The following story is Copyright 1989 by John Cowan. All rights reserved. Despite the above legalism, you are hereby given the right to reproduce this story for any non-commercial use, provided you do so in its entirety, including this copyright notice.

The opinions expressed by the characters in this work of fiction are not necessarily those of the author!


As soon as I wake up in my coffin I know something's wrong. It's serious. The worst thing that's happened since five years ago. That's when they replaced my left upper arm with this plastic prosthetic. The forearm is still mine. I got extra hazard pay that time.

It's dark as usual. Always dark in a spacer's coffin. Soon they'll open it. Opened. It's light. A tech removes my body. It's against regulations to try to get up or speak. Medical and Security directives together are an unbeatable combination. They wheel me into a recovery room. What do I remember. Nothing. As always. A side effect of the space drive. Or is it Security again. Nobody knows. Asses on the line beyond the atmosphere and we don't remember a thing.

Debriefing. A leftover name from the old days. No questions asked. No answers. I get up carefully. An overhead speaker activates. A carefully neutral voice. Deviation from usual procedure. Accident during field duty. Full details to follow. Major modifications necessary. A standard surgical procedure. Dates from the twentieth century. Modernized and improved. Hormone treatment by implant. Most organs functional within obvious genetic limits. A man with my training should be able to cope. Psychological assistance available.

I stop listening. I know what he's talking about. I have no cock. I have no balls. I have big tits and wide hips now. I am not a man any more. I am now a woman. I am still a spacer.

When I get home the house is deserted. My things are still here. Ruth has moved out. I knew she might have gone at any time. For any reason. I play back the phone's messages. Only Ruth inviting me to dinner. To discuss. An address across town. I go. I meet her new lover John. He looks much like me. The way I used to look. We try to make casual chitchat. His eyes follow me. Suddenly I realize he is attracted to me. I am now a woman. He offers me a drink. I accept.

We get through dinner. John steps out. Ruth and I talk. She has known for six months. They told her even though we had no contract. Humanitarian reasons. Bastards. They would have told my parents instead. But they're dead. I don't even have relatives. I've been on my own since my late teens. Until Ruth and I got together. That was two years ago. Three. I've lost a year. Now she's saying it's over.

She tells me she thought it over carefully. She still loves me but can't accept me. Except as a friend. I say I understand. I say I can't accept myself either. I still feel the same. Not changed. I have new clothes from the agency. They fit. She offers to take me shopping someday. I laugh. Bastards.

Ruth kisses me goodbye. The way women do. I try for more but she holds me off. I'm still strong. Physically. As strong as I used to be. She gives me a phone number. A new friend of hers. Wants to meet me. I doubt it. A woman. I promise to call the number. I return home. If I were a woman I'd cry.

I call the number. She's another spacer. We arrange to meet for lunch. She says she'll recognize me. I guess so. My case must be all over the agency by now. Spacers keep track of each other. I could find out about her if I knew her full name. Ruth just called her Lucina. I get to the restaurant first.

I notice her before she notices me. She has no hair at all. No eyebrows. She wears goggles. Later I learn this is to protect her eyes. Instead of eyelashes. She finds me and walks over. I watch her. Great body. Sexy walk. Long super smooth legs. Naturally she doesn't need to shave. I love her already. She sits. She smiles. She takes off the goggles.

We chat. I realize I'm looking at her. She looks back. I've never seen a bald woman before. She just woke up that way one day. In the coffin. All hair inhibited. Naturally there are no reasons. There never are. I don't know how to talk to her. I haven't talked to any strangers. Since I came back. Any women. How do women talk. I don't know. I'm a man. When I make small-talk with a woman I'm always coming on to her. Or trying to distract her.

I want to come on to Lucina. Just looking at her turns me on. I still feel the same as I used to. Not so localized maybe. My nipples are hard. My crotch feels like it's tied in knots. I don't have my cock any more. I am a woman. We go on talking. The food arrives. We eat. I reach for the check and start to pay. She insists on splitting. She says I have a lot to learn. I don't want to learn. She leaves first. Her ass is just as cute as the rest of her. She undulates out the door.

She calls me the next day. Wants to meet me for dinner. I never heard of the address. Customer assistance tells me how to get there. In the old district of the city. It's down a flight of stairs, unmodernized. Only a small sign by the door. Wood with black letters. It's a dinner and dance place. Lucina is sitting at a table near the front. She's gotten dressed up. I don't know why. I am a woman. I sit with her. The waitress brings a plate of appetizers unordered. Maybe she ordered them. It puts me off. There is no dancing yet, but there is a live orchestra playing softly. Ancient stuff. We sit. I don't know what to say to her. We have nothing in common except our jobs. Which we don't remember. And that she makes me hard. No. Wet. I actually feel more warm than anything. Maybe that's just an expression. I 'm hot for her. That's the way to think about it. Maybe it was just a fluke. Nothing will happen this time.

The appetizer is good. I don't know what it is. Looks like highly scented dog food. But I like it. The taste is better than the smell. Like oysters. It seems there are no menus. They bring food. More of the same with little vegetables for variety. We don't say much. There's conversation all round us. She starts off several times but keeps trailing off. I'm not much help. I spend the time looking at her face. Once I get used to it I see how stunning it is. I ask her what color hair she had. Blonde. I never liked blondes much. They used to get to me when I was a kid. They used to make me feel invisible. All women love to do that. They walk down the street showing it off. When you notice them or act appreciative they ignore you or bite your head off. I remember how it used to make me so mad until I learned to play. I'm glad her hair is gone. Now she's just a spacer. Like me. She's been on leave for the past year. She expects another six months at least. I never knew how much leave I was going to have. I still don't.

