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Chapter 18 – Fragments and Mec chen House

Carolyn was first to her side. He supported her neck and lifted her gently. I had only a moment to be reminded of Nathan’s treatment of Ami before Kimi roused and squirmed away from us across the floor.

She panted and tapped the wall behind her, as though looking for a hidden switch. Carolyn was crouched on one knee, a small, pale towel in his hand. He looked at me and asked, “How did someone manage to name her ‘Kimi?’”

I would’ve liked to give him a sheepish smile but instead I barely noticed his question. I crawled closer to Kimi and asked, “Are you okay? What happened?”

Kimi looked at me and around the room. I could tell the look. I wore the same one not too long ago. I reached a hand out. Kimi tried to climb the wall.

I tried speaking. “Jamie! It’s me. It’s okay.”

She looked at me, then at Carolyn. She seemed so small, even though she was actually taller than me.  

After a few breaths, she spoke. Her eyes still darted around. “What? No. Nothing happened. I’m okay.”

Carolyn cleared his throat and leaned closer. “Anime eyes don’t lie.”

Kimi scrambled to her feet. “Get away from me… Umm please… Get away from me.”

She crouched low along the wall until she got to her feet. She didn’t look very steady. We both gave her a wide berth as she plopped down in a chair near the window and covered her face in her hands. Her shirt seemed to be tenting.

I leaned to look around her arms. I shuffled a bit and peered. I felt a sickly-warm sensation in my stomach as I looked at Kimi. At the sensation, I patted my chest to assure myself. I was still flat.

Unlike Kimi.

Her shirt wasn’t tenting. It was pressed out by the shape of her flesh. The bottom of the shirt lifted and curled upwards, flashing a hint of her midrift. From this angle, the chest itself took on the appearance of an advancing ridge with a soft pinnacle. Part of me felt entranced just to look at Kimi and the other part shouted that this was a male friend I was looking at.

It didn’t take Carolyn long to realize what I was looking at. He dipped his soft-serve tentacles of hair and smiled. “Wow. I never thought my ex-boyfriend would have bigger ones than I ever did.”

Kimi leaned back. The ridge shifted and deformed like a fault-line under her shirt. She looked down and formed, “No!” with her mouth-line. She tried to press the soft shape. It resisted her. She squirmed in place.

Carolyn dusted himself off and said, “Relax. I know a place where you can buy a bra.”

Kimi’s head twitched. “No! I don’t want a bra! Never! Get me an ace bandage!”

Carolyn shook his head. “Do you really expect to hide something like that?”

Kimi flattened her chest to the point of pain, holding her breath. She still looked like a girl.

Releasing her chest, she gasped out, “I have to do something! These are too big! They feel… I can’t even… they feel…” She trailed off, trying to stand from the chair. Kimi held onto it for support. She shuffled carefully.

“No… no… no… I’m sure they’ll go away… Somehow they’ll go away.” She pressed again but the protrusions showed no signs of following Kimi’s wishes. Kimi smacked a hand into the chair and then the nearest wall.

She slid down the slick surface. When she plopped down on the floor, her chest gave a little quake, as did her fanned hips. She curled in on herself, hiding her eyes. Her head soon darted up and she said, hoarsely, “It all smells different, and I can’t get this scent off of me.”

Kimi took to pulling on her breast, but that seemed even more painful than her attempts at pulling her hair out at the roots. Kimi grunted, clutching them protectively. She sat still for a moment then looked up.

She looked at me and said, “I look like a girl. A girl that Nana or Hitomi or whoever wanted to make me into. And I’m a freaking C-cup!”

Carolyn snorted. “Oh come on, you’re not as small as a C-cup. You’re clearly a D-cup.”

“C!!”

He shook his head. “D. As in denial.”

Her hands shook and probed her chest gently. “This protrusion… thing… is only… It’s comparable to what you had.”

Carolyn walked over and said, “Stand up, Kimi.”

“Jamie! MY NAME IS JAMIE!”

He rolled his head back with a sigh. “Why you defend that name… I’ll never know. Just stand up so I can look at you and settle this.”

‘Jamie’ looked away. “I don’t want to… why should I? Why should I have someone feel around this… protrusion?”

“I’m not going to ‘grope’ you,” Carolyn assured her.

“Your words. Not mine.”

Carolyn threw up a hand. “Listen. It seems you want it like nothing has changed. Ergo, this ‘protrusion’ is nothing to be worried about. You just stand up, pull your shirt taut, and I do some estimation. I’m just assessing a ‘growth’.”

