Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pink Gladiolas

I am pleased to present, for your reading pleasure, "Pink Gladiolas" by Edith Bellamy.  This story holds a special place in my heart.  This was the very first piece of TG fiction that I ever read.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did all of those years ago.
As always, be sure to vote for the next story that I will be posting.
Pink Gladiolas by Edith Bellamy

Geoffrey Rathbun, a genetics engineer, becomes an unwitting subject for one of his experimental products.

Chapter 1.
Through the waning burr of my last Demerol injection wafts the velvety lilt of Jamaican English saying, "They call it 'Pink Gladiolas,' child. I look it up in the art book once because girls all the time ask me the same question. The American artist Georgia O'Keeffe paint it. Ev'ry room here has a diff'rent one of those flowers. Girls say the paintings relax them. Now let's see where you're at."

As she speaks, Angela efficiently pulls a sterile latex glove over her right hand. Fingers extended, she holds her hand erect and strangely immobile, like the limb of a statue, while she waves my thighs apart with an authoritative back-and-forth sweep of her ungloved left hand.

Her right arm comes alive again. Her fingers plunge into me unceremoniously, seeking my cervix. My mind drifts back to how Calvin had forgotten to sheath himself in latex when he plunged into me nearly an eternity ago, and look at me now! What does he know about this incredible pain, now thankfully absent but sure to return any moment with the crescendo of another contraction?

Everyone, it seems, has lied to me about childbirth, at every miserable step along the way. An endless string of lies winding back to the dawn of human existence, lies to ensure survival of the race, no doubt. Lies proclaiming maternity as the crowning glory of womanhood. Worth any sacrifice. Transcendent, ennobling, sanctifying, fulfilling.

What a callous deception! To endure nausea and sleepless nights, constant back pain, always too-tight clothes, bloated discomfort, incessant trips to the toilet. Then sudden kicks from within and bizarre writhing feelings in my belly at any time of day or night. Now swollen, tender breasts leaking colostrum even through the absorbent pads of my nursing bra—soon to be put to actual use. Hemorrhoids, too, and constant spotting these last two weeks as if I were a cracked cistern.

To endure all this and now to be clobbered with such ridiculous pain! And even after it's all over, it's really just starting: more sleepless nights, chafed nipples, breast pumps, smelly diapers, no help from Calvin, and having to do the laundry and shopping and cooking and cleaning just the same. Indentured servitude for eighteen years!

Angela withdraws her hand and peels off her glove with a snap. "You're effaced and near fully dilated, child," she says. "The baby goin' to be here by midnight. I go get the gurney now and call the deliv'ry room team."

I groan and turn my head again toward "Pink Gladiolas." I try to concentrate on it during my all-too-brief respite from pain. I am still panting—and outraged—from my last contraction.

Surely some maleficent feminist interior designer has deliberately chosen O'Keeffe's paintings for this labor ward. That's it, I muse, it's the ultimate in interior design, isn't it? O'Keeffe must have found a model in heat and put her up in stirrups, for the painting resembles nothing so much as a woman's flagrantly flared penetralia, framed by the suggestive folds of a pudendal white curtain. Blossoms of mucosal pink, expectantly engorged and elegantly frilled like the vibrant mating ruffles of some exotic tropical lizard, arise from a purple vase. The edges of their petals are just a bit too well-defined, precisely like inner labia aroused.

Further speculation on the painting is abruptly curtailed as my next contraction hits with the force of a freeway overpass collapsing in an earthquake. With the Demerol gone, first I feel stunned, then drained—an overture for the ghastly inrush of pain—a taut bubble wells up in my belly and spreads through my body like a negative orgasm. I scream, "Angela, come back, I need you!"

Never again!

I laugh bitterly through a red haze of pain, then, in sudden sepulchral silence, I spiral off above it all, onto a higher plane. I look down at myself writhing on the labor room bed, the sheets twisted into fat ropes, my hospital gown hoisted up in a sweaty roll above my breasts, once shapely and smooth but now huge and disfigured by angry purple striae, their dusky red areolas the size of demitasse saucers. My distended belly—also marred by jagged purple streaks—resembles one of those round heaps of wheat Solomon is always yammering about in his infernal Song. Had he borne even one of the hundred babies he fathered, he would probably not have been so enraptured over pregnant bellies.

Angela reappears at my bedside with a tubex of Demerol. She mechanically rolls me over onto my side—to roll me all the way over is a geometric impossibility. She briskly abrades a patch of one buttock with an alcohol sponge, and injects me. She goes out and returns with a gurney. "Slide over onto it, child," she commands, her voice like velvet, as she pulls my bottom sheet with strong, chocolate-colored hands. "You goin' to have your baby now."

I do as commanded. Angela snaps up the sides of the gurney, pushes me out of the labor room and down the hallway. I feel the Demerol buzz already coming on, softening my next contraction. The gurney glides along noiselessly, as if suspended in air. We pass another O'Keeffe—"Blue Flower," its orange stamen unmistakably a clitoris. We reach the delivery suite; double doors swing inward with a pneumatic hiss. I raise my head and see the vacant delivery table starkly awaiting me like a post-modern torture device—arm boards splayed out like a crucifix, stirrups spread impossibly wide. Its unbuckled straps dangle in confident anticipation of a victim. I slide off the gurney and over onto the delivery table, assisted now by two pairs of hands.

My feet are put into the cold stainless steel stirrups, my wrists and ankles are restrained by broad leather straps lined with lambs' wool: I am spread-eagled for childbirth. I lift my head again to see what's about to be done to me down there, but I can't see past my mountainous belly. All I can really move are my fingers, my toes and my head, so I ball up my fists and thrash my head side to side as yet another contraction hits. My contractions are now almost continuous.

A dab of cold jelly on my abdomen. The fetal monitor transducer is taped in place and the delivery room fills with the amplified, frantic sounds of my baby's heartbeat.

Chapter 2.

I haven't always been like this, you know. That is, I haven't always been pregnant. But, no, that's not quite true, either: I have always been pregnant.

O, sorry! I see I'm confusing you. Let me start over and make myself perfectly clear: I've been a woman only nine months, which is exactly how long I've been pregnant, so I've always been pregnant since I've been a woman, and vice-versa. O, sorry again! I see you're more confused than ever. All right, then, as frightfully embarrassing as it is, I really ought to begin…at the very beginning. Then you'll understand how I ended up here having this baby and looking at "Pink Gladiolas."

