now Heather, who is everything they ever wanted in their daughter."
"Then why am I sixteen and in high school instead twenty-three and in college? What was in this for them?"
"Being sixteen and in high school has absolutely nothing to do with your parents, Heather. I'm afraid _that_ is entirely your fault."
"My fault? How can it be my fault? I didn't ask to be sixteen."
"Not directly. Do you remember the last thing Hank wanted?"
Heather shook her head.
"Hank wanted to be smart all the way back . . ."
". . . to my days in high school." finished Heather. "Oh shit. And I'll bet that stupid lazy potion took the quickest and easiest path towards realizing its matrix by making me a high school student."
"Brilliantly deduced, my dear."
"But can you undo this? Can you change me back?"
"To be honest, I don't know. If you'd like, I can try, but I've never been asked to negate the effects of this particular potion before. Actually, it has never really been necessary before, and I wouldn't like to bet on it being possible. But, for some reason, you're not like any of my customers who took that potion. You didn't forget you were once Hank after you became Heather. And that, I believe, implies reversal just might be possible."
"Can you do it now, or should I come back tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow would be too soon." replied the old man. "I'd guess it will take a minimum of at least three or four days - possibly as long as a week - to get some definite answer back from the wizard's council. Give me a few days before you come back."
"But what will I do until then?" she whined.
"I'd recommend you do what all the other sixteen-year-olds are doing right now. Get up in the morning and go to school."
"Do I have to?" pouted Heather.
"Of course you do, young lady." said the old man. "And Heather, there's one more thing you need to know."
"While you're at Aggie Tech, it would be an exceptionally good idea to stay away from that scale in Mr. Thompkins' office. It has been my experience that mixing different types of magics has never been a good idea."
"Then I'm not going crazy after all. I was really worried when nobody remembered Bonnie Burke as anybody other then that obnoxious little girl who came crying out of Mr. Thompkins' office, and when nobody even remembered Clyde Smith at all."
The old man looked at Heather incredulously. "Amazing. You remember those two young thieves both before and after, as well. In all the time I've run this shop. . . How would you like to work here?"
* * * * *
Heather had much to ponder as she walked home from the mall. Her chat with the old man had cleared up many things that had been extremely confusing to her just this morning.
It was evident to her that Hank had never considered that the potion might not _fix_ things according to whatever his plan, if any, had been. It would have been very easy to blame Hank, who'd obviously made a quick and rash decision drinking the potion, but she doubted that she would have done anything differently given the same set of circumstances. Besides, how could she blame Hank for anything without blaming herself at the same time. The only thing that had actually worked out well was his request to be smarter. Both the old man and Mr. Thompkins had made it perfectly clear to her that she was definitely smarter than she had been as Hank.
But for right now, she was also a teenage girl. That definitely hadn't been her idea but there was certainly no denying the obvious, and, in all likelihood, she was probably going to remain a girl for the next few days. She had been disappointed that the old man couldn't reverse the effects of his potion immediately, but at least he hadn't completely crushed her hopes by saying it was impossible. She decided to let the old man have the whole week before she'd return to his shop to be restored. Getting through a week, even as a girl, should be simple. It looked like her biggest problem would probably be Keith Helms' continual pestering of her for a date.
And strangely, the potion had apparently provided her with a new best friend, Sarah Daniels, who was the younger sister of Hank's old best friend Tom. Hank had never paid much attention to his friend's younger sister, but now they were both the same age and gender. Sarah always seemed to be there when she needed a friend or when she needed to talk to someone. The potion certainly went about realizing its matrix in mysterious ways.
But more important than anything else she had learned today from the old man was the knowledge of a magical scale, which could change people into other people or things just like the potion had changed her, existing in the principal's office. Maybe, just maybe, she'd be able to use that scale as an emergency backup to restore herself to normal.
The old man had warned her of the potential danger of mixing magics together. However, in spite of those warnings, she still wondered if, just possibly, she might be able to use the scale's power to selectively cancel out and then replace parts of the existing spell's matrix. But, in addition, she wondered if it were really wise to put her trust in this magical scale. After all, wasn't it just this morning, that it had remolded Bonnie Burke mentally and physically into a whiney little girl and shrunk Clyde Smith into a _Ken_ doll. And, excepting herself and the old man, no one had even noticed anything out of the ordinary. Would it do what she wanted it to do when she wanted it done? She didn't think so.
And why had the old man really offered her a job?
* * * * *
"Hi, mom. I'm home." said Heather as she bounded into the kitchen, where her mother was busily preparing dinner.
"How was the new school, sweetheart?"
"Oh, I guess it was alright. Everybody there seemed really friendly and nice. After a while I felt right at home there." she told her mother. Of course, she knew her mother would totally freak, if she even hinted at the groping of her breasts by Marty Nichols. She knew it would be far better to withhold that kind of information, then to watch her mom go ballistic over an incident best forgotten. And besides, Mr. Thompkins had said he would take of Marty. "I'm sure I made a lot of new friends today, too."
"That's nice, dear. Was one of them Sarah Daniels?"
"How did you know that, mom?"
"She called a little while ago and was surprised you weren't home yet, but I told her you were at the mall."
"What did she want? Did she want me to call her back?" queried Heather.
"No. You don't have to call her back. That is, unless you don't want her coming over in the morning, so the two of you can walk to school together."
"That's great, mom." she replied. And then, she spotted a candy bar on the counter and realized she was hungry. "Mom? Can I have that candy bar? I'm really hungry."
"Not right now, dear. It's too close to dinner time for you to be snacking. You wouldn't want to spoil your dinner, would you? I've made your favorite. And besides, we both know where all that sugar and fat in that candy bar would eventually wind up, don't we?"
"Okay." Heather answered sullenly. "I'm going up to my room. Let me know when dinner's ready."
* * * * *
In her room, Heather found herself still surprised by the female image reflected back at her from the mirror. Shock hadn't given her much time this morning to really look at herself and now, she decided, was as good a time as any to do a little inventory.
As she undressed, she carefully laid her clothes out on her bed. Wearing just her bra and panties, she slowly turned back towards the mirror. If she'd been surprised and somewhat shocked this morning, she was totally flabbergasted now. Her body appeared to be nicely curved in all the right places needing to be nicely curved, although she couldn't help thinking she might be a little overweight. And her average-sized boobs looked a little bigger than they had this morning.
"Damn." she muttered to herself striking a sexy pose in front of the mirror, while, at the same time, wondering why she did. "It's a good thing that potion didn't make me beautiful, or I'd fighting off all the boys at school, instead of just having Keith chasing after me."
Then she cupped a breast and sighed. "I'm sure glad these aren't any bigger, or all the girls would hate and envy me, just like they did poor Bonnie before _her_ change. But it would be really nice," as she ran a hand through her stringy hair, "if this had a little more body to it."
She slid into a pair of shorts, but they felt tight about her waist. Suddenly she was glad her mom hadn't let her eat that candy bar. She must be getting fat. And it must have been obvious to her mom, who had reminded her where all the fat and sugar in it would eventually wind up, that she was getting fat. But good old mom could never tell her things like that straight out, because mom never wanted to hurt her feelings.
A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts.
"Honey, your father's home and dinner's ready."
"I'll be right down, mom." replied Heather. But as she heard her mother go down the stairs, she muttered to herself, "What am I doing? And what the hell was I thinking? I'm not fat, I'm downright skinny."
She slipped her baggy, short-sleeved sweatshirt over her head. Then she turned to check her reflection one last time. "That's better." she sighed. "At least I almost look like a boy again."
But _almost_ echoed through her mind as she bounded down the stairs, still wondering from what corner of her mind those girlish thoughts had originated.
"Almost?" echoed through her mind again.
And in her mind's eye she saw the last image of herself as reflected from the mirror. Those smooth girlish legs. That tight little ass. Those nicely shaped curves, even with that overweight tummy. And lastly, those perky tits that pushed out the front of her sweat shirt.
"Almost?" reverberated the thought again, this time tinged with laughter.
"Well, maybe not." she thought. "But right now, I'd settle for that damn old man finding a way to reverse that stupid potion of his. A week? Shit! I only hope, I _can_ survive that long."
* * * * *
Dinner did not turn out to be a repeat performance of the sickening sweet scenario that breakfast had been in the morning. But it was still bad enough. Although she still received plenty of compliments and praise from her parents, at least, she remembered doing these notable and praiseworthy things. It wasn't like breakfast, when she'd been praised for the silliest of little things, many of them completely unknown to her. Maybe things were starting to balance out with them. Hopefully, within a few days, they'd be acting, more or less, like her normal parents again.
When dinner ended, Heather cleared the dishes from the table, then loaded them into the dishwasher.
"Heather, after you start the washer," called her mother from the den, "Come out here. Your father and I have a surprise for you."
I wonder what kind of surprise, thought Heather. As she entered the den, her father was putting a tape in the VCR.
"I stopped at the video store on my way home, princess." smiled her father. "To celebrate your first day at Aggie Tech, I rented that movie you've been dying to see."
Heather didn't remember any movie she'd been dying to see. A football movie would be nice. But, no, that didn't seem overly likely. Maybe, one of those new horror or science fiction flicks. That would be a great way to spend the evening.
And then her father started the VCR.
"Oh no." thought Heather, as the opening credits began to roll. "It's one of those silly tearjerker movies. Whatever made daddy think I'd want to watch this stupid fluff. I wonder if there's any way, I can get out of watching this crap." But aloud, she could only sigh.
"Your father and I just knew you'd love this movie, Heather." replied her mother in response to her daughter's sigh.
And for the next hour and fifty-three and a half minutes, Heather sat entranced, sometimes teary-eyed, as she watched what she now felt had to be the greatest movie she had ever seen in her entire life.
Sometime during the movie, totally unnoticed by the spellbound Heather, her parents had fallen asleep. As the closing credits rolled, she left her sleeping parents undisturbed on the couch, and went upstairs to bed.
* * * * *
In the morning, Heather woke once again to the music from her clock radio. Unlike yesterday, she was quickly out of bed and dressed in her jeans and a cotton blouse.
The jeans would be alright today, but she knew that tomorrow, unless she could buy a few more pair of pants after school, she'd have to wear a dress. And she was totally unready to do that. Besides there were only six more days until she went to reclaim her normal self again. She hoped.
Breakfast passed without incident. In fact, it was more normal than dinner had been. Heather loved the quietness at the table, but down deep, she wondered if her parents were mad at her for leaving them asleep on the couch last night.
The doorbell rang.
"I'll get it." said Heather. "It's probably Sarah." She went to the door and opened it. "Morning, Sarah."
"You ready to go?"
"Just about." She turned back towards the table. "Mom, Dad. This is my friend Sarah Daniels. Sarah, this is my mom and dad."
"Its nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer."
"And its our pleasure to meet you, Sarah." replied Mrs. Sawyer. "Would you like to stay for supper tonight?"
"I'll have to ask my mom. I'll call her before we leave the school this afternoon and ask her if its alright. Then Heather can call you and let you know."
"Shouldn't the two of you be headed for school?" questioned Mr. Sawyer. "We wouldn't want either of you to be late."
"Its not that long a walk, Mr. Sawyer." replied Sarah. "But maybe we'd better going, Heather." Turning to Heather, she smiled. "We should make it to school with plenty of time to spare."
* * * * *
They hadn't gone far, when their girl talk, interlaced with giggling, turned to a decidedly more serious topic. Boys.
"Have you decided if you're going to let Keith take you to the dance?" asked Sarah hesitantly.
"Not you too. Its bad enough having Keith ask me every time I turn around. Is there something in this for you, I don't know about?"
"No, not really. I just think the two of you would make a really hot couple." replied Sarah. "Besides, if you were dating Keith, then maybe you could have him put in a good word for me with his friend Tony Madison."
"Aha." giggled Heather. "The truth comes out."
Sarah blushed. "But my mom would have a shit fit if she knew I was even remotely interested in Tony. She doesn't like him."
"Well, for starters, up until last year he used to be really close friends with Marty Nichols."
"Definitely a big strike against him there."
"But he's not really that bad. Marty is just this incredibly bad influence on him. And anyway, the sexual harassment scandal the two of them were caught up in last year was all Marty's fault. You've met Marty. And if you'll excuse my saying so, you've had a first hand introduction to how _he_ is."
"Please don't remind me."
"And Tony didn't get into any trouble, but a lot of people think that was more related to his Chalker Cup participation then his guilt or innocence. And besides, he refuses to speak to Marty anymore."
"I don't know. He seems like trouble to me. Why do you want to go out with him anyway."
Sarah blushed even brighter than before. "Because he's a senior ..." Blushing still brighter she quietly added, "And because he's such a hunk."
Heather looked at her friend for a moment, then started to giggle. It wasn't long before Sarah joined in.
As they neared the front of the school, there was Keith, trying to collect signatures on his dress code petition. With him was a guy she didn't recognize and, together, the two of them were trying to convince this pretty blonde and her boyfriend to sign the paper. Heather had no idea who the girl was, but the boy looked strangely familiar.
"Who are those people talking to Keith?" asked Heather.
"The red-haired boy is Tony Madison. Don't you think he's a hunk? I told you he was a hunk." replied Sarah. "The other guy is another one of the football players, Wally Treadwell."
"Wally Treadwell. No wonder he looked so familiar." thought Heather as his name jarred her memory and she now recognized him as the brother of Jack Treadwell. "I wonder how many siblings of Hank's football cronies I'm going to cross paths with while I'm stuck here as a student."
"And the girl is Christy Brickell. Yesterday, the word was that she and Wally were history, but it sure looks as if they've made up since then. But I doubt this reconciliation will last very long, unless she's learned to control her jealousy. She's such a spoiled little snot."
As they drew closer, they could hear Keith tell them "It's going to be another hot day. Help us by signing the petition to change the dress code, so we guys can be comfortable too. Its only fair."
As Sarah and Heather joined the little group, Christy and Wally had just returned the petition to Keith after signing it. When Keith spied Heather, he asked the inevitable question. "Have you decided to go to the dance with me yet, Heather?"
"Not yet, Keith. I'll let you know." But as she answered, she suddenly felt uncomfortable as she intuitively felt both Wally and Tony staring at her. And to worsen matters, Christy had also sensed them staring at Heather and started thinking of her as competition. Heather shuddered, as if actually feeling the daggers from Christy's icy stare.
"This is Heather Sawyer. She's new." said Keith. "And these guys are Wally, Tony, and Christy. And, of course, you all know Sarah."
"Hi, Tony." gushed Sarah.
"I'll be gathering signatures all day so I probably won't see much of you today, Heather. I'm hoping to have over a hundred signatures when Tony and I go to see Mr. Thompkins tomorrow morning. Hopefully, the petition will force him to act immediately."
"What if he won't see you tomorrow?" asked Sarah.
"Don't worry, he'll see us." grinned Keith.
"Well, good luck, Keith." said Heather feeling very relieved after hearing him say he'd be too busy to see her. If he were busy collecting signatures all day, then chances were good he wouldn't be pestering her for the rest of the day. "We'd better head for class, Sarah. We don't want to be late. See you all later."
And as Heather and Sarah walked off towards their class, four sets of eyes, not all of them friendly, followed their every move.
* * * * *
To Heather the time spent in class on her second day was remarkably similar to her first day. In fact, it was so similar she found herself thinking of it as a video replay. But the similarities between her first two days at Aggie Tech ended abruptly once she was outside the class room. Everything had been totally different. And absolutely nothing had been remotely close to what she'd expected.
