Crystal's StorySite



by Barbie Lee
© Jan 2002


She had my full attention as I watched her walk toward me. A very beautiful woman, she had long silky, jet black hair down to her hips. She was wearing a metalic blue dress. In the reflected light from the lobby it shimmered like flowing water. The hem of the full skirt was just above the knee and I was thinking it was perfect. She walked with a grace few could manage on five-inch, blue, stiletto heels. With each graceful step her hips swayed with the fluid movement of a hula dancer. She had a face women dream of owning and men dream about, sweetheart lips, beautiful arched eyebrows, long lush lashes any woman would have killed for, and a cute little pert nose. High cheekbones and natural almond skin tone defined her Indian ancestry. Her beauty was extraordinary when one considered her beginnings. One of the prettiest women I had ever met, she smiled as she approached.

I couldn't help myself as I heard a crash of plates behind me. A smile came to my face. From previous experience, I had seen the effect this woman had on people. She was one of those who commanded a room when she walked in. Men would watch in awe as if their wet dream had come alive. Women would be wondering if she was real while thinking there was no way she could be a product of Mother Nature.

As she walked up, I held out my hand. "Good to see you again, Miss Tonue."

Taking my hand, she closed in and gave me a kiss on the cheek before she backed up. "As you, Mike. And it's Bridget. How is Morgan?"

I had forgot Bridget was so affectionate. I guess that was one of her many charms and she had a bunch of them to say the least. "Morgan is fine. She sends her love. You are looking beautiful as always. How's Sam O'Donald and when is the wedding?"

"The wedding date hasn't been set. Sam is still flying for Atlantic as am I. We both enjoy what we are doing and plan on staying with it. How's Mr. Logan and Horace? I would love to see them again." She had my hand still clasp in hers as she looked in my eyes.

That was one of her other charms. Bridget always made the person she was talking to feel as if he or she was the only one who counted as she made full eye contact and gave them her undivided attention. I motioned to the dining room. "Please, I have a table waiting. Let's continue this conversation over lunch shall we?"

Bridget laughed and it seemed as if the room got a little brighter. "I was wondering when you would mention it. Please, I would like that very much."

I knew she wasn't starving but she made me feel as if I had just saved her from death by inviting her to lunch. I had no idea how she could do what she did. It all came naturally to her. Morgan didn't give Bridget any of those traits. The physical beauty? Yes, that was a contribution from Morgan. The inner beauty or the glow that seemed to come from within her? That was Bridget and only Bridget. No magic there.

As I turned to walk her to our table, she slid her hand into mine. She made the man she was with think she was there only for him. Another one of her charms and it came so naturally to her. Reluctantly I retrieved my hand and pulled her chair out at the table. "You are so amazing. Please, allow me.'

Smiling mischievously, she gave me a wink. She slid her right hand up between her neck and hair and lifted her long hair over her right shoulder letting it drape across her ample right breast. Although suggestive, it was natural for Bridget. She turned slightly to the chair before sitting. She was graceful and elegant. As she slid her chair up to the table she whispered. "Thank you. You're too kind."

I could only shake my head as I walked around to the other side of the table to find my own chair. I waved for a waiter which was unnecessary. All of the waiters, along with the patrons, were already watching us. "Would you like to order a drink first?"

"Would you be kind enough to order for me?" A smile flashed in her eyes as she set her shoulder purse in the chair to her right.

"As you wish." I glanced up at the waiter who was paying absolutely no attention to me. Instead he was focused in on Bridget. "A Chablis fifty nine for the lady and me."

"Yes sir, very good sir." He nodded and left.

It was a guess as to if she would like the wine but I was sure she would make me think I had made an excellent choice even if she didn't. Bridget was like that. Like making me feel like I had saved her from death by starvation when I invited her to lunch. Bridget would make me feel like the wine was an excellent choice even if she didn't care for it. Of all the people in the world I had ever met, Bridget was one of the few who made everyone think they were doing her a favor no matter how small the incident. She was amazing! I guess you could say, her inner beauty matched her outer beauty. The woman's beauty was more than skin deep.

Looking at Bridget it was easy to get lost in her eyes. Her concentration never wandered. She made everyone feel as if she was hanging on every word. Maybe she was but I knew this woman could buy and sell a lot of corporations around the world and never borrow the money to do it. The idea this lady who was so classy and elegant, flew as an Atlantic Airlines hostess would boggle the mind if I didn't know her personally.

I opened my napkin and spread it on my lap. "Mr. Logan and Horace are doing great. I talked to them a couple days ago. Mr. Luk wanted me to tell you how much he misses you. ...,Oh, I almost forgot. Mr. Logan said your friends have been doing a terrible job of watching over the place since you left."

Her eyes were twinkling as a smile spread across her face. "I'll have to stop in and see them."

The waiter set a wine glass down in front of Bridget and..., He was holding onto the second wine glass and wine bottle while he stared.

It wouldn't have done any good to admonish the waiter. Bridget infatuated everyone who got close to her. I snapped my fingers as I looked at his nametag. "Carl, over here buddy."

"Sir? Oh certainly. Sorry sir." He set a glass down in front of me along with the bottle and walked off.

Looking over at Bridget, her eyes were dancing with delight as she rolled her lips in to keep from giggling. She knew what she had done to the poor guy. I guess I was a little better prepared for Bridget than what the other patrons in the restaurant were. It started me thinking how much our lives were alike in some ways.

My daddy was a mechanic in one of those tractor places that sold farm tractors. They sold a few industrial tractors too but it was mostly farm equipment. Borger, Texas was a farm community. Momma was a typical housewife if there is such a thing. She took care of the cooking and cleaning. Occasionally she would work odd jobs at the convenience store or wherever to help make financial ends meet. Daddy's job was great when he worked but it was seasonal. Farming is seasonal business. When the farmers were in the fields needing their equipment running then daddy made good money. When their crops were laid by then daddy spent most of his days gossiping with the locals because no one needed a tractor worked on if it was sitting in the barn. That was when momma would work part time to keep food in the house and shoes on my feet.

Susan Shirley Kalvers was the name my parents laid on me when I was born. I guess I had the typical little girl childhood. My best friend, Linda Rostman, lived four houses down and across the alley from our house. We were like sisters and usually where you saw one you saw the other. The problem with sisters is they can talk you into things you wouldn't normally do on your own. Eddie Shorer was the boy next door to Linda. He was in the same grade as us but a year older. I don't know what goes through little boy's minds. It seems they are always looking for ways to be mean. I remember when Linda and I were about six. We were playing house in the back yard. We had pulled a blanket off the bed and spread it out on the grass which was "our house". Of course we had to do cooking if we had a house. We strung out the garden hose where Linda's dog Speck had dug next to the fence and made a mud puddle. Gathering up a hand full of mud we carried it over to the back porch and spread out our mud cakes.

Eddie had been watching from his yard. When he saw the mud he came over. I thought he was going to play house with us. Shows how dumb girls can be. He started digging up mud and throwing it at us, tossing handfuls on the blanket, and at the house. About the time he tossed a big mud ball at Linda, Cindy Rostman walked out the backdoor. Eddie's aim wasn't that good and the mud ball hit Cindy in the face. As you can imagine, Linda and I received a whipping. Not because we had tossed the offending batch of mud; but because we had mixed up the mud in the beginning. Eddie didn't get a whipping as he ran home. His parents explained, "boys will be boys". I think I developed a hatred for boys about then. I received Eddie's punishment and it wasn't fair.

Small towns like Borger aren't big enough to have social elite. I mean who would the social higher ups socialize with? Even if one has money they have to live and work with the rest of the lower class of people. Instead of social layers, smaller towns develop social cliques or groups. That is one group of people who think they are better than the rest and have their own little clan. If you ain't ever lived in a little town then you are in for a real rude awakening if you think they are all friends. Since daddy was only a mechanic and we didn't have money then I was in the lower echelon of the social clique. Linda and I figured it out about the sixth grade. We weren't part of the in crowd.

Karen Sterns parents owned the Fashion Boutique on the corner of Main and Park Ave. She was most definitely part of the in crowd. Laura Fulser's parents owned the IGA grocery store so she was definitely part of the in crowd. If your parents owned a piece of the town then you were in. If they didn't own a business then you were in or out by the social graces of what kind of girl you were.

In junior high, Linda and I were placed outside the inner workings of the society clique. We remained best friends as we acted in the same school plays, were cheerleaders together, played girls softball, and girls basketball as Lady Cougars. Our team won the state championship in girls class A basketball our freshman year. Linda had grown into a tall girl at five foot ten. Her uncanny ability to make almost any shot outside the three point circle along with her height advantage over most of the schools we played made her the Lady Cougars number one point shooter. I think our junior high coach, Mr. Peach, cried when she graduated from junior high.

Our junior high prom opened my eyes to what boys wanted and how our little Borger society clique worked. I was beginning to show all the signs of teenage maturity by then and had been voted to be the Cougars Freshman Prom Queen. I had a couple dozen boys ask me to the prom. Dusty Mavis had asked me to be his date. I liked Dusty a lot. His dad worked with my dad at the same equipment company so we had something in common. I chose to date Dusty instead of Eddie or any of the other jocks or school studs. Dusty was kind of shy and really cute. Eddie and some of his friends told me I would regret dating Dusty. I was thinking they were trying to make me believe Dusty was going to go for sex on our prom night. In all my innocent youth, I didn't realize the threat was, I would never be accepted into the Borger Society Clique if I didn't date a jock and spread my legs for them. Our freshman banquet was a dream come true for me as I was the Prom Queen. The week before the big night, mom and I drove to Amarillo and picked up a burgundy, sleeveless prom dress with a full skirt and lots of petticoats. We added four-inch open strap heels and pantyhose that had a seam running down the back of the legs. It was the prettiest dress I had ever owned. I knew I was one hot looking fox second to none when I was wearing that dress. Looking back, there was only one girl there who didn't hate me because of my title. Linda didn't have one jealous bone in her whole body. But then she had her own glory. Linda was the Lady Cougars star basketball center and the Lady Cougars star softball pitcher. She was also the best actress in the whole darn school.

