It all started with a spell. Kaye had wanted Matt since she'd seen him behind the counter at that hobby store at the mall where all the Japanese trading card games were sold. Shy, freckle-faced and pudgy in the wrong places with forever-frizzing dirty-blonde hair, one green eye, one hazel eye, and a nose broken by one of her mother's many ex-husbands, she'd despaired of ever getting into his khakis until her friend had brought her a print-out from a website claiming to have "real, working spells." This one promised to make her into the heart's desire of her unrequited love. The ingredients were inexpensive and, with the exception of "a sample of the beloved's person," relatively easy to obtain. In the end, her friend had had to steal his comb, and Kaye had used hairs found therein.
She'd been afraid of mispronouncing the name of some elder god or something the whole time she was chanting, but no lightning came to strike her down, the ground didn't open up to swallow her, and she wasn't consumed in St. Elmo's Fire, so she supposed she was all right. Surrounded by nine candles in three groups of three, she ritually cleansed each of her ingredients in the smoke from the incense as she chanted the opening benediction. Some of the ingredients were used in the invokation, which caused a chill to ripple through her when the candles seemed to flash blue for a second. She guessed she'd just imagined it, or maybe had gotten some salt onto the wicks or something. The rest of the ingredients, including the hairs, diced small with a razor, were made into a potion which she heated in a simmering bowl heated with a tea candle. She tried to keep her voice level as she said the final chant while the potion cooled, then knocked it back in a shot. It was still hot, like drinking fresh coffee too fast. Her vision wavered and she passed out. The candles went out at almost the same time.
Kaye groaned as the sunlight stung her eyes. She sat up, and immediately had to run to the bathroom. "That was the worst idea I've ever had." she moaned as she wobbled out twenty minutes later, feeling as though she'd dropped a quarter of her weight in the commode and spewed another quarter into the garbage at the same time. She cleaned up and put away her candles and other tools from the night before. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she frowned. She looked thinner, and her freckles and frizz seemed less lively than before.
She had trouble concentrating in calculus, staring uncomprehendingly at the chalk board as the professor droned on. It was the same in English class, so she decided to skip the rest of her classes that day and just head back to the dorm, where she knocked back some over-the-counter nausea and diarrhea medicine and flopped face-down into bed.
Kaye again had trouble concentrating in class. When lunchtime came around, she bought beans and rice and managed to keep it down. Feeling better, she decided to cruise the mall a little. Coming to the hobby store, she stared at Matt for almost half an hour before she found herself walking in.
"Hello, welcome to Bobby's Hobbies, how may I help you?" he asked. Kaye felt her knees turn to jelly. If she'd known he would actually talk to her, she would have come in weeks ago!
"I'm, uh, looking for some anime." she said.
"Subbed or dubbed?" he asked.
"Subbed!" she responded, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. He smiled--actually smiled, her mind enthused--and came out from behind the counter to show her the selection. Half an hour later, she walked out of the store clutching a bag of DVDs and VHSes to her chest as if they were the most precious things in the world. She started watching them as soon as she got home, and didn't stop until her roommate interrupted with "Pop that crap out, I'm gonna watch Jeopardy, and then I have to study." She was always telling others what to do, screwing over everyone else's plans if she could, barking orders and bitching until she was obeyed. Kaye didn't feel like putting up with it today. She rose to her feet, and didn't sit down again until her roommate was unconscious on the floor. She rewound the tape so she could watch again what she'd missed.
What's happening to me? she asked herself, glancing back and forth between the screen and her roommate. I've never even taken karate ... and I just ninja-kicked my roommate's butt. The butch dyke, biker-bitch army-brat! I didn't even give her time to throw a punch!
She finished the tape she was watching and packed up the rest, putting them in the box with her things. She caught sight of herself in a mirror and stared. Her freckles were definitely fading, and her hair looked darker. Her eyes were darker as well, but there was something else about them that she couldn't quite put her finger on. Also, she hadn't noticed before, but she was breathing easier--her nose was straighter than before. Not quite back to what it was before it had been broken, but straighter. This was more than just being sick from the nasty potion. She was changing. Into what, she didn't know. She kicked off her shoes and curled up on her bunk in a fetal position.
There was no doubt about it, she looked different. Even her stupid roommate noticed. Her nose was fixed and her skin and hair were both darker. The latter was smooth and straight, requiring only a few passes of the brush through the strands to tame it entirely. It was longer as well, reaching almost down to her shoulders. At least she wasn't feeling sick anymore, although she did notice that she left more in the toilet than was her norm.
One benefit seemed to be that it only took one harsh glare from her to silence her bitching roommate. She grabbed her purse and left to find her friend.
"Amanda!" she called, running to catch up.
"Yes?" Amanda asked, turning around. "Wait ... Kaye? Holy crap, what the heck?"
"Heck is for people who don't believe in Gosh, Amanda." Kaye responded. "And maybe for people who cast stupid love-spells without making sure of the translation."
"What happened to you? You look ... you're starting to look like one of the girls on my roommate's J-pop albums. I wouldn't even have recognized you if you hadn't been wearing your favorite outfit."
"That spell you gave me didn't make Matt fall in love with me. It's changing me. I need you to help me."
"Sure, what can I do? You want me to look for a counter-spell or something?"
"Yeah. Well, maybe. I can't say I don't like what it's done for my nose." She took a deep breath with her mouth closed for emphasis. "And ... I talked to Matt yesterday. I bought a whole bag of subtitled anime. I don't even know how I knew he liked it subbed instead of dubbed."
"Lucky guess?" Amanda asked. "I mean, you pretty much had a fifty-fifty chance, right?"
"I need you to check out a hunch for me. See if you can find out what he's looking for in a girl."
"You think the spell's changing you into what he wants in a woman?" Amanda asked.
