A few weeks ago I wrote a guest post over at Silver Threading – a short story I titled the Last Laugh, which was based on the following prompt:
“I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me,”
You’ve had a rough day at work. You head home and go straight to bed, mumbling, “I wish I’d wake up tomorrow and be anyone but me,” before dozing off. When you wake up in the morning, your dream has come true, as you quickly realize that you are not you—you are someone else that you know! Excited to live the day in that person’s shoes, you set off, only to find a day in the life of that person isn’t as easy as you imagined. By: Brian A. Klems | April 22, 2015 http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/anyone-but-me
I never intended it to be a three part tale, but that’s the nature of the beast sometimes. I’d like to conclude the story for you, and thank all those who followed along. I hope you enjoy the final part. Here’s a link to Part 1 and Part 2, if you missed them.
The Last Laugh: Conclusion
I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I went from having a crazy person screaming in my ear, to the sound of my own voice filling my head. It was like a narcissist’s version of hearing voices. The barked out commands were mine.
“For god’s sake, don’t sit there like a moron. Answer the man.”
There was a question?
I looked at the sea of journalists in front of me until I found the expectant face of Don Carlisle from FLM. Right. He’d asked me a question hadn’t he. Why had I agreed to this? I was a fraud, and Dominic, well, Dominic was starting to hyperventilate in my ear piece.
An image of his spinal injury flashed through my mind, and the advice I had given him almost six months before.
“Retirement was a tough call, but I’m not known for taking the easy road,” I said, as Dominic’s words came back to me. That’s why I’d agreed to do the press conference. His whole reputation was on the line.
“How do you respond to the rumours you’re afraid to face John Michaels, that you’re leaving the profession to hold on to your title?”
I scanned the crowd, looking for the person behind the question. Dominic’s response in my ear was predictable. He was the undefeated champion for a reason.
I ignored him, the words which tripped off my tongue were all my own. “I’m leaving the profession to preserve my life. I have no doubt I could defeat Michaels in the ring, and enjoy doing it. But I wouldn’t walk away from the fight. I wouldn’t walk period.”
A stunned silence descended on the room; nobody moved, nobody so much as breathed. And then all hell broke loose. Everybody began speaking at once, their excitement so loud I could no longer hear Dominic through the ear piece. I couldn’t even hear myself think.
I fielded the questions as best as I could, trying to channel the Dominic I’d seen during promotions. But I had no idea if it was working. After fifteen minutes of sheer madness I was ushered off the stage. The theatre Dominic’s team had procured for the conference continued to buzz as we made our way to the dressing room, and I began my walk of shame.
I expected Dominic to fly at me as soon as the door opened. So it was a surprise to see him stood atop a wooden chair, and tearing his manager a new one. Greg looked a little green around the gills, but then Dominic was currently a hundred and ten pound woman; with wild curly hair and enough attitude to make John Michaels hide under his bed covers.
They both turned when they saw me, a mixture of shock, anger, and amusement lighting their expression. “There’s nothing we can do right now and since you were the one who insisted the conference go ahead, you can deal with the aftermath,” Dominic said, turning back to Greg. “Sophie was out of her element in there and you know it.”
“Sophie…” Greg looked from Dominic to me, or was that me to Dominic, and back again. His lips were flapping, but no words came out.
I waited for the tirade, the accusations about going off script. They never came. Greg strode past me without so much as a backward glance, and slammed the door on his way out.
“So…” I said, my eyes on Dominic. “About what I said.”
Dominic jumped to the floor, waving away my comment. “Forget it. We’ve bigger things to deal with right now.” He moved to stand before me and it was funny, because he seemed much taller now; even if he was in my body. “Right now I could use a drink. What do you say?”
With a swift nod he led me out of the room, and through the theatre like a pro. He was obviously familiar with the layout. We didn’t see another soul until we got outside and there was a car waiting by the exit.
The limo came equipped with a mini bar, and Dominic was anxious to get the party started. He poured a generous amount into a glass and handed it over, before filling one for himself. “I imagine you’re not much of a drinker are you?” he asked, taking a long swallow of whiskey.
I shook my head, my eyes and throat burning when I swallowed a mouthful of the amber liquid.
Our eyes met above my glass and we started to laugh at almost the same time. I don’t remember much else after that. There was music, and liquor; lots and lots of liquor. We drank as though we could drown out the growing fear we would be stuck in each other’s lives forever.
I passed out at some point, and when I woke it felt as though something was burning a hole through my gut. Probably the alcohol I surmised as I looked down at my sore stomach, and wondered at the damage. The alligator was unexpected; the raw skin across my abdomen the price for my overindulgence. But I forgot all about the pain, and the tattoo, because the flesh on my stomach was not washboard tight.
“Thank god,” I heard a deep voice to my left and turned to see Dominic sprawled across my sofa. My eyes dropped to his bare chest and travelled to the spot on his abdomen that was as red and angry as my own. The scalpel seemed to glint under my scrutiny; a symbol we had somehow cut the strings which tied us.
“Thank god,” I echoed, and flopped back onto my cushion.
Thanks for stopping by.