I have no idea where Dusty came up with an orchid for my corsage but I was the only girl in Borger, Texas with an orchid that night. Dusty took me out necking after the prom and yes, he tried a few moves on me besides kissing and petting. I think I would have been disappointed if he hadn't tried. Dusty was a gentleman and he didn't push the issue when I stopped his roaming hands from going up my skirt. He managed to fondle my breasts while my mind went off the charts but I think we both knew there wouldn't be anything beyond kissing and petting.


By the time high school came along I had matured and my body had filled out as a young woman. Linda kept telling me I was the best looking girl in school but she was my friend. That's what friends tell you if they are true friends, even if it's not true. There was a wee problem even if I was the best looking girl. All my clothes came from the discount shopping malls at Amarillo, Texas, not from some designer boutique. Sally Prich didn't have parents who owned property but she had bigger boobs then me and she also made out in the back seat of more than one football jocks car. She was part of the society clique because she made out.

It's kind of a complicated system the way the society clique works in small towns. If your parents had business property then you were in. If you were a football stud then you were in. If you were a football stud's girlfriend then you were in as long as you were a girlfriend. If the stud dropped you then you were out.

High School in Borger was sophomore, junior, and senior years. Linda and I were cheerleaders, acted in several school plays, and I cheered her on as she played basketball. At five foot four, the coach thought I was too small to play basketball even though I made most of the baskets. Linda grew up to be six foot one and was the star player on the girls team, the Lady Cougars. She was also a whole lot better shooter than any of the boys. Our school made Class A finals Linda's senior year. Many a time I saw her take a shot from half court and make the basket. The college recruiters were drooling all over themselves as they lined up to talk her into going to their college.

The jokes about "the short and tall twins" were only a few of the things Linda and I put up with in school. Linda and I dated a lot of the boys and yes we shared notes on who was nice and who wasn't. All in all, I still liked Dusty best but it wasn't developing past like. He was a good kid. Dusty just never tripped my heart strings.

My senior year I was nominated as a homecoming queen candidate. Everyone told me I was a shoo in. They didn't understand small town politics. Eddie Shorer was the football quarterback. He had tried unsuccessfully to get me to have sex with him since our freshman year. I guess I was an old fashion girl. Also I never forgave him for that whipping I received because of his offense with the mud. Eddie turned me off not on. Eddie warned me if I didn't drop my panties and spread my legs for him, I wouldn't be homecoming queen. He was right. Karen Sterns made the offer I had refused. Eddie told all his buddies Karen was to be the queen not me. Between threats of bodily harm from Eddie's buddies, from the football team, and the social clique Karen belonged to, I was voted in second. I can not begin to explain all the anger and hate I felt toward Eddie and boys in general. I didn't go to the game as I could not bear to see Karen in her high dollar gown being crowned Miss Homecoming Queen because she was willing to put out for the privilege.

Dusty and I made the senior prom together which was nice. He had grown up from a gentle boy into a gentleman. I didn't have to fight him off on our drive out to see the stars that night. As much as I tried to turn my feelings of friendship into stronger feelings, it never happened. The kisses were nice but they didn't send me off to listen to the bells. The petting was awesome as he ran his hands over my breasts but..., There was never any chemistry there.

I hated small towns, boys, and social sluts. That was a lot of hate packed in a young girl as Linda and I headed off to Texas University. Linda had a free ride to college through a basketball scholarship. I was going to have to struggle. I had a Pell Grant and a little help from mom and dad of a couple hundred a month. I was going to have to work my way through with part time jobs. Linda didn't know what she wanted to major in but it didn't make any difference, she could go as long as her scholarship held out. I was sure I didn't want any more small town. My major was going to be business management.

That first year was a real struggle. I found I had time for class, study, and work. I don't think sleep was in there anywhere. Linda and I went different directions when summer came along with our college break. She went to New York to audition for acting in commercials and short documentaries. I went home to Borger and a job at the Jiffy Stop to save money for my next year at college.

That was where I was working when Eddie walked in. He smiled from ear to ear as he walked up to the counter. "I need a couple Coors."

I pointed off toward the reach in coolers. "Over there Eddie. Help yourself."

"Go get me a couple then, Susie." He looked around the store as he spoke.

"Get them yourself, Eddie. This is not a Honk and Holler in case you forgot how to read. This is a convenience store. You help yourself." I was trying to make an order list for my manager, Danny Gist and Eddie was ruining my concentration.

Danny placed both hands on the counter and leaned forward. "Bitch, you always thought you were too good for me. You're not. You're a fucking slut and you will never be any more than a slut."

I sighed as I lost the numbers I had counted up. Pointing up toward the camera on the wall, I nodded and smiled. "Why don't you smile when you say that, Eddie? You are on candid camera. Believe it or not, they have sound with those too."

Eddie looked up at the camera and then back at me as he tried to decide if I was lying or not. He leaned up a little closer as he whispered. "You'll never amount to any thing because you are a loser. You were born a loser and you'll die a loser. I have the Raiders looking at me for next years draft. I'll be making millions by this time next year. You'll still be pumping gas and selling beer."

He had managed to get under my skin. I hissed back. "Fuck you, Eddie!"

"Don't you wish, bitch. But you may still get that wish." He was smiling knowing he had got to me. He turned and walked out of the store.

I wanted to throw something at him but there wasn't anything I could lay my hands on that would hurt him bad enough. I watched as he climbed into a Firebird and drove off. I was so mad I could bite nails.

Small towns are not the place to keep secrets and I found out Karen had a baby nine months after homecoming night. I guess she really did lay it out for the right to be Homecoming Queen. That had to be a double meaning that night. Eddie didn't marry her, claiming he wasn't the dad.

Toward the end of summer the week before I left for college, Eddie returned to town and stopped in at the Jeffy Stop. I saw him coming before he ever got out of his car so I stopped my work and waited.

"Still working for nickels and dimes, Susie?" He offered as he opened the door and closed the space between us.

"It's an honest living." I slid my fingers under the counter to the silent alarm. Eddie was one the one person in the whole world I always expected the worse out of.

He turned his back to the counter and hopped up sitting down on my counter by the cash register. "Go get me a couple Coors, would you Susie gal?"

I pointed off toward the reach in coolers. "Name on the front hasn't changed this summer, Eddie. It's still a convenience store not a Hoot and Holler carry out. The beer is still in the same spot it was six years ago when you were too young to buy it; so you got Marion to buy it for you. Whatever happened to him? I heard he was sent to prison for drugs or something."

"He turned to look over his shoulder. "Susie, be nice to me this one time. Go get me those two beers, please?"

"Not in this lifetime, Eddie. First off, I not only don't like you, I hate your guts. I wouldn't walk across the room to get you a drink of water if you were dying of thirst. You are the lowest form of humanity. You prey on others weaker than you. One of these days you will get what's coming to you but it isn't going to be like that day your parents patted you on the head and said boys will be boys." I put the key in the cash register and locked it so it couldn't be rung open. Eddie was too close to the money to suit me.

"You're a fucking cunt and will always be a loser, Sues. You want to know why? Because you have penis envy. I have one and you don't. God made men superior to women. That's why you have to squat to pee and we don't." He had seen me lock the register. He slid down off the counter grabbing up a handful of cigarette packs on the way.

I thought I could count six or eight packages in his hands before he stuffed them in his pockets. "I need to ring those up, Eddie. How many did you take?"

He leered at me as a crooked smile curled up the corners of his mouth. "Let's go to the back room and I'll show you."

I pushed the alarm under the counter. "Eddie, I'll send your ass to jail in a heartbeat if you don't put those cigarettes back or pay for them."

"Screw you, bitch. Either meet me at the old mill road thirty minutes after you get off work or I'll call up Danny and tell him I caught you selling packs without ringing up the sale." He was smiling as he turned and walked out to his car.

Eddie was concentrating on watching what I was going to do or he would have noticed Henry's old police car pull in behind him. Henry had effectively blocked Eddie from pulling out.

Henry talked on the radio for a few seconds before he slid out and walked up to Eddie's door. Henry was past middle age and only five feet eleven but he was barbwire, strung tight and ready to make one bleed if they crossed him. "Eddie Shorer. How you doing son? I haven't seen you since you graduated from high school. How's the world treating you?"

Henry opened up Eddie's car door and motioned for him to step out. "You and Susan rehashing old times were you? Step up to the front of the car and put your hands on the hood for me will you, son?"

"What you want, Henry? I didn't do anything. This is an illegal search you know. I'll sue the pants off you and that whole damn police department for harassment." Eddie was refusing to move.

Henry reached behind his back and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. "I see college hasn't taught you any manners, Eddie. You always did have a potty mouth even when you were in grade school. Maybe college didn't teach you anything but I might. I'm going to ask you one more time to step out of the car and put your hands on the hood. You do that and I won't add resisting arrest to the charges. You mess with me it won't be pretty. You may be thinking because you are a football jock you can out wrestle me. I can assure you, I know ways to hurt you that haven't even been invented yet."

The only way I can figure it, Eddie must have thought he could lay Henry out and escape to never return to Borger. I watched as Eddie came rising up out of the car swinging a right hook.

Henry easily leaned back out of the way, grabbing Eddie's arm as it came past his face. Henry kept it coming, pushing down and rotating it down and back as he twisted it. Eddie's momentum carried him out of the car. It was all over in less than the blink of an eye. Henry had Eddie face down on the pavement with his arm twisted behind his back. I think Eddie's face had plowed into the parking lot. His feet and legs were still up inside the car. In one swift movement Henry had Eddie's other arm behind him and he was handcuffed. The little Borger town policeman had the big six foot four college quarterback down for the count.

Cigarette packages spilled out of Eddie's pockets in the short struggle. Henry picked them up, tossing them on the car hood. He pulled more packages out of Eddie's pockets. I watched in surprise as Henry tossed even more from the front seat up on the hood.

