A story based in the real world. For some reason, a high school boy named J.J. went to sleep and didn't wake up for nearly 3 years. Someone else was awake in his place ...
Chapter 13 of 13
Copyright© 2017 plaintive sigh
All Rights Reserved.
NOTICE: This final chapter of Sacrificial Alter is a long one. There is a lot that I wanted to resolve in these character's lives; much of it not possible until we learned the facts we heard in the last chapter. I'm not going to resolve everything; in real life (and especially with D.I.D.) resolution of problems is a lifelong endeavor. Still, I had a lot of ground left to cover that felt wrong if I didn't address it. So this chapter is like at least 3x as long as previous ones. Overkill? Not working? Of course I have those concerns; but I'm gonna go for it, and then you, dear reader, can decide. When you do, let me know in the comments, OK? All input, positive and negative, accepted. And as with all my posts, my 'nose tweaking' hand is ready to assault your schnozz if you DON'T comment! ;))) Thanks so much for reading! On with the tale ...
The EMT’s were amazed that Dustin did not, in fact, die. Even after that many shots to the neck by the mightiest electric shocker on the market. In fact, he wasn't even admitted to the hospital; they evaluated him thoroughly, and felt he could be monitored as an 'outpatient' rather than an 'inpatient'. It was a tribute to the man’s overall bulk and size, and maybe a little good luck. However, being jailed with enough evidence to qualify for Florida’s death penalty was definitely not good luck.
“It’s been a bad, bad day for the Kissimmee Police Force,” said Chief Art Jefferson to a slew of reporters and microphones. “We’ve had two officers – Detective Ray Castro and Lieutenant Michael Chan – assassinated by a cold, calculating psychopathic killer named Dustin Evarist. This is the same person who has now been recorded bragging about killing Missy Renquist over 2 years ago. It seems he set up his younger brother to be framed for that murder. Dustin Evarist is being held without bond in the Osceola county jail where he will await trial.
“A raid on the suspect’s home in Tampa has disclosed a lab with multiple illegal substances, including the high powered anesthetics used to overdose and kill our officers. He had a small stash of those in his truck when we searched it. We also found signs of obsession with murder, torture and rape; and belongings that appear to be souvenirs of other people he’s victimized. We now are working with the Florida Highway Patrol to reopen various ‘cold cases’ along the trucking routes he often traveled to see if he could be the culprit in those.
“Meanwhile, it should be noted that Jacoby Jesse Evarist has been officially cleared of any suspicion in the Renquist death.”
Nova Liberte’ woke up.
It was an odd awakening, this; she was in a room she’d never seen before. The sun coming through the big plate glass window was dipping low in the sky. She looked to the right, and saw a metal pole with a bag of clear IV fluid hung on it; it was dripping into some tubing.
What is this, she thought.
Her eyes followed the tubing from the bag; it led to a boxy little machine on the pole that sounded like it was purring. Then the tubing came out the bottom of the machine, over the silver bed rail – wait a minute, my bed has rails? – and into the inside of her forearm.
I have an IV. I’m in the hospital. Did I have to go back for another surgery? I thought I was through with SRS.
Wait. No, I’m in that damned looney bin. They must have kept me in the clinic room. What did I do now? Don’t remember jumping through another window. I –
Then she remembered. She had ‘awoken’ as this man was bragging about killing that Missy girl. She recognized him as Dustin Evarist; she’d seen his picture while doing her online search about her Evarist family while at the Rio de Janeiro library. She fought him, she lost, he began slamming her head – then her memory was fuzzy after that, until now.
I’m in a hospital. A regular one, not the psych one.
“Well hello, sunshine,” said a rail-thin, redheaded, way-too-energetic woman in blue scrubs entering the room. “I’m Tammi, your nurse. You’re here at Kissimmee Memorial Hospital. And I’ve been doing your neuro checks every hour. Dr. Wolski’s gonna be thrilled that you woke up.”
Nova sat up. “Mom! Is she okay –“
“Yes, dear. We have her in a room 2 doors down from yours. I’ve been doing her neuro checks too – you two are keeping me pretty busy here. She woke up an hour and a half ago. Your father has been in and out of both of your rooms all day, except now he’s down at the police station getting interviewed."
Nova’s face twisted with worry. “Our attacker – that Dustin guy. What happened to him?”
“In jail. He got checked out in our ER, and though I hear he was in pain and sore all over, he didn’t require hospitalization."
“Thank God. For a second there I was afraid he’d be in the same building.”
“Now, does your head hurt? How’s your vision? Any hallucinations?”
Nova smirked as she rubbed the gauze wrapped around her skull. “Yeah, I had one. I hallucinated that my boyfriend came to rescue me, right at the end as Dustin was beating me. Funny how the mind plays tricks.” Like giving me multiple personalities, she thought.