‘Jamie’ pressed her legs together and stood slowly. Her hands remained pressed against the chair until she looked sure she wasn’t going to tip over. She tugged slowly on the shirt, setting her feet, and created a valley between two, shaded pinnacles on her chest. A hint of what was underneath peeked through.

‘Jamie’ looked away, embarrassed.

Carolyn leaned left and right and finally decided, “That settles it. You’re absolutely a D-cup. Maybe even a double denial cup. Oh wait. I keep forgetting… the sizes are different here. You’d probably be more like an F. For female.”

‘Jamie’ looked down at her body, darting lower every so often, and said, “But… I’m not really a girl… I just look like one. No matter what happened to my body, I’m still who I always was…”

Carolyn finished his size-check and shot ‘Jamie’ a look. “Do you really want that?”

“What? Why wouldn’t I?”

Carolyn cracked his neck and peered out the window at the occasional passerby. “You had your share of shortcomings. I blame most of it on your family. I could never stand your sister. If you want to be who you were, then you’re just some aimless, disengaged, and emotionless ‘ronin’ trodding in silent steps through life, living only for petty opportunities.”

Jamie stood straighter. “So that’s how you really feel about me? What about you, AriSU? You like this compared to the slacker boy?” She looked over at me.

I didn’t respond to her glance.

“I am not something to manipulated and remade and expected to just accept it. I will fight it in my heart with everything I have! And if that… whatever it is… thinks it can change me with trippy visions… it has another thing coming!”

“Visions?”

She clenched her mouth-line closed tightly and said, “Trippy changes, I mean. What’s been happening here…”

It was a poor lie by Jamie. I called her on it and said, “That’s not it. You saw something… Something happened to you when you passed out for a moment. Was it like what I experienced? Tell me as much as you can.”

Jamie flapped her hands in front of me. “It’s nothing! Forget it. I already have.”

I reached for Jamie’s shoulders. “It could be really important. Remember what you said? …I was the only one experiencing these strange clues. But now you’ve experienced something as well. You can’t just shrug it off… What if it’s something that could help us to change our circumstances?”

She tried, half-heartedly, to bend out of my grasp then slumped a bit. “I really don’t want to talk about it.” She glanced away with her eyes narrowed.

“What could possibly be so bad?”

Jamie glared at me.

I let go of her shoulders as a silent compromise. She paced slowly. Carolyn shoved the boxes back into a crude tower of clustered collectables but held onto the turtle. He passed it to me, and I tried looking it over. Jamie grimaced. “Keep it away from me!”

I took a step back so there was some distance between the two of us as I held the turtle. It looked like a simple, mud-colored ceramic turtle. I looked on the underside but found nothing remarkable about it. I passed it back to Carolyn, who set it on the counter.

Jamie crossed her arms over her chest. She shuffled with careful steps across the tile floor. She had to correct herself several times and pressed her chest in frustration again.

She muttered, softly, “This is the worst… I can’t stand this. I feel so fat and bizarre. I feel utterly grotesque.” Her voice rose to a high indignation.

I slipped my hands on my padded hips and rephrased, “How could it be so bad that you can’t even tell me about it? You do acknowledge it could be quite important?”

Jamie stretched one leg far ahead and the other back and said, “I said I didn’t want to talk about it. But I know it probably is important. I mean it… could be… confirmation. But I’d need to check it out.”

I prodded my finger into that little opening she offered me. “Check it out? How? Check what?”

She shuddered and turned. “I can’t say really but… now I have a real reason to visit the library.”

That was an even bigger opening. I had to ask, “What’s at the library?”

“It’s just an idea I had. There’s probably nothing to it. But if there is, then… well we’ll talk about it when we get to that point.”

I was utterly mystified. Carolyn sprayed from a bottle of water on a colorful set of plants near one of the mirrors.

Jamie seemed to settle on an arm placement which covered enough of her changes. She turned a little and looked in the mirror. I thought the pose made her look particularly feminine, like an image for a cosmetics magazine.  

I urged Jamie, “Can’t you tell us anything more?”

She glared and spoke deliberately. “I told you I don’t wish to talk about it. The only use for what… may have happened is as confirmation or denial of assumptions and theories.”

“Why are you doing this?” I couldn’t help but feel personally offended by Jamie’s tone.

