Courney wakes up on the left side of the bed.
Allie’s retainer case sits on the side table next to her. The light shines differently from this angle, streaming in from the nearest window. It’s brighter. The hand she brings up to block out the light throws stripes upon her face.
They forgot to close the blinds last night. They forgot to do a lot of things, sore and jet-lagged as they were, flying in on the red eye from Los Angeles. That must be why they tumbled into bed in the wrong places.
Allie is a bump in the covers next to her. Her back is turned away. Courtney sees just the top of her head poking out from the duvet.
Courtney shuffles off to the bathroom, socked feet sliding on the hardwood floors. She reaches for her toothbrush and misses - she must be more tired than she thought. She’s not young anymore; she can’t handle these long hours and cramped commercial flights. The ice baths don’t fix the ache at the base of her spine. The green smoothies and protein powder don’t fill in the bags underneath her eyes.
She’s halfway through brushing her teeth before she bothers to look in the mirror. When she does she sees blue eyes, high cheekbones. She knows every detail of this face, has seen it scrunched up in anger, pulled wide into smiles, and everything in between.
The problem is, it isn’t hers.
“Allie?” she calls into the other room. The voice feels strange in her throat. Familiar, but too low. The sound fills up her head.
When Courtney looks back into the bedroom, it’s her own face that she sees rising from the covers.
“How do you think this happened?”
Courtney watches Allie spoon another bite of oatmeal into her mouth. It’s strange, viewing her own face from this angle. So that’s what she looks like when she chews.
“I don’t know,” Courtney replies between sips of coffee. The buzz of the caffeine doesn’t make answering the question any easier. “I said I wished I was taller yesterday? You know, after Nneka hit that shot over me.”
“Are you sure you didn’t double cross any witches?”
Allie pushes her food around with her spoon. “So what do we do to switch back?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I wish to be shorter?”
Courtney clutches her mug in both hands. She looks around the kitchen, at the dishes in the sink, their collection of refrigerator magnets. Everything looks a little different from the higher angle. “I wish I were shorter,” Courtney calls out, to no one in particular.
Courtney stares at Allie, wearing her own face. Minutes pass. Nothing happens.
“I wish I were myself again.”
Nothing, just Courtney standing by their counter, Allie on a barstool, neither of them the shapes they are supposed to be.
“Maybe we have to go to sleep for it to work?” Allie suggests.
“Maybe.” Courtney takes another sip of her coffee. It’s getting cold. It doesn’t warm up her chest like it used to.
“It’s a good thing we have off today,” Courtney says. “I’d hate to be like this in practice.”
“We’ll be better tomorrow,” Allie assures her.
They aren’t better tomorrow.
They make it through shooting drills without drawing too much suspicion. Allie adjusts to her new body quickly and makes about the same number of shots as the real Courtney usually would.
Courtney keeps shooting long. She can’t get used to the way her arms move or how her legs snap off the ground. All her muscle memory is stored inside a different body. Courtney clunks basket after basket, but everyone has an off day, even one of the greatest shooters in the league.
The real problem comes during five on five. They are working on a horns set, but Allie throws her passes just a second late. Courtney forgets to set a screen and the whole play falls apart. They are no longer a perfectly choreographed dance; they are drunken club goers swaying out of time to the music.
Courtney figures it out before Allie does. Allie is a talented passer but she doesn’t see the floor the way Courtney does. She can’t hold all the players in her head and anticipate their moves the same way. The fifth time they mess up the set, Candace stops them.
“Coach, why don’t we take a break?”
Coach Wade nods his head in agreement, his clasped hands on top of his head giving away his true frustration.
Candace finds Allie while she takes sips of her water.
“Everything alright with you?” she asks.
“I just…have a headache today,” Allie answers. “It’s hard to concentrate.”
Courtney watches from off to the side, seeing how Candace towers over her. It makes the hairs raise on the back of her neck.
“That’s okay,” Candace consoles her. “Maybe we can have Julie do a few reps.”
It’s strange, being cradled by her own body. Having her own hands run down her hair, stroke her back. Everything about this is strange. Courtney wants to crawl out of her skin…Allie’s skin. She wants to scream but she doesn’t.
“What if we never switch back?” Courtney worries.
Courtney’s head is resting on Allie’s shoulder. She feels awkward, gangly sitting in her lap. She misses how it felt to have Allie surrounding her.
“We don’t even know for sure if this is caused by me wishing to be taller. That’s just a theory.”
Allie draws large circles on Courtney’s back.
“And even if it is , I don’t know how to turn back. It’s not like freaky friday,” she continues. “I haven’t come to some grand understanding. I still wish I were taller.”
“You’re the best passer in the league,” Allie reminds her. “I don’t care what people say about Sue Bird.”
“Maybe,” Courtney concedes. “But players my size never win MVP.”
Courtney always pretends it doesn’t bother her. It doesn’t matter how many assists titles she gets, how many records she breaks. It probably doesn’t even matter that she has a chip now. She can’t make the flashy defensive plays someone like Candace can. Every year she is just a footnote on someone else’s story, and she won’t get many more chances.
“Don’t you think that if you were taller, you wouldn’t have developed the same passing skills?”
“No,” Courtney scoffs. “I think I would be good at passing and defense.”
Allie chuckles. “Okay.” She kisses the top of Courtney’s head. “Well, whatever size you are, I love you.”
“Okay,” Courtney says. She lets Allie rock her back and forth until her heart rate steadies. “I love you, too.”
The next morning, Courtney wakes up on the left side of the bed.
Allie’s retainer isn’t there, because they swapped last night, so accustomed to sleeping in their usual places. She holds her hands up in front of her face, takes in the bony fingers, the scar she got on her pinky when she was thirteen. She looks to the side, and Allie’s face is there, smiling back at her.