From what Keith had told her the day before, she hadn't expected to see him all day, which meant a quiet day without his incessant repetition of the question she found so infuriating. But even though he had kept himself busy collecting signatures for his petition, he'd still found and surprised her six times during the day. She couldn't believe he wasn't getting tired of asking her to the dance, especially since she was trying so hard to put him off.
And during the day, a few other annoying boy problems had surfaced.
Not only had Tony Madison and Wally Treadwell asked to take her to the dance, but at least a dozen other boys, whose names she either didn't know or didn't remember, had wanted her to go with them. What did all these boys want? Why did all of them have to ask her anyway? Maybe, she reasoned, it was just a case of being the new girl in school. Maybe they thought her something of a novelty or, even worse, some kind of challenge. Maybe if there were some newer female students, there would be fewer boys hitting on her. But that didn't seem very likely.
She had been totally surprised when Wally had asked. After all, he had a girlfriend, didn't he? And a very jealous bitch, as she remembered from their previous meeting. Wally had told her they'd broken up again, just as Sarah had predicted they would. But how much of what he said was just a line. And she'd been really happy that Christy had been in class - and far away - at the time. Otherwise, Christy might have stuck a real dagger in her back.
What could she say to Sarah? How could she tell her that this hunk she quite obviously had the hots for, had come on to her? Not once, but twice. She'd emphatically told him _no_ the first time, but then he had come back later and asked her again. Didn't Tony know what _no_ meant?
And she couldn't help wondering if Keith had any idea of what his _friends_ were doing behind his back?
The only bright spot in the day had been lunch. First, Sarah called her mom to ask about having dinner at the Sawyer's. After being told it was alright, Heather called her mother's office and left a message on her machine. Then they'd sat with a group of Sarah's friends to eat.
After a while, the group's chit chat had centered on the school's new history teacher, Mr. Walker. With the exception of Heather, who couldn't have cared less, all the girls thought he was a hunk. Some of them giggled as they spoke of their fantasies of being older and becoming his paramour. Others giggled as they fantasized him becoming the handsome young man of their dreams.
But, Heather didn't care about Mr. Walker's alleged hunk-hood. Being with these girls had let her escape for a while from all the unwanted attentions being paid her by all those crazy boys. By the time lunch ended, all of Sarah's friends considered Heather one of their crowd.
Finally the school day ended, much to Heather's relief. While she and Sarah were leaving the schoolyard, they ran into Keith. As usual, he asked her out and, just as usual, she gave him her standard reply. From his calm demeanor, it was obvious to her, that Keith was completely unaware that either of his friends were coming on to her. And, after he'd spent all day collecting over a hundred signatures, she wasn't about to spoil his good mood. But after all the weirdness she'd been through today, Heather was startled by this odd feeling of concern for Keith. But that wasn't her only startling thought of the moment - there was the sudden realization of this budding attraction she felt towards Keith. She couldn't believe it. Just when had that happened? And just what in hell was wrong with all those other boys?
* * * * *
Heather and Sarah walked quietly towards the Sawyer's house after leaving Keith waiting for his mother in front of the school. Heather was frightened by her sudden feeling of attraction for Keith. She didn't know from where those feelings had sprung, nor did she know what they meant. And might it cause some problem in cancelling out the effects of the potion?
"Do you want to stop by the mall?" asked Heather breaking the silence between them in an attempt to take her thoughts away from both Keith and what she felt.
"I need to buy some new jeans so I'll have something to wear to school tomorrow."
"Oh, really? C'mon, Heather." replied Sarah. "Somehow I think you're really more interested in finding that extra special dress that will literally knock Keith's socks off when he takes you to the dance next week."
"What? I haven't ..."
"Sure you have. It's just that you and Keith don't know it yet. But you can't fool me. You're going to say 'yes' eventually, because 'I like Keith' is written all over your face."
"Don't worry. Keith doesn't know ... he doesn't even suspect. And he probably won't suspect a thing until you actually tell him 'yes' one of those times he asks. He's a boy, Heather. Boys don't notice things like we do. I bet, if he had a snake crawling all over his body, he wouldn't even notice it. That is, unless the snake decided to take a bite out of his ass."
"Sa...rah!" exclaimed Heather.
But the thought made both girls giggle.
* * * * *
They entered the mall through the same entrance used by Heather the day before, but she never noticed that the old man's shop was missing. Fortunately, it created no problem at that particular moment. Since Heather wasn't looking for the shop or its old proprietor, she'd been totally oblivious that Spells 'R Us was no where to been seen. For at that exact moment, the old man and his shop were some place else.
Instead, the girls were more interested in looking through shop windows at clothes. But even though they'd gone inside some of the stores for a closer look, Heather wasn't about to buy any dresses despite fretting about her growing interest in them.
"You know, Heather." said Sarah as they stood outside one of the stores peering in at the lacy and frilly party dresses. "If you wore a dress to school every now and and again, you'd drive all of the guys up the wall."
"That's all I need, Sarah. I've got more than enough guys hanging around and asking me out when I just wear jeans to school. Wearing a dress won't make it any easier to survive all the attention I'm getting now from all those guys."
"Don't worry about any of that. Once you tell Keith you'll be his date for the dance, then none of the other guys will continue bothering you. They'll just disappear."
But while the girls, each with her own thoughts and fantasies, continued their windowshopping, in the end, only one store managed to sell them anything. And it was only pairs of blue denim jeans, not a dress or two, that were bought.
* * * * *
When the girls arrived at the Sawyer's house, Heather's mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Strangely, Heather could only remember her mother fixing dinner one other time - that was yesterday. In the past, she had always been too busy and preoccupied with her job to prepare meals. And Heather could never recall ever having had any friends over at a meal time before.
"Dinner will be ready in a few minutes." said her mom. Then, spotting the bag in her daughter's arms, she adds, "I see you girls have been to the mall today. More new clothes? Why don't you take them up to your room and put them away."
"Sure thing, mom." agreed Heather. "C'mon Sarah, I'll show you my room."
Heather led Sarah up the stairs to her room. "It's nothing really special." she told Sarah once they were inside. She removed her new jeans from the bag and laid them carefully on her bed. "Would you get me a couple of empty hangers, Sarah? There should be some in my closet. I'll hang a couple of pair up and leave the last pair on the chair. Then I can wear them to school tomorrow."
"Sure thing, Heather." But as she opened the closet, she was amazed. "Damn, Heather. It's no wonder you aren't worried about buying any new dresses for the dance. You've already got a wardrobe that would make Keith, and probably every other boy in school, stand up and take serious notice of you."
"And you wonder why I don't wear dresses to school?" replied Heather, knowing full well that it wasn't the real reason.
"But they're all so pretty. You should wear one of them to school tomorrow instead of your jeans. I think it would blow Keith away to see you wearing any one of these. Don't you think so?"
"Excuse me, girls." interrupted Heather's mother. "Dinner is ready." But after noticing a questioning expression on Sarah's face, she added, "Is there something wrong, Sarah?"
"Not at all Mrs. Sawyer. I was just telling Heather that she should wear one of these really beautiful dresses to school tomorrow. I think she'd drive the guys crazy with lust."
"Sa...rah!" exclaimed Heather.
"Oh my. I don't know if I want some boy lusting after my little girl." stated her mother. "But I do wish she'd wear dresses to school instead of those pants she's always wearing. It so much more lady-like. Don't you both agree?"
"I certainly do, Mrs. Sawyer."
"If you say so, mother."
* * * * *
The conversation about the dinner table centered on Sarah much to Heather's delight. For tonight, she received neither compliments nor praise from her parents and was greatly relieved. Being ignored was like being in heaven for Heather. Things were returning to normal.
"What are going to do with your life, Sarah?" asked Mrs. Sawyer.
"I want to be a teacher." replied Sarah.
"Not much money in that." grumbled Mr. Sawyer.
"Does everything have to revolve about money, dear?" asked his wife. "Teaching is an honorable, even if severely underpaid, profession. Wouldn't it be great if Heather became a teacher too? Then she and Sarah could work together at molding young people's minds."
"But I haven't decided what I want to do." blurted Heather. "Maybe I wouldn't like being a teacher."
"Whatever you want to do will be alright with your father and me. If you'd rather just get married and have your own family, that's alright too. Wouldn't it be nice to have grandchildren, dear?"
But that was a question for which he had no immediate answer. So he did what came naturally when a topic surfaced he didn't want to discuss. He changed the subject.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters, Sarah?" asked Mr. Sawyer.
"I have an older brother, Tom. He's in college."
"What's he studying?" asked Mrs. Sawyer.
"I don't think he really studies anything there." laughed Sarah. "Except for the girls, especially the cheerleaders, of course. But then, they're all chasing after him because he's the quarterback of the football team."
"He plays football?" asked Mr. Sawyer.
"Yes." beamed Sarah.
"How awful!" exclaimed Mrs. Sawyer. "Football is such a brutish sport. Don't your parents worry about him getting hurt?"
Heather winced. Some things about her parents hadn't changed.
"No, not now. I think they used to worry about him. But they came to understand that Tom's doing what he's wanted to do since he was a little boy. And he's very happy doing it."
"Mrs. Sawyer and I have _never_ cared for football. It's a rough and violent game played by brainless Neanderthals, who can't do anything else ..."
Where have I heard this before, thought Heather.
"... except enjoy being chased by equally brainless bimbo cheerleader sluts. Mrs. Sawyer and I have never thought much of _that_ kind of girl, one that shamelessly shows off her body in front of a crowd just to attract certain types of boys. We've never considered them as anything other than whores. We're extremely glad that Heather is far too intelligent to ever consider being one of _them_."
"And we're so glad we have such a wonderful daughter in Heather." added Mrs. Sawyer. "I believe it would have far more upsetting than even we can possibly imagine to have had a violent and brutal son. I can't imagine being the mother of someone who actually wanted to play that game risking injury or hurting other people."
"I'm finished with my dinner." said Heather abruptly. "Can I go up to my room now?"
"Of course, dear." echoed both of her parents.
"I'm finished too." said Sarah. "Can I be excused?"
"Certainly." responded the Sawyers.
"Such a nice girl." mused Mrs. Sawyer.
"But its a shame about her brother." replied her husband.
Suddenly things had become almost normal again. Neither of them had noticed the welling tears in their daughter's eyes as she fled hastily up the stairs, a bewildered Sarah following closely behind.
* * * * *
"Are you okay?" asked Sarah.
"I guess so." sniffed Heather.
Sarah shut the door to isolate Heather's room from the rest of reality. "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, Heather, but your parents are major league weird."
"I know. They've always been that way. I don't why."
"Any idea what their problem is with football and football players?"
"Not really. But you left out the cheerleaders. And I think my mom was actually a cheerleader in college."
"Geez. Maybe your dad almost lost your cheerleader mom to some dreamy handsome football hunk. That would explain your dad, but it won't explain your mom's attitude - unless something happened she doesn't want to remember."
"I never thought about that."
"But it could be even simpler. Maybe, when he was a kid, there was some bully who didn't like his attitude or something. Maybe this bully decided to show your dad how he felt by taking a football and shoving it up his ass."
Heather looked up at Sarah's smiling face. She couldn't help but smile in return. "Do you think we could find him and possibly talk him into doing it again?"
Smiles broadened, just before their girlish giggling began.
There was a knock on the door.
"Sarah. Your parents are here." said Mrs. Sawyer.
"Okay. I'll be right down." She turned towards Heather. "Are you sure you're going to be alright?"
"I will be, now. Thanks, Sarah."
The girls hugged each other.
"I'll see you in the morning, Sarah."
Turning back, Sarah smiled at her friend. "And would you think about wearing one of those dresses tomorrow."
But before Heather could reply, she was alone in her room.
Me, wear a dress to school, she thought. Not very likely.
But her closet door was still open and needed to be closed.
As she neared the closet, she heard a noise inside. It sounded like hundreds of tiny voices, all whispering "Please, wear me, Heather."
"But which one of you?" whispered Heather in response.
"Wait. What am I thinking? There's no way I'm wearing a dress to school. Not tomorrow, not ever. What the hell is that potion trying to do to me now?"
Then she looked into the mirror. She watched as her image mouthed her thoughts. "I think I could use some makeup."
Something was changing again. She had no understanding of how or why. Suddenly she felt exhausted. Within the passage of a few minutes, she had undressed and collapsed onto her bed.
Moments later, she had fallen into a deep sleep.
* * * * *
The following morning Heather once again stood in front of the mirror. She glared at her reflection in total disbelief. Not because she was a girl. She'd almost come to grips with that, even as she hoped her current female state wasn't permanent.
It was the dress that caused her consternation.
The one she was wearing, even though just last night she'd sworn she'd never wear one to school. And yet, here she was wearing one, while the jeans she'd planned on wearing still sat in the chair she'd put them on last night. But in all fairness, her expert application of the makeup to her face hadn't exactly helped her temperament either.
Sarah was right about the dress, thought Heather. The guys are going to love this. But how was _she_ able to _affect_ the spell's matrix. I thought the old man had said only I and my parents...
"Holy shit!" exclaimed Heather. "This is mom's fault. When she and Sarah were talking about how I should wear dresses to school, mom actually _wished_ it. And then she wanted me to be more lady-like. And this morning, its all true. I'm wearing a dress and makeup. I've become more feminine. Shit, there won't be anything left of Hank by the end of the week if this keeps up."
* * * * *
As she ate breakfast, all was quiet. There are no compliments, no praises, from her parents. Everything about them had become what it had been when she was Hank. The heavens had apparently returned to revolving about them again.
But, after last night, she hadn't anticipated anything special from them this morning. And she'd been right. Whatever remnants of it, however small, still flowed through her body, there had been enough potion for her mother to affect more changes in the spell's matrix. Her mother had been the catalyst to this new change.
Heather was decidedly more feminine. Like all of the other times, she knew she'd been changed. But now, with evidence that the potion was still active, she had become anxious and very worried.
How long would it be before her mom made some wish that changed _her_ memories as well as theirs?
How long would it be before she was, _and had always been_, their one and only loving daughter?
How long would it be before she was _exactly_ like them?
That last thought made her shudder. There had to be something she could do. Maybe a visit to the old man after school was in order. Could he have found out something so soon. Or maybe, that scale ...
The doorbell rang snapping her train of thought.
"I'll get it." she announced.
"Fine, dear." mumbled her parents.
"It's Sarah." she called back after opening the door. "We're leaving now. I'll see you after school."
"Yes, dear." mumbled her parents, not realizing that Heather had already left.
* * * * *
"Is that dress new? I've never seen you wear it before." asked Sarah on their way to school.
"No. I've had it a while, just never worn it." replied Heather, as she realized that Sarah's memories had changed. There had been no 'I told you so' from her friend. She wondered what else had changed while she'd slept.
"I can't wait to see Keith's face, when he sees you..."
At least some things haven't changed.
"... I only hope you haven't waited too long to tell him 'yes.'"
Or have they?
* * * * *
When they arrived at the school, there were no students milling about the area in front of the gate. Keith was no where to be seen.
How odd, thought Heather.
"I wonder where Keith is." said Sarah echoing Heather's own thoughts.
"It must have something to do with his petition. Didn't he say that he and Tony were going to see Mr. Thompkins this morning?"
"That's what he said yesterday. But you don't normally get in to see Mr. Thompkins unless you have an appointment. Of course, they could do something that would get them _sent_ to his office."
"You don't think they'd do anything stupid, do you?" asked Heather.
"I really don't know. We'll have to wait and see."
Fortunately, Heather and Sarah didn't have to wait very long, even if their first class had seemingly dragged on forever, at least it seemed that way to Heather. As they were leaving class, they noticed a large crowd of students milling about the hall. At its center were Keith and Tony.