Jamie sent a tremor through her hair with an arm-brush. “Doing this? Don’t I have a right to keep certain things confidential? It’s a right you’ve exercised a lot lately. Or am I excluded from that? Don’t you realize how much I’ve told you? I said I had… umm…that I…You know! …Back on the path!” She glanced over at Carolyn suspiciously.

Carolyn watched us. I didn’t know how long he’d been watching, but he had a curious look on his face. He moved closer to Jamie and smiled. “Well, well, Kimi. You’re reduced to stammering. What could that mean?”

‘Jamie’ set her feet, grimaced a little, and said resolutely, “I am not, nor will I ever be, Kimi. My name is Jamie.”

Carolyn grinned. “And I thought you loathed that name.”

“I found something I loathed more.”

He rubbed at his lips with a prying gaze. “You remember what you said?”

“Said when?”

“Last we talked. I was thinking about it. I called it your fatal flaw.”

‘Jamie’s shoulders slumped. “You know, I really can’t recall. But I assume you had some point. Care to refresh it?”

Carolyn rubbed his hands and took some rather slow, but playful steps back and forth. “You said ‘I will never be connected, now or ever with a man in any intimate sense.’ But it was the way you said it. I could sense it. I said it was your ‘fatal flaw’. A little overdramatic, but do you know what I mean now?”

‘Jamie’ glared. “I have no clue what you’re trying to get at.”

Carolyn pouted in an exaggerated fashion. “Aww… so there’s no lucky boy you’ve met?”

“WHAT???”

He gained a half-grin. “A very strong and cute reaction from a girl.”

“I’M NOT… uh… NOT ACTUALLY A GIRL!”

“Even stronger…”

“Listen! I… don’t see how this is important. You clearly don’t have anything useful to offer us except for weird comments.”

He went back to pouting. “Ouch…”

‘Jamie’s mood rumbled. “You brought it on yourself. If you can’t cut our hair, then you’re really no use to us. You’re just an obstacle in our way. Can you prove to us that Hitomi or whoever didn’t intentionally put you here because you’re a hindrance?”

I couldn’t stand by with that. My steps flared in a way even Katsumi would be proud of. My words blazed.

“STOP IT! It’s not Carolyn’s fault we came here. If you want to blame anyone, blame me! I thought of coming here. And you didn’t think it was a bad idea. You wanted to get your hair trimmed. Just because Carolyn can’t cut your hair doesn’t mean you can be nasty to him! And here I thought, with all that happened to change us, that you were different.”

‘Jamie’ stomped back with her hands on her hips. “Just because I get girl parts doesn’t turn me into a sweet and cute girl who is nice to everyone!”

Carolyn smiled. “Ahh, idealized notions of women. As if I haven’t heard that from my customers so many times… I wouldn’t ever think ‘Jamie’ here could manage sweet and cute. That’s Nathan’s territory. But boy… you just ring true as a girl.”

‘Jamie’ looked alarmed. “Wha? No. That’s bull! Do you have one iota of proof that I’m anything like a girl?”

Carolyn cracked his knuckles and said, singsong, “Demeanor and mood, your whole attitude, posture and the way you carry yourself. It’s clear you’re a girl to any you’d pass on the street, from the top of your head… all the way down to your feet. You piss and you moan about everyone that you meet. You argue and declare with long silky hair, where you’re going and why. And fair also to say, if any get in your way, your claws will come out as a treat. And with the presence you emit I can say, though it may be cliché, if ever there was a girl, you are it!”

I’d known Carolyn to break into a rough, rhyming melody only once before. It was when she and Jamie had an argument about musicals, and she did it to shut him up.

Jamie seemed to get the reference. She massaged her temple and replied, “Those are pretty weak reasons.”

“Oh well, it’s hard to put it like that and express all the facts clearly. Basically, I’ve hinted at it before but the three of you all felt like girls to me. And I know girls. The real jerks especially. Not to imply anything about any of you… Especially Jamie-Kimi… Jay-Kay. There’s just something to a girl, again to touch on cliché. Like a pheromone or a mood or something. I can remember it vividly despite there being new associations for me.”

Jamie flopped her hair a little. “I really have no idea what you’re talking about…”

He leaned close. “It means, despite how much I still like boys, your body prompts a reaction from my new body.”

Jamie stumbled, flailing for the chair behind her. “Um… I see.”

Carolyn chuckled. “I bet. So what about a guy who has… caught your eye?”

“I don’t care about those sorts of things. We have more important concerns.”

