Man learns a hard lesson and discovers herself all over again
Over the next week, I hopped between houses at random, sometimes spending the night as Christopher and others as Myka. It seemed that the more I continued to try and figure out which life to lead, the more it became a matter of feeling that I would be giving up a lot more in the other. I found myself sometimes wondering and watching Terrance play with the kids as Myka and think about how much I missed hearing them run around and call me all the time when I was at home. It even struck me that I would refer to the Howard house as "home" more and more and my original house as "'the other place" more often as well.
Mentally, I think the change really started to snowball, though, when I, as Christopher, was at home and my brother Benjamin dropped by to say hi. As Myka, I knew that Amanda and Benjamin had turned rather serious over the span of 3 months and I couldn't remember how many times I had driven or walked by the house at night to spot his car parked next to her's. I even ran into the two of them at a neighborhood BBQ where they were holding hands and exchanged a kiss or two.
As Christopher, though, I was his older brother and I found myself talking with him a bit more. His house was under renovation, so he was going to spend the next few days with us and Amanda was a good hostess. I knew, as her husband, that Benjamin got along well with Amanda, but it was never beyond something like that. We were good to each other and supported each other, as close as brothers could be. But with my knowledge from my time as Myka, I also began to see him in a different light as well.
He took after our mother more than me, I looked like my dad when he was younger. He was 2 years younger than me, his hair was sandy brown, and his eyes were a soft blue. The girls thought he had the nice, comfortable look that made girls' hearts melt easily. Whereas I had features that wouldn't be out of place in an outdoor sports magazine, he was more "Mr. GQ" with his upscale style of dress and the way he seemed to carry himself. He had a youthful air of confidence that he carried himself with and it showed. I knew, as a woman, Myka had found that attractive in Terrance and I could see how Amanda, as a single woman, would be impacted.
The more I spent time around them, the more I began to realize that they were rather close and meshed well. They never cheated with me around, their lives were not like that, but I could tell in the way they looked at each other that it would be easy to see how they would be in love if things were different. I never doubted Amanda being in love with me and being faithful to me but at the same time, I couldn't expect her to be like that in a life where I didn't exist as her husband. Nor could I hold my brother to some sort of standard if, indeed, his brother never existed.
I had gone on a liquor run and when I came back, I heard them laughing and talking easily, a sound of happiness and genuine enjoyment in her voice that she often had with me but recently, given the difficulties she was encountering with her shifts at work, the exhaustion really cut into. I stood there, at the door, and just spent a few moments waiting and thinking over things. Amanda was happy with Benjamin right now and when I saw them, as Myka, I knew they were just as happy if not more so. Could I rob them of that happiness? Would it be fair for me to do so?
My hand was on the door knob but instead of going in, I turned and gingerly sat down on the front porch for a few moments and thought about it. I loved Amanda dearly and I valued our life together. The house, my connections, everything that I was, I loved dearly, and I would never just willfully toss it out. But still, on the other hand, the woman inside was also entitled to her life and her happiness. Was she happy with me or did she find a deeper, more meaningful happiness with Benjamin?
Was I happy? That was a question I came back to, sitting there in the dark. If you asked me before the locket came into my life, I would've answered that with a resounding yes. My marriage was strong, I had a good education, I was healthy, I had friends and connections, money was not really an issue...I was happy.
Yet there I was, looking at the past month, and how the overwhelming majority of it I had spent living the life of a married woman and mother of 2, working during the day as an HR Administrator while also working hard on making her husband and shaping him into a successful businessman. All while enjoying being a mother and loving partner to him. The house I helped maintain was not a mansion by any stretch, but it was happy, warm, and loving. I had always wanted kids, wanted a family of my own, and I thought that Amanda did as well. After I found out that she didn't, that a family was not on her radar screen at all, I think that was what cut me the deepest. Yet here it was, a family of my own, right in front of me. Did I want to take it? Could I even take it?
I was still undecided about it all as I opened and then closed the locket. The house behind me became quiet as the lights were out and I slowly made my way down the street and to my home. The kids were asleep as I slipped in quietly and after locking up, I slid into bed next to Terrance who barely stirred and wrapped his arm around me.