Walking out the door I counted a couple dozen packages before Henry quit. "Henry, all those aren't from here. Eddie only walked out with six or eight from my store."

"I didn't steal them. The bitch gave them to me if I would meet her later. I didn't want to but she threatened me, saying she would toss them in the trash and claim I had stole them." Eddie was trying his best to talk while still down on the pavement.

Henry helped Eddie to his feet. "Sure, Eddie, sure. I believe it. And Rhonda at the Seven Eleven on the other end of town will tell the same story? She got scared after you left and called us. If this adds up to more than fifty dollars I'm afraid you will be spending you next semester in Iron Bar University."

Eddie glared hatred at me before turning his attention to Henry. "You can't arrest me. I'm a quarterback. I'm the star of the team. You will have so much heat come down on this little jerk water town before this is over you will wish you never saw me."

"You have part of it right, Eddie. I wish I had never seen you. I think your folks should have put you in a toe sack and tossed it in the gully after you were born. Come on Star Quarterback, I'm going to introduce you to something you have been missing in your education. The justice system and what happens to crooks, even famous ones." Henry led him to the patrol car.

Eddie's little crime spree ended his football career. Oklahoma University decided they didn't need him that semester he was locked up in jail. They canceled his scholarship and wrote him off. The Raiders didn't want him if he wasn't proving his stuff in collage. For a few dollars, Eddie screwed up his future. That time he had to pay for it instead of someone else taking the blame.

It was back to Texas University for me. That fall semester I was really struggling with mounting bills. Mom and dad's two hundred dollars a month check had stopped. It had turned dry again and dad's work had ground to a halt along with the farmer's crops. I didn't have a car because I couldn't afford it. One Saturday our manager at the Seven Eleven where I was working had messed up the schedule and I wasn't working. My roommate in the dorm, Judy Lanst, wanted to go to the mall and asked me to ride along.

"Come on, Susan. The fresh air will do you good. You go from class to work and back to class. I heard there is a little boutique in the mall that sells the most darling dresses." She had picked up her purse and keys and was waiting at the door.

I started to decline and thought, why not? I couldn't afford anything but it didn't cost anything to look. "Free ride? I can't afford gas any better than I can afford my room payment. I'm a month behind and only halfway through the school year."

"Sure. I'll even spring for the coke and burger or split a submarine with you. I heard that mall has the best subs in Dallas." She jangled her car keys as an enticement.

I was ashamed to have Judy give me a free ride and buy my lunch but it was a heartfelt offer. She knew as well as I, how much I was struggling to stay in college. I honestly didn't think I would last out the semester as my debts wiped me out of an education. "Thanks Judy, you're the best."

Judy's folks were upper class. Both had college degrees and made excellent money at a company called LTV. Judy owned a new Trans Am. The sports car was a status symbol only. Judy took care of that car as if it was her baby. She drove it like a little old lady. All of which suited me just fine.

We made the mall in less than thirty minutes. It was small as malls go but it seemed to be upscale. When Judy pulled up and stopped at the boutique, I knew I was out of my league by looking at the dresses in the window. It didn't stop me from window shopping though. I might not be able to buy anything but I loved to look and feel all the pretty dresses, even if I would never be able to own one.

I followed Judy into Morgans Fashions. We were met by a very attractive woman of Mexican or Spanish decent. She had all the statuesque features of royalty. If I hadn't known better I would have sworn she was receiving us as guests to her kingdom.

"Good morning ladies. Please let me know if I may assist you in finding anything. Would you like to look at our specials? We have some dresses in the back on sale." She talked with a definite Spanish accent and there was a musical quality in her voice.

Judy, nodded her head. "I'm looking for a dress for a dance next week."

"But of course. And this is an informal dance? You would like a dress with a full skirt or a narrow skirt perhaps? I have several that should be about the right size and style for you. Let's see now..., you are an eight aren't you? I see a thirty four, twenty four, thirty four do I not? Please, let me show you what I have." She motioned for Judy to follow her across the store to a rack of party dresses.

I didn't follow them. Looking at the price tags on the ones I was standing next to told me I couldn't afford to look, much less try one on. It had been a long time since I had seen an eight hundred dollar dress but the short little hot number I was looking at had that kind of price on it. I couldn't resist touching it. It was a red dress that seemed to be flowing in the lights of the room. The back was cut clear down to the "you gotta be kidding"! The front was held up by a single strap that wrapped around the neck. There was less material in that dress then the kerchief most cowboys wore. I was thinking it had to cost fifty dollars per square inch of material.

I found my way into the back where the saleslady said the dresses were on sale. "Not much they aren't." I was looking at a short sleeveless metalic blue dress. The tag was half price for five hundred and twenty seven dollars.

"Perhaps you would like to see something more in your price range?"

The voice was definitely female. It was soothing and melodious. I turned to look at the owner of that voice. She was strikingly beautiful. Asian decent, beautiful black eyes, and silky black hair. She was one of the prettiest women I had ever met and I thought the other saleslady was beautiful. "I'm sorry. I was only looking. You don't have anything in a price range I could afford."

"You may be surprised. Let's see, you're a petite size four. I think I may have a four in one of my returns. It had a defect and I was going to ship it back. Nothing that would be noticeable but never the less I don't sell merchandise that has a defect." She walked over to a storage room, reached in and brought out a black dress.

It was a beautiful black dress. In some way not understandable it packed more 'wow' than my prom dress I wore back in junior high. Sleeveless, with a turtleneck collar, and a short hemline to a tight skirt. "I'm sorry but I'm wasting your time. I really can't afford any dresses. I can't even afford lunch. My friend in there with the other saleslady is buying my lunch. I should have stayed in the dorm."

"You didn't ask the price." She smiled and slipped the dress off the hanger. "It doesn't cost anything to try it on. Why don't you indulge yourself that much?"

I was shaking my head no when my mouth answered. "Yes."

There was no way I could afford that dress but I had to try it on. I took the dress as she pointed me toward a dressing room. In the dressing room I slipped out of my blouse, and slipped on the dress while still wearing my jeans and sneakers. I stepped out of the dressing room to check out the dress in the mirror.

The lady held her hand up to her chin in deep thought. "Susan, I really don't think you can get the full effect if you are wearing jeans. Why don't you take them off?"

Again I started to tell her it wouldn't make any difference but as my mind was thinking no my mouth was saying something totally different. "Okay." I slipped off my jeans right there in front of the mirror.

"And the uh, I think you kids call them tennies?" She pointed at my sneakers.

This time I didn't argue as I stepped out of my shoes. I was looking better and better all the time as I remembered what it felt like back during my freshman year when I was Prom Queen.

"Let's see if we can't do a little more than look acceptable shall we. Try these on." She was holding up dark pantyhose and black four-inch spike heels.

"But I...," I accepted the hose and heels and disappeared into the dressing room.

It only took a minute to slip into the hose and heels. I stepped back out to check myself in the mirror. There was the beginning of what I remembered from a long time ago, a young woman who could turn heads. I had forgot her as I struggled with money and college.

"Let me see if there is anything we can do with the face." The woman stepped up in front of me with a makeup kit.

"I really can't afford the...," I had forgot what I couldn't afford.

It only took her a couple minutes. My eyes were highlighted with eyeliner, my eyelashes looked long, lush, and my cheeks were brought up. My lips looked ravishing with the wet kissable look. I was one hot foxy babe even if I was looking at me. The dress finally had its' place on a beautiful gorgeous, sophisticated woman.

I was thinking Cinderella had been freed for a few minutes but it couldn't be. I had to return to reality. I was broke and way behind in bills. My college future was in doubt and any purchase such as this dress was going to drive one more nail in the casket of my future education. I could look forward to working in convenience stores for the rest of my life if I didn't get that degree.

"Miss, I really, really can't afford this dress. I have wasted your time. I'll pay you for the pantyhose but anything else I'm sorry, I honestly don't have the money to pay for anything." I was looking for my jeans so I could dig up the ten dollars I had hidden way down in the bottom for emergencies.

"Susan, I could use a sales person. Why don't you go to work for me? I will pay you four times what you are making at that convenience store and you can work the hours you need." Her eyes were studying me waiting for an answer.

"But, it's so far down here? I mean...," I was thinking of all the problems I would have making it to work and then back to classes.

"If it was close you think I would be paying those kind of wages? Think about it. If I was close to the campus I could get a couple hundred girls to work for minimum wages. There is a bus that runs past the college and makes a straight line down to the corner out front. You can catch the bus for fifty cents each way. I really need another sales person and you are such a beautiful woman I know you would be an asset to my store. Say yes." Her eyes were sparkling as she glanced down at my heels and back up to my eyes.

"Okay, I can try it. I mean I'm probably going to be a drop out pretty soon anyway. I'll certainly need a job that pays more than a convenience store wage if I am going to survive." I turned to look at myself in the mirror again. I took a second and third look. I didn't remember styling my hair. It looked like I had teased it and then brushed it down to give it a full style. It went with the dress.

"Good. You go ahead and enjoy the day with your friend, Judy. Tomorrow is Sunday. We are not open on Sunday. I will expect you to be here after classes on Monday." She turned and was walking toward a door off to the side.

"Wait, the dress? I can't...,"

She stopped and turned to look at me. "I expect you to be appropriately attired when working in my shop. The dress is yours. I will withhold part of your wages to pay for the dresses you need to wear while working for me. Do not come to work in pants or jeans. You will wear a dress and heels. Makeup is not an option. Any more questions?"

"What's the hours?" I was wondering if I was going to be working to pay for my clothes rather than my education?

"Your last class is at four except on Friday which ends at two. You will show up here at four thirty every day except Saturday. Saturday I expect you here at nine to help with the stock. We open at ten and close at eight. I expect you to bring your books. When we don't have customers you will be studying. I will make room for you in the office. I don't expect you to disappoint me, Susan. Put your jeans, blouse and tennies in a sack and put them in the empty locker." She pointed off toward the door where she was headed.

"Put your makeup and your ten dollars in the black purse you find in the locker." She walked through the door closing it behind her.

