They say that the grass is greener on the other side, you shouldn't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes, but to actually get to experience what the other person experiences isn't something that just happens to us...
It was quiet, she was on a beach, with a drink in one hand and a book in the other. The warmth of the sun kissing her body and the sound of the waves on the water lightly whispered softness into her ears. It was so quiet....
"Mama....mama.... Mamamama......blphtttt, AHHHHHHH"
Laura opened her eyes to find her three year old son staring up at her.
"Mommy, I think Asher's awake." Laura grunted in response,
"Mommy, I hungry, I want cerie." She gave a brief nod to her son Tyler and turned her body achingly slow to look at the time on the clock, it was 6:30 in the morning, she smiled slightly, Asher had let her sleep in.
The traffic was at a complete standstill, cars were honking at one another as a BMW was trying to cut in front of a FORD, somehow thinking that that one spot further ahead would get him to work that much faster. Chase thought about his wife back home, probably still in bed, warm and cozy, his two little boys, playing nicely together in the family room. He thought about sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee, reading the newspaper. The horn on the FORD in front of him honked again, Chase sighed, yup, he thought, that would be nice.
If you had the chance to be someone else for a day, would you do it? What if it was for a week, a month, a year, would you still want to do it? What if it meant learning something about someone else that you could never forget, what if it meant learning something about yourself that you could never forgive? They say that the grass is greener...
"Tyler, honey eat your chicken" Laura watched as her older son pushed the food around on his plate. Her husband's cell buzzed in the background, he looked over at it, then at her, she sent him a message with her eyes glaring at him, daring him to pick it up, he continued to feed Asher some puréed sweet potatoes; she knew it was killing him not to pick it up. He looked over to Tyler and asked him in his cheerful dad voice, "so buddy what did you do today?" Tyler looked a mess, he had ketchup smeared all over his face, mostly because he insisted on eating it by the spoonful, rather than dip his chicken in it, his curly locks of blond hair were a tangled mess, and he had a crusty nose from yet again another cold. Tyler looked up and gave his most winning smile, "I played today, daddy." Chase nodded in response gave the last spoonful of food to his youngest and then looked nervously over at his wife. She shook her head, closed her eyes and waved her hand in the direction of the phone,
"just go" she murmured. He gave her his sweetest smile and tried not to jump out of his seat too quickly to go check his phone. She gave off a soft sigh and stood up, taking the empty bowl from Asher with her, he too was covered with food all over his face and he laughed happily at her as he showed her his spoon all proud. She smiled through her exhaustion and pulled out some applesauce for his second course. Chase seemed to think that one serving was enough for a growing baby of ten months.
She finished feeding the kids off and was almost done cleaning up the dishes when Chase came back into the kitchen and helped her finish put the last few dishes in the dishwasher.
"So..." He smiled at her sweetly, "that was a delicious dinner you made," her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
" I made chicken fingers and mashed potatoes." She responded ironically.
"Yes, but you did it so well." He kissed her on the cheek.
"That was James, wasn't it? James was Chase's best friend and always seemed to call up his friend when there was tension between Laura and her husband, it was like he had radar for it. Chase paused, knowing he had been caught.
"Another girl broke his heart?" Chase tried to hide his sheepish smile, she had hit the nail on the target, he was always getting dumped by some girl or another, which in her mind meant that there was something wrong with his best friend, no matter how great Chase claimed his friend was.
"He just wants to get together for a few drinks tonight, you know, he needs someone to talk to."
Laura didn't know what to say, didn't see that she was tired, how did he not see it? She knew he worked hard, she knew he was tired, but how is it that he couldn't see it in her.
"You know it's bath night, right?" She hinted.
"I know, but that's nothing you can't handle, right honey? Besides the sooner I go the sooner I get back." She hated when he did that, he complimented her in an attempt to make it seem as though she didn't really need his help, and of course she could do it all on her own, but who wanted to? He also didn't wait for her to actually say anything, he knew that if he did he wouldn't get the answer he was looking for. Instead he gave her his usual,
"You're the best honey!" And kissed her on the cheek, then he did the same to the boys and was gone.
Laura woke up with a start, she looked over at the clock to see that it was after two am. Her arm was already searching beside her to find cold sheets, and no sign of her husband. She and the kids had been asleep for hours, she honestly thought that he would have been home by now. She should check her phone, she thought to herself, as she fumbled for the light. Her phone was resting on her nightstand, she swiped her thumb across to check for any messages. None. She rested her hands in her lap and frowned, her brow crinkled up in frustration. Should she call? Her fingers were already starting to dial his number when she heard a soft taping noise coming from somewhere in the lower level of the house. Keeping the phone in her hand she moved through the bedroom door and peaked in in both of her children, they were both sound asleep. She heard the soft tapping again, it was indeed coming from downstairs. She threw on her housecoat and shuffled her way down the stairs. With cautious steps her feet softly padded across the hardwood floors to the front door, from where she suspected the tapping was coming. She was right, there was a police officer standing out in front of her door. Her heart pounded, Chase he wasn't home, something has happened to him. She unlocked the door and swung it open, her heart in her throat. The officer was a tall man, short brown hair, blue eyes, distinctly handsome, which she probably would have been distracted by if she wasn't so concerned by the whereabouts of her husband.
