The distant buzz infiltrates his sleep, drawing him to consciousness. Blinking groggily he rolls over to squint at the noisy menace blaring at him from the bedside table. Huh? That can’t be right. He rubs his eyes and takes another look. Why’d I set my alarm so early? Rolling onto his back he drapes an arm across his eyes, his other hand feeling around for the snooze button. Just another ten minutes...
Except that the uncomfortable pressure of a full bladder, now making its presence well known with the new sleeping position, makes it difficult to return to sleep. He rolls onto his side in an attempt to ignore the desire to pee. After a moment of failure he flings back the doona and swings his legs over the edge of the bed. Rubbing his eyes once more, he wonders irritably why his mattress seems higher than usual, his feet barely able to rest flat on the floor. Assuming Ma-Ti is the underlying cause for the odd prank he heaves himself up and shuffles towards the bathroom, his eyes half-closed in the pale dawn light.
His hip collides painfully with something, and he swears silently. What the? Opening his eyes he looks down at the object of his latest bruise. I don’t have a desk in my room. Feeling suddenly disoriented he looks about the room, trying to recollect where he was and how he got there. His eyes fall on the pile of clothes heaped on the chair beside the bed. A bra lays draped on top of the pile. His eyes widen as he recognises the green and yellow sneakers neatly positioned in front of the chair. Flicking his eyes to the empty bed he tries to recall the previous night, his thoughts racing as to how he had come to end up in her room.
Recollecting that he woke alone, he looks towards the bathroom. Holding his breath he listens for any noise emanating from the room. Straining to hear anything he edges closer to the door, reaching for the door knob. With a false sense of bravado he resolutely opens the door a crack and peers in. Empty. Letting out his breath in a sigh, noting the odd, slightly high-pitched tone – must just be from nervous anticipation – he pads towards the toilet, still eager to relieve himself. He reaches down to lift the toilet seat and pauses, catching sight of his arm. Dropping the seat with a clatter he lifts his hand to his face, staring at it with growing anxiety. What the fuck?! Someone’s chopped off my arms and replaced them with Linka’s!
Realising the absurdity of such a suggestion – surely I’d remember having my arms hacked off, and I’d at least be sore where they stuck the new ones on – he cast the thought from his mind. Refocusing on the outstretched hand still in front of his face, he stares at the ring wrapped comfortably around the forefinger. Lowering his arm shakily, he tentatively looks down. Two small, pert breasts interrupt his vision and for a second – or two – he is transfixed by the sight. He draws his arms up to pat the breasts, a stupid grin resting on his features until he suddenly grasps the gravity of the situation.
His face drops. Oh no. No, no, no, please no. Please tell me it’s... He hooks a thumb over the waist band of the pale-yellow cotton boxers and squeezing his eyes shut, stretches the elastic out. Drawing a deep breath he opens his eyes and takes a peek. He released the elastic with a snap, his head spinning and a wave of nausea washing over him. Slowly lowering the toilet lid he turns and sits down, resting his elbows on his knees, his head hanging between his legs. He takes several deep breaths as the sickening feeling abates. He notices the golden strands hanging beside his face and reality begins to sink in. Scrubbing his hands over his face – Linka’s hands, over her face. Oh man, this is gonna get too confusing – it dawns on him that Linka might wake up in his body.
Oh shit. He bursts from the bathroom, skidding on the door mat outside the front door with arms flailing, and runs towards his own cabin.
“LINKA!!” he cries, not used to the strange twist of his words and the tone escaping his mouth.