This is a story of two women who were best friends. It is a tale borne of tragedy, secrets, pain, but most importantly, love. It was that love that ultimately allowed them to be the sisters they had always considered themselves to be. It was that love that healed and saved us all.
My stepdaughter, Michelle and my unofficially adopted, quasi-daughter, Amanda had just graduated from college and I was playing every part of the proud father, as I took Michelle, Amanda and Michelle’s boyfriend, David, another recent graduate, out for a celebratory dinner. About halfway through dinner, I was in for the first of a couple of surprises.
“Daddy, David has something he wants to ask you,” said Michelle.
I saw a look of terror come over the young man’s face.
I grinned as I knew what was about to come. I could tell that the boy was about to blow a gasket so I decided to play nice. “Come on, Dave. You know you’re supposed to call me Jack.”
“Uh ... yeah ... it’s just that I think I should be more formal about this because I’m asking for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”
I was not trying to be intentionally cruel, but I could not help it. I laughed until I almost started crying.
“Sir?” I heard.
I did my best to settle myself down, especially when I caught a glare from both my girls. “I’m sorry, Dave ... I appreciate ... you asking but Michelle’s ‘hand’ is not for me to give. It is for you to win and it looks like that has already happened.”
All three youngsters at the table kind of looked at each other in confusion, so I decided to make my comments clear. “What I can offer you and Michelle is my blessing and I’m happy to give it, Son,” I smiled back at him.
“Thank you, Jack!” he cried, as he jumped out of his seat and hugged me, knocking over my water glass (which only partly spilled on my pants).
When I returned from the bathroom and a little self-laundering (well, really drying), we continued our supper. I smiled as I saw the happy couple, but noticed that Amanda, while trying to look happy, was not. After we exchanged hugs and we dropped her off at her mother and stepfather’s I asked Michelle and David.
“She and Brian broke up,” said Michelle.
“I wanted to kill that asshole!” snapped David.
“It’s not your fault, baby...” started Michelle.
“It was. We ... I should have never trusted him.”
I looked at the two of them and knew something strange was happening. “OK, you two, spill it!”
Some people might look at my life and say I had led a charmed one. Others might say I had led a cursed one. My own impression of my life is that I used all of my talents to their maximum and I loved a woman with all of my heart and all of my soul and nearly lost both heart and soul in the process. It was my girls, Michelle and Amanda who saved both and for that, I would always be grateful to them.
Michelle’s mother and Amanda’s father were second cousins. Their moms were more like sisters than first cousins. Because of the closeness of their relationship, both Mia and Charlie would suffer. They had a secret. This secret would go on to be responsible for the agony they suffered and the grief we all shared.
Mia Lathom was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. She was four years my senior and had dated my brother, Sean through high school and into college. One day, I discovered that he had broken up with her. When I asked him what happened, he told me that she was a “cheating bitch” and he never wanted to see her again. I thought that was the end of it, until one day, I saw her in a restaurant.
I was out celebrating with my friends because I had been drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball Amateur draft (courtesy of my ninety-eight mile an hour fastball, “plus breaking stuff” and a developing change-up). When I saw her, my jaw dropped. She was in the bar part of the restaurant and she was crying. Despite her demeanor, she was more lovely than I had remembered her since I had seen her almost a year ago.
She brightened when she saw me (as she was always very affectionate with me). We chatted for a bit until I finally got her to break her stubborn silence over why she was crying.
“I’m pregnant, Jack.”
I looked into her eyes. I remembered what Sean had told me about her, but I could not reconcile that description with the Mia I had known for the past six years. She had been so sweet and caring. She never was condescending towards me and was always willing to help anybody in trouble. She had helped me mend a broken heart on more than one occasion. I had loved Mia as the amazing person I thought she was and I could not help myself. The words just came tumbling out of my mouth; forever changing my life. “Marry me, Mia!”
Her jaw dropped and I took advantage of her shock to do what I had always wanted to do. I kissed the hell out of her!
‘You have to understand, Dad ... Amanda has needs ... I know because I have them too.”
“What kind of needs?” I asked.
“She ... we ... need to be able to decompress ... to turn off.”
“We all have those needs. That’s why we take vacations.”
“No. It’s not so simple. David helped us...” she began, but could not seem to finish.