“Boyfriend, eh?” said Tammi with a sly raised eyebrow. “Cuban? Just under 6 foot, dreamy brown skin and jet black hair, with a six pack that you can – sigh – see beneath that tight t-shirt? I’ve seen that guy. He just came to the nurse’s station, and they’re calling your Dad to see if he’s allowed to visit. Evidently he’s been getting debriefed at the police station all afternoon, and ICE even checked him out as clean.”
“No. My guy is not from Cuba; he lives in Rio, and is too poor to travel internationally.”
“I said he’s Cuban just presuming. This is Florida, y’know. He said his name was – what was it? – Sammy-O?”
“Nova?” Said a handsome, clean-shaven smiling Latino face peeking through the doorway.
Nova pivoted to hop right out of bed. Nurse Tammi was quickly there, blocking her.
“Honey, you haven’t been cleared to walk just yet! You’ve had a concussion!”
Sabio solved that dilemma, showing up quickly at the bedside. He and Nova wrapped around each other like two wrestling starfish.
Nurse Tammi interrupted. “Sir, I’m assuming that her father gave the OK to let you visit her?”
“Yes, ma’am. I would like to stay in the room tonight with her. Is it OK? I promise I stay out of your way.”
“Be our guest, sir. That special recliner there lays back into a full flat single bed. I’ll even get you a blanket. And I hate to have to say this, but she’s 16 years old; age of consent in Florida is 18. So if I see any hanky-panky, you’ll be in big trouble with the law, Mr. Rio. Still I’ll give you two a few minutes, then I need to complete her neuro check, OK?” Tammi then stepped out of the room.
Nova was squealing and weeping intermittently. “Baby! What … how did you … ?
“Remember I told you,” he whispered, “that if you needed me, I would move the sky and the ground to get to you? It just took me some time, because I not know where you are.”
She pulled her head back to gaze on his face.
“So you looked for me. And found me. And came for me. Of course you did.” She smiled big and bright through her tears. “Sabio, my protector. Of course you did!”
The couple kissed as if the world were about to end.
It was now after midnight. Nova had been sleeping, but awoke when she shifted her head and lightly bumped it on the railing.
“Ouch!” she whispered, and pulled her left hand up to feel that part of her scalp. It was bandaged, but definitely tender when she pressed on one certain spot. She attempted to now use her right arm to feel it too, but someone had ahold of her hand.
It was Sabio, sitting by her bed on the right, his fingers entwined in hers. He’d fallen asleep in the chair; it was partially reclined.
Oh my God. How precious!
Unexpectedly, her room door slightly opened, and a big head came through. She couldn’t make out who it was, until he spoke.
“Nova? You’re awake? “
“Yes, Bob. Come in if you want. Let’s just whisper, though; my guy’s sleeping.”
The big man slid in and shut the door. “How are you feeling?”
Nova pointed to the tender spot on her head. “That’s pretty sore.”
Bob nodded. “Your scalp got busted open. Took 10 staples to fix. It’ll be sore for a while.”
“Great. A big scar. Just what I always wanted.”
“It’s behind your hairline. It won’t be noticeable once your hair grows in more. Hey, I’ve been trying off and on all day to talk to you – but you were in the CAT scan, or asleep, or being bathed; then I spent a while at the police station being questioned. I know it’s the middle of the night, but I have to talk to you.”
Nova suddenly was apprehensive. “Ooo-kay … about what?”
“I need you to know – I’m glad you’re here.”
She was now puzzled. “Here in the hospital?”
“No. I mean, yes, you NEED to be in the hospital – what I’m saying is, I’m glad you exist. I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, since I first met ‘Nova’ after we got you from Brazil, I wished you would go away forever and just let J.J. be present. We didn’t interact much the last 2 weeks – you didn’t want to see me – but if you picked up on my attitude somehow, you might be thinking I hated you.”
Nova stayed mum. How the hell do I respond to that?
Bob looked nervous, and changed the subject. “That your boyfriend from Brazil?”
The girl just nodded her head.
Bob smiled. “That guy’s a hero. He stopped Dustin and saved everyone. Do you know or remember all that happened earlier today?”
Nova perked up. “Just that Dustin turned out to be all that I had been accusing you of being these past few years. And he planned to kill Mom and me. Things are a little fuzzy after that.”
Bob smiled. “It was all taped, believe it or not. Video and audio. The police showed me the recording; and you, girl, were amazing. You almost took him down. You would have, if you had been able to cock that gun. Either way, you’re impressive.”
“So … do you still hate me?”
