Historical Fiction

While reading the morning paper, I was quickly reminded of two specific tasks which I had always wanted to execute. Well, for this upcoming Saturday; it’s my parents’ pearl wedding anniversary where most relatives would not only be celebrating, yet also reminiscing their past between the old, the new and the young. This had also been was my week off work and I had time to participate for this gathering. Speaking of which, I had also answered a personal ad to meet somebody new and hopefully have a date to the anniversary party bring for some fresh conversation.

Seeking out some interesting new subjects to discuss and instead listening to the same old rhetoric that family always brings up at these functions. Lately, my choices for female companionship has been quite coarse & frivolous. As for my part in the festivities, I had volunteered to either fabricate a photo album or to blow-up some of the individual photographs to depict the momentous events.

Sitting down in on the couch still wearing my robe; I began to closely examine each and every photo in order to find which ones would be more appropriate and tasteful to be displayed in the hall. Once I had decided to sift through this old wooden crate full of old loose & framed photographs like old playing cards. After my paternal great-grandmother had been widowed, she reconfigured all her wedding photos and stored them, away. It was always too much of an emotional ordeal to view her late husband’s pictures which brought her to tears, without fault.

In here is where I had to begin to filter through all of this multitude of faded and almost unrecognizable photos. I knew I was headed for a long and most tedious task. Fortunately, most of them had the dates and names of the individuals Sorting the ones which would fully accentuate the most memorable moments in this couple’s happiness. Initially, I had found myself alone in the house because everyone was gone to run daily errands. As I started going through these pieces of commemorative memorabilia; a relentless feeling of drowsiness came over me. My concentration was weakening and it became more and more difficult to focus on what I was doing.

Old family yarns were seeming to be refreshed in my mind which my grandparents and other relatives used to tell me. Every time that I heard the same story from a different family member; there was always a new added twist or some other similar interpretation. It was hard to either differentiate or to believe whose story was really factual and whose was completely fictional. There was one unusual platform that possessed two photographs back-to-back in the same glass framework. As if this person was to trying to save a picture frame. I really had my work cut out for me. Initially, I wasn’t able to make ‘heads or tails ‘ out of all this cluster of old memorabilia.

Well, I started look around and attempt recognize various family members and trying to recall the old familiar yarns were still subconsciously being recounted. Within my groggy feeling, I still felt drowsy from the night before. Yet, my focus was weakening, then I had slowly fallen into a deep asleep. I still had old black & white photos clutched in my hands like as if I was holding or displaying a strong card hand.

A vision had brought me to a familiar era in folk history. I began running towards a sea port for an unknown reason to me; realizing that I was wearing a porter’s uniform. Once I had stopped at the end of the peer - I slowly glanced a familiar starboard view around me. Yet, I couldn’t place my finger on this specific region. Then I had paused eastwards as I was seeing docking passenger ship filled with European immigrants. My tasks were to assist these people disembarking and helping them with their luggage. As I had taken this woman’s hand; I had felt a warm sensation of familiarity that suddenly came over me; like a reassuring emotion. After her husband had followed her out and he smiled at me as if he knew who I was. The first words which were said to me were “ It was a pleasure to meet with you.” It was like that he had already heard about me from somewhere else???

Yet, I just met this complete strange couple - only to be taken by surprise by this statement. Strangely, somehow their each of their faces had become recognizable. “ Happiness is only found within the walls of your heart “ which the kind gentleman had said. An insightful piece of wisdom that never struck my consciousness. This was certainly quite a strange feeling. They had invited me into a nearby tavern for a meal and drink. Many physical gestures and mannerisms were becoming very familiar to me, yet I couldn’t place my finger on it. Somehow, they knew who I was, but how? Would we be connected or intertwined in some fashion? The stories of their country of origin were fascinating and again I had noticed similar aspects to what I was so used to hearing all my life. The evening was growing darker and we ended up closing the establishment - we were the only ones left in the whole place. As we stood up from the table to leave; I had begun having a feeling that I had a made some difference in their lives.