We finish eating. The orchestra music gets louder. Couples get up from the tables around us and begin dancing. I look around at them. They are all women. Everybody in the restaurant is a woman except me. No. We are all. Lucina extends her hands to me. I get up and help her out of her chair. We dance together. The music changes and we dance close and slow. Her dress is thin and her body presses up to mine. I feel my heart beating in my head and thighs. Her boobs mesh with mine. Mine are bigger. I am a bit taller. I breathe her body in. It knocks me out. I want to have her. My body always knows it's been away for months even if I don't remember them. I start to whisper to her. Then I remember what I am. I want to fuck her right here on the floor. But I haven't got anything. I am not a man any more.

Automatically I have been leading. She guides me to the back. Still dancing. There is an unlit stair. We climb it and get into a waiting taxi. She must have set me up. This must have cost. I can't talk. She pushes her hand under my standard issue sweatshirt. I still have no other clothes. I don't wear anything under it. She runs her hands over me and I almost faint. Over my tits. My nipples are aching. I need help. The taxi is in the air and the pilot's compartment is blacked out. No one can see us. She pulls up the sweatshirt and suckles my right breast. I lose control of myself. I don't remember anything clearly afterward until we're in bed.

She makes me forget the newness of my body. I have never felt anything so intense. Not with any woman. Everything works perfectly. All the right parts are there and they all work fine. They told me this at the agency. I don't have periods and I can't have children but that's all. I am a woman. When Lucina stops to rest I go down on her vigorously. I think I do it better than I used to. Before. I am glad. I still feel like the same person but I am better at some things now.

The next morning we order breakfast in. Lucina has money and spends it. I have money too of course. Somehow I never got in the habit of spending freely. Spacing is like not having a job at all. You just make money. Except when you're called. And even then it's just time out of your life. Not like real work. But very well paying. The risks are probably high or the pay wouldn't be as good. Nobody really knows except the bosses. Whoever they are. Bastards.

We make plans. She will move in with me. When we are not working we will stay together. Otherwise we are free. They will not care. It doesn't make us less effective in space and nothing else matters. I have a new woman. I am not a man but I am still the same person.

I am a dyke and I live in a dyke world. Except in the elevator and on the streets I don't see men. Lucina fills Ruth's space smoothly. She takes care of me and I take care of her. I find out what women do together. It's not like I thought. Outside our apartment there is a whole existence without men. We go dancing together. We go to women's bars. We go to dinner in women's restaurants. Lesbian theatre collectives. Lesbian films. When I was a man I didn't know this existed. I had no need to realize its existence.

We will not be exclusive lovers. Either of us could be called up at any time. Lucina assures me I will only be given short missions. I don't know how she knows so much. Perhaps she is an agency supervisor. I have never met one. Not since I joined. Only orders that come in the mail. And the techs that put you to sleep and wake you. They don't count. They never go to space.

After a few months leave I get my orders. Report at once. The usual. At most they give me different drugs this time. I wake up in the coffin with no changes and no memories. Only three weeks have passed. Perhaps when I wash I will notice a scar or two where I didn't have one before. Then Lucina goes out on a mission. I continue doing the same things alone for a few days. A week. I talk with the women I meet. I am shyer than I used to be. At an afternoon dance an older woman picks me up. About forty-five. When I was a man I always went for the young ones. Now I am the young one. Her name is Abigail. She lives alone in a big house. Her parents left it to her.

Abigail is a passionate woman. When we go to bed I am very hot to eat her out. Her pussy smells different from Lucina's. Much stronger. The pubic hair concentrates the smell. All Lucina's smells are very subtle. Abigail wants to put her fingers inside me. She says I am too tight. She promises to help me relax. I do. She is gentle. I am glad of the sexual variety she provides. We spend the afternoon and the night fucking. I have learned to still call it fucking. We are both tireless. She asks me if I want to try some of her toys. She shows me. I tell her that is not for me. She is not upset. She doesn't know my story.

In the morning we are both polite. It was very satisfactory. I will be glad to see her and talk with her again. I feel friendship for her. I have never felt this with a woman. I don't want to see my old friends any more. Abigail and I sit quietly over breakfast. Our desire for each other is used up. She says that is the usual thing. Perhaps one day we will want each other again. I return home and to my life alone.

Lucina is five months out. There are other women. Sometimes I am aggressive and take them home with me. I explain that my lover is on a long trip. I don't tell them much about myself. Sometimes I go for weeks without sex. It doesn't seem to matter as much as it used to. I miss Lucina's presence at night and in the morning.

I get another set of orders. By the time I return Lucina has also come back. We have a good reunion. I share the things I have learned with her. She tells me she has only two weeks' leave. Then she will be gone for at least a year. We spend the first week in a frenzy of socializing and lovemaking. The second week is quiet. We wait. Without orders she packs a bag and leaves. I don't know why she needs to pack. I don't know enough about her. She must be something more than a plain spacer like me.

