Chapter 35 - Visiting Hours

Masquerades 101 by Emily


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Synopsis: Nicole confronts the aftermath of the attack

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Tyler


Josh went to his room after I made the wish. He was disappointed that I acted without consulting anyone else. Maybe I should’ve. Or maybe Josh realized I needed time alone with all of these thoughts and emotions. 


I’m confused over what happened this semester. I had so many thoughts swirling through my head. It was hard to make sense of them all.


I dated, kissed, had sex with, and fell in love with a guy. I’m not gay. At least that’s what I’ve told myself. It’s also what I told anyone else who thought my feminine expression meant I was.


Was it even gay if this guy was in my girlfriend’s body?


Would it have made a difference to me if Victor was trans? Shit - I actually thought Victor was. But that was Nicole.


If Victor… Vicky was indeed trans, it made me feel a little bit better. But Josh said Victor was a straight guy. Josh didn’t say whether or not Victor was queer.


What about my girlfriend? Oh god, is Nicole even my girlfriend anymore? I’ve been dating the person in her body. Not her. 


Nicole - in Victor’s body was angry with me. As if she wants nothing to do with me anymore. I know she's got to be hurting and I want to help. Probably better to give her the space she wants.


And what about Victor... Vicky? 


I fell in love with Vicky. More so than Nicole. I proposed to her. Am I engaged to Victor?

Will Victor still love me? Could I continue to date him? This must’ve been hard on Victor. He must have had to learn makeup, fashion, and all kinds of girl things to pass as her.


I suddenly felt jealous of Victor. He got what I could only have dreamt of. What if I woke up tomorrow as a girl? It would actually be awesome in a way. I could let Taylor out full time.


I dialed Nicole’s number again. It went to voicemail and I didn’t leave a message.


Here are my biggest questions. Who do I want to be with? Would I be sad if Nicole broke up with me? Would I be sad if Victor broke up with me?


I think I know the answers. It’s frightening to know what that could mean.


I feel like I need someone to talk to about this. Usually that would be Josh. But I don’t feel like talking to him right now after what he’s done. There’s always Madison, but I think she’s got very similar problems to me right now.


“Come on Nicole, why aren’t you answering?”


* * *


Nicole



This was the second time in a month I found myself at the hospital.


My arm was wrapped in bandages. Apparently Brandon scratched me pretty good while he was struggling. I didn’t notice until I got to the hospital and my forearm started to sting.


I expected to have more injuries. I had a significant knot in the back of my head where it hit my desk. My wrists were red and raw from where Brandon held me down and I struggled. 


A few times I felt pain in places the doctors said were fine. I nicknamed it “phantom pain.” My face. My ribs. I didn't tell the doctors the real reason why they hurt. That’s because I had the memories of getting beaten and kicked there. But those memories happened when I was in Victor’s body. My mind was telling me it happened to me and my body was confused.


I asked the doctors and nurses several times what happened to Victor. Nobody gave me a straight answer. The longer this went on, the more worried I became.


The police wanted my account of what happened. The same officers I talked to 3 weeks ago were there. Naturally, they didn’t recognize me in my old body. I did my best to keep the facts straight. Brandon tailed Victor back to his apartment. I tried to hint to the officers that Victor had been in communication with them since the Halloween incident and they did nothing. They didn’t like what I was insinuating. I returned to the facts. I said Victor texted me, and I came to help. From that point, I didn’t need to mention the swap as the rest of the details were all the truth. The police asked again what Brandon wanted from Victor. I didn't give them any new information.


How do I tell them he can glamor people? I don’t know how it works, but him sweet talking some cops to get out of custody is certainly a concern I had. I dropped some hints that he’s very persuasive, and the cops assured me he wasn’t going anywhere.


They also assured me they were going to stop him from attacking me again, and we see how well that did. I kept that last thought to myself.


Aside from the bumps, bruises and the phantom pain, I was in decent shape for them to release me. What was I going to do? Where was I going to go? It felt like I had no direction anymore. I got my body back. Brandon is in custody. What do I do now?


