The next time the bedroom scene repeats itself, a few days later, she’s the one to roll away first. “I always thought it was supposed to mean more,” she sighs.
Matt freezes in the midst of zipping his jeans, his face scrunched in confusion. When she notices he’s stopped moving, she looks back at him. As he stares at her, the scrunchiness switches to shock.
She turns away from him, sheer dread crossing her face as she realizes her mistake.
“I didn’t mean that—” she starts. She looks over her shoulder at him.
Shock has now switched to trepidation. “Yer not her,” Matt whispers.
She sits up. “What are you talking about?”
He backs up. “Who are you?”
“You know who I am.”
“No…no, I don’t.” His face goes white. “I don’t have any idea who you are,” he whispers. “I just know who yer not, and yer not her. It just hit me. I mean, you been sayin’ and doin’ weird things all along, but it really just finally hit me.”
She starts to speak again, but his expression informs her that it’s no use. She wants to continue denying it, but it’s clear that no words could change his mind.
“It’s not just this, here…this stuff in the bedroom,” he says in a low voice. “It’s—other stuff, too. The books, the constant Googling. But mostly here. Plus, you’ve said some really bizarre things, but that last one beats all.” He stands against the wall like a cornered animal.
A long while passes before she says anything. “How did you know it all wasn’t Missy’s amnesia?”
“Missy never cared in here. Not one minute. We were together maybe once or twice a year. That’s it.”
“But so many things can change after a coma, after amnesia, after any accident or medical incident, really.”
Tears spring to his eyes. “I knew you weren’t her. I somehow knew it fer a while but didn’t…I don’t know. But I do know yer not Missy. Who are you?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
He throws on the rest of his clothes and vanishes from the room. The front door slams.
I really hate it when he does that.
But she really doesn’t blame him this time.
A couple of days later, the front door opens again. Missy’s trying her hand at scrubbing the kitchen floor, but she’s made a minor flood.
Matt grabs the mop from the utility rack in the closet and opens the back door, pushing the water out. Cold air blows into the room.
Once the kitchen-cleaning fiasco is tended to, they wander into the living room. The day matches the gray furniture, although Missy has picked up some beautiful cut flowers and a pair of small poinsettias at the nearest store…which was four miles round trip, but her first long walk did her well.
“Why can’t you tell me?” Matt demands. “It’s not like I don’t know now.”
“I’ll tell you,” she sighs. “Since you know anyway.”
“Not sure I want to hear it now.” His shaky laugh betrays his nervousness. “How is somethin’ like this even possible?”
“It happens all over the place, all the time.”
“Great. Those crazy people are right about their aliens.”
“Call me a starbeing. It’s a lot friendlier sounding than alien.”
He thinks for a few minutes and she doesn’t push him. “I knew, somehow,” he finally says. “Actually, I knew right away.”
“Yer…more…here…than Missy ever seemed to be. It was like she had a foot out the door already.”
“Hmmmmmm.” Missy pauses. “You go to Denver?”
He looks at her. “How’d you know? Do you know things without being told?”
“Well, I’m kind of supposed to know a lot of things without being told, but I got really messed up during my descent.”
“Lucky me. I’m teasin’, I’m teasin’,” he quickly says to her crestfallen face. “What’s yer real name?”
“Asheratavidelpinom Vasieranigolminradtrun Shanlondamispheria Rosqualyanira….”
A full minute later, she finally finishes her name.
“I was gonna cut you off,” Matt chuckles, “sayin’ I got the gist and all, but I figure it’s polite to hear folks state their full name.”
“That was very polite of you. Especially since my name is eight hundred and ninety-two syllables.”
“Can I just call you Missy?”
They laugh, but Matt stops abruptly. “Actually I can’t call you Missy if yer not her.” She nods. “But I can’t call you anything else, either—at least not in public.”
She shrugs and nods again. “There is a ‘Mis’ in there. Just pick up on that.”
“There’s a whole lot in there,” he snickers. “I could pick up on any name I want, just about. I heard an Amy and a couple-three Annies in there.”
“Beings on my home planet call me Ashera.”
“I can’t exactly start calling you Ashera. Folks’d sure look at us funny.”
She giggles. They both turn and lean on the back of the couch, staring out at the dark clouds looming in the West.
“’nother snowstorm’s brewin’.”
“Why didn’t your people choose a friendlier part of this planet?”
“Just wait until spring. You’ll change yer tune. It’s beautiful here most of the year.” He pauses. “Where do you come from?”
“Far away. In the Andromeda Galaxy.”
“Is it very different from here?”
“Very. We don’t have physical bodies. There’s no density. Every thought is broadcast, so there’s no way to hide anything. That’s just the beginning of the differences.”
Matt’s quiet as he digests that. “Where’d she go?” he finally asks. “What did you do with her?”
“I didn’t do anything with her. She was leaving anyway.”
“You mean she died?”
He rests his head on his arm, which is resting along the back of the couch.
“She’s fine,” she says, touching his shoulder. “Most humans who die are just fine.”
“Some aren’t. Depends what they want to put themselves through for what they put other people through while they were here.”
Matt thinks about that for a minute. “You mean Hell?”
“Of their own making.”
Matt picks at the fabric on the couch for a bit. “How would her body have been strong enough fer you to take it over but not enough fer her to stay in it?”
“You know, you’re picking this up and accepting it a lot faster than most beings around here would, I think. You’re asking great questions, too. The human body is an amazing creation. Some people are just done here. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the body has to be done.”
“Why was she done?”
“I don’t know. I was supposed to know everything about the person I was taking over.” She quickly places her hand over her mouth, and her eyes go wide as she realizes her new mistake.
“What? Whatchou talkin’ about?” He jumps up off the couch. “You wasn’t even supposed to be Missy? So much fer me pickin’ this up and acceptin’ it so great—I can’t take all this!”
The door slams again.
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