I somewhat glared at my silent future son-in-law, wondering if I should revoke my blessing. “And just how does David help you and Amanda?”
“He hypnotizes us.”
I could feel my face turn purple in anger. “What the...”
“Jack, it’s not what you think...” started Dave.
“That you are taking advantage of my daughter and Amanda?!” I had yelled.
“He’s not, Daddy!” complained Michelle.
David looked me right in the eye. “I’ve never done anything sexually with Amanda and never did anything to Michelle that she did not want! I love your daughter, sir and I deeply care for Amanda. I would NEVER do anything to hurt either of them!”
I was mad. No question about it. Still, I knew I was on the verge of losing my daughter. She and Amanda were the only people I loved in the entire world. My love for Mia had poisoned my relationship with Sean and my parents. I could not afford to lose Michelle. Additionally, I had really liked David. He was incredibly smart and I was proud of Michelle for dating someone with such bright prospects. His family was wealthy too, so I knew he was not after my money. I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I put my head in my hands and did not say anything for more than a minute. Finally, I looked up and stared at David.
“OK, tell me what you’ve done,” I said with my best faux calm voice and facial expression.
It was our children that had gotten us together. Mia and Mary Jane had taken Michelle and Amanda respectively to the same playgroup. Of course, they knew each other. Mia and Mary Jane’s husband, Charlie were second cousins. Mia had been at their wedding, but surprisingly, MJ and Charlie had not been at ours (though ours was a very small affair, mostly just her side, as my parents and brother had disowned me). MJ was a very cold and unemotional person. This was in real contrast to her husband. Charlie was honestly the nicest person I had ever known. Even after I had learned the truth, I could not hate him as much as I wanted to. Ultimately, fate conspired to hurt all of us.
Anyway, Michelle and Amanda became like sisters. They both had their mothers’ red hair and green eyes, so they could have virtually passed for sisters (as could Mia and MJ for that matter). They were only a few months apart age wise (Michelle being the older of the two), but they never fought or squabbled and genuinely loved each other.
By the time they were both ready to start first grade, I had started rehabbing my shoulder, having just had “Tommy John” surgery on my badly damaged Ulnar Collateral Ligament. Ultimately, I decided that I was more passionate about my family than I was about baseball. I had had a storied, but a relatively brief career that had made me fairly wealthy. I decided to invest some of my money in real estate and to go to college. This way, I could be a bigger part of Mia and Michelle’s daily lives.
During this time, I began to clearly see the ugliness in MJ and Charlie’s life that I had only caught brief glimpses of in the off-season when I was around them less. I also saw Mia’s moodiness. We never fought. It was just not in Mia’s nature to fight. But there were times I thought she was a million miles away. Despite me being home every night, she was not happy and there was nothing I could do about it.
David began his explanation.”What I did with Michelle and Amanda was to create alternate personalities for them under hypnosis. They are both really sweet easy-going people but were internalizing a lot of stress without an outlet. These new personalities allow them to decompress and act out their fantasies with people that they trust.”
“And what kind of personalities did you create?”
“Bimbos,” said Michelle.
“Bimbos? You mean you turned them into sluts?!”
“NO! Contrary to popular belief ‘bimbos’ and ‘sluts’ are two different things,” explained David.
“Yeah, Daddy! When I’m ‘Shelly’, I get very silly and can just cut loose. I feel like I’m more fun and less buttoned down. It’s the same when Amanda is ‘Mandy’. The only difference is that I want to remember everything that I do when I’m Shelly and Amanda doesn’t when she’s Mandy. Still, she remembers being completely relaxed when she awakens.”
“But you still have sex...” I started.
“I know you don’t want to hear this, but David and I have been having sex since freshman year,” laughed Michelle.
“TMI!” I blurted.
We all laughed for a moment that broke our stress before David continued. “Our point is that we were intimate before I even started hypnotizing Michelle. Yes, ‘Shelly’ and I have sex together and yes, it has opened Michelle up to different sexual experiences, but while hypnotized, she would not do anything that she deep in her heart does not want to do. It only allows her to explore things that she wants to do, but is too inhibited to try.”
I knew I had to change the subject because my comfort level was being exceeded. Still, I needed to know about Amanda. “What happened with Amanda?”
