The Unknown Object
Tim had only been twelve years old when he’d first met Eddie and his mom, Mrs. Berger. He had just started seventh grade at Lansdale Middle School. On the third day of class, he had been surprised when their teacher, an elderly woman named Mrs. Baker, had told them they’d be assigned a ‘study buddy’ for the rest of the year.
“So, students, what we will do is assign you to a classmate at random—that boy or girl will be your study buddy. You will work together on activities and homework, and study for quizzes together! Maybe you’ll even make a new best friend in the bargain, and won’t that be nice?”
Tim hadn’t thought that was particularly nice. He remembered being so nervous—he had been self-conscious at the beginning of the year at how short he was compared to the other boys in the class. His mom had told him he was just a ‘late bloomer’ and that he would probably shoot up in height over the summer, but that didn’t help him now. He was at a new school, he didn’t know anyone in his new class, and his stomach was all tied up in knots about being partnered with a boy or girl he’d never met before. Maybe they wouldn’t like each other, maybe they wouldn’t get along, and then the entire school year would end up being awful because he would be assigned exactly the wrong person to be his study buddy.
Mrs. Baker had little slips of paper with the names of every student in the class. She put the names into a big, colorful cardboard box and shook it around, and then took the first slip of paper out.
A chubby girl with a trail of snot running down her nose stood up upon hearing her name. Tim crossed his fingers that she wouldn’t be partnered with him.
“You’ll be paired up with…,” and with that, Mrs. Baker plunged her hand down into the box again. “Eugene Crowne!”
A skinny kid with reddish hair and coke bottle glasses reluctantly stood up and walked over to where Alice was standing.
“Now, I hope you two get along swimmingly,” Mrs. Baker said warmly.
“Yes, Mrs. Baker,” the two students said in a sad, singsong voice which denoted a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
From there, Mrs. Baker proceeded to pair up other children—Eileen Chu was paired up with Sandra Gould. Jake Federman ended up with Gary Frankel.
As other students continued being paired up and his name still hadn’t been called, Tim grew anxious. He tried to remember how many students were in the class. If it was an odd number, and his name came in last, maybe he wouldn’t get paired up with anyone? Somehow, that would be even worse than getting paired up with someone awful. He started doing a sneaky headcount to figure out how many children were in the class, and breathed an audible sigh of relief when the number came out to twenty-four.
Finally, there were only six students left, including Tim. He glanced nervously at the other kids who were left, and wondered if they were as nervous as he was.
“Timothy West,” Mrs. Baker called out.
Tim’s heart skipped a beat, and he jumped up. “Yes, ma’am!”
“Your study buddy will be…,” Mrs. Baker dramatically plunged her hand back into the cardboard box. “Edward Berger!”
Which one’s Edward Berger? Tim wondered, and as he looked as the other remaining children, a tall blonde boy with a buzzcut and a lopsided smile stood up and walked over to Tim.
“Put ’er there, partner,” the boy said, and stretched out his hand. Tim blinked and shook it, feeling the boy’s strong grip.
“Uh-uhm, nice to meet you, Edward,” Tim mumbled.
“Call me Eddie,” he grinned. “I was kinda worried about who I’d get paired up with, but you seem cool. I like your Spider-Man shirt.”
Tim beamed. Spider-Man was his favorite superhero. Maybe Eddie was alright.
“I’m Tim,” he said. “Do you like the Spider-Man movies?”
“Totally,” Eddie nodded. “Have you watched the new cartoon? I never, ever miss it.”
Mrs. Baker smiled as she looked on at the two boys chattering away.
They were going to be fast friends, she thought to herself.
The two boys spent the rest of the day together. They found out they had tons of things in common—they liked the same superheroes, they played a lot of the same video games (they swapped information so they could add each other to their PlayStation friends list when they got home), and they even watched most of the same cartoons. By the time the school day was over, Tim had forgotten how anxious he had been about his ‘study buddy.’
The two of them sat together at the school’s front entrance as they waited to get picked up by their parents, still chatting away. They were so absorbed in their discussion as to who Spider-Man’s greatest enemy was (Tim argued it was the Green Goblin, but Eddie was convinced it was actually Venom) that they didn’t even notice when someone approached them, hovering over them, until she spoke.
“Oh, Eddie, who’s this? Did you make a new friend?”
