Switched! - 3. Like, Totally Dead

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A Switcher Tale...


3. Like, Totally Dead

by Lulu Martine

I got control of myself before I ran out of the bathroom and went screaming down the aisles. Since I didn't have any undies on, if my skirt rode up again, I would be giving a free floor show. Not that I thought of that at the moment. I wasn't used to thinking about skirts at all.

If I ran, where would I go? Where should I go? Not back to my apartment, Tony's apartment, the cops would be there now or soon: Tony was a murder victim. I needed to stay away from the authorities.

When my heart stopped pounding, and I stopped clenching my teeth and rolling my eyes, I wondered what was wrong with me?. I must have ridden the roller coaster from terror to depression two or three times already. Women are supposed to be more emotional, but this was ridiculous.

Then again, I had been through some really—bizarre!—experiences in only a few hours. I thought about that. It might have been less than two hours. At most three hours ago, I had been Anthony, thinking about my doctor's appointment. Now Anthony was dead…. Stop it!

I needed something else to think about, quick — my phone! You're not quite alive any more without your phone — not the right way to say that. If I can get my phone charged, then maybe I could call those numbers on that business card for the nail salon in Orange County. Better.

With enough presence of mind recovered, I yoga-breathed myself into coherence.

But what would I tell them? They'd be complete strangers to me. And me a stranger to them, but they wouldn't know that. They might really be strangers. I was only assuming they were relatives, and that just because it was a nail salon, a business dominated by Vietnamese immigrants, and Margaret had a Vietnamese middle name.

I could tell them my story, but they wouldn't believe me. I had trouble believing it myself. Maybe I could play sullen teenager long enough to figure out who was who.

Oh shit! I'm fifteen, and it's the week before Thanksgiving—I'm supposed to be in school! I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity. I clamped my teeth on the laughter; I didn't need hysterics any more than I needed panic.

Distraction. Something. What have I got in my hand? A brush…. Oh, yeah. I'd been standing there, staring at the mirror with a brush in my hand. Take a deep breath, brush hair…. Brush. Brush. A hundred strokes seemed excessive, but wasn't that the folk wisdom? Too bad, I forgot to start counting.

Eventually, I'd done about all I could with my hair and felt much calmer. Odd how soothing taking care of your hair is, even if it's hair you didn't have a few hours ago.

I put the comb and brush away. My long, dark hair was lovely (lovely?), and I looked cute (cute!) with it hanging down my back. I made a face at the mirror. Did I want to be cute? I might get it cut, but somehow, I already doubted that. It would be a pain to have to take care of it, but being in a wheelchair for ten years had taught me a few things.

You have to find something about yourself to love, or just doing the daily routines of living gets tedious. And I loved my new hair. It may have helped that Tony had started going bald years ago. But it was also useful as a mood lifter, apparently. I moved my head from side to side, feeling it swish against my neck. I smiled, and the girl in the mirror smiled, too.

That's me, I told myself. That has to be me, because the other me is dead. Shut up. I'm a cute, tiny half-Asian girl named Margaret Robert. No 's' on the last name. I rolled my eyes at my image. I'd probably had to tell a thousand or more people how to spell my name. Margaret had. I had. Margaret is me.

When I'd been washing up, I'd discovered that the gold chain I had around my neck had a cross pendant hanging down my back. I didn't know if it had gotten turned around during my panic, but I now had it hanging in front. It was a fairly sizable cross, too, though I wasn't confident on judging sizes in my new body.

As Tony, I'd never been very religious, but Dad was Catholic, and Mom was Lutheran, so they had compromised and attended Episcopalian services, Christmas and Easter. Dad was gone now and Mom lived in a retirement home in Arizona. She didn't remember why I was in a wheelchair the last time I visited her. She wouldn't know me at all if I showed up now.

If Margaret was wearing a cross, she was probably a Catholic. Lots of Vietnamese were. If she had hidden it down her back, she might be conflicted about her faith. I sighed, closing one of my tiny new hands around the cross. I actually felt some comfort from doing that, and I realized Margaret had probably done the same when she was scared and lonely.

Damn. I was more scared and lonelier than Anthony could have imagined.


Leaving the bathroom, finally, I wandered the aisles in Target for a while. I needed underwear and a charger, and I only had fourteen dollars. I checked the chargers first. The cheapest cable I found was $9, and the cheapest wall-wart was $5. I probably didn't have enough change for the tax. I felt discouraged until I noticed the in-store Starbucks cafe.

What I'd thought of might not work here, but there was a real Starbucks in the Village only a few blocks away. I'd have to try there, and it would probably work. College kids are helpful to each other, and I was tiny and cute. Someone would loan me a charging cable.

I thought about going back to the mirrors to practice looking cute and helpless, but the idea was too embarrassing. I kept blushing when I remembered that the other thing I needed was clean panties.

I wandered until I found the women's underwear tables. I steeled myself to buy something like what Margaret had been wearing: silky, lacy and black. The pair I had thrown away had been marked XS so I did know my size. But I hadn't realized there are like eight different styles.