I chimed in, “Like keeping vital information from one another.”

Jamie lobbed back a reply. “Not as though that’s anything new. For some people.”

Carolyn held his hands out to each of us. “Now girls, don’t make me have you both sit in the corner on your hands. That’s something my mother did with me and my female cousins when we started being… like girls… to one another.”

Jamie slumped into the chair. Her whole body shuddered. The crystalline tears began to flow behind carefully-positioned hands. Carolyn sighed and sat next to Jamie. He put a hand on her shoulder.

“Listen. I didn’t mean to upset you. You can hit me if you like.”

Jamie took him up on that offer and gave a hearty slug to Carolyn’s side. He grunted, laughed a little, and said a raspy, “Good one…”

I approached, not sure what to offer Jamie in the form of comfort, knowing close contact just upset her. A slug wouldn’t seem right, so I crouched near Jamie and spoke, “Please… I’m sorry for what I said. But I need to know… at least a little bit of what you experienced. It could be important.”

Jamie didn’t look at me at first. She dried her eyes with rough rubs of her hands. She turned to Carolyn.

“I’m not going to talk to you about whatever sensations occurred or anything like that. Add that to whatever tally you make about boys and girls. I have my secrets about what’s inside me, and I intend to restrict what others know. So forget an outpouring of girly emotions or romantic imaginings or any of that other junk my sister tossed around. I don’t have any of that. Think however worse of me you like. I can’t stop that. I’m not angry at you. But emotions that… slip in like this suck. I hate them…”

Then he turned to me. “I don’t have to tell you about what happened to me. And I accept your apology, though it was quite unnecessary. Still… you have a point. There could be vital information. For now though, I have no reason to believe it. But… in the interests of a compromise, I can… offer some minor parts. Things I saw which you might be interested in. Parts that don’t unsettle me as much. Would you accept that?”

I didn’t see why she couldn’t just tell me but I said, “I accept. What can you tell me?”

“I remember a housecat.”

“Housecat? What kind?”

“Furry.”

“A breed?”

“I don’t know breeds of cats. It was just a furry cat. It looked annoyed.”

I pried Jamie for more about the cat. “Did it look anything like Sumi’s cat?”

“It was a tomcat.”

“How could you tell?”

“I just knew… it was.”

That sounded ambiguous but I pushed a little more. “Did it have any distinguishing marks? Collar? Color?”

Jamie’s eyes were dry. She looked unsettled but better than a little while ago.

“Its fur had a weird sort of color. Kinda reddish but dark. Fluorescent? I dunno. I remember it had brilliant, green eyes. Like glowing gems. And the tip of its tail was tilted towards it at the end, like someone broke it.” She started hyperventilating and shivered a little. “That’s it. I can’t say more right now.”

It was something at least. I thanked her. Carolyn offered comforting words and tea. Jamie urged out a quiet ‘thank you’ but said, “We really need to get to the library before I forget the important stuff.”

Carolyn rustled around in a drawer and pulled out a pad and pencil. “Here. You should write it down. If only for yourself.”

“That’s almost as bad as talking about it.”

Carolyn shrugged. “Still, you should take it. Here. I’ll put my contact information on here… just in case you already lost it.” She made a few marks on the pad.

Jamie huffed, “Of course I didn’t lose it!”

“Good for you. You get a free notepad as well.” She held the pad and pencil out again. Jamie took them and fidgeted to stuff them in a pocket, which had been flattened by the changes in her hips. She stood cautiously and brushed her hands.

“If that’s all…”

Carolyn added, “You should definitely buy a bra as soon as possible.” I silently agreed. Backtracking would be wasteful.

“Noted…” Jamie replied.

He wiped his hands and said, “I guess that’s it then. You two take care. And do keep out of trouble.” He winked at Jamie and smiled.

Jamie turned to leave, her hand at the door. She stopped before opening it and said, “Same at you.” Then carefully walked out.

Carolyn looked pleased, gave me a little wave, and added, “I’ll remember to keep an eye open for anything out of the ordinary.” I thanked him and joined Jamie outside.

Her arms were in a protective position over her chest. She shuffled along the cement, keeping a distance from everyone else.

She muttered, “That was very much unpleasant…”

“You gonna be okay?”

Jamie brought her arms closer. “As soon as we get to a place with… bras which aren’t lacy or any of that junk.”

I assured her, “I’m sure we’ll find something.”

What had Jamie seen in her vision which upset her like this? I wondered.