Eddie looked up and broadly grinned at the blonde woman. The woman smiled back. She had long blonde hair, worn loose round her shoulders, and sparkling green eyes. She had elegant features. Tim was too young to think of many points of comparison, but in his childishness, he thought she was almost like a Disney movie princess (though obviously way older than that, though Tim had no way of guessing at her age). She was wearing a pink sweater with a flower pattern and a pleated, peach-colored skirt that went almost down to her ankles, and wore sensible cream-colored flats.
Eddie stood up, dusted off the seat of his pants, and walked towards her.
“Hi, Mom—this is Tim West, he’s my new study buddy!” he said as he pointed towards Tim. Eddie proceeded to explain how the study buddy system worked, how they’d been two of the last people in the class to get paired up, and how happy they’d been to get paired up to be together.
“Well, hello, Tim, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Mrs. Berger, Eddie’s mother. Have you and my son been getting along well?”
“Uhm, uh-huh,” Tim said, as he stood up awkwardly. “It’s, uhm, it’s very nice to meet you.”
“Tim likes Spider-Man too,” Eddie proudly stated. “But he and I don’t agree on who his greatest villain is. We were just talking about it, just now.”
“Oh, you were? My goodness, that sounds like an interesting conversation. You’ll have to tell me all about it later. I know that you really like the Spider-Man villain with the big mouth and the black costume. What was his name again?” Mrs. Berger asked.
“Venom!” Eddie grinned.
Just then, Tim’s mother came by to pick him up as well.
“Sorry I’m a bit late, Tim. I had to leave Heather with your Aunt Lily,” she said, a bit out of breath. Mom was always running around like crazy doing a bunch of different stuff. Tim remembered Dad joking that Mom was like a human tornado (when Tim was a child, he’d originally thought that meant his mom was like a superhero, until Dad explained what a metaphor was—Tim felt kind of silly afterwards). Unlike Mrs. Berger, Tim’s mom had her hair tied up in a sensible ponytail and was wearing a practical light-blue sweater, jeans, and a pair of trainers.
“Oh, hello,” Tim’s mom said as she noticed Mrs. Berger and Eddie.
“You’re Tim’s mother, Mrs. West?” Mrs. Berger said. “My son Eddie was just telling me how he and Tim had been paired up together to be study buddies for the year. I’m Barbara.”
“Oh, it’s lovely to meet you. Call me Kathleen,” Tim’s mom said, and shook Mrs. Berger’s hand. “I’m glad Tim is making new friends—most of his friends from elementary school have gone to a different junior high, and he doesn’t know any of his classmates yet.”
“It’s the same with Eddie, but it seems they’ve taken to each other,” Mrs. Berger replied, her eyes twinkling. “You know, if they’re going to be study buddies, we should exchange contact information. Let me give you my phone number.”
“Mom, while you guys talk can me and Tim head to the basketball court?” Eddie asked, pointing to the big sports building located near the school entrance.
“Oh, I suppose so, if it’s alright with Mrs. West,” Mrs. Berger said.
“Fine with me, you two,” Tim’s mother replied, nodding. “Just don’t wander too far off. I don’t want to have to go on a wild goose chase when it’s time for us to leave.”
“We won’t!” Tim and Eddie shouted.
The two women chuckled as they watched the two boys run off.
By the time Tim and Eddie’s mothers picked them up later, they’d already set a date for them to hang out at Mrs. Berger’s house the following weekend.
Tim still remembered vividly being dropped off at the Berger household and being greeted by Mrs. Berger at the door, wearing a lavender blouse and skirt. When she said hello, she ruffled the hair on his head. Then, he went into the house and was introduced to Eddie’s dad. Mr. Berger was a short, meek-looking, bald man. Tim couldn’t begin to understand how he and Mrs. Berger had gotten married—if Eddie’s mom looked like an older version of a Disney princess, Mr. Berger looked like a bald version of the dad from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Still, he was really nice, and when he smiled at Tim and shook his hand, Tim felt pangs of guilt for having thought so poorly of him.
“Why don’t you boys go out into the backyard? I set something up this morning you both might like,” Mr. Berger said proudly.
“Oh you didn’t—I asked you not to set that thing up,” Mrs. Berger stated, her face looking kind of upset. What had Mr. Berger done to make her mad?
Curious, Tim and Eddie ran to door that led to the backyard, and saw that Mr. Berger had placed an oval, stretched-out tarp in the middle of it.
“Whoa, cool! A trampoline!” Eddie yelped in delight, and without another word, ran out and jumped, bouncing up and down. “Come on, Tim! It’s awesome!”
