Switched! - 2. Margaret Agonistes

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A Switcher Tale...

Switched!
Switched!

2. Margaret Agonistes

by Lulu Martine

I still had trouble dealing with what had happened to me. I'd been switched into the body of a teenage girl and seen my old, male, middle-aged, crippled body brutally killed. After running in panic away from the murderous monster who had done this, I'd finally regained some equilibrium.

I needed a lot of coping skills, and I seemed to be failing to find them. Taking inventory of what items my new self carried in her jacket had felt like a good idea, and maybe it did help.

Maybe not. My hands didn't stop shaking even after I made sure all my tiny treasures were safely back in my pockets. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I zipped up the front for lack of something better to do. Or maybe the heavy leather felt like armor.

The mood-boost I'd gotten earlier from combing my hair seemed to have dissipated, and the enormity of what had happened threatened me with terror and panic again. I tried some yoga breathing exercises I had learned for when the pain in my back wasn't responding to the morphine pump I wore.

Tony's back. Had worn. I tried to dodge that thought but it persisted. Tony is dead and all his health, job and personal problems are dead with him. Margaret can't possibly have as much baggage as the old man was dragging around, she's too young. I'm too young. And healthy. Okay, maybe I'm a bit crazy, and I may be a drug addict, a prostitute, or a street kid, or all of the above….

I did more yoga until I felt some calmer. My emotions were on a hair-trigger, it seemed, with panic being already locked and loaded. I needed to stay calmer, consider problems one at a time, and not let the enormity of what had happened overwhelm me. Maybe being young and female now had something to do with my emotionality.

Maybe. Otherwise, being a girl seemed like a problem I could worry about later. First, I'm filthy, I thought, I need to clean up. Wherever I went, if I needed to interact with other people, they'd notice. I knew I smelled terrible; people weren't going to want to be around me. I needed at least a public bathroom.

I sat on the Telco utility box beside the sidewalk, sobbing for several minutes. I fisted tears out of my eyes, repeatedly, but more sobs caught in my throat. I wept as silently as I could. This isn't helping, I thought. But curiously, it did. I cried for at least two minutes, maybe twice that long, then I felt enormously better. The resilience of youth, maybe?

I wiped my eyes with the heels of my palms. So, I'm a teenage girl now, apparently on the run and maybe living on the street. But I'm young; I have the use of my legs, I'm in LA where I won't freeze to death. Could be worse. "Could be raining," I said aloud to finish the quote.

Snickering—well, more of a high-pitched tittering—I surveyed the neighborhood I found myself in. I thought I had run east, through the parking lot and a screen of trees. The homes I saw would fit in that rather upscale area. I didn't know the layout personally, but there wasn't a single straight line curb in sight, all the streets here curved.

There was nothing but expensive houses, not a convenience store or fast food place visible. Where could I go to get a bath, or at least access to a sink and some paper towels? And maybe a change of underwear? Ick. In terror and panic, I'd had an accident—it was part of why I knew I smelled bad.

I didn't want to knock on doors. Someone would call the cops, and right at the moment, I was afraid of cops. One of them…. I veered away from that mental image, wrapping my arms around my new physical self.

Focus, Margaret, focus, I told myself—deliberately trying to think of myself as the teenage girl I now was. I'd learned her name from papers in her pockets. I needed an identity, and hers would be useful. But where am I? What do I do now?

The campus stretched out west of me, I felt pretty sure, but in the middle of an overcast day, I had no idea which way was west. An odd feeling that—I'd always had a pretty strong sense of direction but, I realized, I may have left that behind with my male brain.

Another odd impossible thought. It wasn't like I'd had time to pack any mental equipment I thought I might need. No-oo. It'd been like one of those old cartoons with the sheriff at the door with an eviction notice. I squeezed my lips closed on the probably hysterical giggles trying to get out. I tapped the side of my head with a knuckle. You're not a blonde, Margaret, don't be a ditz, I told myself.

Breathe in, two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four. Repeat.

Which direction had I been running when I went to ground under the hedge? No clue of that, either. I tried to get a glimpse of the tall buildings on campus over the roofs of houses but no luck. Everything that far away was all blurry and sometimes doubled. I did a lot of squinting, but I didn't see anything that might be big buildings. Sighing, I picked a direction at random and started walking.