It all began with chicken feed. That's right, you heard me correctly: chicken feed.

I was once what scientists call an applied genetics engineer, which means I did not work for a university, but for private industry at three times the salary—manipulating DNA for profit. My name used to be Geoffrey Rathbun. I'm a Stanford grad with a Ph.D. in recombinant genetics. Or make that "was," as I have forgotten most of the technical knowledge I ever learned when my Y-chromosomes translocated, or whatever it was they did that night. Don't ask me, I don't know a thing about that anymore! I'm just a dumb broad now. My female mind is vacant, uncluttered by facts.

I was forty-six years old, married, with two kids. I worked for NutriGen in Raleigh, North Carolina. My job was to develop potent chicken feed additives that would put lots of weight on millions of birds fast with at the least possible tonnage of feed. Our goal was to bring a fryer from egg to market in twenty-seven days. Chickens are a ten billion dollar-a-year industry in the U.S., you know, so lowering the cost of production by only a few fractions of a cent per pound can be worth a lot of money to huge chicken conglomerates like Chickens-R-Us or Continental Poultry.

You might remember the controversy about how we put estrogens into chicken feed back in the '80's. Estrogen speeds up avian development. A chicken's metabolism completely breaks down estrogen, of course, so none ends up in its eggs or its meat, but it was a PR disaster. It put one of our competitors out of business, in fact: GenFowl, Ltd.

At NutriGen, we were more careful—by tweaking isomers and carbon bonds, and altering an amino acid sequence or two, we were able to market an estrogen-like additive we named NutriBird-32, that, as far as chickens were concerned, was as good as the real McCoy. It could not be shown to have any in vitro activity on human cells, so it could not be classified as an estrogen and was therefore able to win Department of Agriculture approval. It brought birds from hatchery to market in 32 days, not quite our target, but pretty close.

We never tested NutriBird-32 on living people, of course—we didn't have to, since it was an animal feed additive, not a pharmaceutical, hence did not fall under FDA jurisdiction. I had my own doubts, based on what it did to male laboratory rats—they lost their aggressiveness and libido, put on more brown fat and yielded food and females to untreated males. But I kept quiet, of course. NutriGen's profit sharing plan was too attractive, my stock options worth too much to raise even the whisper of a doubt.

Tonight Calvin and I are in Modesto, California with twelve frozen vials of NutriBird-27, the entire yield from our latest lab run. The only difference from NutriBird-32 is two extra adenosine molecules at the gamma-118 cross-linkage, but this little change triples its potency. Tomorrow morning we have to show up at eight o'clock sharp at Continental Poultry Feed Mill Number Two, where they'll blend the NutriBird-27 into the day's run of feed. Each vial will be diluted in a 55-gallon drum of distilled water, then mixed with a ton of feed.

Calvin is my lab assistant, twenty-eight, blonde, tall, strapping and single. A farm boy from Asheville, he's not overly bright but is stolid and reliable, with a fine sense of intuition about carrying out my experiments. Calvin started working summers in my lab while he was at Duke. He did so well and the money was so good that he interrupted college for a year after his second summer. He never went back—nine years later, he's still in my lab.

We're staying at the Modesto Ramada Inn out on West Orangeburg Avenue. Our connection out of Oakland was canceled, so we rented a car and drove. We check in at nine-thirty. There's a Safflower Oil convention in town, so the place is packed, but we manage to get, of all rooms, the bridal suite. Can you imagine anyone's starting a honeymoon in Modesto? There's a heart-shaped king-size bed with pink satin sheets and quilted spread, with a matching quilted headboard. Pink moiré satin wallpaper and drapes, thick plush wall-to-wall carpet in a slightly clashing shade. In the pink-tiled bathroom, there's an old-style French bidet to keep the bride fresh and dainty. I'm the boss, so I get the king-size heart. Calvin's the assistant, so he gets the rollaway.

Calvin puts the little Styrofoam container with the vials in the fridge, one of those dwarf ones, where you have to bend down to see in. "Put it on top of the ice trays," I tell him. I take a shower, stretch out on my bed in my bathrobe, start surfing channels while Calvin takes his. I find a John Ford western just starting, so while the credits are running, I go to the fridge for a Sprite. Damn, they must have just re-stocked the fridge ten minutes before we checked in—the cans are all still warm. So I slide out an ice tray, twist its spine and dump the undersize cubes into a tumbler, pour in the Sprite, carry it back to the bed. The wagon train is just pulling into Monument Valley, right on schedule, as the director's name fades from the screen.

Calvin comes in from the bathroom, towel wrapped around his midriff, and plumps down on the bed. We watch the film. I finish two more Sprites, and when Henry Fonda kisses Linda Darnell for the last time, I feel sort of queasy, feel my guts turn over. Calvin's already asleep, so I nudge him with my elbow and send him off to his rollaway, turn off the TV and the reading lamp and drift off, still feeling an odd churning in my lower abdomen.

Chapter 3.

I awaken at six-thirty, my bladder full to bursting, a queer, humid feeling, not wholly unpleasant, between my legs. But no nausea, no more churning. Scratching my head, I stumble off to the bathroom, not bothering to close the door. Standing at the toilet, I pull aside the elastic leg band of my jockey shorts with the automaticity of a lifetime—but my fingers do not find that which for a lifetime has been there. Instead, they feel a firm mound, a mound softly cleft straight down its center like a…like a…

I must still be asleep and dreaming! This can't possibly be! But it is! I frantically trace the cleft downwards. My fingers encounter a moist aperture which they plunge into with little resistance. At the same instant, this preposterous and insanely sensitive aperture feels—that is, I feel—my fingers' abrupt entry into—me! A sickening pause—they are softly gripped, then coaxed deeper inside by some primordial muscular reflex beyond my control. I stand there like a bizarre statue, my fingers thrust inside what can only be a—. My mind balks at the word. This can't be happening to me!

I jerk my fingers out of my body as if they've just touched a hot stove. My heart turns over and misses a beat. I tear off my jockey shorts, look down and gasp to discover a perfectly contoured mons veneris, crowned by a tuft of wispy, amber hair, sparse enough so that the appalling cleft I have just probed is readily visible. Of what I formerly possessed between my legs no trace remains: I now wear the perforate badge of femininity.