"It looks like they've planned something stupid." said Sarah.
Both were in violation of the current dress code as it applied to boys. Keith was wearing a T-shirt and a baggy pair of boxer shorts. Over a pair of spandex jogging shorts, Tony wore his gym trunks and his old football jersey.
"I hope you guys know what you're doing." said Heather after she and Sarah had finally reached Keith at the center of the crowd. "You could get in a lot of trouble."
"Don't worry, Heather. Tony and I dressed this way to make our point clear, nothing more. Yesterday, we made an appointment with Ms. Cabot to see Mr. Thompkins during our snack break. We're gonna be fine, Heather. There won't be in any trouble, wait and see. By the way, I hope you'll come join our little victory celebration outside his office."
"I'll be there, Keith. I wouldn't miss it for anything."
"I've gotta run, Heather. I'll see later you at the celebration." replied Keith.
Wait a minute, thought Heather, there's something wrong about all this. And it hadn't taken long to realize exactly what it was. For the first time since she'd met him, Keith hadn't asked her to be his date for the dance. And now that she'd thought about it, neither had any of the other boys that had bothered her yesterday.
Suddenly something her mother had said last night began to echo in her mind. "I don't know if I want some boy lusting after my little girl." Dammit mother, she thought, why can't you just leave me alone.
Impossibly, Heather's second class seemed longer than the first. How was it possible that anything could take longer than forever. And as the bell rang signaling the end of class, she was the first out the classroom door.
She was also the first person to reach Mr. Thompkins office. But it took little time for the crowd to start gathering. Soon after, Sarah stood next to her. Also joining them was Wally Treadwell minus his snotty girl friend. The crowd continued growing until just before Keith and Tony arrived. The crowd cheered wildly, as the boys made their way to the principal's office like conquering heroes.
As the boys passed, Heather caught Keith's attention for just a moment.
He smiled at her.
"Good luck." she said, not knowing if he'd heard her over the din of the surrounding crowd.
She and everyone else watched as they entered the lion's den.
They watched the door close behind them.
They joked and laughed.
But after several minutes, they all went eerily silent.
Then inexplicably, the crowd began to thin. What was wrong with these people who'd come to cheer their heroes of the dress code war? Why were they leaving? Didn't they care what Keith and Tony were doing for them?
And then, in the blinking of an eye, the crowd had totally dispersed. They were all gone. All save Heather, Sarah, and Wally.
"I think they're going to need to see friendly faces when they come out." said Heather quietly.
Sarah turned and gave her friend a funny look, as if to say "Who?" or possibly "Why?"
But before she could respond, the outer door to the principal's office opened.
Out stepped ... not Keith and Tony ... but two girls.
One of them had red hair, the same color as Tony's. She was obviously a cheerleader from the outfit she wore. It fit her like a glove, a very tight glove.
The other girl had waist-length bleached blonde hair and a dynamite figure that would make grown men, not to mention all these high school boys, drool with obvious lust. She wore an extremely short black leather skirt that accented her pert little ass. And that black form-fitting tank top seemed to make her already ponderous breasts appear even larger.
Keith and Tony were nowhere to be seen. Where were they? Why weren't they, instead of those girls, with Mr. Thompkins? Had something happened to them? But Heather was sorely afraid she already knew the answers to those questions.
"Hey Kayla." said Wally. "You're looking really hot today."
"Oh, thank you Wally." cooed the bleached blonde.
"Kayla ... Would you let me take you the dance next week?" asked Wally.
"Of course, sugar. If that's what you'd really like to do, then its alright with me. Do you think you can find someone to take Tawny? I wouldn't want her to miss out on all the fun."
"That shouldn't be a problem, Kayla. I have a ton of friends who would love nothing better than getting the chance to know Tawny better." smiled Wally lustfully.
But if either Kayla or Tawny saw the meaning behind his smile, neither said anything. And all Sarah and Heather could do was watch as Wally, sandwiched between Kayla and Tawny walked away arm-in-arm-in-arm.
Boys, thought Heather, still a little confused about this new reality.
"Dammit, Heather!" exclaimed Sarah. "I told you not to wait so long. You should have told Wally 'yes' the first time you saw him this morning. Now you've lost him to Kayla Helms of all people."
Kayla Helms? There was the confirmation of her darkest suspicion. Helms had been Keith's last name. "And I suppose the other girl's name is Tawny Madison."
"Of course it is." replied Sarah. "Really Heather, you know those sluts as well as I do. I'll talk to you later. Right now, I need to take a walk so I can cool off."
Heather watched Sarah storm away. Things had certainly changed again. Only this time, it wasn't her mother responsible for the changes, it was all the fault of that magical scale in Mr. Thompkins' office.
She was absolutely amazed that the scale could take two perfectly normal and healthy young boys named Keith Helms and Tony Madison and, in only a few minutes, remake them into two perfectly normal and quite obviously more than healthy young girls named Kayla Helms and Tawny Madison.
And, just as had happened earlier with Bonnie Burke, nobody, except her, and presumably the old man in the mall, remembered that either boy had ever existed. This had to stop. There were just too many memories building up inside her from far more realities than anyone should have to endure.
But then, thought Heather reflecting on her current situation, who's to say what's possible or impossible if this scale could transform Keith into Kayla and Tony into Tawny. After all, the potion had formed her from Hank. Wasn't it possible that the scale could change her back into Hank? It had already bent genders once. It seemed a logical conclusion that it could bend them again. However, the old man had warned her about mixing different types of magic. Would the risk be worth it? But wouldn't it be fun to see the expression on his face when it was Hank, instead of Heather, returning to his shop to check his progress on reversing the potion's effects.
Right then, she made her decision. Whether or not it was right or wrong she couldn't know. And whatever happened, for better or worse, would be what happened. For tonight, after school, she would step upon the scale and let it work its magic on her.
* * * * *
The remainder of the school day dragged on interminably for Heather. She had begun to wonder if the day would ever end, when, finally, the bell sounded ending classes for the day.
She was supposed to meet Sarah after school. Hopefully, she'd leave when Heather didn't show up. She'd probably be mad at her, but it wouldn't make any difference after she'd used the scale.
Heather settled into position with a clear view of Principal Thompkins' office. She wanted no interference from either him or his secretary when she broke in to use his magical scale. She didn't want any trouble, and didn't expect to have any. It should hopefully be a simple 'in as Heather, out as Hank' operation.
As she watched, Jane Cabot left through the outer office door. After walking to her car, she drove away. One gone, one to go. Now, just how long would Mr. Thompkins stay? Not that it really mattered. She was prepared to stay all night, if it were necessary.
But thankfully it wasn't necessary. After waiting about fifteen minutes, Principal Thompkins also left his office. And it didn't take him very long before he was on the highway headed for home.
It's time, thought Heather. It won't be long now.
But as she started towards the principal's office, a familiar girl's voice called out from behind her.
"There you are, Heather." exclaimed Sarah. "I've been looking all over for you. Did you forget we were walking home together?"
"Not at all, Sarah. I was just on my way to see Mr. Thompkins."
"But he just left. I saw him drive away."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course, I am. And you couldn't have missed seeing him drive away either." replied Sarah. "What are you trying to hide?"
"Nothing." replied Heather unconvincingly
"C'mon Heather. You can't fool me. You're up to something."
Shit, thought Heather. How much can I tell her? She won't believe any of it. Will she turn me in? But then if I get inside and use the scale she won't remember anything I've told her. I'll try telling her the truth - at least part of it.
"I'm not sure you're going to believe me."
"I have to get into Mr. Thompkins' office to use his scale."
"What scale? Why?" puzzled Sarah.
"Its magical. It changes people."
"There's no such thing as magic or magical scales that change people, Heather. Whatever made you believe that Mr. Thompkins has something like that in his office?"
"Do you remember Bonnie Burke? Or Clyde Smith?"
"Bonnie is a spoiled little brat. Always has been, always will be. We saw her in Mr. Thompkins office a couple of days ago." replied Sarah. "I've never heard of anybody named Clyde Smith."
"Bonnie used to be our age and Clyde was her boyfriend before the scale changed them."
"You certainly have a good imagination. Anybody else been changed I should be aware of?"
"How about Keith Helms and Tony Madison?"
"Nope. I've never heard of either of them. Are they related to Kayla Helms and Tawny Madison?"
"You could say that. Kayla used to be Keith, Tawny used to be Tony."
"Now that's really unbelievable. Have you ever seen those two sluts naked. We had gym class together last semester and believe me, Heather, those two could never have been boys - not then, not a day or two ago, not ever."
"I told you, you wouldn't believe me."
"Would believe a story like that?"
"Probably not. Its not very believable." sighed Heather. "But it is true."
"So you say."
"That's it." said Heather. "Now what? Are you going to turn me in?"
"Why? You haven't done anything." answered Sarah. "But maybe, just to keep you out trouble, I should check out this _magical_ scale of yours."
"What are you talking about?"
"Simple. I'll break into Mr. Thompkins office with you. Then if either of gets into any trouble, we'll both get into trouble. Besides, it'll be the easiest way for me to prove to you just how ridiculous and downright silly some of those ideas running around in that head of yours really are?"
Heather tried to turn the knob to Mr. Thompkins outer office door. Surprisingly, it turned freely and the door opened. Theodore Thompkins, principal of Aggie Tech, didn't believe using in locks. He was an honest man and expected honesty from everyone in return. If the custodians failed to lock the door after cleaning up, then the door remained unlocked overnight. Someday, failing to lock his door would probably lead to his undoing.
Quickly, the two girls passed through the outer office and entered the principal's office. Sarah flipped on the lights, as both girls, neither of whom had ever been the inside this room before, hurriedly began looking around the room.
"That must be it, Sarah." said Heather pointing at the scale that stood against the wall.
The scale looked very old. Very likely it was an antique. And more than likely, it must have been very expensive. Both girls wondered how Mr. Thompkins could possibly afford to keep something this extravagant in his office. This just wasn't an item you'd ever expect to find in an unlocked, or even a locked, principal's office.
"So how does it work?" queried Sarah.
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know? Didn't you tell me earlier that you saw this scale changing people."
"Well ... I didn't actually see it change anybody. It was just a logical implication I deduced from all the available evidence."
"You mean, evidence like all those people you saw go _in_ to see Mr. Thompkins only to come _out_ as someone else? Are you telling me, we broke in here because of something you implied, but never saw? You're really starting to freak me out Heather."
Exasperated, Heather tried to determine how best to proceed. After a moments thought, "It's a fortune telling scale, Sarah. Maybe we have to weigh ourselves and make a wish." She didn't know if this would work, but somehow she had to stall Sarah until she thought of something better to try. After all, it wasn't really possible that Keith had actually wished to be Kayla. Was it?
"Then why don't you get on the scale, weigh yourself, and make a wish. Then we can get out of here."
"Okay." sighed Heather. She stepped on the scale and stated "I wish to be a grownup again." After pressing the button, the scale rumbled briefly before dispensing a small card, on which, she supposed, was typed her fortune.
It read "With passing time every child becomes a grownup."
But aside from that, nothing else happened. Heather was extremely disappointed.
Why didn't it work?
Did she do something wrong?
And what was the meaning of her fortune?
"See, Heather, I told you there was no such thing as magic or magical scales." gloated Sarah. Then, in reaction to Heather's silence, Sarah stepped up on the scale. "Hey Heather, how about me giving you another demonstration before we leave. Scale - I wish to be an adult too - just like Heather wanted to be." She pushed the button, the scale rumbled briefly once again, and then, as it had for Heather, dispensed a small card with her fortune. Sarah laughed as she read aloud from the card.
"As you have wished, so shall it be."
As Heather watched transfixed, Sarah's form began to change. She grew taller and thinned slightly at the waist. Just as slightly her breasts enlarged. Her short light brown hair grew down to her shoulders, lightening to blonde as it did. She still looked like Sarah Daniels, only an older version. She wore makeup that hadn't been there mere minutes ago. And her clothes had become decidedly more adult and feminine, strongly accentuating her new womanly figure. Sarah was definitely not a teenager any longer.
But having watched in awe as Sarah aged and changed, Heather suddenly felt herself begin to change. Just like Sarah, her waist thinned and her breasts enlarged. The changes, although definitely noticeable, were nothing overly drastic, except in Heather's imagination. Her stringy brown shoulder-length hair grew longer, not stopping until it had flowed down to the middle of her back. The drag of its weight felt strange as she moved her head from side to side. And she was surprised to see its dark, nearly black, color as it tumbled across her face at her every turn. Even more surprising was the sight of her hands, as she reached up to sweep the ebony mass of hair away from her eyes. They were graceful hands with long slender fingers and long finely manicured nails painted red. Her cotton blouse was now silk. At the same time, she had felt her loosely fitting skirt crawl up her legs to finally stop mid-thigh. When she looked down, she saw the slender legs of a woman, definitely not those of a teenage girl.
Oh shit, she thought. What have we done?
"See. I told you so." said the woman who had been Sarah. "Now do you believe me when I tell you there is no such thing as magic, Hilary?"
I suppose I should have expected a new name thought Hilary nee Heather nee Hank. I wonder what Sarah's name is now in this new reality of ours.
But then, unexpectedly, the office door swung open.
And just as unexpectedly, at least to Hilary, in walked Mr. Thompkins.
What's he doing here, thought Hilary.
"Miss Daniels. Miss Sawyer." started Mr. Thompkins. "I'm so glad that both of you could make it here on such short notice. And I'm sure you're dying to know why I asked you to stop by my office after your last classes of the day."
What? thought Hilary. He didn't ask us to come by, we broke in. And we're obviously to old to be students here. But those were thoughts triggered from before their change. Now had become another reality.
"I actively encourage all of my new teachers to participate in as many of the school's after-school social activities as possible." continued Mr. Thompkins. "I find it promotes a meaningful interaction between the students and the faculty here at Aggie Tech. It teaches the students that, aside from being a little older, you. their teachers, are just like them. It helps both sides relate and understand the other side better.
"As both of you are no doubt aware, a school dance is scheduled for next Friday evening. I'd like both of you to attend as faculty chaperones."
I can't believe this, thought Hilary. After all I've been through today, there's still somebody asking me to go that damn dance.
"So what do you say? Can I count on you, Sabrina?"
That's a nice name, thought Hilary.
"Its alright with me." replied Sabrina nee Sarah. "It sounds like it might be a lot of fun."
"And how about you, Hilary?"
"I guess so. Sure, why not?"
"That's excellent." said Mr. Thompkins. "I'm certain you'll have a wonderful time. And if any questions should arise, please don't hesitate to stop by the office and ask me or Jane."
"We will, Mr. Thompkins." replied Sabrina.
"You can count on it." added Hilary.
As they exit from the office, Hilary was surprised to see Jane Cabot sitting behind her desk, since she still had memories of watching her drive away earlier. But from Sabrina's actions, it was readily apparent that the secretary had been at her desk since before the two young women entered the principal's office.
"Well." asked Jane. "Did Theodore's little speech convince you to chaperone next week's dance?"
Both young women nodded in assent.
"I thought it might. Do you think we have cause for a celebration? Are both of you up to a little shopping soiree at the mall?" asked Jane.
"You know, Jane. I think you're absolutely right." replied Hilary. "Right now, there's nothing I'd like better, then a trip to the mall. But before we leave, I'll need to visit the little girls' room."
"But don't take too long, Hilary. Jane and I will wait for you right here."