Five minutes later, I spotted what I took for the UCLA Medical Center and figured out that I was heading south. The outline was distinctive despite it being seen through the persistent blurring. Why hadn't I found any glasses in my pockets? Maybe I'd been wearing contacts that I'd lost while crying in panic. But wouldn't I have had… I didn't know, and I couldn't know.

Back to the present reality, Margaret, I scolded myself. Oh, God, am I a ditz or a moron? A slightly hysterical-sounding giggle appalled me as evidence that I just might be one or the other or both. Nervously, I unzipped my jacket, zipped it back up, and then down again.

Focus, Margaret, focus, I reminded myself, and a giggle at the pun escaped. I kept calling myself Margaret as a matter of policy. Tony was dead, and it was best not to think about him.

West is that way. I pointed toward where I had seen the Medical Center roofline. Just south and west of the MC would be Westwood Village: shops, fast food, theaters, groceries, and a Target. I tried to pick turns at intersections to angle off in the direction I wanted to go. I got lost, wandered around, found the tops of the MC again, and finally emerged on streets I recognized, only two blocks from Target.

Being lost had been a scary feeling, and I had to wipe tears of relief out of my eyes when I emerged from the residential wilderness. I put my arms inside my jacket and hugged myself. It did feel weird, but it was also some sort of comfort. Tits, I thought inanely, I've got tits. Small ones, but still….

*

I felt conspicuous as hell as I made my way to and inside the discount department store. But no one paid me the slightest bit of attention — just another skinny girl, presumably a student. Skinny and short, I noted. Even with the platform heels, I didn't make it up to what seemed to be average height for the women I saw.

Five-foot-nothing, probably, I mused. Before my spine collapsed, I had topped six feet by an inch or two. Big change—I'd reached five feet back in middle school, I thought but wasn't sure. No wonder I'm wearing high heels. It seemed astonishing that I had no trouble walking in them, but maybe body memory could account for that.

I knew enough about brains to know that movement, especially practiced movements that have become almost automatic, are handled in the cerebellum. And whatever had happened to me had likely not touched that part of my brain, or I wouldn't be able to move at all, probably.

But I didn't waste time wondering about just how consciousness of myself had been displaced into another body. I didn't know, I couldn't know, and according to the monster who had done this to me, somebody was willing to carve me up to try to find out. I clamped my jaw on a surge of fear, then had to clamp unfamiliar internal muscles on a fierce need to piss.

Just that little bit of thinking had scared me so bad that I sort of shuffle-ran, looking for the signs for the restrooms. I barely made it, remembering at the last moment to go into the women's room. It was empty, so I picked a stall, got inside, pulled up my skirt and down with some grotty underwear before remembering to turn around and sit.

After finding some relief, I dabbed around the dampness down there before kicking off the filthy panties I'd been wearing. Mildly freaking out, I left the stall and barely glanced at the mirrors before taking some paper towels, several of them dampened under the faucet, back with me into the same stall. I really wanted to get cleaned up.

First thing, I cleaned up my jacket, trying not to think about what some of the bloody mess might be. I took it off and hung it on a hook. Underneath, I wore a simple pink tank-top with some words on it that I didn't pause to figure out. No bra, but I hardly needed one.

Looking inside my shirt, I decided I wasn't much more than an A-cup. Real breasts though, not the cookie-and-gumdrop confections of a girl barely into puberty. I didn't have time to be fascinated or repulsed. They looked weird being on my chest, skinny, bony, and narrow though that chest was.

Did I have an ounce of extra flesh on me anywhere? Well, my ass seemed plump enough for two girls my size. How embarrassing to realize that I probably got more looks walking away than I did from in front.

After the jacket, I cleaned my face, hands, and arms, then my skirt, including inside it, using up paper towels at a crazy rate. Like the jacket, the skirt was a well-made item, real leather, very black, lined with soft, candy-striped cloth. It was super tight across my bottom and fit closely at the waist with a bit of a flare where it covered the top few inches of my skinny legs. Stylish? I had no fucking clue.

I even undid my buckles, took off my shoes, and washed my feet. Cute shoes, too. Cute? Yeah, cute was the right word. It was obvious from my clothing that I was not a street kid. I had a home somewhere, well, Margaret did, and people who cared enough about me/her to buy good quality clothes. Unless I had bought them myself.

Me, myself. I was deliberately thinking of this girl as being me. Well, I'd always been the practical sort. I'm stuck being Margaret, and the sooner I adjust to the impossible fact of my own existence, the better I can see what needs doing.

