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Jacky opened her eyes and looked around.

She was a little exasperated at herself. Reflexively she checked at her ring. And there it was, muscular gold ring, large pale blue stone, smooth ovoid. Only the hand was different.

Many, many thoughts went through her mind, her powerful and capacious mind, but she was not confused. Presently she gave voice to one of the many.

“I will never understand you,” she said to her ring.

She looked around. She was in bed. She began to get up and then she thought, but did not say, fuck it, and let herself fall back. There was time. She thought of all the times she had wished she could stay in bed. Now she had every excuse.

So she lay there and sorted through her situation. Jacky was not a fan of dying, and she had not died. This was disorienting enough.

Jacky Clotilde began answering all the obvious questions. She was in bed. She definitely did not feel herself. She was in pajamas. Jacky was one to sleep in the buff. She laughed at her own thought, which was another of her habits that she was past being annoyed at: had she more often slept in the buff, or had she more often slept fully clothed in her dark shirt, dark pants, socks, and useful boots?

She had a thought. She reached down under the comforter, under the loose waistband. Yep. A package. She was a guy.

Not a bad package, in resting mode. Feeling herself, heh heh.

She took in the light: late morning, perhaps. Men she knew got erections in the morning, presumably from just having to pee. This guy had gotten up, peed, and come back to bed. She even felt a little moisture on her hairy hand from inside the pajama pants.

She raised her eyebrows.

She took another minute, then half-said to herself, welp, and heaved herself out of bed. She bent at the waist, twisted to the left, swung out the guy’s feet, and landed with a thump. Oh, the knees. “It’s rough being an old guy,” as Waren had often said to her of a morning.

Of a morning. A sunny morning in her little cottage overlooking the lake. With Waren making coffee, with Lily and Sezan and the gnomes playing down by the water, perhaps with George pottering around in the little back room he’d set up.

She looked down at herself, at himself, and sighed. Soon she would find her way back to the cottage by the lake. But not yet. It would be such a bother to have to go through all this again because she had tried to move too soon.

Or, worse, to die. Dying was just plain annoying.

She looked around the room. Nice enough.

Bureau. Dresser. Day clothes on the floor. Some stuff on a chair. Window: outside into cloudy sunlight. Tempted though she was, she did not go look out the window.

Door to a hall or something, a closet or something: she couldn’t tell one from the other, but she was sure they were one of each. Door, open, into a bathroom.

It was all messy, old man messy, but nice enough. Not rich. Not poor. But someone who lived alone.

Lived alone. Widower, perhaps. She smiled. There was a picture: an older lady, smiling, probably already sick with cancer or Parkinson’s or whatever had killed her.

She looked at her hand. A wedding ring. Aww.

She went into the bathroom. And there he was: jowls, morning beard, messy, partly bald head. Maybe sixty. She smiled at him: her host.

“Sorry about this,” she said to the mirror, in his growly voice.

Still staring at the mirror, the face changed: it was still his face but the expression was all Jacky Clotilde. She sniffed, or something.

The coast was clear.

She addressed the man in the mirror again. “Thank you, old fella,” she said. “You seem like a nice enough guy.” She waved the ringed hand. “Blessing on you,” she said. She smiled.

Then she was gone, and he, presumably, was left to wonder how he’d gotten in the bathroom.

 

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