Author: cypress16 PM
Time travel? Interesting stories, but that's all, can't happen, right? So, maybe parallel universes? The latest theories in astrophysics, mind boggling huh? But travel between them … really? But what if? You go to sleep one night and wake up a teenager again. The house, the family, the world is the same as you remember it from fifty years ago. Oh, except for one difference…Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Family - Chapters: 22 - Words: 56,898 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 02-08-13 - Published: 10-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3068298
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
An hour later we were in front of the tiny TV screen watching a program unfamiliar to me. Linda was in her room. My father had dragged my mother into their room as soon as we had gotten into the house. I was sure to explain my meltdown in the car. At that moment, I was thinking how could anybody stand to watch such a terrible picture, but knowing it was only because I knew how much better TV would be.
"Uh, Bert, why do you keep leaning in and squinting at the TV, being too close is not good." My father commented. "Can you see OK? Do you think you need glasses?"
I turned, making sure Linda wasn't around. "Actual, Bert's eyes seem fine, mine weren't. Not as bad as Uncle Bud's but I started wearing glasses when I was nine." I responded as I turned to face them and slid along the couch to get closer. "The screen is what, about 21" or 23"?" I gestured to the antique in the corner.
"It's a 24", the biggest they have." My father replied a little defensively. "So, are you going to tell me in your world you have TVs … what twice as big?"
"That's about the size of the computer monitor on my desk, and I sit about a foot, foot and a half away from it when I'm writing or reading. But, then current monitors and TV screens are all flat, only about an inch thick and don't give off any harmful rays." I sighed and looked back at the thing in the corner then back to my parents shocked faces. "There are TVs over 100", but they're pretty expensive. I bought a new TV less than a year ago for $1400, which would be less than $200 in 1962 dollars. It is 60", measured on the diagonal, Flat Screen LED HDMI Color with Wi-Fi; it sits on a long low credenza with glass doors which hold the control boxes for playing movies and receiving the satellite transmissions. Some people mount TVs on the wall like a picture. The control box for the satellite transmissions gives us access to over five hundred different channels plus thousands of movies. Oh, all the channels run twenty four hours a day and the picture is brighter, clearer and with better life like color than when you go to the movies now." I looked into two stunned faces. I shrugged, "most people have a TV between forty and sixty inches in a living room and usually a couple of smaller twenty-five to forty inch TVs in bedrooms, its part of normal life in my world of 2012."
"So, do all these big fancy TVs show everything in 3-D?" My father asked.
"Well," I responded. "You can get 3-D, but it's really only become somewhat popular and more available the last few years. You still have to wear the glasses and it really isn't very good … I don't think, anyway. "I shrugged. "There are quite a few movies being made in 3-D, but mostly the animated ones. Actually, that's something that has advanced significantly. Animation is all done on computers now and it is getting very life like, there may come a time fairly soon when live actors could be replaced by computer designed actors and it would be difficult to tell the difference." I grinned and shrugged at their surprised expressions. I started to explain more electronic advances until Linda came out of her room and the conversation stopped abruptly.
Linda looked around at us. "What were you talking about?"
My father started mumbling excuses. My mother tried with more explanations.
I knew this was it. Linda wouldn't let it go this time. She had a right to know. "Mom, Dad, she will need to know sometime…" I commented quietly.
"What?" she asked excitedly, looking between the three of us. "I knew there was something going on with Bert." She said triumphantly.
"I don't know if it's a good idea…" my father responded.
"I'd like her to know now, clearly, calmly from me, rather than have her find out later at an inopportune time; don't you think its better that way?" I answered carefully.
My parents hesitated, looked between each other for a few moments as Linda started to excitedly plead to know. They looked at me and shrugged and turned to Linda.
My father started, "What Bert is going to explain to you is not bad and she's not sick or anything, but it's something that we can't explain or understand." He paused nervously.
I jumped in at this point, "Remember last Sunday morning when you came up to my room to get me for breakfast?"I started as I reached for her hand and pulled her to sit between Dad and me.
"Yes?" she responded quizzically.
"Remember, you said I looked funny, was something wrong with me." I continued to hold her hand as I looked at her carefully.
"Yeah, you had this really funny look on your face … like you saw a ghost or something … and you've been different all week, doing all kinds of stuff and helping with everything, and you say funny things sometimes. It's like you're suddenly a different person." She said as she looked at me apprehensively.
I smiled and chuckled, "You have no idea how right you are." She tilted her head and gave me another quizzical look. "I am a different person in here," I taped the side of my head. "The body, the brain and everything physical is still Bert, your fourteen year old sister." I paused a second to catch my breath and continued, "What I'm going to explain next is what Dad was just saying. We don't know why this happened or how it happened, but it did and its real … Mom and Dad only just now believe me, because it's that strange."
"So, you're saying you're not you, you're somebody else in your head?" she said skeptically.
"Yes, that's it." I said, surprised she understood the basic issue so easily.
"Who?" she immediately asked, "and where's Bert?"
Mom and Dad gasped.
Linda turned for a second to them and then quickly back to me.
I hadn't thought of the implication to Linda and really my parents too, of Bert being gone, until her question.
"Uh, we don't know where Bert's, uh, personality is … I hope she's in my body, at my home with my family, but I don't know… I thought this change was maybe temporary, but it's been over a week, so I don't know … it might be permanent." I responded quietly and gently rubbed her hand.
Again, she looked back to our parents concerned faces then back to me.
"So, who are you?" she asked, again staring at me though narrowed eyes.
"Well, I'm your brother… in my world." I watched and waited for a reaction.
