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“Steven: A Love Story”

Story by Liam Slade / Originally Published Feb 21, 2021

I had always found Steven Lewis to be a very quiet, dedicated, serious guy, and not someone I had a lot in common with. Short and thin, with close-cropped hair, he was a little pale, looking like he never got any sun. He was my accountant – his info had been passed along to me by a friend who knew I needed a good one because I ran my own home business. It was like tax accounting was Steven’s entire life. We met quarterly, discussing nothing else. I never really got to know the guy at all beyond that.

Then once, he had to miss one of our appointments because he was on health leave. I sent him a Get Well card and went to one of his associates. The next appointment he was confirmed as available again, so I went back, but when I arrived, it wasn’t Steven I saw. I was waiting in the lobby and a woman poked her head out from Steven’s office.

“Jack – come on in,” she said, in a flat businesslike tone very reminiscent of Steven’s way of talking.

I raised an eyebrow. I had never seen this woman before. But there she was in Steven’s office, talking like she knew me. She was about 5’6 with a pale complexion, dark brown hair cut short for a woman, wearing a dark gray pantsuit. As we sat together, I found she looked every bit as serious as Steven, but had a cute face with round cheeks. I wondered if maybe he had a sister who was also an absurdly dedicated accountant, just like him.

We went over my receipts and she rattled off the various claims I could make as she clicked away at the spreadsheet on her screen. She seemed to know my account as well as if she had been handling it herself for years.

“Sorry, I’m confused,” I said abruptly, “I thought I was going to be seeing Steven today. Not that you aren’t doing a great job.”

“Oh, of course,” she said with a slight exhale that I couldn’t tell whether it was embarrassment, annoyance, or some other emotion. “Jack, I am Steven.”

I was surprised and had no idea how to react. I wanted to be sensitive so all I said was, “Oh sorry, I… didn’t recognize you.”

She tightened her lips into a wincing smile. “Quite all right. I understand your confusion. I certainly didn’t expect this to happen to me.”

“Happen to you?” I asked. I had thought maybe this was a choice.

She pursed her lips as if weighing for a moment whether she wanted to tell me more – from what I could tell she was a private person who didn’t love talking about herself, and yet she also had a compulsion to be straightforward and fact-oriented.

“My body has undergone sexual automorphogenesis. In effect, it transformed itself from that of a male, into that of a female.”

“Oh, so… you had like, like, a surgery or something?”

“No, this wasn’t something I sought, it’s a purely organic development that happened over the course of several weeks earlier this year. However, I’m still myself. Steven Lewis, CPA, exactly as you’ve always known me.”

“It’s like a disease, then?”

“Not anything you could catch, don’t worry,” Steven said. “It’s a physiological anomaly, like… baldness. On an unimaginable genetic scale.”

I fell quiet. I had a ton of questions but I could tell Steven would much rather discuss my taxes. She went on and on and I only half-listened, nodding and agreeing when prompted, all the while trying to mentally superimpose the man I had known onto the woman before me.

At the end of the meeting, we shook hands – hers was now slender and feminine – and I walked out in a daze. For a day and a night I thought only about Steven. How could a man physically become a woman, and not on purpose? How did he feel about it? Didn’t he try to fight it? Did he like it better this way?

Could it happen to me?

It was becoming a problem. I couldn’t focus on my work. I couldn’t remember the term Steven had used so I searched “Man turning into a woman” online and got a lot of really weird websites. Nothing helpful.

The next week, I went to Steven’s office again. In the ground floor of the building was a little café that I had often seen him carrying a cup of coffee from. I waited until I saw him – or her now – and waved her over. She was wearing another pantsuit and blazer, with sensible flat shoes.

“Jack,” she said, obviously surprised to see me here. “What brings you here?”

“I… really like the coffee here,” I said. “Care to join me?”

She raised an eyebrow, then glanced between me and the bank of elevators.

“I’ve got a few minutes,” she said.

I had thought some about what I wanted to say, leaning forward on my elbows with purpose as she sipped, but my mind was a jumble. “You and I don’t, um… know each other that well, as, uh… people.”

“I suppose not,” she said aloofly.

“We only ever talk about taxes,” I said. “There’s got to be more to… uh, I mean, how’s life?”

She fixed me with narrow eyes and an unreadable face. “You mean since my sexual automorphogenesis.” She was so clinical, and she must have been used to people prying because it seemed like she knew exactly what I was after.

“I mean, if you want to talk about that,” I said, trying to suppress my interest.

“People are curious. Sometimes shocked. I’ll admit, I find it amusing that people should care.”

“It’s just surprising,” I said, in defense of wanting to know more. “You’re… a man, aren’t you? Inside?”

She was sitting straight up in rigid posture, her mouth virtually a straight line. Her eyes flickered between me and her coffee, then settled back on me.

