The alarm wakes we. The barrier moved around him, he said. So, hanging around in the morning is not allowed. And we’re blocked again. I guess we’ll have to think of other things to try and figure out.
But we swapped names!
Is it a coming out when the other already knows? Not really. But it still feels huge to say it out loud.
After showering, dressing and then eating breakfast, I start walking towards Mirror Lake. I spot Aelric near the bus stop – that’s not his normal weekday time. Is something up, or is this normal for Sunday? I guess I never went this way last Sunday. Also, there’s something different about him, like he’s more… vivid, I guess?
As I get closer, I see some sort of structure of light beneath the glamor. And a deep glow below that. What on Earth?
Try not to stare!
Right. I turn left between the Physics and Chemical Engineering buildings. What was all that? Did he change something? Or am I seeing things I couldn’t see yesterday?
We swapped names.
Is this another Acceptance? But I still haven’t… Maybe the Acceptances don’t have to be in order?
Let’s just get to Mirror Lake for now.
I spot Dell before she sees me. Her glamor stands out more too and again I see a kind of structure under it – is that how it’s made? Below that is the green I remember, but also a little brown. There is glow under that, but it’s much weaker than Aelric’s. Is that like strength, maybe? He is supposed to be some kind of protector figure, so he should be strong.
She waves at someone walking up from the other direction. Another girl with a glamor— and nothing else. This must be that girl Ca— George talked about last week. Arsinoe. If the glow is strength, she’s about par with Dell.
I walk up to them and say hi.
“Hey Cat! Good morning, you made it before the sleepyhead time. This is a friend of mine, Arsinoe.”
“Hi Cat. Just call me Si.”
“Hi Si, I’m Cat.”
There’s park bench overlooking the lake. Normally the path in front would be too crowded for the kind of conversation we’re about to have, but it’s still early enough to be quiet. We sit down with Si on my left and Dell on the right and talk. I tell Dell about the dream and waking up as someone else, seeing the Consistorium car and recognizing the uniform.
“Weren’t you afraid they would do something bad?”
“We never really thought about it. It was the only way to get information.”
Dell asks, “We? You and the person you were swapped with?”
“Yes, we have a sort of dream every night where we meet.”
“So what did she do?”
“Make contact with Aelric. In the beginning each of us could only see one side.”
Si smiles and spreads out her arms, “And now you can see everything!”
The gesture leaves her beautiful breasts pointing straight at me. She notices me looking and seems to shrink in on herself, blushing. “I’m sorry Cat, but I… I’m not into girls. Please don’t give me a hard time about that.”
“Huh? Why would I?”
She looks down. “I’m a sex spirit. I’m supposed to like it. All of it. People expect me to. They keep pushing. But I don’t. Not with girls, I really don’t.”
“Hey, I’m not going to push. I’m sorry I stared. I do like girls, but I’m already in a triangle as it is. Adding another person would make it square, right?”
She smiles a little. “I suppose?”
“And you don’t seem very square to me.”
She giggles. “More of a curve, is that what you want to say?”
“If that’s OK with you.”
She looks up again. “I’m cool with looking.”
“Then you’re a gorgeous curve.”
“Thank you and thank you for not pushing.”
“You’re welcome. But— I’m really curious now. Do you always go around naked?”
“I hate clothes.”
“What’s it like?”
She grins. “You want to try?”
What?! “I–” Yes! “But, I can’t…”
“Oh, I will cover you with a glamor, silly. I am so not going to explain to Aelric how I showed off your bare butt to the whole campus.”
Yes! “What about the Consistorium guys? They can see through glamors, right?”
She smiles and I see her glamor become more opaque, the structure below it more intricate. It now almost masks the inner glow.
But I’m still looking at a pair of nipples.
“I can still see you.”
“Wow! I thought only Aelric could do that! Anyway, your Consistorium friend won’t be able to. Trust me.”
“My Consistorium— You’re on to me, aren’t you.”
“Yup. I get lots of gossip. So, are you going to try it?”
I don’t know what will happen, but I’ll never forgive myself if I say ‘no’. “Yes. Yes, I will.”
“Alright! So, you’re a math TA, right?”
“That tutoring place is right over there and it should be empty on a Sunday. You could get changed there.”
We’re really doing this. “Alright, let’s go there before I chicken out.”
We walk over and I let us into the building. There is nobody there, but I still feel horribly exposed.
Si nudges me. “The bathroom, silly.”
“Someone could still walk in while I have one leg out of my panties.”
Dell says, “I don’t think so. Wooden door, right?”
“It’s going to be stuck for as long as you need it.”
I don’t get it, but OK. We walk into the women’s room and Dell closes the door touches the wood for a moment. There is more brown among the green on her skin now. The door makes a creaking noise.
“It’s stuck. I hate the taste of these panels, though.”
Dell, Delling, wooded area. “Wait, are you some sort of tree spirit?”
She smiles. “Yes, I am. And these things can actually vaguely remember having being trees once. Or at least the part that isn’t glue can.”
They both turn their back. It’s silly, they’re going to be seeing me anyway in a moment, but it does help. Like I said, just do it before I chicken out!
I kick off the shoes, then take of the T-shirt and the bra and finally the shorts and the panties. “Alright, I’m done.”