Speaking of my body. I took a deep breath and enjoyed being “home” for a minute. I looked down at it. Looked at my hands. My arms. My breasts. I appears Victor kept it in pretty decent shape. Wounds from earlier aside of course. I looked at the oversized t-shirt I was wearing. Actually, I don’t remember putting it on. It’s one of mine - I mean one of Victor’s. Someone must’ve put it on me before we left the apartment and discarded the ripped one.


They let me clean up, so I used the bathroom where I was finally able to see my reflection again after 3 months. I told myself to not look at the injuries. I came here to see myself. While it was nice to see myself again, my hair was a mess. Victor’s shirt looked comically large on me.


Just focus on me. I smiled at my reflection. “Hello old friend.” I said I took a moment to touch my face. To touch my hands. My feminine curves. My breasts. It wasn’t erotic, but it was definitely euphoric. What I noticed most is the haze of the dysphoria that I've felt for months was gone. I could think clearly. My reflection isn’t causing me any distress… other than my injuries.


My injuries. No, don’t look. My daydream of euphoria suddenly ended as I saw reality. I had blood stains on my hands, arms, and jeans. The bandage wrapped arm. This isn’t over. I might be back in my body, but I’m still in the middle of a nightmare. I can’t rest until I find Vicky and make sure Brandon stays locked up.


I put soap on my hands and tried to get the stains off my hands. It wasn’t perfect. I just wanted to get out of here.


I walked out of the hospital room, down the hall and exited to the waiting room where I found Lexi and Mads waiting for me.


They instantly got up and gave me a hug.


“They haven’t told me anything about Vicky yet,” I said to them.


“Us neither” Lexi replied. “We kept asking, but they kept saying “family only.””


I turned to the exit and I saw Mr. and Mrs. Machado come into the waiting room followed by Hanna. They recognized me instantly. My first thought is how I haven’t seen Mr. Machado since I screwed up that meeting with Aunt Shirley, but that’s so insignificant at this point, I was angry my mind even brought it up.


It was Mrs. Machado that spoke up first. “Nicole, what happened?”


She called me Nicole? How does she know who I am? “I was attacked,” I replied. “Victor came to my rescue.” 


“I heard he was attacked and you came to his rescue.” Mr. Machado said.


“Right,” I said. I realized the body swap was confusing me too. Where does the lie end and where does the truth begin? “It’s been a long day...”


“It’s OK.” Mrs. Machado hugged me. I gasped thinking a hug would hurt my phantom rib pain, but it didn’t. The hug felt warm and loving. 


Her son was in the ER and she was calming me down? A complete stranger? I started crying. “I’m so sorry Mom,” I said, embracing her. “I wasn’t strong enough.” Oh shit, I called her Mom. I hope she doesn’t let go.


“It’s not your fault, honey,” she told me. I wanted to believe her. But I felt her rub my back, and the tears continued to flow.


I stayed in Mrs. Machado’s embrace for what felt like minutes. Eventually, I let go and I let them check in to see their son. I pulled Hanna to the side. 


“Hanna, I’m Nicole again.” I whispered.


“Nicole?” she whispered back. “So Victor is the one…” She wasn’t able to finish her sentence as she choked up. She clearly loved her brother as he loved her.


I reached out and held her hand. I saw Hanna’s eyes drop down to our hands where she saw the engagement ring on my finger.


She lifted our hands up to get a better look at the ring. “It’s so pretty.” she said through her tears. “What’s going to happen now?”


“We all got into a fight this afternoon.” I explained. “I said things I didn't mean. Tyler knows the truth now.”


“I just wanted us all to be sisters.” Hanna said.


A doctor came into the waiting room and summoned the Machados. “Mr. and Mrs. Machado?” he said. With that, Victor’s mom, dad, and Hanna left me and followed the doctor.


“We should get going.” Mads said to me. “We all will need a good night’s sleep.”


“You go.” I replied. “I have to know how she’s doing. I should wait until they get back.”