Matter-of-factly she stated, “Studies have shown that over 60% of those with sexual automorphogenesis experience no dysmorphia. They regard themselves as males throughout their lives, and then once the transformation is complete, their perception shifts and they regard themselves as females. Life simply… goes on.”

I was dumbfounded. “So you don’t… feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body?”

“Mhm,” she sipped her coffee, “And I never felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. I simply… am a person in a body. Who very much enjoys her job.”

Aha. So she was a ‘her’ now.

She took another sip and flashed me a polite, tightlipped smile. “Well. This has been an interesting chat I’m sure, but I’ve got to get upstairs. I’ll see you in three months for your quarterly filing?”

“Uh, yeah, of course.”

 She left me to sit there and think about what she had told me. And what she hadn’t told me.

I wanted to know everything, including things I probably had no business knowing. The full extent of her changes. What her body was like. What was on her mind. Did she think differently, act differently – want different things now that her body was that of a female? Or did she simply… enjoy doing taxes and go on with her quiet life?

I was fixated.

At the time, I was dating this girl, Veronica. I met her at a bar a few months earlier and it was getting serious. She was a redhead – a little younger than me just out of college, petite with great perky tits. Bubbly and energetic, always wanting me to get out of the house and do things with her, but because I was self-employed I had a habit of working late into the night.

Roni was great for a fling, the occasional hookup, but we weren’t meant to last. We didn’t share the same interests. I liked sports, she liked dancing. She texted me constantly, always asking when I was going to come see her and I took as long as I could to respond, sometimes letting four or five messages go by before I’d even acknowledge her. When we would hook up, she never wanted to leave, seeming to be on the verge of tears if I broke off a cuddle. It was too intense. She wanted me to meet her parents, she wanted me to be around her friends, and I just wanted to see her sometimes when it was convenient for both of us.

But she was hot, and pretty fun to be around sometimes – I thought I could do worse, for sure, so I kept going with it for a while.

We were getting near the six-month mark. I hadn’t even realized, because things were so casual, but apparently it was all very important to her. She began to talk about moving in with me and taking this relationship to the next level. I said I wasn’t interested in that. She cried, and said she loved me, and begged me to tell her that I loved her too, but that would have been a lie, so I said we should just end it already. She cried and cried and cried, begging me to change her mind. I didn’t know how she got so obsessed with me. The crying definitely didn’t help. I had to tell her, for sure, it was over.

A little while after this was my quarterly appointment with Steven. I had been looking forward to it, because I had never shaken my curiosity about what had happened to her and wanted to continue to break the ice between us, as we had started to do over coffee. I felt like if I asked the right questions, tactfully enough, she would tell me everything I wanted to know. The truth was, Steven had been on my mind almost the entire last three months.

When I arrived at the office, I found a somewhat different Steven than even three months earlier. She had grown her hair out a little bit but wore it pulled back, very professionally, in a bun held with a clip. There was light makeup on her face, including eyeliner and lipstick, and even a pair of studded earrings. Her curves were more pronounced, her thin waist expanding into a pair of wide, round hips. She still wore -sensible flats, but with a conservative knee-length wool pencil skirt instead of pants. And under her blazer, below those now-narrow feminine shoulders, covered by a blouse with only the top button undone, were what appeared to be a rather large pair of breasts.

She really was a woman – and what a woman.

“Great to see you again Steven—uh, or should I call you…”

“I still go by Steven,” she said. “Unconventional, I know, but it’s still my name.”

As a man, Steven hadn’t had a gruff voice by any means, but now when she spoke it was most dainty and airy, peering through a pair of reading glasses at my tax forms as she read out the credits I could claim.

Her demeanor was as businesslike and straightforward as it had always been. It was clear that doing taxes was the great passion of Steven’s life and everything else was just scenery.

At the end of the meeting, we shook hands again – I took notice that her fingernails were painted a deep blue. There was this strange, lingering moment where it seemed like she wanted to say something. I was intrigued. I was about to witness behind the curtain of Steven’s poised, professional exterior. She removed her reading glasses.

“Jack,” she said, maintaining her propriety as firmly as she could while still searching for the words – an unusual sight in and of itself since she usually spoke quite clearly (most likely because she was usually talking to me about the things she was expert and most confident in.) “Do you remember our last… visit?”

I eyed her. “Y…eah,” I said trying to suppress my excitement that she was bringing it up.

“When we spoke over coffee, you had some questions about how I live my life. I’m used to these, but the way you asked… would it be wrong to guess that you had some interest in me, based on the way I look now?”

She batted a stray hair out of her eyes and tucked it behind her ears – almost girlishly.

“I…” I started to say. The answer was yes, but she was so direct that it took me off guard. “Uh, maybe. Um, a little. Yeah.”

She let her face crack the slightest of smiles. I had answered correctly.

