Phoebe lived a dream that wasn’t hers. She always wanted to be a prestigious lawyer and step into that courtroom to show the big boys how it was done. However, she could only afford community college and so her lawyer dreams were relegated to being a paralegal at a local firm. She would tell her friends that she enjoyed her job. She still handled clients’ papers, talked with them, and helped them. Phoebe could get to know them just as much as the lead person on the case did. It worked for her, though it wasn’t her dream job.
Alex, one of Phoebe’s bosses, was the one thing about her job that didn’t work. His three failed marriages said enough about his character. He was his own favorite person and his eyes and hands were somehow drawn to attractive women. Fortunately, Phoebe was not on his list. She had always been a little overweight, but trying to get a date encouraged her to take off those extra pounds. To Phoebe’s delight, the gym and diet plan worked. Her hips, waist, and stomach thinned. Of course, her ample chest was the one thing that didn't get any smaller.
So Alex began to notice her. He came over to her desk, asking a third time for a paper she had already copied for him. Twice. Phoebe knew he only did it to get her into his office for a few extra seconds. His games weren’t harmful yet, but she didn’t want him to become too interested.
"So, Phoebe," he said, voice oozing with fake charm, "Friday night looks like a beautiful night for a walk in the park and a romantic dinner by the lake. . ." Phoebe started to think of what to say. How could she turn down her boss without turning him down? How could she keep her job without adding another notch to his belt? It took her a moment to realize he’d stopped talking and started staring.
"I appreciate the offer," Phoebe said, "but I have other plans that night." Alex frowned and started to talk, but his phone ringing cut him off. Phoebe smiled as she ducked out.
Alex was easy to put off for the rest of the week. He checked about her plans, but Phoebe kept to her lie, and when Friday finally came around, she felt that spending the night at home felt like the best idea. But looking in the freezer, Phoebe wondered why she never had the right ice cream when she needed it. She headed out of her second-floor apartment, and made the short walk to the gas station. But as she came close, Phoebe noticed Alex gassing his car.
“Oh, crap,” she said, and made a quick left turn. Phoebe ran across the street toward the community center. The lot was full tonight, and she hoped to get lost in the crowd. But Phoebe stole a look over her shoulder and noticed Alex staring her way.
He didn’t say anything, but Phoebe was sure he recognized her. She kept her pace and headed around the back of the center. Unfortunately, she ran into construction fencing, put up so a construction crew could build a shopping center without people wandering into it. Phoebe couldn’t wait for the Boots-n-Such store to open there, but put that thought out of her mind.
She stood next to a moving truck by to the side entrance to the center, but voices nearby chased her back out front. Phoebe watched Alex cross the street, heading her way. He took determined strides, and Phoebe needed a plan fast. She turned and looked into the van and saw multiple mannequins inside, dressed like in medieval times.
She glanced into the center and saw a giant chessboard on the main floor with many mannequin pieces already set.
“There may be hope for me yet.” Phoebe said as she jumped into the truck. She stripped down to her underwear and grabbed the white dress nearest to her. The gown had ornate stitching on the shoulders with dark green thread that held sheer-looking strips hanging from the short sleeves down to the floor, and a built-in corset. Feeling a little exposed, she also grabbed a pair of skin-tone tights from one of the bins. Oddly enough, they contained a small hole just beneath her right butt cheek. She wondered if there was another female piece, or if she was dressing as the queen. Phoebe filled out the low cut gown, but didn’t take the time to tie the corset. Instead, she pulled on white satin sandals, pushed her dark brown hair back with the crown, and pulled on elbow-length gloves.
She glanced outside, sighed when she saw the coast was clear, and then hopped to the ground. She heard two men walking towards her, coming from inside the center. She feared her weight might give her away, so Phoebe jumped onto a nearby hand truck and struck a pose: one hand on her hip with the other raised as if she was holding something.
"So anyway, the pass was incomplete and the game ended. Can you believe it?" The workers talked about money lost and the season ending, their conversation distracting them. But Phoebe stopped listening to them when Alex rounded the corner. She kept herself staring ahead, trying to blend in with the still figures around her, and didn’t get a good look at his face.
Without warning, the world tilted back as one of the men grabbed Phoebe’s hand truck. Alex's expensive shoes came closer. "Hey, did you see a woman come back here?"