For a few weeks I stay in the apartment except to eat. I suppose I am depressed. I consider going for that psychological guidance I was offered. The hell with it. I go to a straight bar for the first time and get drunk. A tough-looking guy comes on to me. I ignore him. When he gets me too mad I hit him on the button and he folds up. I am still the same person. They throw me out. I don't care. I go home and try to weep. I am not a man any more.

The next day I go to a dance. There are lots of new faces. There is a girl sitting in a corner by herself. Nobody goes near her. I get curious. She looks about seventeen. I don't think she knows anyone there. I pull up another chair and sit down with her. She is sixteen. She doesn't care for men. I listen to her story. There isn't anybody else she can talk to. She saw the address of this place posted on a street lamp. She's scared of the people. I take her to dinner at a gay restaurant. Her name is Anne. I get to pick up the whole check for once. I wind up telling her my own story. It's the first time I've told anybody. Ruth and Lucina knew already. She looks scared and maybe a little awed. We make a date for dinner tomorrow.

When we meet Anne looks a whole lot better. She must be a naturally happy type. She's only been sure about her feelings for a few months. Before that she thought she just wasn't ready for dating and boys. Last night she wore jeans. Tonight it's a simple little dress that looks just fine on her. At her request I buy her a drink. She is really cute. I inquire about her parents. She told her mother she was spending the night at a friend's. The friend is actually spending the night at her boyfriend's apartment. I smile. I hope her friend has a good time tonight. I intend to.

We have wine with dinner. We are both feeling good. Over coffee she tells me her secret plan. She is conspiratorial and little-girl wicked. She wants me to take her to a women's strip joint. I have heard of such places but have never been to one. They aren't Lucina's style. While Anne goes to powder her nose I quietly ask the waitress. She recommends a place not too far away. We leave the restaurant and signal a cab. There is a stiff cover charge and minimum. Anne isn't used to such high living. I tell her not to worry. Spacers always have money.

I get us a table for two in the second row. We can see everything. The audience is mostly older women alone or in couples. The strippers are not that pretty. I am disappointed. Anne seems to be having a good time though. She tells me that she's never seen a grown woman naked before. I think about later tonight and smile to myself. I take her hand in mine. It is soft and warm. Eventually the featured attraction comes on stage. A redhead. She is much hotter stuff than the other women. Her moves are great too. Watching her excites me. Anne's hand grips mine. When the stripper casts off her bra we see that the tassels are attached to her nipples. Some things are the same everywhere.

Anne and I hold hands in my lap. The strip will be total. The tassels rotate as she pirouettes and slowly discards her short skirt. She has no panties. There is only a G-string which doesn't hide enough. Her thick bush is a darker reddish color. I imagine that it is Anne up there I am watching. Her hand is now clutching my thigh. She is sweating and so am I.

Then suddenly in my imagination it is me up there performing for the crowd. They love me with their eyes and I love them back. The tassels fall off. The G-string snaps and we get just a glimpse of pink. The lights go down. The audience roars. They pound the tables, hoot, and throw money. Anne and I look at one another in agreement. During the confusion before the lights come up we escape.

When Anne and I get into bed I can hardly breathe. I turn on a soft rose light I have had installed but haven't used yet. By its glow she is intensely beautiful to me. There is fear in her eyes but also yearning. She tells me she was determined to seduce me tonight no matter what. I laugh softly. I begin to cover her body with gentle kisses. I want to be easy on her. She demands more. She seizes my face in her hands and pulls it up to hers. The yearning is redoubled. Behind it the fear still remains. She kisses my mouth and feeds me her tongue. Chills run through me. Anne does not make me swoon or lose myself. I want most of all to feed that yearning.

Her little hand is dry and smooth once more. She takes mine and guides it between her legs. I feel the heat radiating from her. Her bush is soft and springy. It is even denser than the stripper's. It occurs to me that we might have seen a fake. Anne is real. She is only sixteen. I start a rhythm on her clit and watch her face intently. Engorged with desire she looks quite different. Suddenly I remember Gloria.

I had Gloria years ago. Before I was a spacer. She was in her teens too. I never found out her real age. I'm not sure of her real name. She was crying in a cafe. I took her home. I was going to cheer her up. When I got her to bed she told me she was cherry. I was awed. I believed her. I showed her everything to do. I was still a man then. She bled on the bed. She swore it didn't hurt her. It was just a little bit of blood.

Now I remember her face. Like Anne's. Fear and lust together. When I slowly inexorably pushed my way into Gloria's young tight wet little cavity. It was her fear that excited both of us. When I shot off inside Gloria it drove the fear out of her. I made her a woman then. I didn't see her again but I knew she could never forget me. My mind switches back to Anne. She loves what I'm doing to her. Her body is going wild but the fear's just not there. It has gone underground and disappeared. When she comes down off the clouds I know it isn't the same. I made her feel good but the magic circuit didn't close. I let her get me off. She does me with great enthusiasm if a little awkwardly. It's good but it's not enough.

I sense somehow that Anne is still a virgin. Emotionally. There's nothing more I can do for her. We get together a few more times and then drift apart. She goes on to discover her own life. I need to discover my own. Being with Anne made me know I am also still a virgin. I move out of my apartment into another part of the city. I need a new life. I need to know men. I need to be a woman all the way.

