Crystal's StorySite storysite.org

 

Jade Box - Mum’s the Word

By Genni Smith

 

Part Three

 

Cassie paced her lounge room, stopping only from time to time to look out of the window onto the darkening road. She must’ve checked the tiny watch on her delicate wrist at least twice a minute and jumped as every car drove down the street.

She was no stranger to waiting. Hell, half of her time as a detective seemed to be spent cramped up in a car or a dark room staking out different criminals. That, partner’s body odour, junk food, smell of cigarettes and every bad joke ever written aside, was a piece of cake compared to the time she spent waiting now.

Jade and Stuart had been a big help and at least she felt a little more relaxed in that area. They’d taken her under their wing and led her through a maze of skirts, dresses, lingerie and make up. The two kids answered the many questions she posed but the best thing by far they did was put her at ease with their banter and made her smile.

She had told them her story at least as far as she knew it and whatever ice was left was broken by Stuart.

"Shit." He said whistling. "You’re a cop?"

"I was a few years ago." Cassie responded. She was use to people ‘s attitudes changing when they knew what Rick Conlon did for a living. They either back-pedalled at a great rate of knots or stopped talking whenever she entered the room as if she would arrest them for the slightest infringement.

"Well I guess that makes you Miss. Piggy?" The boy asked.

Later, when Jade was out of the room Cassie had a chance to talk to Stuart one on one. She had been drawn to the strangeness of this kid who didn’t come across at all as effeminate knowing so much about mascara, foundation, lip gloss, sweetheart and square necklines. "You were really a girl?" She asked him.

"Yup."

"For three whole months?"

"Ah ha." Stuart nodded as if admitting to not doing his homework. No big deal.

"How the hell did you cope?" Cassie asked as she looked at herself yet again in the mirror. This time at least she looked a little better. Her hair had been brushed and put in a ponytail that tickled her neck as she moved her head and Jade had even talked her into a light smattering of makeup.

Stuart stopped going through Cassie’s wardrobe, he had been advising her on what she should wear to work the next day. He was deep in thought for about ten seconds and then said, "Well Cassie, I guess you have to ask yourself what the alternative is."

The older woman nodded. It was a damn good answer. "Was it as terrible as it feels from my point of view at the moment."

"Bloody hell Cass, you should have seen me when it first happened. Talk about going to jelly. I just wanted to stay in my bedroom, cancel my birthday, and not go to school. I guess in the end you have to realize that it’s like you woke up in an alternative universe where you are Cassie and as much as you can remember who you used to be you’ll soon realise that who he is, what he’s done and what he was going to do doesn’t matter anymore."

"So if you wanted to do a Howard Hughes and become a recluse what happened to change your mine?"

"That’s easy," he laughed. "The women in my family don’t understand the word no, unless of course it’s them who are saying it."

"I sort of got that impression from Jade. Okay, so answer me this. If you had another Jade Box in front of you now, would you open it?"

"Jeez, now you’re asking. Right now? Probably not. Some time in the future? Well I couldn’t say I’d never do it."

"Why on earth would any sane guy want to be a woman?"

"Who said I was sane?" Stuart quipped. "No, all I can do is tell you what I feel and that is being a girl wasn’t all that bad. There were times I hated it and others that I really enjoyed it but if I was to tell you the truth, now that I look back on my time on the other side of the fence I wouldn’t change a day of it. I have a wonderful girlfriend, a great mate, I’m closer to my sister and my father than I’ve ever been before and I learned a lot that would have taken me years under normal circumstances." He paused long enough to shrug. "Mamma Chow has her reasons and hidden agendas."

"You’ve learned a lot? Like an understanding of women?" Cassie asked.

"God no. Don’t ever think you’ll understand them just because you have the same body." Stuart saw Cassie’s eyebrows rise a little in surprise. "Oh sure you might know how to shave your legs or be able to match a skirt and top together. You might even be able to see the merits in a particular bra straight away and in time you even see the world through a female’s eyes but you’ll never be able to get into their mind unless you were born that way."

Cassie looked closely at the boy, wondering if she should ask the only other question she really wanted him to answer. In the end she threw caution to the wind and put it to him. "Did you… when you were a girl… did you ever… you know." So much for throwing caution to the wind.

"Have sex?" Stuart smiled at her obvious embarrassment.

"Well yeah."

"No." He said putting her out of her misery. "I came close a couple of times though. I’m glad I never did thought because he’s my best friend now."

"I’ll never get involved with a guy." Cassie stated.

