by Mark McDonald
©2001 Mark McDonald -- all rights reserved
The day Michelle went to the bar to hear the band was the last day of the auditions. The band had hit rock bottom. They had spent two weeks looking for a replacement for Mike and it was a complete wash. The night before the last day Marcus had set that the band could use the bar for the tryout period, the guys had decided that there was no way they would ever find a perfect replacement for Mike. Instead, they would need to find the best candidate and groom him to the style of the band, much the same way Mike had groomed them when he started the band.
After the last candidate had left, the mood was pretty low. They would have to choose someone, but it would be a long time before they performed in public again -- or made any money, or cut another record.
Michelle was at a table furthest from the stage. As the band packed up she stood, shaking as though she had never stood on stage before, and walked up to the front of the stage. Nathan was slipping his guitar in to his case as she walked up and placed one sculptured, hosed leg on the stage while making sure she was able to hide her panties from sight under her tight leather skirt. Her head was lowered, looking at her foot on the stage as she waited until she could hear no sound and all eyes were on her. She raised her head slowly with a shy smile and said to Nathan, "I hear you're looking for a singer."
The "gulp" from the twenty-two year-old Nathan was audible. Carl, back at the drums even heard it. Laughing he declared, "Finally got that sandwich down Nate?"
"We don't do girls songs," he appeared to be ashamed at the statement.
"You do vintage stuff, right?" the goddess at the foot of the stage asked him.
Nathan would have said yes to anything at that point -- if the girl had asked, "Can I pull out your eyes and use them as cocktail onions?" he would have squeaked, "Sure!" -- so he answered her question correctly purely by chance. "Yeah."
"You know 'Torn'?"
She walked around the side and up on the stage. "Can you play it then?"
"I like you." She couldn't help herself. "You're cute."
Nathan got out his acoustic guitar and strummed the first cord.
I thought I saw a man brought to life.
He was warm,
He came around like he was dignified,
He showed me what it was to cry.
Well you couldn't be that man I adored,
You don't seem to know
Seem to care what your heart is for,
But I don't know him anymore.
There's nothing where he used to lie.
My conversation has run dry.
That's what's going on,
Nothing's fine, I'm torn.
I'm all out of faith,
This is how I feel.
The look from the guys was one of astonishment. When she was done and the song was over, she put the mike back in it's holder on the stand, walked back down the stairs and took a seat at a table near the stage. Carl at the drums stood up. "I believe there is a decision to be made here."
Nathan looked at him surprised. "Decision? You've got to be kidding me right?"
"No," Carl responded soberly. "This young lady needs to decide if she wants this humble band of musicians to back her up." She could not hide the smile on her face.
She arranged the night at the club and Gary was knocked out. Later that night the two of them loved as no other lovers had ever loved before. She had come home to him at last. Gary finally drifted off to sleep with Michelle in his arms. She was warm, and for the first time since March she felt as if she was right where she was supposed to be.
Thoughts raced about in her head. She couldn't continue with the band, could she? The restaurant needed her. She loved her job there and the people and working with Gary. It's where she was proposed to after all.
She looked around the master bedroom, her eyes adjusted to the moonlight spilling in the windows. No the band would have be told that she couldn't continue.
She thought about turning on a light to read until she got tired. How could Gary sleep? She was so excited... and who is that sitting in that chair in the corner?
Well she would tell the band in the morning that...
Her breath caught in her throat and her eyes drifted back to her dressing chair, slowly, afraid to look. There was the clear shape of a human head rising from that chair. There was someone in the room with them.
Oh God. She could not remember feeling terror like this before.
Then she realized there were two heads, one standing one sitting. She whimpered Gary's name but he didn't respond. All she could think of was the memory of how Rodney had so easily subdued her.
"Gary!" She nudged him under the blankets. "Gary!"
"Michelle?" Came from one of the heads.
"Erin?" She leapt from the bed and crossed the large room in three steps. Then she flung herself into her sister's arms and wept. "I thought you were gone! I thought I was going crazy! Where have you been?"
"Shush! I've been right here with you the whole time," Erin said, comforting her.
"Gary! Oh Erin, he'll want to see..." She turned to wake him but Erin stopped her.
"I can't cross to your place in the world little sister. See?"
She looked were Erin was pointing and she saw two figures in the bed. Walking over to the bed, she saw that she was asleep in Gary's arms. Wow, that's what I look like when I sleep? Cool! Then confusion set in.
"But I can hold you Erin." She turned back and saw the second figure in the shadows by the dresser. "Who's that?"
The figure stepped out and it was her father.