* * * * *
In what was becoming downright habitual, almost a daily occurrence, Hilary stared at her reflection in total disbelief.
That _average_ girl who had been Heather was gone. The young woman reflected by the mirror definitely wasn't _average_ any more. She did bear a striking, almost familial, resemblance to Heather, except her features seemed rounder, softer, more feminine. It was as if someone had airbrushed all the sharp angles leaving soft curves in their place. And Hilary's long dark hair had far more body to it then Heather could have imagined possible this morning. Simply by stepping on the scale, she had been transformed from the cute younger sister Heather to the very pretty older sister Hilary.
She thought of Sarah and her friends gossiping, just yesterday at lunch, about the new history teacher, Mr. Walker. Thoughts of them referring to him as a hunk flitted through her mind. But she was more disturbed by her recollections of sharing their deep dark and intimate fantasies involving him.
Were there now teenage boys having similar thoughts about her?
Would they think of her as some _babe_ or whatever was equivalent?
And would there also be boys with similar intimate fantasies involving her?
Her answering thoughts made her shudder.
But enough of that. Somehow, she needed to discover who she was.
Opening her purse, she took out and opened her wallet. Inside was a photograph of her and several other women in caps and gowns standing in front of some building. From the easily recognizable Greek letters on the building's facing wall, it was a obviously a sorority house. Out of all the faces, she recognized only one - Sabrina Daniels. They had obviously attended school together and graduated at the same time. Now they were teaching together at Aggie Tech.
But why had the scale transformed them into teachers?
Neither Heather nor Hank had ever wanted to be a teacher. But she could easily understand why Sarah had become one. The other night at dinner, she'd told Heather's mother of her desire to be a teacher.
And right after that, thought Heather, my mother had said it would be great if I became a teacher too. She'd also said how great it would be if Sarah and I taught at the same school.
No sooner had that thought crossed mind, when Hilary realized her mother had struck again. Hilary had been cast as a teacher in this reality because her mother had once again affected what she'd become as her reality swirled and changed about her.
"Damnation, mother." she silently swore. "Why can't you keep your butt out of my affairs for just once in your life."
Continuing to search through her wallet, she found several credit cards - Macys, Bloomingdales, and Robinsons-May among many more - along with the most important piece of identification she possessed, her driver's license. All of them were issued in the name of _Hilary Alexis Sawyer_.
Hilary stared at the license.
The picture on it was her - the young woman reflected by the mirror. She recognized her home address as an apartment complex, which, since she obviously no longer lived with her parents, made her extremely happy.
But did she live there alone?
She breathed a deep sigh of relief when she noticed the _X_ in the box marked _single_ under marital status.
Then finally, she saw her birthday.
Heather and Sarah had asked, perhaps wished, to be adults. And clearly the scale had granted them adulthood as it re-molded them into Hilary and Sabrina. But now she was twenty-five. The scale had aged her nine years. And she was now two years older than Hank had been less a week ago.
* * * * *
Still fuming about her age, Hilary exited the women's room paying scant, if any, attention to where she walking or even what she was doing. As a result, she ran into and nearly bowled over a young man as he'd been walking in the direction of Mr. Thompkins' office.
"Oh, I'm sorry." squealed Hilary, her face brightly colored. "I wasn't paying any attention. I didn't mean to run over you. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, beautiful." replied the young man. "I'm sure it was my all fault anyway."
Between the situation and the compliment, Hilary blushed redder. "But I ran into you. It was my fault."
"That's not possible." he replied. "Let me make it up to you. Would you allow me to buy you dinner after I speak with Mr. Thompkins."
"But I don't know you." replied Hilary. She knew it was a flimsy excuse, but it was the first one that had popped into her mind. She didn't want to date any man right now. She didn't feel she was ready, even though Heather had almost been ready to go out with Keith. But this would be different. It wouldn't be with a boy, it would be with a man.
"My name's Adam ... Adam Walker." he said.
"The new history teacher?" she guessed.
"Aha. So you do know me after all." he smiled. "Now it is _you_ that has _me_ at a disadvantage, lovely lady. You know my name, but I know not yours."
"Hilary." she said nervously extending her hand. "Hilary Sawyer."
"Pleased to meet you, Hilary Sawyer." Taking her extended hand in his, he raised it to his lips and gently kissed her hand. "So you're the new math teacher? You're not exactly what I expected in a teacher of mathematics. But isn't that typically the case, when we let some dumb nerdish stereotype influence our expectations over our better judgement."
"How true." sighed Hilary.
"Do we have a dinner date then?" he asked.
"I can't tonight. My friends and I are going shopping tonight." It was still a weak excuse, she knew. "I really couldn't disappoint them."
"I understand. How about tomorrow night?"
It was then that Hilary realized how like Keith, Adam really was. Just as Keith had pestered Heather to distraction, so would Adam ask, she reasoned, until he drove her crazy. It was amazing, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. After deciding that she just wasn't ready to date any men right now, she turned back toward Adam to tell him she couldn't go out to dinner with him tomorrow night.
She smiled at him. "I'd love to. Tomorrow night will just fine, Adam."
Even as they walked hand-in-hand to Mr. Thompkins' office, Hilary cursed herself for making this date. And with a man she'd just met, no less. Whatever had possessed her to do this? She'd been ready to tell him _no_. She wasn't ready to date men yet. She didn't think she'd ever be ready.
But _why_ had she accepted then?
And what would she do if he tried to kiss her?
But what would she do if he didn't try at all?
Both Sabrina and Jane were surprised to see Adam and Hilary enter the outer office together. Neither said anything, there was no need to say anything. But both gave Hilary that knowing little glance that had driven Hank crazy when girls had done it in his presence. But that now seemed like a long, long time ago.
"Go right on in, Adam." said Jane. "Theodore's expecting you."
"Thank you, Jane." Before entering the inner office, he turned back to Hilary. "I'll see you tomorrow night."
And once again, both Jane and Sabrina gave her that knowing little glance.
"So?" asked Sabrina curiously.
"What?" replied Hilary.
"What just happened between you and Adam?" asked Jane.
"Oh, that. Nothing much, really." replied Hilary. "When I came out of the bathroom, I sort of ran into him and almost knocked him down because I wasn't paying any attention to where I was going. We talked for a little bit. Then he asked me if I wanted to have dinner tomorrow night, and I said okay."
Sabrina and Jane could not believe what they'd just heard.
"Dammit, Hilary." swore Sabrina. "After all of the time the three of us have spent on unsuccessful plans and schemes to grab Adam Walker's attention, you accidentally knock him on his ass and he asks you to have dinner with him. Shit. Had I known last week that knocking him down would make him notice one of us, I would have laid him out on the floor myself."
* * * * *
"Which of us is driving?" asked Hilary as they reached the faculty parking lot.
"Very funny, Hilary. Either Jane or I will have to drive." answered Sabrina. "Or did you forget once again who drove this morning? Your car is in the carport at our apartment. You know, Hilary, sometimes you can be so absent-minded that its not even funny. But I can forgive you because you've been my best friend since we were little girls."
"Take your pick. Yours or mine makes no difference." said Jane. "After all, the sooner we get to the mall, the more time we'll have to shop."
"Can't argue with that." replied Sabrina. "Lets take my car - its closer."
And the quicker we get to the mall, thought Hilary, the longer I'll have to talk to that damn old man.
* * * * *
Arriving at the mall, Sabrina parked just outside the entrance that Hilary, as both Heather and Hank, had already used several times during the week.
"Go ahead and start shopping without me. I catch up to you later." said Hilary as they entered. "Right now, there's someone I must talk to."
Both Sabrina and Jane stared after Hilary as she strode purposely in the direction, at least to their perceptions, of the Sears store. Since neither of them had any knowledge of or an immediate need for the old man's shop, it quite simply didn't exist for them.
"Whatever could she want in Sears?" asked Jane.
"She said she wanted to talk to somebody." replied Sabrina. "I didn't know she even knew anybody who worked at Sears."
But it wasn't the Sears that was Hilary's destination. Instead, it was the small nearby shop tucked quietly away in one of the little crannies so common in the mall. How strange she thought as she neared the door of Spells 'R Us - but wasn't it on the other side of Sears last time?
But its location became totally irrelevant, as she opened the door to the tinkling sound of the little bell above it. Standing behind the counter was just the old man she had come to see.
"Greetings, Hilary." said the old man. "I wasn't expecting you tonight. That is, I wasn't until you ignored my warning about mixing magics. Then I knew you'd be here tonight, so I've kept the shop here and open just for you."
Hilary looked surprised, although she wondered why anything this old man did or said surprised her anymore. "Tell me." she asked. "Do you know everything that goes on around here?"
"Of things past, I do know quite a bit. Perhaps more than anyone else you're ever likely to meet, my dear young woman." he answered. "But _everything_? No. It's just not possible for anyone to know everything, even if I do manage to give that impression most of the time."
"Does your knowledge include the future?" asked Hilary.
"Whose future? Which future?" he replied. "At best, knowledge of what the future holds for any particular individual is a crap shoot, my dear. That's the best analogy I can imagine. You know, sometimes I'm totally and absolutely certain what the future holds for someone. But there are other times, when my gut feelings are totally wrong and nothing turns out the way I thought it would.
"For instance, I was certain that Hank would wind up a girl when I gave him that potion, but I didn't know she would be Heather, or anybody like her. I also knew that Heather would be transformed again, but none of the early signs indicated that she would become you, Hilary. Actually, I was expecting a gazelle. And none of those early signs implied your transformation would come this soon.
"Magic is not an exact science, Hilary. While some would argue that it isn't a science at all, many of us practitioners love it because of that very inexactness. Simply, just as in the rest of life, you take what you're given."
"Am I going to undergo another transformation?" she asked worriedly.
"Probably." he replied. "The signs are there."
"Will I become Hank again?"
"That, I don't know, right now." answered the old man. "And that particular problem has had its waters muddied once again. I heard from the wizard's council this afternoon. They sent me a potion which would have completely reversed the effects of the one I gave Hank, but ..."
"That's wonderful!" interrupted Hilary.
"Yes, it would have been." sighed the old man. "But once you were altered by the magic of the scale, the counter-potion they sent became useless. It's now a totally impotent glass of water."
"Oh." she replied with disappointment as tears began to trickle down her face.
"I am sorry, Hilary."
"What am I going to do?" she sobbed.
"You could continue being the teacher you've become, Hilary. Its a far more important occupation then many people would have us believe. What could be more important than molding the minds of the young?"
"I suppose. I've never really thought about it that way before."
"Or if, after a while, you find you have no interest in teaching, you could work for me."
"That's the second time you've offered me a job. What kind of job could I possibly do for a wizard like you?"
"You could do many things, Hilary. The list is nearly infinite. You could watch the shop while I'm away. You could seek out people needing the kind of help my magic provides. You could study magic. Need I go on?" the old man answered. "In truth, Hilary, you're a very special person. In the entirety of my life, which I assure you has been very, very long, I've known only three people, one of them me, with your gift."
"What gift?" she asked with undeniable curiosity.
"Why the gift of knowledge, of course. Have you noticed the people about you and how they act after you or they have been transformed?"
"Yes." she replied uneasily.
"What did _they_ remember of Hank when you became Heather?"
"Nothing. Everybody treated me as if I'd always been Heather."
"And when Heather became you?"
"It was the same. Nobody remembered Heather at all. The only person everyone remembers is Hilary."
"And of all the people at Aggie Tech, who remembers Bonnie Burke and Clyde Smith as teenagers? Who remembers Keith Helms and Tony Madison?"
"No one. Except me. Everyone else thinks that they're figments of my overactive imagination."
"That is your gift, Hilary. The ability to remember things as they _had been_, even when you or someone near you changes. It is an extremely rare and an exceptionally wonderful gift."
"Is it possible for this gift to be lost?"
"Not normally. And then, it must be by your conscious decision." he replied. "Why do you ask? Has something happened?"
"I don't know for sure. After I became Hilary, I met this young man who also teaches at Aggie Tech. He asked me out on a date. I wanted to tell him 'no,' but when I tried telling him, I accepted instead. Even now, I don't know why I told him I'd have dinner with him."
"I don't believe this is related to your gift, Hilary."
"Then what is it related to?"
"Offhand, Hilary, I don't know for certain." replied the old man. "But I can think of two distinct possibilities to explain what is happening. The simplest being, he could be the man that you, as Hilary, are destined to marry."
"Married!" exclaimed the young woman. "I don't want to get married. Shit, I don't even want a date with him right now."
"Consciously, that's probably true. But if the cards that form this reality are stacked so that the two of you are destined to marry, then the two of you _will_ marry, regardless of whatever your conscious mind wants to do or thinks about it."
Hilary was stunned by this apparent absence of free will. She asked "And what is the other possibility?"
"That one might be a little more insidious. The young man you met might possess some power, either occult or natural, over women. One that would grant him influence over what they think or how they act, or both."
"Is that possible?"
"Unfortunately, it's not only possible, its very probable. Its an extremely common request, unfortunately."
"What would make you give anyone control over someone else's life?" she demanded.
"It wasn't me. I am but one of many that assists mortals in their times of need. Once we were governed by a strict ethical code, one which I must admit to having bent quite frequently, especially when I felt the strictness of code unwarranted to the occasion or - and this is just between you and me - just for the sheer fun of it. However, of late, our service has attracted some unscrupulous practitioners, who will grant anything that is requested of them to anyone who asks, if the price is right. Your young man may have done some business with one of them. I might be able to find out if he has, but it will take several days to do so.
"And besides, Hilary, giving a man power over women is not exactly my forte." grinned the old man. "Just ask anybody. I'm sure they'll tell you that.
"And one more thing. Please, be very careful, Hilary."
"I will. But I've already spent more time here then I expected. I'd better go find Sabrina and Jane. They'll be worried about me, and I don't want you getting into any trouble with mall security."
"Don't worry about that, Hilary. I _never_ have trouble with mall security." the old man told her as she exited the shop. "And anyway, neither Jane nor Sabrina will even know you were ever gone."
And as Hilary, still wondering what the old man had meant, caught up to her friends, Sabrina turned to her and casually asked, "So where do you want to start, Hilary? You can pick the first place. And then in turn we'll alternate among the three of us, while we shop the night away."
* * * * *
Shopping had been fun, but the next day was still a school day. Once again - it was her week - Sabrina had driven them to school and they'd arrived only a few minutes before the morning bell signaling the start of classes. Nothing unusual according to Sabrina.
But Hilary had no idea where her classroom was located. For all the good it did her, she had the room number, but it wasn't one of those Heather had had a class in as a student. If it hadn't been for Tawny Madison, who she'd seen on her homeroom roster, needing to talk to her before class started, she might have never found her room.
"Miss Sawyer. Can I talk to you for a couple of minutes?"
"Of course, Tawny. Is there anything wrong?" Hilary was still amazed at the completeness of her transformation by the scale.
"Not with me." she replied. "Its Kayla. She's in Mr. Thompkins' office again. She wanted me to tell you she'd be late for class."
"Is she in trouble?"
"Not this time." replied Tawny. "She's complaining about that little pervert Marty Nichols again. I wish Mr. Thompkins would do something about him."
"I'm sure Mr. Thompkins will speak to him, Tawny."
"But it never does any good, Miss Sawyer. After he speaks to him, Marty's on his best behavior for a few days, but then he starts all over again. You know, Miss Sawyer, if Marty ever does anything like that to me, I'll make sure he doesn't do it to anybody else for a really long time."
"Violence isn't the answer, Tawny. I doubt your parents would like seeing you suspended. You'd better go on to class. I'll be there in a minute."