Like what to do about the part of me covered by my skirt--I was naked under there now, having discarded my soiled panties. I didn't even want to wash them out in the sink. The fabric had been stiffening up between my legs and feeling really gross, if teenagers still use that word. But what if I had to do more running, and my skirt rode up to my waist again?

I blushed to think of that. But it wasn't likely to happen unless I ran off in panic again. Still, messing around with the intimate parts of a young girl just didn't feel right. "I'm only fifteen," I said out loud in my new tiny voice. Forty-three years of living gone in an instant, but the attitudes and inhibitions created remained.

There were things I didn't want to think about regarding Margaret's situation. I pressed the tongue stud I'd discovered earlier against the roof of my mouth. "I'm jailbait," I muttered, and someone somewhere probably should go to jail. But that would mean dealing with the cops, and right now, I didn't want to do that. Even good results would likely end with me locked up in juvenile detention.

I had to clean up down there, though. I got clean paper towels again, including dampened ones. It was every bit as weird and embarrassing as I had imagined. I seemed to have all the requisite feminine parts and none of the masculine ones. I hadn't had much use out of those for years, so why did I feel their loss so particularly agonizing?

I started sniffling again. "Oh, grow up, Margaret," I told myself. Trying to wrap my head around my new identity was painful in an entirely different way, and I used it more or less as a distraction.

I finished up, discarding most of the paper towels and the soiled undies in the trash receptacles in two different stalls. Not the toilet bowl a real fifteen-year-old might have thoughtlessly used.

I did feel much better. Being grimy and nasty had been hard on my psyche. I paused now in front of the mirrors and dug out my comb and brush — time to deal with my hair more thoroughly when I could see what I was doing.

Before beginning, though, I stuck out my tongue and looked at the silver ball sitting there. Thankfully, I hadn't discovered any other body piercings, and no tattoos, thank god. How does a teenager get such a thing done? Weren't such piercings for children illegal without parental consent? There were probably ways to do things if you were a rebellious teen.

And…worry about that later.

I sighed and went to work on my hair. It was gorgeous stuff, actually, and the rich brown seemed to be its natural shade. Long, thick, healthy, shining--I could do shampoo commercials. I wondered, this being LA, if Margaret had done such work. Too bad, I couldn't ask her.

I stopped suddenly. Panic loomed again. Where was the real Margaret? Her mind? Because it seemed probable that the monster who had stolen my body and then that of the policeman had taken hers first. Where was she? And who was she now?

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Comments

cleaned up

but where can she go?

DogSig.png

Where can she go?

WillowD's picture

I can think of several possibilities. Can she get into her (i.e. his old home). If it's in a house and not an apartment complex then it may be possible to break into it. Another possibility is to use the same resources a runaway teen might use, except he has a lot more knowledge than a real sheltered 15 year old would have on where to find these resources. He might have friends to approach and convince them who he is but I get the feeling he is a loner and may have none. So there are several good possibilities here.

Tony's place

She hasn't thought this through analytically but Tony was just murdered. Who do you think will be in his apartment?

But yes, dealing with a student population, Tony knows of resources Margaret might not.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

good question

There are a number of places that suggest themselves. Her biggest problem right now actually is that she is scared out of her wits.

Thanks for commenting.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Her confidence is shot

Right now she doubts her own judgement, the situation is just too weird.

But Tony's analytic skills and Margaret's youthful resilience are likely to pull her through.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

A few more positives

Nyssa's picture

So not many real answers for her, but indications that her situation might not be as dire as she initially feared. Still, as she puts off things she can't or shouldn't deal with yet and tries to compartmentalize, I suspect the mysterious "they" (or our author) won't let her get too comfortable.

"They" is mysterious unless

If you've read the other Switcher stories there is a shadowy government agency dedicated to making sure the general public doesn't find out about the big bad villain. Now, just because they exist, doesn't mean that the Switcher was telling the truth about them.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Prelude to the story

BarbieLee's picture

Many movies, novels, and even short stories need a prelude to set up the story before delving into the meat of same. I'm guessing this is the prelude? The setting, the description of the actors and actresses, the action is well placed in perfect order. Now would be a great time to start introducing a dialog, speaking parts, to get this tale into motion.
A very excellent writer on BCTS used descriptive to tell her tale with almost no dialog. Although interesting as the story may be it lacks that touch to win any academy awards for story telling. The best story telling could be sent straight to movie with very little input from screen writers filling in the parts to bring it to life. Thus dialog is necessary to bring one's own actors and actresses to life from the written page to the reader's fertile imagination. Sometimes very hard to do as some readers have very little imagination. This is the job of the writer, filling that void.

