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The Walk of Life - Book 1

by Arquillius


December 25th, 2018

My name is Joshua. Joshua Anderson. I’m 36 as of December and I live alone, in my house. Widowed ... or rather I was. This is my story and how it all changed for me. It was a cold night, colder than usual for Las Vegas Nevada. My wife had died because of a car accident. Her father shouldn’t have been out driving. He had been blind in one eye from a detached retina. It was cold. Snow had been because night too. I had noticed it as I kissed my wife goodbye that one last time before she got in the car to go last minute Christmas shopping for me and one of her friends. Now as I sat there, in a dark house on Christmas night, I cried. My cats and my dogs slept around the house as I sat in my dining room crying. I had lost the love of my life, my soul mate, and I would never find her again. I had to get up though, get out. I hated going out. But I hadn’t eaten in days. POPS was around the corner. A hot sandwich would help, right? I grabbed my coat. The big puffy one with the huge zipper. I had made many jokes about it. Even to her. ‘All the ladies love my HUGE zipper.’ I had laughed. I had a good time with her. When I was down, she gave me a new life. But now, what would I do? I grabbed my cane and grabbed my keys. I walked out of the house, locking the door behind me. I walked down the snowy street. Well, the sky was snowy, it was melting before it hit the ground. I walked the mile to POPS and got ready to cross the street. The light changed in my favor and BAM!

A car had hit me, and like Yusuke Urameshi, I was now hovering over my body trying to figure out what the fuck just happened. Yeah, I was a nerd. My wife and I loved that about each other. So floated there after the car sped off, not even bothering to stop. People were recording, some just stood in awe. And I floated there.

“You rat bastard! Come back so I can shove my cane up your ass!” I yelled at the car as it sped off, never to be seen again.

I looked down at my body. I stared at it for a moment.

“Huh ... my body is...” I said looking down at it. “HOLY FUCK! MY BODY IS DOWN THERE!” I yelled as a siren could be heard in the distance.

A passerby, a homeless man pulled my body from the street back onto the sidewalk, next to my discarded and broken cane and cried over me!

“No! GOD! Don’t take this child!” He cried.

He was old, unkempt, and he cried for me as the ambulance drove up. The blood from my head stained his shirt. Had I done something nice for him at one point? Given him a cigarette? Or a couple bucks? My memory was shitty ... too shitty to remember.

“Poor guy,” I said. “Crying over someone he doesn’t even know. And he is the only one who cares I died.” I mumbled. “Wish I could do something for him.”

He allowed the paramedics to get me onto a gurney and take me away. My body would be cremated, and given to my mother in law as she was the closest of my family.

“Oh no. She’s gonna be all alone now.” I muttered.

The guy stood up and walked over and just stood next to my floating form.

“It’s disheartening that no one here cares about you.” The man said looking at me. “Look at them, they went back to their business as soon as the medics arrived. No one offering information, no one offering a hand.”

“Yeah, well, this is our world. Dictator as President. Shitty people not offering what they can ... Life.” I said. “Well, in my case now, death,” I said with half a chuckle.

“You don’t seem phased that I’m talking to you.” He said.

“Nah, my youngest sister could do that. Talk to spirits, I mean. At least she said she did. I used to spook my wife when I would know what she wanted and bring it to her without a word ... You know, get her a drink here, or a snack there.” I said. “Lots of weird stories of people being able to jump high, fly, levitate, and the list goes on.”

“Oh, right ... I should’ve known that.” The man said. “In this modern age of technology, not much is kept secret anymore.”

“You should’ve? Let me guess ... you’re God.” I said.

“Wow that came fast. I guess you could call me a god ... I’m more of a higher being ... one that’s been watching humans as they grow and evolve.” He explained.

“So you’re a Q,” I said.

“That de Lanci guy from Star Trek? No, I’m not that ... well, I’m not that irresponsible.” The man said. “But yeah, basically that is the being you could consider me.” He said. “The name is Guri.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

“And the same to you.” He said with a smile.