I had said farewells to them - suddenly, sharp and immediate physically pains started to come over me; inexplicably I began to feel emotionally different, there was some kind of bodily metamorphosis transpiring at that very moment. I had no idea what was going on??? As I thought, I was compelled to walk towards a nearby rooming-house to rest and I didn’t notice the large puddle of mud in front of me as I wasn’t looking where I was walking. I had fell face first into this soft & sluggish quagmire. Getting up from this cumbrous damp bog was definitely difficult, the mud was making my clothes wet and heavy. Fortunately, my facial features weren’t harmed or damaged.

Feeling distraught and stunned, I was shaking off as much mud off of me as I was possibly could - I knew I had to wash up before going to bed. Just my luck, I found myself alone on a deserted street where no else was there to either witness what occurred nor even bothered to help me out of the mud. As I was checking in the boardinghouse; I was being ridiculed by the drunks and card players from the saloon area. Obviously, they were ridiculing; most were entertained by my misfortune. Once in my

room, I anxiously stripped off all of my clothes and jump into a hot bathtub; it was certainly a soothing experience, yet I was inexplicably feeling unusually strange. Exhausted and seeking for a decent night’s sleep, I got out of the tub, dried myself off and quickly had the urge to look myself in a mirror.

In shock!!! I was definitely paralyzed in my stance while I was viewing my own reflection; it was completely different on what I had initially remembered; I had become a female, same age, height and weight, yet FEMALE!!! But why? And how did this total reformation happen? I had no facial nor any body hair, yet my cranial hair was long, not tapered. My body had completely changed! As I turned around towards the bed, I had noticed that the clothes laid down on the chair next to it were female garments only. There was a dark pink long-sleeve sweater, long golden brown skirt and a marine-blue fedora. Bewildered and lost, I had absolutely no idea what had occurred to me.

Astonishingly noticing myself as a female human being; I was immediately very startled and confused. I again, quickly looked into the bedroom mirror with disbelief to confirm this alteration. It was true, I was definitely an entirely different person. I calmly sat down on the bed and pondered that: Wasn’t I once a male before I had arrived at the sea port? Just remembering the moment in leaving the tavern; I had begun to feel awkward. I just couldn’t explain it, this befallen change of mine had become beyond my reach of words.

The possibility that crossed my mind was that I may have inadvertently altered the past from its original existence that I was previously known. These frightening thoughts soaring through my mind were enormous. Then I would’ve mistakenly tampered with history by changing my present life, let alone my future one??? An accidental event had resulted; now I had to find out a way if there’s a possibility of rectifying my error.

Indisputably, I’m aware that being female has its benefits, yet this change of pace was to become a mind-boggling feeling; I had instantaneously obtained all the knowledge of a completely different individual who would’ve gained in a lifetime. I wasn’t the person that I once was; in which I had recalled an old family yarn pertaining my great-grandparents were to be married by the Justice of the Peace, not by a parson in a chapel. I was wondering what were my life which I couldn’t remember at all; like as if they had never existed. The notes which I held in my possession were coinciding with my female existence. It was certainly a bizarre situation.

Several questions were whisking through my mind like an uncontrollable whirlwind. What was I going to do, now? Is this my new life? Would I be able to reverse the damage? Or should I just live with the consequences? I found myself very astonished with quandary. I did know that I was brought in being accountable for my own actions. Most of the evening I sat up on the bed trying to decipher what to do and how to go about it. I sincerely felt gelled in an era where I didn’t really belong.

Around one-thirty, under a whole lot of emotional exhaustion, I had fallen into a deep slumber, then I woke up around nine that same morning. I had to clearly determine out what to do, next. After I got dressed to go and eat breakfast with the other roomers, it dawned on me that I had a reoccurring memory of a family heirloom that annoyed my immediate thoughts.

During their early times of struggles, I recalled being enlightened that my great-grandfather had been a poorly-educated brickmason and part-time composer; he had a significant ear for music - it was certainly a fascinating quality for a someone with little education. His inspiration came from love letters to his wife. He was compelled to sell the rights of his original literary works to, in order to feed his young family. This tidy sum had kept them going until he had found full-time work.

This was a love ballad written to my great-grandmother in the manner they met and how there were destined to be together. Unfortunately, as he done so - he had involuntarily relinquished all record royalties of his success. After he had passed on, for sentimental reasons, my great-grandmother had initially kept the original delineation in some unknown safe place. As I recall my grandfather continuously mentioned to me; the secret place of this hidden composition had never really been revealed. His mother had always told him and his siblings that it was only kept between the both of his parents and no one else ever either saw it nor ever repeated the words, again. If anyone found these original lyrics on the sheet of paper it was formerly written on, they would gain an extensive fortune.