The ice! Ignoring my full bladder and now fully awake, I bound back into the bedroom and yank open the fridge, grab the Styrofoam container and return to the bathroom, where there's light. I slice the tape between the two halves with a fingernail and rip off the top. Two of the twelve little vials sit lower than the others. I grasp the tip of one, extract it from its cavity—it is smashed. So is the other. I hold up the container to inspect its bottom—each cavity has a tiny drain hole. The Styrofoam is slightly damp around the ones where the broken vials are.

By now I am soaked with clammy perspiration. I don't need a Ph.D. in recombinant genetics to figure out that at least some of the vials' contents must have leaked onto the ice cubes. And each vial is enough to treat one ton of feed! Picogram amounts are all that is needed in chickens and I might have ingested milligrams, a billion times more!

I spin around towards the mirror over the sink, relieved to see my own reflection unchanged—except for the mound at the base of my belly with its blunt-rimmed, fleshy groove coursing downwards, like a mutilating wound.

I struggle to weigh the extent of the damage. "This could be worse, far worse. I'm still basically me. At least I can pass as a man until this can be fixed," I reassure myself. The wave of nauseating panic recedes, displaced by a cold, gnawing dread about my immediate future.

Speaking of which, for some odd reason the image of Calvin plumping down next to me on the bed last night after his shower, clad only in a scanty motel towel, unaccountably pops into my head. Why am I thinking of Calvin? I'm the one with a problem, not him! Then I feel the insistent pressure of my full bladder again—mindful of a humiliating rearrangement in bodily plumbing, I lower the seat and sit like a girl, straight-backed, hands primly folded in pathetic inducement of calmness. After a few moments' hesitation while I seek out the right muscles to relax—believe me, they are different!—I release my urine, which, to my mortification, sprays diffusely, though with audible force, against the porcelain inside the front of the bowl with a high, girlish "fssssssss."

"Aaaah," I sigh in relief. Another long "fsssss," and then Calvin lurches in through the bathroom door, buck naked, just in time to catch the end of that long, tell-tale girlish "fsssss" and the two short terminal "fss's" as I expel the last bit. He freezes, eyes popping, jaw agape. I spread my legs and daintily pat myself dry, then stand and flush. We are facing each other, eight feet apart, speechless. We've been racquetball partners for years: Calvin knows what I have. I mean, had.

A masked face pops up out of the blind spot between my legs. "Hi! I'm Pam," it cheerily announces, "one of the delivery room nurses. I'm going to prep you now. Then I'll set up the mirror so you can watch Baby come out." I nod feebly. I feel Pam slosh about a pint of cool Betadyne solution over my lower abdomen, shaved vulva and perineum. The drips plash on the shiny floor. She scrubs me thoroughly with gauze four-by-fours caught up in a hemostat. "The first one is always the worst," she prattles, pushing one knee a bit farther outwards to expose an unswabbed crease in my groin, "It gets a lot easier with the others. I have five." My belly gets rock-hard again and I think I shall explode with the pain. "Oh, look! You're about to crown" Pam chirrups, in the universal tone one reserves for small children, invalids and mental defectives. "We'll have to hurry. Doctor will be here in a minute."

While I suffer my worst contraction yet, Pam drapes my legs and belly with green paper sheets. She swivels a large ceiling-mounted mirror into position and adjusts it, coming up to me and putting her face next to mine several times to look up into the mirror from my perspective, and re-adjusts it until I have a clear and unimpaired view of my shaved perineum.

"How's that?" she asks. She expects—and receives—no rely.

Chapter 4.

Calvin rubs his eyes, shakes his head briskly to further waken himself, for what he's just witnessed is impossible. He gives a low whistle and points accusingly at Exhibit A, as if a crime has been committed. "What the hell's going on, Geoff?" he asks. "You've got a cunt."

"If you don't mind," I say, bristling indignantly, "I believe it's officially called a vagina." "OK, whatever," he replies, raising his eyebrows. Calvin comes closer and bends forward, hands on his knees, to get a better look. His right hand makes a tentative twitch, as if to reach out and touch me. I recoil a step. He restrains himself. "Where'd it come from?" he asks, straightening up.

I show Calvin the Styrofoam container and the broken vials. As I explain, he nods in understanding and finally closes his mouth, but his gaze can't keep from stealing back to my little bush every few seconds. His eyes assume a lascivious glint, then he blushes and self-consciously tears his gaze away. I think I see his cock stir. Perhaps it's only my imagination, but, as much as I want to, I dare not look again, just as he is trying is trying his best not to look at my twat. We both glance warily downwards anyway, I at him, he at me—with unaccustomed interest.

I have never looked at a man as I find myself looking at Calvin, nor has any man ever looked at me the way he is now. I'd never really noticed just how well-hung he is, but from my freshly altered perspective, I can see that he's definitely north of large (a draft horse springs to mind), whereas I am…I am now soft and defenselessly penetrable. No sooner do I realize that I can be penetrated just like a woman than I feel an odd thrill down there—a little surge of moisture radiates up through my belly like a dark stain spreading in an absorbent white fabric—a sensation wholly inside me, alien but recognizably sexual.

We remain facing each other in a bizarre tableau vivant. My pulse races. I feel another, more urgent, stirring—an incipient melting, like a wax figure softened in hot summer sunlight that has just lost its well-defined edges before commencing to flow. The sensation is overwhelmingly delicious. It makes me inhale sharply through dilated nostrils and close my eyes until it passes. I can guess readily enough where all this is leading.

"I know what you're thinking, Calvin," I say, having just visualized the obvious possibility. We are standing very close now, looking straight into one another's eyes. "You're thinking of fucking me, aren't you?" I ask. Almost imperceptibly, he nods in the affirmative and I break out in goose bumps. The very thought of my lab assistant's fucking me is wildly absurd, but its physical feasibility is palpably real. We both feel the sexual tension between us. I feel myself soften further.

I swallow hard and say, "OK, I might be willing to let you fuck me…" I glance down at Calvin's endowments again, this time to gauge the probable fit of things, and hastily add, "but only if you let me call the shots and promise to stop right away if you're hurting me."

The glint in Calvin's eyes returns, intensifies. Promising nothing, he says, "What about Feed Mill Number Two? We're supposed to be there at eight."

"Call them at eight-oh-five and say we're still in Oakland. Tell them our flight got in late. Tell them anything you like. See if you can reschedule for the same time tomorrow. And be sure to tell them we have only ten vials of NutriBird-27, not twelve."