“So, the reason I showed up was that you are special. Not everyone meets their soul mate, and not everyone makes it through the life you had unscathed.” He pointed out.

“Define: Unscathed.” I laughed.

“Good point. Anywho, my people, the B’Voida have offered you the chance of a lifetime.” Guri said.

“But I’m dead.” I laughed.

“Okay, the chance of a death-time ... happy?” He laughed.

“What’s the offer and what are the strings?” I asked.

“You can go back to when you were younger. You keep all the memories you had until this point. You relive your life in the way you want. And you see how it turns out when you reach this point in time again. I’ll come to visit you again. You then decide if the second chance was worth it.” Guri said.

“Consequences? Strings?” I asked.

“No Consequences. No strings. It’s all you. There is a couple of things for you to remember though. You will know of events you cannot change in history. They are NOT yours to change.” He explained.

“You mean big things like bombings?” I asked.

“Exactly.” He said. “There are small things you can change and are welcome to do so, but be mindful.” He stated.

“But why are you doing this?” I asked. “Can’t you ... I don’t know ... change things as they are?” I asked.

“Humans are ever evolving. That’s what my race is investigating. During this task, you’ll have memories of our talk here, and your previous life. I want to see what you do with your life since you may understand things more than you may think.” He said.

“Okay, I guess,” I said.

“Good, then let’s get you going,” Guri said.

He reached out behind me and slapped me on the back and I felt it...

Chapter 1

Falling, that’s the only thing I can describe it as. Endlessly falling as I slowly watched the events of my own life in reverse. Some of the events I recognized, most I didn’t. It was being shown to me as if someone else had been watching and from various angles. My life, the way I was ... How arrogant I had been as a teen. How many people did I alienate with an entitled attitude... ? Wow. I saw my wife and me meeting for the first time at the airport and me forcing her to hug me. It brought a tear to my eye. I saw my time at the Job Corps Center, learning networking and computer repair under the man I would always call my mentor. God rest his soul. I saw myself dropping from the coast guard due to the culture shock. I missed my chance there. I saw myself graduating from high school. I saw myself with the girl I called my girlfriend through most of high school. God I was an idiot. It was obviously lust and not love. Wish I had seen that sooner. I saw the day my mother lost custody. I should’ve done that sooner. Then I got hit by a bright light.

December 14th 1996

I pulled myself off my bed, if you can call it a bed, as I opened my eyes. I looked out the window to my right. My bed, had been a wooden style futon, which laid in the center of my room. The snow was pretty heavy and it was still coming down. The glass was frosted as I looked around at the mess in my room. So much stuff around me that my mother would throw out as a way to get back at me when she lost custody. I then realized it. I was my younger self. I still had all of my adult memories. I looked at my hands. My finger, the left index finger, had been cut down to the bone as an adult and the way it had been stitched made it look like it had a chunk out of it. It had been cut with one of those ever sharp knives.

I could hear my sisters outside of my room arguing. I stood up on the bed which was low to the floor, and looked down at my appearance and was utterly disgusted. Sweats that were half way up my calves, and a gross t-shirt covered in whatever stains ... absolutely disgusting. And the aroma of ammonia in the room. I realized this was during the point in my own life that I had still not stopped wetting the bed. The smell was enough to make me gag. How did I go thru this every day? How did my family? How did my peers? By god, that was the first thing I was gonna change. I looked around my room and found a semblance of acceptable clothing and quickly grabbed it before making a hasty exit, breathing in sweet fresh air as I made my way from the door to the top of the stairs.

