The Bright New Springtime of The soul

It was getting to be about that time. The time of year when the world froze over and the cold settled into my bones to rest.

This winter would be different though. I had finally decided that I could no longer continue as I had for so long, trying to be who and what I was supposed to be when even my life cycle differed from most around me. Oh sure, there were other magical creatures out there… more of them than there are of the mindblind in fact but I wasn’t like most of them either.

True, many did mix with the mindblind as I did and even lived among them, took lovers, had families… the whole bit. I had tried the family thing but with my life cycle it was… difficult. I suppose I should explain.

I am a very unusual sort of being. My existence is tied to the seasons in the place of my awakening each cycle. Fortunately for me, I live in a fairly mild climate, for those of us living in cold climates it really cramps their lifestyle. I knew one poor fellow who lived each cycle in the space of 5 months, spending the rest of the year estivating. He loved it in the arctic wilderness though so was willing to pay the price. I was lucky enough to only have a 1 to 2 month dormancy period and a very light senescence at the moment.

I suppose I could have chosen sometime before now to move further toward the tropics but the idea of never cycling held a great deal of fear for me. If I chose a place with no cold winter I would be locked into that form until I tired of life or something killed me… which with my species could be a very long time indeed. The idea terrified me.

What if I chose wrong? What if the conclusions that 899 years of seemingly pointless existence had led me to were just the phantasms of an existence lead mostly without love or companionship or any of the things most people took for granted, mindblind or not?

I’d been asking myself the same question for at least 886 of those years. It seemed insane to most around me, to choose to be a human woman when women were treated so horribly. Insane or not, I hadn’t done it, held back by fear. My mother had told me horror stories about her treatment amongst the mindblind when she tried to live with them hundreds of years before my own birth. She made a conscious choice to bear me as male, to make that my default form so that I would not have to endure what she had.

She has never been able to properly explain why she herself chose to remain female when she had the same option I had decided to take finally, to change with her next cycle if she wished. She even had the freedom to change back in a single cycle if she didn’t like it, a thing she had deprived me of with her choice. I bitterly resented her for that in some ways, that she should willfully saddle me with something my species considered a fairly severe disability.

I could make that change but it took a decade or better and there was this prolonged period of androgyny, of not quite being one thing or the other. That had been the past 7 years for me and in some ways I was grateful that I had waited as long as I had. The world had changed around me and I could choose places where I went mostly unremarked, for my appearance at least. Someone who appeared to be in the middle of a gender transition would go unremarked in the places I chose, although as always I was transient.

I don’t know if transient is exactly the right word, I owned the homes I stayed in at each place and I did tend to be at each one around the same time of year to keep things consistent. I varied the locations at which I cycled but that was simply a prudent precaution and in a major city I didn’t even have to go very far. I had a total of 15 homes in the Atlanta area alone as it was one of my favorite places to cycle but for the past 50 years or so I had lived most of the year in more tropical climes, always careful to return well before winter.

I had what seemed to me like 2 cycles left to go in my transition but this one should take me over the edge. The past 2 cycles I have become more female in appearance, even having small breasts this time but there was still a decided outlier, even though it was mostly gone(or changed?) by this point.

It was going to freeze tonight and I was grateful that I wouldn’t have to see the sagging spotted folds of wrinkles within wrinkles. I looked every minute of my true age right then even though I didn’t feel bad… just lethargic, almost unable to move from sheer weariness.

Time to sleep, perchance to dream?

Actually I didn’t dream in estivation although almost everyone else I’d met told me they did. I suppose it was just another of the ways in which I was different, odd, whatever. I just went to sleep and woke up. Nothing in between, never had been. It was the same thing with sleeping during my active period. I’d go to sleep, wake up 3 hours later, that was it.

This time around I had things set up so that I could see outside from my hiding place through cameras and screens and I could see and hear the drizzle begin to turn to sleet. I was really hoping it would be snow this year but it looked like Atlanta was about to get another Great Ice Storm which they of course would not be prepared for.