But the conversation had made Hilary remember her first and thankfully only encounter with Marty Nichols. It had been her first day here as Heather, just a few days ago. She'd just be dropped off by her father, when Marty the Groper had come up from behind her and struck. She'd been angry. And she'd complained to Mr. Thompkins, who had spoken to him. But Tawny was right, it hadn't helped. And this time, it seemed Marty was back in trouble sooner than she'd expected. But was it really sooner? After all, no one remembered Heather any longer. How could Marty have gotten into trouble for groping Heather, when Heather had never existed. Surely thought Hilary, Mr. Thompkins would have to suspend him this time.
Entering her classroom, it was plainly obvious that every student knew exactly where Kayla was and why. She wished there were something she could tell them, but, other than things that would make them think her certifiable, nothing came to mind.
Strangely, she managed her class better than even she had hoped. It was almost as if she'd been teaching forever, instead of this being her very first class. Everything came naturally, even the subject matter. Mathematics had never been one of Hank's strong classes, but then, in truth, nothing had been. For Heather, mathematics had been like a fun and fascinating game. And now, Hilary taught the subject flawlessly.
Even when Kayla entered late, there was only a momentary pause, but Hilary had kept control, continuing to lecture, as if no interruption had occurred. Some of the girls had looked back briefly in Kayla's direction when she'd entered and sat down, but none of them spoke. No one had to speak. Everyone in class knew, or at least thought they knew, exactly what she was thinking.
When the end-of-class bell sounded, Hilary watched the room quickly empty. Then just as quickly, she watched it fill with the students of her next class. Among them was Marty Nichols, who entered, unfortunately, just as Kayla Helms was leaving.
"How you doing, Kayla?" he asked, a grin spread ear to ear across his face. "What's new, babe?"
"Go to hell you fucking pervert." she spat back angrily.
"Oh, come off it Kayla. You know you loved it."
Kayla stared at the boy with murder in her eyes.
Before the situation could escalate further, Hilary stepped in. "You'd better get to your next class Kayla." Turning to Marty, she added in an icy tone, "And you, Mr. Nichols had best find your seat."
"Yes, Miss Sawyer." they both replied.
Just then, Hilary noticed Jane Cabot standing outside her door. "I'll be right back." she told her class. "I need to find out what Ms. Cabot wants."
"Hi Jane." said Hilary once outside. "What's up?"
"Theodore wants Marty Nichols in his office immediately. Sooner, if at all possible."
"Does this have anything to do with the reason Kayla Helms was late for my class this morning? Tawny Madison told me Kayla had some more troubles with Marty this morning. It wouldn't surprise me if the two of them were the talk of the school by lunchtime."
"Me either, Hilary. Theodore is really angry at him this time, and this little scene isn't going to make him any happier. He's tried so hard to make Marty understand that what he does is wrong. But the idea never seems to take hold and root inside his head. I really think Theodore is so frustrated with him that he's going to suspend him for at least a week."
"That might be the best thing, Jane. It will give Kayla and some of the other girls time to cool off. And maybe, given a week off, Marty will have time to consider everything Theodore has told him. Hopefully, he'll return a new person after a week."
"I hope so." replied Jane.
"I'll get him." Hilary went inside the room. "Marty." she said.
"Yes, Miss Sawyer." answered Marty ever so innocently.
"Mr. Thompkins would like to see you in his office. Ms. Cabot is waiting for you outside."
Everyone in the class chuckled as Marty left the room. Those who had seen the flare of temper between him and Kayla figured she had been his latest victim. Others had no idea who his latest victim had been, but they knew without a doubt there must have been one. After all, they all knew Marty and what he did. Many of the boys wondered why Principal Thompkins even bothered wasting his time speaking to Marty at all - he wasn't about to change. And, sitting silently in their seats, more than one of Marty's prior victims were plotting ways in which they would emasculate the little pervert.
This class, unlike her first, seemed restless, almost as if they were expecting something. But that air of expectation lasted only through the first half of class, when suddenly and inexplicably it simply vanished.
Hilary had noticed the change immediately and, shortly afterwards, she noticed several of the boys sneaking peeks back at Marty's empty desk. How strange, she thought, wondering why these boys were doing things that, to her, made no sense at all.
When the bell rang ending class, Marty had still not returned. Hilary wasn't terribly surprised because Jane had said he'd probably be suspended this time. But her class didn't know that. They'd had no reaction at all to Marty's failure to return. And as they filed out of the room, no one even mentioned Marty's name.
To Hilary, this was totally weird and a definitely unexpected behavior.
Since it was now her break time, Hilary decided to investigate this unusual behavior from her students. But before she had time to leave her classroom, a somewhat distraught Sabrina, entered.
"Did you hear about poor Marcia?" asked Sabrina.
"No." replied Hilary wondering who Marcia was. "What happened?"
"She's been suspended. It just happened. I guess Mr. Thompkins finally got tired of her being in his office every week. But I think being suspended two weeks for fondling herself in class is far too strict a punishment."
"But I thought Marty was in with him all this time."
"Who's Marty?" asked Sabrina.
Uh oh, thought Hilary. I have a bad feeling about this. "I probably just overheard the name wrong. I need to check something for a minute. I'll be right back."
When Hilary reached her desk, she opened the manila folder containing her class rosters. Quickly finding her second period class, she scanned through the names listed on it. Not surprisingly, her bad feeling was confirmed.
There in the _N_'s - one of her students - "Nichols, _Marcia_".
Damn that scale, she thought. If this keeps up for very long, then it won't be long before Aggie Tech will be an all-girl's school.
* * * * *
Hilary and Sabrina sat alone in the faculty lounge discussing things which, at that exact moment, were of very little interest to Hilary. She would have preferred a discussion about the transformation of Marty Nichols into Marcia Nichols, but she knew it would be a waste of time. And besides, such a discussion would, in all likelihood, lead to her vacationing in a room with padded rubber walls. No one would believe her. Only she had any memories of Marty the always-in-trouble little pervert with the roving hands. To everyone else, he had never existed. The only person any of them remembered was Marcia - the shy and very sexy little nymphette with a penchant for fondling herself in class.
"So when is Adam going to pick you up tonight?" asked Sabrina. It was a question that abruptly snapped her back to this reality, while at the same time quickly vanquishing further thoughts of Marty and Marcia from her mind.
"I don't know. He didn't say. And I forgot to ask." replied Hilary. But in the back of her mind, she hoped she wouldn't see him today and wondered if there were some way she could avoid him the entire day. Then she'd have an excuse for not being ready whenever he arrived.
"Well, I certainly hope that you're not considering letting that fish wriggle off your hook. If you want, I'll disappear for the night, so you and he can finish up the night at our place following your date."
"What?" asked Hilary confused.
"I'll spend the night at Jane's. That will let you take that handsome hunk of yours home. Once there, the two of you will be _completely_ alone. And the two of you will be able to do anything your little hearts' desire." winked Sabrina giving her friend a feral little grin.
"You mean sex?"
"Of course, silly. What else would I mean." replied Sabrina shaking her head. "I don't know what has gotten in to you lately, Hilary, but sometimes you seem like a completely different person. Lately, you worry about the strangest things. And its not like either of us was a virgin or anything. Shit, Hilary, I've lost track of the number of times one of us has 'gotten lost for the evening,' so the other could have herself a _real good_ time."
Hilary was shocked. She had been sexual promiscuous in the past and hadn't even realized it. But she should have guessed she had been, after all she was attractive woman of only twenty-five. But if Sabrina really thought she and Adam would sleep together tonight, then what was Adam thinking. That settled her on what she had to tell Adam. The next time she saw him, she would cancel their date. There was absolutely no way he was getting _her_ into _his_ bed.
As Adam entered the lounge, Sabrina nudged Hilary and whispered, "Speak of the devil."
"Good morning, Sabrina." he said. "Hello, gorgeous. I was hoping I'd find you sometime today."
Well, I guess I'd better burst his bubble now and get it over with, thought Hilary. "Adam..." she began nervously.
"I was wondering what time you were going to pick me up tonight." she continued, totally aghast at what she just asked him. "Can you tell me where we're going tonight. Or is that going to be a surprise." What am I saying, she thought.
"I've made reservations at 'The Cockatrice' for seven. I'll be at your place to pick you by six." he replied. "Its a very casual place, but you should wear something you would feel comfortable dancing in afterwards."
"Oh, I forgot to tell you Hilary." interrupted Sabrina, while at the same time flashing that knowing little grin up at her friend. "But I'll be spending the night over at Jane's. We're splurging on a late night shopping spree and it will be far more convenient for me to spend the night there then to come home really, really late. I hope you won't mind being _all alone_ in our apartment tonight." Sabrina glanced down at her watch. "Oh my. I really have to go, I don't want to be late for class. I suppose, I'll see the two of you later."
"I'll see you later, Sabrina." replied Hilary, while in her thoughts she added sarcastically, thanks a fucking lot for all your help.
"I must leave as well." said Adam. "Duty calls. But I'll see you tonight."
"I'll see you then, Adam." she replied breathlessly. "I can hardly wait for tonight."
However, before he departed, Adam leaned over and kissed her. It took her breath away nearly causing her to swoon.
After regaining her composure, a speechless Hilary could only watch while Adam left. Totally confused by her inexplicable actions, not to mention those unexplainable thoughts still coursing through her mind, she wandered, nearly aimless, back to the table where she and Sabrina had been sitting. What was wrong with her? She'd had every intention of breaking their date before Adam arrived, but when she'd started to tell him, she had asked when he was picking her up instead.
And then she'd acted like a totally mindless little flirt. How could a kiss make her act that way.
Something had to be wrong. But what?
And why was she unable to do what _she_ wanted to do whenever he was around?
And to cap things off, as she'd pondered more on that kiss, the soft and gentle meeting of their lips that had almost made her faint, she began to smile. Even now she still continued to feel so very vulnerable. And sexy. In both total amazement and complete shock, a new thought formed and raced throughout her mind.
Unbelievably, she'd liked being kissed.
* * * * *
Fortunately for Hilary, the rest of the day passed almost uneventfully. Had she had the power to speed up the passing of the day, she would have done so without a second thought. She was lost in a daze, but if any of her students noticed, none had said a word.
Finally, her last class of the day began. While taking roll, she noticed a name was missing from the roster. It hadn't been replaced by some other variant of the missing person's name, like Marty had changed to Marcia. It was just _gone_. She simply had one less student in this class today.
The missing student was Karl Tymlek.
Karl loved horses. If he wasn't sketching one, he was reading about them. He probably knew more about horses than anybody at Aggie Tech, which encompassed a broad scope of people, including both the teachers and the sponsors of the local 4-H chapter.
How many times had he been caught sketching horses in class? More often than not, his teachers would find him drawing when he should have been paying attention to their lectures.
Hilary had just assumed that Karl found anything non-equine totally boring and uninteresting. He wasn't going to pass her class, nor was it likely he'd receive any passing grades in any of his other classes. She thought he needed help to combat his obsession, but from where that help would come she had no idea.
But Karl was an excellent artist.
He had also been one of those many boys that had asked to take Heather to the school dance. In retrospect, Hilary wondered why he had, since Heather plainly had only two legs instead of four. But he had shown her one of his sketches. Hilary remembered it clearly, thinking the sketch quite beautiful. It had been of a winged horse, a Pegasus he'd called it. Had its name been Bellerophon? No, that didn't seem quite right. She wished she had paid more attention to him.
And he was never without his book of Frederick Remington paintings. Not that he carried it for the detailed descriptions of pioneer life in the American West that had made Remington famous. Instead, he carried it because of all the horses, who had been such an integral and vital part of that life.
Now, Karl was gone. Not missing, but totally and absolutely without a doubt - gone. Hilary wondered if she'd ever know what had actually happened to Karl. She had her own ideas about what had happened, but no way to either prove or disprove them. Besides, she couldn't believe that any of Karl's teachers could have complained that loudly about his inattentiveness in class. But who could really know?
As she passed the campus petting zoo, one of the new innovations that Mr. Thompkins had introduced, on her way to parking lot, her thoughts focused briefly on Karl. Strangely, it was at that moment, she noticed the zoo's new occupant. She couldn't help but wonder when the Shetland Pony had arrived? She was certain, she hadn't seen it this morning.
The pony looked to be fairly young, probably only recently weaned. But then, the sum total of her knowledge of horses could be put on a small index card with plenty of room left over. As she looked at the pinto-colored pony, she wondered if it were a colt or a filly, not that the pony's gender would make any difference to the kids.
Karl would have loved sketching this pony, she thought, still wondering where, having completely overlooked the obvious, he might be.
* * * *
Hilary had been extremely quiet while Sabrina drove them home. Part of the reason had been the disappearance of Karl Tymlek. Yesterday they'd spoken of his simply fabulous equine sketches on their way home, but today, Sabrina's only response to Hilary's question about him was "Who's that?" She knew further discussion with anyone about him would be useless. If nothing else, that scale did its job well.
And the other reason was Adam Walker. Although it seemed she had no other choice in the matter, she was still worried about their upcoming date. And even though she had resigned herself its inevitability, it by no means would prevent her from finding to end it sooner than Adam expected. Or would it? All the way home she silently fretted about things that might or might not happen tonight.
What if he had actually, like the old man had suggested, cast some kind of spell on her. A week ago, she wouldn't have believed that possible. But a week ago, she hadn't been Hilary Alexis Sawyer. A week ago she hadn't known what mixing different magics could do. And the several new experiences she'd endured over the past week had greatly broadened her conception of what was possible and what was not.
* * * * *
Hilary stared at her reflection in the mirror. How many times had she looked in a mirror over the last week only to be totally surprised at the image reflected back? And now, with this beautiful young woman staring back, was no exception.
"Now that is definitely more like the Hilary, I remember." commented Sabrina, as she glided into the room. "You'll drive him totally mad with desire."
"You really think so?" She ran a hand through her dark hair striking a seductive and provocative pose in the mirror. At the same time, she wondered how she'd ever been able to flawlessly apply her makeup, how she'd managed to fix her hair, and just why in hell she was looking forward to going on a date with this man.
"I know so." replied her roomie. "Wanna wager on the outcome of your date tonight? A twenty says you'll end up fucking his brains out."
"I don't want to bet." stated Hilary.
"Didn't think you would. That's why I only wagered a twenty, and why, just in case you wanted to bet, I took the sure thing."
The _sure_ thing? Not in this lifetime, thought Hilary. And certainly not if I have anything to say about it.
Sabrina looked at her watch. "I'd better be leaving. Its almost time for that great big hunk of yours to arrive. Have a good time, Hilary. Just remember, don't do anything, you wouldn't catch me doing." she laughed.
Hilary smiled in spite of herself. She didn't want to smile at all, but Sabrina's laughter had been contagious. And she seemed to have little, if any, control over many things of late.
Within a few minutes of Sabrina's departure, the doorbell rang.
Maybe if she didn't answer, he'd leave. But once again, she had little conscious control of her actions as she walked over and opened the door instead.
"Hi Adam." she breathed coquettishly. Sabrina had been right, damn her. Passion, plainly visible, flared in Adam's eyes.
"Good evening, beautiful." he replied. "Tonight, I feel as fortunate as Paris must have felt when he first laid eyes on Helen. It is said that Aphrodite herself named Helen, the fairest of her sex, but Helen's beauty pales in comparison to yours, fairest Hilary. Even Aphrodite herself would feel the eternal pangs from the green-eyed monster should she ever be compared to you."
