“So what’s next?” Angel asked as she fiddled with her phone.
Casey smiled as she loaded her app and changed her pin number then looked at her sister. “Lets head back to the dorms, and meet up with everyone so we can go to town!”
“Sure, but didn’t you have someone else to meet first?” Angel asked.
“Um I think so, oh yeah, duh Stephanie, sorry with everything that’s going on I got scatter brained.” Casey sighed.
Angel laughed and kissed her sister’s cheek lightly. “Oh relax. It’s not like they’ll throw you off the balcony for forgetting,” she teased, intentionally choosing the most outlandish form of ‘punishment’ her brain could concoct to avoid drawing any similarities to what had just happened to her sister a couple of days prior.
“I think we should tell Stephanie we were abused though - you especially. If it’s not already in their files somewhere.”
“You don’t think it’d jeopardize my chances of getting to stay a girl do you?” Casey asked nervously. Angel quickly shook her head, but before she could answer, Stephanie spoke up behind them, causing both girls to jump.
“Absolutely not.” She smiled warmly at them.
Angel and Casey both in stereo announced, “Oh my God you scared us!”
Stephanie giggled a little. “Sorry about that. I was just about to go looking for you two. If you’d like to talk about anything though, my door is always open. I’m a licensed therapist and I have degrees in child psychology, and I’m not THAT old either, if that helps.” She winked playfully.
Angel nodded, “I was about to drag Casey to you kicking and screaming.” she giggled, “I hope we can get this done so we can go to town” she finished enthused about being able to go to town without her parents.
“Oh, absolutely. This won’t take long at all. I just need to explain some things about this program and make absolutely sure that you know what’s going to happen with you and with your body in the coming months. Angel, did you want to sit in on this too?”
Casey gave Angel the pleading look and she sighed. “Only because Casey’s my sister, and I want to know what’s up you know.”
Stephanie smiled brightly as she motioned for the girls to follow her. “Are either of you familiar with the traditional methods of treatment for transgender patients?” she asked as she led the pair along the open landing and then into a connecting hallway.
Casey nodded, “I used the library computers back home to look up all the information, and from what I read I have to be eighteen before I can have all the surgeries.”
Stephanie nodded thoughtfully. “Plus years of bloodwork, and possibly injections for the hormone replacement therapy. Well, take everything that you read, and pretend it doesn’t exist.” She grinned, glancing over her shoulder to watch the girls’ reactions as she led them into a spacious office. On the glass door, the letters “Dr. Stephanie Logan” as well as a list of her titles stood out in bold, black lettering.
Inside, near the door, sat a modern solid wood desk and a cushy executive chair. Across from it sat two equally cushy chairs. Further into the room, along the opposite wall, an overstuffed couch and two chairs sat, and nearer to the far end, a small table, not unlike a dining table and chairs had been set up. Finally, in the corner of the room, partially hidden by bright, colorful bookshelves, the girls could see a glimpse of a childlike play area. Stephanie chuckled.
“Bethany insisted on giving me a nice office, but I’ll be honest with you - I don’t plan on using it that often - not for my dorm duties anyway. It’s just that my documents and things are here, in case there’s anything you wanted to look at. Every student who participates in the Purple Program is given full disclosure of what they’re getting into.”
“So … how come you couldn’t tell me before?” Casey asked. “You just ran off after giving me a bottle of pills. Seemed kind of … well, suspicious, I guess. Um, no offense.”
Stephanie nodded. “I’m really sorry about that. I thought you had already been filled in, plus I had several students to check in on since school starts soon. And then Bethany told me that she expected me to do that because of … Well, your unique situation - you know, possible need for grief counseling and things like that. So, if you’ll just have a seat we can get started. Just sit wherever you like.”
The girls nodded and, after glancing around the room for a moment settled on sitting at Stephanie’s desk. She smiled as she waited for the pair, and then sat across from them. “Yuck.” She laughed.
“Yuck?” Angel asked.
