For the rest of the night, I continued to act as if everything was normal. I was trying desperately not to think about what Mary had told me about Belle’s…hormones…but it was a difficult concept to get out of my head.
Eventually, instead of trying to block it out entirely, I started trying to think about the positives. Now that our daughter was in her mother’s body, perhaps that would help her calm down—my wife and I have a healthy sex-life, but she has her hormones well and truly under control. Hopefully that would help Belle get a bit more control over herself.
Belle had clearly tried to imitate her mother’s makeup that morning, and gone a bit overboard. A part of me wondered if anyone at her office had noticed—Mary works in customer relations, so (without being disrespectful to my wife’s work) I was sure that Belle could bluff her way through her mother’s job for a few weeks; it didn’t require any particular technical knowledge, and our daughter has a good head on her shoulders.
And a body filled with hormones, it turned out.
After “the kids” had gone to bed, Belle and I chatted for a while—she asked a lot of questions about her own job, and I answered them as if nothing was odd about her asking if I knew where she kept her phone codes. I didn’t bring up our daughter’s truancy or rebellion problems: we had two weeks, and I wanted to be subtle.
We went to our separate rooms, and after an hour of laying awake and staring at the ceiling, I eventually drifted into a dreamless sleep.
I was awoken the next morning by my PJ-clad daughter, laying beneath the covers with me, smiling.
“Good morning, honey.”
“Belle! I mean…Mary! What’re you doing? You know I sleep naked.”
“It didn’t seem to bother you yesterday.”
“Yes, but you were…out there. You weren’t…in here, with me.”
“Oh come on, Andrew. It’s not like it isn’t anything I haven’t seen before.”
“Yes,” I hissed, “but that’s…not…not while you’ve been…”
“Fine,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “I just…”
She trailed off, and that slight blush returned.
“Jesus, I have no idea how teenagers do it. I feel like my every thought is spelled out on my forehead.”
“For the love of god, Mary, what do you want? What if someone comes in?”
That young laugh again, familiar but different.
“I can assure you, there’s no chance our teenage daughter is going to come in and risk seeing her father’s phallus. And there’s even less chance that Ben is going to care about anything for the next few weeks that can’t be caught in a pokéball.”
“So what do you want?”
Again, she trailed off. In a much softer tone, I prompted her again.
“I just wanted a cuddle.”
The realization that my wife was lonely made my heart melt, and I reached out.
“Come here, honey.”
For the next fifteen minutes we cuddled and chatted, her head on my chest, my arms wrapped lovingly around her. I shut my eyes, tried to ignore the pitch of her voice, and tried to pretend this was just a normal morning conversation with my wife.
That afternoon, I was woken up from a mid-afternoon nap by Belle storming through the door.
“What?” I spluttered, sitting up. “What is it?”
My daughter’s face was streaked with tears, her cheeks were red, and her eyes were puffy. Forgetting for a moment the unusual situation we’d found ourselves in, I held out my arms.
“Come here, Belle-drop.”
She threw herself into my arms and sobbed for a few minutes. I held her comfortingly and my brain continued to wake up, reminding me that I was being used as a tissue by my wife, not my daughter.
“What happened, honey?” I asked softly.
“I did it,” came the muffled reply. “I broke up with Spike.”
For a moment, a flicker of worry flew through my brain. I dismissed it instantly, of course—a teenager was no threat to my strong, healthy, 20-year marriage.
“So…why are you crying?”
“He was so mean,” my wife bawled into my arms. “He laughed when I tried to break up with him, and then said that he’d been fucking another slut cos I wouldn’t put out.”
I took a moment. That was a lot of information to process at once.
“Our daughter’s a virgin.”
“I suppose,” Sarah sniffled. “I’m impressed, to be honest. I’ve never felt so turned on—even after I got myself off four times last ni…—“
“La la la la!”
“Honey, I really don’t want to hear about that kind of thing.”
“Oh come on,” she said, pulling away and looking up at me balefully. “You’ve never minded hearing about it before.”
“Yes, when it was you in your body. I don’t want to hear about my daughter…doing…”
I made a face and trailed off. A half-smile appeared on Belle’s face.
“So you would be okay hearing about what our daughter is doing in my body.”
My eyes widened, and I answered without hesitation.
My wife giggled, something that I don’t remember her doing for almost half a decade. I smiled down at her.
“You feeling better?”
“Yeah,” she said softly, wiping her nose with her sleeve. “Thanks.”
“Anything you need, honey. This is a weird situation, and we’re going to get through it together.”
“Thanks,” she smiled back. “I can’t believe our daughter was dating such a jerk. More than that, I can’t believe how much his words got to me. I feel so fragile—I’m gonna go have a little nap, okay?”
I didn’t say anything as she left. She wasn’t wrong, when she’d described her face as an open book.
My wife wasn’t going upstairs for a nap. She was going upstairs to…
I sighed, went back to my office, and tried very hard to think about something else. ANYTHING else.