What a pile of cockamamie bullshit, thought Hilary. What else but cock and bull could you expect from a history teacher. But doe-eyed and child-like she could only coo "Do you really think I'm beautiful, Adam?"
"More than any words can possibly say, my dear."
"Ooooh." she sighed heavily, while cursing herself silently for a fool.
"We should be on our way. My car awaits just outside."
With the sudden feeling that she could adequately cope with her hand being kissed, Hilary held it out in Adam's direction. He took her proffered hand in his and, as she'd expected, gently kissed it. But if she'd expected a mere holding of hands as they walked to where his car was parked, she'd been wrong. His arm slipped about her waist, much to her chagrin and consternation. She tried to ask him to remove it, only to become more irritated when she discovered her own arm tightly clutched about his waist.
Arm-in-arm they walked down the stairs, then out the small path to his car, a custom Lamborghini Diablo Yellow, waited. Any one who saw them as they passed would only remember seeing one of the sexy young women who lived in the upstairs apartment accompanied by her current beau, an obviously wealthy young man.
How, she wondered could he afford a Lamborghini on his salary. It would take a teacher years just to earn barely enough for the down payment. Something wasn't right about all of this, but she could no longer tell exactly what was amiss. "You have a simply gorgeous car, Adam." she said sexily.
Damn it! Snap out of this, Hilary, she told herself.
He opened the door for her, then watched as she gracefully settled into the luxuriousness of the Lamborghini's custom seat. He leaned down, then in, and kissed her softly on her lips once again. Fortunately for her, this time she was already sitting. As his kiss in the lounge had done earlier in the day, Hilary felt faint.
Oh, wow, she'd thought, her senses completely overwhelmed.
By the time her swoon had passed and her senses had returned, Hilary found herself already seated at a table in the restaurant.
"Your cocktail, madam." said the waiter.
"Thank you." She took a sip. "It's so delicious."
Seemingly, a moment later, the waiter returned with two bowls of steaming soup. "The soup. Madam. Sir." he said placing a bowl in front of each of them.
What the hell had happened? How could we possibly get her so fast? I don't even remember coming in or sitting down, and its looks like we must have already ordered. But what?
However, daintily she asked, "What kind of soup did you say this was, Adam? It looks absolutely divine." Divine, my ass, she added mentally.
"Its cockaleekie soup, my dear."
And soon thereafter, the waiter brought their dinners. Hilary didn't know what they'd ordered, but hers appeared to be some kind of small bird. It also appeared that Adam had ordered a similar kind of bird that was only slightly larger. Just what were these birds they had ordered?
"They look so delicious, Adam." she said. "Would you remind me one more time what we're eating?"
"Of course, dear. Yours is a stuffed cockateel. Mine is a stuffed cockatoo. Essentially, both are Australian parrots, a totally marvelous delicacy. I've been told."
Parrots, she thought. Yuck. How could anyone eat a parrot? She watched appalled, as Adam quickly stripped the meat from the bones of his meal, gobbling it down with undisguised relish. When he finished, she looked down at her own plate totally aghast at the little pile of bones on it. When had she eaten it? Hilary wanted to heave. But instead said only, "It was absolutely delicious, Adam."
"I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Would you care to dance?"
"You know Adam, I've been thinking. I'm not really much of dancer. And if it would be alright with you, I think I rather go home now."
Hilary was amazed and unable to believe what she'd just said to Adam. She was actually calling off the rest of their date. Thank goodness. It was about time. Only it would have been a lot better, if I could have called it off before eating a parrot.
"If that's what you really want, dearest Hilary." replied Adam, both he and Hilary rising from the table.
"I've thought of something we could do, Adam." she started. "We could go back to _my_ place."
"My roommate is going to be away _all_ night long."
No! You can't do that. I won't let you.
"Personally, I just think you and I would have a _lot more_ fun at my place tonight. _If_ you know what _I_ mean."
Shit! This is unreal. Stop this! You can't do this!
"Whatever you wish, dearest Hilary." He walked over to Hilary and took her hand.
"It _is_ what I wish." she cooed sexily.
No it isn't, her mind screamed back unheard.
And this time, when Adam kissed her, electricity filled the air between them. She felt her passions and desires kindled far past anything she had ever known or felt before. Her lust for Adam surged past any of the boundaries she could possibly hope to endure.
And then, everything blanked out.
* * * * *
As Hilary's awareness slowly returned, she knew she was in bed. She knew, even without opening her eyes, it must be morning. She could feel the heat from the sunlight, having passed through the window unhindered, as it struck her unclothed body. From her faint and dulled recollections of the events of the previous night, she assumed the bed was hers.
Just as she knew that the person who currently shared this bed with her was a man. Her head rested serenely within the crook of his arm, an ear pressed against his chest. She could hear the beating of his heart. Also across his chest rested one of her arms, her fingers subconsciously swirling the hair on his chest in a playful way. She felt her own leg against, not just one, but both of his. It stretched atop his nearer leg, while under his other, she had slipped her foot.
She knew, without a doubt, the man who shared her bed this morning was Adam Walker.
Just as she knew, even though she possessed no real memories of her actions past their _kiss_ inside the restaurant, that the two of them had physically indulged themselves after returning to her empty apartment.
Physical contact between them had not been what she'd desired. She was more than glad having no conscious memory of anything they had done into the lateness of the night. But deep down inside her, something of that intimacy and what they must have done still disturbed her. How could she possibly face him having none of that detailed knowledge from last night.
Would he think less of her?
Would he, perhaps, think her just another of _his_ sluts?
Stop that, she thought angrily. What is wrong with me?
Her eyes opened. As they did, they were met by Adam's gaze.
How long, she wondered, had he been awake? And how long had he been staring down at her nakedness?
"Good morning, gorgeous." he spoke. "You were right, Hilary. I think I can honestly say the two of us had far more fun _here_, then we would have ever possibly had by staying any longer at 'The Cockatrice' last night."
"I knew you'd have good time. Here. _With me_." she replied. "I know I had a simply wonderful time. You are so masterful, Adam."
Please, not again, she thought, this kind of shit makes me want to puke.
What was he doing to her?
How could he make her act this way?
He made her feel like a overly horny and completely oversexed slut. And subconsciously, she was afraid she'd start liking this way he made her feel.
I need to find some way to make him want to leave, she thought. But instead the only response which could escape her lips was a low and pleasurable moan of sensual delight.
For neither noticed nor impeded by her, Adam's searching hands had found their way to her breasts. Now he gently caressed them. As he carried on unhindered, he watched intently the quickening rate at which Hilary's breasts rose and fell. And while one hand continued its soft caresses, the other probed downwards until finally it encountered the dampness he'd been seeking. As his fingers explored the dampened lips he'd found with light and gentle strokes, Adam knew without a doubt that this young woman was totally his once again.
"No. Not again." whispered Hilary in a voice far to low for anyone to hear.
How can I stop him, she wondered to herself. But can I stop _me_?
Looking up at Adam, barely aware of anything aside from her own brightly flaming passions, she saw budding lust, plain and simple carnality, flare unimpeded behind his smiling eyes. But at the same time, she also knew, despite her consciousness being far removed from her subconscious wants and needs, that he could see that very same unchannelled lust and passion welling up behind her eyes as well.
She had no control over her actions. Her passions and desires had become those of a wanton sex-driven woman. As she pulled Adam down on top of her, she could feel the electricity, just as she had last night, spark and fill the room.
And when their lips met, once again, exactly as they had last night, everything went blank.
* * * * *
Once again, Hilary slowly regained an awareness of her surroundings. As before, she retained no memories of what had happened between her and Adam that morning, yet she knew unquestioningly they had been sexually intimate once more.
Now she sat at the kitchen table, staring down at a cup of coffee, she couldn't recall pouring or, for that matter, even fixing. Her leather sandals were strapped to her feet. Although she couldn't recall when she'd dressed, she found herself wearing a tightly fitting pair of shorts along with her old and baggy short-sleeved sweatshirt. And when had she tied her hair back in a long pony tail.
"Are you listening to me, Hilary?" came Sabrina's voice cutting sharply through the fog of her returning awareness.
When had Sabrina returned?
What time was it?
"Dammit, Hilary!" exclaimed Sabrina. "We're friends. And you know I'm as much into having a good time as you are, but what in the name of the patron saint of fools ever possessed you to let him dump his load inside you, especially when it appears that neither of you took any of the necessary precautions at all."
Confused, Hilary could only stare off into space. "Precautions?" she wordlessly mouthed.
"What is wrong with you, Hilary?" snapped Sabrina. "You haven't taken the pill for over two months now. Now some guy, who obviously didn't use a condom, bangs you god knows how many times. Are you looking to get yourself pregnant?"
"Pregnant?" mumbled Hilary.
There's no fuckin' way I want to get fuckin' pregnant, she thought.
"Yeah, pregnant. You remember, as in _look who's having a baby_. The kind of thing that happens to women who unwisely screw around with men who don't use protection at the wrong time of _your_ month." yelled Sabrina. "I'd be willing to bet that your mother will be dancing in the aisles when she hears from you that you're pregnant. Dammit, Hilary. You know how much she wants to see you married and turned into a damn _baby machine_ producing grandkid after grandkid for _her_. And then you go off and pull some stupid stunt like this."
Suddenly, Hilary remembered that night when Sarah had come to dinner and she'd been Heather. Once again, she heard the words her mother had then spoken to her father. "Wouldn't it be nice to have grandchildren, dear?"
Fuck you mother, she thought. This is all _your_ fault, isn't it. It probably never had anything to do with Adam at all. I've had it. I'm through letting you interfere in the way I run my life. Can you hear me, mother?
Anger at her mother now became her primary motivator. Hilary rose from her chair. There were things in need of being done, she thought, striding purposely towards the door.
"I'm not finished talking to you yet." said Sabrina. "Just where do you think you're off to?" she asked.
"Yes, you are." replied Hilary curtly. "And there's something I must take care of right now."
"Wait a minute. I'll go with you."
"No, Sabrina. _This_ time I must do it all by myself."
"Wait, Hilary. Please." pleaded her worried friend. "And what do you mean _this_ time?"
* * * * *
Angry was the best description for Hilary as she strode with purpose toward her intended destination. For it seemed, she _was_ angry, for some reason or another, at anyone and everyone in the whole wide world.
She was angry at her parents.
Both of them sought control over her life far beyond any right they had or could ever possess.
Her mother wanted grandchildren so badly that she would gladly turn her only child into a wanton slut to have them.
Both of her parents were pompous asses, totally over-impressed by their own importance. They'd always thought themselves superior to her, or him when she'd been Hank. In their thoughts, _their_ child was something less than the dirt that both of them walked and spat on.
She wished they'd never been her parents.
It would serve them right, she thought, if I were the type of person they despised.
It would serve them right, if they truly became the childless couple they had always wanted to be prior to their marriage.
She wanted nothing more whatever to do with either of them or anyone who knew of them. She'd be eternally grateful if the name "Sawyer" were totally and completely expunged from her memory.
She was angry at Adam Walker.
Although Adam was probably nothing more than a mere unwitting pawn of her mother, Hilary still couldn't explain, in any sensible terms, the apparent control this man exercised over both her mind and body. It was his control that made him seem far too similar to her parents for her to ever feel comfortable in his presence again. And also, for better or for worse, it made him far too easy to despise.
But what if she were pregnant with _his_ child?
So what, she thought. It would also serve him right, if he never knew she carried and bore his child. But would she be capable of thinking of only what was best for the child?
She never wanted to see him again. She never wanted him to touch her again. In spite of all she thought she, she couldn't dismiss the real possibility that Adam had more than just a pawn in everything that had happened between them.
She was angry at Sabrina.
Although she couldn't think of any valid reason how or why Sabrina had incurred this wrath. Sabrina was her friend, her best friend. just like Sarah had become Heather's best friend. Both had always been there whenever she needed them.
But maybe their friendship _was_ the problem. When she'd been Hank, she'd barely been aware of Sarah's existence. But it was Sarah, who'd replaced her older brother as her best friend, when she'd been transformed and become Heather. Their new friendship had survived intact when the scale had transformed them into Sabrina and Hilary.
But what of Hank's old best friend, who in turn had been Sarah's older, then Sabrina's younger brother. What if, maybe, it were their brother who was supposed to be her best friend.
She supposed she'd never know for sure, which of them was destined to be her one and only true best friend.
She was angry at herself.
Being discontented with some of the conditions of her life, she tried to take a shortcut along the road to happiness. Instead, she'd been waylaid, and failed.
Being impatient about returning to her old life, she'd gone off half-cocked in order to prove to someone she knew something that she didn't. And once again she'd failed.
And then there was that dammed old fart who ran that magic shop in in the mall. She was totally pissed at him.
Above all else, this entire mess, originating with his stupid potion, had been _all his fault_.
* * * * *
Having decided on plan of nothing overtly definite, Hilary soon arrived at her intended destination. Not really expecting to be as fortunate as she had been before, she slowly twisted the knob on the door separating her from potential deliverance.
The door swung slowly open.
Amazingly, the honest principal Theodore Thompkins of Aggie Tech had once again left his office door unlocked. And maybe more surprising, the custodial staff had also failed to lock up after finishing their work inside.
Incredible luck, thought Hilary, marvelling at the amazingly remarkable coincidence of finding the door unlocked again. Now nothing stood in her way.
Once again, she would soon step on the scale and use its magic.
"Hopefully," she muttered, "this will be the last time."
As Heather had done once before, Hilary now stepped nervously on the scale.
"Scale." she hesitantly began. "I'm not at all sure how to phrase this properly, but I would like to be returned to the night this all began. I would like to be with my friends. And if it's at all possible, I'd really like to forget about this whole damn week that's just gone by."
Anxiously she pressed the button on the scale. Standing on the scale, she listened as it briefly rumbled. Then she took the small card that it dispensed. On it was typed her fortune, but perhaps it was meant to be more than just her future.
It read "Soon all will be as it should be."
What a strange fortune, thought Hilary. But then she smiled. It must certainly mean that soon I'll be myself once again.
But this scale was not merely a scale. True it accurately gave the weight of anyone who stepped on it. And just as true, it appeared to give those selfsame people a small card with their printed fortune, a small foretelling of their future most believed.
It was also a balance.
And with the pressing of the button that activated it, not only was that person weighed objectively, but in its turn his or her very soul would also be weighed subjectively. When viewed in the context of the multitude of nearly infinite combinations from all the diverse factors comprising that person's life, the scale sought to find a balance, which, once found, was struck.
And it was perfectly obvious that, the angry young woman who had made her request to the scale prior to her invoking of the balance, required what it offered past what she had previously been given.
When she stepped down from the scale, her balancing commenced.
Hilary was not surprised when her body began to tingle. She had felt that same sensation before when the scale had transformed Heather into her. But she soon became frightened, when the tingling sensation began to intensify, instead of lessen, around her breasts.
Totally shocked, Hilary watched her breasts expand, as if they were balloons being pumped full of air. They'd been bigger than average before, but now they were absolutely mammoth. Feeling their increased weight as she moved, she wondered why any woman would want boobs that could easily double for floatation devices.
As she felt her waist constrict, she knew, instead of becoming a male again, as she'd hoped and expected, she was becoming more and more female. Why had the scale printed that fortune, if it hadn't meant to grant it true? Its words made no sense now.
A sharp pain struck between her eyes, then her nose began to tingle. When she raised her hand up to feel her nose, she felt its cartilage begin to flow. And when it receded, her nose shrank accordingly.
