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The girls in the secretaries’ pool had had a great deal of sympathy for her, and several had offered money or said they’d put her in contact with somebody who would help, and while those were good offers, Christine, the only other Changed person among them, had offered her a free place to stay until she got this all sorted out, and that was an offer she couldn’t refuse.  Christine was a satyr, half a goat from the waist down, with short curly brown hair on her head and an innocent, almost cherubic smile.  Christine lived in a three-bedroom apartment with her husband Rob, also a satyr, and the two of them were an amazing pair, almost twins, differing only by Rob’s curling horns and obviously bulkier physique.  They’d been among the first to change five years ago and soon after met at a self-help group.  They’d quickly become far more than just inseparable.

Which was all well and good, thought Caitlyn as she lay sprawled across two matresses on the floor in their spare bedroom, but it didn’t make them especially good house-mates, as their late-night thumping made it nearly impossible to get any sleep.

Christine apologized profusely the next day, saying that the sex drive was the single biggest down-side of being a satyr, and that they’d try their best to keep it down the next night, but that she shouldn’t be too surprised if the noise happened anyway.  It was a happy life but sometimes a frustrating one:  They’d learned the hard way that if they wanted to get anything useful done with their time, the only way to do it was to avoid getting too close, because as soon as they even caught sight of each other, well —

This, of course, was far more than Caitlyn wanted to know, but Christine was obviously trying her best to be friendly and helpful and hospitable, and it was hard to argue with that.

Caitlyn discussed this all with her mother on the phone early Tuesday morning, and against her better judgement, she was talked into staying with them for the remainder of the week.  But they did a reasonably good job of keeping quiet the next night and the next, and she felt relaxed and safe there too, so life settled back into a routine of sorts:  To work in the morning with Christine, home with her too, dinner with the couple, sometimes a movie (or a half a movie), and then they’d quickly disappear, leaving Caitlyn alone with the rest of the apartment.  Which suited her just fine:  This turned out to be the quietest week she’d had in ages.
*  *  *

On Saturday, Caitlyn boarded the train to Long Island to visit her mother; there were few other places she felt safe going to, and she didn’t want to stay indoors.  Christine worried at first whether Caitlyn would be safe on the train, but Caitlyn reassured her coworker that whoever had broken into her apartment was probably after her stuff and not her specifically.

The little white house had looked the same for years:  Two stories of narrow building surrounded by a wide moat of grass and a border of picket fence, still the most modest house on the street.  Caitlyn and Ellen had shared one bedroom, and their parents had shared the other, and it had been an idyllic life for the four of them until Caitlyn turned eleven.  A few days after her birthday, her father went off to work and never came home.  A week later his empty car was discovered, its front end crushed, hidden a few miles from his office behind a Seven-Eleven.  Bullet casings lay on the seat, and there were blood-stains that matched his DNA.  They said it was a carjacking, and he was probably dead, but the police never recovered any more than his shirt.  Though she had tried many times, Caitlyn now barely even remembered what he looked like, but she could still hear his voice, that gentle, soft warm baritone, singing in a language she’d never learned as he put her to bed at night.  She cursed herself for falling to sleep so readily when he had sung to her; just once she’d like to hear how some of those songs ended, or even what they were, but she’d never had the chance to ask.

Fourteen years later, the centauress that his eldest daughter had grown into was standing on the steps of the house he and his young pregnant wife had once scraped and saved to buy.  Caitlyn knocked gently.  Her mother was in the middle of baking, a huge pile of cookies and cupcakes and even a few whole cakes for a raffle at church.  Caitlyn ended up getting quickly dragged into the work, after which she and her mother stood and made small talk while nibbling on orange-tinged sugar cookies.  They eventually fell silent, as they often did.  Caitlyn missed the days when they could so readily talk about anything.

Her mother bit her lip.  “Caitlyn, honey, can I braid your tail?”

Caitlyn glared at her.  This wasn’t the first time her mother had asked that.  Sharon was almost obsessed with Changed people, and relished any opportunity to interact with them, especially her daughter.  Caitlyn felt sorry for her a lot of the time, and wished they could’ve traded bodies, but it wasn’t likely to happen any time soon.


There was another long pause.  “But you look so good with your hair and tail br —”


Her mother sighed.

“So how have things been going with that boy you’ve been dating?” she asked.  “What was his name?  Will?”

“Wils,” said Caitlyn.  “I — haven’t really been dating him.  I met him in a bar, and we went on one, well, barely half a date.”

“That’s good for you, you know,” said her mother.  “You need to get out more.  Meet some more boys.  You never did much, even before you —”

“Mom, can we drop this subject, please?”  There wasn’t much need to talk about it:  They’d only had this conversation eleven million times by Caitlyn’s count.

Sharon grimaced and munched on a cookie.