Bob’s face fell. “NO. No! Dammit, what I really came to tell you … it’s just hard. I’m sorry, Nova. Sorry for not loving you from the first. Sorry for not finding you and rescuing you – even though we scoured everywhere, or so we thought. I’m sorry for failing to protect you. I now realize – you are my child. You are spunky and passionate and unafraid – traits seen in the best people on earth. I know you’re a woman, and I accept you as that. In thinking over the last 12 hours, I’ve realized that I finally have something in my life I’ve always yearned for: a daughter. And right now more than anything else in the world, I want to have a relationship with you.”
Nova was getting choked up. “I’M sorry too – I treated you like dirt, calling you a rapist and accusing you of selling me. I was stupid and believed what I was told. But in my heart of hearts, I have needed a Dad. I have ACHED for a loving Daddy. I would love to start over with you. Can I have permission to call you that – Daddy?”
Bob covered his head with his hand and started to jerk with sobs. Nova reached around his neck and drew her head beside his, joining in the weeping. All the while, Sabio snoozed away like a log.
The next morning, Becky picked through her breakfast in bed – the hospital bed, that is. Her headache was better after the pain pill, but it was still pretty ferocious. Not to mention her right scalp was swollen, bruised and mighty tender.
Ouch. That hurts pretty badly to the touch. But on the bright side, I have so much to be thankful for this morning. Hopefully after the neurologist makes her rounds, I can add ‘being discharged from the hospital’ to that list.
A young woman walked into her hospital room as Becky rubbed her eyes.
“Hey there, Mom. You feeling any better?”
The older woman looked up and smiled. “I am now that you’re here, J.J.”
“Ahhhh … sorry. No J.J. at the moment. This is Nova.” The girl silently prepared herself. Now comes the big look of disappointment that it’s me, not her son.
“Nova.” Becky’s smile stayed. “How is my beautiful daughter today?”
Nova’s eyes got slightly wet. “A hell of a lot better, hearing you say that to me.”
“Come give me a hug, baby.” Both women squeezed each other long and tight.
“I heard your boyfriend stayed in the room with you. I want to meet him. Where is he now?”
“Asleep on the recliner. He stayed up most of the night watching over me, holding my hand. He’s sooo sweet!” Nova’s face now got serious. “I heard they did a CAT scan on your head, just like me. Did it come out okay? Are you going to be all right?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I had a concussion, but there was no significant internal brain damage or bleeding. Same as you. Yes, I get to know your test results – you’re still a minor.”
“I don’t mind you knowing, Mom. What I DO mind are these stupid hospital gowns. They ought to call them Moon Suits, ‘cause you moon most of the people you pass down the hall. My nurse’s aide nicknamed me ‘Moonie’. Ugh!”
“Try wearing it open to the front then, honey. Your new nickname will be ‘Flashie’.”
Both women giggled quite a bit over that.
“Nova, Nova. I am so thankful for you. They showed me the video of you fighting back against Dustin, buying precious seconds until more help arrived. And I don’t know if J.J. would have survived the enslavement in Brazil without your toughness. I am proud to call you my daughter.”
“Will you still call me a daughter when J.J. is in charge up here?” Nova fretted as she tapped her temple.
“I’ll call J.J. what J.J. wants to be called. Bob said something funny earlier today, and I agree with this: if you had an alter that identified as a Peruvian llama, then whenever that alter was in charge, I’d be the happiest llama mama there was. I just want to be part of your life.”
“Ah, good. Both of my patients are here together,” chirped neurologist Daisy Wolski as she entered the room. “Let me examine you two; I need to check your pupils and test your thinking, okay?”
A few minutes later she was through. “Would you ladies like to be discharged home later this AM?”
Nova sighed. “Mom gets to go home. As for me, they probably want me to go back to the insane asylum.”
Dr. Wolski’s smile got bigger. “Girl, do I have good news for you!”
Bob Evarist was checking in on Dr. Ramanathan in a different part of the hospital.
“So you’re gonna be okay, Doc?”
“Yes. Hmmm-MMM,” Rama cleared his throat yet again. “I have some swelling around the neck, and it’s pretty sore. But as Dustin was choking me, he pressed on a nerve plexus near my carotid artery that dropped my blood pressure and caused me to faint before I became asphyxiated, and he dropped me. Thank God, or otherwise I would be as dead as those two poor police officers.”
“No kidding – thank God, indeed. Are you getting to go home soon?”
“Yes; I’ll be needing to wear a protective neck collar, but I should be discharged this afternoon. And I plan on being back at work in Passages tomorrow.”
“Great, Doc! Great. Well … not to change the subject or anything, but I – oh hell, I’ll admit it: I need to change the subject. Um, you texted me that you needed to ask me a question?”