"Dad?" she asked and the man next to his older daughter smiled.
"But what are you... " Her face fell apart, "Oh Daddy... No... Please..."
He went to his younger daughter and held her. Michelle wrapped her arms around the thick body of the man she had admired all her life and cried.
"It's ok. Don't cry... I got to come and see you. Don't cry, please."
"But I can't come see you again now. I wanted to tell you so much... I didn't want to hurt you Daddy. I was afraid of what you would think, what you would say." Her face was buried in his broad chest and she clung tight to him. "Please tell me you're not dead."
He didn't answer his daughter. "Your mother will need you," he said instead. "You're all she has left. She loves you, you know that don't you?" He stroked her hair. "Hey," he pulled her away and she fought to hold on at first but at last she relented, "I understand I'm going to be a grandfather," he said smiling down at her. She laughed but the sound was thick with grief and she could feel ropes of spit in her mouth. "I'll always be here Michelle. I'll always be watching you, loving my daughter. Both of my daughters."
She clutched him again. "Thank you."
"This will be my last visit to you baby sister." It was Erin. "I have finished my work for you and Gary and now you must carry on with this life that has been given to you by God."
Her attention distracted, Michelle went to Erin. "I can't do this without you, Erin. I still don't know how to be a girl -- a woman. You can't dump me into this life and abandon me. You said you'd always be there." She couldn't just bail out with her Dad. This was not fair.
"You know as much as I know. We are who we are." Erin took her sister's shoulders and turned her to the mirror. "You are this person and you know how to be this person. It doesn't come down to knowing how to be male or female, just how to be a person -- a good person -- and you have always been that. You keep doing that and you and Gary will be just fine."
A good person. The sobs were coming in great heaving gasps of breath but she forced them to a shuddering conclusion before starting over. Michelle went to her sister and held her tight. Gary woke to the sound of crying. He rolled over and found his fiancé weeping in her sleep. "Michelle? Baby?" he tried to shake her gently awake. She suddenly said, "Daddy?" He took her shoulders and rubbed them gently, then lightly wiped a hand across her eyes to clear her hair from her face. "Michelle, wake up."
She came around, saw where she was and broke down again. "Oh Gary... my Dad is dead!"
She didn't tell her mother who she was, at least not at the funeral. Gary attended with Michelle and the two of them helped Rose in the days that followed as best they could, but in time the distance between them increased and her fear of her Mother's reaction intensified to the point that she lost her nerve. By the time she told her mother she had much bigger problems at hand -- or rather at foot.
Eight months after Christmas of that first year, their first child was born -- a girl. The two of them decided to name the child Erin, for obvious reasons. Coincidentally, by the age of two the child was showing an aptitude for music rarely seen in children of her age and had begun taking piano lessons.
In the years to come, they were all happy and contented. They had two more children; a boy that Gary wanted to name Mike but Michelle wouldn't hear of it countering that part of their life, her life was over and she wanted nothing more to do with it. In the end they both settled on William for the boy. Their third and last child came just before their eighth wedding anniversary. They named her Shelly.
Life was as good as it gets for most people. As a small boy, she had wondered and dreamt of a day when he would play baseball with his son or explain the birds and the bees to him, and it made her sad on certain days to think that perhaps that particular dream was now gone forever. Thus, occasionally Michelle queried Gary about what it was like to be a father. She really wanted to understand first hand, but she was always careful not to let it show. Besides, she was blissfully happy to have her children and to be their mother.
You would not have known that this was the mother of a nineteen-year-old girl and a seventeen-year-old son. She looked no different than that day of March fourth, 2081. In fact it was a subject of great concern to her and she had even started to use makeup to age herself so it didn't look like Gary, who was nearly forty, was hanging out with some young nineteen year old.
Other than that, everything was flowing along smoothly, until the day that Michelle found a strange young teenage girl of about sixteen crouching in the closet of her son's bedroom.
A small, "Eek!" of surprise escaped her throat as she opened the closet to put up some of her son's clothes and saw the wide-eyed, frightened girl covered up with a pile of laundry in the corner of closet. The girl hunkered down into the pile even more.
"Oh my, you scared me," Michelle said not sure what else to make of this. The small face framed in long blond hair and Levi's jeans seemed absolutely wild with fear.
"Are you alright? Here let me help you up." She reached out with her hand expecting the girl to reach up and take it. Instead, the girl whined and tried to bury herself deeper into the pile.
"Come on now, this isn't the place to play hide and seek, dear. I won't hurt you, but I have to get this mess cleaned up, so give me your hand," Michelle insisted.