"Mrs. Greene?" The officer stated more than asked. Laura felt her head nod up and down fervently. The officer took a step back and pointed to his vehicle parked in front of her house, I have your husband," he looked down at his notepad read a couple of lines, "Chase in the back of my cab, it seems as if he and his friend," he took a look at his notepad again before continuing, "James Wheeler decided to get in a bit of a fight at 'the Little Bo Peep's gentleman's club." The blood drained from her face, she took a step back, her whole world whirled around her. Although it had probably been thirty seconds, it had to her seemed like an eternity that she thought something horrible had happened to her husband, and now her world was crashing around her again, he was in a strip club, he was in a fight, he was in a police cruiser?! She thought incredulously. She looked at the officer's car, the lights were flashing, she looked at her neighbour's house across the street and could see the blinds being pulled and the shadow of a head peering out. "Oh great," she thought as she pressed her fingers into the bridge of her nose.
"I understand you have two small children asleep upstairs?" He asked peering into the house as if he could actually see them asleep in their rooms.
"Yes." She actually managed to respond vocally this time.
"That's what your husband said," he nodded in confirmation, " which is why I decided to give him a warning this time around, as he has no priors and due to the fact that I don't want to make a young mother's life more difficult due to some poor decisions her husband made, I have brought him home," He paused before he smiled at her and mused, "of course I could put him in a holding cell for the night if you would like?" She honestly thought about it, she was furious and wanted to get back at him, but she knew he had to go to work in the morning, not to mention if she let him be taken to jail she would have to be the one to pick him up later on and she didn't relish the idea of taking the kids with her to jail.
"No, I mean thank-you officer, if you could just please let him out of your car." He smiled at her,
"Of course." The officer, whose name she realized she didn't know, walked over to his car and opened the back door, letting her horribly ashamed husband out of the back seat. He then proceeded to escort him to the front door and watched him as he sheepishly squeezed by her into their house. The officer pulled out a card and handed it to Laura, "give me a call if he misbehaves again". She gave off a weak smile and looked down at the card, it read the officer's name Mark Daniels.
"Thank-you" was all she could manage to get out again. He touched his hat in salutations and then turned back and walked to his car. She put his card in her housecoat pocket, stepped back into the house then closed and locked the door behind her.
He was sitting in the dark at the kitchen table drinking a glass of water. She flicked on the light so she could get a better look at her disgraced husband, he cringed obviously hoping they could remain in the dark. Since he had never even changed from work he was still wearing his suit, only his tie had been loosened down from his neck and there was a definite lingering of stripper perfume oozing disgustingly from his jacket and she was pretty sure there were lipstick smear marks along his right earlobe. She didn't know where to begin, she just stood there staring at him while he did his best to avoid eye contact with her; he stared at his glass of water as if it was the most interesting glass of water in the world. She had made up her mind that she would rather go to bed and forget that this whole night had taken place when he was the one who decided to speak.
"Can we not do this tonight, I'm really tired." She looked at him in disbelief, she had had enough.
"You know, I'm tired too". She snarled back at him.
"Here we go." He rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "Don't you think I don't know that you're tired? But I think your tired is just a bit different from my tired. Do you have to commute to work? Do you have to deal with all the meetings and a boss who watches over you like a hawk, and puts the pressure on you with every task that he gives you?"
"You know what, Chase? I'm getting sick and tired of you comparing your job with working for the devil and what I do as playtime with the kids!" He face turned into that of someone who had just bitten into a sour lemon.
"Well it is isn't it?" The bitterness was palpable.
She couldn't believe that he actually thought that all she did was sit and play all day.
"You're right I don't have to commute, but I do have to drive the kids around and do errands all day, and no I don't have meetings but still have to make tough decisions about our children's upbringing, and my boss, I don't just have one, I have two, they are your sons and they expect a hell of a lot more from me than your boss expects from you, I can guarantee it!"
"Well, I guess if you want to stretch what you do that way..." She could hear the smirk on his face. "At least your 'bosses'", he used air quotes to make his point even harsher than what his tone was doing, " can't fire you."
"What? Now you're going to tell me that you've been fired?" He shook his head.
"No, but it's a definite possibility every day, you have no idea the stress I'm under, and the last thing I need is to face another lecture from you."
"Oh, I'm sorry that my lectures are interfering your extracurriculars with the strippers when you should be home with your kids and wife! What the hell happened to going to the bar, or coming home at a decent hour?"
"Little Bo Peep's is a bar." He snarked back at her.
"Oh you've got to be kidding me, you know exactly what I mean. Or were you too busy getting a lap dance to be thinking about what you have waiting for you at home?" He opened his mouth was going to retort back with a nasty remark then threw up his hands,
"If that's what you choose to believe."
