Man discovers more about family and begins to wonder what it means to him...
| (NOTE: This work is a continued homage to the "Parallel Lives" stories on Fictionmania and its derivative work on Tgstorytime. This chapter will finish its similarity with "Parallel Lives" as the original story sort of ends at this point whereas the TGstorytime one continues. This will also diverge from that story as well but remain in the same vein. Please read both if you can, they are good pieces of fiction.)
Walking into a new house, it took me a few moments to get my bearings. Whereas our house was nicely, if not a bit spartan in its dor, the Howard household was most definitely not. Toys were scattered all over the living room, books were stacked haphazardly on the bookshelves and there were an odd number of DVDs on shelving units that had seen better days in the Ikea showroom.
"Mykes? Thank god you're back," shouted a loud male voice from the back and I watched as a tall man walked from the kitchen over to me. I recognized him immediately as Terrance, the neighbor I had met at a few neighborhood BBQs held at the park during the summer. He had always been one of the more active participants in the groupings and volunteered as much as his jobs as a banker and a single parent would allow, which was not much. I had also worked with him a few times in my past job, he was a nice and mellow guy in most respects.
I smiled briefly as he came up to me and leaned in forward, planting a kiss on my cheek, before he handed off a bundle of energy named "Hillary" into my arms. The little girl was instantly reaching for me and as soon as I took her in my arms, she began to talk excitedly about her day at preschool. Between her jabbering and the sound of the TV in the background, it was amazing I managed to even catch one word.
I made my way around the couch into the living room where, seated in front of the TV, was a little boy, Jayson, who was busy watching some infernal episode of a pink pig talking with an English accent. I didn't really much care for cartoons but, from the way he was suddenly enthralled in it, I figured not to rock the boat any. Plus, when Terrance was signaling me to join him in the kitchen, I noticed that Hillary was easily distracted too, and I placed her down right next to her brother before I told them (might as well have spoken to the wall for all the attention I got from them) that I was going to fix dinner.
I walked into the kitchen and smiled again as he put his arms around my waist and pulled me in close. It wasn't too far a stretch for me to say that he was a good-looking man, even as my male self would say, but the feeling was different from this point of view. I noticed the feeling of his hand against the back of my sweater, the smell of his cologne as he pulled me in close to his chest, even the feeling of his muscles as I placed a palm against his torso and leaned my head against it. I didn't want to do anything more at this point, though I wasn't so sure if it was the idea of being somehow intimate with another man or the fact that the kids were right in the next room.
Either way, he merely was content for the hug and then he kissed me on the forehead before he turned and walked to the table and, for a moment, I felt more than a little disappointed. Shaking my head, I turned instead to the refrigerator and opened it. "Pasta okay? Didn't have a chance to do some grocery shopping."
Cooking dinner was a unique experience, especially with the conversation I was having with Terrance kept getting interrupted by the patter of little feet and the constant tugging on the hem of the sweater by one pair of hands after another. Finally, it took Terrance a few minutes to gather the two and took them outside and out of my hair.
Still, as I heard the noises from the yard, I still couldn't help but have a small smile on my lips. I loved children and had hoped for some with Amanda, that was even the plan when we first got married. We had bought the house even with that in mind. After losing my job and her going on shift after shift, though, that dream was pushed aside. I thought Amanda would've made an excellent mother and I had a load of father figures in my life to influence how I would be a dad. Maybe that was the whole point of this experience, I wondered, shutting off the stove and letting the sauce simmer. Although this was from the opposite side of things, the experience of being a parent would help me understand better...or at least I hope it did.
Dinner went well, surprisingly I had made a great pasta dish on the fly that tasted absolutely nothing like the style I made but, yet the kids slurped everything up (Jayson was proud he didn't spill at all...Hillary was just proud she had makeup on her face like mommy.) The two kids talked about their days at school, Jayson was enjoying Kindergarten while Hillary was busy making friends at daycare/pre-K. It was easy to follow along with their words, not necessarily all the stories they were telling, but their enthusiasm was also very infectious.
Terrance and I talked as well about our day. He was in banking and the lifestyle of a middle-manager at the bank corporate level was just as exciting as a middle-manager at an aluminum trading company (not much). Still, he was excited about his day and I had no problems listening to him talk, even if I didn't really follow on the names of the people or what product was what. He also mentioned a convention trip that he would be taking later in a few weeks, though what it meant really didn't seem all that clear at first.
Talking about my day, though, it surprised me a little. I had no real idea what exactly Myka Howard did for a living but apparently, she was an administrator at the hospital. I had little problem talking about the day as well, sparing the kids any stories that I recalled (which surprised me, considering I hadn't been Myka except for the past 2 hours). I could tell the kids were bored of the topics, but they were good natured enough to know when to talk and when to let their parents talk.