Madison held my hand. “We’ll all wait then.”


The 3 of us sat down and waited. We lost track of time. We sat there in silence. I had my best friends on either side of me holding my hands. It was at this moment that I realized that Vicky had really become one of us. She was one of the girls. Part of our sisterhood. I don't think I ever really realized how much she meant to Lexi. How much she meant to Mads. How much she meant to me.


Eventually the Machados came back into the waiting room. They wore sadness and tears on their faces.


I stood up ready to hear the truth.


“Victor’s in a coma.” Mr. Machado said.


My heart sank and I couldn’t stop the tears. That should’ve been me.


* * *


Everyone insisted we go home. I wanted to stay. I had to stay with Victor. Lexi and Mads dragged me home. Mads insisted I take her coat to wear. But I didn’t want her to be without one. She eventually won because I didn't want to fight over something so trivial as a coat.


We rode to campus in silence. We dropped off Mads first, then Lexi parked the car and she walked me to her dorm. Or I guess it’s my dorm again. She opened the door and helped me to my old room.


“Can I get you anything?” Lexi asked.


“No,” I replied. “I think I’m OK.”


She gave me that look. She knew I was not OK. She also knew I didn't want to argue anymore. “Do not hesitate to ask, Nicole.” she finally said.


I nodded and she left my room.


I kicked off my sneakers and I crawled into bed fully clothed. Except for the t-shirt, Vicky put these clothes on me, and I wasn’t ready to take them off.


* * *


When I woke up, it was a dark rainy morning. I half expected sunshine to wash away the events of the previous day. They were fresh in my mind. I didn’t get much sleep. I tossed and turned and the events back at Victor’s apartment kept replaying in my head. Was there something I could’ve done differently?


I sat up in bed for a long while before finding the motivation to stand up. I glanced at the clock. 7:30. On a typical Sunday I would've slept in longer. But there’s nothing typical about today. I don't think I could even fall back asleep if I tried.


When I did finally get out of bed, I looked at my desk area, there were new things there that weren’t there when this was my room.


Pinned to the corkboard was a copy of the photo booth pictures Vicky and I took together. I don't remember what I did with my copy. I looked at the pictures. The first one was the two of us smiling. The second one we stuck our tongues out at the camera. I was strangling Vicky in the third one. That gave me a chuckle because we were both laughing as I was doing it. The fourth picture we were kissing that toy skull. 


Speaking of which. The toy skull was sitting there right on the desk. I looked at it and let the fun memory push away the bad memories momentarily. I smiled and remembered all of the crazy things Vicky did for me that day.


Sitting on the desk was a new picture frame. I picked it up. It was a selfie of Vicky and Tyler at the river. Vicky and Tyler looked so happy. Next to that frame was an older frame that I put there of me and Tyler from last year’s Spring festival. I picked that up and I compared the two. It was painfully obvious the people in the newer picture were happier than the people in the older picture. I set both frames back down.


There was a stack of books on the desk. Books for Vicky’s art classes. There was also a binder. I opened it. It was full of notes from the Marketing class that Vicky took from me. It occurred to me that I’m going to have to figure out how to finish these classes without having gone to any of them all semester.


I moved onto the closet. Hanging there were many of my winter clothes. Some of the clothes I didn't recognize. Things I didn’t buy. I pulled out a teal sweater dress. It was soft and cute and casual. Totally Vicky’s style. I recall seeing her wearing this sometime last week. She looked great in it. I hung the dress back up.


My eye caught a small decorative box on the top of the dresser. I picked it up and opened it. It was an empty ring box. This must’ve been the box the engagement ring came in. 


I looked at the engagement ring on my left hand. A gold band. An emerald-cut diamond. I had dreamed about Tyler proposing. Although in my daydreams I had a different ring image in my mind. Maybe it’s different in real life because Tyler didn’t propose to me. He proposed to Vicky. This is Vicky’s ring. 


I slid the ring off my finger, walked to the bathroom, washed it off and placed it carefully in the box. I place the box back on the dresser.