Interesting story hon. The script is well laid out without wandering. I like the premise of what's to come.
always
Barb
The only way to end the trip is to start it and then finish it.

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

Talk to herself?

Iolanthe Portmanteaux's picture

I guess you're suggesting she talk to herself? Or were you thinking more along the lines of a one-woman show?

- io

She does, a bit

I talk to myself a lot, but that's because I'm such a good listener.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Enteraining Guests in One's Head

BarbieLee's picture

I'm surrounded by comedians. Now I wish I had kept my conversation to my own group of friends. Those who are always there when I like a nice chat or need some advice.
Hugs ladies
always
Barb
Life has many crossroads. The ones we chose determine our final destination.

Oklahoma born and raised cowgirl

The joke

The joke above was in response to someone else. I gave you a serious reply below. Chat threading is a bit arcane.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Agonistes

The title of this chapter said it: Agonistes is a literary form in which a character has internal struggles, whether it is Samson in his prison cell or Rabbit in his toolshed. In this case, it is Margaret sitting on a utility box, getting her head straight before going out to face the world.

A lot of my stories largely take place inside people's heads. Maybe I'm an introvert?

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Bad news #1... Typical dialog loaded movie...

... AFAIK... Has about 2 printed pages of the dialog. Yes. Up to 1000 words... Ups... About on par with the shortest story by Ricky, who, as it seems, tends to write only the dialog of the story (his dialog is mostly good and even with my empathy problems I have no trouble in parsing who said what... most of the time...).
Bad news #2: I remember several very touching movies that gathered quite a good bit of cash in movie theaters with no dialog (zero, nil) or like two-three phrases told in total 3 hours of a movie. And it is not counting silent movies like Gold Rush or City Lights by Charlie Chaplin. And there were some dialog loaded movies that had not covered expenses by the earnings from the book-office...

So... Dialog is good. If it is good. Or if it adds something to the story. If it is a story... If it is by Ricky - I will give it a chance. Ricky dialog does not (for me) leave a sense of wasted time... In most other cases for me? Dialog is just a space filler. Something to skip through to get to the actual action.
You have 100 words of story, but you need to publish 10000+ words story? Add dialog for every little thing. Like in my first published story ever. It could be told in 4 words: "Toilet laws are stupid." But it is all dialog (even though it it could be a soliloquy by one harassed toilet cleaner...) MS Word stats show that my actual story is 25 times longer - 100 words... Hopefully it is at least 2 times more touching than original 4 word idea ;-)

Movies

There's one movie script that is often used to teach scriptwriting, it's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" by William Goldman. Here: http://dailyscript.com/scripts/Butch_Cassidy_and_the_Sundanc...

It's 185 pages long and about one-third to one-half dialog. This is the "final" script, the one given to the director to plan the movie.

But movies do vary a lot in how much dialog they have.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Margaret

Sadarsa's picture

Last Margaret i knew passed away almost a decade ago at the age 78. It's a name (way) out of date with 2020. Her parents must be really old-fashioned. Probably why she ran away since she seems like she was a bit of a wild child.
The guy who landed inside her... his name wasn't mentioned i don't think... would probably fit right in with her parents. His comment about there being only one reason a girl would get her tongue pierced just screams *Prude* to me. Most girls get piercings because they like the way it looks, not for any sexual reasons.

~Your only Limitation is your Imagination~

Naming goes in waves.

"Margareth Madè" - is a first link from googling "margareth". And she is moderately famous, and she was born in 1982. I personally know Sophia who is now 5 or 6 years old. And it is much more outdated name than Margaret. (At least there were no prominent political figures named Sophia Thatcher when she was born... :-) Now there is a new aspiring actress Sophie Thatcher... But it is an entirely different name! ;-) )

Um, no

Currently, according to a few name pages I checked out, Margaret is the 110th most popular name for baby girls and has been at about that level or a bit higher since the 1970s. Meaning that out of a million fifteen-year-old girls, about 500 would be named Margaret. By comparison, Lulu hasn't been that popular since the 1890s. Add in that Margaret is probably from a conservative immigrant background, people who tend to name their children, when they use English names, at least one generation out of current style.