Si turns around. “Cool. Let’s get you dressed back up.” She touches my arm and I feel something tingly. I see a structure like the one holding up her glamor forming and then it looks like I’m dressed again in what I was wearing.
I hold up the clothes. “Let me get rid of these.”
Dell touches the door again, which gives another creak and then she opens it for us. I walk over to my desk, fold the clothes and put them in a drawer. Good thing I don’t normally store anything in this desk.
Si looks at me. “Ready?”
My heart’s pounding, but I nod. She takes my hand and we walk outside. The street is empty. In both directions. I had expected the pavement to be very rough under my feet, but it isn’t. I look at the structure of the light around my feet and I think I see how that works. The sun and the wind on my skin are wonderful. It was kind of sweaty in the T-shirt, but now it’s just perfect. Running like this should be really nice… Bouncing boobs. Maybe not.
We walk back to Mirror Lake and then in the direction of the Oval. As we’re getting close to the end of the Lake, two guys emerges from the path that cuts through the trees to the Oval. Si grabs my hand and I realize I was about to cover myself. “Act normally”, she whispers, “They won’t see a thing.”
She’s right. They walk straight past us, never giving us more than the normal looks. They were looking at two naked girls and they couldn’t see it!
We emerge on to the Oval. There’s at least a dozen people in view, walking on the paths, sunbathing on the grass and a guy and a girl throwing a Frisbee. And nobody looks at us funny.
I see a girl who is obviously enjoying applying tanning lotion to her boyfriend and think of sunburn. “Hey, Si, what about sunb—” No, wait, it’s right there in the glamor. “Never mind.” This glamor thing is handy. Really handy. And versatile.
Si is looking at me. “Sunburn? No, I’m letting a trickle of UV in, but not enough to burn. You can even play with it. I have a friend who is several shades paler than I am and she likes to tan a bikini outline on herself and leave everything else white. She says guys really like that, but I can’t pull it off. Anyhow, don’t worry about the sunburn.”
“Thanks, I kind of saw—” A sudden gust of wind lands the Frisbee at my feet. I pick it up and look. The girl of the couple waves, so I throw it to her. She calls, “Thanks!” I wave back. I feel so alive with the wind touching me everywhere.
Dell asks, “I’m kind of thirsty. You up to getting a drink dressed like this?”
‘Dressed like this’ That makes me giggle. I don’t know if I want to go inside right now, but whatever. “Sure.”
We walk over to High Street and pick the closest fast food joint to get drinks. As we get in the door, I feel a tingle and see the glamor tightening up. I look in the direction Si is looking and see a table full of Consistorium cadets. The guys are very interested in Si, who hasn’t tightened up her own glamor.
We get in line and I watch the table from the corner of my eyes. Some of the girls seems annoyed, either at us or the guys at their table, but it doesn’t seem like anything is going to happen.
Si is staring at the guy at the head of the line, who is making a big deal about something wrong with his burger. “Please hurry that up.”, she mutters.
“What? Are you that thirsty?”
She looks at me. “No, but tightening glamors like this is tiring, especially when they’re on someone else. I can’t keep this up for very long.”
And there’s a table full of people that can see through a regular glamor and Mark would hear about it and my clothes are on the other side of campus and—
“Careful! More like this” and I feel a nudge. I move it a little in that direction. What am I doing?
I open my eyes again and see that I’m holding up the glamor myself. How did that happen? Can I do this? Won’t it fall apart and I’ll be—
Si touches my arm. “Hang in there! You’re doing pretty well.”
Dell adds, “I have never seen anybody do this well on their first try. That wish must be amazing stuff.”
Si smiles. “I guess. Let’s get your drink and then get to a more quiet spot.”
We get the drink, move out and cross the street to a more quiet path in the direction of the South Oval. Si finds a park bench and we sit down.
“Alright, you can relax now. There’s no one near who can see through glamors.”
I realize that I’m still holding it very close and right. I try letting go a little.
“That’s it. Perfect.”
Alright then. “What happened?”
“You suddenly grabbed the glamor from me.” She smiles. “I guess you really didn’t like the idea of the Consistorium people seeing you.”
Well, duh. “Did I get it right?”
“You didn’t expose yourself, if that’s what you mean. But they definitely know you are messing around with glamors.”
She pats my cheek. “You’ve been focused a little inward. Take a good look at yourself.”
What? Wait, I’m now wearing my running shoes and a skirt I’ve never worn before and— This is Vicky’s outfit. Her ‘Sex on the beach’ T-shirt and short skirt. But they’re my shoes.
“Oh, that’s normal for a first time. People always end up in something else than they intended. Can you change it back to the clothes you wore earlier?”
I remember myself in the mirror this morning and wonder how I should do— and it’s changing already.
“Like this, I think?”
Si looks at me. “That’s just about perfect. Like Dell said, that wish is amazing.”
I have to grin at that. “It has certainly amazed me at times.”
Si laughs, but Dell almost doubles up. When she gets her breath back, she says, “Why, you already think it’s strange when all you do is wake up as someone else?”
“Yeah, I’m easily surprised. You guys want to walk and talk some more?”
We get up and walk in the direction of the Olentangy.