Tim hesitated, looking back at Mr. and Mrs. Berger. Mrs. Berger was clearly unhappy (Tim wasn’t sure why), and Mr. Berger was trying to soothe her.
“It’s not that big a deal, honey, I had one when I was a kid,” he said with an apologetic shrug.
“It’s not a big deal until one of the boys bounces the wrong way and falls off and breaks an arm, or, or, God forbid, their neck!”
“I’ll take a lawn chair outside and I’ll be watching them the entire time,” Mr. Berger said soothingly.
“You better,” she said, and then, in a whispered voice, “we’ll talk more about this once Eddie’s friend has gone home.”
Suddenly aware that he was intruding in a conversation that he wasn’t meant to be hearing, Tim ran outside to join Eddie on the trampoline.
A few hours later, Tim and Eddie sat on the stairs that led to the backyard, drinking some Kool-Aid. Neither of them had fallen, and gradually, Mrs. Berger had relaxed and left them alone when she realized they were just jumping and not roughhousing.
“Say, Eddie,” Tim said, after taking a long gulp of the sugary drink. “Why was your mom so upset about us using the trampoline?”
“Oh, that,” Eddie rolled his eyes. “She always gets upset when I do anything that she thinks could be dangerous.”
“Why? My mom never acts like that,” Tim queried, a bit confused.
“Well…I don’t really understand it…my dad said I was a miracle baby, that it was really tough for my mom to have me, so she worries about me all the time because of that.”
“What does that mean, miracle baby?”
“I’m not really sure, but Dad said that when she was pregnant with me, the last few months were really rough. Hey, wanna play Smash Brothers?”
“You have it? Awesome!”
And with that, the conversation was forgotten, and the two boys went upstairs to play video games.
That night, they had dinner before Tim’s mom came by to pick him up. Mrs. Berger had made chocolate cake, and since Tim was the guest of honor, she gave him the biggest piece. Tim half-expected Eddie to be jealous, but he was okay with it—apparently, he wasn’t a big fan of sweets.
Tim, on the other hand…
“Mrs. Berger, this cake is delicious!”
“I’m glad you like it, Tim. Do you want another piece?”
Tim looked around at Eddie and Mr. Berger. Mr. Berger smiled and nodded. “Go ahead,” he said, “I’m pretty sure Barbara baked it to celebrate your visit.”
“Whoa, well, in that case, yes, please!”
Mrs. Berger stood up and carried the cake over to where Tim was sitting. As she did so, the bread knife she was carrying in her left hand slipped and fell to the floor.
“Whoops!” Mrs. Berger said as she placed the cake on the table and then knelt to grab the knife.
As she did so, Tim saw it. He hadn’t meant to; it really was just an accident. But as Eddie’s mother moved her body downwards and reached towards the knife, Tim’s eyes followed her movements and they accidentally glimpsed down Mrs. Berger’s blouse. Because of the position she was in, and from the angle Tim was sitting, he could see pretty much everything.
Up until this point in his life, Tim hadn’t paid much attention to girls, other than to find them annoying and not wanting to get paired up with them in gym class. But there was something about Mrs. Berger—she was pretty, and nice, and…
As he looked down, Tim saw the two pale mounds of Mrs. Berger’s large boobs. He gulped nervously. They seemed to be straining against the light pink bra she was wearing, and if he looked just a little bit closer, he thought he could see the barest shadow of…
And just like that, Mrs. Berger stood back up again, bread knife in hand.
“Clumsy me. I’m going to go clean this up,” she smiled at him, and took the knife back to the kitchen to wash.
Suddenly, he felt an unusual tightness around his pants. He shifted around in his seat, somewhat uncomfortable. It was a feeling he was unfamiliar with, but from having heard other boys talking about it, he knew what it was—a ‘boner.’ He felt a little hot around his face, too, like when he got a sunburn.
Tim blinked, looked around at Mr. Berger and Eddie, neither of whom seemed to have noticed Tim’s reaction to having accidentally looked down Mrs. Berger’s blouse. Thank God, he thought.
Embarrassed, Tim focused on his plate and went back to scarfing down his chocolate cake, the mental image of what he’d just seen burned into his memories.
That had, perhaps, been the first time that Tim became aware of women as desirable. His understanding of such things was immature at best, but he knew that he felt funny whenever he saw Mrs. Berger bending over to grab a plate or gave Eddie a hug or kiss (and Tim felt childish pangs of jealousy whenever he saw it happen).