"Yeah well that’s what I said but as much as your mind says no, your body says go for it baby. Don’t worry about it now. If it happens you can sort it out at the time. Besides, I didn’t have two kids and a job as a distraction. Well actually I did have a job as a waitress at the Copper Kettle but my family wouldn’t starve if I got fired."

"You really know how to make a guy feel good about his situation don’t you?" Cassie groaned as Jade entered the room.

The Brother and sister left a little before 6 pm and Cassie was dressed neatly but casually in jeans with a button up fly (something she still couldn’t get a handle on) and a ribbed pink grandfather top.

-oOOo-

Cassie jumped at the sound of yet another car but this one turned and parked in her driveway. It looked like she couldn’t put it off any longer, Cassie Taylor was about to meet her children. As she stood there she wondered if there was etiquette to these things. Should she stand there, hands on hips like an over protective mother and nagging ex-wife or sit down and pretend she hadn’t noticed it was almost an hour past the drop off time she had written in her diary? In the end she peered one last time at a red Holden Commodore SS car, a real rev heads car, and spotted two happy but tired looking kids getting out of the back seat and Michael who she still didn’t like much and then she headed into the kitchen to make some coffee.

She heard the front door open and excited chatter as they walked through the lounge room into the dining room/kitchen and had just turned to get her first real close up look at them in the flesh when a small floral print blur launched itself at her with a force that should have been far beyond it’s size.

"Mummy." The blur screamed happily. "I’ve missed you."

For some strange reason Cassie was pleased to hear it. "I’ve missed you too." She replied as she picked up the little girl and looked into her eyes wondering how something so beautiful could come from the body she now inhabited.

"Hi Mum." Lachlan said in a nonchalant way that 10 year old boys think makes them sound cool.

"Hi ya Cass." The ex-husband said pecking her on the cheek. A kiss that was more perfunctory than done with any real feeling. "Sorry we’re late."

"Are you? I hadn’t noticed." She turned back to the children trying her best to sound like a mother. "Did you two have fun this weekend?"

The little girl, Alicia nodded vigorously. "Ah ha." She said. "We went to the zoo yesterday and I saw an elephant, a lion, some monkeys who were naughty and threw things at us and a seal and a giraffe who took an apple from my hands. His tongue felt yucky."

"What about you?" Cassie asked Lachlan.

"It was alright." He shrugged. "Today was really cool though Dad took us to the beach and I went to an arcade and played some wicked video games."

Cassie tried to ignore Michael but out of the corner of her eye she could see his gaze was drifting towards the refrigerator and she knew from vast experience with thirsty men that this guy wanted a beer. She turned back to Lachie. "That’s good. How did you go?"

"I was great. I played this really cool game where you get to shoot zombies who are out to get you and the blood and guts were wicked. Their eyes were falling out of their heads and if you shot them in the neck you could blow their head off. And then we walked past a pet shop and there were some puppies in the window, bull terriers and one had this black spot on his eye. Dad said he wouldn’t mind me getting him but I’d have to ask you."

Straight away Cassie’s back was up. She took all of two seconds to sum up the relationship she now had with the kids and her ex-husband. She was the one who got them up and ready for school each morning, nagged them to do their homework, clean their room, brush their teeth while Michael was the part time dad who spoiled them all weekend and let them do everything that mum wouldn’t. Now she had to deal with him promising things that he knew she wouldn’t or couldn’t agree to. "We’ll talk about it later." She said to the boy with the cheeky grin.

"That means no." Alicia laughed and poked her tongue out at her brother.

"Who asked you shrimp?"

:"Have they been fed?" Cassie said to Michael hoping she wouldn’t have to cook something up for them. She might be able to manage baked beans on toast but not a lot more.

"We stopped for a pizza." The man nodded.

"Yeah and Lachie was a pig."

"Was not."

"You were too. You ate almost as much as daddy."

"I’m a growing boy, aren’t I dad?"

"You sure are mate."

Cassie checked her watch again. "Okay then, you’ve got school tomorrow so bath first, then brush your teeth, put your peejays on and get to bed."

The word ‘school’ seemed to change Lachie’s demeanour in a matter of seconds. "Maybe Ally was right mum. I did eat too much and I have a tummy ache."

"Oh no, well if you’re still sick in the morning you might have to have the day off."

"Really?" The boy asked, surprised it was so easy.

:"Yeah and you must think that I’ve got ‘idiot’ stamped on my forehead. You were fine until I mentioned school and you’ll be fine in the morning. Now say goodbye to your dad and get ready for bed."