I call Ruth and take her up on her offer. She's surprised to hear from me but still friendly. We go shopping. It's springtime. I tell her I want a new look. All the agency clothes go on the scrap heap. All my old clothes went long ago. My men's clothes. I am a woman. I have to start over with everything. I buy basic functional clothing mostly. The places Ruth takes me have clothes that fit me even though I am a big woman. By becoming a woman I have become much bigger. I like to look at my new clothes in a mirror. When I am wearing them. I have trouble with the new vocabulary I need to use. There are so many things I don't know. Things Ruth takes for granted. Explaining them to me isn't easy. I try to learn.

I have my hair done. The useless expense still bothers me but I push down my anxieties. I want something easy to manage. The hairdresser tries to oblige. Ruth supervises. She is pleased with the results. We start to experiment with makeup. A touch of lip gloss. Some mysterious pigments from jars. When I see myself I have trouble recognizing me. Even my hands and feet have changed. I try several nail polishes and settle on a faint pink. Ruth approves. When she's not around I try some wilder makeup experiments. The results are garish. I look like something from an old movie. The hell with this. I am still the same person. Or not that different anyway. Yet.

Ruth is married to John now. I still don't know him well. I don't think I want to. I have gotten over wanting Ruth. I think. Down inside myself it's probably still hiding there. I need to be a woman all the way. I call my old apartment. The machine answers. I tape a message for Lucina. I tell her I can't see her any more. Not for a long time at least. Maybe we can be friends later. It's a lot like the message Ruth left for me. Lucina knew I might go at any time. For any reason. All spacers are alike in that way. I would like to say goodbye to Anne but don't know how to reach her. I'm afraid to return to my old life even briefly.

I need to explore the straight singles scene by myself. Ruth can't help. It seems far more predatory. Men are hunters by nature. You aren't given a chance to get to know people. When men talk to me I still freeze up. I still see a competitor. Somebody who's trying to dominate me. I don't want to be dominated. I don't know how to see men as offering something to me. Right now all I see is people who want to take from me. I cannot give to them. When I was a man I took sex from women. Being a lesbian taught me about giving. The men I meet in the bars don't want me to give them anything even though they say they do. They want to take it. This isn't getting me anywhere. I have to find some other way.

It turns out everybody else is looking for the other way too. Outside the bars there are lots of singles events. The same thing but less intense. How did Ruth find out she was interested in me? I can't ask her that. Before I didn't care how. Now it's blocked off. Everybody has their blinders on in this world. They set up the limits and play the games inside them. I don't enjoy playing from this end. The gay world seemed so much looser once you were inside it. But it was a smaller world too. This can't be all there is.

I think about a personals ad. I laugh. I don't know how to describe myself. I go to a video dating service. I find the questionnaire almost impossible to fill out. I cheat. I give myself a phony background. I listen to tapes recorded by men. I wonder how much they're cheating. I have no idea how such a thing could possibly work. I begin to get positive attention from men in public places. When I looked like a dyke I got flak but no admiration. Now men look at me and smile as well as leer. I am an attractive woman now. I try to imagine what it would be like to tingle inside when I see that I turn a man on. Now I am starved for any kind of affection. Not just for sex. I find myself wanting to talk to people on the street. I have to watch myself. I could get hurt. There are too many creeps out there.

Finally one night I attend a lecture on history at the library. I've always liked history. It's so solid and unchanging. I am the man with no history. The woman. In a way this sex-change is the first thing that's happened to me since I signed up with the agency. Afterwards the room breaks up into small groups of people discussing the lecture. There is wine and cheese and a party atmosphere develops. It is not a singles event. I find myself talking about the lecture to an older couple and a man about my age. When the couple leave for home I determine to take the initiative. I don't know whether I want to head off trouble or start it. I suggest we adjourn to a restaurant for some coffee. He agrees readily. Immediately I start to think about what he thinks I am thinking. Too late now.

We go on talking at the table. About the lecture and then about other things. He seems to want me to mostly listen so I do. When he asks me what I do for a living I hedge. I don't want to tell him I am a spacer. It handicaps me conversationally. There's nothing to say about my work because I remember nothing. Civilians don't understand about that. He probably thinks I am just a party girl or something. No interests of her own. I manage to convince him I was serious about the lecture at least. With one part of my mind I keep wondering what he is thinking about. With another I am pretty sure I know. I remember being where he is. With a third part I condemn myself for jumping to conclusions. Not every man was like me. It's hard to keep my mind on what he's saying. He seems to be serious too though. He certainly isn't just snowing me. That's reassuring.

He asks me to go to dinner with him tomorrow evening. I don't know what to say. I carry a handbag now. I make a pretense of searching it. Finally I give up. I tell him I accept. I have trouble getting to sleep and oversleep the next morning. I am at loose ends all day. I call Ruth and tell her I have a date. She comes over after work and helps me dress up. I put on a pretty dress. Ruth helps me as always. I feel so grateful to her. I have not felt so nervous about anything in years. She tells me that's natural. I know it is but it doesn't help. She kisses me as I go out the door. The way women do.

I get a little drunk at dinner. I'm so nervous I find it impossible to hear anything he's saying. I think it's very strange that he's never told me his name. I'm afraid to say anything except Yes and No. My voice would wobble too much. I am incapable of doing anything except wait for him to make his move. If he's going to make one. I don't know. I don't know what the signals are in a man. I don't know what kind of signals I'm giving out either. Finally he mentions his name in telling me what another man had said to him that day. A thought strikes me. He might be gay. Maybe he just wants a sympathetic ear to talk to. Perhaps I remind him of his mother. I can't find out. I have all I can do not to tremble visibly. Luckily he doesn't seem to notice.