“That’s good to hear. For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about you these last few months as well. I think I like you Jack, and I’ve never really felt this way about anyone before, so I’m curious. My doctor says that it might be a good idea to try a romantic relationship.”

This was more forward than I had ever experienced before with a woman – to the point of being clinical.

“You’re saying you want to go on a… date?” I asked, hopefully.

“If you’re interested,” she nodded, maintaining eye contact with those pretty blue eyes.

There was something so alluring about her that I couldn’t even play hard to get. My desire was written all over my face, and I saw no reason to deny it.

“Yeah, I’d… I’d love to,” I blurted, immediately embarrassed that I’d said ‘love’. I wasn’t sure what she would think of that, but it seemed to glance off her.

“Great. Friday night, I’d like to see a movie. There’s that new courtroom drama that’s supposed to be very intense.”

“Cool,” I said, momentarily at a loss for words. “Can I pick you up at seven?”

“Hm,” she said, “I think it’s more practical if we meet there.”

“Oh, yeah. Okay,” I agreed. That was true, based on where Steven had said he lived.

When it was time for the date, we met outside the theatre. She came up to me and extended her hand for a very professional, firm, shake. “Jack, glad you could come.” This was not the way I was used to my dates beginning – usually the woman and man would hug, at the very least, or perhaps offer a kiss on the cheek, but this was all new for Steven so I decided to let it be. She was dressed in her same business attire – similar skirt suit, light blue top, flat shoes.

“So, the movie’s not until 8:35,” I said, “Do you want to get something to eat first?”

“No thanks, I already ate. Usually I have a meal at 6:00 sharp, so I thought it was great to be meeting you right afterward.”

“Oh,” I said, surprised. I didn’t want to say anything, but I thought dinner had been assumed – I was starving, and I had no idea how we would fill the time leading up to the movie without a meal.

 We went into the theatre. I was a little embarrassed at the disconnect between us so I couldn’t make eye-contact. Sheepishly, I asked, “So… this is a date, right? You said you were interested in, uh, romance. You, um… you like guys? Did you always…?

She stopped and took a breath.

She paused to think – or maybe to convince herself to open up for once. “You’re the first man I’ve been interested in. Previously, all my interests were women, but I never really… had much luck. Since my transformation, my body has been responding much more strongly to the presence of men. And I know for a fact that they’re responding to me. That, I like.”

She glanced down at her own breasts to indicate them. I did too. They were beautiful, pressing tightly out under that plain businessy top. She looked at me looking at her, and flashed that quick, knowing smirk. I think I may have blushed.

They had an arcade there with a claw machine. “Want me to win you something?” I asked.

“No thanks, those things are a waste of money. And I don’t collect toys.”

“Come on, it’ll be fun,” I said, putting a dollar in and activating the claw, which bought me three tries.

She watched quietly as I dropped the claw – I was going after this little stuffed pig with glasses that I thought was cute. The first time I grabbed air. The second time I snagged it but it dropped out of the claw before reaching the chute. The third time I dropped the claw nowhere near the pig.

“Really – Jack, it’s not important,” she said.

“It’s fun,” I said, “And it’s… you know, something to do.”

I put another dollar in. Steven tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “May I?”

I said sure, step right up. She angled the claw right over to the pig and dropped it, snagging it perfectly and letting the claw carry it to the chute. She removed it and handed it to me.

“When you dropped it, it landed at what I took to be a perfect angle to obtain. Guess I was right.”

She gave it to me as a trophy and smiled. Hey, at least I got a smile.

It was one of the coldest dates I had ever been on. While we watched the movie, I didn’t feel comfortable putting my arm around her or placing my hand on her knee or anything. We got separate popcorn bags – she ate hers quietly and I devoured mine, having not had dinner.

Afterwards, we walked to the subway station and she told me about the inaccuracies she had spotted in the legal proceedings, and how the movie would have played out differently had these been fixed. She almost seemed to laugh about it, but it was way beyond me. As we parted, she said simply, “This was nice, I’d like to do it again sometime.”

In my head, I wondered, do what again? Was this a good date, for her? But I smiled and said sure, I would be up for that. I watched her leave, then turned and brought my pig home.

It was the next week that she called and left a voicemail.

“Hi Jack, this is Steven. I’m wondering if you’d like to see another movie with me this Friday night. Let me know.”

I had to be crazy to consider it. The date was a disaster, wasn’t it? There was no spark at all. It was like two friends going to see a movie together. Like brother and sister. Like… accountant and client.

But my interest in Steven hadn’t waned at all. I was still desperate to know what was beneath that skirt suit, and what was in her heart. Without her, I was just a lonely workaholic. I was definitely not accustomed to having a woman be interested in me and not try to get her into bed – and calling me again revealed that, whatever her tone was, there was interest. So I agreed to the second date, with one condition. We wouldn’t be going to the movies. She’d come to my apartment.