I retrieve my jockey shorts from the floor and pull them on in dubious deference to feminine modesty, for they are ludicrously baggy at the crotch. I return to the bedroom, followed rather closely by Calvin, who seems to be panting a bit. (There's simply no accounting for a man's sexual preferences!) I pull open the drawer of the writing table, remove a pad of paper, then sit, grab a pen and begin making a list.

Three pairs of plain white cotton panties, in different sizes, at least one of which is bound to fit me. A box of tampons. A box of maxi-pads in case I can't get the hang of tampons right off. A box of pantiliners—any brand. (I am a very fastidious fellow and always take every precaution—the very thought of actually bleeding from this…this new aperture of mine is horribly repugnant.) A mirror with a handle. A flashlight. Two plastic shoehorns. A tube of K-Y jelly. And, last, a dozen condoms. Bare essentials for using a new vagina.

I hand the list to Calvin. "What do you want me to do with this?" he asks, glancing it over.

"You're going shopping for me. Here's fifty dollars," I say, taking a bill from my wallet and handing it to him. "There's a Walmart on South 9th. They probably open at seven thirty. Get everything exactly as on the list. And no little rosebuds on the panties—just plain, white cotton ones, OK? I don't think I can face little rosebuds quite yet.

"Call Continental Poultry. And be back by eight-thirty. We can try it out as soon as you get back, to see if it actually works the way it's supposed to. I've always been curious to know what a woman feels when she's getting fucked. This might be my only chance, so don't be late. No telling how long this vagina might last, though right now I have to admit that it feels kind of…" and my voice quavers a bit, "…permanent."

"Yup, it looks like it'll keep a good while, but I'll hurry anyway," Calvin replies. He disappears into the bathroom (closing the door), but I can still hear the sound of his forceful stream—a poignant reminder of what I have lost. After brushing his teeth and washing his face, he returns to the bedroom, dresses as fast as a fireman, and rushes out, shoes still unlaced, leaving me with the admonition, "Don't go away, now!"

And me? What do you think? The moment he's out the door, I head for the bed, pull off my jockeys again, lie down on my back and begin to explore my new female equipment.

I prop myself up on pillows, part my legs and tentatively slide my hand down along my belly until I reach my incipient groove, then cup myself firmly, my mound and points south already beginning to radiate heat.

Chapter 5.

The male genitalia are not too aesthetically pleasing if you're a normal heterosexual man, but at least they are visible, definite and rather forthright, especially, of course, when you're excited, the fact of which cannot be concealed. A vagina, on the other hand, is none of those things, because, except for the outer labia, it's all protectively tucked up inside you. It's secretive, hidden, dark, damp and amorphous. Apart from your mons veneris—which is as neat and trim as the downy-soft breast of a thrush—the actual vagina part is crammed full of folds, membranes, layers and ridges, far more intricate than, say, a piece of origami.

It's very hard to see into because it's so deep and stays closed most of the time. In fact, it's not easy to make your vagina open without spreading your legs apart or sitting Indian-style, except when you yawn, then it opens only a little and closes up right away. And even when it gets all turned on and sloshingly wet, it still doesn't "show," though the damp stain on your panties might give you away. It's your intimate feminine secret, unless you want to share it with someone.

A vagina's most striking aspect, though, isn't its concealed intricacies or its moistness, but how incredibly soft and sensitive it is, particularly the labia and the clitoris and the first inch or two, which I think is called the vestibule. The outer labia are at least as velvety soft as a rose petal or a butterfly's wing, if not softer, especially if you have meticulously shaved them—which, just take my word for it, is not all that easy to do.

Men haven't got the slightest notion of how delicate your vagina is. No matter how often you tell them they have to use a light touch, they go right to work on you like they are sanding a boat or filing a saw. But the least little brush of your own fingertips along your labia, just about half-way down, can set you off, or sometimes merely crossing your legs and shifting them just so. Simply nuzzling your slit up against the corner of your washing machine during the spin cycle works wonders in taking the boredom out of doing the laundry. Riding a bike isn't too bad, either, depending on the saddle. With just a little imagination and a few simple props, a woman can keep herself going all day.

And as for your clit, well, it's not a good idea to touch it directly, not at first, anyway, though when you're really hot, it likes to be touched by the head or the shaft of a cock. It likes that a lot, believe me! But most of the time, your clit much prefers to be very lightly fingered through its little hood of soft skin. If you want my advice, don't ever let a man touch your clit with his fingers. Try to teach him to use his tongue on you instead. But I am getting ahead of myself.

At any rate, the more I poke around in my vagina, the wetter it becomes. It definitely likes having my fingers in it. And that brings me to another important point—whether merely moist when it's "at ease," or sopping wet when it's aroused, your vagina pretty much always has this peculiarly vulnerable feeling, not really an emptiness, but a nagging desire to be penetrated, to enfold. It's like a hunger pang, really, which gets a lot more intense if it thinks it's about to be satisfied right away—then it just can't wait to get something warm, smooth and firm up inside it, something preferably at least eight inches long and two inches thick.

Of course, I am discovering all these interesting particulars for the very first time, relishing each novel sensation as it comes along. I have always been a quick learner, so after a few minutes I am rhythmically stroking my labia up and down with brief excursions of two fingers of one hand, while massaging my clit though its delicate hood, in a circular motion, with the middle finger of my other hand. I interrupt the rhythm every now and again by plunging my fingers deep into me to renew their lubrication. I can literally stir myself like a warm pudding.

I've had my fingers in vaginas before, to be sure, but never in one that is actually mine, the main difference being that this one is reciprocally feeling my fingers inside it, and is busily shooting shafts of intense pleasure up through my belly, followed by expanding circlets of glowing liquefaction. It's kind of like a little internal fireworks display—brief, clustered explosions of brilliant white sparks alternating with slow bursts of long colored streamers that fade.

Very soon my vagina is so wet that it starts making those funny little smacky-kissy sounds each time I reposition my legs or dip in my fingers and stir them around. I can even smell my own musk. I suddenly find myself teetering deliciously on the knife edge of what can only be the World-Famous Female Orgasm that's perpetually featured in almost every women's magazine, so I abruptly stop, put my arms at my sides, clench my hands and lie still, savoring the excruciating intensity of the teetering itself.

But I can't take this drawn-out sexual suspense for too long, I must rush over that edge, so my hand steals back, and this time I use my forefinger gently to retract the hood over my clit, and with my middle finger, ever-so-softly roll the glans round and round, like a diminutive pea, flicking it one way and then the other beneath my fingertip. I begin to moan. My clit loves the soft pressure and little pop of release when it rolls out from under the pad of my finger.