"Yep, see them all the time" The man with the tattered ball cap said from the back of the truck. Phoebe hoped he pointed to the other mannequins.
His friend with the thick gloves laughed and started to push Phoebe. Alex, not wanting to talk to them anyway, walked in front of them and right into the community center. Warm air fell on her skin, and she saw ceiling rafters that looked 100 years old. The room had that old gym smell of musty sweat and floor wax.
Phoebe remained as still as possible, knowing that breaking character could tip Alex off to her. A voice behind her called out, "Okay, the queen goes on her color in the center of the back row, so put her there. No there, on the white space." Phoebe was pushed forward, then back, then left, then right. A smile broke over her face before she forced it down.
Her handler gave Phoebe a slight push and the world tilted back to normal. She stared at the other army, all mannequins, some male and some female. Her handler gave her another push to remove the hand truck. Phoebe almost jumped out of her skin when a gloved hand touched her ankle and worked its way up her leg. It almost reached her butt when her handler yelled, "I can't find her hole."
The other worker broke into a laughing fit as he brought another mannequin to her side, "I bet you can’t."
Phoebe’s handler frowned, "No really, it's missing." The other man came over and lifted her dress from behind.
“They probably just covered it up when they last lacquered her." He dropped her dress and turned around, "There’s another type of stand we can use. It ties into her corset." Her handler, not wanting to put much thought in it, stood up and walked back to the truck.
Phoebe was left alone, staring at her fellow chess pieces, and still didn’t break her character. But she hears the sounds of people, mostly men, in the gym. She hears them talking, shuffling their feet, scraping plastic forks over plastic plates . . . a party. The smell of food almost made her mouth water, but she fought down that urge as Alex came into view, still looking for her. Oh please don't see me... please. He cut across the chessboard, but paid the pieces no mind, for the woman he is looking for was not a mannequin. He left the board and stalked into the nearby crowd.
Phoebe sighed, perhaps her last comfortable one, because at that moment, two hands pushed at her back. "Looks like her corset came undone." The man tugged roughly on the corset ties, almost pulling Phoebe off balance. "You know the corset has an interesting history."
"Oh, no, Peter, not with the history lesson again. Let's just get her done and go eat."
Peter kept pulling on the ties, fastening Phoebe into her dress, "Well, it is an interesting story." He mumbled. Phoebe felt like she grew two inches, as the corset formed her back, sides, and front into a shiny white board. She had been shallow breathing already and now would be struggling just to get a breath. Peter finished, and then rubbed his hand over her flat stomach. He turned and left after feeling the tight material under Phoebe’s dress. "Perfect."
The workers finished setting the rest of the pieces and returned to Phoebe. She could hear a clanking and a thud as they lifted her dress again. Without warning, she heard the sound of a motor. She then felt a U-shaped vinyl piece come up between her legs, covering her private areas. Trying to remain still, they lift Phoebe off the ground and rotated her to her left. She watched the entire room pass in front of her. It was like a gym like she thought, with a wall of folding tables of food and chessboards. There were a pair chairs at each table.
She could see above the heads of her fellow chess pieces, and watched the nearly filled room rotate beneath her. The men stopped twisting her and lowered her down. She heard a metal click as her feet touched the base of her stand. "Okay, she is locked in." Peter said.
Another man, who had been silent this entire time, stepped into view. His bow tie, suit and glasses suggested a man of intelligence. "Good, good.” He stated, and then with a much louder voice announced, “Alright – let's get started."
Oh boy, Phoebe thought, how long is a game of chess?
The first game was soon ready to start. She saw several older men lining up on each side. With not much fanfare, she heard some crazy foreign language. “Knight to pawn… Bishop to rook… queen to…” Oh wait, she thinks, I’m the queen. And with that, two hands grabbed her at the waist and rolled her to another spot. She finds her new home facing a male mannequin in black armor. He is definitely made of plastic, she thinks. Trying to look plastic isn’t so easy for her, but the crown slightly shadows her face to conceal her eyes. Oh, she moans to herself, but my arms and legs are hurting.