That wasn’t quite fair, Atlanta proper was quite prepared, had even made investments in equipment etc to keep roads clear and power on. It was the sprawling mass of smaller towns which comprised the Metro Area that were mostly so screwed up they couldn’t organize a drinking binge in a distillery.

“Oh well, Ice does the trick too…” was my last thought as I fell asleep.

I awoke, as always, on the bony side of thin and ravenous. Sagging spotted skin on a somewhat hefty frame had given way to young tight skin, just a light dusting of tiny blonde hairs on arms and legs. My breasts were much more evident than they had been last cycle and it seemed that perhaps things had formed below. I’d get around to checking that later, content to know that I was far enough down my path for any difference to be visible only to advanced imaging techniques or invasive examination.

I couldn’t even be troubled to find a mirror just yet. Hunger came first, then other bodily functions, then hunger again. The beginning of a new cycle was usually not that bad but I figured a few new structures had been formed and my body had likely consumed more energy than usual as a result.

Within five minutes I had wolfed down one family sized entrée of… I’m not sure what but I was impatiently waiting for the next one to finish in the high powered microwave while wolfing down an MRE. I ate like that for almost an hour before I could slow down enough to smell myself. Ripe was an understatement… I think a skunk might have run away in terror at a single sniff.

My tummy was bulging with food as I stepped into an almost scalding shower and scrubbed away at myself. By the time I’d managed to remove the filth of my long sleep I was ready for the other facilities offered by the luxurious bathroom and didn’t even bother drying off as I stepped over to the toilet, grateful for the heated floors. I did take a moment to make sure I didn’t sit on my hair as it had grown a great deal in the past 20 years, almost down to my knees now. I took a quick moment to weigh myself and record the results since I was trying to quantify several things about my cycle. 87.5 pounds, and that was after a large meal.

The bidet did make me jump a little as water hit areas that hadn’t been there before but I didn’t really have any energy or time to waste exploring that, no more than I had earlier. The oven beeped to let me know that the first of several large meat centric meals which would have fed a large family with leftovers was ready. The second oven held another meal which was timed to take 2 hours more and I slid yet another into the now empty oven after removing the large steaming pans.

I had already consumed and mostly processed something like 25,000 calories since awaking and would repeatedly binge until my body was ready to let the hunger ease. This wasn’t my first time to deal with this by a long shot and I’d gotten pretty good at staging things beforehand so that I’d have delicious foods ready to go on the schedule my body would demand.

This time I was able to divert enough attention from shoveling food into my mouth to check news, wade through a truly prodigious amount of spam on several email accounts and ensure that everything was flowing smoothly with my various properties. My business interests had proceeded more or less as I had forecast and in the one case where things had gone disastrously the agent who managed it for me had turned it into major opportunity and was well into retooling the company to meet the challenge.

I made a mental note to give her a large bonus. She was a transwoman who had been treated very badly by her previous employer when she declared her intent to transition. They had effectively sabotaged her career with unfounded allegations and as a result she was on the edge of becoming homeless when I read her blog one day. In the 5 years since I employed her the companies she was responsible for had grown tremendously in value and I was truly glad to find such a treasure.

Needless to say she didn’t know about my true nature, simply assuming that I was transitioning in the same way she was. She had expressed a desire to have more than just the annual vacation getaway meetings in summer, to try to form a friendship outside of that time but that obviously wasn’t going to be possible just yet. As always my cycle got in the way of something even as simple as friendship with the mindblind. We would have 6 weeks of fun and sun and for her, the occasional romance with a guy or girl who fancied her.

She had asked more than once why I never took anyone up on an offer of amour but I had put her off with a nonspecific version of the truth… That I had been deeply hurt and was not ready to have any sort of relationship until I was finished with my transition at least. She understood that well, having been deeply hurt herself. I had to work to make sure she didn’t notice my aging and repeated renewal but that early in my cycle my aging was slow enough to be mostly unnoticed although she did mention that vacations seemed to exhaust me.

They’d make you look exhausted too if you aged 5 years in a month and a half. She always remarked on how well rested and energized I was at the start of each vacation. Since I always started in my early 20s equivalent and aged into my late 20s it wasn’t terribly visible and the half-truth of my transition served to cover the rest. No one ever said anything to me about it and I encouraged them to assume I’d had some work done since they’d last seen me looking older.