Utterly perplexed while sitting there at the breakfast table, I hadn’t touched anything of my plate. In an abysmal and pensive state of mind, I was exclusively oblivious to my surroundings. I immediately got up from the table and left the room. As I was standing outside in the morning heat, I had witnessed the same man who had arrived with his wife - I had helped them with their luggage when I thought I was a male. He was trying to find employment as a carpenter, since he was considered a blue-collar worker, so he wasn’t qualified for very much.

While feeling pity for this man, again I had felt compelled to purchase a local newspaper. As I was leafing through this journal, there was an advertisement that quickly caught my eye - it was an opening for someone who’s willing to work as a tradesman in masonry. I had walked upto the man and handed the folded periodical to him; showing the circled availability, his head had slowly turned to see it - then I briskly woke up in a cold sweat.

Feeling disconcerted, I unknowingly slept for three hours on the couch buried underneath a disarray of family paraphernalia. I found myself perspiring heavily and realizing that I was clearly dreaming. Wow! Was this whole event a delirious nightmare? For a moment, I sat up reflecting what a tribulation that my subconscious had instructed to me.

It was around 2 PM and I was still alone in the house, no one else had returned back from their errands. Possessing a disoriented feeling, I had decided to put everything back in the wooden crate, go take a shower and get dressed. I had preferred to work on this later when I’d be feeling whole lot more better focused, sane and alert.

While drying my hair; a peculiar notion had dawned on me - there might be some validity to my great-grandmother’s words. That unusual framework had captured this thought. Once I cleaned, I had returned to the wooden crate and pull out this exceptional and curious relic.

‘ Between both of them ‘ had been the term substantially cited for this euphemism. I closely examined it and decided to carefully take apart this frail picture-frame with snapshots with each my great-grandparents photographed, separately. Once, I had cautiously removed one of the glass sides and place it down. I picked up the frail image ensemble back-to-back to another, it seemed the moisture had bound them, together. Slowly, I had separated the prints intact and I found the sheet music, considerably undiminished. My great-grandfather had written for my great-grandmother. All of the lyrics were still legible after all of this time. At that moment, I was wondering; did I end up solving a family mystery? For an instant, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I had just discovered a rare piece of family heritage. This was absolutely a remarkable instant in my life; now I was anxious to show this distinct momento to my father.

We’d have to find a method to properly preserve this memorable remainder. The importance of my discovery, family members started to return from their errands and as I was welcoming them to the door with their goods, I told what I had found. Neither my father, nor my grandfather had a difficult time in fathoming to what they were hearing. So I decided to show them what I had found in a specific picture-frame. They were both totally astounded, they couldn’t believe their eyes, either. My grandfather was gleefully happy, I mentioned that he should have it appraised and manage a way to correctly protect it. There was a sense of family pride radiating from the kitchen. Tears of happiness were dripping from my grandfather’s face; he had given me a tight hug.

My feverish excitement was interrupted by the door bell ringing. My eyes were in outright disbelief when I had answered it. This was a amazing recollection. The girl standing on the porch was looking for me. She had reminded of her reply to my personal ad that I had totally forgotten with all of the day’s commotion. This instance was unbelievable what I saw in front of me; the person that I was meeting and speaking with looked exactly the same what my female transformation was in my frustrating nightmare. What this a Twilight Zone moment? She was also wearing similar clothes which I had worn in my temporary fallacy. Yet they were more fashionably updated; from the blue hat right down to the cowboy boots. We had talked for a while about one another’s interests & dislikes, I had also told her of my recent fascinating discovery. Little did I know, she had asked if was free on upcoming Saturday night. I said ‘Yes’ and I happened to mention to her about my parents’ anniversary party - she was glad to also agree with these plans. We both said ‘good-bye ‘ until Saturday night, then she went her on way.

The lesson that I’ve learned was never to attempt in visualizing “ what if... “ history would’ve proceeded differently; otherwise circumstances may have followed entirely contrary. If one was able to alter Life as we know it; the consequences could have been really devastating and fate would have treated us exclusively different where we'd be compelled to accept whatever it brings us.

Marc Graziadei

September 25, 2020 17:53

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