I floundered on the floor of my apartment, elated to be back in my own body, my own time, my own home. Even though I’d just been laying submerged in a bath my skin was perfectly dry. The suppleness was gone and my great quantity of body hair was for once, a welcome sight. I was clad only in a pair of boxer shorts and remembered how passing through the hole the first time had modified my clothing along with the body. I patted my chest which was covered in flat, tough muscle. For the first time in my life I was happy for my hands not to be cupping large breasts.
“Oh thank goodness,” I murmured.
It was over. The bizarre, surreal, impossible experience was over.
I got up off the ground and grinned. I was tall again, and strong. I flexed the muscles of my arms, my chest, my stomach in turn. It felt like I’d shrugged off a thick layer of fat, not to mention reacquired the trim tight feeling in my gut, replacing the crowded bulk of a baby I had been temporarily forced to carry. Already my mind found it difficult to recall what it had felt like to be a woman, let alone a pregnant woman.
The experience was so foreign that it took on the quality of a dream.
The suit I had been wearing when I originally passed through the wall and entered Meghan’s world was nowhere to be found and I wondered why I had been deposited back here in just my underwear. In the living room I found my phone, which I instinctively flipped open to check for messages. I was shocked to find the time and date to be 2:00am on a Thursday night.
According to my phone I’d been gone over 8 days.
Yet there weren’t any messages, no angry or concerned texts inquiring after my whereabouts. As I stood there in the dark living room, face and upper body lit in the glow of the screen someone snuck up on me. I turned around to see the silhouette of scantily clad woman standing in the doorway. The only problem was I wasn’t dating anyone at the moment. So who was this person?
“Hey, put your phone away and come back to bed,” the voice said, and I placed it.
This was Erica, a woman in her late 20s who lived down the hall from me in my apartment building. I had spoken to her maybe twice, if you count exchanging hellos as a conversation, and harbored an intense crush on her for months and never done anything about it. She walked over and placed her fingers gently around my wrist, drawing me from the room.
Maybe this was the dream? If so, it was indistinguishable from reality.
Erica was tall, but several inches shorter than my 6’3”. She was long and lean with small breasts and narrow hips. Her blond hair, which I’d never not seen held up in some conservative bun or otherwise tasteful contrivance or other, was down. It was messy and wafted back at me as we walked toward my bedroom.
She smelled of long ago applied perfume, of sweat, a hint of wine, and of less appropriate things.
What on earth was going on? I had to assume that even though I’d been mentally absent from my world for over a week, someone or some thing had carried forward on my behalf. Had I been on some kind of soulless auto-pilot? Or did I have someone else to thank for this? Because evidently they were much better at living my life than I was.
I became aroused at Erica's touch, at her smell, and as I stiffened I felt the distinct ache of frequent use. Damn it! Just my luck to have missed out on the only sex I’d had in the past 6 months. Although something told me the well wouldn’t be running dry anytime soon. I followed Erica back to my bed and she took the far side, closer to the wall and faced away from me. It was chilly in the bedroom and I climbed in after her, spooning the woman from behind.
She took the hand I draped over her body in her arms like a stuffed animal and tucked it between her small breasts. I pressed my length between the cheeks of her underwear clad behind. Her warmth was overpoweringly lovely. This was all far too much for me.
“Mmm, always at the ready,” she said, commenting upon my presence. “But you've kinda worn me out and need to get to work early. So no more for you tonight,” Erica coyly whispered.
I breathed in the smell of her hair and watched her fall asleep in moments. I had a lot of catching up to do, but for now I allowed myself to drift off beside her, curious about my improved love life and yet vaguely worried about the life I’d so briefly shared so far away from here.
When I awoke Erica was gone. She must have gotten up early indeed. She’d cleaned up after herself to the point where it was hard to tell she’d even been over at all. But there was her smell on her pillow, and a pot of coffee warmed in the kitchen, a cup or two the worse for wear.
I found something else which was even more interesting--an unsent email in my drafts folder. It read:
'Dear Garner (whoever you are),
This is Meghan writing to you AS you. You left your email open on your computer and I just sorta jumped on in. Hope you don’t mind ;-)
I can’t tell you how weird this is. Its SUCH a relief to not be pregnant these last few days. Even though you are kinda old and really really hairy. Like wild animal hairy. You should look into a wax or something. Just a suggestion!
You must be kind of confused as to why I am you, or I guess, why I was you, because if you are reading this then you are back to being you and I am back to being me. Which sucks because, ugh. I am so sick of not feeling like myself. Sick of sharing myself with the little alien. Hopefully he didn’t kick too much for you. I know he's been keeping me up at night.
Let me try and explain what has happened to us.
That night you passed through to my world I had put out a distress call. I didn’t care where I went I just needed out. The hole opened up on your side because on some level you wanted to get out of your life too. Even for a little bit. That’s all it takes.
We made a connection which is hard to do! This is why the hole closed up so fast after you climbed through. Also, you probably were frustrated that you couldn’t open it back up on your own. This is because we both had to want to come back. And I totally didn’t. At least not at first. You see?
Now that the connection has been made, and we’ve both passed back and forth things should be easier in the future. Don’t worry. I’m not gonna take over your life. At least not right away! (That is a joke).
I hope you like the present I left you! Erica is a nice girl and the way your body felt when you looked at her made it obvious you like her. I just went ahead and moved things along for you, I hope you don’t mind. In a few hours if you concentrate very hard you will be able to remember everything that I did as you. At least I think that is how our shared memories will work. Hopefully that will save you some awkwardness.
Oh, and I used up a week of your vacation time, sorry. I didn’t know where you worked but there was a ‘Work’ number in your phone so I just called in and excused myself. They didn’t seem THAT mad. But you should like, probably put in some overtime soon.
Oh and another thing. The more times we do this the easier it will be to have access each other’s memories when we aren’t ourselves. If we swapped a second time I’d probably be able to do your job for you, know the names of your friends, that sort of thing and vice versa. I wouldn’t know your deepest secrets or your embarrassing childhood memories or junk like that, those are way too deep and would probably be off limits forever. Anyhow, I’m still new at this.
Alright, so I guess I’ll see you later then.
And that was it. Her email explained a lot but in many ways left me more confused than ever. She explained what had happened and why it had happened but not how any of this was even possible. What did she mean when she said 'I’ll see you later' and what was with ‘the more times we do this’ crap? Because I sure as hell wouldn’t be ‘wanting to pass through’ ever again. Once had been enough.
I shook my head and prepared to go in to the office. My impromptu vacation was over and there was likely damage control that needed to be done. I forced Meghan “Meggie” Myrna Cafferty out of my mind and reentered my life full on, perfectly happy never to see her again.