I should get back to the hospital. I need to be there for her.


I decided to shower first.


I made my way to the bathroom and closed the door behind. I turned the water on to heat up. I took off the oversized t-shirt. I then realized my bra was stained with blood. I took that off next. Then I took off my jeans and panties and walked into the shower. I left the bandages on.


I let the water run off me.


The last time I was in here… was with Vicky. We showered together. That was a nice good memory too.


But she’s in the hospital in a coma. And I’m here.


I saw the hospital bracelet still on my wrist. I tugged at it until it ripped off. That’s when I noticed my fingernails. I still had dried blood stuck under them. I tried scrubbing them. I noticed blood stains on my chest. I scrubbed them. The redness wasn’t coming off. I scrubbed harder. As I was getting frustrated I could feel the tears roll down my cheek.


I couldn’t get it off. I started crying and sat down on the cold shower floor. The flood gates opened and I wept for all that I’ve lost.


I thought coming back to my body would fix everything. I imagined that Victor and I would be celebrating returning to our bodies. Maybe a celebratory Malbec Monday. We’d laugh at all of the crazy stuff we did when we were each other.


But now. Everything feels wrong. I have so many conflicting thoughts. I was angry yesterday. But for all of the wrong reasons. I broke up Vicky and Tyler. They were happier than we ever were and I ruined it. My jealousy got the better of me. Then Brandon happened. He tried to rape me. He tried to kill me. I felt powerless at first. Then I choked him. I tried to kill him. His blood had stained my hands and skin. While he tried to kill me, he may have succeeded with Vicky. The person in a coma in the hospital should’ve been me. After everything that happened yesterday, why am I the one still standing? Why is Vicky the one in the hospital? It should’ve been me. I’m the awful person. I should’ve been the one to be punished.


* * *


I don’t know how long I was in the shower. But I do know when the water started to turn cold is when I stood up and turned it off.


I returned to my room, dried off and put on clean clothes. I got a new pair of jeans and a turtleneck shirt and put them on.


I looked at the balled up blood stain clothes from yesterday. Do I attempt to wash them or throw them away? I left them in a pile on my bedroom floor to deal with another day.


I walked out to the quiet kitchen. Apparently Lexi was still asleep.


My cellphone was sitting on the counter where Vicky must’ve left it yesterday. I picked it up and unlocked it. My help message to her was the last thing on the screen. I also had several missed calls. All from Tyler.


Do I want to talk to Tyler right now? I don’t.


But they deserve to know.


I called back and the phone started to ring.


Tyler answered. “Hey.”


“Hey.” I responded.


“I was trying to call you both.” they said.


“I saw.” I said. I took a deep breath. “Tyler, we swapped back.”


“I know.”


“Something bad also happened.”


They were silent.


“We were attacked by Brandon.” I said. I took another breath. “Vicky… she’s.” I choked up trying to get my words out. “She’s at the hospital. She’s in a coma.”


Tyler was silent on the other end of the line. They finally broke the silence. “Is there anything I can do?”


“I don’t know.” I said. “I want to go back there. I want to be by her side. This is my fault. I’m just waiting for Lexi to wake up.”


“Nicole, this is not your fault.”


“I should be the one in the hospital.”


“Stop that.” they said. “Stop that kind of talk now. It’s not your fault. If anything it’s mine. Do you need a ride?”


“Yeah.” I responded. “I could use a ride.” 


“I’ll be right over.” they said, hanging up.


I looked around for my purse and jacket and grabbed a yogurt from the fridge. I then collected my things and walked out of my apartment.


* * *


Tyler


Nicole and I rode to the hospital in silence. I kept the radio off and we both just listened to the sound of the windshield wipers. Saying it was awkward was an understatement. There was a lot to talk about. Where to begin?


I wanted to talk about her. About us. About Vicky. About Victor. About Brandon. About what actually happened these past 3 months?


It was Nicole who broke the silence first. “You made another wish, didn’t you?”


“Yeah.” I responded. “I wished for you and Vicky to return to your original bodies.”