I looked back at the fading, colorful lines of Carolyn’s barber shop.

-----

We didn’t have to travel far to find a women’s clothing boutique. The building was cramped, more the sort I’d expect in Japan. Shelf-space seemed to be at a premium. It was a background-artist’s dream and nightmare. Clothes were all over and covered in loving, careful detail. Some were askew and walking revealed new, same-quality rows of clothing. The floor was detailed with what looked like zebra-stripes. Bar-like fluorescent lamps glowed overhead. I saw an off-white ceiling fan making slow-circles.

Jamie kept her distance from a set of blouses with flowers and kept closer to the girlie-jeans on a counter. We worked our way to the back and were soon ambushed by a sales clerk. Jamie leapt back, keeping a firm hand on her new assets.  

I shuffled around Jamie. The clerk bowed to us and asked, “Can I help you ladies with anything?”

She looked sweet. But her eyes caught me off-guard. They were shimmering crimson, like a white lab-rat. It was a fairly-common color in anime, but it looked unsettling to see in person. She smiled gently.

Dark-brownish hair framed her head, but a lengthy, tightly-drawn ponytail flowed down her back with a pink ribbon near the end. It was about the same length as Jamie’s locks. It looked like a thick rope.

She wore a long-sleeve, lime-green top tied and bunched tight at the neck. She rubbed her hands together. She was about our size but with subtler curves than Jamie. She wore a pink skirt which crinkled like flower-petals around her. Her legs looked very muscular.

A thought floated through me. She considered us girls just like herself. I felt a quick shiver. Jamie looked annoyed as she sighed and said, “I’m looking for a good bra. Something durable. Something to make things… less obvious. And which hides well. Simple. No fancy stuff.”

She nodded with each of Jamie’s words then took a step back. “If you’ll follow me, I can show you a few things. Do you know your size?”

Jamie said softly, “Uh… I haven’t checked lately… and I grew. It could be near… an E… I think.”

She gave a laugh which didn’t sound quite like anything I’d heard from a girl. “No worries. I can measure you just to be sure.” She turned to me. “Will your friend need any help?”

I formed an answer for her, but I happened to look down. I felt a warm sensation. The air blurred a little and the incidental shape of the front of my shirt took on more deliberate contours.

They were more than pecs but not by a lot. I tried not to stare at them for long. I looked back at the clerk, trying my best to keep my composure, and said, “I’d like to… the same. Yeah.”

The clerk made a soft, ‘hm’-like noise with her mouth, bowed again, and led us through snaking counters and displays to an area in the back of the store, opened a door, and ushered Jamie inside.

I waited. A pop song with a bouncy rhythm played off an overhead speaker. I couldn’t make out the words, so I just enjoyed the sound to fill the silence.

Jamie came back with the clerk-girl behind her. Jamie looked trembly. She leaned against a wall with a mirror. I gave her a look but she didn’t seem to see it.

The clerk asked, “You need measuring too?”

I nodded and she ushered me back. There was nothing special in the room. She picked up a tailor’s tape measure and told me to hold out my arms. I did so. She lifted my shirt a little and sighed. “No bra under for you either… Are you alright with your shirt off?”

This must’ve been what Jamie went through. I couldn’t even imagine what she said to the clerk. I nodded and lifted my shirt over my head. I looked at the mirror in front of me. I was worried it would look like something out of a hentai. Rather, it looked matter-of-fact, simple, like someone’s nude sketch. The female upper-body rendered in art.

The clerk slipped the tape around me and measured below my chest. My nipples were the same size as before, but the flesh around them had risen outwards. Not by a lot. I felt a strange sensation of disappointment. Not to say that I wanted something huge. But maybe a little bit more.

Her next measurement sent a shiver through me, but at least the tailor-tape was slack. She asked if that hurt. I shook my head and gave her a friendly smile. My nipples felt much livelier than before. She measured once more, this time further up.

She told me to slip my shirt back on and handed me a piece of paper. “You’re a Sixty-Five B. We have a couple of items you might like. Depending on how you want to look. Have you bought a bra before?”

I wondered if that was meant to be a ‘trap’ question. If I was a girl this age, then I was sure to have owned a bra at some point before. I came up with an idea though.

“I’ve never BOUGHT a bra before…”

She answered for herself, “Ah! Sisterly-hand-me-downs. I know that. It’s always good to have sisters. Sisters take care of each other…”

I didn’t add anything to her words. I made sure my shirt was on comfortably, and she led me out. She gave me a place to look around in my size range and took a slow-moving, head-lowered Jamie to another area of the store behind a display of silken dresses in all colors of the rainbow.