“With Amanda’s approval, I gave her boyfriend, Brian, Amanda’s trance key to turn her into ‘Mandy’. Just recently, he broke up with her. Even before I knew about that fact, he tried to use the trance key to turn Amanda into Mandy and then tried to make her have a three-way with him and his new girlfriend. Since Amanda has no interest in lesbian sex, ‘Mandy’ refused. When she refused to put out, Brian called her a bitch and they left without un-trancing her. We found ‘Mandy’ crying in bed and she told us the whole story before we un-tranced her,” said Dave.
Michelle looked into my eyes with an intensity I’ve never seen before. “Ever since that night, something has been wrong with Amanda. Now she needs help and there is only one person we know that she would completely trust to help her.”
“That person is you,” said Dave.
“Me?!!!” I asked, jumping out of my skin.
“Yes, you, Daddy. Aside from her real dad, you’re the closest thing to a father she’s ever known. The thing is, she also has a HUGE crush on you.” informed my daughter.
“But I can’t...”
“Make love to her?” asked Dave.
I simply nodded.
“You might not need to,” he continued.
Michelle comfortingly put her hand on my shoulder. “It depends on how she feels and what she wants.”
“But what if ‘Mandy’ comes on to me?”
“Then Amanda would have that same desire, though she might not have acted on it, as Amanda. ‘Mandy’ cannot do anything that Amanda does not want to happen, at least on some level.”
“Dad?” asked Michelle.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed how you light up every time Amanda walks into a room...”
“I don’t honey ... do I?”
Both Dave and Michelle nodded. Did I really have romantic feelings for Amanda? I was forty and she was twenty-two. Like Michelle, Amanda looked a lot like Mia. While I had paternal-like feelings for both girls, I had to admit that I never truly felt like Amanda’s dad. She had a father and now, a stepfather. I certainly had always felt a spark for her, but was it really romantic?
“Daddy, I’m not jealous, though I think I might have been at first. I never told Amanda and don’t think she ever noticed because she’s so hung up on her own crush on you.”
I hugged Michelle. “Honey, regardless of how I feel about Amanda or anybody for that matter, you are my daughter...”
“Stepdaughter...” she corrected.
“NO! You are my daughter. I adopted you when you were born and held you in my arms fresh from your mother’s womb. You could not be any more my daughter, even if I was your biological father. I will love you until the day I die and I will defend you against anyone. Even your fiancé!” I said giving Dave a sharp look.
Dave either did not notice or simply ignored the look. “Jack, that is why we think you would be perfect to deal with ‘Mandy’.”
“Daddy, David thinks that since ‘Mandy’ was broken by what happened with Brian, that she needs a man that she completely trusts to go in and fix her. We both agree that man has to be you.”
“But can’t she get another boyfriend?” I asked.
“No. There is part of her psyche that has been damaged. She doesn’t trust any guys other than me and because of how I feel about Michelle, I could never be what Amanda needs.”
“Not to mention that she’s not attracted to you,” smirked Michelle.
“There’s that too,” he admitted.
“So, how about it, Dad?” asked my daughter.
I looked at Michelle. When I thought about Amanda, I knew the kids were right. I’m not sure if I somehow picked up on Amanda’s crush and subconsciously reflected those feelings back or if her appearance and my overall loneliness without having anybody to be intimate with or all of the above, I was having some feelings for Amanda. I decided that maybe I could help Amanda while refraining from actually having sex with her. Oh, how the pathway to Hell is paved with good intentions.
The next day when we posed the question to Amanda over breakfast, we found out that I was not the only one uncomfortable with Michelle and David’s plan.
“You want him to do what?” asked Amanda, with some obvious trepidation.
“We want ‘Mandy’ to meet Jack,” said David.
I could sense Amanda’s nervousness. “I’m not sure that would be such a good idea,” she replied.
“Honey, something’s wrong with you and David thinks that it has something to do with ‘Mandy’,” stated Michelle.
I looked at Amanda and pulled her into my arms to hug her. I had hugged her easily a million times. Normally she was always relaxed in my embrace. She had only tensed up twice. Once, just after graduation yesterday and just now. “It’s OK, honey,” I comforted and she immediately relaxed. I saw both Michelle and Dave look at me and smile. “Sweetheart, you’ve been through a traumatic experience while you were ‘Mandy’ and it seems to be affecting you. Dave thinks that if I can reach Mandy, I can help her get better. Then you’ll feel better too. Are you willing to try?”
