Friday, September 7, 2018

Soulmates by Roger Ley

Martin, who never quite fitted into the gender binary, finally finds a woman who understands him; by Roger Ley.

Martin had never been comfortable in his masculinity. As a child he hadn't enjoyed rough and tumble, camping, climbing trees, making campfires. His mother described him as 'gentle,' his father rustled his newspaper and tried to ignore him. The other boys derided him and occasionally beat him up. He was an easy target, being of medium height and light build. As he grew into his teens, he suffered the taunts of the football oafs, the noisy muscle heads. He found it easier to spend most of his time alone in his bedroom. Thank God for the internet. He was still interested in girls but for different reasons. It was their makeup, their hairstyles, their nail polish, their clothes, their perfumes, it was all so self-indulgent, so narcissistic. It fascinated him.

Things were easier at university. Staff and fellow students were more polite. Everybody tried hard to be PC, more tolerant of sexual preferences.

He had always liked numbers but not for their own sake, he enjoyed making use of them, and studied physics. He did his bachelor's degree at Warwick and moved to Cambridge to do his master's. It was there that he met Estella.

Looking lost, she approached him in the college refectory. "Can you tell me the way to the office?" she asked. "I'm new here." She was a few years older than him with flaming red hair, blue eyes and nicely dressed, classy but not too formal. There was something about her that captivated him.

"Over there," he said, pointing vaguely. "Er, I'll take you there, follow me." He was barely coherent as he took her to the faculty office.

A few days later he saw her in the refectory again. This time she was sitting at a table by herself. He took a deep breath and walked over with his coffee.

"Do you mind if I join you?"

She smiled up at him. "My knight in shining armour, yes, take a seat," she gestured at the one opposite.

"My name's Martin," he said.

"You're right, we haven't been introduced, I'm Estella. You can tell me all about the place.

"What do you mean?"

"Who's who in the faculty, the difficult personalities, the best places to eat, all that sort of thing. Local knowledge."

"Oh, right, yes," he said. "So, you're starting work here?"

"Yes, I'm, finishing my doctorate in particle physics." He was impressed.

They talked about everything he could think of because he was smitten and didn't want the conversation to end. He'd never felt like this about a woman before, he didn't know where the feelings were coming from.

The relationship developed slowly. Several times they met for a drink at one of the college bars, and eventually she invited him back to her flat for a meal. They went for walks or stayed in and watched films. It was during one of their Netflix evenings, as they sat side by side on the sofa, that Estella laid her hand on his thigh, then reached across to kiss him. She was tender, she stroked his cheek and led him to the bedroom. She left the lights off as they undressed and climbed into her bed together. They touched, they kissed, she stroked him to a climax. Virtually his first, in company.

"The thing is Martin," she whispered as she snuggled into his back, "I don't know how to tell you this but, I used to be a man. I had the hormone therapy and surgery several years ago. I should have told you before now, but there never seemed to be a good time."

He laughed, "Well you could say that this isn't the ideal time. Some people would be upset, but I don't mind. I always knew there was something unusual about you, something exotic."

He already knew a little about gender reassignment but now he did the research, and as time passed and their relationship continued, he considered it for himself.

He'd experimented with makeup before he'd met Estella, and he'd sometimes dressed in 'genderless' clothing, but now he wore his hair longer and they had makeup evenings together. Martin helped her when she re-coloured her hair. He was surprised to discover that she wore coloured contact lenses. They talked about his gender reassignment, jokingly at first, but it became apparent that she was all in favour.

"I know it would change our relationship but you'll still be the same person," she said.

Estella was always sensitive about showing her body and preferred that they made love in the dark. He never saw her naked, she would wear a towel and shed it as she joined him in bed, in the mornings she dressed with her back to him. It was a foible, a peccadillo, he didn't mind and wondered vaguely if her breasts were not symmetrical or she had some unsightly scarring.

He asked her about her work, she answered in generalities, speaking of Quarks, Leptons, Gluons and Photons but never discussing the specifics of her research.

She laughed, "My sole purpose in life is to make you happy Martin, to help you fulfil yourself."

Estella worked in a different part of the physics faculty, a different building. He tried to visit her one day. As he walked up the access road, he noticed that all the windows on the ground floor were covered by steel shutters. In the reception area the security guards were pleasant and understanding, but without the right pass they would not let him into Estella's laboratory. They telephoned her and she came out to speak to him. He thought she looked severe in her white lab coat and glasses.

"I'm afraid it's just not possible for you to come inside Martin. You need clearance." She leaned forward and whispered, "It's a government contract Martin, they're completely inflexible." She kissed him on the cheek and went back into the laboratory. As Martin was leaving, one of the guards apologised.

"Sorry love," he said, and Martin detected no irony in his tone. He smiled to himself as he walked away, the hormone therapy was working better than he'd realised.

A few months later he finished his master's degree, and they celebrated at the local Balti house. They drank too much and had a nightcap when they got back to her flat.

"What do you think about time travel Martin?" Estella asked him groggily as they shared the sofa.

"I'm not sure," he said. "Is it possible?" Estella leaned over and kissed him, cupped him gently, murmured something incomprehensible and led him into the bedroom.

He woke up early next morning. The weather had been hot, Estella was still asleep, lying naked on her back with the covers thrown off and her face turned away from him. He sat up and stared at her, she had an appendectomy scar three inches long, below and to the right of her navel. He had one that looked just the same, so did lots of people he supposed. It was the birthmark that bothered him, at the top of her left thigh, a port-wine stain shaped like Africa. He had an identical one of those too. He pulled the sheet over her and lay back to think.

"Sorry Martin," whispered Estella, "we can't carry on like this indefinitely. I can't keep coming back to your time every evening, my boss is questioning the energy drain, and anyway, in another few years, you will have turned into me."

4 comments:

  1. Now that is a true soulmate. Nice sci-fi take on a contemporary topic.

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  2. The idea for the story came when somebody asked me, 'Would you marry yourself?' I decided to take the question literally.

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  3. Very Interesting great imagination

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  4. There are more links to my published stories at rogerley.co.uk. You might like my time travel novel 'Chronoscape,' available on Amazon.

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