I moved quickly down the stairs, and snagged access to the bathroom before I could be accosted by anyone. I swapped over the laundry that was already in the washer, which wreaked of mildew. No wonder the family could live with it, everything smelled fucking disgusting. I threw in my clothing and stripped down. I tossed my old clothing straight into the bathroom trash and turned on the shower. I then spent what felt like an hour just scrubbing myself raw. After my shower, I wrapped a towel around myself and rummaged through the cupboards until I found some white vinegar. Thank god we had some. I dumped some into the washer, set it to cold and started the load. I then walked out of the bathroom and almost ran into my slightly younger sister. Her name was Elysa. She had long blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin, semi-fit body, and was 12 years old. She would be 13 in July.

“Finally! I’ve been trying to find you! Heidy is on the phone!” She exasperated at me.

Heidy? Now there was a piece of work. I dated her in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Actually I shouldn’t say dated at all. I think in total we went on zero dates. We just hung out, made out a bit, and had given ourselves the titles of those who would date. I remember what her body was like at the time, yes, thin, long blonde curly hair, and green eyes. She once wore a sheer 1 piece that she didn’t realize was sheer until she had given me a show of her d-cup tits. I mean great body, clingy from what I remembered, and frankly ... not someone who was compatible to me. So this shit had to end now. I was done with the mindless dating of a teen just hoping to get a piece. I knew who I wanted to end up with, and though the idea of mindless sex would be fun, I knew who would end up putting out and who wouldn’t. There was a social stigma in my area of New York, where no one who considered themselves ‘decent’ had sex that young at that time in history. Honestly, I always felt New York had its head up its ass, as I knew that girls wanted it as much as guys, mostly thanks to Heidy’s best friend Lena, who was constantly telling me how horney she was but didn’t even wanna give me a real shot.

“And?” I asked with a raised eyebrow.

“She’s your girlfriend! Don’t you want to talk to her?” Elysa asked.

“Not especially.” I muttered as I walked past her and picked up the kitchen phone.

The phone was beige and was one of those units with the number pad built into the handset, and a super long cord reaching back to the base. The long cord was so that my sisters could easily move about the house. I honestly hated it. It always got tangled up.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hi, birthday boy!” Heidy said over the phone.

“New phone, who dis?” I said, repeating a meme from my original time.

“What?” She said, confused.

“Never mind.” I said rolling my eyes. “So what did you want?” I asked coldly.

“To wish my boyfriend a happy birthday? Why are you being such an ass?” She asked.

“I’m dumping you. No reason. I just no longer wish to be in a relationship with you.” I said before abruptly hanging up the phone.

You know, even though you know something isn’t going to work out, being an ass to that extreme just isn’t easy, even for me. I was breaking the poor girl’s heart now, but I knew that by the end of the spring she was gonna be ‘dating’ my friend from a previous town I had lived in. He would go on with her until she dumped him for some loser who she’d end up being knocked up by down the road. I had run into her right after graduating from high school, and had been caught up on the whole story. So, with Heidy, the girl that I didn’t like, wouldn’t get anything from and would go on to being just a baby momma of some guy, and with Lena, the tease who would go on to stay as Heidy’s best friend until long after I left their lives, I was done.

I shook my head at the thought and headed out into the living room, hearing the phone ring as I did. I heard my youngest sister, Meagan, pick it up.

“Josh! It’s for you!” She called out as I sat on the couch.

“Take a message, or don’t.” I called back to her.

I turned on the T.V. and started watching Saturday morning cartoons. It wasn’t long before Meagan came out to me to tell me what was up.

“Elysa took the phone. Apparently, it was Heidy. She was crying.” Meagan said.

“Thanks kiddo.” I said with a smile at her.