That does it: my legs start jerking by themselves and all my muscles contract spasmodically as if a thousand volts are zapping my body. A sweet wet warmth surges through me and the world goes magenta. My vagina ripples of its own accord.

"Unhhh, unhhh, unhhh, unhhh, unhhh!" I grunt in time to the ripples. As I slowly relax, it's as if a floodgate has opened, releasing a rush of warm honey through my arteries, suffusing every part of my body, even to the tips of my fingers and toes. I groan as my new female membranes flutter, quiver, then at last settle down. Stunned, I lie on the bed for perhaps five minutes, gasping in shocked disbelief at what has just happened: the World-Famous Female Orgasm is definitely not overrated.

Chapter 6.

Through a fog of narcotized pain I gaze up into the mirror to see that my delicate and sensitive labia—both pairs—are stretched and thinned almost to tearing, and that my whole shaven and orange-painted bottom is bulging outwards like a cantaloupe melon. My labia are parted in a narrow vertical ellipse from which a shock of wet pale blonde hair—not mine—protrudes: the top of my baby's head! I stare in mesmerized fascination.

"Where's Doctor Blake?" yells Pam. Someone says, "She's just finishing a C-section. She should be here any minute." Another contraction: I see the ellipse abruptly expand, revealing more wet blonde hair. Pam puts her hand on the baby's head and pushes against it, to keep it from coming out uncontrolled. "Where's Dr. Blake?" she yells again. The contraction wracks me. I hear myself scream.

In a burst of sudden resolution, I spring from the bed and dash back to the bathroom for the Styrofoam container. My hands lightly trembling, I remove the ten unbroken vials, snap off their necks one by one and pour their contents into an empty tumbler. I go to the fridge, get another can of Sprite—no ice needed now—fill the glass and eagerly drain it, disregarding the bitterness. Then I get back into bed, pull the covers up to my chin, and wait for Calvin to return. Our visit to Continental Poultry Feed Mill Number Two is now definitely off—for good.

Within minutes my transmutation is complete, remarkably painless except for a fine tearing sensation, like the rending of silk, as my hips broaden. I take only a quick peek at myself in the bathroom mirror because I want to be in bed to surprise Calvin when he returns, and it is nearly eight-thirty. One quick peek is all I need—well, OK, a few quick peeks, then.

The only thing that has not changed is the length of my hair, which is still closely cropped, but now darkly blonde, without any gray. I am smaller, shorter, lighter, two decades younger and a thousand percent female. My features are still recognizably mine, though soft and delicate. I have an attractive face, which betrays less than a towering intellect. I have fine, arched eyebrows and thick lashes above large brown eyes; a petite nose, its tip slightly upturned, set off by cheeks sprinkled with the remnant of freckles; a smallish mouth with full lips lightly parted, conveying an air of mild, breathless surprise.

My neck is white and graceful, my shoulders soft and rounded. My breasts are high, pert and not pendulous—globular below, with that enticing concavity above that slopes down to each nipple like a diminutive ski jump. A high waist as well, fanning out to hips not excessively wide, which frame a broad belly, slightly protuberant in promise of fecundity. My little cleft mound is the same as I have already described, save that now, set into a thoroughly female framework, it no longer appears freakish. Au contraire, it looks elegant, adorable. My derrière is womanly without being obtrusively large—when I look over my shoulder to inspect it in the mirror, I am pleased to see I have those twin dimples on either side of the base of my spine, like the curlicues cut into a 'cello. Long, shapely legs, small feet, a soft, swaying gait dictated by the altered camber of my hips. In short, I exceed my own ideal of a fuckable woman. I find myself looking forward with lively anticipation to losing the virginity I have just so lately acquired.

I get back into bed to await Calvin's return, glad now for the satin sheets, which titillate my smooth, hairless skin. My only regret is that I had not instructed Calvin to buy me some elegant panties. Boring white cotton ones no longer suit my mood. I crave being stroked through something silky and sheer.

Calvin breezes in at exactly eight thirty. I am sitting up in bed, sheets drawn up to my chin—and smirking. He pushes the door shut and advances towards the bed. The moment he sees my face, he realizes what the bedclothes now conceal. To tease him with a little preview, I let the sheet slide part way down, exposing one breast with its brick-red nipple already erect. For the second time that morning, Calvin freezes, his jaw drops and his eyes seem to start from his head. He tosses the Wal-mart bag on the bed and stares, open-mouthed, at that one lovely breast.

His lips contort into a leer, but just for a moment. Then he says, "You drank all the other vials, Geoff, didn't you?"

"Had to, Calvin. Couldn't help myself," I reply, hearing my young woman's soprano for the first time. I let fall the sheet, exposing myself all the way down to the top of my mound. Calvin's eyes widen further. His lips are evidently dry; he nervously licks them. Fingers stiffly spread, begins running his hands up and down the legs of his trousers as if to keep them from doing something else.

"Let's see that mirror and flashlight," I say, pulling down the sheets all the way, revealing my nude female self to a man for the very first time. "I want to see exactly what I've got before I let you fuck me. Will you help me get a look?" I shift my long legs, jackknifing one knee. A faint, wet, smacking sound, which we both hear but choose not to notice, issues from you-know-where.

Calvin looks me over hungrily, licks his lips again and stops rubbing his hands up and down. He abruptly reaches for the bag and empties it out onto the bed. Everything is there, and much more—Calvin, using his uncanny instinct, has bought out half the Walmart lingerie aisle, it seems. There must at least two dozen panties in all cuts and fabrics, including three pairs in plain white cotton—without dainty rosebuds.

Staring unblinkingly into my eyes, Calvin silently passes me the hand mirror. I lie back, slide my heels up towards my rump and spread my legs. He flicks on the flashlight, aiming the beam right at my slit. I tilt the mirror until I have a good view, then angle it this way and that to inspect myself from every perspective the mirror allows.

I am astonished by the extent of my slit—from where it begins in my mons clear back to the cleft of my hairless buttocks is a good six inches, maybe more. It looks like a mutilating gash. I spread my thighs further and am rewarded by a glint of my pink penetralia. Calvin tentatively brings his free hand up as if to touch it. I quickly close myself with the protective instinct of a penetrable creature, and bring a shielding hand over my slit.

"Not yet, Calvin!" I admonish. "First, the shoe horns. Go wash them off."