She put Alicia down and the little girl gave her dad a big hug but Lachie obviously thought that he was too old for that. "Thanks for the great weekend dad." The boy said giving his father a high five. "Can you come to my soccer game next week?"

"Ah… I don’t think so mate. I’ll be at work. Next time ok? I promise."

Lachlan was crestfallen but shrugged it off. "Okay. Next time. Night Dad."

-oOOo-

To say Cassie Taylor had a bugger of a morning would be the biggest understatement of her life. She was exhausted before she even left the house and time management took on a whole new meaning. As Rick, Cassie would have rated herself as a pretty bloody good time manager, she’d been able to not only be assigned to more than ten cases at a time but he managed to actually investigate most of them as he went and even had a fair to good clear up rate. When she had her own business she could do 20 things at once, delegate, take calls from clients, fix the photocopier, make coffee, write memos, do her invoices and deal with employee problems all at once but all of that was a doddle compared to that first Monday morning as a woman.

In a way it started the night before when Cassie had eventually made sure that Lachie and Alicia were bathed, in their pyjamas and in bed sleeping, no mean feat when both Kids seemed to delight in making her work for it. Lachie was asking questions like they were going out of fashion and Alicia insisted on at least one story before she would sleep. In the end Cassie managed to satisfy her son’s curious nature as best she could and her daughter’s need for a fairy tale and had them both asleep she realised just how tired she was. It had, after all, been a long weekend with more than it’s fair share of surprises and lessons that needed to be learned. So after a glass of white wine that happened to be in the fridge she checked all of the doors were locked and made her way to her bedroom where she quickly used to en suite bathroom again and slipped into another oversized T-shirt that doubled as a nightie then fell into bed.

When the alarm went off at 7:30 the next morning she jumped back into life with a feeling of not having had any sleep at all, as if the time between closing her eyes the night before and opening them again with the beep beep of the alarm was only a matter of seconds. For a moment she was Rick Conlon again and, in her mind at least, had plenty of time to get up, read the morning paper over a nice cup of coffee then head into the office when ready. That little illusion was blown by a small voice at the end of her bed. "You better get up mum. I forgot to tell you that Mrs. Jarvis can’t give us a lift to school this morning so you’ll have to take us."

Cassie sat up in bed stunned again by the movements of her breasts and also by the sight of the little boy. "What?"

"You’ll have to take us to School." Lachlan repeated.

"Ah… okay." She knew she should get up and do something but she didn’t know exactly what. "Is Alicia awake?"

"I don’t think so."

"Well if you go and wake her I’ll get you some… cereal or something for breakfast."

:"Okay." He said as he headed out of the room.

Cassie stood unsteadily then made her way to the kitchen to hunt through the cupboards for something to give the children. Nothing happened.

There was no sign of anyone so Cassie went to investigate. Lachie was in the family room lying on his stomach about a foot away from the TV watching some cartoons. "Did you wake your sister?" She asked the boy.

"Huh?" He responded not moving his eyes off the screen.

"Never mind, I’ll do it myself. Turn off the TV and don’t sit so close to it, you’ll ruin your eyes."

"Not if it’s turned off." The boy reasoned as he reluctantly grabbed the remote and turned the television off.

"Don’t be a smart ar… smarty." The new mother censored herself before saying what she was thinking. "Breakfast is on the table." She headed into Alicia’s room and found the girl curled up asleep. "Ally?" She said softly, shaking the tiny form ever so slightly. "Ally, it’s time to get up honey. You’ve got to go to school today."

One little eye opened first and then the other. "Do I have to mummy?"

"Yes you have to. Now come on. Breakfast is on the table and you need a bath."

The little girl slowly swung her legs from under the pink bedspread and planted her feet on the ground. She stood up and reached for her dressing gown then headed out of the room on the way to the kitchen.

Cassie looked at Lachie who was still lying on his stomach watching TV. "Turn the TV off and go and eat breakfast Lachlan. I won’t ask you again." She snapped amazed at how much she sounded like her own mother.

When both kids were at the table and eating Cassie literally dashed to the bathroom and launched herself into a shower reasoning that she could avoid yet another embarrassing time of sitting to pee and wipe and save time by attending to her bulging bladder in the shower. She realised too late that she had accidentally wet her hair. "Shit,"she groaned, knowing even from her limited experience that it would take a lot of work to get it dry and styled right. Too late, she thought. Luckily she had shaved her legs the day before under Jade’s watchful eye and only felt the very beginnings of spiky stubble there. She washed all of the placed that needed it, old and new, as quickly as she could and then got out of the shower again and towelled herself off as quickly as she could then put on a black satin robe that she made sure was securely tied. As she grabbed another towel she head squabbling from the kitchen. "Bloody kids." She grumbled, fashioning a make shift turban and tucking her long locks into it.

