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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1015183-Win-Place--Cho
by Seuzz
Rated: GC · Book · Occult · #2193834
A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
#1015183 added August 6, 2021 at 2:10pm
Restrictions: None
Win, Place ... Cho!
Previously: "The Cho-sen One

You suffer a momentary crisis of identity, like when you put on Blake O'Brien's mask. But it clears up fast. It helps that you're being stared at by someone with a very familiar face.

But although you know who you are, you don't have your own skull to yourself. There's someone else up there with you, and she is shrieking inarticulately. Maybe that's how come you've got a screaming headache.

"Will?" Sydney asks. "How are you doing there?"

"I've been better," you mumble. "My head—" You put your fingertips to a temple and grimace.

"Will," Sydney says. "Can you speak English?"

You look up at her in surprise.

And then you realize you were answering her in Korean. Your tongue feels very thick in your mouth as you try to wrap it around the English equivalents of the words you are thinking.

"I've got a headache," you carefully reply. "I feel like I got banged in the head."

"Okay. And I'll say I'm pretty impressed with your language skills," your girlfriend replies. "But can we get moving? I really want you to get dressed."

"Speak for yourself," the boy standing behind her chortles. You shoot him a dirty look.

And you find you can't look him in the face. He's leering at you from beneath messy bangs that jut out from under the brim of his cap, and he's standing at stiff attention while bobbing on his toes. Fucking little prick, you find yourself thinking.

Sydney answers for you. "Sweetie," she tells your replacement in a cool voice, "would you mind waiting for us outside? In fact, how about you go wait in the parking lot, in your truck."

But he doesn't move. Instead, his grin widens. "You hear that?" he asks you in a gloating voice. "I'm still 'sweetie'."

"Will," Sydney says to him in a warning tone.

The fake you shifts on his feet. "Okay, just don't be long," he says, then after a hesitation he wraps his bony arms around her in a fumbling hug. "Catch ya later, boss," he tells you.

"God," you sigh from the floor after he's gone. "Are you really going to hang out with that?"

"He's just nervous. Scared. You would be too, if you were him. I mean, think about it. He's acting just like you."

You wince. What the fuck does she see in me? you ask yourself for about the thousandth time since you started hanging out with Sydney.

"Anyway," she continues, "I'm not going to be hanging out with him, am I? Not the real me, not after we get me a new face. But, um—" She points to you. "I woke you up so you could get a move on."

Right.

Sydney had folded Ms. Cho's clothes into a messy bundle as you undressed her, and you shake them out one at a time as you put them on. Panties. Bra. Hose. The floral-patterned blouse (silk!) and the gray skirt. As you put them on, Sydney asks if you're getting Ms. Cho's memories.

"Yes." Your pulse is pounding. "I'm having a hard time concentrating on them, though." You don't want to tell her that your mind is racing fast, and that you're fighting to keep from shaking. Get a grip, er, Hannah, you silently chide yourself. You know what's going on, you know it's okay.

There's nothing wrong here, except that a teenage boy has hijacked your body and is going to be impersonating you from here on out. That's all.


You do feel better after dressing, but you also feel sloppy. On an impulse you march from the room and into the nearby girls' restroom. You do a double-take at yourself in the mirror.

Ms. Hannah Cho stares back at you. Hot teacher. But she looks miserable and frightened. You close your eyes and take a deep breath before opening them again.

That's better, you think. You look more centered, maybe from getting the shock of seeing your new reflection out of the way. As you stare, that reflection seems to come into better focus. This is my face, you think as you gently touch it.

And—! it comes to you in a rush, I know how to fix it!

It's like something has unlocked inside you. You march back to the classroom, to fetch the makeup bag from the bottom desk drawer, where you keep your purse. (My purse! you think with a thrill.) Back in the restroom, you balance the bag on the sink, study your face a moment, then go to work. A little powder, a little blush, a little pale pink lipstick. Working on your face calms you, giving you something to do and think about that something other than My God, someone just stole my body! You shake out your clothes, then straighten them out and cinch them up again. You undo the messy bun, letting the auburn-dyed hair fall to the nape of your neck. You brush it all out, then bind it neatly back. You tuck and straighten your bangs, and tease out little strands of hair to hang over your ears.