Well, I had no idea what I had got myself into. I was adding up the wages. Four times what I was making and three and a half hours of work every week day...? I still couldn't afford a five hundred dollar dress. I looked the dress over as close as I could but didn't find a price tag on it. I also didn't find any defects. I was wondering if I could measure up to her..., I had no idea who I was working for? A beautiful woman was all I knew. Shoot, some observant saleswoman I was. I needed a crash course in sales.

Judy was by the cash register with the saleslady when I walked back up to the front of the store. I was carrying the black shoulder purse wondering if that was going to cost me another couple hundred and having no idea how I could pay for any of it. The saleslady glanced up and smiled before she slid Judy's purchase into a clothes bag. I was thinking, a ten or twenty dollar clothes bag was no big deal if one purchased an eight hundred dollar dress.

Judy picked up her purchase, looked at me and then headed toward the back when she stopped dead in her tracks. I could see the wheels turning as she stopped dead still for a couple seconds before she turned around for a second look. Her eyes were rapidly blinking as her mind processed the information. I could only imagine she was trying to figure out if she was looking at a twin or a doppelganger.

She finally decided it couldn't be. She turned and started walking toward the rear of the store. "Susan?"

"Yes?" It was all I could to do to keep from laughing out loud.

Again she stopped and slowly turned to look. "Susan?"

"How many times do I have to answer? What is it?" The smile was more than I could resist as it spread from ear to ear.

"You are kidding me! I didn't take that long. How did you manage to get yourself together like that in a few minutes? It takes me an hour to get my face on. I know you weren't wearing makeup when we walked in." She closed in the distance and was seriously studying my face. "Girl, you are one hot number! I have never seen you like this. How did...,"

"I have a new job, Judy. I talked to the manager and she offered me a job." I was filling giddy from Judy's praises.

"Obviously she offered more than a job. That dress looks so hot on you! You sure don't look like the farm girl that walked in here a few minutes ago." She grabbed my hand. "Come on. Let me dump this dress in the car and then go over to that sub place. I can't wait to show you off. I want to be there when the boys start falling all over themselves trying to get your attention."

Monday I showed up for my new job. I worked there for a couple weeks before I found out the lady who hired me was the owner not the manager. I also found out Morgan didn't spend a whole lot of time at that store. In that two weeks I only saw her one time and that was when she handed me a paycheck. The Spanish lady I worked with was Selena Constance Rohas. She taught me about makeup, color coordination, fashion sense, and acting like a lady. She taught me more then I never knew existed. A lot of the things Selena taught me were not in any books. Before the college year was up I had paid my back rent, and even managed to save a few hundred dollars. Of course that was due to my benefactor, Morgan, charging me almost nothing for the dresses and accessories I picked up at her store. I have no idea what I paid for those dresses. Morgan would tell me it was on the books when I wanted to know how much I owed. I wasn't stupid, I knew if I had been paying full price I could have bought a new Continental for what those dresses should have cost me.

My best friend, Linda, and I had gone separate paths in life. She was one of Texas University's star shooters. Exactly what the recruiters wanted when they looked her over in Borger. She had a social class of friends who ate and breathed basketball, drama, and entertainment films. By the end of the second year, Linda had become something of a minor star in commercials and endorsements for basketball related products. I was proud of her but I also missed our times together as best friends. That summer neither one of us headed back to Borger. I stayed put and became full time help in Morgans Fashions with the understanding I was going back to college come fall.

Funny how all your life you try to escape from the small towns only to find out when you are gone too long you yearn to go back for a visit. Morgan talked me into taking three days off and going home to see my mom and dad before I had to start fall class. It didn't take a whole lot of talking as I was really becoming homesick for a little of that small town 'howdy Susie' greeting everyone always gave.

Morgan talked me into driving her Jaguar for the three days I was going to be gone. Being young, it never entered into my mind how much trust that implied. I packed my bags, and headed toward Borger. The town hadn't changed since I had left. But then they never do. My first stop was the Jiffy Stop. My old manager, Danny was working the cash register. Earl Counts and a couple other men were standing there also.

As I slid out of the Jaguar, I could read Danny's lips. He was looking out the window at me. "Jesus Christ!"

My dress was black velvet, sleeveless, with a scoop neckline. The skirt was tight and the hem was four inches above the knee. I was wearing black four-inch patent leather heels with matching shoulder purse. My black sheer nylons had a seam that ran up the back of the leg. Between Morgan and Selena, I had learned exactly how to put my makeup on to look better than any fashion model in any old magazine. My silver necklace was multi strand loop with a small heart locket placed strategically between my breasts. My breasts were pushed up and enhanced with a bra that had ample under padding on the shelf to do exactly that. I had let my hair grow out where it brushed my shoulders. With the right amount of teasing and back brushing, I was the girl on the poster in any beauty parlor. My earrings were silver spiral coils. They were perfect with my hair style and the dress. Any less and they would have not been noticeable. The long red nails were also perfect for the complete picture.

As I stepped into the Jiffy Stop every eye in the place was staring trying to figure out if it was really who they thought they were looking at? "Hi Danny. Been busy?"

The voice was what they recognized. Danny was staring harder than any of the rest of them. "Susan...? Susan Kalvers...? My god girl, you are all grown up!"

Laughing I did my best Jane Mansfield walk to the cooler and picked up a Seven Up. I walked back up to the counter. Never losing their focus, the men parted like a wave before me to allow me up to the counter. "Was that a compliment, Danny? I mean kids grow up all the time."

He coughed. "Yeah, but not like you. Sheesh Susan, you look great. I looked for you to return this summer but you never called or nothing. Dana Rivers took your job. You remember her don't you? She was a grade behind you in school."

"Does that mean I can't have my job back?" I pulled my billfold out of my purse and took a dollar out of it to pay for the soda.

Danny choked and coughed. "Yeah, I mean no, I mean...," He looked into my eyes. "You're pulling my leg aren't you?"

I leaned forward and looked down at his legs on the other side of the counter. "I don't have hold of them. You better check to see who is grabbing you because it isn't me."

Earl burst out laughing along with the other men. Danny looked embarrassed as he looked down at his feet. "Aww, Susan. You sure do look good. You back or just visiting?"

"Two days to see mom and dad and a few old friends. Dusty still working at the store?" I handed Danny the dollar and waited for my change.

"Dusty is still there. You know he married Janice Litner this summer don't you?" Danny didn't look too comfortable sharing the information with me. In small towns everyone knows who was dating whom. They all knew Dusty and I had been an item of sorts all through school.

"I'm truly happy for him and Janice. She's a sweet girl. She was two grades behind me. I'm sure they will be very happy together. I can't imagine a more perfect couple." I really was happy for Dusty and Janice. In small towns there are not too many choices for who one gets to marry.

Danny handed the money back. "For old times sake, it's on me, Susan. I can't get over how good you look. God Susan, if I didn't know you I would have thought you were one of those fashion models passing through town."

"Passing through Borger? Danny, Borger isn't on the main highway through life. When was the last time you had a fashion model pass through here?" I put my money back in my purse.

He smiled from ear to ear. "Why you know we get four or five models a day through here, Susan."

"Or...," He shook his head. "Only one in a lifetime if we are lucky. All of us are lucky today."

It was a sweet compliment and Danny meant it from the heart. I blushed. "Thank you Danny, that's very sweet."

I slid my shoulder strap back up on my shoulder before I picked up my soda. "Thanks for the Seven Up. That was very kind of you."

"Kind? Susan, if you want, I'll let you have the whole darn store. I'm sure Earl and the others wouldn't mind." He had a silly grin on his face.

Laughing I shook my head at him before looking over at Earl and the others. "Why would they mind? Not their store. Danny, it's been nice talking to you again. Earl, Merle, Alvin, Jason, good to see you again."

Walking out the door I heard the guys talking among themselves. "My, my, my, who would have thought Bob Kalvers little girl Susan would grow up to look like 'THAT'!" "Well, she sure didn't get her looks from her daddy, that's fer sure." "Hell, she didn't get her looks from her mother either." "Must have been one of them traveling salesmen passing through because she didn't get..."

Morgan and Selena had taught me a lot that summer. I did it the way ladies of breeding do it as I opened the car door, set my purse and soda inside, turned my back to the seat, sit down, and swiveled my legs in. Sure it takes a lot more time and effort than plopping one's butt into the seat while one leg is inside and the other is still hung outside. The reality is, a lady keeps her legs together if she does it right. I did it right.

The tractor place was on the other side of town. I stopped there to see daddy and yes, I wanted to see Dusty too. Walking through an equipment shop is a lot like walking through the barnyard. Better watch where you put your feet or you might step in something you didn't want to. His back was to me as I walked in the big overhead door. He was elbow deep inside a tractor rear end. I knew that was daddy even if I all I could see were his legs and back. A little girl never forgets her daddy no matter how old she gets.

I walked up beside him and looked off down into the innards of a greasy nightmare of gears, sprockets, and shafts. "I believe you are working on the wrong end, mister. My husband said it was in the transmission not the rear end."

"Tell your husband to come down here and fix it himself if he's so damn smart. I've been working on these for forty years. I believe I'm qualified to know where it's broken at." Echoed back from inside the hole daddy had his head stuck in.

"Well, my husband said you were the dumbest mechanic down here at Borger Equipment. He said if you knew half of what you claimed, you would be working for Cat drawing union wages and retired by now." I had to bite my lip to keep from giggling as I needled daddy. It was so funny because he had no idea who the stupid woman was and why she was giving advice on something she had absolutely no idea what.

"Lady, I strongly suggest you take your complaints up to the front office and talk to them if you don't like what I'm doing in here. You tell that husband of yours if he was so smart he would have fixed this stupid tractor himself." Daddy was wiggling around trying to get something loose before he had to come out of the tractor.

"There's nothing worse than a dumb mechanic who thinks he knows it all because he has been working on these dumb tractors for forty years. I agree with my husband. You're not too smart. My daddy is smarter than to let some stupid woman tell him how to work on a tractor." I could see the lights come on in daddy's mind even if I couldn't see his face. He got real still.

