Monday, December 27, 2004
This had to happen eventually
For the second time in less than a week, I got home to find a man waiting for me. This time, I didn't recognize the kid (although I suppose an 18-year-old isn't younger than this body by enough that I can call him "kid"). He sure recognized me, though. As soon as I turned into the walkway, he perks right up, yells "Shelley!", runs over and gives me a hug.
I just kind of stand there, stunned, wondering if a real woman would instinctually scream or knee him in the groin or something, when he takes a step back, leaving his hands on my shoulders (it's a long step back; he's over six feet and gangly) and says "you don't recognize me? Come on, you didn't even leave home until two years ago, and I haven't changed that much! It's me! Telly!"
I say that I don't know any Telly, but before I could explain why, he starts up again. "I have to admit, that hurts, 'Chelle. I mean, I can totally understand why you'd deny being related to Mom, but what did I ever do to you to warrant the 'he's dead to me' treatment? Unless you've, like, got amnesia or something. That would explain the new name; you just chose it at random to make a clean break...."
"I don't have amnesia! Okay, I may, in sort of a technical sense in that the memories that were in this brain aren't any more, but they aren't missing... Hang on. Did you say 'Mom' as in our mother?"
"Well, yeah. You remember, big hair, pack-a-day habit, believes in a reverse allowance? Went after your boyfriend because she thought you'd slept with our stepdad? Absolutely nuts? Mom!"
I quickly grasped that Michelle had good reasons for moving out of Vermont, even if she did initially go to Worcester, although some of the rest took me actually saying them to crystalize in my brain. "You're Michelle's brother?"
"Duh, although knowing our mom, half-brother may be just as likely." He gave me a huge smile like we'd just shared a private joke. When I didn't laugh, he just shook his head. "Wow, I didn't think people really got amnesia. Is it like a bump on the head thing or a psychological trauma thing?"
I was about to tell him it was a drink-filled-with-nanobots thing, but decided that it would take long enough that I'd rather do it inside. I put some water on the stove for hot chocolate and warily noted that he was dragging a couple of large duffles with him. Once the water had boiled, I poured it into mugs and sat across the kitchen table from him. I told him my whole life story, how I'd been about to move cross-country but somehow had my mind yanked from my original body and placed in his sister's, dated my best friend, fallen for another guy (Carter) only to have his brain yanked out of his body without my knowledge, been kind of mind-controlled by some tailored pheremone chemical, seen Carter escape the teenage girl body he'd been in only to wind up in my original one, and now found out that Michelle - who the FBI still hadn't been able to track down in Lithuania - had a brother I'd never seen any mention of. I laid it all out for him, apologizing that I wasn't his sister but hoped we found her soon.
He looked at me, sort of processed it for a minute, and then said "wow". I thought it meant he believed me, but he continued. "I knew it was bad for you at home, but making up this whole other life and saying that the old Shelley is gone... I'm no shrink, but it can't be healthy. Then again, this is a pretty nice place you've got here, so I guess you're doing all right."
No, I said, it's all true. You can call any of my friends, my old boss, these people at the FBI...
"Ah, you always were good at getting folks to do stuff for you. But that's okay; I should have stood up for you more, anyway, so I don't blame you for cutting me out of your life with everyone else. I should have known you just wanted to be left alone, but I figured you'd understand and give me a hand."
"A few friends and me are moving down here, but our lease doesn't start until January, but I couldn't stay in that house one more minute... You get that, at least, right?"
"No, I don't, although you guys' mother sounds pretty frightening. Look, I won't make any promises past tomorrow, but if you want to crash here tonight..."
He jumps up from the table and there's more hugging. "I knew it! I knew I could count on you! Even when you pretend you don't know me, you're still the best sister a guy could have!"
It was a long day of traveling, so he nodded off fairly early. I took that opportunity to go through his bags and wallet, sending the name "Theodore Crispin Garber" to Carlos to see what the system turned up. He seems ridiculously, impossibly sincere, but why take chances (see also the chair wedged under my doorknob)?
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