And I would order dinner.

She agreed, and I ordered from my favorite Chinese place. When it arrived, she gave me a lesson on the history of Chinese-American cuisine, how it differed from authentic Chinese, and how the Fortune Cookie was appropriated from Japanese culture. I found it kind of interesting but it was very unlike any date conversation I had ever had.

As we were going through out streaming options I was trying to think what might be lighter than a legal drama, and set the mood a little better. I stopped on a romantic comedy.

“How about this one?”

“I don’t think so,” she said plainly. “Do you like those kinds of movies?”

“Sometimes they’re… kind of funny, I guess,” I said, embarrassed. I was thinking of times I had cozied up with girls like Roni, or others I had dated, while watching some dorky actor run through an airport to profess his love to his charmingly clumsy but impossibly hot leading lady.

“You know, they’ve just dropped a five-part docuseries on Medieval Kings of Europe that I think would be enlightening,” she said. “Or Death Directive, a fascinating look at forensic crime solving.”

I honestly didn’t know what to say – I had definitely not asked her over to watch some boring documentary. So I took a chance and leaned in to kiss her. Normally, I would spend more time setting the mood before I made a move, but it was clear the mood wasn’t going to be any more ‘set.’

My lips pressed against hers. They were soft and inviting – quite unlike Steven herself. She seemed a little tense, unsurprisingly caught off guard. As I broke it off, I began to think maybe this was a mistake, she would slap me and run off. But would it be so bad? Then it would be over and I’d know she never wanted me.

I pulled back. She gazed at me and seemed to let my kiss linger on her lips for a moment, as if processing what had happened. For once I saw Steven caught totally off guard. I took a breath. I was about to come out and apologize, when she looked at me. That muted half-smile crossed her face and she simply said, “Okay.”

Then she leaned in and kissed me.

She kissed differently from any woman I had ever been with, perhaps because she had been a man, or perhaps because she never had done much kissing in her previous life at all, but I didn’t mind. She wasn’t the most sensual, enthusiastic kisser, but she wasn’t exactly like her cold and calculating exterior either. I was tell she found it pleasurable. Maybe she was letting her guard down.

I let my hands run all along her body. I had longed for this. To feel her. My fingers found her waist and moved up and down around her hips before settling on her ass. That seemed to surprise her – I don’t think she was used to being groped there. She laid on top of me and I left my hands where they were while trying to work out how to get them under her top.

I was getting excited thinking about where this was going. The thoughts in my head were different from any other time I had been with a woman. She had been a man and now, I thought, she was surrendering to her feminine desires. Being a man myself, I couldn’t imagine my instincts, my desires, my preferences being changed any more than imagining my body changing like hers had. It was hot, imagining how powerful these urges must be to over-write what Steven’s had been, if they were anything like as powerful as mine, to make her want to put herself in this situation, to let a guy like me near – and maybe even in – her body.

She cooed, almost playfully – “You have an erection, I can tell.”

“Uhm,” I stammered, not used to this kind of forthright ‘dirty talk.’ “Yeah.”

“Would you like to have sexual intercourse?” she whispered in my ear.

“Uh… yeah, of course.” What guy didn’t?

“I agree,” she said. “But you have to prepare me.”

She sat up. I was about to ask what she was talking about when she began to walk, on her own, toward the bedroom.

“I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience,” she said, “But there are three things I have read about that I would like you to do to me to maximize my pleasure, and my physiological readiness for sex.”

“Uh… anything, yeah,” I agreed.


I followed her into my bedroom. There, she stood next to my bed, undressing. She stepped out of her skirt and unbuttoned her blouse, leaving it folded neatly on the foot of the bed. With some struggle – but before I could cross the room to help – she unfastened her bra, a comfort-designed white department store number that matched her full-cut cotton panties.

A lot of the time, undressing each other was a fun part of making out and preparing for sex, but she seemed to take an efficiency-based approach to this. I didn’t mind – Steven was now naked in my bed, lying on top of the covers, propped up on her side so that her bountiful breasts hung down. I gazed on them. Her figure was breathtaking.

She smiled. “I hope you like my body, Jack. I’m quite pleased with the result of my transformation.”

“Yeah,” I said, nearly at a loss for words. “Me too.”

She called me over and indicated the three things she wanted me to do, with fairly precise detail. Before I started, she requested that I wash my hands, and I did so.

As I worked on her, she gave instructions as to where she would like to be touched, how, and with what appendage. I thought I had a pretty good intuition but any time I deviated she would correct me, sometimes using a sharp tone of voice that made me feel like a kid being scolded by a teacher. The instructions were the only noises she made – no discernable pleasure-moans, which I would have liked to hear. So when I asked, “Is this good? Do you feel good?” she would answer – with increasing irritation – yes, with the message being that I should stop asking.