“Yes, Bob. If I clear your child, including all of the alters – Hmmm-MMM – do you think you feel up to taking care of J.J., Nova and Kitty at your house, rather than me putting her back out at Passages? With Nova more at peace with you and Becky, I think she’s probably not a flight risk now. I just want to do one more interview with her to make sure; since she’s in the hospital also, we can do it in this room, with a nurse chaperone of course.”
Bob beamed a fresh, wide grin. “No joke? Have my kiddo back home? You mean it? ABSOLUTELY I’m up for doing it!”
“Good. Hmm-MMM. We’ll determine that this morning. I already spoke to Dr. Wolski – “
“Becky and Nova’s neurologist. And?”
“ – And told her of my plan. She’s going to let Nova know.”
Bob dropped his gaze humbly. “Uh, Dr. Rama – I owe you an apology. I gave you so much grief over Jake. Turns out you were right – in his case, this D.I.D. was actually a real thing. And your treatments have brought J.J. back, and even Nova is more loving with us. I wish I could take back some of those things I said about you. You are NOT a quack; you’re a great doc.”
“No problem, Bob. You may yet call me a quack; you will want to duck when you get my bill; it may give you a fowl opinion of me.”
Bob stared for the longest time at Rama before replying. “Hey, Doc.”
“Don’t quit your day job.”
Bob wasn’t through with his “hospital rounds” that morning. He next checked in on private eye / bounty hunter Marcus Finlandt, who was in the Intensive Care Unit. He was lying in bed with his eyes closed, and with a huge bandage around his neck. He still had a breathing tube down his throat, attached to a ventilator. His pilot friend and business associate, Tom, sat in a chair by the bed, reading a book.
“Hey, Tom. How’s Finlandt doing today?” Bob whispered from the door.
Tom looked up and returned a weary smile. “Hey there, Mr. Evarist.”
“Tom. Please call me Bob. You guys are our friends; especially what your partner did for my wife and child yesterday.”
“Well in that case ‘Bob’, go ahead and call my buddy here ‘Finny’. That’s what his friends call him.”
Bob stepped closer to the sleeping shotgun victim. “Did the surgery go well yesterday? When I last checked at 9:30 PM, he was still in the operating room.”
“The surgeon said his neck was really damaged from the blast; the vest protected his torso great, but there was nerve damage and internal bleeding from his chin down to the top of the chest. In fact, the MRI this morning shows more bleeding happening; they’re going to take him to surgery again in about an hour to try to shore that up. They say he’s lucky, and a fighter; but he’s not ‘in the clear’ by any means yet.”
Bob’s brow furrowed with worry. “Tom. I need to tell him something. I don’t need a response; I just need to say this. Don’t worry, I’m not angry. Can I see if he’ll wake up?”
Tom was about to reply when the person being discussed responded first. Finny rapped his knuckles on the bedrail; Bob turned and saw the wounded man with his eyes open, staring straight at him.
“Hey there, buddy,” said Tom. “Need another pain shot?”
Finny glanced at his friend and shook his head; he was unable to talk with the tube down his throat. He then looked straight into Bob’s eyes and raised one eyebrow high, as if expecting a response.
Bob smiled. “Thanks, Finny. I wanted to tell you that in any other situation, I would be livid that you put a video/audio recorder in my house without my permission. But Tom says you did it because you thought J.J. might be in danger. And you turned out to be absolutely right. With that recording, both I and J.J. were shown to be innocent; and you knew to come rescue my wife and child in the nick of time.”
With that, Finny gave an eye roll and a sad shake of the head.
“Yes, yes you did rescue them. You drew fire away from them. And J.J.’s – uh, let’s call him Nova’s – Brazilian boyfriend followed you, and finished Dustin off. None of that would have happened without you and your little spy-cam. I am eternally grateful.”
A nurse with scrubs, a lab jacket, and a surgical bonnet came in. “I’m here to take you down to surgery, Mr. Finlandt.”
Bob turned to Tom, handing him a business card. “I wrote my cell number on the back. Let me know how this operation goes. I plan on coming back to check on him daily as long as he’s here.”
That night, four people - Bob, Becky, Nova and Sabio – sat in the Denny’s restaurant across from the police station, having a late supper. After their release from the hospital, the rest of the afternoon had been spent being interviewed by detectives; they were all exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically.
“Dustin. Dustin, what happened to you,” sighed Becky. She looked at her husband. “I mean, I knew he was always a distant boy – and rebellious – but after he got out on his own I thought he was flying straight. He just wouldn’t keep in touch with me. How did he go from a troublemaker as a teen to a monster as an adult? Was it drug use, or have I just been blind this whole time?”
Bob shook his head. “Crap. I was blinder than you were, honey. I blew off his avoidance of us as workaholic behavior; then after J.J. disappeared, I thought he was staying away because of deep distress from his brother being gone. Turns out he was indeed distressed, but psychologically, not emotionally.”