"What do you expect me to believe, coming home the way you did, the way you look, smell." She turned her head disgusted, trying hard not to picture the night's events. "You haven't even offered me any kind of explanation." She pleaded hopelessly. He stood up looked her and said,
"Would you even believe me?" They both remained unmoving there for a moment, staring at one another, both feeling as if there was nothing more to say to the other. Finally he turned away from her and walked up the stairs heading towards the bedroom. In the quiet of the night they both regretted words that had been said, and yet were both mad at the other for the hurt that they had caused. Each, at the same time looked up to the stars in the sky and made the same wish, 'I wish they knew what it was like to be me.'
The alarm clock buzzed. Chase's head buzzed as well as the previous night came back to him in flashes. He reached out his hand to hit the snooze button; he hit air, his hand waved about searching for the clock, he continued to find nothing. His eyes creaked open like a door, slowly at first. He was confused, this wasn't his side of the bed, it was Laura's. How the hell did he end up on her side of the bed? He shifted his body over, the other side of the bed was empty, either Laura was already up with the kids or she didn't come to bed after their fight. He crawled across the bed and turned off the alarm; then he proceeded to stretch, something felt off. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he definitely felt different. He slipped off the bed and made his way to the bathroom, it was soon after Laura heard herself scream.
Laura had fallen asleep on the recliner; after her fight with Chase she didn't feel like going upstairs after him. She had stayed downstairs for a bit, thinking things through. She hadn't even realized that she had fallen asleep until she was woken up by the sound of herself screaming. She sat bolt upright, looking around the room in uncertainty, her hand at her throat. She screamed again, only she realized although it was her voice that she heard it was not her who was actually doing the screaming. The sound was coming from upstairs, she bounced from the chair and ran out of the family room to the stairs leading to the top level of the house. At the top of the stairs she saw herself staring down at her.
What was happening? Is this some sort of bizarre and elaborate prank his wife had managed to pull off in the middle of the night? He touched the mirror to see if what he was seeing was real. He was still drunk, it was the only explanation he could think of as to why his wife's face was staring back at him when it should have been his own reflection. There was a scream, he watched in horror as he saw his wife's mouth open in front of him, it was her voice, her face, but he wasn't her, was he? She screamed again, it was awfully close, was she behind him? He turned a full circle, but there was no one in the room except for him. He needed to find Laura, he bolted from the bathroom and ran to the top of the stairs, it was then that he saw himself looking back up at him.
The two of them stood staring at each other not quite sure what to say, neither of them knew what they were seeing, who they were seeing. Chase was the first to walk down down the stairs, towards... himself.
Laura took a giant step back against the wall, how could this be that she was seeing what appeared to be an exact replica of herself. She lifted up her arm and pointed to the front door down the hall, her finger shaking as she braved to speak, "I don't know what the hell this is, or how you have my face but get the hell out of my house." It was Chase's voice. She looked around puzzled, "Chase?" It was his voice again. Her doppelgänger stepped toward her and tried to reach out to her, but she snatched away her hand defensively. "Don't!" The confusion and frustration was evident in the tone of the voice, but it was without a doubt not her who was saying these words, it was her husband she kept hearing. Finally her twin spoke, softly, "Laura, it's me Chase, I think something has happened to us. "
"What the hell are you talking about, how do you look like me, talk like me?" Her twin took a small step forward and for some reason she let her double touch her, she reached up and turned her head to face the mirror down the hall. She heard her voice ask,
"How do you look like me?"
Each of them touched the other to make sure that the other was indeed real. On each side of things there was warm flesh and a reassuring touch from the other. They sat down on the couch and began to work things out.
"How did this happen?" It was Laura asking in Chase's body.
"I don't know, all I remember is going out with James, getting in a fight, the police showed up, brought me home..."
"We argued..." Laura said when he paused.
"Right." Chase nodded with Laura's head. "Then I went up to the bedroom, I expected you to follow, but you didn't so I guess I fell asleep."
"I needed to do some thinking." She responded. He didn't respond to that, instead he said,
"So now what are we going to do?"
"I don't know, how do we go back to what we are?"
"Well I didn't exactly see an instruction manual." She ignored his sarcasm.
"Well there has to be something we can do and fast!" Suddenly a thought occurred to her, "What do we tell the boys!" She ran her fingers through Chase's hair.
"What do you mean what do we tell the kids, we don't tell them anything!"
"Well don't you think they are going to figure something out? And not just the kids, everyone else we know, our friends, family..."
"My boss." He groaned out in realization.
"Maybe you can call in sick?" She suggested. She saw the image of herself scoff in her own face, it was unnerving.
"Don't be ridiculous, I'm in the middle of an important job for a client." Chase was an advertising agent in a high power advertising agency. He also went on about how stressful and demanding his job was, so how was he going to show up when he wasn't him.
"Well, unless you have any other ideas?" She asked him not actually expecting anything when she saw her face give off a mischievous smile.
"No, no, no, no, no, no! You're crazy there is no way we can possibly pull this off!"
"I'm not going to say that it won't be hard, but we don't know for how long we are going to be like this, with any luck it will only be a day... or two. I'm sure I can coach you on what to do at my job, you can figure out a way to stay out of the limelight and I can..."
"Take care of the kids?" She asked.
"Sure, how hard can that be, right?"