Nicole started to cry. “I figured that’s what happened. It should’ve been me in the hospital.”


I grabbed her hand with my free hand. “Nobody should be in the hospital.”


“If you didn’t make the wish, it would’ve been me. It should’ve been me.”


“If I didn’t make the first wish, none of this would’ve happened.”


She didn’t say anything.


I thought back to Josh’s insistence that I didn’t make a wish in haste. Is this the consequence? “Listen, I didn’t know Brandon would attack you both last night.” I said. “I just wanted things to go back to normal.”


She scrunched her eyebrows for a moment as she contemplated that. “I don't think things will ever go back to normal. Too much has happened. Vicky and I are different people than we were in August.”


She’s right. “You’re right, even I'm different too.” I replied. “I can’t go back to the way we were before.”


“About that,” she said, squeezing my hand. “Tyler, There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you for a few months now.”


I let her continue.


“I’m sorry.” she said. “I had no idea what dysphoria was until I experienced it first hand. I was a cruel girlfriend to you.”


I nodded. “I’m sorry I did this to you. It was an offhand statement. I didn't believe in genies and I didn’t expect that offhand comment to upend all of our lives.”


“Since you made a new wish, I assume you found the genie?”


“I did.”


“We looked all over for it for months.”


“It was in my living room the entire time.”


“I have so many questions for it”


“Well, the genie wants to stay anonymous.” I replied. Josh hinted to me as much.


“Oh.” she said.


I pulled into the visitor parking lot of the hospital and parked my car. 


Nicole turned to me. “Thank you for the ride. I’ll let you know any news I find out.”


“You don't want me to go with you? But I’m your-” I stopped short and realized what I was about to say wasn’t true anymore.


“Tyler,” she said, looking directly at me.


We made eye contact. Her eyes were watery. I looked down, trying to avoid eye contact and noticed our holding hands. I was holding her left hand and realized the ring I gave her… that I gave Vicky wasn’t there. I knew what she was about to say. I braced myself for the words I dreaded to hear. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes too.


“We haven’t actually dated in 3 months.” she said.


I nodded and wiped a tear from my cheek.


“You’ve moved on.” she said. “I’ve moved on. We should make this official.”


She wants to make our breakup official. I knew it was coming, but that didn’t stop it from hurting any less. “But I haven’t moved on.” I said. “I thought I was dating you up until yesterday.”


“I bet somewhere deep down you know that isn’t true. You’ve been in denial. You knew you were dating Vicky for a while now.”


I nodded. “I had a feeling. I didn’t want to admit it.”


“I regret yesterday. I was in a jealous rage. I saw how happy you and Vicky were. I saw the engagement ring. I didn’t know how to process it. I mean. I’m still angry. But I’m not angry at her stealing you. I’m angry at my whole life being stolen. I blamed her.”


“You should be blaming me.”


“I should.” I said. “But I can’t. Sure I’m angry. Those were the worst 3 months I’ve ever experienced. For all the shit I did to Vicky, she still forgave me. So I’m going to pay it forward and forgive you. You didn’t know what you did. But you did break up with me when you made that wish for a new girlfriend. So that part you can’t undo.”


“What would’ve happened if I didn’t make that first wish?”


“Maybe we would’ve continued to date for a little longer.” she said. “Eventually your dysphoria and my desire for something more would’ve eaten away at both of us. We would’ve broken up eventually anyway.”


I nodded. “The genie said something very similar.”


“Tyler, I want to still be friends.” she said. “You’ve been at my side for such a long time, I don't want to lose you as a friend.”


“You won’t.” I replied. “We can still be friends.”


We both let that moment hang in the air for a bit. Breakups suck, and we were both teary-eyed, despite knowing it was for the best.


I saw a smile form on her face and she turned back to me. “So,” she said. “When do I get to meet Taylor?”


I laughed through my tears. “I’m sorry I kept her from you for so long.”


“Vicky said good things about her. I want to meet her.”


“Soon.” I said. “Let’s all get through this first.”