She grabbed Bob’s hand. “What did we do wrong, to have him turn so evil?”
“I posed that question to Dr. Rama today,” replied Bob. “He says – get this – that parenting is like car safety belts. Wearing one improves your odds of living through a crash – but cannot guarantee your survival. Likewise, good parenting greatly improves the odds of a child growing to a responsible adulthood – but cannot guarantee that he won’t turn to the dark side.”
Becky shook her head. “I try to reassure myself with that, but to be honest, seeing what Dustin has become has shaken me to my core with shock and grief.”
“I’ll bet that’s how you felt when you saw me for the first time two weeks ago,” added Nova. “New gender, no memory of you, and treating you like shit? I’m pretty ashamed of how I acted.”
Becky smiled at her daughter. “Nova, that’s still ‘you’ speaking right now?”
“Yes, Mom. Is that ... okay?”
“Nova, you’re calling me ‘Mom’. It’s more than okay, it’s wonderful. And considering what you'd been through and the lies you were told, 'treating us like shit” was totally appropriate. I'm just glad you are treating us as your parents now."
The beautiful girl gave her parents a fond look. “Seeing as I know now that I was so wrong about you two, I have no trouble calling you guys Mom and Dad.”
“That,” Bob beamed, “is a great thing to hear after these horrible last two weeks. Another great thing is finally getting to know this young hero, Mr. – ?”
Nova blushed as she realized her lapse. “Oh! Mom, Dad, I would like to officially introduce you to the love of my life, the boy who saved my life – twice, now: Sabio Santiago.”
Sabio stuttered. “Ah – this – this is, how you say, uncomfortable? I’m sorry, but ever since I know Nova, she tells me you are our enemies. I thought I never meet you. I did not want to meet you. I know now we have had wrong knowledge, that it was her brother that was the bad one. Forgive me for not giving you open arms right away.”
Becky reached and took his hand, and squeezed it. “No matter how you feel about us, Sabio, I can assure you we feel nothing but warm feelings for you. Without you, our child would be dead, or still enslaved. Now she’s back in our lives, and for that Bob and I both will be eternally grateful. You will always have a place in our hearts, and in our home if you’d like.”
Bob nodded his agreement. “Where are you staying?”
The young man blushed with embarrassment. “You mean, where do I sleep since coming to Florida three days ago? Um … on the street. ”
Both parent’s eyes got as round as saucers. “THAT is changing RIGHT NOW, dear! You are staying with us starting tonight!” insisted Becky, with Bob nodding vigorously.
“Obrigado – thank you! I accept your offer,” said Sabio; then he looked at Nova. “Will you come back with me to Rio – when I get some money to get us there?”
Nova frowned and began to tear up in her eyes. “I – I still need help. Mental help. I probably won’t always be present, Sabio. There will be times J.J. will be out, and maybe even Kitty. And J.J.’s life is here; but being close to Dr. Rama is the main reason I need to stay. I need to get better.”
This made Sabio sad. “I don’t understand all this. In Rio, I do not see J.J. or this Kitty girl; I only see Nova!”
“But I couldn’t remember more than a few years ago. J.J. can remember all the rest of my life. He’s a part of me, Sabio. And I need to become him, and him become me; we all need to become one person again, if possible.”
“That means,” moaned the Brazilian, “I lose you.”
“Not necessarily. Let’s wait and see. And I’m going to ask – will you wait with me?”
“I do not want to be apart from you, Nova.”
Bob cut in. “We don’t want you to be apart from our child either, Sabio. So I’m asking you - will you let us sponsor you to move here? Apply for U.S. citizenship?”
The young man’s eyebrows rose. “But I was only allowed to come on a travel visa. You don’t know what I had to do just to get here. I found that Fin-landt man on the web – I look for detectives in Kissimmee, and recognize his picture, then borrow money for the plane, and for rent a motorcycle, and buy a bat at the pawn store. All that, just to visit. I am out of money. So I don’t think they will let me stay.”
Bob smiled reassuringly. “Like Becky said, you can stay with us. And I’m convinced now that your presence is absolutely required – therapeutically – to allow our child to get well. I know Dr. Rama would vouch for that. So I’ll bet we can get you a green card or something. Let’s see what kind of strings we can pull.”
Sabio took a few more bites of flapjack. “Maybe living here is not too bad if I can have more pancequas like this. I wonder, however, if I would start missing South American food.”
Bob’s eyes lit up. “If you do, just tell me – and I’ll take you to Fogo de Chao.”
The Evarist child was in Dr. Rama’s office, in a deep trance aided with a mild antipsychotic in effect. This was a special session. Rama’s voice could be heard in the child’s mind, though the eyes were closed.