In shock, she buried her face deeply in her hands. Her facial muscles tensed and relaxed and tensed again in reaction to the continuous reshaping of the bones beneath them. Her face had become pliant, almost plastic. She could actually feel her face changing, sometimes very painfully and other times delightfully pleasurable, as both her muscles and her bones contorted and reconstructed into new shapes and sizes. When the contractions and pain eventually ceased, she slowly lifted her head away from her hands, while instinctively sweeping away the blond hair hanging down in front of her eyes.
I have blond hair, she thought in astonishment.
There was no mirror in Mr. Thompkins' office, but she could see herself reflected in the darkened glass of the window panes. Unconsciously, she began an inventory of her new self.
And a very beautiful face.
From what she could see, she no longer looked, even remotely, like either Heather or Hilary. Strangely, her appearance seemed remarkably familar to her, but, at that exact moment, she couldn't truly place where she'd seen the face she now wore before. But it didn't worry her. Undoubtedly, someone would know her and tell her who she was. Or perhaps. later, she'd remember on her own. But she wouldn't worry about any of that now.
Her clothes had also been transformed. Gone were the sandals, shorts, and sweatshirt that she'd worn. And in their place she wore tennis shoes and the short skirt and sweater of a cheerleader from the local college.
At least, I'm in college again, she thought. I guess it could have been a lot worse. But I can hardly wait to see my parents' faces, when I show up in these clothes. I'm now a cheerleader, and an overly buxom one at that.
"Damn." she muttered shaking her head. She looked again at her image reflected in the window. "I wonder what happened. From what my fortune read, I was absolutely certain that after the scale finished with me this time, I'd be Hank again."
But then a wave of dizziness swept through the room.
Momentarily she felt nauseous.
"Hank?" she wondered out loud.
"Who the hell is Hank?
"And why would _I_ want to be someone named Hank anyway.
"Hank's a guy's name.
"I'm not a guy. I've never been a guy. And I sure as hell never want to be a guy.
"It must be that scale trying to mess with my mind. Its trying to make me think I'm supposed to be some guy named Hank. Fat chance, scale. No way. I'm really glad the old man explained my 'gift of knowledge' to me. Otherwise, I might be worried that something had gone wrong.
"I still hope to be able to use this scale to change me back to normal. And once I become my normal Heather self again, I'll have to look for some way to change Sabrina back into Sarah. Then the two of us can get together with our friends Tawny and Kayla for a monster shopping spree at the mall."
Another wave of dizziness.
Another bout of momentary nausea.
"Why would _I_ want to be seen, let alone go shopping, with those two high school sluts?
"And why would _I_ want to change my best friend Sabrina into some other little high school twit named Sarah?
"Dammit, Hilary. What is wrong with you anyway?
"It must be that scale trying to influence me again. Another nice try, but it just won't work.
"And I absolutely adore these clothes. They make me look like a real cheerleader. I'm sure mom and dad will throw several shit fits when they see me decked out like one of types of people they most despise in the world. Well. Tough shit on them.
"Maybe, I'll stay this way for a while. I know it would really piss them off having a cheerleader for a daughter."
"Why am I mad at my parents?
All they've ever wanted was what was best for me. And, since they live out of state, I hardly ever see them anyway.
"Where am I?
"What am I doing here?
"What is this place?"
She looked quickly around the room. There was nothing in it that looked even remotely familiar to her at all. With the exception of the sweater she wore, even the image of the pretty blond girl with the big boobs reflected in the window seemed unfamiliar.
"Who am I?" she questioned.
But she did know something very important.
"I don't belong here _now_." she whispered. "But there is another place - it's somewhere else - where I must be soon.
"I'll start by walking back to the college. That seems the most likely place to start because I'm wearing my cheerleader's sweater. That means someone there must know who I am. After all, everyone knows all the college cheerleaders. And maybe I'll find someone along the way who knows the place where, soon, I'm supposed to be."
* * * * *
As she walked along the highway toward the college, she wondered if her decision to walk had been such a good idea. Cars continuously whizzed by her, sometimes with their horns loudly blaring. And a few of the cars had slowed almost to a stop. Most of their occupants had simply whistled at her, but one had yelled lewd and dirty things at her. Their suggestiveness made her blush.
But even worse, they it had made her worried and fearful. What would she do, she wondered, if one of them, instead of only slowing down, actually stopped.
And then, in less time than the thought had taken, one of them, just as she'd begun to fear, stopped. Her feelings of fear and apprehension grew.
But while she watched, somehow, the car began to look strangely familiar to her. It was as if she'd seen it before. And not only from the outside, but from inside it as well.
Her feelings of fear and apprehension heightened, when the driver's side door of the car slowly swung open. A young man leapt out the open door. He looked at her for a moment, then suddenly started running directly at her.
Frozen in her fear, unable to move or scream, all she could do was wait to meet her fate.
But somehow, strangely, as he approached ever nearer ... he, just like the car he'd been driving, started looking familiar to her. And then, when he stopped directly in front of her, their eyes met. She thought she knew him.
"Tommy?" she asked still confused by all the strange things happening around her. The name had just popped into her head, but she felt certain that it must be him. "Is that you?"
"Of course, it's me." he replied sounding worried. "Are you alright? I've been frantically driving all over town for the last several hours looking for you.
"I've been so worried. I was afraid something awful had happened to you after you'd hit your head during cheerleading practice. And then, instead of getting help, you just wandered off and disappeared."
He pulled her closely to him and tightly hugged her. In return - it somehow seemed to her exactly the right thing to do - she hugged him back. His closeness made her feel so warm and safe.
"I'm okay." she told him calmly. "But I keep thinking that there's someplace else that I ... no, that _we_, are supposed to be. And we need to be there soon, very soon."
"Let's not worry about any of that right now. It'll keep. Right now, you're the most important thing on my mind. And keeping first things first, I'm taking you home. I need be absolutely certain you're really alright before we can even think of going anywhere else."
"Okay." she agreed, thinking _home_ should be a good place to discover who she was and where they were supposed to be. "I'm ready to go home, Tommy. Then afterwards, we should still have plenty of time to get where we're supposed to be before the time we're supposed to arrive there in order to do what we're supposed to do there when we're there."
Her ramblings worried him.
To do what?
None of what she'd said made sense to him. Maybe, he worried, when she'd struck her head, she'd suffered a concussion.
Wordlessly, they walked back, his arm clinched tightly about her waist, to his waiting car. After opening the door for her, he watched her slide gracefully into its waiting newly re-upholstered seat. And when he sat down in the driver's seat, she snuggled up as closely as she could to him.
"Thank you, Tommy." she said. "I'm so glad it was _you_ who found me." Impossibly, she snuggled even closer, then closed her eyes.
Before he'd had the time to turn the ignition key, she had fallen asleep, her head nested comfortably against his shoulder.
* * * * *
Occasionally while she slept, she'd mumbled about things he didn't understand. And there were several names he didn't recognize. He hoped she'd be alright.
But when the car pulled into one of the 'reserved for visitors' parking spots at her sorority house, her mumblings abruptly ceased. Still asleep, she cuddled up beside him.
He switched off the ignition, then turned to gently rouse her from her slumbering. For a moment though, he could only stare at her. Then ever so gently he nudged her shoulder.
"Honey." he said softly. "Time to wake up. I've brought you home."
"That's nice." she responded as if lost inside a dream. Unexpectedly, she kissed him. "I love you, Tommy." she sighed.
Her declaration of love hit him like a thrown brick. He had known that she liked him, and had always _hoped_, beyond his wildest hopes and dreams, that she loved him as much as he loved her. But last night, he'd been disappointed by her unwillingness, perhaps her inability, to tell him how she felt about. Even after the wonderful time they'd had last night.
Maybe this declaration of love, he reasoned, was just the concussion talking.
He opened her door, then reached in, and took her hand to help her up from the seat. She warmly smiled at him. Strolling together up the walk her hand in his, they approached the porch of her sorority house. When they stopped at door, she was not exactly certain where he'd brought her. But after the passing of that oddly fleeting moment of non-recognition, she knew exactly where she was.
She was _home_ - the Sigma Beta Beta sorority house.
As she extended her hand, reaching for the knob, the front door swung slowly inward. And from inside the house, three girls stepped out on to the porch.
"CeeJay!" she exclaimed as she recognized the first of her sisters out the door. She remembered her clearly. Her name was Clarinda Jeanne Larson, who quite obviously preferred being called CeeJay to Clarinda Jeanne.
And when she spotted her other two sisters, Charlotte Morgan and Samantha Johnson, standing on the porch with CeeJay, she both recognized and remembered both of them.
"Charlie! Sam!" she exclaimed. "How are all of you?"
"We're fine." replied CeeJay puzzled. "But I'm totally surprised to see the two of you here now, instead of at the party?" With tones of disappointment in her voice, she said, "Don't tell me its over already. The three of us were just on our way over there to join in the fun."
_The party_, she thought, _that's_ the place Tommy and I are _supposed_ to be real soon.
She _had_ remembered.
"It should still be going strong. And I'd guess it will continue on for quite a while yet." she replied. "But Tommy thought I should come home first, because I had this little accident at practice. Why don't the three of you just go on over and start partying. Tommy and I will catch up a little later."
"Sounds good to me." replied Charlie.
"Me, too." said Sam.
"Well, that's settled then." said CeeJay.
"We'll see you guys later." said all three departing girls in unison.
"We absolutely _must_ go to party, Tommy." she said turning back to him. "We really _can't_ miss it. It would be terribly _wrong_ to disappoint all of our friends."
"But you aren't feeling good." he objected.
"Oh, I'm just fine, Tommy. _Really_." she rebutted. "But we _really_ need to go to this party. It's _really_ important. _Please_." she cajoled.
"Well ... I suppose ... as long as you tell me if you start feeling badly again ..." he relented, "... then I guess it will be alright."
"That's totally super, Tommy!" she exclaimed. She turned back toward the sorority's still-open door. "I'll be back in just a minute." she said excitedly. "I need to change my clothes and fix my hair."
He could only shake his head, as she scampered into the house and up the stairs. "Girls!" he muttered. "I'll never understand them, even if I live to be thirty."
* * * * *
As she entered her room, she walked directly to the full-length mirror standing in a corner of her room. Strangely, this action seemed oddly compulsive and somewhat overly familiar. It was as if she'd already looked at her reflection several times today. Nervously, she peered into the mirror, while, at the same time, wondering why it made her feel so uneasy. For some unknown reason, she couldn't understand, she was greatly relieved that the mirror still reflected back her image and not one belonging to some stranger.
But then the old man at the mall had made it perfectly clear to her, when he'd explained how this 'gift of knowledge' she possessed worked, that, unless she had a conscious desire to the contrary, she'd always know 'when and who or if' she or things about her changed, and how she'd remember everything from both the old and the new.
As far as she could tell, nothing and no one had changed around her. And she was still the same girl she'd always been. And besides, if she'd had any conscious desires otherwise, wouldn't she remember them?
And having seen herself as herself reflected by the mirror, she knew exactly who she was.
As she stripped, she casually flung her clothes into a small pile forming near the center of her room. Looking back at herself, now naked, in the mirror, she knowingly smiled at her reflected image.
She placed a hand under one of her mammoth breasts, feeling its fully developed firmness as she ran her fingers lightly over it. In the not so distant past, although it now seemed like ancient history, she'd often stood in front of the mirror like this and wished for her breasts not to be as large as they were. But that had been before she'd discovered that having boobs _too big_ was a far superior situation to having boobs _not big enough_. Especially in those circumstances involving boys.
That was one of things she really liked about Sigma Beta Beta. There was no jealously of the 'sister with the huge knockers' here. All of the sisters were exceptionally well-endowed. It never bothered her that hers were not the biggest breasts around, but she was quite happy with what she had. And anyway, regardless of the time of year, there always seemed to be plenty of new and very buxom pledges, some very clearly bigger breasted than her, running around the house.
Anyway, she thought, Tommy likes them just the way they are. But then, she'd guessed, so do most of his friends.
She wondered, just how many of his friends would be able to identify her, if all they were shown was just a picture of her face. She didn't have much confidence that many of them could. If only somehow, she could find some way to make wagers with them on it, she figured on making a fortune.
But that's just the way most guys are, she guessed. Anytime they saw a woman with bigger than average breasts, she'd automatically be classified, without any questions or any doubts, as a bimbo. And if by some chance they'd actually taken some time to talk with her, any evidence they found and collected in contradiction of her bimbo status would be ignored and summarily dismissed as irrelevant.
She slid her new dress over her head. She'd purchased it yesterday, specifically for the party tonight. It was a pale yellow in color, and fit her as tightly as a second skin. It accentuated her every curve. And, since she would wear no brassiere tonight, her nipples would be clearly visible as they pressed against the sheer cloth from which the dress had been made.
She hoped Tommy didn't think it was too provocative.
When she began brushing out her soft blond hair, she mumbled "Sometimes I wish I were a brunette."
Guys had enough trouble getting past the size of her breasts without the added complication of being a blond. She couldn't remember how many times she'd been approached by some guy who had "she's a _blond_, she must be an _airhead_" written all over his face. Damn, how she hated those television shows with their stupid portrayals of the stereotypical _dumb blonde._
But while continuing the brushing of her hair, she couldn't help but wonder what all the people, who thought they knew her, would think or say about her, if they knew she'd been the valedictorian of her high school graduating class. And just what would they really think of their 'little airheaded bimbo,' if they knew she maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Or that she was easily passing classes with subjects some of them wouldn't be able to spell.
Oh well, she thought, what they don't know won't hurt the image. At first she'd been surprised and hurt by what some people had said about her behind her back. But that was before she'd realized that sometimes there were definite advantages to be thought an airheaded bimbo. But then most guys wouldn't understand that at all. And it was so much easier to maintain that image, then continually trying in vain to disprove it.
She didn't believe there were many guys like her Tommy in the world. When they spoke with one another, it was always respectful, always as friend to friend. She didn't believe he could ever think of her as some bimbo or an airhead.
And last night, he didn't laugh at her or disbelieve her, when she'd told she'd never slept with a man before. He was her first, and if she had her way, he'd be the only one who ever would. She was absolutely certain that he loved her as much as she loved him.
But why wouldn't he say something to her?
Inexplicably, she suddenly wondered if Tommy would be as good a father, as he was a friend. Now that's strange notion, she thought, for she knew it was just some old wives' tale that a girl got pregnant after sleeping with her first man.
Quickly, but thoroughly and expertly, she applied her makeup. She smiled, when she took her final glance in the mirror.
Perfect, she thought.
"Look out world, here I come!" she exclaimed.
After slipping on her shoes, she glided down the stairs. Exiting through the door still standing open, she found him patiently waiting for her on the porch.
"I'm ready, Tommy." she breathed sexily. "Do you like my dress?"
"Wow." was all that he could utter.
"You don't think it's too daring, do you?" she asked as she batted her eyelashes at him. "If you do, I can always go upstairs and change it."
"No, that won't be necessary. It's absolutely perfect. Just like you."
"Aren't you so sweet." she said.
She knew this dress along with her general appearance would only serve to re-enforce his friends' opinions of her as a bimbo and an airhead. But she really didn't care what _they_ thought. The only opinion of any importance to her belonged to Tommy. And if Tommy liked the way she was dressed, then that was all that mattered. And if any of his friends still had problems, then they were _their_ problems and definitely not _hers_.
"We should be on our way." he told her.
"Yes, we should." she replied.
Then suddenly, she pulled him close to her. Unexpectedly, she kissed him passionately.
"What was that for?" he asked sheepishly as he tried to catch his breath.
"That was just for being you." she replied. "You're my best friend, you know. My very best friend in the whole wide world."
