Tuesday, a week ago, I was playing my favorite game of dressing up in lingerie in front of my big mirror, when my little pink cell phone rings and I glance at the screen. The caller ID reads: Mom
I’ve been meaning to contact Ashlyn’s parents. I’ve been Ashlyn for nearly 3 months now, and every week since getting over the initial shock of turning into this curvy red head, I have told myself I need to call them.
It’s just that I don’t know how to have a mom and dad. I’ve been without much family for a long time; my parents died 3 weeks before my seventeenth birthday.
In a previous life, I was an animator. To be honest, I was an animator because I needed an outlet for my overactive imagination and creative energies. Having an overactive imagination is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it helped me with a job that I enjoyed doing—but that same imagination has caused me to “live” the last moments of my parent’s life—over and over in my head.
We lived in a suburb of Dallas then, and my folks were out on their “date night”. It was usually just dinner and a movie, but it was their time together. I remember them being very affectionate—to the point they were embarrassing to me whenever I had friends over.
It was a freak accident. They were driving home on highway 75. I imagined my dad had the radio on and tuned to the oldies station—he liked to sing along to the music. Sometimes mom sang with him. Dad would steer with one hand and with other, hold my mother’s hand. That night they were driving behind an eighteen-wheeler which was hauling a fork lift on a flat trailer.
The truck driver knew the height of his truck, and when he read the height of the overpass, he knew his truck would have no problem going under the bridge. What he didn’t consider was the height of the fork lift that sat on the trailer of his truck—or that the persons who loaded the fork lift hadn’t bothered to lower the “forks” all the way to the ground.
The forklift hit the overpass and toppled off the trailer—directly in front of my parent’s car.
The police told me it was all over in seconds—that they didn’t suffer. Unfortunately, another quality an animator needs is a real good sense of time. You would be amazed what you can do in three seconds. Watch a basketball game-- a player can receive the ball, dribble once and shoot the ball to win the game in the last three seconds.
The idea that they might have not had the time to react, but to realize what was about to happen, haunts me.
For the year until I turned eighteen, I lived with my Uncle, my father’s older brother. The man was a traveling salesman and I barely saw him the entire time I stayed under his roof. The situation was fine with me as the man was a mean drunk. To his credit, he wasn’t all bad; he did teach me to play poker.
I’m not looking for sympathy; I’m just trying to make you understand. It’s been seventeen years since I’ve had any kind of family situation—and since I have had three months to get used to boobs jiggling on my chest, I was currently more freaked out about being someone’s daughter than being a girl.
I took a deep breath and answered to phone.
“Ashlyn honey! Are you okay? Why haven’t you called?” My “mother” spoke in a thick New England accent.
I made up some lame excuse about being busy with my new waitress job—she seemed to buy it.
“So your Father and I were wondering if we should expect you on Thursday?”
“Thursday?” I asked.
“Yes, Thursday. Thanksgiving. You know, the time of year when I cook enough food to feed a small army? Your father plants himself in front of the TV to watch football?”
I had vague memories of just that kind of thing happening in my childhood. It sounded nice.
“Well?” She asked impatiently, “Do you have other plans?”
I didn’t have other plans. To be honest, the holiday was barely on my radar—I’ve been working every shift I could at the lounge trying to get ahead a little. It’s been my entire focus for the past couple of weeks. I have a trip to Texas to pay for above my usual expenses.
I looked into the mirror and saw my reflection—long red hair, busty and wearing a black teddy. I had to look away; it felt creepy to be dressed like this while talking to this body’s mother.
“Um no, I don’t have other plans…” I said grabbing a silk robe and slipping it on.
“Then it’s settled. We see you Thursday. You and your plus one.” See said.
“Plus one? I don’t plan to bring anyone.” I say slightly confused.
“Honey, you say that every year, and every year you show up with some young man.”
“This year will be different.” I assure her.
“Whatever. See you Thursday. I’m off to the market. Love you sweetheart. Bye!”
“I love you too Mom.” It felt like I should say that back to her, but I choked up a little—I hadn’t said those words in a long time.
More Later, I’ve got to get to the lounge for work.