My capacity for drink seems to be less than it used to be. By the time the check arrives I am feeling no pain. He scoops it up smoothly and signs for it. He must have an account at this restaurant. I wonder how many others he's brought here. I reproach myself for this thought. It seems natural for us to walk out together. Drink takes me in the head. My coordination is fine. I am more voluble now but I no more know what I am saying than what he is telling me. I vaguely hope it isn't too awful. Or too revelatory. Perhaps he is going to signal a cab for me. No. We are walking together. I catch myself just as I am about to enter a strange apartment building. Obviously he lives here. The world sways around me.

He thinks it is just the liquor. He asks me if I want to come upstairs and have some coffee or something. I say no thanks but go on walking forward. Drink never affects my legs. I make it upstairs and into a soft chair. I pass out while he is fixing the coffee. When I recover it is dark and I am lying on a couch. He has put a woolly blanket over me which I appreciate. I haven't felt so awful since I was young. Since I was a young man. There is a glass of water and two aspirins on the end table by my head. I gulp them and try to go back to sleep. Eventually I manage. I wake up to the smell of coffee. He comes in dressed in a bathrobe and carrying another. I remember his name now. Frank. I greet him. He offers me the bathrobe. I take it from him. The coffee quickly follows. We drink from matching cups.

Afterwards I take a shower and put on the bathrobe. It fits fine. I feel much better and sit one the couch. He is sitting in a chair nearby. He apologizes to me for having nothing better to offer me. I give him a friendly laugh. He apologizes again for never finding out what my name was. This is a problem. In the gay world I used my real name. They were used to women who used men's names. Now I need something more plausible. I pick a name at random. Elaine. It's not great but it's the only one that occurs to me. At least the initial is right. I don't have anything monogrammed or anything but it will make life simpler to have the same initials. From now on I will be Elaine. I resolve to see a lawyer as soon as possible.

I feel it would be appropriate to offer to cook breakfast. After all he probably expected to get more than that from me. I offer. Luckily for me he turns me down. I'm no cook. I can scramble eggs but that's about it. He cooks. He isn't any better than I would be. At least nothing burns. I perceive that he wants to take care of me. I feel sick enough that I find this notion bearable. He is being carefully impersonal. Or rather unintrusive. I know that the shoe is on the other foot now. He is wondering what I think of him. I wish I knew what to think. I like him. He would make a good friend. We talk and I can now listen without trouble. I find out he is not gay.

After several hours of talk I decide it would be a good idea to leave. He hasn't mentioned needing to do so. Perhaps he works unusual hours. I don't know what time it is but it must be early afternoon at least. I go back into the bathroom and put on my old clothes. They feel terrible. I decide to be female and give him a thank you kiss. On the cheek of course. He puts his arms around me. Later I am sure he only intended to give me a friendly hug. It is too much for me. Even though Frank's body is hard and angular I have not been hugged for weeks. Not even by Ruth. I can't blame her for that. I hug him back. The kiss becomes more intense than I intended. When we finally part I am wobbly again. He looks concerned. I assure him I am all right and make as sober an exit as I can manage. I walk home. It really isn't far at all. On the way I grow wildly excited. Once in the door I tear off my sweaty clothing and jump into my bed. As I touch myself I try not to think about him.

Summer brings a time of madness. I have seen the lawyer and wear my new name now. I become fascinated with everything I have lost. I am not a man any more. I buy magazines with pictures of naked men. Their cocks achingly remind me of what I used to have. I watch crotches. On the street. In restaurants. In elevators. I ride up and down in office buildings. There is a lot to see. All different. Men seem to go around with hard-ons all the time. Was I like that? I can't remember. Curiosity eats me. I no longer speak to anyone much.

I go shopping again. My new clothes are more daring. Short skirts. Low-cut blouses. I remember never to wear both at the same time. Thin summery things as well. Semi-see-through clothes are in just now. They reveal you in flashes as you walk. I go out wearing a long skirt that seems solid but opens at a different place with every step. The new technology of sexuality. I have my ears pierced. It doesn't hurt. I experiment with earrings that change color as the light changes. I learn to walk in spike-heeled shoes. I buy a multicolored midriff blouse with matching navel jewel. I don't have the guts to wear this publicly. I buy a full length mirror for my apartment and pose before it. I experiment with perfumes but can't settle on anything.

I take to riding buses to nowhere in particular. I walk to the corner and take the first one that comes. When the whim takes me I get a transfer and change to another bus. Eventually I return home. At first I just sit on the long seats and watch the people across from me. Men sit with their legs apart. Women cross theirs at the ankles. I do the same when I sit down. Slowly I wriggle on the uncomfortable seat. I move one foot forward and the other back. Now my knees are apart. My fellow passengers react. Women mostly look away. Some look at me with curiosity or resentment or desire and then I look away instead. Men get nervous. It is so easy to make them nervous. Secretly I enjoy it. I decide to advance to the next stage. I have become calculating.