It would be some while before I saw her though. Right now I could have passed for a 15 year old girl and it would take most of 2 months before I was ready to see her in person, carefully looking just a tiny bit older than I had the year before. I had ironclad ID that proclaimed I was 18(21 was too much of a stretch this early in my cycle) so living independently wasn’t a problem. Mostly it didn’t really matter to me as I could get almost anything I wanted through various business interests but judicious stocking removed the need for any of that in general.

I suppose in a lot of ways I was comfortable but my mind kept going back to Lucius or as he preferred now, Luke. That last kiss so long ago when he left for India to seek truth. I knew where he was, we had corresponded over the years, at first through trade caravans and then through ships and other means. It would be years or sometimes even decades before a letter from one of us would find the other while he wandered the world and I lived in my fear, frozen in more ways than one.

In the 20th century it had become much easier to keep in touch and by the end of it we would write to each other at least weekly. Now here we were late in the first quarter of yet another century and I had finally overcome at least part of my fear. He had set out in the spring of 1632, traveling through war’s ravages and dangers and it had taken him 5 years to get out of Europe. History would call it the 30 Years War but I do not recall a time when there was no war. I didn’t understand the politics of the mindblind then and it seemed as though they were simply murderous brutes.

Not that the Unseen were all peaceful. We had our own wars and slaughters and in some ways they were even worse than those of the Mindblind. Imagine what you can do with torture when your victim is almost unkillable…

I had separated myself from the society of the Unseen just as I had from the mindblind and forged my own path, found my own meaning in life and tried to do things that made the world a little bit better for both civilizations. Meaning was not enough, that too I had discovered. Even the most insular Unseen needs companionship, interaction with others… needs love.

I didn’t know how to reach out, to interact with others on more than an extremely superficial level. I had never truly connected with my parents and for a long time I actively hated my mother for what she had done to me. One friendship in all that time, one time I felt something that wasn’t compassion or something like it… One time I thought I had a chance at love and he had gone almost 5 centuries ago.

I had not talked with him or let him see any photos of me in the past decade since I began to transition and I did not plan to do so until I was physically complete. Once my transition finished I would go to him in Hawaii and take several of the biggest chances in my life…

I ate and read and browsed and binge-watched for most of the next 3 weeks and by the end of it I weighed a healthy but thin 135 pounds. I had chosen not to alter my height. I’d done that before and the advantages of being taller far outweighed the disadvantages in my mind so I was the same 6 feet tall I had been for most of the past 80 years. It was a good height for a man and enough to be rather tall for a woman but not outstandingly so as people in general had grown in height during the past century.

I’d been working out almost constantly so I’d built up stamina, reflexes and overall strength and flexibility and that had resulted in my current tight and toned physique. I was far stronger than a human woman looking like me would have been but that was a part of being the particular species of Unseen I am. All in all, I think I looked rather stunning and I definitely approved of my reflection as I dressed to depart for Bucharest. I had maintained a place there for most of the last 2 centuries as I had for most of the great cities of Old Europe. I even had a few places in the old Soviet Union but I stayed away from those for now. Too risky, even if I did miss St. Petersburg in midsummer.

With any luck it would still be there when some sanity returned to Mother Russia and the fairytale sunlit midnight would once again ring with the joy of summer. I sometimes had to remind myself to be patient, that this too would pass. I had seen empires rise and fall, nations build themselves from warring city states, the rebirth of an old idea in the form of modern democracy…

From my perspective it was an improvement, one I deeply wished had come to the Unseen long before it actually had. Our own pluralistic democratic society had not been born easily. Even now the old Royalty was given deference although they had no real power. It had however been stable for the past 250 years and had long ago made many of the adjustments that modern society was undergoing currently, to a culture of full acceptance for all and inclusion.