Meagan would end up growing up into a brilliant young lady who would make some wrong choices. Last I had heard of her, she had become a hooker ... okay, I didn’t hear that but discovered some pictures of her on an adult website, and honestly in them, she looked like a hooker would. It was nauseating when I found them. Meagan was only eight years old though, maybe I could talk her thru some of her bad future decisions though. I knew that in her teens she would utterly despise me for what was going to happen in just a few months. That was another thing that I would need to change as well. I needed it to happen sooner rather than later. She would never forgive me for it, and frankly, that was her choice, but it didn’t mean I couldn’t help her in some way before I vanished from her life again. I looked at her, her hair was straight and down to her shoulders. She had brown hair and hazel eyes, and cute little dimples, though she had a sad expression hiding inside her eyes that I had never noticed before, but now that I thought about it, I remembered her having it ever since her birthday a couple years prior to this, when our maternal grandmother died ... yes, our grandmother had died on her birthday. Poor kid. I think, honestly, that was the first thing that messed her up. She had been there, in the room, on her birthday, when my grandmother drew her last breath.

“Wanna watch some cartoons with me?” I asked with a smile.

“Um ... sure.” She said, with a perplexed look on her face.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“You’re ... different.” She pointed out.

Damn, I had almost forgotten that she was more attuned to things than most people were. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

“Yep, I’m in a towel on the couch, waiting for clothing to be washed. Can’t say I do this all the time.” I laughed.

“That’s not what I ... never mind.” She said before giving an exasperated sigh.

She sat down next to me. I wondered if I could tell her. I mean she didn’t tend to tell anyone secrets, but would she believe me? I mean the story in itself was pretty unbelievable. I decided not to push it, and figured that it’d play out as it needed to. We sat there for a while talking about the cartoon that was on, her thoughts on it, and what not. A bit later, Elysa entered the room in a huff.

“Why the hell did you break up with Heidy?” Elysa asked.

“Because?” I said, saying it like a question.

“Are you an idiot? Or are you just fucking gay?” Elysa asked, clearly angry at me.

“Elysa...” I said softly after muting the T.V.

I turned towards her and looked her dead in the eye.

“What do Heidy and I have in common?” I asked.

“What the fuck does that have anything to do with it?” She asked.

“I’m serious.” I said. “Besides friends, what do we have in common?”

“You love each other?” Elysa said.

“No, I have no real feelings for Heidy. When I dated her, it was just for the chance of getting in her panties. I realized that’s not a good reason, not to mention, we never actually went out on dates. We were going steady without learning a thing about each other. The most we would do together is make out and occasionally she’d let me do some light groping. We didn’t even hang out. There’s gotta be more substance than that to a relationship.” I pointed out.

She just stared at me blankly. She didn’t even say a word, just stayed there, standing, and staring at me. I just turned back to the television and turned back on the sound. Meagan and I went back to watching television and soon after, Elysa left.

“There. That’s the point I’m trying to make.” Meagan said at one point.

“What?” I asked.

“You’re different. You wouldn’t ‘ve dumped Heidy before.” Meagan pointed out.

I sighed, knowing my little sister wouldn’t let up.

“Let’s just say, I’m looking at life from a different perspective, and found, that from this new view, the relationship wouldn’t last much longer.” I said.

“I guess I can see that.” Meagan said, a bit reluctant to admit that I might have a point.

I got up off the couch and headed back to the bathroom. I went in and, since the machine had finished, I started it normally with soap. I walked back out of the bathroom only to be stopped by my mother.

My mother. How I hated her. Seeing her again, even this young, made my blood boil. I could feel my hatred seething from every pore in my body, my fists were visibly shaking, and I wanted to just kick her ass. Guri must have had a sick sense of humor to make me face off with her again.

“Joshua, what were you doing in there?” She asked perplexed upon hearing the washing machine running.

“Laundry.” I said coldly, forcing myself to calm down.

“You’re not in a good mood. Did something happen?” She asked with mock concern.