This game is taking forever, she thought as the minutes stretched on. The two players stopped and pondered and walked around the board before finally saying more of the same sort of chess code. She was wheeled around several times, ended up facing numerous mannequins, but fortunately, never faced the audience. Finally, she heard “checkmate” as the small group clapped and cheered the victor. Must be the end, she guessed, since they are resetting the board. Again, two hands encircle her waist (hopefully, he will only put his hands where he should), but this time also a voice in her ear, “My lady, as beautiful as you look, you are starting to shake.” Phoebe’s heart sinks; she has been caught. She suspected it would happen, and never really planned on being out here this long anyway. She had started to gladly lower her arm when he said quickly, “No, no, keep the pose. I’m here to help.” As he put her back to the starting square, she felt a cold necklace being placed around her neck. Again the whisper, “Don’t worry, this will make your night go much easier. I promise.” And with that, she could feel the necklace warming up. Now what did he mean by all that? Phoebe was now confused, but unwilling to break her pose. Alex could be anywhere. However, she had another problem.
A tingling started in her feet. It was weird… like when you fall asleep on your arm or something. Phoebe wanted to shift her weight, but she cannot. Not because she does not want to, but because she could not. She finds her legs and feet have become immobilized. The tingling sensation continues up her legs, she feels them shaking from fear, but then they stop, and then she feels the relief. She no longer has to hold herself up. She started to smile more at that, until the tingling reached higher. That sensation was not as pleasant and was definitely doing something it shouldn’t. But too late now, as the sensation is now up to her stomach, and again the relief from the corset. She cannot help but smile at that, but her chest is next, and again not so pleasant. It is like her breasts are being over-stimulated. Reminds me of my high school boyfriend, she recalled, he just didn’t know when to stop.
The smile is all but gone now. Her chest is now driving her mad as it felt like it was run through a vacuum cleaner… twice. She regained her composure long enough to paste on the smile as the tingling reached her face. Like being in a cold windstorm, her face tingled all over and “froze.” It might have been her imagination, but she could almost hear a crinkling sound now. Without warning, the tingling stops, and there she is. Frozen solid. Striking her regal pose, just like a queen, shiny in plastic and satin, displayed for all to see. Ahh, Phoebe can now enjoy the comfort of her pose. No pain, no tingling, just stiffness.
The whisper had one more comment, “I’m back to joining the meeting. I’ll turn it off when it is over. Why? You might ask… simple, it is the mannequins like you that make coming to these things worthwhile.” If Phoebe could have smiled wider, she would have.
Phoebe’s mind became a blur. The games went by quicker, as she allowed herself to be pushed and pulled all over the board. In one of the later games, she was “taken” or “took” (hard to understand their code) and pushed to the side of board. This was the worst part of the night. She felt like a toy being discarded, pushed aside for someone else. I can’t believe I’m thinking this, she pouts. I’m not a real chess piece, I’m just pretending, yet I feel sad not being used or played with. Fortunately for her, that game was nearly over, so she was soon grabbed by the waist and pulled back to the board for the next battle.
Time began to have no meaning. I mean, who cares when you aren’t going anywhere. It must have been near midnight, because one of the old guys said something tomorrow being almost today. The final two players made a quick go at it, and Phoebe, much to her satisfaction, “checked” the King. Now, she really wasn’t “checking” the King, or was she? I mean, he does have chiseled features, and a strong chin, and darker skin tone, and… wait a minute. She tried to shake her head (not the first time tonight) thinking: He is not real… I am. He is just a mannequin… I’m not. Well, not for much longer, I hope, she thinks as she “crosses her fingers.” That thought has not come to her yet, so she tries not to think about it.
The Whisper returned shortly after the last game ended. “Okay,” he starts, “This is how it works. I will turn it off and remove the necklace. It will take time for the effects to wear off. From my experiments, it is about one-to-one. One hour with the necklace on as a… mannequin, equals one hour without the necklace before you return to normal.” Phoebe processed that, so if I had this thing on for 5 hours (maybe), then it will be another 5 hours before it wears off. “Now,” the Whisper continued, “Results may vary based on the person, but don’t worry, it will happen eventually.” She can feel the necklace being removed from her body. It sounded like it was rubbing against hard plastic. “I have left my business card on the table, no way of getting it on your figure safely. Call me… our next Chess Club Challenge is in the fall. You were the highlight of tonight.” She feels her hair being stroked gently and then he is gone.
