"Why you hiding your boobs like that? And what's with the pants?" Elly was always direct and by now one might understand how she just had to say something. Still twiddling the car keys on her fingers, sitting on the old couch in her usual uniform of T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops, her pretty dark brown Pakistani face looked through the dimness of the apartment at 2 a.m., where only the overhead stove light was on. Dareen was awkwardly trying to open the refrigerator for a glass of milk while holding a towel over her sweatshirt-clad chest, and while pressing her hips against the counter as if to keep her pants from falling. Odd, because the pants fit her perfectly before, at least the one time she tried them on. A birthday present from the thin, flat-chested Elly, who was always trying to get her friend to "use what you got -- you’re lucky you got curves." Dareen had worn it exactly once. It was too tight-fitting and way too low-rise for her sense of modesty.
And of course it was one of the things Elly had brought with her to Peppy's Food Mart. Dareen, certain she could not get out of the locked-up store without tripping some kind of alarm, had waited until the yellow new-style VW Bug had pulled up, then darted out a back door and around the front to meet her roommate while hunched over in the T-shirt and shorts she had taken from inside. But the sweatshirt Elly had also brought was pretty sensible, along with Dareen's old sneakers that were her usual casual footwear. And panties and one of Dareen's formidable bras.
Dareen struggled with the carton of milk and was halfway through drinking the glass when she decided she just had to tell her friend; not only about what happened, but the more obvious thing, the kind of thing which could not be hidden from a roommate. She steeled herself. This was going to be tough. But she turned on the kitchen light and looked at Elly with a serious face, then solemnly brought the towel down and stood there as her sweatshirt bulged out to the maximum stretching point and the pants fell some inches to hang precariously around her hips.
Elly got up and, not seeing how intensely Dareen was blushing, looked at her from head to toe. "What happened to you? You're even more -- Dareen than before!"
Dareen bit her lip. It would sound ridiculous but it was the truth, and what could really explain such a thing? "I got hit by lightning."
Elly looked up, about to laugh at this explanation but she caught herself. "Oh God. . . You're lucky to be alive." Then the two young women hugged. "Thank God you're O.K. That was some unusual storm. It was on the news. Something about ions."
"Yeah, it was some storm," Dareen said, as Elly let go and stood back to look at her again.
"Dar, could you please, if you're O.K. with it..."
Only with Elly would Dareen consent to exposing her modesty thus. And it was time for truth telling. She couldn't hide her experience from everyone; she had to have one person she could unburden herself to. Dareen took off her sweatshirt, kicked off the sneakers and lowered the pants, and stood in just bra and panties.
The bra was stretched to bursting. Her breasts, full and high, bulged out over the tops of the cups, and her erect nipples could be seen through the thick double-lined cotton, poking out between the strained seams. Below, her waist had narrowed so that it could no longer hold the pants up. Her tummy was concave and hard. Her butt was taut and trim, her legs hard and wiry. Even her feet looked different, stronger.
"Jesus," Elly said, slowly circling the now ultra-statuesque woman. She looked up. "And your hair..."
Now that the lighting was good she was noticing it for the first time. She took Dareen by the hand to the bathroom, and Dareen got a first look at her new physique. It was gross having breasts like that. She looked like a siliconed bimbo, some nude dancer or porn star. And what a tiny waist! And the hair -- her formerly black hair had taken on a kind of violet-tinged luster. Pretty, but a little showy for her taste. But her attention was mostly taken up by those breasts popping out of the bra. She put her arm up to hide them.
She silently went back to put on her clothes and sat on the couch. Elly sat across from her, not saying anything, knowing these changes were not really something to be envious of. Something heavy and real weird was going on here.
Now the choked up voice, the tears. "Tonight, Elly, I was hit by lighting and -- I flew."
"Wow. You were lifted off the ground. Static electricity."
"No. I mean I flew. Just stuck my arms out and . . . into the sky." It seemed odd for tears to come but they did. "And I could run faster than a car and pick it up with one hand. I could read newspapers off the rack from two hundred feet away. I . . . I stopped a burglary. Or I mean I . . . I saw that store getting robbed and I chased down the guy and flew while carrying the car to a police station. It had to be several miles."
Elly was being thrown for a real loop now. Her friend was talking crazy. "Dareen, are you feeling all right?"
Dareen looked at her, a tear rolling down one cheek. She brushed it away with a quick motion of her hand which caused her breasts to jiggle ponderously. "I-it really happened. I got hit by lightning and my clothes burned off and I could do like a super woman."
"You did all this naked?"
Elly looked down. "Wow." ‘What an image,’ she thought: Dareen flying naked through the night. "Um, can you do that now?"
"No. When I got back to the store for some clothes . . . I couldn't fly any more."
"I don't know."
"Maybe it was just a dream." To Elly, Dareen just needed some rest. Being hit by lighting scrambled her senses and probably knocked her out and would cause some bizarre dreams. She got up and pulled Dareen up by the hand. "Go to sleep. You had a tough night."
"Yeah. Sleep." As the two young women went to their respective bedrooms, Dareen joked mordantly. "This bra is killing me." And so, for the first time since she was fourteen, she slept without one.
For Dareen, waking up was a bummer. Her breasts were still there, high and firm, blocking the view of the rest of her. Under the covers (she was modest even when alone) she tried to extend her hands around them, then grabbed what she could of each and moved them around on her chest. So big and round and firm, not wobbly like before. Some guy would be in heaven grabbing these. And on top of the twin mountains, the big dark brown nipples, poking up into the blanket.