Finally, she said, “I’m ready for you to insert your penis into my vagina. After applying a condom, of course.”

It’s really not romantic to make that request in such stark, biological terms, but at least it was unmistakable consent. She spread her legs wide and I did as she asked. She indicated the rhythm, speed, and pressure I was to use, occasionally muttering, “Yes, that’s good” in something approximating a carefree tone. I watched her breasts bounce in rhythm with my thrusting, marveling about how a year earlier, they had not been there.

Then suddenly she said, “Stop.” I froze, waiting for further instruction.

She looked up at me and said, “I’d like to be on top.”

“Okay,” I said. She was small enough that I could turn her over without breaking the connection between us. She sat upright, her legs splayed across my pelvis. She grinded back and forth, using my body. Now her resolve started to crack a bit more, moving faster and faster, her face contorting with delight. Up there she was free. The instructions stopped as she took the lead, so I watched her body move, her breasts jiggling with each rotation. I reached up and felt her there, brushing my fingers against her erect nipple.

“I like that,” she said plainly. “Now, can you use your thumb to stimulate my clitoris?”

“What? Um, sure,” I said, fumbling my other hand down between her legs.

After a second she took my hand and guided it to the correct spot, giving an irritated, “No, here, here. Yes.”

She continued to grind faster and faster until finally she slowed to an abrupt stop. She leaned forward and pressed her chest to mine.

“I’ve had an orgasm,” she told me. I’m not sure I would have known.

I pumped a few more time and had one of my own.

We hardly laid there for a few minutes when she began to talk about how she should get home – whether she should take the A-Train and walk fifteen minutes to her door or the B to the C, which was a longer ride that wound up nearer to her house. “I’m less apt to walk the street alone at night these days, for obvious reasons.”

“I can call you a ride,” I said, dumbfounded that she was already thinking of leaving.

“Not necessary,” she said firmly.

“You don’t want to… like, still watch a movie or anything?”

She considered the question for a moment, but really seemed to more be questioning why I had asked. “Our tastes aren’t that similar, there’s nothing we’d both enjoy. I think we’ve both had a good enough night.”

“You… don’t want to maybe… stay longer? See if we can… go again?”

This, she did give thought to, but shrugged. “I’m satisfied. Let’s call it a night.”

Okay then, I thought. She meticulously dressed herself as I watched. She was gone by 9 PM. I went to my couch and watched SportsCenter in my boxers.

A week went by. I expected to hear from her, but I didn’t. I felt myself getting disappointed. I decided to send her a text and see what she was up to.

She answered the next day, Saturday morning, by calling.

“Hi Jack, it’s Steven,” she said, formal as ever. “I apologize for not reaching out sooner. I had a busy few days and forgot you might be expecting to hear from me.”

“Oh, uh, it’s no problem. I just wanted to say, last week was fun.”

“I enjoyed myself,” she agreed.

“Do you want to maybe… do it again?”

She took a long pause. “Perhaps. But I’ve actually begun menstruating this week and I thought I would spare you the discomfort.”

“Oh,” I said. I definitely wasn’t used to women discussing this with me. “You get a… period?”

“Yes,” she said clinically. “That’s part of sexual automorphogenesis. You become a biologically fertile female. Otherwise, what would be the point?”

“I, um… I guess, yeah.”

“I’m not interested in procreating at this time, just so you know,” she said.

“Of course not, course not,” I said.

“Do you think you would like to see me on a weeknight? My cycle is due to end Tuesday, if that’s convenient for you.”

“Sure, whatever works,” I said, very put off by how up front she was.

“Great. I can be at your place at 8, we can repeat our sexual intercourse, and then I will be able to get home and in bed by, let’s say 9:30 or 10 depending on how the trains are running.”

“Oh, you… just want sex?”

“Don’t you agree?” she asked. “You and I don’t appear to have very many shared interests.”

“Well, maybe you just haven’t gotten to know me,” I protested. “I could watch that documentary with you. We could do other stuff.”

She gave out a sigh, seemingly frustrated with me.

“Jack,” she said, “Is it important for you to be emotionally sympatico with your sexual partners? Do you ever just like to have someone for this purpose?”

“Sometimes, but…” I started to say. “I like you, Steven.”

Even I was surprised to hear myself say it, but it was intoxicating to be with someone so different from a ‘normal’ woman.

“I like you too,” she said. “That’s why I’m having sex with you.”

“You… don’t want to spend more time with me, though?”

There was a silence.

Finally her voice returned, “This afternoon I have to run some errands. Would you like to accompany me on a non-sexually-themed outing?”

“Sure,” I said right away. “And hey, I’m not totally against period sex.”

“That’s good to know,” she said. “I’ll come to your house at noon.”