As the meeting winds down, men and women alike check her out. They knock on her chest, making the sound of plastic being hit. It was one of the younger guys that made the pun about Phoebe being a “chest piece.” She would have rolled her eyes if she could. They checked out her arms, they touched her butt… you know, the usual things people do with mannequins, right? Phoebe is so ready to be done with this. Alex is surely gone, and she wants out of here.
The lights begin to dim as they are shut off. Within seconds, she is in the dark, staring faintly at the other chess pieces. Each one holding their pose, standing mute guard in the darkness.
I suppose they can hold down the fort, she muses, I wonder if I can sleep with my eyes open.
As the Sun began to lighten the room, Phoebe became more aware of her surroundings. She did not actually sleep, but time sped by quickly, almost if she were going into hibernation. As she looked at the other chess players, they seemed apathetic to their plight, while she’s anxious to get going. With her left arm still raised, she begins to “will” it into motion. Since the tingling started from my feet up, I will try starting at the top and work my way down, she determines.
With little effort, she can feel her hand begin to move. At first, just the fingers, then the entire hand begins moving around. Keeping the momentum, she tries to bend her elbow. Not much happens, but then a feeling of relief washes over her. I’ve tried not to think about it, she admits, but I was getting a little scared that the transformation may not wear off.
Taking a break, she begins working out her plan. Once she is free, she will remove the gown and accessories and place them on the bleachers. She can hunt down a tarp or janitor’s coveralls to wear. My apartment is just across the street, and with it being an early Saturday morning, I should be able to make it inside without much trouble. Of course, she will be missing the clothes she wore last night, but they could be replaced. It’s a good thing I left my purse and such back home, she sighs to herself, it would take forever to replace all that. Oh, don’t forget the business card… I rather like being a queen.
Working on moving, she finds her left arm mobile but still stiff. She can now bend at the elbow and rotate it down to her side. No hurry, as no one should be coming around anytime soon, she continues “pumping” her arm. As she plays with this new motion, she hears a clanking at the door. Oh, no, she worries, who could that be?
Two guys with the same type of work shirts on stumble into the room. They look like they just rolled out of bed. In actuality, that is exactly what happened. They had forgotten about the time change (which technically wouldn’t start until tonight), so the tall thin one with reflective glasses, set his clocks ahead after glancing at the alarm when he awoke this morning. He quickly called his shorter, chubbier friend with the rather large ears. Despite their whining, they both got down to the community center early… way too early, for Phoebe’s liking.
Tall-glasses walks slowly across the floor and looks at all the mannequins. Putting his hands on his hips, he states, “There sure are a bunch of them. This will take forever.” Short-ears replies, “Then we better get started.” Looking at the manifest on their clipboard, Tall-glasses reads, “It looks like 3 of them go to the Surf’s Up, while another 3 go to Macy’s.” Short-ears says, “I’ll take the Surf’s Up.” His tall friend shakes his finger as he walks over to Phoebe, “Now, is it because of her?” he asks, pointing right at Phoebe’s face. Phoebe would have blushed if she could, but only her arm could move. Incidentally, she had never put it back up. She has both her arms bent down and on her waist. Neither of these two was here last night, so they shouldn’t notice… I hope.
Short-ears walks over to Phoebe and looks her up and down. She is rather short at 5’4”, but on the pedestal, she stands taller, especially with the stand and corset. “Now, she is definitely worth some of my time, although, she may be a little tall for me.” He steps up to her, his head coming right to her plastic chest. “Nope,” he reports, “perfect.” They both get a laugh out of that and finally get to work. Tall-glasses walks past her, and as he does, she can see herself in the reflection of his shades for the first time before becoming a mannequin. She looks the same, except for being immobile and quite shiny. Her green eyes are still green, her hair still dark brown, and her skin, well that is odd, she notices. The small mole under my right eye is gone. I wonder if that is part of the science behind the necklace. She doesn’t get to think much more of it, as she feels a rather playful whack on her butt. Her stand wheels around as she rolls along the floor, slowly bumping into one of the pawns for black. At the mercy of the stand, she continues her random trip, stopping at the table.
How dare he touch me, she demands. The queen is not to be handled by peasants. She almost giggles to herself, if she weren’t in such a helpless state, Oh, but there is the business card next to me. But that thought fades with another, what is that sensation? She feels a throbbing of sorts, not like the tingling from last night, where he hit her. The sensation, although not unpleasant, has a strange familiarity to it.