Calvin begins to demur. "Geoff, isn't this is going just a little too far? Are you sure you want to do this? You'll have plenty of time to look at it after we—"

"Don't argue. Just do it," I say, cutting him off. So he puts down the flashlight, grabs the two plastic shoehorns and heads for the bathroom, where I hear him washing them off. He returns, sits on the bed beside me and asks, "OK, what do we do now?"

"First we put the K-Y jelly on the shoehorns," I reply. "Then I'll hold the mirror and one of the shoehorns. You take the flashlight and the other shoehorn." "OK," he says, so we slather the shoehorns with the jelly, I open my legs wide again and we each gingerly insert our shoehorn at either end of my slit, mine above, his below. We slide them in sideways and then rotate them into position. We try to pull them apart, but they encounter resistance. I try relaxing another unfamiliar muscle or two. Bingo! My tissues abruptly soften, then succumb to the pressure of the makeshift speculum, the blades of which now can be spread. As my vagina gapes, I feel the cooler air of the room against its walls. Calvin directs the flashlight beam up inside me. My vagina is ridged and furrowed and frighteningly deep. Its wet pinkness glistens in the light.

"Pull yours further down," I say, as I pull my shoehorn further up. We see the end of the tunnel—my gray-pink nulliparous cervix, like a little dome, or, more accurately put, a miniature, pink-glazed doughnut. We stare wordlessly, I into the mirror, and Calvin, his face next to the mirror, into me. After perhaps half a minute I say, "I've seen enough now." I slide out my shoehorn and gently push Calvin's hand down and away, slipping his shoehorn out of me, too. I reach over to the bed table, put down the mirror and shoehorn, grab a Kleenex and wipe away the excess K-Y jelly, restoring as much dignity as my position allows, which is to say, not very much.

"Thanks for the show," says Calvin. "Looks to me like it'll work just fine! So, for God sakes, are you going to let me fuck you now or not? You're just stalling, Geoff."

"Fuck me?" I echo, with bland innocence. "O, right! I remember now. Sure. Just give me a sec, Calvin." I can't suppress a certain perverse pleasure in putting him off, in whetting his edge. Twenty-something men are so damned eager—they see a girl and right away all they want to do is fuck her! But I want to get into some sexy panties and enjoy a bit of foreplay. Besides, being a prick-tease is fun.

"A vagina should never be fucked until it's been properly stroked through sheer panties," I tell Calvin pedantically. "That's always been my motto, and now that I have one of my own, I am certainly not going to let you fuck it until you stroke it through a nice silky pair. So why don't we pick some out?"

Calvin rolls his eyes heavenwards as if seeking forbearance. "OK, OK!" he says, "Here! Have some panties, then!" He bends over the soft heap of panties and starts rifling through them, scattering the plainer ones to the far corners of the room. I am on hands and knees watching him. Walmart is not Victoria's Secret, but Calvin has managed a reasonable selection. I know nothing of women's underwear sizes. "What am I, a six? A seven? Hey, isn't that one about a medium?" I ask, snatching a nice pair of shimmering, champagne-colored Lycra briefs in mid-flight. I flick out the size tab. It says M.

"These should do the trick nicely," I say, so I bite through the plastic tie holding the price tag, remove it, stand and step into them. I give a little gasp as I pull them up all the way and feel the downy gusset snuggle my labia—one softness caressing another. The panties hug my curves like a second skin. I smile beatifically and release the waistband with a crisp little snap. The waistband, no wider than my pinkie (now not very wide), has a tiny satin bow in front, right below my navel. I am enchanted. Calvin is by now quite red in the face.

I'm an ethereal wood nymph. I whirl away from the bed and dance a bacchanal in unfettered celebration of what I am about to receive. I pirouette, curtsey and flit, cup my breasts and spin.

I'm a brazen cabaret dancer. I roll my belly, gyrate my hips, wriggle my bottom, all the while making come-hither gestures with my hands—and with other parts. I regret I have no bump-and-grind music to accompany me and no tasseled pasties to twirl.

I'm a supermodel. I indolently stroll down a runway—expressionless, disdainful and frigid, with the blank eyes of a doll. I strike a pose with one hip sharply cocked.

I'm utterly female.

After this gratifying exhibitionist interlude, I return to the bed, where Calvin is sitting on his hands and gnawing his lower lip. I execute a decent approximation of a ballerina's swan bow, arms flared out behind me, palms upwards, fingers splayed, face only inches from the carpet. I am thrilled at my extreme flexibility. Straightening, I plant myself before Calvin, chin high, hands defiantly knuckled on my Lycra-clad hips, shapely legs astride—like a petite colossus—so close to him that my breasts are almost brushing his face. I feel his breath on my nipples. It tingles deliciously.

"OK, Calvin," I announce with studied nonchalance, "Now I'll let you fuck me, if you're still interested, that is." In point of fact, I am frantic to be serviced.

Chapter 7.

Without a word, Calvin stands, picks me up as if I were light as a feather and tosses me, on my back, into the middle of the big satin heart. The force of my fall causes my thighs to part. I do not bring them together again—in fact, I spread them even more widely. Calvin undresses in haste. Already majestically erect, he lies down next to me and nuzzles my breasts. I search out one of his hands with mine to draw it down between my tremulous thighs. My other hand finds his cock, encircling it—barely.

"Lightly now," I whisper, and he begins to stroke me through my panties, not expertly—I have to lift his hand away once or twice and reapply it to show him the right pressure—but adequately enough. After a few delicious minutes, I feel myself flood and realize I have soaked clear through my panties.

I, On the other hand, know just how to stroke him. He moans in response and begins nibbling my nipple. He quickly brings me up to that delirious edge, faster than I want to get there. I want him in me for my next come, naturally. "No, no, no, no, no," I say, "not yet!" I disengage his hand, raise up my bottom, peel off my panties. To confirm just how ready I am, I briefly dip into myself: I am insanely wet.

I spread my thighs to the limit my hips will allow, which, I am pleased to discover, is considerably farther than I could ever spread them before. I am open, ready, palpitant. "OK, Calvin," I say, "now we can try out my vagina." He crouches over me, knees between my legs, and lowers himself. I steer the head of his cock towards me so it slides over my clit, itself now unsheathed and daintily erect in defiant (if risible) mockery of Calvin. The smooth skin of his shaft is so soft against me as it glides back and forth. I press his cock down against my clit as he moves—the satiny friction drives me wild.