Her first errand was to return some clothes she had bought that didn’t fit properly, as she was still getting the hang of female sizes, and her body was still somewhat in flux. “Truth is, all women’s are,” she said. “Their fashions should really be more forgiving of this fact, but that wouldn’t be very capitalist.” She brought it to the clerk, who would only provide store credit, which she insisted on spending right away.

She picked a few items off the rack and led me to the change room where I could wait for her. Afterward, she came out still dressed in her normal clothes.

“You didn’t want to model for me?” I asked.

“I know what I enjoy wearing.”

I looked at the clothes in question. More suits, more blouses.

“You already have a ton of outfits like this. Don’t you want to get anything else? Something different?”

 “80% of my life is spent in a professional environment. I need clothes that are appropriate for that setting. These fit the bill.”

“Well, what about,” – a rack of dresses caught my eye, “Something like this?”

I pulled out a forest-green dress – sleeveless, with a ruffle up the torso, showier than anything I had seen her in. The neckline was low, but still within the realm of professional. “This is a bit more sociable – you know, for going out. But you could wear it to the office too. The girl at the front desk might even give it her seal of approval.”

“I’ve seen what she wears,” Steven sneered. “We don’t exactly have the same taste. This is too…”

“Too what?” I asked. “Too feminine?”

She looked at me under her eyebrows. “I suppose not. I’ve enjoyed wearing skirts.” She considered it a little longer. “There’s a certain allure to a dress… one garment for one’s whole body. I wonder why men don’t get to wear them. I suppose I don’t need to worry about that now.”

She took that, and a few others, into the fitting room. After a moment’s silence, I knocked.

“Can I see?”

The door opened.

She looked beautiful. The dress was very form-fitting and served her curves nicely. The cleavage was not overly prominent but given her body, it was still quite alluring. Being that I was her date, I felt invited to stare.

“I quite like it,” she said. “I feel like a different person, in a good way. I might need shoes to go with it.”

I smiled.

She bought that dress and three others. We continued on to a few other errands. She had to go grocery shopping. I cracked jokes about various food items and our differing preferences. She was a tough crowd but eventually she smiled and admitted, “You’re pretty funny.” (Without actually laughing.)

“I’m not so bad, right?”

“No, not at all,” she admitted, a fond hum in her voice. “You’re great company Jack.”

We ended up at her place. She ordered dinner for us. Now she was the one asking about me.

“Have you dated a lot of women?” she asked.

“More than some people,” I said modestly.

“More than me,” she specified. “I had one girlfriend for about two months in University, but it didn’t work out.”

“Did you and her ever…” I said with an impish grin.

She blushed. “We did. And I’ve been with two other women, casually, before my automorphogenesis.”

“You dog,” I cheered.

“How… do I compare?” she asked, her voice affecting the most vulnerable tone I had yet heard from her.

“You’re great,” I said warmly. “I like being with you a lot.”

“I’m glad,” she said. “My body changed. And then my heart changed. And my mind is striving to catch up to both.”

“You’re doing great,” I reassured her, tactfully putting aside all those times when she seemed clinical or cold. That was just… Steven being Steven.

That night, we had sex again. At her insistence, we laid down a towel for any possible mess from her period. I followed her instructions to the letter and tried not to worry whether she was enjoying herself since she didn’t say she wasn’t.

After she had gone, I laid in bed by myself, my mind reeling with a hundred questions. Who was this person I was now dating, exactly?

Over dinner at a nice restaurant, I plied her with questions about her experience. “So, what was it like? Transforming?”

“Highly inconvenient,” she said between bites of steak. “Physically stressful.”

“And emotionally?”

“I couldn’t really tell you, I’m not… a words-person.”

“How did your parents take it?”

“That’s personal,” she said sharply.

“Oh,” I said. “Well, we’re dating, aren’t we? I thought maybe you would feel okay opening up.”

“It’s not appropriate dinner conversation,” she said.

There was a brief awkward pause. Then she moved her hand to mine. It was a nice, warm gesture, but there was sort of a feeling like she was doing it because she thought she was supposed to, to put me at ease, not because she felt anything. Which in its own way was more disconcerting.

“I don’t want this to define me, or the dynamic between the two of us. You understand, right? There’s more to me than what I’ve been through.”

“Of course, of course,” I said. “We can talk about anything. Do you, uh, watch football?”

“Not really,” she said, looking down at her plate. Then she corrected herself by looking back up at me. “Why don’t you… tell me what you like about it?” She proceeded to feign interest while I told her about the rivalry between the Packers and the Vikings.

The relationship went on like that for a while, with me desperately trying to find ways to ingratiate myself to her, impress her, win her over, and get her to open up, and her remaining a little distant. When asked, she always said she liked me, that she enjoyed being with me, but the signs that I was used to weren’t there. She didn’t laugh a lot. She didn’t like to hold hands in public. She didn’t write me long, sappy messages. Everything about our relationship was efficient and direct.