Anthony, the name of the guy who landed inside Margaret, is four to six times as popular for boys. But no excuses for Tony, he probably is a prude.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

I'll second that!

In my family we have FOUR Margarets! (that I know of)

And I know THREE people not related by the same name.

Oh and the name of the guy in the wheelchair was mentioned a few times. It was "Tony".

that's obviously what the

that's obviously what the switcher intended by killing her old body and telling her to run, so she would be too terrified to go to the cops leaving them more time to switch to new bodies and get away from there making it harder for the cops to find them.

Theory

A decent guess as to motive. Chaos favors a fugitive.

Thanks for commenting.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Love the story

I do have a few issues with the insinuated male-born myth that women have no sense of direction, though. Like many things men think, it's not even close to the truth.

Being natural gatherers,(as opposed to natural hunters) women tend to take more notice of their surroundings. When men go shopping, it's in, go directly to the item you want and get out immediately. Women are not like that, they spend more time in their environment taking inventory of what's there.

Your mileage may differ

My experience is that without familiar surroundings, some men can still locate north without error and most women can't. I know I can't. I think it's the eyebrows.

Thanks for commenting, twice even. LOL.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Using your reference...

Women better know their immediate surroundings. But they rarely wander far off the known grounds. A woman in the shopping center usually looks like she lived there all of her life. But I happened to observe several women in the entirely new for them, even in the concept, shopping center. It was like looking at the cat in the new environment. Careful slow steps, sniffing everything. Retreat at any sudden movement or sound...
Jokes aside, it is very individual. I knew men who had zero sense of direction and were easily lost on the one platform train station... And couple of times got lost driving from home to office or back... Driving the same route for the 1000-th time... I knew women with the similar kind of problem. Just replace couple of the billboards at the critical intersection on the same day...
On average men are a little bit better in pointing where is North in a random location or pointing direction home. Women are a little bit better on remembering visual clues to where they are at the moment and at listing visual clues in the correct sequence you need to see to get home.
As for me... I kind of combine both traits (partially through extensive training). Most of the times I can backtrack to origin from any point I got to. Often I can find a more direct route.

Too right

I'm a map-reading girl, I don't get lost if I have a good map and street signs I can read.

But I've tried to follow directions sometimes that are like the old country joke:

"Jest go down this road till you come to where the Johnson place was, it burned down in '72. Turn about half a mile or so passed that, it don't matter which way. If'n you see a yaller dog lying in the road, that belongs to Old Man Pfister and you've done gone too far. Turn around and drive straight for ten minutes. You can't miss it."

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Reminded me of the old anecdote...

... about directions.
"Go straight for 1 mile, turn right, on the next fork go left, then you cross the poppy field... And on the other side the river will tell you the rest of the route."

this is really scary

I get the feeling there might druggies or pimps looking for her?

Maybe

We'll get into this in a chapter or two.

Thanks for commenting.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Confusing?

Good job I like confusing because that's what Margaret (probably Megs or, Maggie or Peggie or even Daisy to her friends, if she has any. There's a lot of diminutives for Margarets) must be in a state of right now. No knickers and a short skirt is a bit brave though.

I've been very lax recently to miss your lovely stories so I'm catching up :)

R

Nicknames

Rita and Pearl are also nicknames for Margaret, two of the less obvious ones.

Thanks for a lovely comment.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine

Monster? What monster?

Jamie Lee's picture

Bang, suddenly you're a girl. How, why, what, now what, are just a few things going through Tony's mind.

The IDs in the pockets tell where Margret lived/lives, why not give that a go? Or might Margret have left home to save herself from some type of abuse? Or a temper tantrum of some kind?

Now that she has cleaned up somewhat, seems the first order of business is new panties, unless Tony wants to continue going commando. Then decide her next step. Shelter or try to go home to her parent(s). Maybe a phone call first?

What's this monster Tony mentioned? An actual monster, demon or some such thing?

Others have feelings too.

Where wolf?

The monster Margaret is referring to is probably the one who shot her old body in the head and claimed responsibility for having swapped Tony into her new body.

In other words, the cop, or whoever is now in the cop's body.

Thanks for commenting.

- Gender is between the ears, sex is between the legs and anywhere else you can get it. - Lulu Martine