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Two college professor friends, Sabrina Burton and Mike Larson, disagree about the challenges and benefits experienced by men and women, but a strange little crystal will give them both a fresh perspective.
Chapter written by
Two college professor friends, Sabrina Burton and Mike Larson, disagree about the challenges and benefits experienced by men and women, but a strange little crystal will give them both a fresh perspective.
“Now, we’ll transition into Cobra. Put the tops of your feet on the floor and gently push your chest up. It’s not about how far you can go; it’s just about feeling a little bit of a stretch in the front. Tuck your toes, and we’re going to push into a Downward Dog.”
Sabrina Burton smiled calmly at her class and quickly surveyed everyone’s positioning to see who might be having trouble and who had it right. She praised three new students for their good form while generally reminding the group about toe tucking. Her eyes soon landed on Mike Larson, who was sitting on a mat near the door. He had good enough form but kept shifting into a pose with either one or both arms out, like pantomiming a ballerina. She did her best to ignore his shenanigans with a straight face. Ten minutes later, the yoga session was over.
She closed out the class by thanking her guests and reminding her regular students of their weekend assignment. Heading over to her desk, Sabrina took a lengthy drink from her water bottle and flicked some sweat off her long hair. The group mostly cleared, but a few guys towards the back loitered. She took a deep breath and spread her arms out. Calmly, she asked if there were any other questions.
Within reach on her desk, she had a large pair of scissors and a huge bottle of custom fragrance mist. That group hadn’t been totally disruptive, but she noticed a lot of whispering between her directions. In normal classes, she would’ve just called them out. But here, it would’ve disrupted the mood she was trying to maintain.
“Can I help you with something?” She made her words loud but controlled as they turned towards her. They looked at one another as though sharing a private joke she didn’t get. She raised up on her heels to get as much height as possible. Before anything else could happen, Mike Larson roamed between them and urged, “All right guys, you have other classes. Get going before Coach Hampton has anything to say about it.”
They lingered with obnoxious chuckles but eventually dragged their feet over to the door and left. Sabrina settled down in her chair and softly responded, “Thanks.”
Mike raised an eyebrow and questioned, “For what?” She looked him in the eye and saw genuine confusion. With a sigh, Sabrina worked through what she was feeling and expressed, “Those guys weren’t regulars in the class. I didn’t know what to expect from them. They just gave off a weird energy, and I was feeling kind of on edge.”
That earned a shrug from Mike, who questioned, “Do you think they were going to try something?” His expression soon clenched with concern. Sabrina gave a sigh and massaged her neck.
“I don’t know. Probably not. But my aunt, who is sixty and not a flirtatious dresser, had these young guys practically follow her into a public restroom. I think about that sometimes. I’ve been lucky, but you never know. I’ve got to be careful.”
Mike gingerly leaned against one of the counters. “I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Despite what you might hear from some professors, not every guy is a sex-crazed maniac.”
Sabrina set her arms down on her desk a little louder than she intended. “But we have a lot of young guys just out of high school with all that energy and not enough brain development. I hear a lot of things from my students about close calls, and I’m friends with Cynthia, one of the school psychologists. There’s plenty to worry about. I just want to have a relaxing yoga class where everyone feels safe.”
Her voice rose as she went. She told herself she wasn’t trying to yell at Mike; she just wanted him to understand. He edged away with a frown. Sabrina spread out her hands.
He shrugged. “I probably have more to be worried about when it comes to safety. Pretty much everyone around here can kick my ass.”
She pressed her lips together. “This is different though.”
Mike puffed out a long breath. “Yeah, I get that.“
“…Do you? A woman’s perspective is very different than a man’s.”
He looked her in the eye. They’d had discussions like this before, often cordial but occasionally vigorous and without resolution. Mike once alluded to the idea that being a woman was like having easy mode turned on. Sabrina leaned into all the complications and qualifications. He retorted that men are individualistic and treated poorly, especially as instructors. She responded sharply with a chart of statistics for the college. And round and round it would usually go.
They both recognized that this was a futile debate. Mike evoked their previous discussions and told her, “I wish I could understand your perspective. I try my best."
She leaned back a moment, then sharply sat up. “Actually, I saw something at this store a couple days ago. It should be in my drawer. Here we go!” From one of her longest, rattling desk drawers, Sabrina extracted a triangular crystal in a small baggie attached to a golden chain. Mike frowned.
