The waiting room was furnished well enough, considering the circumstances. Despite the man with the cigar’s reassurances, Jeanine did not feel safe in this otherwise sterile facility. She did not remember being abducted, nor did she remember changing into this blue jumpsuit. She couldn’t imagine that she chose it of her own free will. No one so far had had the courtesy to inform her why she was here or what they wanted from her, and the provided coffee and sandwiches answered none of her questions.

“Help me out here,” the man pleaded with her. “What is going on in your life that’s so important? We’re trying to help you.”

Jeanine was hesitant to speak to the man, whose shirt and tie were loud enough to strain her eyes and ears alike. He leered over her expectantly, and she was hesitant to validate his unappealing demeanor.

“I’m doing okay,” she said. “Could be better. I’m not saying anything until you tell me what’s going on.”

“See, our computer says that there’s an 78% chance that we’re here to help you hold onto your credit cards. Does that seem familiar at all?”

Jeanine examined him a moment and shook her head. She didn’t even have a credit card, to her knowledge.

“Now you let me know if you think of something, whatever could be the central problem in your life. My colleague is working your case, and it’s in all of our best interests that we solve whatever crisis you might be experiencing.” He resumed his sideways glance. “You must be so uncomfortable in there, a beautiful woman like you. I got a good look at your body earlier, hubba hubba, if you don’t mind my saying.”

He stood over her, waiting for a response. “Oh,” she said eventually, though she was still bewildered.

“I’m going to confer with my colleague. If you think of anything, please let us know as soon as you can. Otherwise my friend will be trapped in your body forever, and I’m sure you wear it better than he does.”

The door behind him slid into the ceiling, and he turned and waved as it slammed back to the ground. She saw no handle on the door, or any button on the wall. It seemed that he had activated the mechanism with a pocket calculator as gaudy as himself.

As she began to examine the walls, she caught a glimpse of herself in the one-way mirror. She seemed so tall, with such a square and rugged jaw. The jumpsuit actually suited her, in an odd way, with this face and this haircut. She tossed her head back and smiled at the flare of her now prominent nose.

As she practiced her masculine poses, she considered the central problem of her life. The opportunity had never presented itself, and she wasn’t certain she would ever be ready for the commitment and the upheaval involved, but as she watched her new face smile in a way her old one never managed, she was able to feel, as she hadn’t been able for years.

“Have you had any ideas on what we might need to help you with?”

She imagined her reflection trapped in her body forever. A terrible fate, indeed.

“It’s probably the credit cards. You should really nail the credit cards.”

By @nohoperadio - Leah Lindsaychen

Facilitator and Proprietor of Tales of Insecurity, a podcast of post-modern existential horror. I like to make the best of a bad situation, and also to make better ones. I'm here to be helpful!

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