“This is still Dr. Rama. I need J.J. present. Please affirm if you are.”
“I’m here, Dr. Rama. This is J.J.”
“J.J., please remain with us. I ask for Nova to be present also, now.
“Nova here, doc.”
“This is J.J, again, doctor. Kitty’s here; we can see her. Actually, we can all see each other.”
“Very, very good – excellent, you three! I shall now stay available if you need me. Nova, please start the discussion that you wanted to have. Rama ‘out’.”
In the child’s consciousness, three people sat in three chairs, arranged like an equilateral triangle facing each other. They saw each other clearly and fully formed for the first time.
J.J. was a young boy with close shorn yellow hair, still not aged past 14 and mostly pre-pubertal. He wore his cheer jacket and white slacks from the squad. Nova was a pixie-headed blonde beauty in her late teens sporting a thin braid from her right temple hanging down to tease her neck, and with curves and proportions befitting a bikini model. She wore a white sundress with strappy white sandals. Kitty was a preschooler with a flyaway mop of hair, in a neck-to-toe footed ‘onesie’ pajama with a pattern of random unicorns; she held a teddy bear tight in her right arm as she chewed and sucked her left thumb.
J.J. broke the ice. “Dr. Rama says most D.I.D. patients have many more than just 3 personalities. I wonder if over time we’re going to meet more of us.”
“I guess if that happens, we’ll play it by ear. God – I hope there’s no one even close to Dustin’s personality hidden deep in us,” Nova fretted.
“Dr. Rama also said that he thinks we’re the exception – that we 3 are all that’s here. So that’s good news,” J.J. reassured. “Now: lets talk about what we want.”
Nova kicked the rug in defeat. “Don’t bother. I know what I want – to be with Sabio. And I know you want to live your life as a male. Since you’ve been in control of this body longer – and because we were barely making it in Brazil – you’re going to win. You’ll get back to being a guy, and I will have to go away forever.”
“That’s not true, Nova.”
“Oh, it’s not? Give me a break, J.J. You’re going to stop being a boy and live as a girl the rest of your life? That’s not happening.”
“Um … maybe … maybe I will.”
Nova was flabbergasted. “What? What do you mean by that? You never had wanted to be a girl before, not at all according to Mom and Dad!”
“But yet now, I am a girl. An infertile girl, but in every other way, our body is clearly female. Maybe it would be right to live as a woman from now on.”
“J.J., that’s inviting failure. If you try to live as a girl but you’re clearly a boy in your head, it doesn’t work.”
J. J. stood up from his chair and started to pace around it. “Okay, I’ve thought about this a lot – and I mean a LOT – for the last few days. If I try to transition with surgery and medicines back into a man, I won’t end up with the body I want. I mean, we have wide hips and narrow shoulders. They could try to reconstruct a penis on me, but not one I can ‘feel’ with. I can’t have kids naturally, either way. I’m kind of stuck.”
Nova hung her head. “I got the surgery ‘down below’. You must hate me for that.”
J.J. walked to Nova and placed his hand reassuringly on her arm. “The only one at fault is Dustin. You did what you had to do to survive. And now, that’s what we all need to do. Survive, together.”
He continued. “One thing that Dad always taught me was I had to be tough, and I had to be flexible. ‘Like a Michelin tire’ he’d say. If I lost both arms and legs as a soldier, I’d have to adapt. So that’s what I’m going to try to do: adapt to being a woman. I mean, we’re completely passable as female. So how hard could it be?”
Nova stared incredulously. “You’re kidding with that last statement, right?”
J.J. laughed. “Yeah, I am. I just wanted to see you smile.”
“Mission accomplished,” grinned Nova. “What about Sabio? You like girls. And if Sabio and I are kissing – or in the future doing something more than kissing – and you switch places with me – you will go bat-shit crazy. I don’t want to see you OR him hurt like that.”
“I didn’t freak out when we kissed Sabio together in the hospital,” J.J. replied.
“That’s because I was kissing him, not you.” Then Nova’s eyes got big. “Hey, waitaminit. ‘We’? Whaddaya mean, we?”
“I mean I woke up with you when we were in the hospital. You were in control, but I was definitely there. I heard and saw and felt everything – especially that kiss.”
“We were both awake?! How come I didn’t know you were there, J.J.?”
“I don’t know, Nova. I did stay silent; it was pretty strange, me being awake and aware but not in control. You started talking, and I just stayed mute so I wouldn’t freak you out – not to mention freaking Sabio and that nurse. Even if I had spoken up, I didn't know if you could hear me.”
Nova eyed her alter with suspicion now. “Okay. What did Sabio say to me when we reunited in that hospital room?”