"Hai. I mean, yes." Kaye said.
"Okay, I'll see what I can do." Amanda replied. "Sayonara."
"That's not funny!" Kaye snapped. "I ninja'd my roommate yesterday, Amanda. I don't even know ninjutsu."
"Yikes, okay, sorry." Amanda said. "I'll head to the mall about lunch time and talk to him during his shift."
"Here." Kaye said, handing her friend a twenty. "In case you need to buy something to get his attention." Her friend nodded and hugged her.
"Uh ... you're shorter than before."
"Kuso... " Kaye muttered.
"Uh, nevermind." Kaye replied, blushing.
"I hope you still understand English when I get back." Amanda remarked.
"Me too." Kaye muttered as her friend walked away. She slogged through her courses as best she could, but only art class turned into less than a disaster. Almost predictably, she ended up sketching the volunteer model as an anime girl. She went with it, using it to enhance her expression. People whispered behind their hands, and she was sure it was about her ongoing transformation.
"Nice make-up, Kaye." the teacher said as she passed by. "You'd fit right in in my drama class; we're doing Miss Saigon this month."
"Hai, arigatou." Kaye replied as she hurried on by. She left the building and paused, letting the sun warm her after the cold air-conditioning. The spring semester was almost over, the last of the cold weather was almost gone, and the sunlight made her feel good. Alive. Her bra felt uncomfortable, though. She unhooked it through the front of her shirt, reached into one arm hole and stretched it until she could slip her hand out, then easily slid the offending garment off her other arm.
"Oh. My. GOD!" exclaimed a boy who had observed the maneuver. "Marry me?" She blushed, smiled, and put her bra in her purse. The wind felt good blowing through her shirt to cool her newly-unfettered breasts. She hummed to herself as she walked down the sidewalk, and broke out into song as her shoes hit the pavement at the intersection, singing the theme from one of the anime shows she'd watched the day before. Amanda was waiting for her when she returned to the dorm.
"Ohayo, Mandi-chan!" she called as she approached.
"There you go again." Amanda said. "I guess I'm going to have to find that counterspell just so I don't need a Japanese-English dictionary to talk to you."
"Gomen ... er, sorry." Kaye said. "How did it go with Matt?"
"It took a while to convince him I wasn't coming on to him." Amanda said. "Anyway, Matt's fantasy girl is someone who's cute like a J-pop idol, but with American-sized boobs..."
"That explains why my bra got tight this afternoon." Kaye said.
" ... sweet and submissive with the man she loves, but able to defend herself--and him--if necessary, someone caring and affectionate who likes wearing stereotyped Japanese schoolgirl uniforms as much as he likes seeing girls in them, someone he can teach English to while they watch anime together."
"Waitwaitwaitwaitwait..." Kaye said. "I'm gonna forget how to speak English?"
"No." Amanda said. "I'm going online for that counterspell as soon as I can get to the computer lab. Back in a flash, hold my books for me."
"Uh..." Kaye mumbled as her friend left. She felt a strong desire to stop her, even knowing what that entailed. Shaking her head, she headed into the dorm to watch some more of the anime she'd bought. Her roommate didn't say a thing when she came back from wherever she went in the afternoons.
Amanda knocked less than half an hour later. "Amanda, what's wrong?" Kaye asked, slipping out the door so as not to have her roommate listening in.
"The school blocked the site!" Amanda squeaked.
"I wish. The error code I got when I tried to view it was the same one I get if I accidentally click on an adult site in search results."
"Accidentally on purpose, you mean." Kaye responded, digging her elbow into Amanda's ribs.
"Not funny, Kaye." Amanda said. "This means I won't be able to do get on the site until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest, when I go home for the weekend. Look, I'll email the spell to you when I get on the site, okay?"
"Hai." Kaye replied.
"Sorry, I mean 'yes.'" Kaye said.
Kei looked at herself and found her hair was longer again. She wondered if she should even bother trying to go to class before the spell was broken. Her reflection no longer bore any resemblance to the picture of herself on her driver's license--and why was her name spelled "Kaye" on the card anyway? Her hair and breasts seemed to be the only things that had increased in size. Everything else was more petite. She had to admit, however, she was really cute--no, adorable! None of her clothes fit anymore, however, so she grabbed her purse and something to cover up with and headed for the mall. She looked at her driver's license and thought she'd grabbed the wrong one.
It was hard to understand people. She realized she must be losing her English now. She could only pick up every other word anyone said. At least she could still read numbers, and her currency was still in American dollars. She found a store that looked promising, and walked out in a schoolgirl uniform, with three more in her bag. It made her feel sexy to wear this. The skirt was short enough it barely covered her panties, and the blouse didn't quite reach the waistband of her skirt. Her socks came up to her knees, leaving her thighs exposed, and her heels were just high enough to add a little wiggle to her walk. Now that her hair was reaching down past her butt, she wondered if she should leave it down, or put it up in pigtails like Sailor Moon. She decided to go ask Matt. It was his dream-girl she was turning into, after all.
Kei walked into the hobby store, but Matt wasn't there. The person behind the counter spoke no Japanese, so he was no help. Pouting, she went to look for something to eat. She found him in the food court standing at the end of the line. She joined him, and felt her hair tickling the backs of her thighs. It was growing noticeably, and she wondered why. She also felt woozy. She heard his voice as he placed his order, and the universe lurched, like the moment just before the Tower of Terror began its plummet.
She opened her eyes to see him kneeling beside her, a look of concern on his face. Keiko sat up, feeling dizzy. He asked in English, then Japanese when she didn't respond, if she was all right. She told him she thought she was, now. Keiko wasn't sure what was wrong, except she couldn't remember having eaten that day. He gave her half his hot dog and asked her name.