"What on earth is going on?" Cassie demanded upon entering the kitchen/dining room.

"She stared it," Lachlan said defiantly from the floor where he was sitting on top of a bedraggled looking Alicia.

"I did not." Ally said.

"Did too, you took the last of the cocoa-pos. You know I love them."

"I got here first," the girl countered. "You were too busy watching Pokemon."

Cassie rolled her eyes and grabbed the back of Lachie’s pyjama top and then lifted him off the little girl. "I don’t care who started it. I’m finishing it. Get it?"

"Got it." The boy said a little reluctantly.

"Good. Now have you finished eating?" She asked as she helped Alicia get up off the floor.

"I only eat cocoa pops and Ally took them all."

"Is there anything I can make you that you would eat?" Cassie asked. "Correction. Anything quick I can make you?" She knew that in effect she was rewarding the kid for being an arsehole but the clock on the wall told her that time was ticking away.

"Mm… Maybe some toast with strawberry jam." He said after some thought.

"Okay, breads in the bread bin and," she moved to the kitchen and opened a cupboard door, "here is the jam. If I get the toaster down and you don’t eat it I am going to really be mad so here’s your choices kid, you can have bread and the jam, go to school without breakfast or make me get you toast and make sure you eat it."

"Bread and jam is cool."

"Right." She took two pieces of bread out of the plastic bag, grabbed a knife and plastered one slice with the jam then put the other piece on top. "Consider yourself served." She turned to Alicia. "Have you eaten?"

"Ah ha." The little girl nodded. "He only got upset when I wouldn’t give him any."

"Okay you two. Follow me." Cassie made sure they followed by taking a hold of the hand that Lachie wasn’t using to feed himself the sandwich. Ally followed along behind them.

"Okay, I am really getting behind here so you are both going to have to help me this morning. Ally, you have a bath and Lachie can have a shower.

"I’m not gonna shower in front of her."

"Oh yes you are buddy." She pushed him into the shower and closed the opaque glass door then turned her attention back to Alicia. "Okay honey, he can’t see you clearly behind there." She helped the little girl take off her dressing gown and nightie while the bath was filling.

"Mummy, you forgot the bubbles."

Quickly Cassie poured some bubble bath in and agitated the water with her hands. "That’ll do. In you pop." She turned her attention back to her son. "Okay kiddo, her back is to you, strip off and then I’ll turn the water on."

"I can do that." He protested.

"Alright then. Do it. Now I am going to go and get dressed. No arguing, no punching, no strangling, no poking out of tongues, no silly sign language," at that point she was thinking back to a young Rick Conlon and his cousin Jerry who used to make up sign language when their parents told them not to say another word. Thinking back a little more to their rambunctious fights she added, "and no drowning."

Dashing to her bedroom she went to work as fast as she could on drying her hair while at the same time putting on a clean pair of panties. Lessons came thick and fast as a woman and the one she learnt at that time was that with one hand on the hair dryer and one hand on a brush she was out of hands when it came to pulling on the panties. Some how she managed and then realised that she’d have to put the hairdryer and brush down to put her bra on. Another bout of gymnastics ensued as she ignored Stuart’s advice of fastening the bra in front of her and then twisting it around to the back before she put her arms through the straps. Eventually she gave up, despite the fact that her arms easily reached around to the right spot she just couldn’t get the hooks through the eyes so she did as Stuart had suggested and found it much easier.

Back to the hair dryer and brush. "Come on," she said. "Dry you bastard… or should that be bitch? Doesn’t matter, dry already."

When it was finally dry and relatively neatly brushed she moved to the closet and pulled out a red business suit and a white blouse, the same one both Stuart and Jade had suggested the previous day. She pondered just for a second if she should ring in sick to give her another day to get used to all of this "woman" stuff but four things stopped her. The first was that she was probably drinking with people from work on Saturday night and she knew that if she had a sickie two days after a drinking session her old Sergeants would find out about it and all but tap dance on his skull when he didn’t go in. The second reason was she’d still have to get dressed and take the kids to school, if only for her sanity. The third reason was that she knew deep down she’d have to do it sooner or later and that led to the final reason at least the last reason she could think of in that few seconds she put her mind to it. A lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to get used to all of this "woman" stuff let alone one day.