Okay, focus, she thinks. New problems need new solutions. How do I get out of here? Short-ears and Tall-glasses have stripped down two mannequins already and are moving them out. Once they have left the room, she starts trying to move more body parts. Her left and right arms now stiffly move about and her head can rotate. Digging deep, just like her softball coach would have said, she begins to will herself to move more. I have got to make a break for it, even if they are left wondering what happened.
Maybe next time, she thinks, as the two come back in. Moving slowly, they strip two more mannequins, both female, and head back to the truck. Talking the entire time, they probably did not notice her movements. She has her arms and waist bent as she attempted to unlock herself from the stand. Since she was missing a support hole, they wrapped her corset around the pole that supports her butt. Moving too slow for her liking, she pushed the dress around trying to get at the stand. Her movements are still too stiff to be normal. Wrapped up in her predicament, she doesn’t realize the moving duo have returned to the gym. Short-ears cuts a sharp left, “headed to the john.” Tall-glasses nods and heads to his final mannequin, still wearing the shades and unaware of the new pose on the queen.
With his back to her, he moves to strip his last mannequin. Glancing over his shoulder, he catches something unusual out of his eye. Turning around, he can only smile. The queen has one hand up her dress, like she might be feeling herself, with the other is up in her hair. Phoebe, by this time, realizes she is too stuck to get free but also unable to return to her original pose. Intrigued, Tall-glasses can’t believe his rather straight-laced friend would have done this. “Well, well,” he begins as he walks over to her, “it appears you need some help.”
No I don’t.
“Oh yes, definitely, and I am just the man to help you,” he states coolly.
Keep away from me and keep your hands to yourself.
Stuck between giving up her cover and preventing an encounter that could not end well, Phoebe stands still… paralyzed by indecision. Tall-glasses doesn’t wait a moment. His hand works its way under her dress and up to her arm. With a quick pull, her arm rotates back and his moves to where hers was. “Oh, I see,” he determines, “Trying to get out. I can help.” With a motion that Phoebe could not duplicate in her state, he unlocks her, but now something else holds her in place. He begins to rub her, all the while she is screaming in her mind, Stop, you pervert. Get your hands off the queen. Not that I am a real queen, you see... Her thoughts are interrupted as that throbbing returns. She can feel it stronger now, welling from where he touches her throughout her body. She can feel the pleasure moving around her. But why, she asks, I don’t know him, I don’t like him, yet his touch is…
She never finishes that thought, as she climaxes, she feels two things at once: unbelievable pleasure and then complete stiffness. Any movement she once had is now gone, but even worse, all awareness vanishes, too. This brief moment of bliss has cost Phoebe her humanity. She stands there rigidly like any other mannequin, and like all the others, she awaits to be moved and posed anyway anyone would like. One can guess what she is thinking: nothing.
Without Phoebe’s narrative to drive our story, let’s fast-forward a little. You can fill in the gaps as the two workers get her stripped, fondled, and loaded onto the truck. Tall-glasses makes a few remarks about Short-ears loosening up, but neither figures out the truth of the matter. Like the other two, the duo deposit Phoebe at The Surf’s Up in the back room. Like any other mannequin, when the moving guys leave, she stands in her pose, waiting. Her pose is now less dignified, with one hand on her chest and another on her butt. Now would be a perfect time to escape.
It would be hard to count the time, but we know that Desharra comes in around 9. She is an early-20s female that works part time at The Surf’s Up. Her job provides a discount on clothes and sunglasses in exchange for her brief services in dressing and undressing the mannequins. She comes in every Saturday morning to undo or redo the shop windows. Today will be more exciting, as she resets the front window after Free (yes, that was his name) let some nerdy chess club borrow 3 mannequins for last night. iPod clipped to her stretched shirt and ear buds under her tight braids, she grabs her work order.
Hmm, she reads to the pumping of her favorite group, three ladies, two in swimsuits and the other in a wetsuit. Looking the three of them up and down, she grabs the sizes she needs. Most mannequins are about the same, so she knows where to start.