During rush hour the buses are often crowded. I must stand. I begin to seek out the most crowded lines and I frequent them. I wriggle my way onto buses and move as far to the rear as possible. As more people and still more get on I am often unable to move. Trapped helplessly at full length between three or four bodies. Secretly I enjoy it. I try to pick out men taller than I am. They are not common but not rare either. One day I manage to align my rear perfectly with a man's front. I wipe sweat from my forehead to cover for rubbing up against him. Curiosity eats me. He swiftly stiffens and pulls back in embarrassment. Daringly I follow him with my body. I am glad I can't see his face. He tentatively brings his hands upward to clasp my waist. My body is filled with flames. We don't speak. His hands tell me he wants me to turn around. His erection is insistent. I refuse. I cannot stand to let him see me. I have gone too far. I must escape. I break free of his grasp and move toward the front. He tries to follow but can't get his larger body through the crush. I get off at the next stop and immediately get on the following bus. It is just as crowded.

Madness fills me now. I pick out another attractive man of about my age. I get close to him as soon as I can. I face him directly. My breasts are only an inch or two from his half-open shirt front. My nipples ache. I drown in the smell of his skin. I can waste no more time. My hand seizes his crotch. I fondle his balls. Then his cock. Like the other man he is silent. Too surprised to speak? Too shocked? I can't care. There is a small clear space below that is free of the crush of bodies. I unzip him and let him free. I clutch him fixedly. The fire in my body is washed out by the double amazement in my skull. First, that I can be so insanely incautious. Second, nostalgia. His organ feels as mine felt, grows as mine grew. Shoots as mine shot. I was once a man. It takes him no time at all. His whole load spills onto my dress. It soaks my belly and thighs. Suddenly the pressure behind me is relieved as several people exit via the rear door. Leaving him behind I stumble after them. He must take care of himself. I work my cab signaler frantically and manage to return home somehow. I shower and go to bed.

I repeat this experience again and again. It almost always goes according to plan. I am better prepared now. I buy a new and larger handbag and a collection of handkerchiefs. Plain white. I hold the cloth in my left hand and the man's cock in my right. Almost never do I need to actually pump them. Men all seem to be hair-triggered. I no longer get my clothes messy. Each time my inner reactions of lust, amazement, and nostalgia torch me. It is far better than ordinary sex. I no longer feel any need to masturbate. I learn about the variety of men. The large and the small. The young, the middle-aged, the old. The cut and the uncut. Curiosity eats me. Teenagers are especially exciting. They are so unsuspecting and then so eager. The occasional rejection doesn't stop me or even bother me that much. I just leave the bus and wait for the next one. The next man. When I was a man I used to dream of meeting a woman who did things like this. Now men must be dreaming of me. At the end of each day my bag is stuffed full of handkerchiefs. I glow with the power of the pleasure giver.

I return to the singles bars. The hunks who stand or sit nursing or guzzling their drinks have not changed. I have. They are still looking to take. I now have something to give them. One approaches. He has blond hair and blue eyes. He is tall and muscular. He wears a tight shirt with a fashionably deep vee neck open almost to his waist. We talk and drink. His name is Brian. He jokes about it. I tell him my name. When he makes his move I am ready. We go to his apartment. It is just one small room. The furnishings are sparse and neat. Only the bed is luxurious. Midnight blue satin sheets. He dims the lights and fiddles with the stereo. There is soft romantic music. We dance. I find it easy to let him lead. Meanwhile I plan. At last he begins to kiss me. Gently at first. Then more passionately. His hands explore me. I have no trouble returning all this. It's almost hard to believe how relaxed I feel. He is leading me gently toward the bed when I stop him. He is surprised but not angry. I tell him I have my period. A lie of course. He stops short. I get down on my knees and begin to undo his belt. He lets me. He makes no move.

He has been hard for some time. The back of my mind notes that he is of middle size with only a slight curve. I am now face to penis with a man for the first time. I save up saliva. I build up courage. I lick my dry lips. I begin to go down on him. First only his hole. It is like a little mouth. So was my own. Then the head. He is circumcised. I run my tongue over it. I know exactly where the tender spots must be. I lick them with special attention. He reaches down and puts his hands on my shoulders. Then on the back of my head. The nostalgia within me increases. This is just what I have done. With Ruth, with countless others. Live-in lovers. Short affairs. One-night stands like this one. Super-quickies with spacer groupies. Married women. All have sucked me. Now I am the cocksucker. I know how it's done. I do it. Deep and long and hard. Back and forth. He spreads his legs to help him stand. I slack off. I want to make it take a long time so that he will be totally satisfied. I torment him with pleasure. He begins to moan and cry out. I am lost in this coupling. I don't even notice when I slow up and he begins to pound his hips into me. My mouth needs to swallow him whole. To reclaim him. Finally he comes. It seems like a gallon of semen. I swallow as fast as I can. I do not taste it. My senses are reeling. My curiosity is satisfied.

I am ready at last. I give Brian my phone number but he never calls. It doesn't matter. There are other available men. To avoid trouble I watch their hands for wedding rings. Married men are safer. They won't demand commitment. By sheer chance my first fuck happens to be sensitive. Right away I let him know I've never gone all the way before. I tell him I've been saving it for the right man. I don't know if he believes me or not. He's flattered in any event. He goes down on me first and it is just as good as when a woman does it. I find I have missed having orgasms. I come this way several times before I make him take me.