Sleep didn't really come for me that night or even the next but during the day, I spent the time relaxing. I still worked hard at my networking but instead of being driven by any pressing need, I instead focused on learning how to be a friend to these women and not merely using them for my own personal gain. Tiffany came over one afternoon, and we shared coffee while my two kids played with her three. The next day, Rebekkah and Shawna dropped off their munchkins with Terrance as the three of us hit the mall for a "girl's day" of massages, pedicures, and simple relaxation. Even church became less of a social domination mission and one more where I could let my guard down for once and just enjoy being known as Mrs. Howard. Rebekkah admitted that it was nice to see me off 'hunter mode' and just be one of the girls.
I enjoyed working on my relationship with the kids but especially with Terrance. I had worked on him with a goal in mind but the more I spent with him, the more I thought about him in a way I couldn't explain. I just felt...complete, whole, at one with him. We talked on so many levels and the level of intimacy we had was more than I had ever experienced with Amanda or any other woman in my life, anyone really at that point. Sex was great, don't get me wrong, but I could orgasm just from the way we kissed. He knew how to get every part of my body electrified. I knew I could work his body in so many ways as well.
It was Wednesday when, at lunch, I was about to leave when Terrance came into the office with a smile on his face. Some of the staff cast knowing looks between each other but I merely played it off and smiled, giving him a warm kiss and embrace at the surprise. "Good to see you baby but why?"
He leaned over and whispered into my ear, "I've worked out a vacation with your boss. Michelle's offered to take the kids for the next few days, I figured we owe it to ourselves." He looked me in the eyes and winked. "What do you say?"
"What do I say?" I looked back at my staff, all women by the way (a perk of being the second highest in the HR department, I got input on my own staff), and smiled. "Ladies, paid vacation!" After that, at least for a week, Terrance could do no wrong in their eyes.
By Friday afternoon, I found myself walking hand in hand with him down a small sandy beach, toes meshed in the wet sand with my sandals in my other. It didn't bother me in the least to have him walking next to me wearing nothing but his board shorts. I could see some of the looks he was drawing from the women we were passing, and I just smiled unthreatened, knowing that he was mine and all mine. I could tell my appearance, wearing a bikini top that pushed up and out my breasts caught the attention of several men as well, never really bothering him at all either.
We had boarded the plane and made a B-line for the Bahamas, a simple get away that I knew was a means to an end, almost. Here, in our secluded ocean bungalow, we rededicated our love for each other and indulged in every moment of just us. I learned again what it meant to know the touch of a lover deeply enraptured by my existence and I responded in kind, taking him to levels of bliss, unrestrained by any concern or care other than for the person in the room with me. Everywhere we went when we weren't' busy entwined, I had no problems calling him little pet names, like "babe, sweetie, honey..." and he had equal fun calling me his "baby mama, baby girl..."
I looked back for a moment at the small little card that I had brought with me and had read for a few moments on the beach before he joined me. It was a simple note, one that read what I thought it would, and it told me enough about what my decision would be. In the end, it was almost an easy choice to make, especially since I wanted her to be happy. Amanda would find her happiness with Benjamin as she had written in a note that she attached with her 2 weeks, her desire to move in with him in the city and to take up a job at a primary-care clinic instead of working hellish shifts at the hospital. I knew I would miss her there but more so as a friend.
There was another reason why I was happily escaping that life and keeping this one, a very valuable and genuinely close to my heart reason for it. I had always wanted a family and having two wonderful kids that I adored more than anything on Earth, save for their father and his love. I knew that things would be difficult from this moment on, that my life would be viewed in many ways than I had ever imagined, and I knew there would be ups and downs with my decision. The life of Myka Howard revolved around the success of her husband and her family came to identify who she was. In a way, it wasn't as fabulous as the stories would lead you to believe.
Still, as I gingerly took his hand and turned him around, pulling my body inwards to him, I knew I was making the right decision. I looked up into his eyes and smiled briefly again as I lifted myself up and gave him a long, lingering kiss on the lips. "I love you, Terrance," I told him, meaning every single word of it. When he responded in kind, I brought his spare hand to my chest, held it tightly, and then moved it down to my stomach. "WE love you, Terrance." The look on my husband's face as the news dawned on him made me feel all excited again. A new challenge had arisen. I had two kids already in this life, but this would be the first I carried and birthed.
As we made our way back to the hotel room, I took out the envelope from my beach bag and slipped the package into the mail slot with a small grin. Inside was a gateway to a different world, a new life, and a new beginning. I hoped it would help someone as it did for me. Christopher Lassiter may have loved a challenge.
Myka Howard beat them.