I simply must have him inside me, so, on his next backward stroke, I angle my hips upwards and push the head of his cock slightly down—when he slides forward again, he must penetrate me. And so he does, dead center, in one long, excruciatingly smooth, gliding plunge that makes the walls of my vagina tighten around him in a reflex I neither can, nor wish to suppress, drawing him deeper into me. He impales me fully until the tip of his cock is pressing against my cervix. I gasp at the unexpected sensation of being entered and filled by something so large, smooth and stiff.

I lift my head and look down— my inner labia, distended to form a perfect "O," tightly encircle the root of Calvin's shaft. I have actually taken this man, so appallingly huge, inside my belly as a scabbard takes the sword. His cock, which seemed so threatening in its dimensions only moments before, is wholly ensheathed within me. But I am mistaken! After a lull, he pushes yet another inch into me. A slight twinge of pain—I emit an involuntary squeal at the blunt fact of my utter penetration, then we hold still and I possess him. "What ecstasy!" I think, with that small part of my brain that is still thinking. I quickly figure out how to grip his shaft with my new vaginal muscles and breathlessly await The Motion.

I am not kept waiting long. Calvin begins to pump me—slowly, rhythmically, thrusting deeper with each stroke, until I think he is practically up in my chest. He has the precise tempo of slow '40's swing music—my hips assume the same rhythm. My vagina involuntarily tightens around him each time he thrusts, drawing him into me and reluctantly relinquishes him each time he pulls back.

I have no idea how long we continue copulating like this—one minute, ten, sixty—I lose all sense of time. Finally, with near-perfect instinct, he grasps my left nipple between his thumb and forefinger while with his other hand he begins stroking the inside of my knee. It's the final straw. I am pushed over the edge. My body is thrown into spasms more intense than when I brought myself off. My heels, already drawn up and almost touching my bottom, rise high off the bed. My vagina, with a will of its own, starts milking his cock.

That does it for Calvin: he comes in a shuddering series of long and almost agonizingly slow spurts, each of which jets against my cervix—almost imperceptibly, to my surprise (the man thinks this part of the act should be the woman's ultimate pleasure, but your cervix is actually pretty insensitive). His cock, pulsating within me, feels divine. My intimate tissues sweep his seed rhythmically inwards, like some form of undulant sea life ingesting its prey.

"Unhhh, unhhh, unhhh, unhhh, unhhh!" I grunt, all over again, only now in tempo with Calvin's spurts and in a feminine register. I brim, then am overfilled, with warm semen, which leaks out from the force of each spurt to trickle down the cleft of my buttocks, spreading a warm, wet stain on the bed. Calvin, spent, now covers me—his weight flattens my breasts and pushes me deep into the mattress. I wrap my legs around his waist, locking my ankles to keep him within me.

The delivery room doors hiss open and Dr. Blake enters. Pam pushes harder against me. "You're just in time, Dr. Blake," says Pam. "She's already crowned." Dr. Blake heaves into view in the mirror, in cap and mask, the tips of her scrubbed fingers steepled together. She calmly regards the shock of flaxen hair protruding from my vagina. "We still have time," she says. "I'll gown and glove up. Just keep good pressure on that head, Pam."

I hear the rustling of a paper gown being donned and the by-now familiar snap of surgical gloves being pulled on. A few moments later, Dr. Blake replaces Pam and a firmer hand presses against me. "Bring over the Mayo," Dr. Blake says. "Unwrap the tray, give me a ten cc Luer-lock with a one and a half inch twenty-five needle and pour me out some two percent Xylocaine with epi, then go warm up the isolette and call pediatrics. Tell them it looks pretty routine and there's no need to hurry."

Off to my left Pam drops a syringe and needle from their blister packs onto the Mayo stand. She pours the anesthetic into a stainless steel medicine cup. She wheels the stand out of my sight; it immediately reappears in the mirror. Dr. Blake draws up the solution directly into the syringe, locks on the needle and, holding the syringe straight up, expels the air until a few fine droplets spurt from the tip of the needle.

Chapter 8.

We stay locked together in one another's arms until the wet spot grows clammy. When Calvin detaches himself, his detumescing cock slithers out of me like a fish one wants to hold onto but can't, releasing a fresh trickle of fluid, thinner now and no longer stimulating, but nonetheless welcome, for it tells me I was gloriously overfilled, that his seed must be insinuating its way in up through my womb and up and up into my tubes.

"Welcome?" "Gloriously overfilled?" Am I insane? I push Calvin aside and leap out of bed. With my hand cupping myself to keep the fluids from running down the inside of my thighs, I dash into the bathroom.

"O Damn, Calvin, we forgot the condoms!" I cry, frantically trying to figure out how to use the bidet. "Jesus!" I think. "I could be knocked up this very moment, right out of the box, so to speak!" I fiddle madly with the taps: a jet of cold water hits me in the face. I finally get the temperature right, and turn it down, so it's like a burbling fountain about eight inches high. I straddle the thing and lower myself over it, splaying my labia with one hand until the fountain's inside me and the rim takes my weight. My thighs fit the concavities on either side of the bowl and keep me spread open—now I understand why bidets are designed like that. I perch on this porcelain saddle, trying to flush myself completely clean of sperm, of which I must take a radically different view from now on, while Calvin stands sheepishly in the doorway. "Jeez, Geoff, don't be mad at me. We both forgot about a condom," he whines.

"I know, I know!" I reply from my gurgling throne. "We were too Goddamn eager to see if my vagina worked. Well, now that we know it does, I hope it doesn't, if you know what I mean. I'm not certain I could deal with a baby right off, what with all the other adjustments I'm going to have to make. Did I say, 'Deal with a baby?' What the hell am I thinking, Calvin? The whole concept's insane! How long should I sit on this thing, anyway?" I ask. "I should be cleaned out by now, don't you think?"

"How would I know," Calvin replies. "I never even saw one of those things until we checked in here last night. I thought it was a drinking fountain for midgets. But look, Geoff….Wait a sec! Can't I please call you something else now? How can I keep calling you Geoff, now that you're a woman and especially now that I've fucked you?"

"How about Gemma, then?" I ask. "I've always liked the name."

Dr. Blake finally addresses me. "OK, Gemma, listen. It's almost over. You'll feel a little sting down here, then some burning, and then I'm going to make an episiotomy incision so Baby's head will come out without tearing you. Then I'll stitch you up all nice and tight so you'll be good as new and your husband will never know the difference. OK?"