“Yes. I’m going to talk to Bethany about getting a lower desk and a less … fancy chair. I feel like a principal. This place needs some serious feng shui!” The twins giggled as she continued, taking a file folder from one of her desk drawers and sliding it across for the girls to look through at their leisure. “Okay, so, what I’m about to tell you both is a closely guarded medical secret. Not even most of the staff know what’s going on here because of the nature of the study. We’re using Sunshine Academy as a testing ground for an experimental drug called Purplaxis.”
“That’s the stuff you’re giving me, right?” Casey asked.
Stephanie nodded. “Yeah. There’s only one other girl who’s not attending Sunshine who’s taking it. She’s actually patient zero in the pilot program here in the U.S., but I won’t get into all that. Essentially what Purplaxis does is … it fools your body into thinking it’s the opposite gender. For instance Casey, you’re a girl with a male body, but with Purplaxis, the Y chromosome is … Well, it’s hard to explain without getting painfully technical. Even some of my professors at Yale went cross-eyed when I brought it up. But it fools your body into thinking it’s a girl’s body.”
“So... What’s that mean for me?”
Stephanie grinned. “Glad you asked that. This drug was originally in testing to treat menopausal women, but it’s had a fascinating side-effect. In male-bodied patients, the testes actually are converted into ovaries. In short, the genome turns your boy bits into girl bits, and makes you, for all purposes, a genetic female.”
“Oh my God,” Casey and Angel both gasped in unison.
Stephanie smiled at the two, “I called the clinic and made an appointment for you Casey. I’ll be there with you since I’m your house guardian. Michelle will see you Monday, after school.”
“That’s great,” Casey answered excitedly. A thoughtful frown crossed Angel’s face, however.
“Umm, wait, back up a minute.... You said Casey would be a genetic girl. There’s... a problem with that. I learned in health class about dealing with things like periods. How’s that going to work with Casey’s body?”
Stephanie smiled, “Michelle will discuss that with you on Monday since she knows more about the procedure then I do. Surgery is necessary, but it’s all approved by the FDA and the surgeon general, and I’m told that your recovery time will be much quicker than for traditional GRS. Patient zero’s was about a month. Yours will be faster since you’re pre-pubescent still.”
“I guess it’s not really something I’ve got to worry about yet anyway,” Casey replied. “So is there anything else I should know about?”
“Well, you don’t have to think of yourself in terms of being transgendered, if that helps? Because there’s a possibility that you might be able to have children. I don’t want to get your hopes up sweetie, because again, this is a VERY recent development in human testing, but in the lab tests with animals, the prepubescent animal test subjects most similar to humans in terms of DNA showed a birth rate on average with the control group or ‘natal’ female subjects.”
“Birthrate...” Casey echoed. Angel clapped her hands together excitedly and giggled.
“Well, anyway, unless you have any more questions, or if there’s anything else you’d like to talk about for that matter...”
Casey shook her head. “No ma’am. Not right now at least. I’d like it if we could maybe schedule some time to talk later though.”
“Of course,” Stephanie replied. “You’ll find my phone number is already on your contact list. No matter what time of the day or night, you call me if you EVER need to talk. If for whatever reason I’m unable to talk right that second - like if my cat’s on fire or something,” both girls giggled at her example, “Then I’ll call forward you to my mentor, Dr. Ketzowski. She’s one of the best psychiatrists in the state.”
Casey nodded quickly, and as Stephanie stood, she and Angel did as well. “Thanks so much Dr. Logan,” Casey answered warmly. Stephanie laughed loudly.
“Oh sweetie, call me Stephanie. Dr. Logan is my mother - literally. She’s an endocrinologist and pediatrician over in New Haven. So if you ever get hurt or sick I can even recommend you to her,” she added with a playful wink. “At least until my friend LeAnn finishes med school.”
Stephanie shook each girl’s hand in turn before leading them back out. “I’m going to go meet Michelle and her girlfriend for lunch, but if you have any questions at all you can feel free to call me. They’ll understand.”
Casey and Angel did the stereo thing again, “Thank you Stephanie.”