She looked at the sun outside her window, rising over the towers of downtown Atlanta, and thought of her commute. Tuesdays and Wednesdays she didn't go to the new library in Alpharetta, she took the subway to the main branch downtown. ‘How am I going to go to work with these things on my chest?’
She decided she'd call in sick today. Maybe tomorrow she would have the exact same problem but she needed time to think. She took a shower without being able to look down and see her feet. Drying herself off she saw that her pubic hair had acquired the same violent tinge as the hair on her head.
Elly seemed surprised to see them too, the huge shrouded mounds under Dareen's bathrobe as she came out. Maybe Elly was hoping that she had been dreaming as well. Elly was watching TV in the kitchen eating cereal. The TV was on the Cobb News Network and the news anchor was saying, "Some of these immigrant cultures have this worship of violence that makes me sick".
"How could you watch this?" Dareen said, grabbing the remote off the table. It was a point of contention with them.
"I think it's funny," Elly said, giving her stock answer.
Dareen changed to another news channel, ordinarily not any use because the same company owned all the channels in the city, but at least on this one they happened to be doing the local news and weather. It would be another steamy July day in Georgia, humid and 90 degrees. The roommates munched their bran flakes in time with the cadence of the weathercaster's standard sing-song. He mentioned the "severe ion-type storm last night" and Dareen broke her rhythm to say, "Duhhhh! Like tell me about it", in imitation of teenage slang like she herself had been using a few years before.
Coffee was sipped, toasted buttered, fingernail polish examined. It was in the middle of the first sentence that both girls looked up again. "The perpetrator, who turned himself in, told police that a flying naked woman had carried his car to the police station. He is being kept at Modoc Psychiatric Center for observation. Well Cindy," the newscaster said to his co-anchor with a smirk, "that sounds like something out of a dirty comic book."
"I am naked woman, hear me roar and carry cars around," Cindy said in her dipsy Southern-belle accent, and they were onto the next story. Routine joking around.
But not for Elly and Dareen, who stopped munching and looked at each other for a long moment.
Elly was thoughtful. She understood that Dareen would not want company. Elly's mother was supposed to visit from New York that weekend but before Elly left for work she called to postpone the visit with a story about her car needing repairs. Then she was off to her job at the computer store where she was the purchasing manager. She had moved down here for that job two years ago. Smart girls were in demand everywhere and, though she liked New York, Atlanta was the happening place for young folks these days. As for Dareen, Atlanta was the only place she had lived since her family had immigrated when she was two years old. Actually she grew up in Dunwoody, a suburb; she was the youngest of six kids, all moved away from the area now -- she had two brothers in the Army -- except for her. She usually stopped in with her parents a couple of times a month. Though that next visit would have to wait for awhile.
She spent the morning in a funk, watching TV, reading newspapers online -- she liked reading papers from overseas, you got so much more news that way -- and periodically looked down at her chest, wondering when those big things were going to go back down to normal. But they didn't.
And those super powers. She was forced to believe it really happened. ‘This is too much for me, Allah, I'm just a normal girl. If it really happened then I'm unique, the only person in the world who could do that.’ With a trace of black humor, prompted by the newscaster's little joke, she thought of herself as being a "Super Hero" last night, like Superman or Wonder Woman. But what kind of super hero flew around naked? The most distinctive thing about those comic book creations was always their costume. She had no costume. A pretty blah super hero.
And why had those powers left her? She tried to think. It seemed to be when she put those clothes on in the store. Maybe it was only when I'm naked. Hating herself for giving in to curiosity, she took off all her clothes and stood naked in the middle of her bedroom, then jumped. Nothing. Then the obscene bounding up and down of her breasts when she landed. Those powers were obviously just that one time, maybe an immediate after-effect of the lightning.
It made her think that perhaps her new physique was a temporary effect too which was a nice thought. And she considered, ‘I've been struck by lightning and I wasn't killed. Something to be thankful for.’ She had been avoiding her morning prayer, not wanting to bare her soul, but now she finally unrolled her sajjada, or prayer rug, out from under her bed and had a nice calm pray, which focused on being thankful.
She puttered around the apartment the rest of the day and felt better. Her breasts didn't shrink. She decided that she was going to go to work the next day and looked through her closet for what to wear. Dareen's normal bust size was 34F, and as such she already had an arsenal of techniques to hide her breasts. Blazers were a good strategy. Or billowing fluffy blouses, loose and shapeless without being baggy. Any strategy seemed useless with whatever size her breasts were now -- actually the size wasn't all that different, just the fact that they stuck straight out and refused to be reined in by her minimizer bras -- but Dareen rose to the challenge and tried several combinations.
"What do you think?" she said to a rather surprised Elly when her roommate came back from work at 5:30. Elly was diplomatic as possible.
"Maybe a looser blazer."
Looking at herself again in the mirror, Dareen knew that she had been deceiving herself. She still looked like she had pumpkins stuck to her chest, like an over-siliconed bimbo. She hated herself like this!
Seeing Dareen plunged into gloom, Elly talked her into going to Alfredo's to at least get her out of the apartment. Alfredo's was the world's darkest restaurant; they had gone there maybe twice and joked about hardly being able to see what they were eating. So they went. Dareen, like any big-busted girl, had a sixth sense about when someone was looking at her breasts. But she ate with Elly without detecting any undue attention.
And now, on the second morning after being struck by lightning, Dareen Alkaras prayed on her sajjada to Allah for strength; dressed to hide her breasts as best she could; donned her sunglasses; took the elevator the five floors down to the lobby; and with a gulp and a deep breath, stepped out onto the bright morning sidewalk, heading for the subway stop.