In a way, it was like what I thought I would have wanted when I was with Roni.

There were weeks when she didn’t see me at all because she was busy or simply didn’t feel like it, and told me she would make it up to me later; she insisted that if I felt that way at any time I should feel free to say so too, it was no problem for her to stay at home reading if I didn’t feel like a date. I had never in my life had a relationship where that was openly an option – I was used to people spending time together at all the usual intervals unless it was not possible for some reason. On paper it was nice to not be clung to, and have the room in the relationship to be honest and straightforward that way, but in practice it still stung to be rejected even temporarily.

I didn’t want there to be nights when she wanted to be by herself.

I texted more than she did. I laughed more than she did, smiled more than she did, wanted to touch her and hold her more than she did me.  But I tried to put any concerns I had about our dynamic out of my mind. I was getting exactly what I wanted – sex, company, and no drama. Why wasn’t I happy?

We were out shopping again one weekend and we passed a lingerie store.

“Hey,” I said abruptly. “Do you want to go in here?”

“What for?” she asked.

“I thought maybe, you might want…”

She looked at the store window mannequin with a curled lip. “Some underwear? I’ve got plenty.”

“But not like this. Not sexy underwear.”

She looked at me and tilted her head. “From what I can tell, you seem to think that my regular underwear is perfectly sexy. Moreso, what’s underneath it.” That was Steven’s version of a sexy joke, and she kissed me on the lips to punctuate it.

“I just mean to… change things up,” I said meekly, wishing for the sight of Steven in a teddy or a corset and lace thong.

She exhaled. “This stuff is overpriced, uncomfortable, and only gets worn for about five minutes once every few weeks. It’s not a practical purchase.”

“It’s… romantic.”

“I don’t need more romance. I’m happy with our relationship as it is. Let’s go.”

She walked on. I hurried to catch up, trying to hide my disappointment. What was wrong with wanting to spice things up?

Things hummed along as status quo. I was disappointed when she passed up a chance to meet my family over the holidays. They asked me if I was seeing anyone, and I said yes, but I didn’t say her name or explain about sexual automorphogenesis, only that she was an accountant and kind of a serious person. My dad liked the sound of that – “You never go for the brains.”

“Don’t worry dad, she’s got a body too,” I said with a wink.

At New Year’s, I organized a get-together for some of my work-associates at a bar. “Of course, you’d be getting an invite as my accountant anyway,” I said with a smirk, “But I think it will be nice to have you there as my girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend,” she repeated. I had taken a chance by using the word. We always danced around it by using awkward phrases like ‘Person I’m dating.’ I wondered if maybe, despite a few months of dating and sex, she still didn’t see herself that way and if she was going to go into one of her cold snaps. But there was amusement in her voice, even slightly on her face. “When I think of myself I don’t think the word ‘girl.’ Female. Woman, sometimes. Girl? But I guess that’s the term. Girlfriend.” She pointed at me. “Boyfriend.”

Her smile grew. I wrapped my arms around her and we kissed. Steven was my girlfriend.

At the mixer, however, she wasn’t exactly on my arm the entire time. I’ll admit that I had wanted to introduce her around as sort of a trophy – she was beautiful and smart, a great catch, but she wasn’t interested in that game and found other ways to entertain herself. After the party I asked her what she had been doing.

“Oh, I met your friend Anthony, who works in Government Lending. I find that fascinating so we talked for over an hour.”

“Hm,” I said, my lips pursed tight. It didn’t seem right to me that she should spend an hour with someone else at my party. I knew it was completely innocent – Steven was like that – but there was definitely some simmering jealousy inside of me.

Valentine’s Day came. I had a dozen red roses sent to her office. When I saw her later that night, she said she would send them to her sister, who loved flowers. I had fretted whether to include a card that said “I Love You” and ultimately decided not to. She didn’t even actually say “Thank you” for the bouquet.

She prepared a stew for dinner at her place – a practical, hearty meal that she knew how to make – and we had our usual sex-as-directed.

I felt so puzzled. On the outside she was as beautiful and sexy as any woman I had ever seen. I found her incredibly desirable to look at. But then we would talk and she was, well – Steven. A good person, who liked me just fine, but not warm or spontaneous or emotionally nourishing.

I knew she would be different. In fact, that was what made me so maddeningly fixated on her. But why were things so much more difficult than they had to be?

Soon, it was tax season and Steven warned me she would be too busy to maintain our relationship much. I didn’t really ask what she meant by this, except that she was giving herself license to ignore my texts.

I reached out to Roni. I apologized for the way I had broken up with her, and for being a bad partner. I told her I understood a bit more what our relationship was like for her, and that I had grown a lot since we broke up. To my surprise, she forgave me and asked if I wanted to get a drink sometime. I said yes.

