Mary had broken up with me through a damn, unexpected letter, and I was going to convince her that this whole debacle was a silly ploy for attention. This had to be a ploy, because I loved her. She made my heart sing or something like that. I clutched the letter as I marched across the parking lot outside of the mall where she worked. Changeling freaks, who had the same fashionable red hair and pale skin, were lined up at the glass doors of the mall, hoping that they would be the first to get their hands on the new serum that would warp their flesh into this season’s most fashionable female body. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t be suckered by the foolish market tactics, since I only changed skins once a year.
These freaks shifted around me. They hadn’t even bothered to pay for any special modifications. Mary, unlike these chumps, always retained a single freckle on her right cheek. A freak elbowed me in the stomach as I tried to push past her, knocking my breath away.
“What gives you the right to get to the front of the line asshole?”
“I need to get to the front of the line.”
“They’ll have enough for the men skins. They always do.”
“That’s because we use less, honey. Now step aside. I need to get to the front.”
“Fuck you, trying to use your privilege to slip in front of us.”
“Look lady, my girlfriend needs me right now and you’re giving me a hard time.”
“Oh I see, your lady skin didn’t want to wait in line. Or maybe you’re a scalper. Either way, you aren’t getting past me so close to opening hour.”
Clenching my hands, I managed to forgive her trespasses as the doors clicked open and the guards stood to the side. Bodies shoved past me, clamoring for the new fashionable appearance that work necessitated. The air conditioning unit roared in the background of the blustering crowd, and sweat dripped down my brow. Molten balls of anxiety riveted through my hands and worked their way through my stomach, since I might not be able to recognize Mary at first. I might have to search for her in her terrible shop, watching the changelings’ skin burble, shift, and settle into the newest fashion.
Her fashion shop glowed ahead and Mary stood at the door with her sleek, shimmered smile, but her eyes narrowed at the sight of me. The doors to the shop were shut, and the new look was obscured behind cloth sheets, but I didn’t have to worry about such trivial details. Mary was there complete with the freckle on her cheek. Yet my love looked through me like I was just another customer. Grabbing her arm, she turned to face me, “You must be John.”
“You know who I am.”
“No, John. I don’t.”
The covers, which had obscured the new look, slid to the floor, and the room was drenched in blinding light. A cacophony of joy reverberated through the mall as my eyes adjusted to the image of Mary, complete with her freckle, that was emblazoned as the temporary deity of this season. My hands shook and my stomach dropped.
“You don’t know who I am –”
“Magdeleine. Get lost asshole.”
Mary had to be in this store. She wouldn’t leave me. She was my love. She had to be here. I shoved past Mar — Magdeleine into the store. Bits of old skin flecked onto the floor as the changelings injected the serum into their veins, and the information wormed its way into their bodies, morphing their appearance in patches that replaced the old. Once this process was completed, experts trimmed their bodies with scalpels and scissors to precisely match the appearance of the one I love.
“MARY,” I screamed.
The suits out front moved towards me, but I wouldn’t be subdued before I had my love. Mary watched me from all sides of the shop.
“MARY,” I screamed again, looking for a response from some of the gaping figures. Mary judged for me breaking the happy chitters of commerce. The suits were nearby.
“MARY,” I screamed one last time in the shop filled with her.
Magdalene stopped the suits next to me, “She is everywhere, but she isn’t here. Perhaps you have the courage to change to her.”
Placing a vial of the new serum in my hand, she left me to stare at the glistering blue liquid. My heart sunk at the prospect. I wouldn’t be a damn freak, blurring the line between genders. But Mary was duly departed, swallowed into the gullet of a marketing scheme. And I was left in lonely love. I took the liquid and felt my skin burbling off, cracking off my prejudices as I cloaked a new skin. Now Mary is wholly mine.
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