I searched through the offerings. None of them really caught my eye and I wasn’t much for the lacy adornments. Like Jamie, I wanted something simple and effective. On the end, I found a few which looked more like sports bras or at least weren’t covered in flower-designs and little bows.

They were in my size, but I didn’t have the first clue how to put them on. I figured that would definitely draw the suspicion of the clerk. I took a handful in colors I could live with. I held them up to myself. I felt like I was doing something bad. I glanced around to see if anyone was watching. I had to remind myself that a girl holding a bra was normal.

I checked the price-tags next. I cringed. Perhaps we shouldn’t have stopped at the first store we found. At least we just needed to buy one to wear for now.

Jamie and the clerk came back. She pointed. “The changing rooms are back there. I’ll be around here if you’d like to check out or if you need anything else.”

Jamie and I weaved our way in the direction she’d gestured. I’d seen the doors when she took us in to measure but I didn’t know they were changing rooms. They were simple, the type you’d find in any mall. Jamie took one, and I took the other. It didn’t take long before I heard groans of irritation through the thin divider. I knocked on Jamie’s door and asked, “Do you need help?”

There wasn’t an immediate answer of “NO!” through the door. After some fussing, Jamie answered, “It’s not a big thing. But… I guess.”

I opened the door. Jamie was topless with a bra, undone and laid over her chest. It was uneven at her shoulders. She faced away from me, one arm guarding her front.

“I don’t get these things.”

I looked at the work Jamie had done so far and announced, “Well first, I think it’s inside out.” We worked together to invert it. Jamie slipped it on and looked over her shoulder.

“Button it up?”

The enclosure wasn’t buttons but it looked simple, two sets of three loops on one part and three catches on the other. I supposed that meant it was adjustable. I hooked the loosest first and asked Jamie how that felt. She didn’t seem pleased. The straps slid around and the back was riding up. I tried the next set of hooks but it was still riding up.

“It feels lousy.”

“We should try another one.”

Jamie groaned. “I loathe shopping for clothes. Particularly in places like this. She told me that all these are minimizers. They’ll make this stuff look smaller and they’re supposed to leave less of a trace under a t-shirt.”

Fortunately, the next bra was a much easier fit, it settled on Jamie’s shoulders and the band looked right as well. I hoped I was doing it correctly. I didn’t know any secrets for fitting. I wished I had Ms. Ishida around to help.

Jamie stretched her arms and bent a few ways. “Alright. This’ll do. Umm… You need any help yourself?” I caught a glimpse of her flowing front wrapped in a soft sheen of tan polyester before she grabbed her shirt like a cloth shield.

I picked a bra out of my hand and set the others and my top aside. I turned my back to Jamie and slipped the bra up my shoulders. I tried first to think of a back brace but the analogy soon failed me as new parts of my anatomy were covered by the cups. It felt like a strange, small drape till Jamie’s hands worked at the back. It took her a little longer than me but it soon felt secure. I checked the straps and the back.

I was lucky. The first one I put on felt like a good fit. Nothing felt pinched or strained in any way. I moved my arms. I didn’t have any complaints in spite of the strange sensations.

I edged over to the mirror. I saw myself in the mirror. At least, what I had become.

Seeing it all together was a different matter. A few red locks landed on my bare neck and few near my straps. The image in the mirror was lovely, a cute anime girl with my large glasses still perched on her tiny nose. The shape of my chest complimented the dive my waist took and the slow, outward-flow of my hips. It was a girlish form with just a trace of cleavage between the cups.

With discomfort on her face, Jamie joined me in the mirror. Where my form was a work of feminine subtly and softness, Jamie’s form looked like it was at the point of saturation. The minimizer bra gave her a nice, high valley of cleavage over her covered chest. She did look smaller with the bra on, but not by much.

She slipped her shirt on and turned her upper-half left and right. She pressed on her chest a little and grimaced. “It’s tingly but it’ll do, I guess. I wish I didn’t need it.” After a moment, she whimpered and looked to me. “So you gonna get dressed so we can buy these and go?”

The clerk didn’t have a problem with us wearing the items. She just scanned another pair of the same type and price. The final tally was a bit more than I was hoping to pay. Jamie and I haggled with one another a bit.

“You still owe me for train passes yesterday.”