She shrugged and put the blouse on remembering that the buttons were on the opposite side to the normal shirts she had worn as Rick. Next came the pantyhose, a new pair was pulled from the packet she found in a bedside draw. Sitting on the bed she managed to put her right foot in without problems but a nail snagged as she put her left foot in what she assumed was the appropriate leg and a run developed and kept on running as if it was the Boston Marathon. "Fuck." She threw them into a corner and grabbed another pair. This time she managed to get both feet into the legs of the stockings and was grabbing for the skirt as she pulled them up. She examined the skirt carefully, it looked short, too short but she was already committed to wearing it so she stepped into it only to feel as much as hear an almost inaudible noise of the zipper on the side of the skirt ripping the second pair of pantyhose. She didn’t want to look but she forced herself to move her head and look down. Sure enough another large run from her knee to somewhere under the skirt was clear to see.

Taking off the skirt she yanked off the pantyhose with more passion than she had ever ripped them from the body of a girlfriend, only this time the passion was anger, not lust, she found that the third time was the charm, another pair of pantyhose on and skirt up, buttoned and zippered at her side. She tucked the blouse in and headed for the kitchen where she repeated the jam sandwich bit of earlier and looked longingly at the coffee pot.

She peered into the bathroom expecting it to resemble a murder scene but things were going surprisingly well. Water was only on three quarters of the floor and bubbles were only on about half. Both children were out, standing back to back and getting dry. The must have taken her seriously, a thought that worried her for a second, it seemed almost too easy.

"Okay," She said. "Teeth brushed?"

Both nodded. "Brushed brushed or just brushed?"

"Brushed brushed." Lachie said a little too seriously.

Cassie looked at the three brushes on the basin, one was blue, one was pink and the other was bigger and red. She grabbed the blue brush and felt it. "Then why is it still dry?" She would have checked Alicia’s brush too but she could smell the girl’s minty breath.

"How did you know?" The boy asked stunned.

"I once knew another little boy who hated brushing his teeth and did the same thing. Do it properly this time. I’ll take Ally to her room and help her get dressed." She was half way down the hall when she shouted. "And don’t even think of rubbing it back and forth under a running tap buddy, I can tell the difference."

Lachie looked at himself in the mirror. "How did she know that’s what I was thinking?" He asked no one in particular.

Cassie steered the little girl into her room. "What are you going to wear?"

Ally looked at her mother strangely for a second or two. "My uniform mummy."

Cassie stumbled briefly and recovered quickly by saying. "I know that Ally, I mean what undies would you like to wear?"

Ally seemed to take this in for a second and then walked over to a chest of drawers and pulled out a tiny pair of cotton panties and a cotton camisole, both were white with very small light pink love hearts sprinkled liberally on them.

Cassie helped the little girl dry some more and then kneeled in front of her so Ally could lean on her to lift her leg and slide on the panties. Standing again she looked at the girl with her arms raised up over her head. She couldn’t help but smile at the girl as she lowered the cami over her head and put it on the arms. Then she went to the wardrobe and pulled out a small green plaid school dress. Again the girl raised her arms so Cassie bunched the dress up, helped the little girl find the armholes and then more or less let gravity take it’s course, just giving a helping hand to make sure it slipped over her head.

Ally turned to let her mum do the zip up then the girl walked back to the chest of drawers and pulled out some socks and went to the shoe rack on the floor of the wardrobe to grab a pair of black Mary Janes. She handed them to Cassie and sat silently sat on her bed looking at the older woman

"I think I should get myself a mummy too." Cassie said as she again knelt down and pulled the little girls socks on and then did up the straps of the shoes.

"You have one. Grandma."

"I know but she isn’t here to help me put my socks and shoes on."

"Of course not silly, you’re a grown up," the little girls giggle was contagious and while her mother laughed along with her she must have thought it was a good time for another request. "Can you plait my hair please mummy?"

Cassie looked at the little clock on the wall. "We might just have to do it simply today honey. How about a ponytail?"

"Okay but you promise me you’ll braid it for my ballet recital on Friday?"

"I promise." The mother said sincerely.