“Do you want me to text you when she’s awake?”


“He.” I replied.


She shook her head. “We don't know that yet.”


“You’re right.” I replied. “I of all people need to keep an open mind. I’m just not ready yet. I’m trying though.”


She squeezed my hand and got out of the car. I sat there and watched my now ex-girlfriend walk away from me and into the hospital.


* * *


Nicole


When I left Tyler’s car I pulled out my phone and texted Hanna. “I’m at the hospital. Any word?”


She replied quickly. “Be right down.”


I met Hanna in the waiting room.


“No change,” she said. “It’s still family only.”


“Then I’ll just stay-”


“You’re our sister,” she interrupted. “You can come.”


I felt a warm feeling of euphoria from her calling me her sister - even though I’m back in my original body.


She led me to the receptionist. It was a different receptionist from last night. I didn't want to be recognized by any of the hospital staff. 


“This is my sister, Nicole Machado.” Hanna said. “She’s going to see my brother, Victor Machado.”


She handed me a visitor sticker to tape to my shirt and a clipboard to sign in. 


I signed my name as “Nicole Machado.” “Um, what's today's date?” I asked.


“November 19th” the receptionist replied.


I wrote that down, and the time, which was 10:05 AM. I gave the receptionist back the clipboard.


I followed Hanna through the hospital. She held my hand. “Mom and Dad went out for breakfast after you texted me,” she said. “They thought you would like some time alone with him.”


“I’m not intruding?” I asked. 


“I meant what I said back there.” she said. “I called you my sister yesterday. I’m not going to stop today.”


“And your parents?”


“They were OK with it.” she said. “I can be quite convincing.”


I let out a chuckle. “Victor said you got your way a lot.”


She chuckled too. “You’ll learn that about me too.”


“Hanna, there was something Vicky told me yesterday” I said. “Did you two ever fight?”


“Oh my god” Hanna replied. “All of the time.”


“And you forgave each other?”


She stopped and looked at me like I was crazy. “Always.”


“She forgave me.” I said, choking up. “She said that’s what sisters do.”


Hanna gave me a hug. “That’s what they do, Nicole.”


We continued walking and came to Victor’s room. I found him there hooked up to all sorts of beeping machines. He looked worse than he did last night. His one eye was taped shut. His other eye was black and blue. So was his nose. He had a breathing apparatus coming out of his mouth.


Less than 24 hours ago I was in that body. To see it like this now made me ill.


I sat down in a vacant chair next to him. I grabbed the nearest hand which was also hooked up to wires and tubes. “Vicky, I'm here. I’m sorry. This is all my fault. I’m going to make it up to you. I’m not going anywhere until you wake up and get better.”



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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for my to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

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Joejedfjsj

Well that’s a bit of a problem. With the genie staying hidden, I’m guessing that removes the chance of the others making a wish. Which leaves Tyler as the only one who can fix all of this. And he only has one wish left. Which leaves me with a number of questions. But the main one is can you wish for more wishes
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Emily

Unofficially I was going by Aladdin rules. No wishing for love, resurrection, and extra wishes.
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Joejedfjsj

That complicates things just a little. It puts them under pressure since they need to figure out what to do before Vicky kicks the bucket
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Elisa

I have to say Tyler's reaction is pretty disappointing. The love the girls (including Vicky) have for each other is palpable, but Tyler's fiancee is in a coma, about to kick the bucket, and he feels no need to be there, like it doesn't really matter to him at an intrinsic level? I know he's confused and icked out, but it feels like his personal involvement and investment ends with giving Nicole a ride and just being willing to be there to support her loss/grief. I'm embarrassed for him.
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Elron