“Does that mean you’ll pay for today’s passes?”

She paused on that, reaching for the train pass Kazu had given her in pocket.

After a minute of murmuring, and what seemed like mental math, she nodded and said, “Deal.”

The clerk had turned around and was putting some items away. I looked at her back. The long ponytail she wore was actually clipped to her. It wasn’t a part of her hair. I was intrigued.

She turned back and smiled her practiced smile. I told her I would pay for both and added, “That’s a lovely ponytail you have.”

She touched it a moment, like a reassurance. “Oh! Why thank you! You both have lovely hair as well.” She looked at me, then Jamie. “You have vibrant color and I totally adore how long your hair is. I could do amazing things with hair that long.”

Jamie gave a forced smile and said, “I’m sure.”

She rang up the purchases.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but are you two related?”

We looked at one another and I answered, “We’re not.”

“My apologies. Just a hunch. Mine are more often wrong. Four-thousand yen total.”

That pretty well halved my money.

I paid but with a slow hand to give her the yen bills. I asked, “Why do you wear a clip-on ponytail?”

She accepted the money, placed it in the register, and printed up a receipt. She seemed to consider my question and answered, “It’s a memory. A special one. That’s all I can say. I only wear it some days. I can’t wear it when I jog or at the beach, which is a shame. But…” She shrugged and quickly changed gears. “Oh! Do you know about the cherry blossom viewing?” She held up the same flyer the little girl gave us in the morning. We nodded together. I hadn’t paid much attention to the flowers since then. There did seem to be more in other direction.        

She handed a receipt to me and smiled, “Truly, it’s so uncanny. You two seem so much like sisters.”

Jamie gave up holding her tongue. “Will you just stop it? We aren’t sisters. Any talk of it is just inane prattle.”

The clerk looked over at Jamie, who added, “So are we done here?”

The girl bowed respectfully and gave us another sample of her practiced smile. “That was rude of me. Please accept my humble apology for that.”

Jamie had turned her attention to the door. “Okay. Well, umm… thanks for your assistance.” Jamie walked to the door. I followed her, only looking back once at the female clerk. I didn’t know her name but I felt a moment of empathy as she rose back up and caressed the length of her ponytail with her hand.

-----

Things felt different when we were outside. I noticed the tufts of blossoming trees from behind buildings, peeking around corners. I somehow knew they had been there before but now my attention was drawn to them. As I looked back, I was amazed at how many we had passed. They looked to be in full bloom with the warmth of the day.

I decided to call Jamie on what she’d said. “Why’d you snap at her?”

“I’ve heard just about enough about ‘oh you are like this or that’. I’ll be the one to tell others what I’m like. I’ll tell them who I am.”

“Still, I don’t think she meant anything by it.”

She paused mid-step. “Oh really? And who says she’s not just some mouthpiece of all this… of Hitomi?”

I couldn’t disprove it. But it led back onto the slippery slope of who to trust.

Jamie kept her hands near her chest but seemed to have found an easier stride. I found I could keep up without feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t fight her statement. She ended the discussion with, “I’m not out here to gossip anyway. I don’t care what some weird girl with a five-foot ‘memento’ thinks or what my ex-female girlfriend thinks. I just care about figuring all this out and stopping it… so I can get my freaking life back.”

We walked the rest of the way to the elevated train in silence.
Next part - Chapter 18 (Part 2) - [link]

Previous and Other Chapters and Materials - [link]

The break in the title is intentional.

I like this chapter a little more but I like the second half a lot more than I like the first half.

This has been a long time in coming...

All rights reserved by myself. Do not repost this without my permission. I heartily approve of fan art though.

This is a long story and the collective work of so many to get it right. So much has gone into this that I'm hesitant to post it but I need to put it out there. That said, I think I'll probably rewrite it eventually.

Tell me what you think.

I have never been to Japan. I did a lot of research to remedy this but I eventually found a plot reason why this place isn't a perfect replica of Japan...which helped. Forgive my flaws *bows*. I hope and pray my story ultimately does honor to a country I deeply respect.

At this point, the foreshadowing and the hints are laid on thick...but the answers are starting to come.
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:icontomjhyde:
Once again, we have a quiet chapter with a fair amount of teasing for future events. There’s not a lot of emotional events to respond to here, despite Jamie’s sudden growth spurt. Most of it is simple action and direct scenes.