After the little girls hair was dry, a job that was much easier because it wasn’t anywhere near as thick as her own was, brushed and put up into a ponytail with a specially made green elastic band Cassie noticed the little girl had tendrils of hair falling in front of her eyes so she went to the chest of drawers and grabbed two metal clips from the same old jewellery box where she had found the elastic band. Gingerly she slid one into place on each side of Alicia’s head and looked happily at the results. "Can you do me a big favour and get your bag and whatever else you need for school while I go and check on your brother?"

Lachie was in his room and miraculously was dressed in grey shorts, white short-sleeved shirt and green woollen sweater. It was almost too good to be true and on second glance it wasn’t. His hair was all over the place, his shirt wasn’t tucked in at the back and his shoelaces were untied. She bent over and tied the laces, then got him to turn while she tucked the shirt in. He squirmed with the indignity of it and saw where she was heading next so he grabbed a comb and managed to get his hair in reasonable order.

Cassie smiled at the scene, remember all of the time when she was ten and his mother at the time had done the same to him. She had hated it just as much as Lachlan did but couldn’t resist licking her finger and wiping an imaginary speck of dirt off the boy’s cheek just as her mother had done.

"Yuck." Lachlan said just as a young Rick Conlon always did. "Mum!"

"Sorry sweetie. Can I get a hug?"

"Okay, but only one and don’t even think of kissing me."

"Deal." She laughed. The hug was more for his benefit than hers, she’d been a little bit harsh on him and wanted him to know there were no hard feelings. She kept it quick. "You ready to go?"

"Ah ha."

"Good. Lets see is Ally is ready. I’ll tell you what Lachie, I’ll let you start the car for me."

"Really?" He asked all excitement.

"Yep." She nodded.

"Cool."

-oOOo-

Cassie dropped the children off at school just as the bell rang. She was finding it hard to drive in heels and when she stopped at a traffic light she pulled them off and placed them on the floor of the passenger side. Finding the school proved no great hardship, she had found some school reports and looked up the location in the phone book then checked a street directory to work out the best route to take. Alicia had informed her she wasn’t going the normal way but was happy enough when Cassie had told her they were taking the scenic route.

:"What about lunch?" Lachlan asked as they pulled up outside of the school.

"Huh?"

"You didn’t make us any lunch." The boy insisted. "Does that mean we get to buy something from the canteen?"

"Ah… I guess so." Cassie reached into her handbag and pulled out her purse and handed each child a five-dollar note and added for a reason she didn’t understand, "no junk food."

"Aw but…"

"Have a good day," She said, ignoring the protests of both as they climbed out of the car at 8:50 am.

"Bye mummy, see you this afternoon. I love you."

"See ya mum. Love ya."

For some strange reason Cassie felt this warm rush of blood upon hearing it. "I love you both too." She smiled the smile of the contented for the first time since she opened the Jade Box. When they were safely on school grounds with teachers looking on she drove off, giving one last look at them in the rear view mirror.

Traffic in Adelaide was pretty bad that morning and what should have been a 30-minute drive slowly stretched out to 45 minutes and she still had a bit of a distance to travel. "So much for the idea of grabbing a coffee on the way," she said to herself as she applied some lipstick at yet another red light.

Eventually she pulled into the staff car park of the James Elliot centre and wondered what she would find there. First thing she needed to find was her office and that wasn’t going to be easy. It wasn’t like a person who had been working there for so long could ask directions to her own office. As she lay there the previous night she pondered this question and came up with the idea of sending herself a parcel and insisting it be handed to her personally at 10 am then all she had to do was simply follow the delivery man all the way to her office. A cunning plan that only fell apart with the realization that she wouldn’t have time to send it. She stood there looking at the imposing building and was genuinely stumped.

"Running late again Cass?" A strangely familiar voice asked.

"Ah ha. Kids. You know what they’re like." Cassie smiled at a woman she’d never seen before who was climbing out a red Ford Laser.

:"Oh yeah, I just managed to get mine to school on time. Andrew threw a tantrum and Reece wouldn’t go to school without his lucky cap. Don’t you just love them?"

"Yeah," she said glad she wasn’t the only one who found it all a challenge. She was still trying to work out where she had heard the voice.

"By the way Cassie, you forgot these." The woman handed over a pair of ladies sunglasses and the penny dropped. It was the woman on the answering machine the morning she had woken up in this strange body.

"Thanks. How are you feeling after the other night?"

"Better," The woman smiled. Cassie had no idea what her name was but she could have hugged her when she said, "Can I walk you to your office?"

"Only if I can buy you a coffee on the way." Cassie smiled. Problem solved, for now.

-oOOo-

 

 

 

*********************************************
2002 by Genni Smith. 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.