“I’m not trying to —”

“I know,” said Caitlyn.  “Just drop it.”

Her mother nodded, and drank a little milk.  “So when are you going back to your apartment?”

“I don’t know.  It doesn’t feel safe right now.  I haven’t been able to get in touch with Kat, and until I know what’s going on with her, I don’t really want to go back there.  The last thing I want to do is have some kid high on M turning me into a chicken or a block of granite.  Did you see the thing in the paper about those kids in Boston —”

“Yeah, it’s pretty funny, isn’t it?  It’s not the first time Boston had molasses running in the streets, you know.”

“Uh, last time, the molasses was running on the streets, Mom.  They’re gonna try the kids as adults.”

“Any word about whether they’ve watered it down enough for those gondolas to start moving?”

Caitlyn shook her head.  “The news guy says it’ll be at least a month before that happens, and even so, that’s not the same as having cars going down the streets.  But at least they’re making a hell of a lot of money on the tourists right now.”

Her mother laughed.  “Yeah, I was almost tempted to go there myself.  I hear some of the desserts the restaurants are making out of it are to die for.  Do you think Boston’ll be able to do what Detroit did?”


They fell silent again for a few moments.

“Caitlyn, why don’t you just leave?”

“Because I like the city,” she said, and snagged a lemon-drop cookie.

“But it’s not safe there.  You said so yourself.  You know, your grandparents in Indiana —”

“I know, I know!  It’s not gonna happen, okay!?  Just...  no.”

“But your body’s designed for —”

Caitlyn glared at her with The Look of Death.  “Don’t say it!”

Her mother fell silent.  The old wooden wall clock ticked several times, and the sound of Caitlyn’s own teeth crushing the lemon-drop cookie seemed to be the loudest noise in the room.

“I am who I want to be, okay?  It’s my choice.  Not my body's.”

The clock kept ticking.

“So are you staying the night tonight?”

“No, sorry, I’m headed back in about an hour.  Christine and Rob are taking me out to dinner tonight.  Thai.  They talked me into it.  I’ve never had Thai before, so I figure I’m gonna give it a try.”

“Well, alright.  Thai can be good eating.  Your father and I used to — well — just — be safe, okay?”

“I will, Mom.”

“And...  well...  um...”

Caitlyn laughed.  It was the same question every time she got close to leaving.

“Yes, you can ride me in the park before I go.  But you still can’t braid my tail.”

Her mother chuckled.  “I will one of these days, mark my words.”
*  *  *

The trains were running late, and when Caitlyn arrived at Christine and Rob’s apartment, the city had already switched from the shimmer of daylight on the skyscrapers to the neon glow of sunset.  This probably helped to explain why Caitlyn didn’t notice anything special about the shadowy figure standing in front of the apartment building until she was nearly on top of it.

“Thought I’d see you here,” he said, tipping his hat.

“Wha —” she said, pausing and turning to look at him.

“I was pretty peeved when you didn’t show yesterday,” he said.

“Wils!” she said, and turned bright red.  “Oh, my gosh, I’m sorry, I —”

“Relax, relax, it’s okay.  I heard from your concierge what happened, and talked him into telling me where you were staying.  I wouldn’t have shown up for a date after that either.”

“I’m still sorry,” she said.  “I — I’ve been going through a lot of stuff lately.  Sorry.  It’s not your problem.”

“So be sorry if you want then.  I wish you’d have called me, though.  I was worried.”

“I — I didn’t think —”

“S’okay,” he said.  “But I guess with the Kat out of the bag, you don’t need me showing up on Fridays any more then?”

“I...  uh...  Very funny.”

“I also did some digging this afternoon and found this,” he said, and held up her purse.

She boggled.  “Where — how —”

“Your concierge said your purse had been stolen during our last walk, and I thought I’d help you get it back.  I called in some favors at a couple of police stations this morning, and it turns out they caught the guy the next day trying to get your ATM card to work in a half dozen different machines.  The idiot didn’t even think that you might’ve disabled it.”

She laughed weakly and took the purse from him.  She opened it and looked inside.

“It looks like most of your stuff is still there,” he said.  “Anything missing?”

“My brush, and I think I had more than ten bucks in here.  But it’s good to get it back anyway.”

“Thought so,” he said, nodding.

“Thanks,” she said, looking up at him and at once disappearing into his mile-deep eyes.

“You’re welcome,” he said.


He laughed.  “So do you want to get some dinner?”

“I — my friends are taking me out for Thai.  I’ve never had it before.”

“No?  How do you feel about spicy?”

“It can be good.”

“Mind if I join you, then?  I’m feeling a bit peckish myself, and some fried noodles would do me good right about now.”