Sometimes, when Tim did sleepovers at Eddie’s house, he would catch glimpses of Mrs. Berger in her nightgown and bathrobe. The knowledge that she probably wasn’t wearing much underneath made him tense up and feel nervous, though he was never able to verbalize why. At those times, he’d make a conscious effort not to stare, for fear that he would get labeled a weirdo and not be allowed to visit the Berger household anymore. Mrs. Berger, of course, was never anything more than kind and pleasant to him, and surely didn’t even fathom that her son’s friend was having dirty thoughts about her.
When Tim started having wet dreams, before he knew for sure what they were, Mrs. Berger featured in more than a few of them. The dreams themselves were almost chaste—sometimes he would rescue Mrs. Berger from some imminent danger (which always varied in nature) and she’d reward him with a kiss on the lips. Other times, he would dream of accidentally wandering into the bathroom while Mrs. Berger was showering. In one dream, Mr. Berger and Eddie moved overseas, and Mrs. Berger was sad and lonely until Tim started visiting her every day after school. In the dream, Mrs. Berger grew so fond of him that she decided to have him move in with her. Tim woke up at the moment of highest excitement, when Mrs. Berger revealed that he’d be sleeping in the same bed with her. When he did, his heart beating fast against his chest, he realized that he’d soiled his pajamas and bedsheets.
Shortly afterwards, Tim began masturbating regularly, and Mrs. Berger was the initial focus of a lot of his fap fantasies—in one of the recurring ones, Tim would go over to a sleepover at Eddie’s house. For some reason or another, Mr. Berger wasn’t home (sometimes, Tim fantasized he was on a business trip, like Tim’s own father often took, at other times he had tragically passed away). Mrs. Berger would be drunk, even though Tim had never seen her take a drink in real life, and she would seduce Tim, all the while Eddie slept in the next room, totally clueless. The next day, she would have sobered up, and would have forgotten about all the stuff she and Tim had done the previous night.
As Tim grew older, he became interested in girls his own age, and the dirty thoughts and feelings he had about his best friend’s mother were buried, though they still unconsciously persisted. Other than the occasional crude teasing he and Yang directed at Eddie for having such an attractive mother, he dismissed the jejune fantasies he’d had about Mrs. Berger as being the result of a silly childhood crush. Until recently, Mrs. Berger was just ‘Eddie’s mom,’ and he no longer saw her on a regular basis.
And then he’d found the mind control gun.
When he’d visited Eddie before, he’d rather thoughtlessly put a few commands into Mrs. Berger’s head, and added her to his ‘list’ of potential mates on nothing but a whim. He hadn’t really considered her seriously—she was an older woman, just a bit older than Tim’s own mother, and the idea of actually being with her had seemed like an impossible fantasy for so many years that the fact it might be possible to make her his hadn’t really sunk in.
All these thoughts hit Tim in about a split second after he had walked through his home’s front door and into the living room, and was greeted with an unexpected sight.
First, he heard instrumental music playing at a low volume from the sound system that Dad had installed next to Heather’s trophy case. Tim was familiar with the music—it was the sort Mom used whenever she was focusing on her routines when she practiced yoga at home.
The second thing he’d noticed was that the coffee table and the sofa had both been moved into the edge of the living room.
And then, the third thing he noticed was that a pair of yoga mats had been placed on the floor where the coffee table and yoga mats usually were.
But what really caught his eye were the two women practicing yoga routines in the middle of the room. On the yoga mat nearest the sofa was his mother, wearing tight, black, form-fitting yoga pants, barefooted, and a short-sleeved, form-fitting shirt. She was on all fours, her legs straight, with her biceps facing forward, and her hips pointed towards the air, doing the downward-facing dog.
To her left was Mrs. Berger, doing her best to keep up. She was also trying to do the downward-facing dog (albeit very shakily). Unlike his mother’s form-fitting athletic outfit, Mrs. Berger was wearing grey sweatpants and a pink sweatshirt. She’d tied her long, blonde hair back with a hairband. She was also barefoot. Tim saw a gym bag on the sofa, which probably contained Mrs. Berger’s everyday clothing.
The two women hadn’t noticed Tim come in, as they were so focused on their practice. Tim’s heart skipped a beat.
Years of yoga, jogging, and Peloton cycling had left Tim’s mother with an athletic (albeit shapely) body. Of course, that was a reality Tim had been blind to until very recently. Until he’d gotten the mind control gun in his hands, she’d just been ‘Mom.’ He’d never actually had any sexual thoughts about her, not until she’d been the only person he could use the gun on without repercussions. It was only afterwards that his eyes had been opened, that he’d realized what a desirable woman she was.