Afterwards, Terrance took his turn to do the dishes while I spent some time getting the kids washed, dressed, and ready for bed. Jayson kept running back and forth between the bathroom and his little room while Hillary had picked out her favorite night-time PJs and promptly sat down on the bed and waited for me to help her. Her room was a soft pink color, matching the pink Peppa Pig PJs she had picked out, and I took a few moments to just run my hands through her frizzy curls before she playfully laughed and shook them off. "Go brush your teeth, dad will be in soon to read you your story."
Footsteps in the hallway told me that Terrance had come upstairs, and he poked his head into the room where I sat, tossing her dirty clothes into the hamper. "They about ready?"
"IF THEY FINISHED BRUSHING THEIR TEETH," I responded a bit loudly at the (lack of a) sound of water in the bathroom, followed by more childish giggles and the water running. I couldn't help but feel the absurdity of it all but the way it came so easily to me too was just a little disconcerting. Did I fall into the role so easily because of the locket? What was going through my head? I got up from the bed and my husband winked at me before he turned and walked into the bathroom. Sometimes, I swear I made his life too easy...
An hour later, after the kids were tucked in bed and asleep, I slipped into the bedroom where I had placed the envelope from Amanda. I read it again, the name Mya Howard, and then opened it up. Besides the form attached for the company fundraising project, I looked at the check itself and spotted her name: AMANDA HOPKINS. Hopkins was her maiden name and it bothered me a little to see that, along with just her name at the corner of the check, but I supposed it made sense. She wouldn't be "Lassiter" if she wasn't married to me and since I was now Mya, or at least this body and reality was, my former self didn't exist.
Terrance was in the shower as I turned next to the computer on the desk. It wasn't anywhere near as fancy as my setup, but I supposed there was higher needs for money in this household. Still, it was nice and did what I asked it to, loading up Facebook and Instagram, and I looked at the various feeds I had been a part of, just to make sure. Only a few moments and clicks confirmed what I thought: The male me didn't exist now.
Myka Howard, however, did exist. There were pictures of camping trips, of hiking, swimming, friends and family I had never met before, even messages from people I had known as associates were somehow friends with her...me...as well. I knew I had to explore more about this life when I had the chance but now, I was more concerned about what to do regarding Amanda and my other life.
I turned off the computer and turned as he walked out of the shower, using his towel around his waist and another to wipe his hair off. "Left any hot water for me?"
He smiled and shook his head, laughing a little as I managed to chuck one small pillow at his head. "Easy, baby..."
I laughed as I turned and walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind me. I wasn't really going to do anything in there but instead waited for a few minutes before I opened it again and looked out. The lights were off, and I could hear the rhythmic breathing coming from the bed. The man was tired, I had known that since dinner, but it was still something that I knew I had to make sure of. I tiptoed to the bed and leaned over, holding my hair off to the side and I gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you later," I whispered before I slipped out of the bedroom and closed the door.
I checked on the two kids, making sure they were tucked in appropriately, turned on the nightlight for Jayson and then for Hillary, before I turned and walked down the stairway, taking a moment to look at the pictures adorning the walls. Each of them had Terrance, the kids, and then a smiling woman named Myka in them as well. Hiking, fishing, swimming...everything that those pictures had in them, I was in them as well. I let myself out of the house and then opened the locket and closed it. A wave came over me again and I found myself back as the male me. Almost immediately I let myself take a moment to look at the house behind me, how different and yet familiar at the same time, but then forced myself to turn and head home.
I opened the door quietly and slipped in to the kitchen. Amanda was never one to cook so it didn't surprise me that there were empty Chinese boxes signaling take-out for dinner. I merely emptied them into the trash and made sure everything else was locked up before I turned and dug quickly into her pocketbook and pulled out her checkbook. I already knew when I had reverted that the check wouldn't be there but seeing the same numbered slip still inside told me pretty much what I already knew to heart: Myka didn't exist while I was here.
I poured myself a glass of wine and leaned against the counter. On the one hand, I was happily married to Amanda and loved every aspect of my current life. We didn't have kids, but we had a lot of fun, there was love between us, and I felt very much content with my life as it is.
On the other hand, there was something also drawing me very much towards Myka. There, I was also part of a family. I had two kids who adored me, I felt a very loving maternalistic feeling towards them, and I was also in a healthy relationship with Terrance. Plus, if Myka didn't exist, how did the kids exist? Or what was their lives like without Myka in them?
After finishing the wine, I came to bed with those thoughts on my mind, Amanda still asleep somehow sensed I was there and she pulled me in close as we spooned together. It wasn't sexual at all but a very intimate level of contact between two loving adults. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.