Romania in spring was a magical place for me. I had spent a total of maybe 130 years there over the centuries and had come to love it like a second home. My true childhood home had been in and around Kiyiv(Modern Kiev), hanging around with the Rus traders and learning of more than just the steppes. I wandered with the Mongols for a time and wound up in Peking, discovering many wonders. I wandered China for a time and found myself in what we now call Tibet. There I met Rinpoche who taught me self mastery. The people there were not Mindblind at the time and they accepted the Unseen as simply other people.

It was no hardship to spend half a century with them, meditating and learning before I ventured west again. I still have a craving for Tsampa(Tea with yak butter) whenever there is a nip to the air. I didn’t really keep track of where I went for a long time, content to “Go to and Fro in the world”.

Then I met Lucius.

I could never forget that moment. I was doing my best to cut a dashing figure in the salons of Paris while studying at the University and marveling at what change the years had wrought on a city I had come to love centuries before. I was at a party being thrown by one of Richelieu’s circle of influence(No I never met the man, he was scary)and my lap had been claimed by a rather imperious cat who was demanding that I scritch behind her ears and giving rather pointed directions. I think a part of it was just that she was so glad to actually have someone understand what she was saying… Poor thing was lonely.

Suddenly she looked up at me and then pointed with her nose in the direction of a group of men. “The one with the light hair.”

Now I’m used to cats being cryptic but this was downright opaque. I looked over in the direction she pointed and saw an extremely well built man with his back to me and long blonde hair tied into a neat ponytail. Something about him drew my eyes and would not let go.

“What about him?”

“He is your mate.” She licked daintily at a paw.

“It can’t be. There is no one for me and he is male if you hadn’t noticed.” Despite my protest I knew she spoke the truth and it frightened me.

“Why does that matter to your kind? Why are you even being male?” She put her head down and purred while I scratched.

I had pondered that question before, especially in Tibet and I would ponder it for many years after. I never did find a suitable answer aside from my own fears.

Some of the answer became clear as he turned and saw me looking, flashing a quick smile and a cocked eyebrow toward the entry to the gardens.

“I am sorry Your Majesty but I have to go now.” She yawned and hopped down from my lap, then led me over to a table and instructed me on the particular bits of meat she wanted. I dutifully followed directions and then eased toward the gardens, emerging into the brilliant sunlight of a summer afternoon.

“Put my plate over here” she motioned with a paw “then go find your mate. Get a glass of wine, I can smell your fear.”

I did as instructed, feeling almost dazed. The wine did help to settle my nerves especially since I gulped down 2 glasses and grabbed a third to carry. I wandered into the structure of the gardens and was wondering just how he had managed to disappear when suddenly there he was, sunlight streaming through his hair and creating a halo. He was so beautiful it almost hurt to look at him and so self-assured… so undeniably masculine in ways that I never envisioned until that very moment.

I couldn’t take my eyes from him and it was only when his voice penetrated my consciousness that I remembered to breathe.

“I am Lucius.” He stepped closer and rescued my wineglass just as I almost dropped it. He regarded me with amusement as I stood frozen. “And you are stunning!”

He laughed at my expression before he reached over and gently closed my mouth with his finger. His thumb brushed over my lips with the lightest of feather touches and I felt it all the way down to my toes. He slowly removed his hand with a trailing touch of fingers and I had a moment of panic, grasping at his hand before he could withdraw it completely and holding it between both of my own. We stood like that for a moment before his other hand rose up to caress my jaw and he bent down to me, his lips meeting mine with a shock that made the sensation from the brush of his finger pale into insignificance.

He guided me over to an even more hidden alcove with a bench and sat me down gently, taking a seat beside me on the stone bench.

“I overheard Her Majesty…” he let that trail off into the perfumed air.

I couldn’t think of anything to say while I felt my skin heat and knew I was blushing. Something about this man hit me like no one ever had, got right beneath centuries of carefully built defenses and made me want his touch so badly it was all I could think of.

“I… I am a male. I can tell from your scent that you are not one of those men who is into other men so… Why me?”

He pulled my chin back up and looked into my eyes. ”Do you believe Her Majesty would tell you anything other than what she saw?”