“Twins...” Stephanie giggled to herself as she gave them both a reassuring squeeze on their shoulders before they parted ways. Halfway down the hall, she stopped and ran back to them, which considering she was wearing ratty old sneakers with mismatched socks - one red with gold diamonds, one plaid green-and-white, was easy enough. “Oh, you two know how to get back out right? Or at least how to access your map if not?”
Casey giggled, “Yes I know how to use the map, Thank you again Stephanie.”
“Just checking,” Stephanie answered with a grin as she turned to race down the hall again.
Angel turned to Casey and whispered, “The heck was up with her socks? If I ever do that, warn me!” she giggled.
Casey giggled, “I think she’s making a fashion statement. Remember that girl Mindy or whatever her name was at our old school?”
“Oh my God. Purple Pants Mindy!” Angel giggled loudly. “The tie-dyed t-shirt kind of made the whole ensemble work though in a weird, chaos reigns supreme way.”
Casey nodded, “But I never called her that. She helped me once after some bigger boys threw me in a trash can. She was very nice,” she added as they made their way back to their dorm, following Casey’s navigation app. “So I guess I can consider myself a girl according to Stephanie?”
Angel smiled sheepishly. “I never called her that to her face. I guess I never realized how insulting it was coming from some people. I sure never meant it as such. Oh, yeah! That is SO cool! We have got to get your hair professionally styled and streaked and stuff!” Angel bubbled happily at the change of subject.
Casey smiled. “Maybe you can get yours fixed too, since it’s a little off,” she said, teasing her sister as they walked through their dorm house’s main doors. The two red headed girls and Jolien were sitting at a table drinking starbucks coffee.
“There they are!” one of the redheads cheered. “We saved you guys a seat!”
“So I assume you got the talk then?” Jolien asked with a grin. “I am actually a unique member of this experiment as one of the older members. They want to know the effects across the teen spectrum though, and I am … how you say, I prefer girls, so having babies is not so important.”
Angel and Casey nodded, “Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t be important.” they said in stereo to their friend.
Lacy and Danielle glanced at each other and giggled. “Looks like I owe you five bucks,” Lacy commented to Danielle, taking out her purse - a small faux-leather handbag.
“We had a playful side-bet going that you wouldn’t do that awesome stereo-sound finishing each other’s sentences thing. I knew you would because I have twin cousins. But I think they do it just to freak people out,” she added, winking.
Both girls look at each other and sighed then turned to their new friends and somehow managed to do it again, “We don’t mean to do it; it just seems to happen.”
Jolien giggled. “It is cute honestly. I wish I had a sister to share things with. But alas, I am the only child. It is a joke between my parents and myself that I was enough of a handful - even before I became Jolien. But that is a story for another time.”
Casey looked at Jolien, “You can borrow mine sometime. When she gets on that shared sentence kick like we were on, it gets a bit weird; we never used to do that.” she turned and stuck her tongue out at Angel.
Angel poked Casey’s arm playfully. “Tell me about it. It’s kind of spooky.”
Lacy smiled, “I think it’s cool. So what stores do you guys want to hit first? And before we go you girls should so try the new flavor at our Starbucks here! It’s a strawberry white chocolate mocha, and it’s to die for.”
“Oh my God,” they answered in unison, glared at each other, and said, “You first.”
Angel giggled. “I LOVE white chocolate.”
“And I adore strawberries. Especially this great strawberry lip gloss Angel had. Mmmm. Let’s go get some and then we can see what the mall has to offer.”
They headed over to this nicely decorated kiosk setup that was their Starbucks. Behind the counter was a girl who looked like she was 16. She had long, wavy strawberry blonde hair, and hazel eyes. She couldn’t be much more than 5’3” tall and she was wearing purple framed glasses. “Hey what can I get for you two? And am I seeing double again?” she smiled at the two taking her glasses off to clean them.
“Two white chocolate strawberry mochas,” the girls answered, Angel adding, “By the way I love your glasses. They look so cute on you!” she practically squealed, clearly meaning it.