He is careful. Too careful. I want him to force his way inside me. I use all the words I can think of to turn him on. I beg him to fuck me, hard. I know how to excite men. Finally he does it to me. Luckily he doesn't expect me to help. I I hope I am tight enough to make a convincing virgin. He has some trouble getting it in, so I probably am.

I am being fucked by a man. Even though it hurts me at first somewhat I don't feel invaded at all. Somehow it isn't as intimate as oral sex. It is less frenzied and more of an operation. Maybe that's just inexperience on my part. He varies his rhythms, trying not to overwhelm me. Finally the reality penetrates my brain. A man's cock is inside my body. I rock under him. We get caught in a crescendo which leads to his orgasm. I feel an emotional peak as he comes but don't climax with him. I feel his semen as a warmth within. He holds me for a long time. I feel warm and safe and wanted. When I was a man I used to roll off a woman right away. I'm glad he's different.

I see him again a few times but there is no commitment. I sample heterosexuality as I did in my teens. This time from the other side. I make mistakes and find myself sleeping beside real creeps. Some abuse me. I beat the hell out of one such. I have a few advantages other women don't thanks to my different upbringing. I learn that I don't have orgasms from intercourse. I resolve never to fake anything. Let them learn better. I think of men as "them" now sometimes. I am a woman. My experiments taper off.

I meet David in a cafeteria-style restaurant. He sits down next to me and we talk. I still have trouble making conversation. For over a year now I haven't done anything except move from one sexual number to another. No orders come for me any more. I wonder whether this is Lucina's doing. When I look at David's face I seem to see Lucina's face superimposed on it. They have similar bones. But David wears a beard. I have never slept with a man who had one. I don't want to tell him about myself. Or about spacing. But little by little my whole story comes out. He listens well. Nothing seems to shock him. Not the women or the men or the sex change itself.

We become friends. He tells me his life story. Just out of college and at loose ends. Working odd jobs to make odd money. We go places together. Movies, museums. Baseball games. I haven't been to a game in years. I can relax with him and not worry about what he's thinking. We go to bed. He is wonderful to me. His lovemaking style is also like Lucina's. I almost believe that somehow she sent him to me. Of course I don't tell him this. Although he is amazingly tolerant of my moods, he is easily wounded. He can both give and take. And he lets me do both as well. Perhaps it is because he is young. He has never grown the mask of cynicism that I wore for years and years. I think that I am falling in love with him. I don't really know what that means. It isn't like the puppy love I felt as a kid. And yet it is the same. I feel more myself when he is around me than when I am alone. I wear no masks with him. I want to spend all my time with him.

He moves in with me. It is a mistake. He feels obscurely defeated by my wealth. With me to pay for everything he no longer needs to work. His sense of self-worth disappears. He is depressed. We discuss the matter and he moves out. We remain friends and lovers but agree to see other people. We still spend several nights a week together. He introduces me to his other women. None lasts long. I feel I provide the continuity in his life. I love him. He tells me that I am his closest friend. He won't say it, but I know that he loves me as well.

Suddenly he drops out of sight. I no longer even hear from him. Weeks pass. I see him one day on the street with a younger woman I don't know. He is laughing his special laugh. Jealousy flares in me. I push it down. As a man I was never jealous. Perhaps I didn't care enough. Or didn't feel my own feelings strongly enough. At last he calls me. He wants me to meet this one too. We have dinner together. The evening goes from bad to impossible. She rakes me with veiled contempt. I don't have the training for this kind of competition. My unusual upbringing has its disadvantages too. David is trapped between two fires and unable to quench them. At last the meal is over. I pay for everything and run from the restaurant. I go home and cry myself to sleep. I never see David again although I do receive an invitation to his wedding. It is the same woman. I discard it fiercely.

As autumn turns to winter my mood changes to leaden depression. There are many days I don't get up except to read my mail. Nothing but junk and bills. I pay the bills morosely. When I go to bars it is to get drunk and be picked up. I spend a lot of time in strange beds with men I don't remember meeting. I don't even feel anything with them. I will never be a real woman anyway. I never bring anyone home. I hardly talk except for what's necessary. I wish something new would happen to me. I again consider seeing a psychiatrist. It seems like too much trouble. I discard all thought of change. I eat, drink, weep, and provide a receptacle for men who are doing the same. Sometimes I can get up enough energy to watch TV. I never remember afterwards what I have seen. News, old movies, documentaries, soap operas all leave no impression on me. Even the commercials don't bother me much.

Somehow I get through the winter. I have my meals delivered. Drinking alone is easier than going out. Nobody would want me. I will never be a real woman. Spring arrives tentatively. At last one day I notice myself in the full-length mirror. I haven't wanted to see myself. I look appalling. My housedress is dirty and torn. I don't remember buying it. It is ugly. My hair is a tangled mess of uncombable knots. I haven't even bathed in several days. I stink of old sweat and alcohol. I am a disgrace. My eyes have trouble focussing on myself. A powerful shudder of horror runs through me. I decide to straighten up.