But Mrs. Berger? She’d been an object of Tim’s desires for years until he’d abandoned his crush on her as a childish fantasy, one that he had to move on from in his path towards adulthood. Perhaps it was because he’d always seen her as an impossible object of desire that he’d never really seriously considered her as a potential mate, even when he’d gotten the mind control gun in his hands.
And now, here she was.
“Oh! Tim’s home,” he heard his mother say, breaking his reverie. She broke from her yoga pose and stood up, smiling at him. “Welcome back, sweetie.”
Mrs. Berger, on the other hand, shakily moved down until she was resting on the mat, and then sat on it, breathing a bit heavily from the exertion. She was clearly unaccustomed to holding a yoga pose for a long period of time. Her face was sweaty from exhaustion, and she looked embarrassed to have been caught in the middle of a yoga pose. Unlike with Mom, Mrs. Berger’s curvy body was hidden beneath the sweatshirt and sweatpants. Tim realized the most he’d ever seen of Mrs. Berger was one summer in eighth grade when the Berger family had invited him on a trip to the beach and she’d worn a modest, one-piece swimsuit.
“Good afternoon, Tim,” Mrs. Berger said. “As you can see, your mother and I, we’re, eh…”
“We’re doing a bit of yoga,” Mom said, smiling. She grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat from her brow. “I’m just showing Barbara the basics.”
“Gee, Mrs. Berger,” Tim said, giving his best ‘aw-shucks’ smile. “I didn’t know you were interested in yoga.”
“Yes, well, just recently I’ve been thinking of perhaps varying up my routine, just a little,” Mrs. Berger replied. “I suppose I didn’t realize you’d be home so soon. How was school?” she asked, trying to change the topic.
“Oh, school was just fine. I got a lot of stuff done today. I feel really…accomplished, I guess is the word.”
“Well, isn’t that nice,” Mrs. Berger smiled, as she stood up slowly, her legs shaky. “It’s great to hear that you’re taking your studies so seriously.”
“Yes, dear, it’s nice to hear you had a productive day,” Mom added.
The three just stood there for a few awkward seconds, and then Mrs. Berger spoke.
“Tim, if you don’t mind, I’d like to continue yoga practice with your mom. You know, if it’s not too much of a bother, could you head upstairs while your mother and I continue the practice? We’ll try to keep the noise down, it’s just that, ehhh…” she winced slightly as she tried to articulate that she didn’t want her teenage son’s friend as an audience while she struggled with basic yoga poses. Tim was sure she was just worried she’d look silly in front of Eddie’s friend—there was no doubt in his mind that Mrs. Berger had no idea that Tim had ever looked at her in a sexual way.
But he had, and she was in his home now. This dream woman who had been the subject of countless childhood fantasies was here. He couldn’t have planned things any better.
Tim looked towards his mother, wondered if she had any clue as to what was going through his head. Probably not, he thought. She was aware (and he’d commanded her to be accepting) of the fact that he would be sleeping with multiple women. But he highly doubted that she thought Mrs. Berger could be a potential candidate—Mom probably thought Tim was aiming for girls closer to his own age.
But how could he possibly let this unexpected opportunity slip by? It was a bit ahead of schedule, but…
“Oh, Mrs. Berger,” Tim said, as though just remembering something. “Before I go upstairs, let me show you something really cool I found just the other day.”
He put his backpack down on the chair nearby and unzipped it, began digging through it.
“You…found something?” Mrs. Berger’s head tilted in slight confusion.
“Yeah, this is gonna blow your mind,” he said, grinning. Grasping the mind control gun, he turned towards Mrs. Berger.
“Why, what is that? Is it one of those plastic models you and Eddie used to make?” Mrs. Berger asked, curiously, as she moved closer to look at what Tim was holding in his hand.
Tim moved the dial on the gun to ‘CONTROL’ and aimed it at Mrs. Berger.
“Ah, it’s one of those old Buck Rogers ray—,” Mrs. Berger began to say, but she was unable to complete the thought, as Tim pressed the button, heard the momentary electric crackle, and put her under his complete control. Mrs. Berger stopped moving, and her arms dropped to her sides.
“…Barbara?” Mom turned towards her the mother of her son’s friend, and then Tim pressed the button, felt the familiar vibration run through his arm, and Mom also stopped moving.
Time to make a childhood fantasy come true, he thought.