The girl blushed a little and laughed, showing off her matching purple braces in the process. “Awww, thank you! I used to be super self-conscious because I had to wear really hideous thick-framed glasses so insurance would pay for them, but now that’s all taken care of. Anyway, one second and I’ll get you your drinks.”
“Hey, can I ask you something?” Casey asked cheerfully as the girl returned.
“Sure. What’s on your mind?”
“What do you get for working something like this? I’m just curious. Angel and me are new residents. Well, I’m part of the Purple program. My sister’s along for moral support.”
“And because splitting us up would just suck. We’re a team package deal,” Angel added with a giggle.
“Cool, and I don’t mind you asking, I get paid an hourly wage, of 8 dollars an hour, and I work for 6 hours on the weekends and Four on the weekdays, two in the morning , one at lunch and one in the evening during the week. And there is another girl that helps run this part time as well.” the girl answered the twins.
“Oh, neat. I wasn’t sure if credits were involved or something. That’s so cool though.”
“Nope, but the student store over on the other end of the building is hiring if you know anyone interested. It just opened and there’s only two employees over there. They’re having a hard time with it all.” She handed the girls their Mochas, “That will be 4.50 to whoever wants to pay it. Special discount for being with Jolien,” she added with a grin..
“I’ve got it,” both answered, turning to stare at each other. “Stop that!”
Angel laughed. “Seriously sis, lemme treat you. You’ve had a bad week.”
Casey smiled and hugged Angel, “Thanks Sis, I got the next one however!”
The girl behind the counter giggled. “You guys remind me of my sister and me. We’re still tight even though I’m technically ‘boarding’ here now.”
“Are you a twin too then?” Both girls ask in stereo once more.
“Oh I wish. My sister’s a couple of years older than me and going to college this year. Having a twin? That would’ve been the best.”
The girls walked towards the transportation area to see which teacher was in to take them into town, the girls stopped and seen a male in his mid to late 20s with brown hair and green eyes, “Hello Mr. Summers how are you today?” Danielle smiled as she waved to Mr. Summers.
“Hi girls,” the man answered with a smile. “Need a ride into town?”
“Yes to the mall please.” Lacy replied with a smile, “This is Angel and Casey by the way Mr. Summers.”
“Nice to meet you both. I’m Mr. Summers, the Music and Theater teacher for both the boys and girls here. In the summer time I’ve told you girls you can call me Bailey. I’m not your teacher right now.” she smiled.
Casey and Angel looked at each other excitedly.
“So if I wanted to be an actress,” Casey began.
“Or if I wanted to learn piano?” Angel finished.
“Then I am your teacher.” Bailey smiled at the girls, “Do you two do that all the time?”
“Do what?” they answered in unison and giggled, Angel adding, “Increasingly... Today. It’s weird, but kinda neat.”
“We’ve never done it before, but we’ve always been close.”
Bailey nodded his head, “Last year there was a set of twins that graduated with high theater marks from here. They did that a lot and they also had this knack of talking to each other without talking, so I was just curious if I would have to deal with that again this year.” He opened the school van for the girls to get in.
“Like body language,” Jolien chimed in cheerfully as she opened the side door and slid in the back.
“Oh, cool! We sometimes have a pretty good idea what the other’s thinking,” Angel answered, “Like our outfits today... Our closets are on opposite sides but we still picked out the same thing.”
“In fact,” Casey giggled, “I asked her if this would look okay, and then she looked up and went ‘It better!’”
Bailey cringed, only slightly, as the van erupted into a gigglefest. He chuckled to himself as he put the van into gear and pulled out of the parking lot.
“When you girls are done shopping make sure to call me, and I’ll come pick you up. You all should know the rules. I just sent my contact to Casey and Angel so they can add me.”
“How’d you know our number?” Angel asked. Bailey chuckled.
“We teachers have a master list. I just punched your names in the search and it helpfully sent my contact number to ‘All 302’ - which would be the both of you.”
“Cool!” they answered in unison.
“Thanks Mr. Summers!” “Thanks Bailey!” the chorus of girls responded as they unloaded in front of the large Alpine Springs Mall. A light rain had begun to fall, but the girls stayed dry under the protection of the entryways covered drive area as they headed inside.