At this time, Phoebe regains consciousness, “…intoxicating”, finishing her suspended thought from hours ago. She quickly takes in her surroundings and then panics at seeing a stock room crammed with surfboards, swimsuits, wetsuits, tropical clothing, and tables covered in junk or other clothes. Where am I? What was that? What happened? If her heart could beat, it would have been pounding. Having that thought only made matters worse.
I’m still a mannequin, and I have no idea where I am. Help!
Okay, she thinks, new problems need new solutions, let’s take in what we know. I was being prepped for a trip to Surf’s Up. Tall-glasses got fresh, and I lost consciousness. I seem to be in one piece, awaiting display with the other two former chess pieces.
Desharra dances back into the room, her iPod booming and her hips swaying. She moves up next to one of the other mannequins: a blonde with the signature sleek features and pose of a mannequin (or so Phoebe would say). Desharra lifts her up, slings the thong bikini onto one leg. Switching arms, she lassos the other leg, while dropping the mannequin, holding the thongs, and voila: half dressed. Phoebe admits that was pretty amazing. The top slips on quickly and before Phoebe can blink (oh, wait… I still can’t do that), Desharra is out the door.
Phoebe, unsure of how long she will be alone, no offense curly top (she’s silently “talking” to the other mannequin), she begins trying to move her arms again. This time, it all starts happening faster. Her arms rotate as does her head, but her elbows again are slow to respond. Her head can pivot a little, but her alone-time is up. Desharra dances back in with a wetsuit in hand. This must be the kind for warm weather, Phoebe surmises, as it was sleeveless with shorts for bottoms. The suit was a deep blue, with a pink stripe up the side that got thinner reaching up from the shorts. It had a zippered front with an elastic belt, all seemingly one piece. Wasting no time, Desharra stepped up to Phoebe. Oh ,great; my turn.
Desharra first attempted the same one-legged maneuver, but noticed quickly that this mannequin is heavier. “Well, Desharra girl,” she says as she re-grips the figure, “let’s not break anything.” Phoebe, agreeing with her, finds herself tilted to the right and then back to the left. She can “feel” the wetsuit coming up her body and when it reaches its final spot, Phoebe notices that sensation again. Whatever that throbbing is, she wonders, must have something to do with turning me on. She can feel the wetsuit hugging her tightly, forming itself to her curves. Calm yourself, she pleads with herself, you know what happened last time.
Desharra rotates Phoebe’s arms back, and stretches the rest of the suit onto her. Phoebe feels nothing strange as it comes over her arms. Desharra steps back in front of her, giving Phoebe a perfect look at her face. I’m sorry, Phoebe “says”, you are pretty short, too. Desharra, mouthing the words to some song, reaches behind her. Desharra’s chest bumps into Phoebe’s. The good news is: Phoebe has no interest in women… the bad news: I guess no one informed the necklace! Phoebe feels like she was losing herself again within the throbbing that washed over her. Without thinking, she wrapped her arms around Desharra, or at least she attempted to. Desharra had already moved on to the side and does not notice the slight change in the mannequin’s arms. But, she has run into a problem.
The zipper will not go all the way up. Desharra looks over the zipper to see if something is stuck in it. Phoebe, trying to calm herself, thinks of work or cleaning the floors or anything else to move past her growing arousal. But, she knows she is in trouble. She sees Desharra moving her hand inside the wetsuit onto her breast with the other hand on the zipper. This will end poorly for me, my arms have already begun to stiffen, but I’m not sure if it would be worth the rush for just that brief moment of bliss. Unfortunately, she never gets it. Desharra’s phone rings (set to vibrate in her back pocket), so she steps back to answer it.
Phoebe, for the second time in this event, feels dejected. Like being “taken” on the chessboard, she has been “dumped” for the phone. She’d pout if she could, but her face is still locked stiffly. “Yeah, I’ll be done soon, just hit a little snag,” Desharra replies to the caller, then says “Bye.” Nodding her head, she heads back to Phoebe. With little fanfare, she picks her rigid form up at the waist; not noticing how light this mannequin is now compared to just a few seconds ago. Phoebe watches the room rise and fall through glassy eyes as she is moved into the next room.