“Something like, ‘I told you I’d move heaven and earth to find you’, and that he didn’t know where you were.”
“OH my God – you were definitely there! And you felt our kiss! It didn’t gross you out that we were kissing a guy?”
“NO! I was surprised! I kind of … thought it was nice. I felt our body relax, and happy – like an endorphine rush, you know? Then I felt our body getting turned on … whew! The feeling in the breasts – the groin – the hair on the back of our neck – was pretty awesome. I still think you were getting a lot more benefit out of it than I was, but I wasn’t ‘grossed out’ by any means.”
Nova was still a little skeptical. “J.J., how is it possible for you to ‘turn’ so quickly?”
“I don’t really understand it myself, Nova. The hormones? The fact that you’ve been in control for almost three years, up until the last two weeks? I mean, your very existence shows that I’ve had a strong willed feminine side within me. This development has even made me wonder if I might have been ’bi’ my whole life and just realized it? But -”
“Bi? Shit, I hope not,” injected Nova. “The last thing we need is to be bipolar on top of our D.I.D.”
“Nova, I meant bisexu – “
“It was a joke, dummy! Sorry. Resume, please,” she said with a hand wave.
“Okay. Even if I am bi, I don’t think I’ve been that way my whole life, ‘cause I’m just feeling this since I now live in a girl’s body. I think there’s a deeper explanation.
“I’ve always loved the look of a man with a woman. Polar opposites coming together to merge into one. The combined masculine and feminine, hard and soft – it’s so sexy, at least to me. I’m not being homophobic, that’s just ‘how I roll’.”
J.J. took a deep breath. “And I must confess; now that I’m a ‘soft’ one, I find myself staring at Sabio and …” He began to blush. “… I want him to hold me close to him, like he did with us that night in the hospital. I felt so good, so loved! And maybe just a little … “ J.J. was beet red in the face now – “ahh … horny?”
Nova’s mouth was agape in stunned wonder.
J.J. exhaled, and fanned himself. “Yeah, he’s pretty hot. So I don’t know; I’m not saying I’ve totally changed teams yet. But I definitely want to explore and maybe experiment with these feelings. I’ll just be open-minded. Tough but flexible. Would that work for you, Nova?”
“Oh my God, absolutely! This is much more than I expected to hear from you. I thought I’d be fighting you for my right to simply exist today. Out of the three of us ‘alters’, YOU are making the biggest sacrifice. I – I almost don’t feel worthy of this gift you’re giving me.” Nova’s eyes were getting wet. “J.J. – you’ve answered my deepest prayers. Is there something I can do for you? What do you want?”
J.J. got quiet, as if hesitant to say. Then finally: “I want to have a close relationship with Mom and Dad. I want to live near them, know them, talk to them daily, and take care of them when they get older. I love them so much, and they never gave up on finding me, and didn’t reject me when everyone else had me pegged as a murderer. I know that you’ve hated them-“
Nova broke in. “No, J.J. – not anymore. That’s what you want? You got it. I will commit to loving them the rest of their lives, and anyone we marry will have to realize that.”
A humming came from the third chair; Kitty. But this wasn’t the “NNNnnnNNNnnn” hum she had always done in the past; this was melodic, as if from a song. She rocked pleasantly in her chair as she hummed, and was looking at Nova and J.J. with the biggest smile on her face.
Nova glanced at J.J. with a grin. “You recognize that tune?”
“Sure do,” laughed J.J. “Three blind mice. Yeah, Kitty, I guess we three are going to have to stumble our way through this like blind mice. But at least we’ll do it together.”
Nova picked Kitty up and squeezed her. “My brave, brave Kitty. Without you, we never would have learned who the bad guy in this tale really was.” J.J. came and put his arms around both of them. “Kitty the courageous,” he said. Then, Kitty mumbled something inaudible.
“What’s that, K?” asked J.J.
Kitty spoke louder. “Gwoup hug.”
“Group hug! Kitty – your first ‘non-meow’ words!”
Sabio Santiago had finished his day as a roofer in west Kissimmee, Florida. He mused about his work as he bicycled home.
This company has given me a good job; but they try to save money by using cheaper materials. And some of the slower workers hold us back from finishing quicker. One day I will start my own roofing company here, and run it the way it should be run; we will be known for the best quality and fastest work. People will pay a little more, but they will be much more satisfied.
Bob had followed through on his pledge to help Sabio with his legal status, and though not yet a U.S. citizen officially, he was here on a worker’s visa; that meant legal employment, and even medical benefits. He lived in a converted attic bedroom at the Evarist household. He looked forward to the day that he could afford his own place, and to a future with Nova. In fact, he had a date with Nova tonight – supper at Lorenzo’s Italian Ristorante.