Last, you take out the narrow, red-framed lenses that you'd put in your pocket, and slide them back on, nudging and fixing them until they settle into the comfortable grooves on your nose and over your ears.

Hot teacher indeed! you think as you take a step back to regard yourself with a softly parted smile.

Sydney has followed into the bathroom, and has been silently watching you every step of the way. Now she asks, "Are you better now, Will?"

"Oh, yes, thank you," you reply as you turn your head this way and that, checking for flaws in the mirror. Then you turn to Sydney. "Thank you for asking. Oh, and my name is Hannah Cho," you continue, putting out a slim hand for Sydney to take. "Now, what did you want to see me about? Er— I didn't catch your name earlier."

Sydney turns very pink, even as she grins and takes your fingers in a limp handshake. "Nice, Will," she says in a dry tone. "Very nice."

* * * * *

"Michael," you muse as you sip a cup of hot tea. "He's still probably the best choice."

You and Sydney are sitting across from each other in The Crystal Cave, the coffee shop next to Arnholm's, where you had your first date (though you were in disguise). She's sipping coffee from a mug.

Michael, of course, is Michael Hagerman, the junior-class English teacher at Westside, and Sydney's first choice for you as an impersonation. At the time you thought he would be an attractive identity. Now you just think he's attractive.

"Do you want to have two teachers for aliases?" Sydney asks. "I could take someone else."

"I don't know who else there is," you admit. "I mean, I don't really know— I haven't been teaching very long at Westside."

"Only since this afternoon, Will."

You give her a look. "Do you want me in character or don't you? If I start using my own pronouns instead of, uh, Hannah Cho's—"

And just as you predicted, you feel yourself slipping out of the comfortable groove you got yourself into in the restroom at Westside. Now you're Will Prescott again, and you're wearing women's clothes because you're inside a woman's body. It gives you a thrill, but it also makes you self-conscious and a little itchy. You squirm.

"Do whatever makes you comfortable," Sydney says. She tries to look composed, but can't completely hide a sly smile of amusement.

"Well, this is my first year teaching at Westside, however you want to look at it," you resume. You falter a little, but strengthen as you continue. "So it's only been a few months for me, and there's a lot of staff, most of whom I don't really know. Like the agricultural teachers, and the P.E. teachers. There might be some people there—" But probably not, you silently add as you break off.

Sydney looks into her mug. "So you get two teachers, and I only get students?"

"Well, why can't you be Michael Hagerman?" you retort, to your own surprise. "I mean, look at me, look at what I did for, uh—"

Now Sydney gives you a big, lopsided, sidelong grin. "Are Ms. Cho and Mr. Hagerman—?" She leaves the question dangling.

You feel yourself redden. Deeply.

"No! He's—! Well, I don't know what his situation is! He's not married, I know that." You rub a temple. "I don't really know anything. Except the usual kind of gossip," you mumble.

"What gossip is that?"

You shrug. "That he plays the field. Outside of school. But like I told you, I'm new to Westside, so I don't really know— And it's not like I go looking for gossip—"

"Well, I guess we could keep Mr. Hagerman in mind for me," Sydney says. She settles back in the booth with a dreamy-but-wicked smile. "That could be a lot of fun. In the meantime we could kill time by staffing ourselves with some senior class recruits." She shifts her gaze onto you. "Or freshman recruits. Right?"

"Yes. That would be easy." Ms. Cho hasn't given anyone detention yet, but it's not for a lack of opportunity. Some of the boys in her classes—

"And Mr. Hagerman we talked about using to get into the junior class," Sydney continues.

"And I know how to get us into the sophomore class," you tell her. It's like you've suddenly remembered something very obvious.

"Really? How?"

"That was my sister, Lindsay, who barged in while you were still trying to get the mask out of your bag. Coming in to tell me that our mother was cancelling dinner tonight. That's why I can have coffee with you now." You sip from your tea.

Sydney looks intrigued. "And your sister, Lindsay—?"

"She's a sophomore."

"Nice!"

Except Lindsay isn't. Not very nice, that is. She's a dumpy, grumpy lump of a girl, full of adolescent resentments.

But maybe that would make her the perfect recruit for a black-magic cult.

"You have any instincts, Will?" Sydney asks.

Next: "The Good Teacher

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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1015183-Win-Place--Cho