She looked down at him.  He was handsome, debonair, smart, and actually seemed to give a damn about her.  “Well...  y’know, I’ve had worse dates.  Okay.  But don’t expect to hold my arm.”

“As long as you don’t step on my feet when we’re dancing, it’s a deal,” he said with a wink.

“Hey, I never said anything about danc —”

He put his finger to her lips.  “Are you hungry or do you want to argue?”

“Fine.  But if you make another weight joke, that finger is mine.”
The long-awaited Part 6.

As usual, please comment if you like it! It's hard sometimes to talk myself into working on this, so if you want me working on it, you'd better make it obvious.

And yes, the bit with Christine and Rob is a little kinky. Deal with it: That's part of life too.

Part 5 is here. Part 7 is here. The introduction and author's notes are here.

Edit, April 30, 2008: In checking the timeline in preparation for later chapters, I realized that it was fourteen years difference, not fifteen. The text has been corrected accordingly.
Add a Comment:
Psychochick52 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2014
The bit about the hair braiding reminded me of my mom (I don't have a horse tail but still...)
squibble9 Featured By Owner May 3, 2013
I'm guessing M is magic. My question is, does anybody have natural magic?
Catgoyle Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2010
(grins) I'd wondered how much time had passed, and if she'd missed a Friday.
MadJackalDelta Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Student Writer
Wils is a very interesting character. I'm getting the feeling there's something almost supernatural about him, the way he keeps appearing so convieniently...
Kramnhojpapermario Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009
more is better
Ehryn Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Keep working on it, please! ^___^
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Didn't get the molasses bit o_o
Liked everything else!
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Look up the history of Boston: Back in the 1800s, they had a massive spill at a molasses factory at the north end of town, and it took months to clean up the sticky gooey mess. Some people say that the north end of Boston still smells like molasses on a hot day.
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Being from India I don't know such crazy history XDD
but that is one cool fact!
sage987 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2009
Just thought I'd start reading this, seen it mentioned a few times.

Started on page 1 and so far it's one of the best stories I've read! It's got a great plot and the characters are believable.
There's also alot of depth to it and loose ends which keep you guessing as you read through it.

Going to carry on now, but just had to say congratulations on a story well written.
Uncle-Ben Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
Oh man ... That. That Wils. He is too convenient. Just happens to be in the right place, say just the right thing, happen to have her purse.

His power is the charm. At least that's my theory for now ...
Chibi-Fisch Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2009  Professional General Artist
:rofl: Her mom's crazy! She made me laugh so hard! :rofl:
masterpan Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2009
I love the mom. XD She's adorable.
defultion Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2008
i love it i love it i love it i love it i love it!
Catprog Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2007
I wonder what happened to her dad?
cornishcentaur Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2007
very good and getting better each time!
my curiosity is peaked, what is "M"?
"some kid high on M turning me into a chicken or a block of granite" my god you know how to slip in a really weird comment when you want to lol.
cant wait for the next one.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
M, or M-drops, or M-sicles, or any of a variety of other similar names and forms, is an all-too-common illegal drug in Caitlyn's world. Like many illegal drugs, it's highly dangerous, not just because of the damage it causes to the user's brain, but also because of the damage someone using it can cause to the people and objects around them. You'll learn a little more about it in the future, but that's enough to give you the basics.
betherfly Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*laughs* It's so sad that I can't tell if Wils is creepy or if I'm just jaded towards people being nice...

I love your word choices here, especially the phrase about her crushing the cookie. ;) Nicely done.
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I try! Glad you're enjoying the story; and maybe we'll see which one is true in the next part...
Rogue7 Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007
Well worth the minute wait.. (trust me i've been waiting years for some people to update their stories), I'll be here till the end as I enjoy your writing style and the subject... and now I want to see her tail get braided ;)
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh, think it ever will? ;)
Rogue7 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2007
who knows ;) once may be enough to get mum to stop... but if you believe that it I've got a nice bridge for sale :D
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Parents are complicated creatures, and more stubborn than mules.
SashaW Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007  Professional Photographer
She's getting charmed by Wils, in spite of herself.
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm always so excited to see another one of these in my inbox, keep up the good work.
Artificer-Urza Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007
Hmmm... Something about this guy seems suspicious. You have to write more so I can see if I'm right or just reading too much into it.
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I think so too, my money's on that he's some kind of Changed and one that is scary. Don't know how dangerous he might be ... but that's half of the fun.
Artificer-Urza Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2007
I think he's told the truth and that he isn't changed. However, that doesn't mean he wouldn't be dangerous.
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I suppose... but he is definitely hiding something...
Artificer-Urza Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2007
having friends in the police force just screams 'suspicious', doesn't it?
chekm8 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2009
it could just be that he works at the police station. (dont give me spoilers if you reply)
KiyaraSabel Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh of course.
AuthorNobilis Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2007
I eagerly anticipate each installment.
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