"SUSIE!!!" He came up out of that tractor with a smile spread from ear to ear.

He was reaching for me as I screamed and held out my hand to hold him back. "NO DADDY! IT'S A THOUSAND DOLLAR DRESS!"

Thank god I got his attention before he wrapped his greasy arms around me and dragged me into his greasy coveralls. He stood there in shock and admiration. His little girl was all grown up. "My god, Susie! Look at you!"

"Did I hear someone say it was Susie?" Came from over on the other side of the shop.

"Dusty, Rick, Manuel, Wayne, guys come over here. I want you to see the little girl that used to run around this shop in pigtails." Daddy was beaming all over as he stared at me.

Then I saw something trickle out of the corner of his left eye. He reached up and brushed his cheek with the back of his left hand. "Got something in my eye in there."

A tear trickled out of his right eye and he brushed it off before the rest of the guys in the shop crowded around me. Except for Dusty, all these guys were working in this shop when I was growing up. Dusty was staring. He was in total shock his old girlfriend was back looking like Hollywood.

Rick pointed at me and grinned. "Susie, you think you will ever grow up? What are you thinking? You know that isn't the uniform for working on tractors. Go home and change right now."

"Ricky my love, if you think I'm still going to chase down sockets, wrenches, and parts for you guys then obviously you need your eyes checked." I fluffed up my hair and straightened my dress. "I do NOT gopher for mechanics, darling."

Everyone burst out laughing except daddy. He only stared at me as he wiped his cheeks.

I nodded at Dusty. "I heard you and Janice got married. I'm happy for you. I'll have to send a marriage gift when I get back to Dallas."

He shook his head. "No need, Susan. It's been almost ten months now. I knew you were never coming back to me when you left that last time. You always had your heart set on big city lights. Obviously you found what you were looking for."

He smiled a sad smile. "I guess we both got what we were looking for. I'm happy here in Borger and so is Janice."

The conversation was getting to the awkward stage. It was best to let bye gones be bye gones. "I guess we did."

I looked over at daddy. "I'm headed to the house. Let me take you and momma out to Sizzling Sirloin for supper tonight. What time you think you will be home?"

"How long you staying? A couple weeks at least?" His eyes were begging me to answer a couple weeks.

"Daddy, I can't. Classes start next week. I'll be a junior. I have two more years to go to get that degree. I'll be here three days. Today, tomorrow, and I'll have to leave by noon on the third day to get back." I regretted I hadn't taken off more time but I had to have the work and the money to make it through this year. Each year was a financial struggle for me even with Morgan's generous help.

The tears started trickling out of daddy's eyes again. "Okay, I'll be at the house as soon as I clean up some." He turned and walked off.

The other guys acted as if they didn't notice as they told me how good it was to see me again. Dusty turned and walked off. Maybe I shouldn't have stopped?

It was a short drive over to the house. I had left my house key the last time I headed to college but people never lock their doors in Borger. I opened the door and walked in to a home a little girl had grown up in several lifetimes ago. Momma was busy with laundry and she never heard me come in. Mechanics are hard on clothes. It seemed momma was always washing greasy clothes. Thank god for automatic washing machines. I walked up to the door to the laundry room and waited.

Momma looked up and jumped before she screamed. "Susie, is that you?"

We met in the middle of the room as we hugged. Little girls never grow past the point of needing a hug from their mother no matter how old they get. "I love you, momma."

"Wait tell your daddy sees you. I'll have to call and tell him to come on home. How long you staying?" She had backed up to look me over.

"I stopped and talked to daddy already. I'm taking you two out tonight. I borrowed Morgan's Jaguar and I want to show you and daddy off to the social elite of Borger. No one in Borger has a car like this, momma. I promise when you sit in it you will feel like somebody." I reached out to take momma's hand and lead her back into the kitchen where we could sit and visit.

"Susan Shirley Kalvers, you listen to me young lady. I don't need a car to make me be someone. If you think like that then I didn't raise you right." She had stopped me as she held my hand.

"Momma, I didn't mean it like that. I know the car doesn't make us any more than we already are. The dress I'm wearing doesn't make me any more than I already was. You and daddy made me what I am, not some accessories I wear or drive. I haven't forgot where I came from. I only want to show off a little. Remember when I was Prom Queen and we drove to Amarillo for a dress? You know it wouldn't have been the same if I had worn one of those cotton print dresses I wore everyday to school. Don't take this from me, momma. I don't have any more than I did that freshman school year but I want to show off anyway. Please?" I was watching her eyes to see what kind of reaction I was going to get.

Tears came to momma's eyes as she rolled in her lips. "I'm sorry hon. Sure, we will go out and show you off to the world. I was worried you had been at that big city so long you forgot who you were. I should have known you would never forget."

She looked over my outfit from head to toe. "I'm afraid you will have to go out with a couple of your poor kin. I don't have anything that will match your outfit."

"I'll help you momma. I think you will find we big city girls have a lot of secrets to share with our poor country kin that will shock the locals. Daddy said he would be home as soon as he could. Go take a bath and don't do any makeup or use any perfume. Let me do that for you. I'll get my makeup out of the car and I'll be right back." I was backing up to let momma go for her bath.

Morgan and Selena had taught me makeup tricks that hadn't been published yet. Six months of lessons paid off as momma sit before me at the dressing table. I used every single trick I had been taught. I outlined her eyes, and extended her eyelashes. I did an earth tone on her eyelids and shaped her eyebrows. Years of being a housewife had left momma centuries behind in the skill of women's makeup. I brought her lips to the front with gloss and liquid lipstick giving them depth only movie stars know about. Gently I brushed her cheeks with earth tones to recess them and gently highlighted her cheekbones to bring them into focus. I shaded the creases beside her nose to send it back and make it a subtle attraction to her face. I styled her hair and put enough spray in it to hold it for a week. The perfume was Me by Fransiscan. It was something Selena had told me about. It shouted, "all woman". My 'Piece de Resistance' was the blue dress I had brought with me. I know Morgan had deeply discounted it to me but it was for my mother. It was all I could afford. It was a six hundred dollar dress and Morgan let me have it for two hundred. When I finished up with momma she no longer looked like someone's mother. She could have stepped off the pages of any fashion magazine. Unlike a lot of housewives, she had never put on the extra pounds that goes with being secure in a marriage. I was proud of her.

Daddy had dressed in a suit and tie, something he only did for funerals. He only agreed to dress up when I told him I was going back if he didn't. I told him to close his eyes before I led momma into the living room where he was waiting. When I told him to open his eyes I wondered if I had done the right thing? His eyes kept growing and growing and..., I never knew someone's eyes could get so big.

Daddy's Adam's apple was bobbing up and down as he was swallowing while staring at momma. When he spoke his voice was several octaves too high. "Brenda, I must have died. You are the prettiest woman I ever laid eyes on. I thought you were the most beautiful girl I had ever seen when we were kids in school. I have no idea what you saw in this old farm boy but I have been doubly blessed. I have the prettiest woman in the whole state of Texas and I have the prettiest daughter in Texas. That means I have the two prettiest women in the whole world because there ain't any prettier women than Texas women."

Momma giggled like a school girl as she rolled her right hand in daddy's direction. "Bob, I married you because you are one silver tongued devil and know how to flatter a woman with all the right words. Being the best looking boy in school didn't hurt your chances none either."

We set that restaurant on fire with gossip that night. Momma and daddy were the best looking couple in Texas that evening. They were both glowing from a romantic fire deep within. I knew what that glow was all about. I was no longer a little girl. Momma and daddy knew everyone in town and I think the whole town had to stop by our table to get a closer look at momma. I knew they also were trying to get a closer look at me to see if it really was Bob and Brenda's little girl Susan Kalvers. Yep, it was and I was her. That night, daddy got lucky or maybe momma got lucky? There was no doubt their emotional fires were burning when we returned home.

My mini vacation ended all too soon. I had made an effort to see Linda's parents and some of my teachers but I missed a lot of friends. One person I didn't miss was Eddie Shorer. I heard he was in town but I didn't see him, which I was glad. I had my bags packed in the car and gave mom and dad a tearful farewell a little before noon the third day.

I stopped at the Jiffy Stop on the way out but Danny wasn't there. I bought a Seven Up and was soon headed down the highway south toward I-40. Ten miles south of Borger, a red Firebird came up behind me so fast I thought I was backing up. I looked in the mirror at a face I would never forget. Eddie Shorer was behind the wheel of that car. He was driving foolishly as he would speed up to within inches of my back bumper. Then he slowed down and dropped back before he would do it again, and again. Finally he pulled around me and sped off down the highway at what I could only imagine was over a hundred miles an hour. I thought that was the end of the problem. I was wrong, dead wrong! Eddie slowed down until he was right back in front of me and he kept slowing forcing me to slow down too unless I went around him.

At thirty miles an hour I had enough of Eddie. I stomped the gas pedal and whipped out to the left lane. Eddie saw me coming but his Firebird was no match for a Jaguar already on a roar. Before he had a chance to get in the left lane to stop me I shot by him like a bullet. I dropped the Jaguar on a hundred and ten and thought the problem was solved as the miles quickly rolled past. Eddie was either braver than me or more stupid than me because he was running way past what I was speeding. He closed the distance in less than ten miles, pulled up to my left rear and bumped the rear of the Jaguar as he steered into me.

Any race car driver will tell you, in real life, it doesn't work like what the movies show on the big screen. Any physics teacher will tell you, inertia and gyroscopic forces are put into motion that can not be stopped until the vehicle comes to a complete stop. The wheels are gyroscopes and do great at directing the vehicle down a straight path. When Eddie bumped me he sent those gyroscopes off on a right angle tangent to their line of travel. The rear wheels act as if they are on ice from that point on as they lose all traction with the pavement.