I heard the lovely woman in my arms sigh. “OK ... it’s just... ‘Mandy’...”
“What?” I asked.
“I’ve been told that she can be a little bit...”
“Wild. At least that’s what Brian told me,” she finished.
“Honey, you know you can trust me,” I said.
“Yeah ... I just hope that she doesn’t do anything that would make you stop loving me.”
“That’s not going to happen,” I said gripping her tighter. “I’ll always love you.”
I heard her sigh in my grasp in response.
We struggled over the next several years. Mia always seemed like she was going through the motions. Every once in a while when I did something nice for her, she threw herself at me and we would have a wild bout of lovemaking. Then, we would not make love for weeks.
On Michelle’s twelfth birthday, things came to a head at her birthday party. We were all kind of on edge as there were more than a dozen little girls screaming in our backyard. To make matters worse, we both observed a huge fight between Charlie and MJ when they had come to pick up Amanda. After they had left, Mia went into an inconsolable fit of crying. When I tried to comfort her, she took one look at me and sneered. “You can’t fix everything!”
I was numb. I vaguely remembered hearing her crying out, begging me to come back, but I was in no mood to hear her apologize. I drove to a nearby bar and had a few drinks. When I got home, Mia fell on her knees and fellated me. I was too tired and tipsy to be able to get off, so it left us both equally humiliated and exhausted. We crawled into bed unfulfilled not only at the moment but within the context of our lives as well.
Things seemed to deteriorate from there. Still, I never saw any of the warning signs that should have told me that trouble was on our horizon. Soon, all of our lives would be fucked up ... except miraculously for the girls’ lives. In the end, they had each other as they always would.
Amanda and I were sitting on my sofa.
“‘Mandy playmate’.” I murmured Amanda’s trigger. I saw a big grin come over her face.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi, Mandy. I’m Jack.”
“I know who you are. Mandy is smart. ‘Manda is dumb.”
“Why would you say that?” I asked.
“Because ‘Manda went out with that mean boy,” she said, before whispering, “He wanted Mandy to kiss a girl. Mandy only likes to kiss boys.”
“Do you like boys?”
“Yeah, but I don’t trust them. They could be mean and try to make me kiss girls and stuff.”
“I would never do that.”
“How do you know?”
“‘Cause ‘Manda knows. I know everything ‘Manda knows, but she doesn’t know everything I know. That’s why I’m smarter than ‘Manda,” she grinned. “I know something else ‘bout ‘Manda.”
“What?” I asked with some trepidation.
“She really likes you ... I mean she wants you to play with our boobies.”
“Shit!” I moaned to myself.
“I think it would be fun, Wanna see ‘em?” she grinned, as she pulled her tank top over her head revealing her bra.
“Uh ... maybe later,” I muttered, as I saw her large bra encased melons. I remembered back to her and Michelle’s high school graduation party here at the house. The bikini she was wearing at the pool was really skimpy. I caught myself staring at her once and had to jerk my head away.
“Can I see your thing?”
“You know...” she said before whispering. “ ... your penis. Mandy likes penises, but I don’t trust boys. Since ‘Manda likes you, I do too. That means it would be OK to see your penis,” she said, as she put her hand on my crotch. My cock turned into an iron bar.
“Uh, Mandy!” I cried.
“Ooh! It’s hard! Mandy like penises when they get nice and hard! Can’t I play with yours?! Please?!” she cried.
Most of my blood must have flowed from my big head into my little one as I somehow even got harder. I’m not sure what I mumbled, but whatever it was, it did not deter Mandy. She fell to my feet and yanked my sweatpants and boxers down in one motion. Then she began to examine her prize.
“Oh! It’s so pretty!” she cried as she pulled on it. “It’s so big too. Much bigger than ‘Manda’s dumb boyfriend’s. Is it OK if it is my boyfriend?”
“Well, Brian said he couldn’t be my boyfriend because he was ‘Manda’s boyfriend. When I asked if his penis could be my boyfriend, he said OK. I broke up with his Mr. Penis when Brian was so mean to me so I don’t have a boyfriend,” she giggled.
“Mandy ... I...” I stammered.