I had to think about that one for a minute but as I did so I realized I had not tried to free my jaw from his gentle grasp, simply gazing up into his impossible green-violet eyes.

“No. I believe what she says… I just do not see how it can be. My mother time-locked me into this form, it takes many years to change. I have never changed…. And I am afraid. I am mistreated enough as an effeminate man and what my mother told me and the way I have seen other women treated I… Terror takes over.”

“I will protect you.” The look on his face was indescribable, mixed anger and anxiety and fear with an overlay of bravado.

“You cannot protect me from myself.”

“Do you wish me to go away?” He looked on the verge of tears.

I didn’t even take time to think, the answer was clear in my heart. “Never…”

The look on his face was one I still cannot properly describe. Happiness and confusion and… something else.

“I do have to go away soon. I have sworn myself to a journey of discovery…”

“Tarry a while?”

“For you? I could tarry lifetimes.” He could not meet my eyes…

“But In the end you must leave to seek you own truth Centurion, to find your place in the universe for right now, the same as I have and must do. Have you studied in Tibet? Lama Rinpoche has much to teach. I wanted to go further down into the cities along the Ganges but I was afraid I would not be able to get back north in time to cycle. Much of the world has been off limits to me…”

“I too have wandered. I was a Spartan and then I was a hoplite and then I was an Immortal. Now I am a simple Centurion cast adrift by the fall of empire. I have wandered these many years looking for I knew not what. I have spent time with the Norns, sailed with the Phoenicians… Seen gods come and go.”

“How old are you?”

“I do not know. I was wandering the world before the destruction of Atlantis, outcast by the old rulers who fancied themselves gods. I helped to build Uruk and the Hanging Gardens and a few of us built the irrigation systems that made the ancient cities of the Levant become what they were.”

“My brother built the Sphinx almost 40 thousand years ago. It was a symbol of the thing which had devastated the entire known world at the time, what we call the Mediterranean basin. The death of Atlantis was the beginning of the legend of the Flood. The ice dam that had held the ocean back collapsed and the entire sea filled within days.

Most of human civilization died. We survived and gathered the remnants of humanity in the region, tried to rebuild some of what had been lost but so much of the technology had been destroyed. People tried to turn us into gods and we fled. We were not gods, just beings who lived very long lives.”

“Sounds like hell. How old are you?”

“I don’t know exactly. When I was born most of Europe was ice and we hunted mammoth. Maybe 50 thousand years.”

“What is left to discover”?

“All of the world where it does not freeze. I wish to know what exists there…”

“I cannot imagine being locked into a single form…”

“Because you are in the wrong form. I cannot imagine you as male even now. I see the soul of a woman, a mother… I see the soul of the woman I wish to be my mate.”

“Why cannot I see the same? Is it simply fear?”

“Whatever is, is, my love, we have time.”

We spent the next 20 years together. I was his lover and he was my everything… my being was consumed with him.

Then one day he left. One final night of glory… One last kiss… then 500 years of emptiness.

I filled my time with helping others and occasionally taking part in wars… holding back a sword here and there, saving a life as I could. I was in Stalingrad and Hiroshima, Okinawa, Bataan… I marched with the prisoners and tried to save as many as I could… I was at ground zero in Nagasaki.

I felt my flesh melt from my bones… died and then was reborn amidst the incongruous cherry blossoms…

In Korea and Vietnam and Rwanda I tried to stop the slaughter, tried to help… and came away with a neverending sorrow. Nothing I had done mattered. Eventually it became clear to me that the only thing in this world I could have any control over was myself. That was the genesis of my transition…

Soon I would be ready to meet him again, this time as the woman he saw so long ago… the truth of myself.

I started at a knock on my door. It took me a moment to calm myself and realize that it must be the first of the preplanned deliveries I’d staged before my estivation.

I think maybe I am becoming a little too insular as I make my way to the front door and realize I am anxious about opening it. I scold myself a little. “It is only UPS, knock drop and run…”

I pull my front door open and… there he is.