I tried to catch the skid as I turned into it but again, it was to no avail. It was physically impossible to make the front of the car keep up with the lateral movement of the back of the car after Eddie transferred lateral energy from the front of his car to the rear of my car. I was doomed at that briefest instant in time. A lifetime is wiped clean in the smallest most infinitesimal measures of time because of one stupid mistake.

The rear of the car kept moving to the right as I desperately tried to get the front to respond. Time and life slowed down to measurements not understood. Morgan's Jaguar was skidding sideways along the shoulder of the road as it started to spin. I was looking through the passenger window at the bridge abutment coming at me. I screamed, "MORGAN!"

The right side of the Jaguar folded in as the car wrapped itself around the railing. Airbags are for stopping forward impact not side impact. The bag inflated as I was thrown against the collapsing right side of the car. The seatbelts were virtually worthless as my head was bashed against the roof that had caved in to meet me as I was hurled toward that side. I was killed at that instant as the right side of my skull was crushed. It takes a little while for the body to realize it is no longer living.

Inertia and momentum were not done with the Jaguar as it spun off the bridge abutment and tumbled down the raven, rolling over and over as it shredded car parts and even human parts. Something not recognizable as a car stopped at the bottom of the dry creek bed. Something even less recognizable as human was crumpled up inside it.

"daddy...., please help me..., daddy..., i'm so sorry...,"

My world turned black and then I was in a blinding flash of light. Morgan was standing beside me looking at the mess in front of us. "Come Susan, there is nothing I can do for you here."

Obediently I turned and followed her up the embankment to the pavement. A late model car was coming down the highway and Morgan waited as the driver slowed and then stopped beside us without looking at us. He was sitting behind the wheel looking straight ahead. "Get in, Susan."

I slid in the back having to struggle to do so. Morgan slid in the passenger side and the driver started off down the road again; still not looking at either of us nor was he talking. It seemed odd but I didn't question it. Morgan picked up his cell phone and dialed. "Logan, I have a problem and I need your help. Meet me at Conway, Texas please?"

Morgan hung up the phone and turned in the seat to look at me. "Susan, I can't go back and undo what has already been done. The past is not fixable. I can't teleport objects or people through time nor distance. I almost lost you and it was nip and tuck there for a sec but I managed. You don't understand any of this but you will. I could not give you Susan's body. She was dead. I can not revive the dead. What I gave you was another form. It's not female but male."

Morgan took a deep breath. "In time you will understand why I won't return you to female. You would want to go back and try and convince your family, friends, and others it was still Susan even if the body wasn't her. As a male you will come to grips with the stark reality you are not a woman and definitely not Susan. The essence of Susan is still there. You have her mind, her memories, her traits, but not her body."

Morgan was right. I didn't understand any of this. Why did she keep telling me I wasn't Susan?

At Conway our driver pulled up to one of those roadside stops where a big black limousine was parked. Morgan motioned me out. We walked over and got into the limo. The driver in the other car left without saying a word or even acknowledging he had two passengers on his trip. Strange.

The guy in the back seat was a good looking man. Distinguished gentleman for sure. I immediately felt comfortable, at ease, and liked him. Morgan pointed at me. "It was a rush job. I was in Atlanta when she screamed. I was too late and couldn't help."

The man studied me. It felt like he had looked into my soul. "You did well on such short notice, Morgan. He's young, athletic, and about the same age. She will have to come to terms with it on her own. You know I don't do that. A ride back to Dallas all you want or is there more?"

"The man who did this to her. I saw him race away after stopping to look at the destruction he caused. Would you please handle that? I'm afraid I might not be able to contain my anger. I liked Susan a lot more than most. She was an extremely beautiful young lady, quick to learn, resourceful, and kind. She didn't deserve this."

"I'll take care of it, Morgan. Anything else?" The gentleman waited as he studied me.

"No, that's it. I appreciate your help, Logan. Give me a few weeks and my wrath will calm. Right now I want to hurt that other driver in the worst possible way." Morgan reached over and took my hand in hers.

I was confused, my hand was twice as big as hers. I didn't remember that.

The man she call Logan chuckled. "Morgan, I believe I am going to deliver your wrath. You know some of them don't take a lifeshift very well. I will be sure to make this particular lifeshift the total opposite of what he would want."

"Thanks Logan, you always were a good friend." She slipped her hand out of mine and offered it to the man she called Logan.

"My pleasure, Morgan. Call me anytime." He took her hand in his and...,

He was gone. I was looking straight at him and he was gone. That accident must have scrambled my brain more than I realized.

The ride back to Dallas gave me time to realize my brain had been scrambled a lot more than I had first thought. Before we pulled up to an apartment building I was thinking I was a man. I had get an MRI and see an optometrist first thing.

Morgan slid out of the limo and held out her hand. "Come Susan. I need to figure out a way to get you started in your life."

"Morgan, I think I better go to the hospital. I'm hallucinating something awful. I need to call mom and dad. If the sheriff finds your car and they hear about it they will want to know I'm all right. Oh..., I'm sorry about your..."

She reached up and put her hands on my shoulders. "Susan, listen to me. Bob and Brenda Kalvers daughter Susan Kalvers died in a wreck thirty miles south of Borger. You may be Susan Kalvers but only in memory hon. I am sorry but it was the best I could do."

Her eyes were showing great sadness. "I'm so sorry, Susan. It's time to accept you are not Susan any longer. I guess the first place to begin would be a new name. What would you like? Would Michael Eugene Brown work or you want something different?"

"A new name? Why would I need a new name? Is this a game? I like Mike James Shepard. It's a good strong name." I almost laughed as I was wondering what kind of game Morgan was playing with me.

"Mike? Not Michael?" She had backed up to study my face.

I looked down at her wondering if I was standing on a curb. I never noticed Morgan being so short. "Yes, Mike. Michael sounds pretentious doesn't it? Anyway, people always shorten it to Mike so why not start there?"

Morgan held out her hand. "Mike it is. Come with me and let's see about getting Mike a bed."

Obediently I followed her into an apartment building. "I need to call my parents and I need to get to class tomorrow to pick up my schedule. I probably should go back to the dorm. I have to get my books and..."

Opening my eyes I was looking at Selena. "What happened? I was talking to Morgan and I don't remember anything past that. I must have a concussion."

I looked around for the strange man who was mimicking my words but it was only Selena and me in the room.

Selena sat down on the edge of the bed and brushed her hand against my cheek before she laid it on my forehead. "I'm only going to say this one time so listen real close to what I have to say and don't interrupt me. You are Susan but you aren't. Susan was killed yesterday in a car accident. You were given a reprieve by Morgan. She couldn't save the body. You are Mike for the rest of your life. If you want to scream, cuss, shout, this is all a bad dream then go ahead. I won't blame you. The reality will come sooner or later. The more you fight it, the harder it will be. If you accept it as a gift of life and realize the past is beyond us then you will take your first step toward accepting who and what you are."

I pushed her hand away as I sit up in bed. "Selena you are talking out of your...,"

The hand that pushed her hand away was definitely not mine. I sat there as I stared at it trying to figure out why my eyes were showing me a man's hand. The accident, had to be the accident. I tossed the covers back to swing my legs off the bed. I was stark naked or someone was stark naked. It wasn't me! I slid my hand or that stranger slid his hand down my stomach. It wasn't my stomach but I could feel the hand as if it was. The stranger stopped at the patch of hair between my legs and that thing only men have was in the middle of the patch. The stranger touched it and I felt that touch in the stranger's hand and on my...?

Oh god it can't be! It just can't be! It's not possible. The stranger grabbed for breasts that were no longer there. He screamed and the walls shook.

I was panting in rapid breaths, close to hyperventilating, as my mind raced for solid ground. "No, it's not true. No..., I'm Susan. I have a mother and father in Borger, Texas. I go to college at Texas University. My best friend is Linda. We grew up together. I work for Morgan. I had a bad nightmare is all. I'm dreaming all this. This isn't real. THIS ISN'T REAL!"

Selena held out her arms. "Mike, do you think I would lie to you? I thought you were a real cute kid. You're still a cute kid but in a different package."

"no selena, make it all go away. please make it all go away. please give me back. i'm not mike i'm susan. please selena...."

Selena laid down on the bed and took me in her arms, softly and gently. She wiped my tears and rubbed my head. I don't know how or when it happened but Selena had her hands down around that horrible penis and was fondling it. I wanted to scream in terror but there were other emotions, more stronger. I guess fascination was one of those as it grew in length and stiffened. Feelings of sexual arousal were surging through my loins as she bit my ear lobe and then stuck her tongue in my ear.

My mind was screaming in sheer terror as my body was demanding more of Selena's gentle persuasions. She ran her tongue inside the corner of my mouth at the same time she squeezed my penis. My mind had achieved lift off and stopped fighting with my body. Those small hands of hers playing with the man thing were unlike anything I could imagine. She kissed me and I readily responded. Then she laid a French Kiss on me and if I thought I was in orbit before, I was sadly mistaken. Until that moment, I never knew what emotional sex drive men could feel when their fires were lit.

I had to have Selena. I had to put part of me inside her or I was going to die, again. A different death for sure but a death non the less.

Selena guided the man thing up inside between her legs. She rolled us over in the bed where I was on top. "You want it, you are going to have to work for it."

I had no idea what I was doing but Mother Nature builds in all of us the basic ideas. We add to those ideas for added pleasure. I was on Mother Nature's auto-pilot as I ravished Selena. When I was spent I collapsed on top of her with her wrapped up in my arms, never wanting to let her go.

"You can do better than that." Selena rolled over on top of me and begin kissing me and biting on my ear lobes. She lifted her right breast out of her dress and teased my lips with the nipple as she rubbed it back and forth. "Bite it gently."

I sucked her nipple up in my mouth and gently bit it as I ran the tip of my tongue back and forth on her nipple.

Selena pulled back as I held on. She gritted her teeth and pulled harder. "That's the idea."

Reaching down between her legs she wrapped her hand around my man thing and it instantly sprang back to life. Selena had long sharp nails and she gently pressed the tips of those nail into that thing that was driving my emotions. It was more than my poor mind could bear. I had to have her again.

