My wife stayed in my daughter’s room for the rest of the evening. I only checked on her once—to my relief, her frustrated moans of orgasm could only be heard when one’s ear was pressed up against the door.
I couldn’t imagine my daughter (in my wife’s body) being that curious, even after she asked why Belle wasn’t at dinner that night.
A part of me was curious to know exactly what Belle thought of the current situation—waking up in her mother’s body, attending her dayjob—but there was no possible way I could ask her thoughts without revealing how much I knew, so I forced myself to surpress that curious streak, and focus on what I could learn.
“She’s upstairs,” I said casually, grabbing another fistful of fries. Mary normally cooked, but Belle didn’t know her way around the kitchen beyond boiling an egg, so she’d been ‘generously’ picking up fast food on the way home from work each day since the switch.
It wasn’t great for my waistline, but it was only for a few more days. If we could survive Thursday, Friday, and—I shuddered with dread—the weekend, we’d be back at Monday and the girls would switch back.
I only had to survive four more days.
“Teenagers,” I replied with a roll of my eyes. “Who knows?”
We continued to eat in silence for a few moments, when a spark of inspiration struck me.
“Do you ever wish,” I asked, unwrapping my second burger of the night, “that you could go back?”
Belle—in Mary’s body—blanched at the question, and I examined the inside of the fast-food ‘treat’ with laser focus, making sure not to give the appearance of noticing her reaction. By the time I’d peeled the pickle off the cheese, she’d recovered.
“What do you mean?” she asked, her voice shaky.
“To being a teenager,” I replied, my mouth full of delicious pickleless burger. “Do you ever wish you could go back to those days?”
“Yes,” she replied immediately. “I mean, um…not that I’ve ever thought about it.”
“I think about it sometimes,” I said, putting on the vague look I’d been practicing lately. Navigating these conversations without revealing what I knew—or what my daughter didn’t know—was tricky, so I’d been leaning on the absent-minded manner that was apparently expected of me. “Y’know, just…what I’d do if I were a teenager again.”
“I guess,” Belle replied, shrugging my wife’s shoulders.
I nodded, and we continued eating in a comfortable silence for a few minutes. When I felt like it was safe, I brought the topic up once more.
“What would you do?” I asked, licking my fingers clean of ketchup.
I forced myself not to smile. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who’d been practicing my reactions—Belle’s response was an exact replica of my wife’s ‘I wasn’t listening, can you repeat that?’ tone. It was uncanny.
“If you were a teenager again. What do you think you’d do differently?”
I’ll be honest—I’m not one-hundred percent sure what I was expecting. ‘Stay in school, stay away from drugs, and work hard to build a solid, dependable future’ would have been nice, but even I had to admit it was unlikely.
Then, as she has so many times over the years, my daughter’s response shocked me.
“I’d be nicer to my parents,” she said thoughtfully. Our eyes both flicked over to the empty seat where Belle normally sat. “I don’t think I realized how…”
She trailed off, and I hesitated, not sure how hard to push.
“What?” I asked softly.
“I had no idea how hard it was.”
I smiled, and put one hand over my wife’s.
“You’re doing a great job,” I said sincerely. She smiled back at me, and I recognized Belle’s shyness in the expression on my wife’s face.
“Thanks,” she said. “I’m trying.”
“I know you are.”
“Thanks,” she said again, and we enjoyed the rest of the meal in silence.
As I was cleaning up after dinner (that’s one thing that can be said for a nightly diet of fast food—no dishes!) I broke the silence.
“Oh, hey…Belle said that you spoke to her boyfriend? Slick?”
“Spike,” she replied immediately, before widening my wife’s eyes as she realized what I was saying. “S-she told you that?”
“Yeah,” I replied with a shrug. “Before you got home.”
An image of mascara running down my daughter’s face flashed into my mind. I shook it off and continued.
“I didn’t even know you knew each other.”
“No,” she replied quickly. “I, uh, ran into him at the 556 over dinner.”
“Okay,” I said, trying to keep my tone light. I could feel the jealous part of my brain trying to escape from the lizard zone, trying to take over. “The other night?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “You were in the bathroom.”
“Ah. What did you two talk about?”
Maybe I should have just let it go, but I’d never managed to shake the idea that something had happened.
I knew it hadn’t. Of course nothing had happened.
But what if something had? I needed to know.
“Belle,” she replied immediately. “I…I told him how crushed she’d been when they broke up. How much she’d meant to him. And how cruel it had been to throw his new relationship with Lacey in her face.”
My wife’s fists were clenched, and I knew I had to tread carefully—easier said than done, considering how much I hated this Spike kid.
Dumb, isn’t it? He was nothing but a teenager who had cheated on my daughter. But…well, she was my daughter, and I didn’t like the way he’d treated her.
And I especially didn’t like the way I’d seen my wife looking at him.
“Belle told you all that?” I said, trying to keep my voice as calm as I could.
“No,” she admitted. “It was in her diary.”
I silently counted to ten, to try to not let myself get any more worked up, but before I had hit seven, Belle broke the silence.
“…what did he say?”
“Can’t you just find out from her diary?” I asked, one eyebrow raised.
“No,” Belle said, a sad tone in her voice. “I…I shouldn’t have been reading that. Besides, now that she knows I did…”
“Right,” I said. For a moment, I tried to work out whether I should lie—how much I should lie—but there were enough mistruths flying around as it was, and I decided it would be folly to add to the pile. “Well, apparently he was very respectful. A real gentleman.”
I could practically see the hearts flying out of my wife’s eyes.
“Yeah. He apologized, and thanked her for being cool that he was with Lacey now.”
The look of heartbreak on Mary’s face would normally have given me pause, but knowing that it was in response to the news that a teenage boy was seeing a teenage girl…
Look, I may have let my lizard brain take control for a moment.
“Isn’t that great?” I said, pulling my wife’s body to mine for a hug. “Now our daughter is safe from that scumbag.”
“He’s not a…—”
Belle trailed off as soon as she realized the words coming out of her mother’s mouth.
“He’s not…her type,” she said.
It was the strangest thing. Even as the words spilled out of her mouth, a clumsy attempt to cover her impulsive reaction, I could tell that she suddenly believed them.
I don’t know if it was the fact that she was hearing them in Mary’s voice, or just that she’d never actually said them out loud before, or some other woman thing that I’ll never know, but in that moment, my daughter made an important (and accurate) realization about Spike: he wasn’t her type.
“She deserves better,” I said gently, and couldn’t help but smile at the emphatic nod I got in return.
“Yeah,” Belle said, resting Mary’s head against my shoulder. “She really does.”
We stood there for a few minutes, smiling, holding each other. For a moment, I felt normal. I could have been hugging my daughter OR my wife, and it would have been just as nice, just as peaceful, just as calm. I didn’t feel confused, I wasn’t fighting my own instincts.
I was just an ordinary man, standing in my kitchen, hugging an important woman in my life.
But it was more than that. It was the knowledge that against all the odds…it was working. My wife’s insane, impossible plan was working.
Four more days. I could put up with anything, if at the end of it…I’d have my daughter back again.