“Hey,” she said, as I rubbed my eyes.
“How long, how long was I asleep?”
“About an hour. Mom just called us for lunch, Pizza, like usual.” she looked questioningly at me and I nodded,
“Yes, that was usual for us too,” I said
I put on the skirt and T-shirt. Jenny tried to hand me the bra, but I shook my head. “Mom…” she started, but I shook my head again.
“Mom will just have to live with it,” I said. “I am not wearing that thing. She is lucky that I am going to wear the shirt. I have a good mind to go down without it. And I will to breakfast, too. You watch me.”
“Why?” Jenny asked, “Why don’t wear it?”
“I don’t know, but I know I am not going to.”
“Hey girls,” Mom said, as we came down the stairs, “How are you doing?” She was wearing that bright yellow dress of hers that she loved to wear in the summer and was busy getting drinks out of the fridge. Ben and Beth had their pizza on the porch outside, and were chasing each other around.
“Fine,” answered Jenny automatically, but I said,
“Horrible.” and Mom looked at me. Then she looked at me again,
“Bobbi…!” she started , but I interrupted her,
“Don’t start on me, or I will take the shirt off too. I am not going to wear a bra.” I took a piece of pizza and sat down in the living room.
“Bobbi?!” She said, and then I heard Jenny talking quietly to her.
“Well, there had better be…” I heard Mom say, “Well, I will wait a little while, but I am not….If you say so.”
I felt really bad, so when I finished my piece and got up, I said, “I’m sorry, I know I am being a jerk. But I’m not going to wear a bra.” And took another piece and sat back down.
Jenny had left, and came back in a minute, and threw something on my lap. It was a sweatshirt. It was pink but… I got the message. If I wore the sweatshirt… I pulled it on.
Mom waited till I had finished the second slice of pizza before starting up again. “So, can I find out what is going on now?” She asked.
“I’m a girl,” I said.
She waited, and said, “That’s it?”
“Isn’t it enough?” I asked. “Oh, whatever. Just a minute,” I said and walked out into the back yard. I desperately wanted to tell Mom, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. She was the best Mom in all the world, or course, but she tended to have only two strong emotions, angry and hysterical.
“Bobby!” Beth said, and, as I reached down to pick her up, I realized that that was not what she had actually said. I hugged her, holding her awkwardly against awkwardness my chest.
“Hey Beth, did you have a good morning at the church?”
“Yeah. I played with Juli. She was there with her mother, too. We played dollies.”
“Oh? What dolly did you bring?”
I asked the question to be polite but suddenly, while she described the doll, I realized that I knew the doll. I could picture it. I could feel it in my hands.
“Bobbi?” Beth said, “What’s wrong?”
I came back to reality, “Oh, nothing Bethy, just thinking of something.”
I put her down and climbed up in the treehouse, my thoughts awhirl. Luckily Caleb was gone. Poor boy would probably hide from me all week. after what I had done to him. I grabbed the paper and the journal, and went back inside, my heart racing. How would mother handle this?
“Sit down,” I said. She looked at me with fear, and Jenny had to encourage her to sit. “Read this,” I said, putting the paper in her hands, and pointing at the article. “Here,” I said to Jenny, “Here is the journal. I am going to my room.”
I wanted to throw something at the wall. Here I desperately needed support and I was having to defend myself. They thought I was nuts. They were going to lock me up. Maybe I was nuts. Maybe I needed to be locked up, and drugged.
I threw myself on the bed again, and cried in frustration.
“Well, I don’t believe it. We have never had any problems of that sort with Roberta, and I won’t believe we do now…” Mom opened the door, a frantic Jenny in tow, “Roberta?!” She said.
“What?” I said.
“Why are you in your panties?”
You want me to take them off too?“ I asked, throwing them at her. ”There! Look! Look at what I am!“ I threw myself on the bed again and cried, burying my face in the covers, ”Go away! Leave me alone!!“ I screamed. ”I hate you. I hate you all!“
I lay there a long time, and then looked up. Jenny was there, sitting in the chair, reading the script.
“Hey,” I said, sheepishly, “where’s Mom?”
“I dunno. She left right after you yelled at her.”
“Could you, could you ask Caleb to come over?” I asked, “I can’t face calling him.”
“Sure,” she said, then, “will you get dressed?”
“Not the bra,” I said.
“But the sweatshirt? You had the guy all sweaty earlier.”
“Ok,” I said, and put on the skirt and the sweatshirt. Jenny clucked her tongue at me, but called Caleb.
“Yes, I’m sure you silly boy,” she said. “Just come over. Bobbi’s room. I’m not letting her downstairs with Mom, the two of them had an absolute catfight. OK. No, she’s totally naked this time, but come over anyway.” She hung up the phone with a giggle. “He will spend the whole time coming over trying to figure out if it true or not.”
I laughed with her, and it was a rather red-faced Caleb who called from just beyond the door, “Hey, you guys in there?” a couple of minutes later.
“Yeah, come on in Caleb,” Jenny said, and he came in, glancing nervously and then with obvious disappointment in my direction. Poor boy. He had put on tank top, all grey with a green dragon on it. I think it came from one of his silly sci-fi conventions. I threw him the journal and the pen and he sat on the end of the bed.
“OK, no holds barred now,” I said. “Let us write whatever we can think of. I want to fix this.”
“Do you remember anything different in the last few days?” Caleb asked.
“I don’t remember anything at all about the last few days… as Roberta!” I said.
“Oh, yeah,” He said. He brightened, “But maybe Roberta did something, volunteered for something, or something.”
“How will we ever know?” I asked. “I’m not her.”
“Maybe Roberta kept them,” Jenny said.
“What?” I exclaimed.
“Maybe my actual sister,”she said, grinning, “the one whose body you are currently borrowing, maybe she kept the papers from the experiment or whatever. Maybe they are lying around here somewhere?”
“Jenny’s right,” Said Caleb, getting up and rummaging around. He seemed a little too excited to pry into all of my… Roberta’s things. She was probably really private and, well, I felt I ought to keep her end up. I kept a sharp eye out on her underwear drawer, in case he should get all pervert on me. “It makes sense that if she volunteered for something, she would keep the papers. She is…was… very organized.”
He stopped in the middle of going through a stack of CD’s and looked at me, “How different are the worlds anyway? You say I was your best friend there too? Not that Roberta and I ever called each other ‘best friends’, you know, because of being a boy and a girl, but you say that we were best friends there?”
“It seems practically exactly the same,” I said. “Jenny is the same, Ben and Beth are the same, you even seem the same… except a lot more embarrassed seeing me naked here then you were there,” I added, just to see him blush again. “And the streets were the same, andwe go to the same church, and everything, everything I’ve seen, anyway.”
“What’s that, Jenny?” I asked, seeing her stop searching and stare at something she had pulled from one of ‘my’ drawers.
“Oh, nothing,” Jenny said, stuffing whatever it was back in a drawer. She looked like she was crying, so I left her alone. Caleb looked about to say something, but I shook my head and he caught on.
’Hello,“ a voice said from the door and we all jumped.
“Dad!” I said.