The girl shook her head, 'No,' in a short, curt little motion and this angered Michelle. She didn't recognize the girl but figured that she must be either one of Erin's friends or perhaps William's. Perhaps someone new had moved in on one of the neighboring streets, but new neighbor or not, this young lady didn't have any manners and Michelle was running out patience.
She reached down into the pile feeling around for the child's arm, but the girl, sensing what was about to happen, squirmed and struggled to avoid capture, whining as she did. Michelle's hand found the girl's shoulder and was concerned when she realized it was bare. She stopped and looked with worry at the child who was on the edge of hysterics now.
Michelle finally latched onto the forearm of the child and hoisted her up and out of the pile of clothes.
The girl was completely nude. Michelle was so surprised by this she put her hand over her mouth, exclaimed, "Oh!" and fell backwards on her butt.
The girl stood trying to cover herself but in a way that seemed odd in someway to Michelle and at the same time eerily familiar. She stood cupping her crotch with both hand, arms extended straight down at her sides in a V shape until they met at a junction between her legs, leaving her beasts exposed.
"What happened to you? Where are your clothes?" she asked. There was no response from the child, just a whimper.
An idea occurred to her. Michelle, feared that perhaps her son had gotten sexually aggressive with the girl and then panicked and ran. What else could have happened? She didn't even know that her son was capable of something like that, but this, Oh God, this was bad, very bad.
She spoke softly to the child, trying not to scare her any more than she already was. "Where's William dear? Do you know William? "
A puzzled look came over the child's face. Perhaps, Michelle thought, she's just lost and disoriented. Maybe she just wandered in here. But in her mind she knew what the chances of this girl just wondering in off the street were.
Oh please God, let that be that. Don't let my Bill be responsible for this, please. I don't think I could take that.
Michelle looked around the room for the clothes the girl must have had on at one point in the day but there was no sign of them. OK, Plan B she thought.
"Come dear, we have to get you dressed." She took girl out of William's room and into the guest bedroom across the hall, where they had stored some of Erin's old clothes. Michelle wrapped a blanket from the bed around the young, shivering girl and slowly began to unpack some things she felt might fit the girl.
She dreaded the questions she was going to have to ask the girl but she was afraid not to as well. If William had done this, well... he couldn't be allowed to think that any part of rape or assault was acceptable. As she considered how to question the girl, she laid the clothing on the bed beside the girl, not noticing the wide-eyed look of fear and loathing on the girl's face as each piece hit the bed.
When she did notice she tried to sound reassuring. "You must be very scared, but getting dressed will help calm you down. I'll leave the room until you're done and then we need to talk. I need to know who your parents are dear. We'll have to call them." At first, Michelle thought the girl was in such a profound state of shock she wouldn't be able to speak. Then, suddenly there was a torrent of words.
"I... I... I can't wear that stuff. Those are Erin's clothes. I can't put that stuff on. Please don't make me. I don't want to look like a... a... I'm sorry I did it, but don't make me wear that stuff," pleaded the girl.
She knows who Erin is, Michelle thought with a sigh. Well, so much for wandering in off the street. William was probably responsible after all, and her heart sank at the thought. She was now fighting to suppress tears as much for this little girl as for her son who was probably looking at some time in the juvenile detention system and that was the best scenario she could come up.
"They're not that old, but I think it best if we just get you dressed. You can change in to something more suitable when your parents come to pick you up," Michelle finished and picked up a pair of panties and handed them to the girl.
With revulsion in her eyes, she reached out and plucked the garment from Michelle's hand and held it out in front of her, pinching it between her thumb and forefinger as though it were dirty and might spread some strange disease to her.
Something about this was very familiar. Michelle cocked her head sideways in curiosity.
"You're not really gonna make me wear girl's underwear are you Mom?" the girl asked pleadingly up at Michelle in a sweet small voice.
"I'm sure you're upset but..." It hit her like a ton of bricks. She called me Mom!
"I didn't mean to do it Mom. She said it was like going to a costume party, but it's stuck. I can't get it off. I came home as fast as I could, but I was naked." The child on the bed began to cry in hysterically, "Oh Mom, I'm a girl. A girl!"
"What's... your... name?" she asked slowly, cautiously, looking deep into the child's deep green eyes, the whites of which were now bright red. But she knew the answer to that even before she had asked it. She understood what was so strange about the way the girl had been trying to hide her nakedness. It was the way a boy would try to hide his penis.
"It's me Mom. Billy." the girl said shyly and then lowered her head in shame.
"Jesus wept," she cried as she slid to the floor.
"Oh great. Now I've killed my Mom," she heard the beautiful young girl say just before she passed out.