This was a real watershed chapter. I didn't expect Tyler and Nicole to break up. At least, not yet. It seems like none of these kids have learned to think before making decisions. Tyler seems to have a lot of questions about Nicole, Nicky, Victor, and Vicky. Questions Tyler should have tried to find at least a few answers to before making that wish. Maybe then Tyler would have worded his wish differently, or at least held off to think things through a little bit more. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I've also been through the "we can still be friends" part of the breakup. Seeing the person who once said they would love you forever in the arms of someone else hurts as much as the betrayal of the breakup itself. I don't know how other people do it. I suspect they still feel the sting deep down inside themselves. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ One question: "But Josh said Victor was a straight guy. Josh didn’t say whether or not Victor was queer." Is there a typo in there somewhere? With my limited vocabulary I would have thought straight and queer were opposites; so if you knew the answer to the first question the second part is redundant. Are the names right? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So Hannah is a force to be reckoned with. But a benevolent force. I like that she is not holding any grudges against Nicole. She might be the only one in this story that can claim that after the events of the last two days. Keeping the 'sisters' theme might be the only good that comes out of all this. And I wonder if Tyler will become Hannah's 'other' brother - at least at the hospital - so they can visit Victor. I know Tyler still cares deeply for Victor and/or Vicky. I guess no one really knows how long Victor will remain in a coma, or if he will even regain consciousness. Hopefully he will wake up in time for him, Nicole, and Tyler to talk things out together before any other hasty decisions (or wishes) are made. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I also liked the show of unity that Lexi and Mads presented when it was time to leave the hospital. That's how you know who your real friends are. No matter how you treated them, they still have your back. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I thought Nicole's shower introspective seemed so real - exactly how I would have expected a person in her position would be reacting to all that just happened. I also thought the blood that would not wash away was a good metaphor for the emotional scars and blood that will not heal. The emotional trauma is likely worse than the physical trauma. The one downer: "The flood gates opened and I wept for all that I’ve lost." Nicole caused most of the turmoil, pain, and suffering that everyone else is feeling right now, and she is concerned about what *she* lost. Nicole should be crying for all the ways she hurt her friends, not for herself. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The 'phantom pain' was a brilliant idea. I never would have thought about that. Nicole's and Victor's brains and bodies must be going through so much turmoil trying to reconcile. I can see why the genie strongly recommended waiting until they were asleep to swap back. It also never occurred to me that Brandon could have glammed the cops to avoid arrest and jail. Seems like that spell is short term, unless the casters have chosen to end it arbitrarily when they have used it on someone. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ There was a comment in there where Nicole asked when she would get to meet Taylor and that Vicky had told Nicole so much about her (I'm trying to avoid pronouns at this point, even if it sounds clunky). Given that Nicole was not especially friendly to Vicky leading up to the tailgater I don't recall that conversation. Am I just forgetting? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I didn't realize that Nicole didn't know who the genie was, or maybe I just forgot. I guess Josh just ran off after Tyler as "Josh: gay roommate of the betrayed, and fellow student", as far as everyone else is concerned. Maybe the genie is safe - for now. I still expect that Nicole's meltdown is going to have some radioactive fallout that reaches the ears of those in power. People who wouldn't hesitate for an instant to regain the genie's magic by any means necessary. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I imagine this was a very difficult chapter to write. How do explain feelings and emotions that are inside a character so that the readers can understand them? It's easier to explain external things like pain, smells, or taste. But inside is a mysterious place. Seems like trying to describe a picture you only saw one time, for just an instant. I think you did a great job of looking inside Nicole, and to a lesser extent, Tyler to explain what they were feeling on the inside. I suppose future chapters will delve inside of Tyler and hopefully Victor, so we can visualize what they have been going through. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Take this you paragraph separator remover++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ So I've got a lot of predictions swimming around in the bottle of Malbec, but I'm not sharing them - yet. Need to think things through a little more.
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Elron

AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Elron

Well, looks like the 'cancel' button isn't working either.
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Elron

And all of the text is there, even though the RH side is not visible. Bad editor, bad!
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Elron

<rubs editor's nose in puddle>
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Elisa