Suddenly the only thing I can think of is that last kiss, the feel of his lips upon mine, the feel of his love for me…

He is dressed to show off his physique, tight bike shorts and an equally tight jersey-vest leaving nothing to the imagination. I can even see the bold outline of his semi-erect manhood trying to climb above his waistband and am mesmerized for a moment as it pulses.

“Lucius!” It is the only thing I can say as I launch myself into his arms and he catches me as though I weighed nothing before his face bends down and he kisses me… deeply, erotically, in ways that have me moaning into his mouth with pleasure.

I had to pull back.

“I am… not complete down there.”

“There is more to lovemaking than simply fucking my love.”

As if to prove his point he slid down so that his face was between my legs and left me screaming and gasping and almost pulling his hair out.

He teased me for what seemed like hours until I turned the tables on him and engulfed his manhood in my mouth. It didn’t stop him but I gave as good as I got and by the time we were done there was nothing for it but to lie together, his arm over me, protecting me.

Finally I could think. “Why now, when you know I am not finished?”

“Why not so long ago? You had to learn to accept who you are… were…”

He heaved a deep sigh and continued. “You could not admit that you are the woman I saw in my dreams… the woman you saw in your own dreams. I could not face you when you were trying so hard to be someone else. I had to wait until you began to accept your own truth.”

“I have done so, now. I finally faced my fears and began to become myself. I was going to come to you when I was finished…”

“I could not wait…”

He heaved a deep sigh and continued. “Almost 500 years I have waited and I thought to myself that one or two more years would not matter but then here I was and here you were and… waiting wasn’t an option anymore. I had to know if you felt the same.”

“And what do you think now?” I playfully plucked at the wiry hairs surrounding his nipples.

He responded by gently rubbing my breast with the back of his finger, circling around my nipple and making me gasp with anticipation before he finally touched it and ran the rough pad of his forefinger across my engorged and sensitive flesh.

I made a half strangled moan, trying to be quiet.

His other hand moved down between my legs and found my clit. I hadn’t even had a chance to play with it myself but when he touched me there I could not help but hunch into his hand and make a yelping moan.

I can’t even describe the next few minutes, or hours, or however long it was. I was not fully formed yet so he took me the old way as he had so many years ago… His hot spear splitting me in two and bringing me to screaming, whimpering orgasms…

It was different this time, for me. So long ago he had told me I was his woman but I had been so afraid… Now the fear was gone and I was clear on who I was and who and what I wanted.

We lay there entangled in each other, my head resting upon his broad chest.

“It will be 2 more years.”

He pulled my chin up so I was looking into his eyes.

“2 or 2 hundred. You are the one for me. There has never been any other.”

“That is not what I meant you… Man!”

He looked into my eyes again with infinite tenderness.

“It will be 2 years before I can carry our child.”

“Are you in a hurry?”

I looked up into his amazing eyes. “Yes… No… I don’t know… I have wanted to be the mother to your children for a very long time now. I know a year or two doesn’t make much difference but in truth?”

“In Truth?” He rumbled at me.

“In truth I want nothing more than to be carrying our child right now. I can wait because there is no choice but it is very hard for me… that is why I wanted to wait until I was whole before I came to you.”

“Is that why you have not responded to my letters?”

I nodded, tearful. “I did not know what to say. How was I to tell you about me, changing… everything. I was scared. Afraid you would reject me as so many others have…

“I could never reject you. Whatever name, whatever form… I fell in love with you the instant I saw you so long ago in Paris.” He wiped the tears from my eyes with that broad thumb, infinitely tender. “It was so difficult to stay away when all I wanted to do was come to you, love you…”

“I have never had anyone since…”

“I know…”

He took my small hand in his own large rough one, the rasp of his hand against the silk of my reborn and sensitive skin.

“I will wait with you, will cycle with you for the next 3 years, just to make sure you are whole.”

“You know when I am whole I will want to feel our child kick in my belly…”

“I had hoped we could have a honeymoon first… a decade to travel the world and be free with each other as we should have done so long ago…”

“We will do that… but I will bear your children…. Our children, a universe full of them….. as it ever was, as it shall be, as it was in time before time… “

“For you and I are the Alpha and the Omega.”

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