As a first step I stop drinking altogether. I wash. I discard most of my clothes and buy new ones. The clothes that aren't too bad I stuff in a closet and don't look at. I want as few reminders of the bad times as possible. I have the apartment redecorated. I consider frills and pink but decide against it. I go dancing sometimes. I feel energy beginning to surge in me. I resume masturbating. I experiment with new methods. Vibrators and running water. They work wonders for my body. I read books on technique and on female fantasy. Sometimes I fantasize about David. I dream mostly of his tongue on my clitoris. I know it's only a dream and it doesn't threaten me. Much. Sometimes in between licks my fantasy lover alternates between being David and being Lucina. Or David and Anne. Or Brian and Anne even. I imagine doing one sexual thing with one person and another thing with another. After each orgasm my depression threatens to return, but I chase it off with a new fantasy. At last I decide to act out some of them.

I buy my wildest clothes yet. Outfits so lewd I don't dare wear them on the street without a full-length coat to cover them. There is one scarlet number that is just three skirts: one around my hips, one around my middle, and one around my neck. It covers everything but my arms and legs, but every part of me is easily accessible to any passing hand. Another is molded plastic and stretch fabric above with a flowing full-length skirt below. The plum-colored plastic supports my bare breasts. I wear it with matching nipple rouge. There is a thin sari that covers everything and conceals nothing. A clingy body suit in dawn pink with the crotch cut out. I have my own crotch shaved at a beauty parlor when I buy this one. I'm afraid that if I do it myself I'll mess it up. The woman assigned to me is very gentle. She handles the razor most delicately and I trust her completely. The feeling of security turns me on to her. As a finishing touch she eats me out with professional thoroughness. It seems I am no longer threatened by women wanting me. I tip her very well and go home feeling fine.

More shopping trips follow. I buy a canary-yellow ultrashort minidress to be worn without panties. Or with see-through ones. I get out the midriff blouse and the navel jewel from the closet. I buy synthetic pubic hair held on by quick-release body glue. There is a tiny gadget which allows me to erect my nipples by flexing a rib muscle. After I try this for a day or so I discover it makes me too sore to wear it. A portable vibrator in the shape of a heart is more of a success. I learn to walk while having small orgasms. Sometimes I need to lean against a building. I decide that the coat should be mink. I have it made to order. I call customer assistance and make a list of group sex clubs. I start visiting them.

Bisexual women are in demand. I find I prefer small groups of three or four with no more than one other woman. Other woman: that thought is automatic now. I learn many new positions. I have a different name at each club. In one of them a balding man in his late fifties initiates me into anal sex. He uses lots of lubricant and goes slow, so it doesn't hurt too much. Apparently my prostate is intact somewhere in there: I come with him, which surprises the old goat no end. It's a very different kind of fucking. My body likes it but I don't. Or maybe it's the other way around. I can't decide. I keep trying to find out. I become even more in demand. At several smaller establishments I am given a complimentary membership. Apparently I attract extra business. I now sleep all day almost every day and spend the entire night club hopping. Life is busy and interesting rather than frenzied. I feel I have found a sensible solution to boredom. I miss love though.

At last I grow tired. I have had no orders in over two years. Have they forgotten me? I send in my resignation but receive no answer. I move to another city and change my name again. My mail will not be forwarded. I have never been here before. It seems a far less cosmopolitan place. Conservatism is the rule, at least in public. No one knows me here, and I have no contact with any of my past. Just for kicks I go to a church one Sunday. It is a different denomination from the one I was raised in. I haven't been in any kind of church since I was twelve. Afterwards there is a social hour. I introduce myself as new in town. I am as ladylike as I know how. I try to emulate the people I see. I surprise myself with the good time I am having. This is the first time I have talked to people without ulterior motives in a long time. Since David. In a way, since Lucina. Or even Ruth. I find myself thinking about Ruth a lot. I wonder how her marriage is going. I pick up the phone to call her but decide against it. I go back to the church repeatedly. I even listen to the service. The minister talks in a way that appeals to me. He sounds like a man who might know what he's talking about. And believe in it. I make friends there. Men and women both. I have never had men and women friends at the same time.

George is one of them. He is interested in me: I can feel it even across the room. Somehow I can tell he doesn't quite know it yet himself. I make a point of conversing with him. I watch him fall in love with me. There is nothing foolish or childish about it. I see that he is a man of great feeling. I have no desire to hurt him. I do not tell him about myself. But he bares his soul to me. I see him more intimately in our conversations than I have ever seen anyone. As I feel his feelings, I feel my own feelings stirring and growing. Womanly feelings. I too am falling in love. I long to be supported by his stability. When at last I am able to get him in bed with me, the power and maturity in his touch astonish me. His consideration for me is exquisite. Making love with George consumes not only my body but my heart. I experience sleeping with him as supreme tenderness. I have never been so loved since I was a baby. I have never loved so much myself. This is difficult for me even to think. But it is true.

I will marry George. He wants it and I want it as well. I will be a real woman at last. Complete. We will have children. Surrogate mothers are expensive, but I have told him I have a trust fund from my grandfather. In other ways he will want to support me, which is fine with me. I am a woman. The wedding will be in our church, of course. Perhaps one day I will tell him what I am. He is an utterly secure man and could accept me, I know. I cannot yet accept myself, however. I have accepted what I have become. I have not yet accepted what I was. I can only hope that that serenity will come to me as well.

End of mindpick file. Supervisor's Preliminary Recommendation follows.

Agent currently Unsuitable for active duty. Potential for later duty still substantial, possibly increased by recent experience. Retain on Inactive status with full benefits. Transmit file to historical storage.

Signed, Lucina Kaplan. Ends.

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