She continued to stare at me for a few seconds. Her eyes suddenly traveled down over my body then back up to my eyes. She then turned back to our parents, "Is she just telling me this story because you don't want to tell me what's really going on?" her voice trailed off as she took in the concerned looks on our parent's faces. She turned back to me and looked at me skeptically again. "Please tell me the truth, not some stupid story." She pouted as tears started to appear in her eyes.
"I'm sorry, but it's the truth, I don't know how or why, but it is who I am." I paused and I felt tears in my eyes as I took in her horrified reaction to losing her sister. She snatched her hand from mine, stood and looked at me, then to Mom and Dad, turned and fled to her room in tears. Mom was instantly on her feet and followed Linda. I looked down to my lap as tears started to run down my cheeks. I quickly wiped them away and looked at my father. I forced a crooked smile with tears still in my eyes, I said, "I'm sorry," paused and shook my head slightly, "that didn't go well…"
My father reached over to me and took my hands in his, "It's not your fault. You told the truth. The truth is always better that a lie."
In that instant, I realized he really did believe me, they believed me. "Thank you." I reached over and hugged him.
After a couple of minutes, I retreated to my room. I lay on my bed and stared at the ceiling. Linda and I had always gotten along better than most siblings. Now, I wasn't sure how to deal with this situation. The guilt, granted the unjustifiable guilt, of having replaced Bert in everyone's life in this world hit me hard. As I thought about it, I was surprised that Cynthia had been as accepting as she was. Even my parents, they had lost a daughter, and gained a stranger. Now, the Host analogy, fit better. Maybe not how things happened, but in some ways the end result. The original person was gone, replaced by a stranger and in one way I was worse, I didn't have a history of the original person's memories to access. At least I'm human, I thought to myself, smirking, as I wiped more tears away, and I do have my own hazy memories of this time. I sighed; I wondered how things were going to go with Mark tomorrow. I had an urge to wait, not say anything. I considered it over and over and finally decided a delay was not going to make it any easier. Mark had a right to know. If he walked out, there was little I could do. It was better now than later, I decided.
Suddenly, there was a light knock on my door. Thinking it was Mom or Dad checking on me, I jumped up and pulled the door open. There was Linda; red eyes and a nervous look on her face as she glanced between me and the floor.
"Come in," I said and moved back and sat on the bed. I waited and she just stood at the entrance. "Do you want to sit over here on the bed … I promise I won't bite." I smiled slightly as she looked up at me.
She hesitated, and then a small smile curled up one side of her face. She walked slowly and quietly over and sat on the end of the bed and looked down at her lap. "Mom said I wasn't being fair to you…" she looked briefly up to me then back down to her lap. "It's not your fault … we lost Bert, but you lost your whole family…"
"Yes." I whispered as tears suddenly returned.
"I'm sorry…" she whispered.
"Thank you … I'm sorry too…" I responded. We sat quietly, neither of us saying anything.
"Mom said you're old." She said as she looked up at me again.
"Gee, Thanks, Mom…" I chuckled and responded though the tightness in my throat. "Yes, I'm sixty-four, older than our grandfathers are now. "
"You don't look old?" She asked as she stared at me as if trying to see some evidence of me in Bert.
"Well, that's because everything on the outside and almost everything on the inside is still Bert's body." I explained.
She looked at me quizzically, "So, where are you?"
"Haa, I'm not really sure. My best guess is that I'm just some electrical impulses in the brain that have me and my memories. I guess they somehow replaced Bert and her memories. I don't have any of her memories in here." I said carefully as I tapped the side of my head.
"So, you don't remember anything from before last Sunday?" She asked.
"Well, nothing that Bert would have remembered. I do have a few old memories of when I was this age … things like, oh, in July we went to Maine and spent a week visiting Bert and Deb and stayed at a cabin on a lake." I smiled, "Oh, and they had lunch with us on Friday and had burgers and then were upset because they forgot it was Friday and they're Catholic and shouldn't eat meat on Fridays." I laughed as I recalled the hazy memory.
Linda's eyes got big as she stared at me again. "Yeah, that's right, but I thought you said you didn't know Bert's stuff from before?"
"I don't, those are my memories of the same situation. The difference is in my memories, George Jr is a girl and her name is Bert." I said carefully as I looked at her. "I guess most of the events between Bert's life and mine, up to now are similar, just different because we are not the same gender. Do you understand?" I asked.
"Yeah, I guess so," She replied slowly, studying me for a moment. "What's your name?"
I smiled. "Jim. I was named after Grandpa Macdonald, but it would probably be better for you to still call me Bert. I hope that's OK?"
She looked at me for a few moments, "Yeah, OK."
I explained the reason to call me Bert. It was very important she didn't tell anyone else about our situation. I let her know that only Cynthia, outside the family, knew. I also told her that I was going to tell Mark tomorrow, but for now I didn't want anyone else to know. She said she would keep the secret. We got up and went downstairs. Both parents turned as we entered the room.
"So," Mom asked, "did you two have a good talk?"
I didn't answer, waiting for Linda's response.
She hesitated, looked at me, "Yeah, I guess, Bert or umm, Jim, explained it again, so I guess I understand. " She trailed off as she looked from me down to the floor.
"I know I look like I'm Bert, but, I can't be her, but I will try to be the best big sister I can be for you … if you let me…"I pleaded as I looked closely at her.
She paused, looked up at me for a moment, shrugged and said, "at least you told me the truth…"
"Yes, I did. I will always try to tell you the truth." I responded and smiled hopefully.