.....I didn't expect Tyler and Nicole to break up. At least, not yet. It seems like none of these kids have learned to think before making decisions. Tyler seems to have a lot of questions about Nicole, Nicky, Victor, and Vicky. Questions Tyler should have tried to find at least a few answers to before making that wish. Maybe then Tyler would have worded his wish differently, or at least held off to think things through a little bit more. .....I’ve also been through the “we can still be friends” part of the breakup. Seeing the person who once said they would love you forever in the arms of someone else hurts as much as the betrayal of the breakup itself. I don’t know how other people do it. I suspect they still feel the sting deep down inside themselves. .....One question: “But Josh said Victor was a straight guy. Josh didn’t say whether or not Victor was queer.” Is there a typo in there somewhere? With my limited vocabulary I would have thought straight and queer were opposites; so if you knew the answer to the first question the second part is redundant. Are the names right? .....So Hannah is a force to be reckoned with. But a benevolent force. I like that she is not holding any grudges against Nicole. She might be the only one in this story that can claim that after the events of the last two days. Keeping the ‘sisters’ theme might be the only good that comes out of all this. And I wonder if Tyler will become Hannah’s ‘other’ brother - at least at the hospital - so they can visit Victor. I know Tyler still cares deeply for Victor and/or Vicky. I guess no one really knows how long Victor will remain in a coma, or if he will even regain consciousness. Hopefully he will wake up in time for him, Nicole, and Tyler to talk things out together before any other hasty decisions (or wishes) are made. .....I also liked the show of unity that Lexi and Mads presented when it was time to leave the hospital. That’s how you know who your real friends are. No matter how you treated them, they still have your back. .....I thought Nicole’s shower introspective seemed so real - exactly how I would have expected a person in her position would be reacting to all that just happened. I also thought the blood that would not wash away was a good metaphor for the emotional scars and blood that will not heal. The emotional trauma is likely worse than the physical trauma. The one downer: “The flood gates opened and I wept for all that I’ve lost.” Nicole caused most of the turmoil, pain, and suffering that everyone else is feeling right now, and she is concerned about what *she* lost. Nicole should be crying for all the ways she hurt her friends, not for herself. .....The ‘phantom pain’ was a brilliant idea. I never would have thought about that. Nicole’s and Victor’s brains and bodies must be going through so much turmoil trying to reconcile. I can see why the genie strongly recommended waiting until they were asleep to swap back. It also never occurred to me that Brandon could have glammed the cops to avoid arrest and jail. Seems like that spell is short term, unless the casters have chosen to end it arbitrarily when they have used it on someone. .....There was a comment in there where Nicole asked when she would get to meet Taylor and that Vicky had told Nicole so much about her (I’m trying to avoid pronouns at this point, even if it sounds clunky). Given that Nicole was not especially friendly to Vicky leading up to the tailgater I don’t recall that conversation. Am I just forgetting? .....I didn’t realize that Nicole didn’t know who the genie was, or maybe I just forgot. I guess Josh just ran off after Tyler as “Josh: gay roommate of the betrayed, and fellow student”, as far as everyone else is concerned. Maybe the genie is safe - for now. I still expect that Nicole’s meltdown is going to have some radioactive fallout that reaches the ears of those in power. People who wouldn’t hesitate for an instant to regain the genie’s magic by any means necessary. .....I imagine this was a very difficult chapter to write. How do explain feelings and emotions that are inside a character so that the readers can understand them? It’s easier to explain external things like pain, smells, or taste. But inside is a mysterious place. Seems like trying to describe a picture you only saw one time, for just an instant. I think you did a great job of looking inside Nicole, and to a lesser extent, Tyler to explain what they were feeling on the inside. I suppose future chapters will delve inside of Tyler and hopefully Victor, so we can visualize what they have been going through. .....So I’ve got a lot of predictions swimming around in the bottle of Malbec, but I’m not sharing them - yet. Need to think things through a little more.
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Elisa

Sorry, my reformatting of your comment still cut off some words. It can be copied and pasted to Word to see the whole thing.
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marter

They should wish that Nicole and Vicky were born twin from the Machado family.
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Elron

If I find the genie I'm going to wish he would fix the review editor.
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Elron

And then Ima wishing for more chapters to review hahahaha
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