I can't see I exactly have any choice in the matter, so I rapidly nod my head. I feel the prick of the needle in my tender labia, then the spreading burn of the Xylocaine. I watch breathlessly as Dr. Blake inserts one blade of a straight scissors under my labia, to the right, and see the scissors close down, making a two-inch incision at four-thirty o'clock, right through both sets of labia and deep into my splayed-out vaginal wall. I don't feel the actual cut, but I hear the metallic snick of the blades coming together and see the incision instantly gape in a wide, horizontal 'V,' exposing a bigger expanse of wet blonde hair inside me, which rapidly becomes reddened with bright arterial blood. I stare in stark disbelief at what has just been done to my tenderest tissues.

"Now push, Gemma, just as soon as you feel your next contraction coming, and you'll be over the worst," Dr. Blake says. With my eyes scrunched shut and teeth tightly clenched, I nod assent. "It's coming, it's coming again," I moan. "Push, Gemma, push hard! Now!" Dr. Blake commands.

I push with all my might, my eyes now wide open again, my gaze riveted on the mirror. I watch as a baby's head smoothly pops out of my vagina, like some sort of grotesque magician's trick. What I see has to be impossible, but there it is, a baby's head, face down, between my legs! It's blonde-haired, with dusky pink skin and it's covered with blotches of blood and greenish-white vernix. Dr. Blake supports its chin with two fingers.

Chapter 9.

It's like I threw a switch, as if changing from Geoffrey to Gemma finally brings home to Calvin that I really am a woman, and most likely no longer his boss, either. As if fucking me hadn't given him a clue. Men can be so dense sometimes, they just make you want to scream.

So the moment I'm Gemma, Calvin gets this alpha male-in-charge look on his face, takes control, comes over, turns off the taps and pulls me up off the bidet by one arm. "That's enough now, Gemma," he says. "Either I've knocked you up or I haven't. We'll know in a month, won't we?"

"I'm not sure exactly, Calvin," I say, taking a towel and squatting a bit, so I can dry myself off down there. "I could start my period tomorrow, I guess, then we'd be pretty sure I'm not. And if I am, then one of those drug store home test kits will tell me in two or three weeks. We can buy one and read the directions while we're out shopping in San Francisco this afternoon. I need more than just panties now."

"San Francisco? What's wrong with Walmart?" he asks.

"No way, Calvin! I am simply not going to get my first wardrobe at Walmart," I protest indignantly. "OK, OK. I agree it's a good idea to stop there on the way out of town to buy me a bra, some jeans, a top and some tennies, so that at least I'll look plausible shopping at Magnin's. Besides, we're not going to Continental Poultry Feed Mill Number Two tomorrow—or ever—so we can get out of Modesto right after breakfast."

Calvin asks, "What're you going use for money? You can't use your credit card now. You don't look like a Geoffrey Rathbun."

"Then I'll use my ATM card," I say. "I have plenty of cash in my account, enough to outfit me in Paris fashions and go to Europe for a year and live like a princess. "

The idea is sinking in, I can see. Calvin brightens up. "I could get into this," he says. "Dressing you from scratch could be fun. Then we can check into a really nice hotel and I can fuck your brains out all over again." Calvin is a very concrete thinker.

"That'd be fine with me, Calvin," I say, stepping into fresh panties—sedate white cotton ones this time. I struggle into my chinos—now loose in the waist but tight in the hips and seat. I leave my oversized shirt untucked to cover the ill-fit of my chinos. I roll up the cuffs and put on three pairs of thick socks so my loafers won't fall off. Then Calvin and I go down to breakfast.

I am soothed by the obligatory sway of my hips as we walk down the hallway, and by the pleasant jounce of my breasts swinging free under my shirt. While we are waiting for a table, Calvin surreptitiously grabs my ass—and a bit more as well. It actually feels nice to be grabbed by a man. I could have my brains fucked out five times a day, every day, for a year and not get tired of it, I reflect, as we are shown to our table. And if I lose a few brains in the process, I'll probably be the better off for it.

The waitress pours our coffee. I'm getting wet again, but attempt to ignore it. My mind races ahead to the afternoon's shopping. I imagine all the lovely things I shall buy. My brain seethes with visions of lacy undergarments, of elegant dresses and delicate footwear, of subdued makeup, costly perfumes, nail polish and pearls. I cross and re-cross my legs under the table and speculate how nice it'll feel in a dress, wearing nylons—which only makes me wetter. I forget entirely about the prospect of pregnancy.

A kernel of my former male self, like a fossilized fly embalmed in the amber of my femininity, flickers into momentary consciousness. Through horrified male eyes my old self sees my new self giving birth. It sees me strapped down on a delivery table, feet in stirrups, a baby's head protruding from my vagina—sees that I have just become a mother—sees utter and eternal defeat. The feeble male consciousness dims, wavers like a guttering candle—and vanishes. I am Gemma, now and forever.

Dr. Blake runs a finger through the baby's mouth to clear out any obstruction. She asks for the suction and inserts a plastic tube first into one nostril, then into the other. Supporting the head with one hand, she says, "Good girl, Gemma! That was a great push! Now, on your next contraction, push real hard again, we'll get the shoulders out and then it'll be as good as over. OK?"

I feel my next contraction begin. I thrash my head and grit my teeth, but this time the pain is not as intense, so I feel no impulse to scream. "Push one more time, Gemma, push!" the doctor commands. So I push as hard as I can and watch a complete baby slither out of my body. It is wet and shiny.

After breakfast, everything goes as planned. We stop at Walmart for basics, then drive to San Francisco. We go shopping in Union Square. By the time we are finished some six hours later, I am dressed to the nines and have been stunningly made up by the expert ladies at the city's best cosmetics counters. I even have pearls—but, wisely, no heels.

It's after eight when we at last check into the Mark Hopkins, trailed by three bellhops staggering under my purchases, just like in the movies. We have reserved…the bridal suite, naturally, with a stunning view of the Bay. We have champagne and dinner served in our suite, then Calvin fucks my brains out, as promised, not once, but five times. We forget about condoms again and this bathroom has no bidet. In two weeks we are married. In three weeks, I confirm that I'm pregnant.

So that's how I ended up here having this baby and looking at "Pink Gladiolas."

A thin and tentative cry, a sharp intake of breath—then a squall of rage fills the room. Dr. Blake announces, "It's a girl."


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