“Wow this place is huge.” the twins commented at the same time.
Lacy nodded. “You’d think for a town this small it wouldn’t be that big, but they even have a Civic Center with concerts and stuff here in town, plus a huge sportscenter, so I guess it’s just par for the course.”
Danielle piped in, “Alpine Springs is also a center spot, a lot of people from Kingsley and other places come here as well to shop. It’s no New Haven, but it’s really becoming popular in the last few years.”
“Do not also forget rumors of renovations to the old insane asylum,” Jolien added cheerfully. “From what active girl scouts at Sunshine have told me, it will be a youth center eventually.”
“Oh my God, girl scouts!” Angel squeaked. “Casey will you sign up if I do? I always wanted to join, but Mom and Dad wouldn’t put up the money.”
Casey looked at Angel, “Think they will take me? If they will I’ll join because you asked me to.” smiling at her.
Jolien frowned, laying her hand on Casey’s shoulder before Lacy or Danielle could say anything. She stepped around in front of her, placing her other hand on her other shoulder as she looked Casey in the eye.
“You need to stop thinking of yourself as a boy in a dress, or as “the other third gender”. That kind of thinking is for closed minded buffoons, oui? You are Casey. You are Angel’s sister. And you are a girl, just as I am, just as Danielle and Lacy are - just as Angel is.” She smiled, pulling Casey into a reassuring hug.
“She’s right,” Angel added with a smile. “Remember what Stephanie said. That drug makes you a genetic girl. I don’t know how. It sounds like science fiction to me, but I have to believe that she’s right. You should too.”
Casey nodded, “It’s just a lot to wrap around my head you know? Yesterday I would have never dreamed of this happening.”
Jolien grinned. “Yes, I know. When my...” She stopped abruptly. “When someone found my cache of ‘Jolien’ things, I just knew that my papa would be furious. Instead, you know what he does, but sit me down and say ‘Juan, if this is surely what your heart desires, to be my little girl instead, then who am I to argue? But make sure, because it is a hard road ahead for you, being the child of importance you are.”
She paused to smile and hug Casey again. “We all have our stories, our … hard roads. But we walk them together as friends now. This is why I’m telling you this now, as a friend. Because you can lean on us and we will not let you fall. This I promise. But now, let us shop because I see a cute pair of boots that I want!” she quickly changed the subject, hoping not to give Casey, or the others, a chance to ask about the ‘child of importance’ part, instead racing for the shoe store.
The girls all followed Jolien into the store, giggling at the boots comment, and suddenly Casey spotted a pair of flats that would be perfect for one of the dresses in their closet, “Oh god Angel look at these; they are soo cute!”
“Oh wow. I love the little fabric bows. You know what? These would go so well with that cute polka-dot dress - the white one with the red dots?”
“Get out of my head Angel, I was thinking the same thing!” Casey giggled as she grabbed a box to try the shoes on to see if they fit.
“Oh wow they fit perfect.” half not expecting them to, forgetting she’s the exact same size as her sister.
Danielle glanced over from eyeing a pair of white sneakers with neon pink trim and grinned. “You guys have such cute taste, like Jolien’s girlfriend Cassidy. Those look awesome! Kinda makes me wish my feet were smaller,” she teased.
Casey smiled, “What size do you wear?” she asked Danielle, “They can’t be that big.”
Danielle blushed softly, pointing to the sneakers she was admiring. The tag clearly read “9 ½”. She stared down at her open-toe sandals, wiggling her metallic green-painted toes. “Even if the treatments do work, women in my family have big feet. My mom wears a size 10 ½ womens.”
“Awwwww , well there is a 9 ½ in this style if you want to try them on?” Casey grinned as she pulled the box down.
“No way, seriously? They never have cute stuff like this in women’s!” she bubbled, excitedly hugging Casey as she retrieved the box. “I’m bringing you shopping with me from now on!” she added, waiting patiently for Casey to hand her the box before quickly opening it and rushing over to a nearby mirrored bench to try them on.
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