He knocked on her door. “I am ready when you are – take time if you need it, and I will be down the stairs.” Sabio then went to wait at the chair at the base of the staircase.
His date descended the steps as a vision of beauty. She had on a black mini-skirt with black hose, and a crimson spaghetti strap top that showed a generous amount of cleavage along with a hint of a strapless black bra. Her blonde hair combined with the palette perfectly. Makeup and earrings complemented the fabrics, and her red lips were so moist that he had to resist the urge to kiss them right there. Scarlet pumps completed the look.
Sabio was mesmerized by the sight before him. He’d been studying up on some new special English words, and now put them to use. “Nova. You are so gor-geous. I never see someone so beautiful, so fetching, and so lovely as you. My heart is melting.”
The girl blushed deeply. “WOW! What compliments! Thank you sir. You’re rather bonito e viril yourself! But, I’m not Nova right now. I’m J.J.”
Sabio was crestfallen. “Oh. You’re the boy. I guess that means no date.”
J.J. touched him on the arm. “I still would like to go.”
“Eh? But, but you’re the boy? I think you don’t like other boys? Only Nova is in love with me, yes?
“Sabio … let’s talk.” J.J. took the young man’s arm and led him into the den, and to sit on the love seat. They grasped both hands now, gazing into each other’s eyes.
“Sabio … Nova is part of me, an essential part. We are friends now, and we actually can both be ‘awake’ in this mind at the same time. She’s awake right now, giving me advice on how to act with you! Right now, I – J.J. – am in the ‘driver’s seat’ in here,” – J.J. tapped his temple – “but she’s there too, just in the back seat.”
Sabio looked hopeful. “So, can you put Nova in the driver’s seat for this date?”
J.J. shook his head. “If I could, I would, Sabio. Sorry – it doesn’t work that way, at least not yet. None of us in this brain get to decide who’s driving or when.“
“So if I ever kiss you – I could be kissing a boy? Or a 3 year old child?”
“Pretty sure you won’t be kissing Kitty. She’s rarely in the driver’s seat anymore; in fact she’s in bed sleeping right now, as she is most of the time. Knowing that my brother will never get out of jail seems to have resolved most of her issues. And as for kissing a boy: you knew that Nova was a travesti when you met her. And you didn’t have a problem with that, right?”
“No, I did not. Nova is more woman than most who are born women. To me, at least.”
“Well, Nova is here with us right now. Nova helped me choose this outfit! She guided me when I applied my makeup tonight. Mom helped with that too, by the way. We are starting to share each other’s dreams, visions and feelings. Even … um … even each other’s attractions.”
Sabio raised an eyebrow. “J.J.? You – are starting to be attracted to me?”
“Just hear me out a little further. When Nova fell in love with you, part of me was falling in love with you. She sees you not just as a lover, but a best friend too. She trusted you with her secrets, and you proved worthy of that trust. You’re tender and kind with us, and you listen to us; you work hard; you’re honest; we feel safe with you. I don’t know any other boyfriend who would sacrifice what you did to find his girl again. It doesn’t take a genius to see that you’re a keeper,” J.J. emphasized with a manicured index finger pointing into Sabio’s chest.
“And, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a woman in body. The hormones I’m taking seem to make me feel more and more girlish every day. Even though in my head I’m still mainly a boy right now, you are … shall we say … really ‘growing’ on me. And I need you tonight in a very specific way.”
Sabio cocked his head to the side. “Eh? What do you need?”
J.J. blushed again. “I need you to teach me how to dance. They’ll have a band at Lorenzo’s tonight, and I want to dance with you. Nova has danced with you as a girl, and I’ve danced before as a boy … but I want to dance with you tonight as your girl.”
In the living room, music played from a Bluetooth speaker linked to a smartphone. Sabio guided his ingénue through some steps. “That’s good, J.J. You are what is called a natural. You know … J.J. can be a girl’s name as well as a boy’s. I did a Google on it.”
The next song was slow and sultry. Sabio pulled his date close. J.J. felt his partner’s bulging arm muscles; the back and waist were hard and chiseled. Sabio’s voice was velvet, and J.J. suddenly felt so cared for, so protected, so right in this moment.
“Nova likes it when I hold her this way. Do you?” whispered Sabio.
“Oh yes, please,” J.J. breathed. She was in a bit of heaven, she thought.
She thought. She. Wait a minute. Wait a minute!
I’m … I’m a SHE! – She smiled silently.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to an actual person or situation is purely coincidental.
Thanks to cyclist, whose advise and editorial skills have elevated this tale to 100x better than it was when I submitted it to her. She is one of the shining stars of our community!
Thanks to JenaJumbled for the awesome picture.
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