Author’s note: This was a writer’s prompt about identity.
The alarm clock rang and I hit it without looking. It fell to the floor with a loud bang, so I must have slammed it harder today. I hope it’s not broken.
As I was already awake, I decided to get up and start my day. Before putting my glasses on and still in a half sleepy daze, I went to the bathroom and turned on the shower. That usually wakes me up.
I soaped up my scrunchie loofa with cucumber melon body wash and started washing. But as the hot water woke me up, I knew something wasn’t right. I looked down and screamed. My body had completely changed. I pinched myself once, then harder a few times to see if I was dreaming. I wasn’t.
Still wet and soapy, I quickly ran to get my glasses. I looked down again with 20/20 vision and screamed. I felt like me, but I didn’t look like me anymore. I was in the body of a man.
I dried off with a towel and grabbed my phone.
“Siri, what happens when you wake up in the body of a man?” I asked frantically.
“I found the following articles on the web,” Siri said. “Body changes when you sleep and the science of sleep.”
This was useless, but what did I really expect? It occurred to me I rely on that phone too much for answers.
Then I saw the time. I was going to be late for work. But how can I go to work like this? How can I go anywhere like this?
I phoned my boss to call in sick.
“Hi, this is Pat,” I said.
“Who’s this? Pat? It doesn’t sound like you,” she said.
I heard my voice aloud. It was much deeper, like a man.
“Uh, yes, I woke up with a terrible cold and can’t come in today,” I said.
“Ok, feel better,” she said and hung up.
Do I call a doctor? And tell them what; that I used to be a woman? No, that won’t work.
I sat there in someone else’s body for several minutes absolutely blank as to what to do. I decided I needed some brain food and time to think, so I grabbed my baggy sweats and my bra. But then, I threw the bra back on the bed. No, won’t need that, which is nice. Honestly, I hate wearing it every day. It pinches everywhere and makes my back scratch.
When I got up, I walked funny and nearly fell down. I guess the weight distribution is a little different. More bottom heavy, less top heavy.
I wobbled to the kitchen table, made some cereal and poured coffee from my automatic Keurig maker. At least one thing was the same.
I sipped the coffee and guzzled the cereal like never before. I must have been hungry.
How did this happen? And why? How do I get back to myself? Nothing came to mind. I popped open my laptop, but just sat there looking at the blank Google search. What would I even search for? Turning into man syndrome on Web MD?
Now I started to panic. What if I’m stuck this way? I wanted to cry. Do men cry? Can they cry?
I wondered what would be different if I had to stay a man? What would I get and what would I give up?
I‘d spend less money on clothes, make-up, jewelry and shoes. And it would take much less time to get ready. That means more sleep. That’s good.
I’d make more money for the same job. I think they’d have to give me a raise for being a man, right? I couldn’t get pregnant. Oh, but I could get someone else pregnant. Forget that, I don’t even want to think about how that would work now.
And no one would treat me like a dizzy blonde girl anymore. They’d actually listen to what I have to say. Well, maybe. After all, since I’m still young, I don’t know if anyone would listen anyway. But it would be interesting.
I’m obviously stronger, just look at the poor alarm clock. Would I be better at sports? And maybe I could open jars easier.
But then again, I’d have to buy my own drinks at bars now and pay for dates. That sucks. Oh and men have to be the breadwinner, right? Well, I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home mom. I like my career. Wait, I wouldn’t even be a mom, would I?
Could I still watch Hallmark and Lifetime and read romance novels? Is that allowed?
What about dating? Do I still like guys? Can I like guys if I’m in a man’s body? Well, with politics today, I need to check the news on that one to make sure.
What would life be like as a woman trapped in a man’s body? I always felt comfortable in my own skin. I was raised to be proud of being a woman and not to compromise myself for anything or anyone.
I guess I could get used to it, but I don’t think I’d ever like it. My natural instincts would always be off. I don’t know if I could feel right. And life would be so much more complicated.
Then I felt tears rolling down my face. At least I can cry. That’s something.
When I went to get some tissues, I turned on the TV to put off thinking about this anymore.
I took the remote and started scrolling through the channels.
Oh, no; I’m obsessed with the remote control already. This is not a good sign. Am I’m going to completely lose my identity?
Flipping through the channels, I noticed they’re all either Hallmark or Lifetime. That can’t be. Oh, here’s a different one. The unicorns and flying horses’ channel? That’s not right.
I know. Last night I rented an old movie on the cable remote. It would be in my history.
Wait a minute! Victor Victoria was the last thing I saw before I went to bed. Maybe this is some kind of life imitating art thing. Maybe the Twilight Zone was real and the TV whammied me. Or what if it’s some kind of virus? I’ve heard of hormone changing therapy, is that contagious?
“Siri, look up hormone changing therapy,” I said.
“Pat, it’s time to wake up,” Siri said.
“Ok Siri,” I said and sat up quickly. I sounded like me. High-pitched and squeaky. Then I looked down. Everything was in the right place. Whew! It was a dream after all. No, it was a nightmare.
Thank God. After all that, I’m glad just to be me.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022