I picked something called a boy-short, for the irony, but also, it looked most like the pair I remembered. One nice, lacy boy-short in something called micro-fiber cost $5. That would put buying a charger even further out of reach, but the draft I kept feeling was making me crazy. I had breezes touching me in places I hadn't had places before.

Besides, I had another idea. Before I went up to the register, I pulled out my ID card and the business card and memorized all the numbers on them. Reading the cards wasn't easy, working with what an extremely poor-sighted friend of mine had once called 'nose-braille.' Where were my damn glasses?

I settled on Margaret's birthday as being most likely, 0106, and approached the checkout with the debit card in hand as well as my purchase. I figured I could make two tries at guessing the PIN and if that failed, I could pay cash. I didn't want to fail three times in a row, that might lock the card.

The bored clerk hardly looked at me. I put the card in the reader and punched my first guess into the numbers. No joy. I tried 0601, and that didn't work either. The clerk said, "Forgot your PIN number?"

"Uh, huh," I said. I didn't need to fake a whimper. Also, I didn't need to mention that the N in PIN stands for number, but it amused me enough the whimper didn't turn into tears. I smiled at her, trying out a cute and helpless look.

"You got an ID with the same name as the card?" she asked.

I blinked but pulled out my ID. She glanced at it, not looking long enough to see that it had expired last January. "I can try running your card as a credit card," she offered.

And that worked! Lordy, it's not supposed to for prepaid cards, but some banks are sloppy about the rules. Such a tiny victory and I felt over the moon about it. Calm down, Margaret, calm down. "Thank you very much!" I gushed.

The clerk winked at me, saying in a lowered voice. "Going commando because you had an accident? Been there, done that."

Blushing, I headed back to the bathrooms. I hadn't heard the phrase "going commando" since Tony's college days, and I heard myself giggling. Then I almost went into the wrong bathroom.


The undies went on as soon as I got into a stall. They fit, and their silky softness felt nice on my nether bits. I could have bought a cheaper pair, but all of Margaret's things were good quality, even expensive. The jacket alone might have cost hundreds of dollars, real leather with a lining, six pockets, and a zip-in hoodie.

I left the bathroom feeling a bit more confident. Funny how underwear affects you that way. "Going commando" was not my style. Not even Margaret's apparently, despite the tongue stud.

I wandered some more. I couldn't think of anything else I needed besides a charging cable, and I didn't have enough money. I could pull the credit card thing again, but it might not work, and besides, I had a cheaper option.

I headed for the in-store cafe but didn't see the kind of crowd I thought might work with what I had in mind. Also, they didn't have a charging station with USB plugs, so I'd have to borrow not only a cord but a wall-wart. If they even had standard electric plugs, which I didn't see either.

I wandered on out to the parking lot because one middle-aged guy kept looking at me funny. Like I was a snack. Creepy. I wondered how much of that I was going to get. I knew what I looked like: attractive, even pretty, but no raving beauty.

Two blocks over was a real Starbucks, so I headed that way. Everyone on the street seemed larger than me, even the women. I had five inches of extra height with my platform sandals, but even so, I was looking girls and women right in the mouth or nose. I revised my estimate of my own height at five-foot-nothing down an inch or so. This might be as hard to get used to as being female.

And I was getting looks. Mostly smiles. Women, in particular, smiled at me, and older men. Young guys smiled too, but often it was a beat or so delayed. While they checked me out, I supposed. I need a sign, I decided. Big letters. JAIL BAIT. That made me giggle, and I collected even more smiles.

I noticed something. If I smiled at people, they always smiled back. Always, if they noticed me. I'm like a ray of sunshine, I told myself and heard another of my giggles. I must be cute as hell, I thought. This is going to work.


I'd been in amateur theatricals before, during, and after college. So, I constructed a character I could play. Little Margaret is sweet and sassy, a charmer, but doesn't take herself too serious. She's worried because her phone is dead; she thinks her family may have been trying to call her.

I could fill in more later. I reached for the door to Starbucks, but someone inside pushed it open for me. "Thank you," I said as I passed the guy. I smiled and he smiled. Hey! That was kind of cool in a way I hadn't expected.

I stopped out of the way of the door and looked around the room while I dealt with a new complication. That guy—I glanced back at him, and yup, he was still looking at me—that guy smiling at me had been different. I enjoyed his smile. Why was that? I closed my eyes and tried not to think about it.

Time for my act. I took my phone out of my pocket and held it up. "Has anyone got a phone charger I could use? I need to call home, and my phone is, like, totally dead." Maybe I was a little too far into character with that stupid "like," but with my squeaky voice, it probably added some authenticity.

It worked. Three guys and a gal offered me a cable. One of the guys was the one who had opened the door for me and whose smile had caused a reaction in me. I took the gal's offer. "Thank you very much," I gushed. "I'm Margaret," I added.

"I'm Joan," she said. "There's a charging box beside the condiments, so all you need is a cable. Yours isn't an iPhone, is it?" She held out a wire with a standard phone connection.