Getting up from her desk, Sabrina made sure that the door to her classroom was securely locked before leading Mike over to a spot in the yoga area. This classroom wasn’t really intended for yoga, nor was it really intended to be a classroom. It was a retrofit lab for the science department, with too many pipes, oodles of sinks, and neglected materials locked behind glass cabinets. No matter how much Sabrina invested in wipes for the floor, nothing ever managed to get it clean.
Using an extra-large yoga mat, she invited Mike to sit on one end while she took the other. “I got this at a crystal shop. The owner told me it was a powerful object for mental connection and sharing energies. I was skeptical, but it was marked down. If we can forge a connection, then it could help us to understand one another’s perspective. In a Zen-like, empathic fashion at least. Won’t that be cool?"
He flashed her a skeptical look. She knew that he didn’t believe in any of the New Age stuff she was usually so excited about. He sat down across from her though. Sabrina didn’t find any instructions to go with the crystal, but she had her usual methods of focusing on a stone. She’d heard warnings about being careful of what energy you put into objects because sometimes they could contain trickster spirits. The most she’d experimented with this kind of thing was modest, unsuccessful divination, and affecting energy conduits.
She led him through the basic preparation for meditative focus. He warned her that he had a class to teach soon, but she assured him they would be done long before that. The breathing focus went smoothly, and they each started to feel a strange, tingling sensation that Mike was more worried about being related to his heart. Sabrina let the crystal linger between them as she told him to focus on her and her entire body while staring into her eyes.
Mike did his best to avoid looking at Sabrina too much. He had been an adjunct in the English department for several years before Sabrina arrived. She immediately caught his eye with her enthusiasm, energy, and delight about any far-flung topic.
And she was gorgeous. She had a toned, muscular body with a light tan, a slim waist, and shapely hips. Her spandex, Day-Glo pants always felt like they were diving too low. And she had on a pink and white sports top containing an overwhelming bust that he desperately needed to avoid looking at, like a double pinnacle of doom. How could he even begin to imagine a physical perspective like that? She seemed more like a dream girl if he let his mind and hormones dive in.
He took respite in her pale brown eyes, lamenting the ungodly swath of blonde hair that spilled out to her butt. Her little baseball cap with the college logo also provided a comfortable island of reflection. The rest was like gazing at the sun and getting lost in a beach body.
Mike had to be very careful. Just being alone with a female coworker in her classroom was enough to excite all the busybodies on staff with rampant talk if it got out. He was so close to tenure. When advising female students, the door to his office always remained open. But he needed to focus on this moment and all the stuff she was telling him so she could be appeased by some imagined metaphysical connection with this weird rock.
The area around them strangely started to feel warm, as though the old heater above had silently decided to kick on with a vendetta against them. They both squirmed at this rush of heat. Mike struggled to focus on anything, let alone Sabrina‘s presence or the twinkling of that little, dangling rock. Just when it seemed like the stifling air was too much, the stone gave a little swing back and forth like a pendulum and tapped their fingers. A sharp, electric shock followed that made Mike draw back his fingers while Sabrina flinched.
Soon after that, the blistering heat mercifully abated, and they were left with a chill, shivering sweat. It took several more minutes before Sabrina had to declare that nothing was going to happen. She questioned Mike about his feelings and thoughts, and he asked her about favorite movies. Nothing felt different, just as he expected. They parted with a sideways hug and quiet apologies.
Sabrina unlocked her classroom door to let Mike out and then relocked it before heading out, explaining that she had to meet up with someone before running off some dittos for a health class. Mike glanced in her direction, doing his best not to focus on her supple rear, and waved. The time until his freshman composition course was uneventful. He changed out the baggy, blue gym shorts and simple white t-shirt he’d worn for morning yoga and slipped on his regular gray suit.
The silver waistcoat underneath was typically a chore to button with his developing chubbiness. This time, it not only slipped on easily but felt strangely loose. More encouragement to make regular appearances at yoga, even though he was still skeptical that a little moving and posing did all that much. More salads for lunch, too.