I didn't count the times Selena and I made love that day and into the night but it was several. I was totally spent and slept like it was normal when night time came. I was Mike James Shepard in case anyone asked. Did the sex with Selena make me realize I wanted to be a man? No, I would never want to be a man but I had resigned myself to my fate. I would always want to return to Susan and the life I had but it wasn't to be.

Selena was a beautiful woman of Spanish decent. She was the epitome of what every man could dream up in a fiery, high spirited woman. When she became upset her Spanish kicked into high gear and her words came like bullets. I understood absolutely nothing she was saying at those times. I never asked her measurements as it had never entered into Susan's mind. I am not saying I never guessed but that's different. As Mike, I wanted to know what my lover's sweeping curves were. Selena was a rock solid thirty two, eighteen, thirty two. She had an ultra slim body for a woman. When she was dressed up she could melt snow a block away with her body heat. She was no less sexy in pants than she was a dress. Selena was the one woman who could give men, women, and boys, whiplash as she walked by them no matter what clothes she was wearing.

I missed the fall semester of college and went back for the spring and summer classes to make it up. I was no longer a saleslady at Morgans Fashions. Morgan made me an offer to keep her books but I declined. Whether it was because I wanted some space from what did this to me or because I was still coming to grips with being a male I can't answer. Everyday I woke I prayed for this to be a dream and I would wake up as Susan. But, the dream kept on going in spite of my prayers.

I guess I was carrying a load of pain too because I moved out of Selena's apartment and back to the dorms. Although I loved Selena it was a troubled kind of love. I hated her for being the woman I no longer was. I hated her because she was fulfilled as a woman and could make love as only a woman could. I on the other hand was a male and could not make love as a woman. I would never know that kind of love. I hated Selena and Morgan for my pain. I should have been kissing the ground those two women walked on for my life and for easing me into that life. It's not funny what we can't see when we are filled with hate.

It was my senior year and I was working at the same Seven Eleven Susan had started working at when she began college. It was late at night. Even though the store was close to the campus, we had times when things were slow and it was one of those times. I was cleaning up the walk-ins when someone came in the front door and the buzzer announced a customer.

I stepped out of the walk-in and saw a girl almost as tall as me waiting at the counter. "Yes ma'am. May I help you?"

"I need some aspirin. Excedrin if you have any." She had her hands on the counter with her back to me. She never turned to look.

It made me suspicious as I walked by the pharmaceutical aisle and picked up a bottle of Excedrin as I headed to the counter. "Yes ma'am. I have a bottle right here. Small bottle or big bottle?"

"Anything, I don't care." Slowly she set her purse on the counter and opened it.

Warily I walked up to the cash register and waited before I put my key in it to unlock the drawer. I wanted to see what she had in that purse and if anything besides money was coming out in her hand.

She was looking down so I couldn't see her face. Her hands were shaking as she pulled a ten dollar bill out of her purse.

A couple drops of blood dripped down on the counter under her face.

"Ma'am, are you all right?" I reached out my hand, put it under her chin and lifted her head so I could see her face. I darn near choked. It was Linda and she had a big cut on her right temple. Her eyes weren't really focusing.

I was reaching for the phone when a big burly kid opened the door and walked in shouting. "I DIDN'T TELL YOU TO LEAVE, BITCH! GET BACK IN THE CAR. NOW!"

I jumped out of my skin. It took me a second to realize I was no longer a bitch. "Leave her alone. She's hurt."

"FUCK YOU BUDDY! STAY OUT OF THIS! THIS IS STRICKLY BETWEEN ME AND THE BITCH!" He had walked up beside Linda and grabbed her arm.

At that instant I felt a rage unlike anything I had ever felt in my whole life. I reached across the counter and wrapped my hands around the back of his head as I wedged my knees under the counter. I pulled forward and down with a strength I didn't know I had. His head came down and was driven into the counter with all my might. I didn't know it at the time but his nose was busted, his front teeth were knocked out, and he was addled so bad the fight was over before it started. He wilted as his knees buckled and he slid backwards off the counter like a limp noodle.

I picked up the phone and called nine one one. Then I called my manager as I knew I was headed to jail and someone needed to watch the store.

Hoping over the counter after I made the phone calls I pulled Linda back into my arms as I laid her down on the floor. I sit down on the floor and held her in my arms as the guy lay beside us moaning in pain. I made up my mind if he got up I was going to do my best to put him back down again.

"Tell me again how it happened?" The officer was taking notes as I explained it for the sixth time.

"I was back in the back and Linda came in asking for aspirin. By the time I made it up to the register I could tell she had been hurt. The guy came in and started screaming at her and told me to stay out of it. When he grabbed her I grabbed him. That was the end of it." Loyd Breason, my manager, was standing by the front doors keeping out everyone except the police.

The policeman nodded. "Okay, she has a concussion. I'll see what her story is when she can talk. How do you know her?"

"Uh, everyone knows her. She's the center for the girl's basketball team. I doubt you could find one person in this school who didn't know her." I was struggling for the answer hoping it sounded true.

"I see. I have her as Linda Roastman." He was writing in his book again.

"No, that's Linda Rostman, not Roastman." I guess you had to grow up in little towns to figure out the names.

"Got it. And you don't know the guy?" He looked up at me as he stopped writing.

"No, never saw him before tonight. A lot of kids pass through here and I don't remember them all. I think I would have remembered him but maybe not." I shrugged my shoulders as I wondered when he was going to get around to arresting me.

"I'm surprised you were able to handle him. He is probably twice your weight and has several inches over you. I'll keep you informed if we keep him or not. He had weapons and drugs in his car and was carrying a handgun. It may be enough to hold him before we get to lock him up for awhile. Never can tell though. Sometimes the smallest technicality lets them walk. You might want to apply for a gun permit just in case." He closed up his notepad and motioned to the other police officers he was through.

I was surprised when they all left without me in the middle in handcuffs. "Loyd, they aren't going to arrest me?"

Loyd looked at me kind of funny as he cocked his head. "For what? You do something I don't know about? Mike, I was listening. There isn't a single one of us who don't wish we had been there. But then we probably would have got our butts kicked by that guy. He was a big boy! I called Charles to come and take your place for the rest of your shift. Go home, get over the nervous excitement and I'll see you tomorrow night. I expect you to fill out that carry permit before you come to work. Now go home. I think you caused enough excitement around here for one night."

I walked back to my dorm and sit in silence for almost an hour before I walked down to the hall phone and dialed Linda's parents.

Linda's mom answered. "Hello."

"Cindy, Linda was in an accident tonight and she's at Mercy Hospital in Dallas. She's okay but it might be best if you or Bud drove down here to be with her for a day." I was wishing that was the kind of phone call someone had made to my parents almost a year and a half ago.

"How bad was she hurt? You say she's at Mercy in Dallas? Who am I talking to?" The voice was rising in panic on the other end.

"Mrs. Rostman, I didn't call you to frighten you. I only called because Linda should have someone with her right now. The accident was bad enough to give her a concussion but other than that she is fine. Please, don't get excited and don't worry. Take your time and drive down to Dallas to tell her you love her. After I hang up, call Mercy and check on her. They will have her signed in by now." I hung up as the tears started.

If only I could tell my mom and dad how much I loved them. Morgan had logically explained it to me. If I contacted them it would only re open wounds of pain that had started to heal. There was no way I could call them. Hello mom, it's Susan, yeah, the voice has changed and that wasn't really me in that terrible accident.

I could never go back. Eddie had taken my childhood, my family, and my life when he pushed me off the highway. I was crying my heart out as I made it back to my room. With all my heart I wanted to walk in the door at home and tell mom and dad I loved them.

A plan came to my mind as my remorse of what I had lost overwhelmed my brain. I knew Selena kept a gun in her desk by her computer. I was going to end this pain. I headed out the door wiping tears, hoping none of the other guys saw me.

I caught a bus over to Selena's apartment and let myself in. I was thankful she had never changed locks after I moved out. I was also thankful she wasn't at home for what I planned on doing. I opened the desk drawer and stared at the gun.

"You should focus on what you have, not what you have lost."

I damn near jumped out of my skin. The idea someone else would be there besides me wasn't in my plans. The idea it could be Morgan was even less of a blessing. "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE! I HATE THIS LIFE! I HAD A LIFE AND IT WAS TAKEN FROM ME! I'M TIRED OF FIGHTING THE FEELINGS I LOST! I'M NOT A MAN, I'M A DAMN GIRL! YOU'LL NEVER KNOW WHAT THAT'S LIKE! I DON'T WANT A PENIS, I WANT A VIGINA, AND BREASTS, AND..."

"If that's all why stop there? Tell me, Mike..."

"DON'T CALL ME THAT! I HATE THAT NAME! I'M SUSAN!" I slammed the drawer shut.

"Sorry. Okay, Susan, tell me what you want that you can't have as Mike." Morgan walked across the room and took a seat in one of Selena's stuffed chairs.

"I want my life back. I want to go see my parents and tell them I love them. I want..." I was crying as I spoke.

"There's a wee problem, Susan. Susan is dead. So you wouldn't have ever been able to go back. I don't think you understand the meaning of dead. That means the life as you knew it is over. Is that what you want? You want to go back to dead? I don't think you can go back and tell your parents how much you love them if you are dead. You seem to be hanging onto the past rather than embracing the future. In your past, Susan is dead. You can either accept that or I made a terrible mistake. In your future you have the opportunity to see all the things this world has to offer. I promise, you will see things most mortals don't even believe exists."

She pointed at me. "Look in the mirror, Susan. How many people get a second chance at life? How many would give anything to have that chance? And you are complaining because you received it? If you love your mom and dad, don't make them more miserable by trying to convince them Susan never died. The sheriff's department picked up pieces of Susan all over that creek bottom. Your mom and dad buried Susan once. Don't make them keep on burying her."