* * * * *
As they arrived outside the small bar that sat directly across the busy boulevard from the mall, they could hear the sounds of partying from inside. Before they entered, she slid her arm around Tommy's waist. And as they joined some friends inside, she leaned gently into him. After all, it had taken her plenty of time and effort to perfect this _bimbo_ image of hers, and she certainly wasn't about to screw it all up now.
She was surprised at the huge turnout. Tommy had told her it would be a small and intimate gathering of the football team and a few of their friends. But the bar was quite literally packed to the rafters this evening.
She remembered now the reason for this gathering. It was for one of Tommy's closest friends, who'd lost his football scholarship because of his poor grades. But for some strange reason, she couldn't recall his name. For some reason, it kept slipping from her mind, even though she remembered Tommy telling her his name.
There were her sorority sisters CeeJay, Sam, and Charlie, who, by this time, had all managed, to no one's surprise, to latch on to some of the more popular members of the team. She figured those boys were probably quite proud of being the ones to _initiate_ picking up her beautiful, buxom sisters.
Well, she figured, what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them.
But a glance from CeeJay, who had captured the attentions of the new starting halfback Larry Miller, had quickly told her that she had the man she wanted for the night. And, if she knew CeeJay, it would be would be very unlikely if Larry showed any interest whatsoever in anything related to football for the next several days.
And Sam and Charlie had done alright for themselves as well. The two best girlfriends had landed another set of best friends, namely Jack Thomas and Paul Warren, two of the team's premier players. They were also All-Conference All-Star tight ends.
Then she saw DeeDee Marston, one of the new pledges, who'd just transferred this term from the University upstate to go to school where her mother taught.
She was dancing with her boyfriend Terry Jenkins. She'd always thought them an unusually odd pairing. But the two of them always got along so well together, that she'd decided it wasn't her place to say anything against him to DeeDee. It was a simple case of "to each, his, or in this case her, own."
And speaking of the odd and unusual, that strange girl, Crissy Wagner, who hung out at that equally strange fraternity house down the hill, was also at the party. She always seemed to pop up in the most unusual places at the most unusual times. And only at night - no one had ever seen her in the daytime. But then she'd always vanish again sometime after midnight. She knew that Crissy was a friend of Terry's and guessed that he had set up one of his fraternity brothers with this date with Crissy.
Then she heard a nearby voice ask "By the way, have you seen Tom tonight? I'm sorta surprised he's not here yet."
How peculiar, she thought. Not only had that voice sounded so familiar, but she could have sworn she'd heard those exact same words some time before, right down to their tones and inflections. She'd never felt such a powerful sensation of deja vu before.
"I'll bet he's waiting for Stacey." replied a voice she recognized immediately as belonging to Jack Treadwell. "You know, it must be really tough on Tom to be dating the head cheerleader. Especially tonight ..."
She smiled as she watched Jack's wolfish grin spread from ear to ear. It was plainly obvious to her and probably anyone who had overheard him, that Jack wished he could be in Tommy's shoes and dating Stacey Minwell himself.
Sometimes, she thought, it just makes me feel so good knowing that someone is in lust with _me_.
"... when they inconsiderately scheduled this major practice session for all the cheerleaders, while we're having this wake for the team."
Just then she and Tom Daniels, the team's star quarterback, decided to join in Jack's conversation with _Henry Sawyer_, known to some as Hank and others as Ox. In order not to tarnish her well established image, Stacey draped herself all over Tommy in order to make her little entrance.
"Sorry we're late, old buddy, but Stacey couldn't get out of that big cheerleader practice tonight." he explained to his best friend Henry. "She'd bumped her head during practice and afterwards she wasn't feeling very well. For a while, I was really afraid we were gonna have to miss the party, but then, after we got back to her sorority house, she suddenly felt fine again. She decided we just couldn't miss this party, Hank. What can I say, except who can figure girls anyway?"
"I quit trying to figure out girls a long time ago." quipped Hank. Laughter rumbled through all those present.
Just like a guy not to understand girls, thought Stacey. But still she felt confused as another strange wave of deja vu passed through her. There was something about that line, or maybe it was just the way Hank had said it, that made her wonder where she'd _heard_ it all before.
"You know, Hank, we're really gonna miss you." Tom told his friend. "Things won't be the same with the team with you gone."
"We certainly will miss you, Oxy." said Stacey, purposely using her poutiest little voice. As she spoke, she reached up and brushed away the long blonde strands of hair that had fallen across her face.
As they stood there for a moment, Stacey could have sworn she was listening in on Hank's thoughts, almost as if they were her very own. It was like some invisible thread tied her mind to his. Strangely, it appeared, from Hank's actions, that his thoughts traversed a one way street. She heard his thoughts, but he couldn't hear hers. And she couldn't understand why this was happening now, she'd never been telepathic in her life.
That _we_ had been meant to be her and Tom, not just the team, she thought in response to his thought.
And she smiled at the thought that had he actually fallen, hook, line and sinker, for her pose of the "flighty little airhead."
But all in all, even with this strange connection, she didn't actually know him very well at all. If it hadn't been for him knowing Tommy as well as he did, she doubted she would have ever given Hank the time of day. And yet, on those times she'd spoken with him in the past, he had always seemed remarkably and often times uncommonly familiar to her. Maybe she reasoned, they had known each other in a previous life.
And then another weird thought passed quickly through her mind, again apparently from Hank. She now unquestionably knew that Hank thought the only reason Tommy was attracted to her was because of the largeness of her breasts. However, since that was exactly what she'd surmised his friends to have thought anyway, it was a hollow revelation that did not disturb her even slightly.
She remembered all of his other friends joking about the time when Tommy had first started dating her. It seemed everyone on campus had something to say about either her house or her sisters. And sometimes what was said hadn't been very complimentary. She had even heard the joke that freely circulated with a punch line about "huge breasts being one, if not the only, entry criterion for new pledges of her house." She hadn't thought it overly funny.
"What are you going to do?" asked Tom.
"I don't know. I'm not real anxious about going home and telling my parents that the school cancelled my scholarship." replied Hank. "You know how they are."
"You know, Oxy." said Stacey very much wanting to help Tommy's friend. "Over there in the mall, there's this little shop run by this old guy who sells magical stuff. Maybe he's got something that will patch things up between you and your parents."
"Yeah, right." replied Hank.
Stacey felt a little disheartened. It was plainly obvious from Hank's expression, he didn't believe her.
"Maybe he's got some magical trick that would turn me into someone really smart." continued Hank. "Or even better, maybe he's got a magic wand or something else I could wave at them that would make them vanish in a puff of smoke. But I doubt there's any magic in the world that could ever be potent enough to affect them."
"You never know, Oxy." smiled Stacey feeling another weird sensation of deja vu pass through her. She could have sworn she'd _heard_ before the things she was _just now_ telling Hank. "And you never _will_ know if you don't go to Spells 'R Us and talk to the old man."
* * * * *
Leaving Tom and Hank alone to talk, she wandered around the room and mingled with the crowd. As she did, she wondered if Hank would actually take the time to seek out the old man and ask him for his help. Obviously, Hank didn't or couldn't or wouldn't believe in plain old everyday magic - after all, he hadn't been through what she'd been through. But just as obviously, at least to her, she knew the old man could easily help him. But _he_ would have to be the one doing the asking for that help.
And she didn't believe him capable of suspending his disbelief.
So it startled and surprised her, when, at the very height of the party, he began to walk around from person to person telling them he was leaving his party. He told no one where he was going, but Stacey suspected he felt embarrassed or self-conscious about telling them he was off to see the wizard of the mall. And he wanted nobody thinking he was some kind of a crazy fool.
And how strange he sounded, she thought, as she'd overheard several of his goodbyes, while she flitted about the room. Somehow, his goodbyes carried a tone of finality to them. She wondered if he'd meant them to sound that way, or if possibly she was hearing something in his voice that wasn't really there.
It came as no surprise to her, when Hank failed to stop and say anything to her. After all, he was Tommy's friend, not hers. And the two of them had never engaged themselves in idle chatter before. Hank and Tommy had talked for quite a while, while she'd aimlessly floated about. He probably simply assumed that Tommy would tell her anything she needed or wanted to know.
But Hank did seem like a really nice guy, even if he did think her a _flighty airhead_. But that had been by her design and she definitely couldn't blame that even partially on him. Suddenly, she wished she knew him better. Maybe after he'd seen the old man and he'd solved Hank's problems, they would become closer friends.
She'd kept a watchful eye on Hank while wandering without purpose through the partying crowd. When at last, she'd seen him start walking toward the door, she'd quickly followed to intercept him. Just as he'd opened the door to leave, she caught up to him.
"Hank." she said in her sweetly innocent voice.
"Yes, Stacey." he replied turning back to face her. There was obvious surprise showing on his face. He seemed amazed that she'd actually abandoned the attentions of the crowd to come over and speak to him.
"I wanted to say goodbye before you left." she said. "And I also wanted to wish you all the luck you'll ever need in your life, no matter what happens in your future."
"Thank you, Stacey." he said. She could tell he was obviously touched by the sentiment she'd expressed, but, once again, she clearly heard that tone of complete and utter surprise.
He must think I'm really weird, thought Stacey. After all, I've never paid him this much attention before.
Then, with uncharacteristic impulsiveness, she gave him a quick little peck on the cheek.
Shit. If he didn't think me weird before, he must now, she thought. And she could see the total surprise written all over his quickly reddening face.
"What was that for?" he asked sounding astonished.
"I really don't know, Hank." she replied. "Somehow, it just seemed the right thing to do ... at the moment ... for a _friend_."
They smiled at one another, but neither said another word, as Hank turned around and left the bar.
After he'd had left, Stacey stood silently watching him from the open doorway of the bar. He walked slowly out to the boulevard, then pushed the button at the signal and waited patiently for the green "walk" light to flash on. As she continued watching, he crossed the boulevard, then disappeared through the small door leading into the mall.
"I know the old man can help you, Hank." she whispered. "Just give him a chance to help. You'll see. I have to believe he can help you, just as much as he helped me."
And then she wondered whether or not Hank was the kind of person the old man had expected her to find and send to him. She hoped so, but she had the strangest feeling that Hank was exactly the person the old man had been searching for.
As she stood there staring out at the outer wall of the mall lost in her thoughts, Tom had quietly slipped up behind her and put his arm around her waist. She leaned against him, putting her head against his chest, and sighed.
"Are you alright?" he asked her.
"I'm fine, Tommy." she replied, then suddenly with a new exuberance overtaking her, she asked "Why are we out here, when there's a party going on inside?"
"I don't know." he responded. "I came out here looking for you. My sister and her date finally arrived a few minutes ago, and I know how much both of you have wanted to meet the other. Her name's Sabrina. She's just a couple of years older than you and teaches English at Aggie Tech. Her date also teaches there - history I think she told me - but there's just something about him I just can't stand."
"Now, Tommy. You shouldn't be so judgmental of people you don't know." she told him. "It could drive a wedge between _you_ and Sabrina that might never heal."
"I know, but I still can't help it. Whenever she's with him, she doesn't act like the sister I've always known and loved. Instead she acts like some stranger - some overly horny and wantonly oversexed slut. I don't know how he's doing it, but I _know_, without a doubt, that Adam Walker is doing something to her to make her act so strange."
That name sounded awfully familiar. And just what was it about that name, that made her think she wasn't going to like him either?
* * * * *
In the mall, the old man finally smiled.
After all this time, he still found it difficult to believe that he had finally _solved_ the problem the wizard's council had told him he'd inadvertently created. Maybe, now that 'all was as it should be,' the wizard's council would leave him alone and keep off his case for a while. At least, he could still dream.
Hank Sawyer no longer existed. In fact, he'd never existed. The soul he'd possessed, when he'd used to exist, now belonged to Stacey Minwell, who was exactly as _she_ had always been meant to be.
Stacey reminded him of that homely, old spinster lady who'd asked for his help several years ago. If she'd only told him about the blind monk with one leg who had broken into her house and raped her, then none of the endless bullshit from the wizard's council about "that little accident" would have happened.
But had she told him. No. She hadn't said a word, when she came in to his shop to get a vial of the same potion he'd later give to Hank. And overnight, she'd transformed from a homely old spinster lady to a gorgeous "Miss Teenage America" contestant. To say she'd been delighted would be a gross misunderstatement.
But the sperm of that damned one-legged, blind rapist monk had fertilized one of her few remaining viable eggs. At the time, the old spinster quaffed the potion the developing ovum had had two _X_ chromosomes. But before it had time to implant itself in the teenaged girl's uterine wall, the potion had transformed it too. And with a different egg fertilized by a different sperm, the ovum had undergone an _in vivo_ sex-change.
At least that was what the wizard's council told him. If it had been anybody else, he would have found the idea of a blind, one-legged monk burglarizing a house and then raping an old spinster lady totally preposterous and utterly ludicrous.
But the wizard's council wouldn't lie to him. Most of time, they just overlooked or forgave him his little peccadilloes. But mucking about and transforming the newborn innocent was something they would not tolerate from anyone.
How long had he sought the boy?
Only to be caught napping and totally surprised when the boy, now a young man, had actually shown up in his shop seeking help. Hank had been sent there by Stacey, who had only wanted to help Hank, but in actuality had herself once been Hank, who'd become in turn Heather, then Hilary, and then finally the Stacey who'd sent Hank back to his shop to start the cycle all over again.
The old man's head swam with all the probabilities of what had just happened. Damn. Now he had a migraine headache. He should have really known better than to try thinking through all the possible ramifications of this potentially paradoxical temporal causality loop.
He'd expected the potion to do all the work and change Hank directly into Stacey and be done with it, but instead he'd become _Heather_ - a girl - but too young, and not the right one.
And then he'd lied to Heather about her parents. He really hated doing that, but he couldn't take the chance she'd run off trying to find her birth mother, who had given her, or rather him, up for adoption at birth.
But both Heather and Hank had been right about the Sawyers. They'd never been cut out for parenthood and now they were the childless couple _they_ should have always been.
He'd even made sure to tell Heather about the scale in the Aggie Tech principal's office. He knew she would be unable to resist using it. But then she'd used it too early _and_ in conjunction with another girl. Heather had become _Hilary_ - still a girl - but this time too old, and still not the right one.
And just when he'd started to worry that she'd never become who she was supposed to be, he sensed her using the scale again. But this time, she was alone and her mind-set was finally totally conducive to becoming Stacey. He'd nearly broken his foot as he jumped for joy at the fortune "Soon all will be as it should be" that the scale had given her.
And now, she was Stacey Minwell, _finally and forever_.
His problem was solved. Finally. And completely, at last
Unless of course, he'd managed to overlook something. But he was definitely and positively absolutely certain that he hadn't overlooked a thing.
* * * * *
Exactly nine months after the party, Stacey Daniels, formerly Stacey Minwell, gave birth to her and Tommy's first child, a fine and healthy normal little boy.
For reasons, which even they could never explain to themselves or anyone else, they named him _Henry Alexander Daniels_. Neither of them could ever remember having known someone with that name. But both of them agreed that _Henry Alexander_ was the perfect name for their son.
As Tom watched on intently, Stacey sat quietly on her hospital bed, breast-feeding their first-born son. Neither of them knew, nor were they ever likely to find out, that little Henry, birthed by Stacey, owed his conception, not to his real parents Tom and Stacey, but to his other real parents Hilary Sawyer and Adam Walker.
Nor was it likely, hopefully not before he had the time to grow to adulthood, that Henry would discover, he'd been conceived with two _X_ chromosomes.