He used a slim, black comb to adjust his sweaty mop of dark brown hair. Nearly time for a cut as he could feel it against his ears. As he grabbed his satchel and prepared to head down to his classroom, Mike felt a weird tickle in his nose. Snagging several tissues, he was perplexed as hissing, strong sneezes rattled his sinuses. Perhaps it was dwelling on recent events, but he found it uncanny that he sneezed the same way that Sabrina often did. She had a strong allergy to dust and would sneeze in fits just like that. His office definitely needed cleaning if it was making him react as badly. The vague notion of some sort of psychosomatic trigger from the crystal did cross his mind, but he swiftly dismissed it.
His class was on the third floor of the new glass building that looked like an inverted pen. After collecting homework, he began his lecture.
“Many scholars divide the Romantic era into what some call the dark and the light Romantics. We have those like Coleridge, who thought that nature was fantastic and full of divine wonder, and those like Herman Melville, who warned you that nature was going to mess you up and leave you mystified. There are several famous paintings of ships lost at sea amidst storms with lightning, rain, and tumultuous waves. This connects to the idea of the sublime…”
As he really started to get into his subject, despite the dipped faces and resting pens of his students, Mike felt a weird dragging sensation against his head. He paused and adjusted his collar to free whatever might have been trapped. Though it felt thicker, his hair couldn’t possibly have been stuck in his collar. Brushing this aside, he continued with a mention of Nathaniel Hawthorne and a page in the handout to turn to. As he listened to the student reading out loud, his hips suddenly felt like they were stretching, as though someone had latched them to a rubber band. His pants seemed perfectly fine though.
Just when he was able to dismiss this phantom strangeness, the turn he made to write on the marker board was followed by a strange, echoing jiggle, like a physical cacophony transmitted through his flesh. He was no stranger to flab, but the weight and persistence of the sensation caught him off guard. No amount of adjusting his suit and waistcoat alleviated the problem. Whenever he moved, that presence lingered.
He struggled to keep his outward professional decorum while absolutely freaking out inside. Just when he thought he might be able to keep a handle on all this craziness, it felt like something settled on his head. In part, it felt like a hat and a furry towel someone standing above had dropped on him. That, of course, was absolutely impossible. This ghostly drape not only tugged his head back, but it also didn’t react to his quick swipes to bat it away. Nothing was there.
At this point, he was willing to blame what Sabrina had done as having some hypnotic effect. Like a carnival trick he witnessed in his younger years. Saturating his mind with that possibility helped instill calm. It was just some weird twist of his perceptions—his brain playing tricks on him. While the method remained mysterious, that grounding in reason helped.
So, he pondered to himself, was this basically how Sabrina felt? At least, the way his brain divined it. Chest jiggle, outrageously long hair, those wide hips, and that lovely figure. Creeping in next, he had the sensation of a certain flatness spreading and inverting from the normal configuration at his groin. It went beyond simple incidental tucking. The detail was enough to faintly turn him on. Which was a terrible thing for the middle of class.
He did his best to disguise checking down there by brushing an imaginary trace of lint from his pants. Though he felt aroused by the cacophony of unique sensations, nothing embarrassing was showing. The fit of his suit seemed strangely comical as his jacket billowed and his pants struggled to stay up.
To his relief, despite the fact he had only gotten through a fraction of the material he wanted to cover this session, the class was nearly over. Several students approached his desk, even though he wished to be left alone. Everything so far made a strange sort of sense, but he wasn’t prepared for when his students approached and it dawned on him that not only were the male students significantly taller than him, but several of the female ones were as well.
His heart thundered in his chest as he realized that the hallucinations had progressed to the physical. Somehow, he managed to work through the issues and queries of his students even while it sounded like his voice was getting higher and softer to match Sabrina’s. No effort he made brought it back to its normal range. Despite the uncharacteristic voice coming out of his mouth, his students acted like he spoke this way all the time.
The release of the bell freed him from this exhausting charade. Mike hurried out the door ahead of most of his students, nervously gripping his bag and locking up when the last one was out. All he could think to do was run into his office and lay down on his couch until this strange witchcraft passed.
Along the way, he felt an unsettling sense as some men he passed not only towered over him as though he were little more than a child caught someplace he wasn’t supposed to be, but they were also looking, gawking, and pressing with their eyeballs as though some aspect of his body required their scrutiny.