Morgan took a deep breath. "Your problem is you never buried Susan. Everyone else has. I think it's time you did too. You have come to the crossroads of life. Are you going to keep on carrying Susan as dead weight holding you in the past or are you going to let Mike lead you into the wonders of what the future brings?"

Tears started trickling out of my eyes. "I don't know what I want. Help me. Please help me."

Morgan was holding me in her arms. "I can only do so much. I can not change what is inside you. That has to be you. I can give you a shell or a structure you call a body but the thing that gives it life and makes it unique is what you put in that form."

I cried on her shoulder. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to be ungrateful but it's so hard. It's just so damn hard!"

"I know hon. I honestly and truly know. The place to start is let Selena and me help. Selena wants you to move back. I want you to come to work for me. It's not busy work. I promise it will never be busy work. It will be honest work. Let us show you some of the things you never knew about this world. I think you will find your place in time."

She backed up from me and held up a denim jacket. "Here, slip this on and let's go visit Linda. She received a bad concussion, the doctors don't give much hope of her living. Lots of fluid on the brain. I want to show you what I can do when I have something left to work with. Your friend is going to make a miraculous recovery. "

I wiped the tears off with my sleeve. "You can save her?"

"You bet, doll. But not when they are already dead. I don't bring the dead back to life. A fraction of a second longer and I wouldn't have been able to save you." She was walking toward the door as she held out her keys. "You drive. It's one of your job descriptions from now on. And I expect you to finish college. I will not have a college drop out working for me."

Brenda Kalvers answered the knock on the door. A smartly dressed young woman was standing there with an attaché case in her left hand, a shoulder purse on her right. Brenda wondered if the dark haired beauty was a saleslady? "May I help you?"

"Brenda Kalvers? I'm Lorrie Thorton. I'm Linda Thorton's daughter. She was your husband's cousin. I was on my way from Vegas to Dallas and my mother told me to drop by and say hi." The young lady smiled a warm sincere friendly smile. She knew Bob Kalvers would never remember if he had a cousin named Linda.

Brenda pushed open the door. "Please won't you come in. I'm sure Bob would like for you to see him if you could manage to stay a little while. He's working down at the farm store right now." She glanced at her watch. "But he should be home in a little."

"Thank you, that's very kind. Momma told me Bob had married his sweetheart straight out of high school. What she didn't tell me was how pretty you are." Lorrie stepped inside the house.

Brenda blushed as she pushed at her hair with her right hand. She hadn't been to the beauty parlor or put on makeup since Susan's funeral. That was over two years ago. "I don't feel very pretty but it was kind of you to say so."

"Contraire, I see a very pretty woman. I understand having a day off now and then." Lorrie leaned over toward Brenda as if to share a secret. "Between us girls, I do the same thing myself, now and then."

"No, it's not that. I mean it...," Tears started forming in Brenda's eyes as she thought about the last time she saw Susan.

Lorrie reached out, took Brenda's hand, and led her over to the couch. "Want to talk about it?"

"No." Brenda shook her head as she reached for the tissue on the end table.

"Momma said you lost a daughter, Susan. She said you and Susan looked a lot alike." Lorrie sat down on the couch and waited.

"She..., she...," Brenda's heart broke as she remembered Susan and bawled.

Minutes later she got hold of her emotions. "I'm sorry. She was our only child and we loved her dearly."

"I know. It helps to talk about these things. I also know you can't stop living because you lost someone. Believe me, I know very well. I had friends help me get over a loss." Lorrie smiled.

Brenda had to take a second and third look. For a second there, when Lorrie smiled she looked like Susan. "You look so much like my daughter."

"Probably because I'm family. Even distant cousins look a lot alike at times. When did you say Bob was coming home? Momma said to be sure and say hi." Lorrie knew it would take several trips to get Brenda wearing makeup and living in the world again. She was looking forward to the many 'trips' she would make to share all the makeup secrets with Brenda. Again. After all, she grew up in this house.

Brenda glanced at her watch again. "Bob should be home any minute now. What do you do for a living, Lorrie?"

Lorrie put her hand on top her attaché case. "I'm a fashion consultant. Would you care to look at some of my samples while we are waiting on Bob? After all, they are free. Companies give me samples to try in our branch stores."

"I believe Velvet Rose might be a color that would look great on you." She opened up the attaché case and picked a lipstick. Lorrie was thinking this might not take as long as she thought when she asked Morgan if she could come back.

Brenda held her hand up to her mouth in thought. "I don't know. How long can you stay? You'll stay for supper won't you?"

Lorrie's eyes gleamed as she nodded yes. "Sure. I'll take you and Bob out to supper. My treat." She knew if she could make the evening last long enough they would invite her to sleep over.

"Mike? Mike?"

"What Morgan?" I looked across the dinner table at..., Bridget. A vision of lovely if there ever was one, and Morgan's finest work.

"Morgan?" She laughed. "I thought you were wool gathering. Sounds as if I was right."

She smiled as her eyes showed wisdom way past her years. "I know, we never forget do we? The past is always there just below the surface waiting to drag us back down if we ever stop hanging onto the here and now. It's a mixed blessing isn't it? We understand the feelings and emotions of both sexes and wonder, what if we could do it all over again? Would we choose this particular sex if we had a choice?"

Bridget laid her hand on the table. Her long slender fingers along with her long sharp fingernails were perfect for a beautiful woman. "Think about it. How much choice do we have when we are born? Maybe someone asked me if I wanted to be a boy or a girl but I don't think I had a choice. It's probably a lot like the army. If you're there when a job needs doing they tell you to do it and you don't get to choose."

I laid my hand over Bridget's hiding her hand underneath my larger one. I was satisfied with what Mike was. Morgan had shared things with me, mere mortals would never see. I also was allowed to switch hit and be Lorrie or any woman I wanted. I was also allowed to be Susan at times as long as I wasn't around Borger, Texas. Being a girl really wasn't that great after all. I found out being a girl wasn't what I really wanted. I wanted to be Brenda and Bob Kalvers daughter Susan. The girl part was not the issue. As Lorrie, I had made many trips back to visit my parents and they were beginning to think of me as part of the family.

But here were a lot of reasons I liked being Mike. I liked being taller than most everyone around me. Height has a lot of advantages. I liked walking through a parking lot and not being mugged or looked at as a sex object. One of the reasons I like being Mike was Selena. That girl was something else. I also found out, she was no mere mortal. But she was an excellent teacher.

I sighed as I looked at Bridget. Trade places? No, I don't think so. Bridget could keep her millions, her fancy dresses, and all them things. Because I was a close friend of Morgan's and her personal assistant, I learned things most humans would never know. Bridget had found her niche in life and so had I.

"The reason I wanted to talk to you was because of a lifeshift and we needed a job for her. She's really good at managing people and we were wondering if she could work in your Hot Topics company?" I motioned for a waiter. It was time to order lunch.

"Another one? I see. I don't know why not. Tell her the dress code is mini skirts only; no pants for the training period. I expect her to look and act like a lady. What's her name? I need to call and let personnel know who to look for." Bridget looked amused.

I laughed as I shook my head. It was funny. If anyone could take a lifeshift and mold them into a lady, Bridget could. Mini skirts only? That should start this one on the right road to the world of being a woman and a sex object. She would either learn the rules of how to handle men from a woman's perspective or she would be one miserable..., should I say it? "bitch"

Bridget was looking at the fashion wreck in front of her. The girl was wearing a red and blue horizontal striped, long sleeved sweater. The baggy pants were purple with checkered print. The girl's long, platinum blond, hair looked like it hadn't been brushed in over a week. Her nails looked like she had been chewing them and that wasn't the only thing she chewed. She was chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles. Makeup was non-existent except for the black lipstick that covered more than just lips.

"Miss Christine Brubaker is it? I see where you put on your resume you are good at computer games and you were a parking valet. Those are admiral traits but they hardly qualify you for gainful employment." To Brigdet's annoyance, Christine popped a bubble right then.

Bridget rose from her chair, picked up the wastebasket and walked over in front of Christine. "Put your gum in the trash right now."

Reluctantly Christine did as she was told. "Wusn't doing nuthing fucking wrong."

Bridget loved a challenge. She set the wastebasket down, put her hands on the young woman's shoulders, leaned down in her face, and smiled. "Your life belongs to me and I'm going to make you into a young lady even if it kills you. Lesson number one. You cuss or use bad language and we wash your mouth out with soap to clean up your language."

Christine squirmed in her chair. She didn’t think life could get any worse after that taxicab driver turned her into a girl. All because she had run into his cab with a customer’s limousine and cussed him out. How was she to know he was some kind of magician? As she looked into Bridget’s eyes, she wasn’t too sure she hadn’t dropped down a few more levels in Purgatory!

Christine certainly didn’t want to upset any more magicians, or wizards, or witches or whatevers. She nodded. "Yes ma’am."

Bridget nodded as she straightened up and walked back over in front of her desk. "That’s better. We have a mandatory dress code here. You will look and act alike the young lady you are. That means nylons, heels, mini skirts, bra, and slip."

Bridget noticed the pained expression on Christine’s face. "I’m sorry, did I forget to mention makeup is not an option. You will wear lipstick, eyeliner, blush, and style your hair. Appropriate jewelry is also part of the dress code."

Picking up a sheet of paper off her desk, Bridget walked over and handed it to Christine. "This is a list of do’s and don’ts. Sue will take you in hand and help you get your act together."

Christine was looking at the rules. This was worse than a girl’s finishing school and all she wanted was a job. She was positive once the magic wore off she would be back to her life as Eddy Brubaker. There was no way she was wearing any of that sissy stuff to work. She would wear pants and…

Bridget rolled her right hand over and looked at the long painted fingernails. "When you come to work tomorrow you will look like a young lady. You might not act like one but you will look like one. Don’t disappoint me, Christine. You don’t want to find out what happens if you disappoint me."

"Yes’m." Christine was positive she didn’t want to disappoint Miss Tonue. Her imagination thought of hundreds of things that could be worse than dressing according to Miss Tonue’s rules.




© 2002 by Barbie Lee. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.