We ended up having sex. It was wild and reckless, just like it’s supposed to be. She didn’t like the exact same things that Steven did, at least not in the same order, so I did my best to shake it up and change the routine. It was very freeing – she let me do virtually whatever I wanted. She vocally screamed “Yes! Yes, oh baby!” multiple times, loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Afterward, she wrapped her arms around me and we talked for hours, about all sorts of things, mostly completely inconsequential banter. I didn’t mention that I was still technically seeing Steven.

Nothing else came from it. I still thought we weren’t a great match, and she told me that she understood too why the relationship hadn’t worked out. So we parted ways on good terms.

I hadn’t heard from Steven in a few weeks, but I spent a lot of time drafting up a text to send her, telling her how alone and sad I felt, sometimes even when she was around. I wanted her to be the woman in the relationship. I wanted her to be asking about when we would be getting married and chiding me for leaving my socks on the floor. But I never sent it.

One night she appeared at my place unannounced, which was very unlike her. When I opened the door, she started in: “I heard from Anthony that you had sex with that girl Veronica. How could you?”

“I—you—” I stammered, caught completely off guard. “You were ignoring me.”

“I told you I would be busy, I was very up front about that.”

“So I got a little lonely.”

“That’s no excuse,” she said sharply. I had never seen her angry before. She was both fired up and still completely cold. “If you were feeling upset you should have spoken to me about it.”

“Would you even have cared?” I hissed back. “Do you care about my feelings?”

“Of course I do! But you’re notoriously bad at sharing them.”

I’m bad at sharing my feelings?” I asked, offended. “You’re the biggest Ice Queen I’ve ever met!”

“Name-calling, how mature,” she hissed. “Every feeling and thought I have that concerns us, I share with you in as direct and clear a way as I can. I just happen to be very content. Or at least I was.”

“Content isn’t good enough!” I said. “And yeah. I felt like if I said how I was feeling, you wouldn’t care. It’s not ‘efficient’ to have feelings. Do you even like me?”

“Of course I do!” she said. “At least I did, before this.”

“Yeah right,” I huffed. “I’m just a sex toy to you.”

She gritted her teeth. “How dare you. Do you know how many male colleagues have made passes at me since my transformation? How objectified I feel? And that’s from those who even accept that I am a woman now at all. If I wanted only sex I could proposition any man I know. I liked you, I dated you, because I found you interesting and you seemed interested in me as a person. But I don’t think that’s the case. I think you had a fantasy. That I had grown breasts and somehow become as feminine and maternal as you wished a woman would be. But that because I had been a man, I would understand you better and give you the relationship you desired. You imposed that illusion on me, as some kind of half-man, half-woman blank slate designed only for your pleasure. And for a while, it worked. But I’m not who you want, Jack. I realize that now. I don’t know what you want. All I know is that the reality of being with me – Steven Lewis the person – is far too complicated and frustrating for you to handle.”

That hurt and I wanted to hit back, unloading every way I felt she had disappointed me, but words failed me I was struck silent. It never occurred to me that I might be the problem, and as badly as I wanted to protest, nothing came.

She folded her arms under her breasts and continued. “I’ll admit, I have a lot of learning to do to be with someone, but I can never be with someone who sees me the way that you do, Jack. Like some fictional being who exists to satisfy your ideal of what a woman truly is. You couldn’t appreciate who and what I am and instead of talking about it, you acted out in a way designed to hurt me. That’s immature and disgusting and shows that you never saw me as a person. Just some kind of sick curiosity.”

She was actually crying now. I had never seen her exterior crack this much. Part of me wanted to hold her and apologize but I was still burning with anger at being called out.

Finally she said, “You have more learning to do than I do, and you’ve had longer to get caught up.”

With that, she left. We never spoke again.

When I had finally moved on, I called Roni, but she had already met someone else. It was disappointing – I thought that after all I had been through with Steven, I would know how to appreciate a woman like Roni better.

I found a new accountant.

A year and a half later I found out Steven had gotten married when I saw some of the photos online. I barely recognized her in her tasteful gown, full makeup and styled hair, but mostly because she was smiling, wide and bright. It was so strange to see her surrounded by flowers and everything that goes with a wedding because the Steven I dated seemed to be the antithesis of that. I wondered if now she had morphed into the woman I had wanted to be dating all along, or if it was just a temporary thing for the sake of the wedding. In the pictures, the groom looked like a real dork, but I bet he treats her well and understands her.

I’ve been alone since then. I’ve been on a few dates but nothing ever went anywhere. I wonder if I’ll ever find a person who really does give me what I want, and who I’m right for. If I’m lucky enough to find her, I plan on doing my best to be what she needs, not counting on her to change into what I want. It seems unlikely.

The preceding is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual situations or any persons living or dead is completely coincidental and unintentional. This work is Copyright 2021 Liam Slade, not to be reproduced without express permission of the author. All rights reserved.

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