"Uh, no, thanks." I took the cable and went to plug it in, telling Joan as I did so. "Don't forget this if you leave before I do. Just take it, someone else will loan me a cord if I'm not finished."

"Uh, huh," she agreed, going back to the books she had spread out in front of her.

Two other phones were being charged, but Starbucks had four USB plugs on each end of the condiment table. I checked to be sure mine was charging; it was, but it still wouldn't come up yet. If it were totally dead, it might take several minutes to boot.

A clock above the order counter showed the time as 1:35, the numbers large enough for me to read at a distance if I squinted. More than three hours since I had left my office and had my life turned inside out. That didn't seem right unless I had been just wandering aimlessly for a time before I came back to myself under the thorn bush. Could be, I admitted. Panic is like that.

The guy by the door was still sending me glances, and I realized that I was still glancing at him. My God! Am I flirting with him? I looked away.

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I truly love this story!

However, I am not up on your local slang. What the heck is a wall-wart? At first I thought it was a derogatory word for Walmart.


A wall-wart is the AC/DC current converter that plugs into the wall. Sometimes called a dongle from the shape. A dongle is something that dangles. LOL.

Some phone chargers come with the cable attached to the dongle permanently but that is now out of style. Mostly, they are sold separately, so you can get a cable as long as you think you need.

I'm glad you like the story and thanks for the comment.

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


aka transformer. (electrical terminology)

Dongle is an "ancient" computer hardware term that has been expanded over the last 20 years. Initially it was an anti-static grounding strap for when one worked on computers. Such things are now a thing of the past but the term has been used for damn near anything with a cord.

(I am very old school computer tech - I started in 1979)

Can't find

I can't find any documentation but I'm pretty sure dongle is an older term than computers. Like dongle chain for the safety chain connecting a trailer to the towing vehicle. Or for the type of keyfob that attaches to a belt and has a retractable chain. And for the thing that hangs down on some farm machinery to help you judge how deep you are plowing or tilling, if it just misses the ground, you are at the right depth.

Anything that dangles is a dongle, except dingleberries, those are something else.

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

quite possibly

I suspect that the actual origin of the word probably lies within the realm of the male mind. (definitely a dark place, I'd never wish to go)

But my reference was an industry term and like so many other terms, you will likely not find it on trendy (and often misleading) sites such as wikipedia etc. Generally speaking, if it wasn't within the realm of "pop culture" it won't appear there

I've never heard of safetly chains being called anything but safety chains but like many many english terms, there are just far too many dialects to keep track of every little slang term and they are always prone to change every 10 years or so (or with any fad group).


Well, I've been messing around with computers since 1961 long before they could ever be described as 'personal' but mostly on the hardware side though I've written a fair bit of code - mostly assembler. Wallwarts are, as you say, a/c mains to dc converters (transformer and rectifier) and now are often USB outputs. I first came across dongles when using freely available s/w which can be copied but can only be used if a so-called dongle is plugedg into one of the PC connectors - in my case a serial RS232 port and CAD s/w. I have one to connect my radio control simulator to my transmitter via a USB port so I can practice playing with my 'toys' and crash them with impunity ;)

Loving the story, Lulu. You have a delightful way with words that makes even the mundane (like charging a phone) interesting and charged (sorry) with implications,


Charging ahead

How could we forget security dongles, the chastity devices from the dawn of the age of consumer software? Very, very easily and with no regrets.

Thanks for the comment and compliment.

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

Wall Warts

Are the chargers you plug into the wall to... charge stuff.
They are also the things that you can't find when you need them in a hurry
They are the things that end up in boxes and remain there long after the devices they were supposed to charge have gone to recycling

I got rid of 50, yes FIFTY of the things last year.
Things are a lot easier now with USB-C being more and more common as the connector type.

Oh, and like LEGO, they hurt when you tread on them in the dark as they are invariably black in colour..


The Apple ones are white, just to be Apple I guess. On a layover in Phoenix a year or two ago, I saw a hot-pink dongle, like the ultimate accessory for a transgender girly-girl phone addict.

If you had 50 dongles, you had a tribe or a herd. It's a good thing you didn't have an insurrection. Or a stampede. They might have gored you with their little electric prongles.

Prongles sounds like something made of fake potatoes that comes in a vacuum-sealed can. Mm-mm. Wasabi-flavored.

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

flirting with a guy

interesting. so her orientation changed?



Maybe it's just leftover reflexes?

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

Clock ticking

Nyssa's picture

Those who have read Switcher know that Margaret has a limited amount of time before "Tony-ness" starts to fade. I do hope she gets some guidance soon. She's a lot of fun to watch as she works stuff out, but she needs to make some decisions before they are made for her, and she doesn't know what's happening.

love it

Ya gotta love those people that pay attention to the rules of the universe in question! :)

I've talked with Melanie

On these rules, there aren't many firm ones but I'm trying to at least lampshade some of the squishy ones.

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

Tick tock

Margaret's clock may be ticking faster since she is actively trying to assimilate to being herself.

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