In addition to this, he felt turbulent upset wrestling through his guts and an urgent need to pee that overwrote all other thoughts. Scampering quickly, he rushed to the nearest staff restroom, right next to the main building. Only once he pushed past the door did he realize that he had grabbed for the nearest one, the ladies' restroom.
Slowing, he trembled in the sudden cold of the restroom with a flashing signal pulse of all the impossible sensations zooming through his body. Mike told himself to turn around and leave for the right one, but he heard voices outside, and the watery summoning within demanded his attention. Rushing urgently, he snagged an open stall and hurried for the toilet.
It only vaguely crossed his consciousness that when he pulled down his pants, they weren’t the polyester slacks of his suit but something colorful and snug clinging to his thighs. Something other than his boxers followed them as he planted his soft, rounded butt down on the seat.
Clinging to the porcelain as though it were a shaky cliffside, he felt a wild torrent splash out of a recess in his body. Looking down, his heart nearly stopped. Immense breasts, swelling so far out that the rest of him was practically obscured, rose from his chest like mythic mountains. He knew enough to tell immediately that they were Sabrina’s. And they were sheathed in the burdened fabric of Sabrina‘s sports top. They were real and on his chest.
Their constant weight tugged on his pits and shoulders, as nervous sweat consumed their undersides. Sabrina’s tiny hands and narrow limbs also shifted their weight when he lifted them to check. His nails glittered with her shockingly bright pink polish.
Finishing on the toilet with a quick dab of toilet paper, Mike cautiously ventured out of the stall and over to the well-lit sink. Sabrina Burton stood in place of him, wearing the look of shock he felt throughout his entire soul. He had on her yoga outfit, which he suddenly wished had way more coverage for his shivering shoulders.
Her spandex pants, despite being snug around his lower half, felt like a dangling snake skin about to slough off and reveal intimate details. Even her silly hat had materialized on top of her waterfall of blonde hair. The sweaty heat and weight of all those locks frustrated him as he struggled to free them from his ears.
Women came and went through the door, and no one gave him a suspicious look. That, more than anything, cemented the terrifying, thought-consuming truth that this wasn’t just a persistent, detailed hallucination.
The top, fortunately, provided a degree of stability, even though he felt that shocks or something more substantial was needed for the persistent jiggles. It took till he left the ladies' room for him to realize that he was no longer carrying his regular satchel but the small sky-blue bag regularly at Sabrina‘s side. He wouldn’t be able to get into his room.
Rummaging through the bag cautiously, he found nothing familiar but did eventually discover Sabrina’s ring of keys. He could use her office temporarily. He left her phone alone.
The walk to the staff offices for health and the social sciences was long. As he experienced during the last stretch of his journey, Mike felt inescapably conscious of where certain people were looking. Many years ago, during a long road trip, his left taillight happened to dislodge. For many miles, random cars beeped and zoomed next to him. It was deeply unsettling and confusing, especially with his dour feelings at the time. This uncanny attention and surreal mood made him want to scream just like that back then.
The worst part was how everyone seemed to look down on him, physically and metaphorically. Rushing and not breathing, with a careful shuffle, restrained the worst of the panic. Somehow, Mike made it to Burton‘s office. Slamming the key into the lock and twisting with as much strength as he could muster from this body, he hurried inside.
To his shock, there was already someone there, sitting on the couch by Sabrina’s regular exercise equipment and watering her plants. It took him just a moment to recognize the lanky, muscular man as Sabrina’s boyfriend, Paul. He briefly lost the ability to breathe and talk as his brain tried to figure out if he could run away.
“Hey, sweetie. You alright now? You kind of left in a panic. I was gonna text you. I can get you some stuff from the Greek place near where I work for lunch.”
As this massive man, whom Mike had only met casually a few times before, approached him, he had no idea what to say other than a meek, “Alright…"
Before Mike could protest, Paul wrapped his arms around him and kissed him firmly on the lips. The sensation of being enveloped by a man terrified every sense inside his brain but paradoxically swaddled him in warm comfort like a human blanket. He wanted to twist and turn away from the kiss, but his body moved to meet it and even insistently kissed back. With alarm, Mike realized that something firm and warm was brushing against Paul’s pants as he clung to her. He was hard!