I’ve been reading a few books about “Showing and Telling” and I’ve found you’re very talented and learning how switch back and forth. We’ll have a few chapters where we spend most of our time in the character’s heads, learning about their emotions and mental states. Then we’ll have chapters like this, which move the story along effectively and allowing us to explore this world you’ve built. The pacing is very effective.

Wonk.
-Ouch, Poor Kimi/Jamie. She didn’t even get away with a C-Cup. I think you got a little bit evil on the poor character.
-The comment “It seems you want it like nothing has changed” doesn’t really make any sense to me. What are you trying to say here?
-Okay, I know that in stories like this, names are serious issues. But why do you keep flipping between ‘Jamie,’ Jamie, ‘Kimi’ and Kimi? Okay, the name seems to change with the personality depending on the moment, but is that all?
-I never connected the ‘fatal flaw’ with Jamie’s confession. But apparently, Carolyn knew Jamie better than he hoped.
-Carolyn’s little musical number was wonderful! But when Jamie took Carolyn up on the offer to slug him, it was even better.
-You enjoy working my brain far too much in this story, forcing me to think about everything. It’s a great idea to keep your tale in my head because I need to access it all the time! Now I have to ponder where I’ve seen cats in the story before.
-You’re giving us a blow-by-blow experience of what it means to be female for the first time and it’s a very effective storytelling method.
-I wish we could have gotten a name for the clerk. I feel like she’s part of this entire ordeal with the bit about the ponytail.
What do you think?
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:iconon2xsecretprobation:
On2XSecretProbation Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Oh Jamie...you sure are paranoid. Not enough I'd say if two people gave you a flyer about an event and you failed to notice that...Kelly at least noticed.

Also yay! More Carolyn!
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:iconmajorkerina:
majorkerina Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014  Student Writer
^_^
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:iconluminoustrance:
luminoustrance Featured By Owner May 18, 2012
And it was at this point that Jamie became "Cursed with Awesome." :D
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:iconmajorkerina:
majorkerina Featured By Owner May 19, 2012  Student Writer
^_^ Hehe
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:iconrestlesslucidity:
RestlessLucidity Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
...meanwhile, Keiko is back at Mecchen who, just after having her legs change, is going to have to deal with this. I don't feel as much sympathy for her, though, because she has Ms. Ishida to help her. ;P

I like to think that the turtle is symbolic of Kimi, who tends to 'hide in her shell' often. I'm amazed Carloyn didn't make some smart comment to Kimi along those lines... it seems like it would've fit the scene. Ah, well.

I caught that. The clerk could very well be a mouthpiece for whomever is doing this and hint toward Hitomi especially because she commented on how they looked like sisters.

This chapter made me like Carolyn a lot more. I hope he'll be in a future chapter or book of the story. Oh, and I read a comment somewhere. If you ever have this published as a book, tell me the name (if it doesn't end up being titled Mecchen House) and where I can get it. I would be more than willing to go to wherever you'd be selling them to get a copy. Actually, I'd get multiple. One for me, one backup for me, and the rest would be for friends and family. I don't know if you've considered it as a manga, but honestly I think it would fit just as well being a manga as it would being a book. Take your pick. :D

All for now. I need to read the next part before I drive myself insane.
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:iconmajorkerina:
majorkerina Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Student Writer
^_^ Perhaps...but yes, Ms. Ishida around makes things betterer.

Glad to hear. I do like Carolyn muchly ^^. And aww. Thank you. I've considered it. I'd love to see a long-term project of an anime opening sequence to Mecchen House ^^.

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:iconrestlesslucidity:
RestlessLucidity Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
...

*imagines Katsumi in an anime opening*

...

*imagines all of the other characters as well*

...I think that her ego is big enough without me putting her before the others, but I think that I'm justified in imagining her in an opening first.

...what would the song for it be?

Wow. I have to think about that one...
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:iconmajorkerina:
majorkerina Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Student Writer
^_^ Hmm...I actually include most Touhou remixes when imagining it.

[link] - This one is particularly cute.
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:iconrestlesslucidity:
RestlessLucidity Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I didn't realize how high my volume was before I clicked that. That first line almost broke my ears... @_@

Other than that, though... awesome! I especially liked how they depicted Patchouli and Chen here. They were two of my favorites to begin with, though. :D
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:iconmajorkerina:
majorkerina Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2011  Student Writer
@_@ Eep...sorry for not giving a heads up.

^_^ They're great. My favs are the Layla work and a couple of the others. Also the one anime. Although the best is the one I posted on recently. That was visually amazing.
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