She can see the surfboards along the wall, and racks and racks of clothes, lanyards, and surfing accessories. The room is “over packed” with goods. I have never been in this store, Phoebe recalls, but I did see their coupon and advert on the billboard downtown. It is located in one of those walking strip malls. You park on the outside, and walk through the stores that face each other on either side. There are many “side streets” that allow a lovely stroll outside while shopping for the latest fashions. I’ve been to this mall before, especially Lots O’ Shoes.
Phoebe finds herself being placed in the front window. The Surf’s Up has a corner store, so plenty of space for mannequins and accessories. Phoebe, still seeing the world from the side, watches herself being propped against the wall. She desperately would like to tilt her head to straighten the world out, but not before Desharra climbs into the “window” and makes some adjustments. Phoebe, afraid to try moving since she cannot see where her handler is, waits patiently. She hears the phone vibrate again, and Desharra answers it, rather put out, “Look, this is my job… I’ll be done soon… not my fault she has a big chest… no, you can’t come feel it.” And with that, she hangs up abruptly.
Phoebe feels herself moving again. She can now see out the window into the brick walkways between stores. Desharra stops in front of her again and says, “You are lucky to be plastic, because boys, and I mean BOYS, are nothing but trouble.” She tries again to zip the wetsuit up, but the closure just won’t move. And though her “boy” may be trouble, she doesn’t take the time to fix it. She bends down, out of Phoebe’s vision. Phoebe feels a cold anklet of sorts wrap around her lower leg. Desharra reappears, looks the mannequin over, up and down, and steps away. Phoebe can hear her retreating footsteps.
Okay, she thinks, this could be my moment. No one at the stores yet, and Desharra is in the back. And with that, Phoebe moves her arms and head with little trouble. She quickly checks towards the back of the store and out of the window. Coast still clear. She rotates at her waist and can feel her legs attempting to move. Alright, she “breathes”, I’m coming out of it.
She hears footsteps again, and returns to her stiff display pose. Desharra walks to the other window with the other mannequin. She quickly poses her, clamps the figure on the stand, and hops down. Phoebe, out of the corner of her eye, watches her head to the back and return, checking off her list. Without a wave or acknowledgement, she opens the front door, produces a set of keys from somewhere, and locks up. Phoebe never sees her again, so she must have walked the other way.
Now or never, Phoebe determines. She bends herself in half and unlocks the stand, this taking nothing but a simple pinch. She checks herself, and while she is not quite normal yet, she can move. She looks out the window and freezes. An elderly couple is walking by, wearing their warm-up suits from decades ago. They are moving pretty quickly for their age, but the man slows down as he stares right at Phoebe. Uh, oh, she wonders, did he see me move? As he slows to stop, the granny (not missing a beat) whacks him with her umbrella. He quickly turns and catches up, with one last glance at Phoebe’s shapely figure.
“Thanks, grandma,” she says, but this time out loud. “Oops,” she voices to an empty room. Without control, she giggles, stretching herself out and heaves a big sigh of relief. Hopping down, she moves swiftly to the back of the store. She can’t help but stop in front of a mirror. The wetsuit is hugging her every curve, the zipper is stopped well below where it needs to be, and her chest, not nearly covered enough, shows a scandalous amount of cleavage. What an adventure this has been! She winks at herself, noticing the small mole under her right eye has returned, and states, “I’m human again – ah, to be alive once more.” Giggling for the second time, she ducks back into the storage area.
Stripping and leaving the wetsuit (after glancing at a price tag that made her fold it carefully), she found some old clothes that seemed to be unused. The flowery sundress is a pale eggshell blue, with white flowers on it. It might be a tad small for her, but right now, she has to move. No underwear sold here, so hopefully it’s not a windy day, she thinks. Digging through a box for flip-flops, she finds just what she needs. Nothing they won’t miss, except for the mannequin. Hopefully Desharra won’t get in too much trouble. But she has no time or desire to think about that; she is free and ready to go!
The back door has a simple panic bar, which locks once she leaves. She finds herself checking for her keys or purse before letting the door shut. “Come on, girl,” she says to herself, “You brought nothing but yourself. In fact,“ she adds, “You didn’t even bring yourself here.” Smiling as the only person who would get that joke, she starts the 2-to-3 mile walk home. At least it is a pretty day, nothing to keep me from heading straight back. She stops in the sunlight as she looks at a chessboard on display in a toy store window, then says with a smile, “Except for a quick stop at the community center, I need to pick up a business card that was left for me.”