Fortunately, Sabrina‘s boyfriend noticed her sudden, overriding panic and sought answers. Fumbling with what felt like an imposter version of Sabrina‘s voice shaped by his cadence, Mike grabbed the concern that Sabrina expressed to him about suspicious students in her yoga class but also barreled into mentions of men looking at her creepily and some weird crystal that she needed to find. Paul was desperately confused, but he gently brushed her hair and stroked her cheek. Despite Mike’s feelings, the contact wasn’t unwelcome.
It wasn’t long before Paul led her over to the couch and positioned himself behind her. Working quickly, his hands dug into her soft shoulders, and Mike could feel herself melting under his touch. The aggravating weight of her boobs dwindled to floaty pillows. The tangle of her hair shifted to a comforting metronome. He was good. Mike intimately understood all the times Sabrina had impishly alluded to her boyfriend’s therapeutic touch. It was transcendent.
At the end of the session, she looked towards him and honestly wasn’t sure what happened next. It was like a spirit took her over. When she returned to her senses, Paul smiled warmly and whispered that she had her later yoga class to teach, but he would be bringing lunch right after.
They hadn’t had sex, that much she could tell, but her mouth felt strange. Several sips from Sabrina‘s water bottle didn’t quite clear the strange, ghostly presence around her lips.
The trek to Sabrina’s class took far less time than Mike wanted. She languidly gathered everyone together on their mats in the designated area. She asked them about their last session. Most of the class was made up of girls, with a few clearly gay guys. Everything they told her about the previous session felt like it was encrypted in a foreign language. The only way that she got through the class was by surreptitiously googling as many yoga positions as possible and vaguely asking Sabrina’s students what they wanted to focus on this time. She managed to put a lesson together.
“Now, for the next yoga position, I want you all to picture a big tree trunk with roots running deep below ground, then stretch out your legs straight and wide. Relax your hips and press your heels into the floor. Take deep breaths and relax your core muscles. Now bend forward at the waist, but keep your back straight. Hold this pose for ten breaths and repeat.”
Mike went through a number of the poses listed on a webpage, but none of them seemed like stuff that Sabrina would’ve taught. Every student struggled to comprehend her instructions. But she kept going, telling them, “We’re going to transition into a new posture now, so take five deep breaths to help loosen up. Think of how a tree trunk can bend low towards the earth. This pose is called… Tree Bender, and it helps give you flexibility in the hamstrings and calves.”
A strangely familiar snort issued from the side of the room towards the door. Looking up, Mike witnessed her own, manly face looking over at her with a hand covering his mouth. Sabrina! It had to be! If they swapped places, then this had to be her!
Nervously, Mike considered her words and playfully teased the other Mike by asking, “Would you do us the honor of finishing out the lesson, Mr. Larson?”
With a soft, whimsical expression, that Mike Larson limply fanned a hand and assured “Miss Burton” that he certainly wouldn’t want to interrupt. Only at the point of begging did Sabrina as Larson take over to finish the class.
Once all the students were gone with confusion trailing in their wake and the door locked again, Mike unleashed the full force of her own confusion. Sabrina, with Mike’s face, smiled calmly as Mike unfurled all the craziness.
“See! It worked! Although, I’m also curious about what you did with my boyfriend. I guess you got a little too deep into me… I wonder if he did too. Joking!”
Sabrina relayed her side of the experience. She had just cuddled up to her boyfriend when she was hit by a looming, growing sensation, her hair absent and her voice deepening. She just barely made it out before she was looking back at Mike’s reflection. Mike contritely admitted that many things part and parcel with being a woman unsettled her. Sabrina relayed discoveries of her own, focusing on the sense of separation she felt as a man, anonymity, and sullen strength. She admitted that it was a human weight that she had never really considered, but that felt eye-opening.
And… she was actually curious to explore it more at length for a research paper. Mike just wanted to have her perspective back. Sabrina teased that there were feelings and depths to being a woman that Mike had only scratched the surface of.
Considering this, while reflecting on the kaleidoscope of sensations saturating her female form, she didn’t say no right away.
Maybe it might be worthwhile to learn from this rare opportunity, with a perspective she never imagined. If they just used the crystal to undo whatever happened, then there was no way of knowing if this particular confluence of events would ever come again. However, Mike felt terrified about misplacing the crystal and losing any chance of returning to his normal life.
Ultimately though, the choice was clear.
This is absolutely fantastic. I hope you end up writing more transformations!