I knew she didn’t actually care. She hated me. Ever since the divorce she hated me. Why? Because I was the wrong sex. I was born a male. All her misery was because my father dumped her. I knew why too. She was a narcissistic bitch. She made the Westburo Baptists look completely normal. Over the next few years, she would treat me like I was dirt and then manipulate me any way she could. She even stole my identity at one point. It wasn’t going to happen this time. Though I wanted to punch her right in the face, and beat her to within an inch of her life, I saw through her, and I knew that I was going to stop her from gaining that much control this time. I quickly decided that I wouldn’t let things go to the extremes they did my first time around, I wanted it to be beautiful in execution and I wanted it done in a way that she or anyone else couldn’t tell that I was pulling strings left and right.

“No. Nothing at all.” I said in a deadpan tone before walking past her.

“When did he learn to do laundry?” I heard her mutter as I headed back to the living room.

When I got back to the couch, Meagan had taken over the television and was watching a cartoon show on ABC. I didn’t care that she was watching what she wanted to, I just sat down and joined her. I thought I knew how the rest of the day would go. My mother would send us over to my father’s apartment so that she could, at the last minute, buy presents and a cookie cake for me. I knew she never bought anything before the date. She had never cared to.

“Meagan are you all packed?” My mother asked walking up to us.

I raised an eyebrow, and realized my mistake quickly. I was a year off. A FULL YEAR. I had forgotten that I had been held back a year in Junior High due to my grandmother dying and my mother being a complete bitch. She had me held back and no one else, citing it was ‘because your grandmother died and you need time to grieve.’. It was a stupid reason, but I was too young and naive to call her out on it at the time.

Okay, you may be asking how this is significant. Not only was it a year off from when Heidy and I would actually end the relationship, but it also meant that I was going to be spending at least the next week in Kissimmee, Florida with my Mother, and my five sisters. One of which would be gone by summertime, vanishing with a family friend after talking my Mother into signing over custody. Difference was, this time, I knew where she would be going. Would I tell my mother that? Probably not. My father was a different story all together. I wasn’t sure how to deal with him as a whole. In the original timeline, during the next April, my mother had fallen behind on the bills due to her own failing lifestyle. I’m sure you know the kind. The kind where the person gets a taste of the high life and doesn’t know when to stop spending. This trip was a sign that it was starting. My mother had used the bonds that were left to my sisters and I. She manipulated us into cashing them out early, promising us that she’d take us to Disney World. My sisters, I suppose had enjoyed it. I had been miserable. This time, however, I knew a few more things than she did. I knew how much would be blown. I knew her itinerary, and I also knew people who lived in the area.

The question was, if Annie, my former wife, had gotten the second chance that I did. I could totally get in contact with her, but there was the rub, I’d be taking a chance and that was if I could find a member of the outer family.

I got up from the couch as my Mother and sister began talking about the trip and headed into the kitchen. I grabbed a trash bag, and headed back up to my cramped bedroom. I hated to think of what I would need to do, but began stuffing ANYTHING that reeked in any way into the trash bag, along with useless papers and other bits of trash. When the bag was full, I brought it down stairs, and repeated the process, passing a surprised mother along the way each time. Heading back to my room, I found my sister, who was younger than Elysa and older than Meagan, standing there. Her name was Fawn and she had hair that was cut short, just below the ears, and would later be labeled as autistic, but this was the late 90s before proper diagnosis, so she was just labeled as mentally challenged at this point in her life.

“What’cha doin?” She asked.

“Cleaning out my pigsty of a bedroom.” I sighed. “It smells, it’s disgusting, and I don’t want to be like that anymore.”

“Well I like you the way you are.” She said with a smile before walking away.

‘You would.’ I thought, remembering the complete Karen she turned into as an adult, or the resemblance of what she considered adulthood.

As an adult she was a lazy, irresponsible, piece of utter trash. She would spout nonsensical bullshit that she considered facts. Let me give a good example of what she would do. She once decided to make chicken noodle soup in a crockpot. She left it on high for 2 days. I slept during the days at that point, so I came out to the kitchen, noticed it still on high, and turned it to warm. She actually got mad over this, and this was well after she had burnt a kitchen down at some apartment she had lived at.

I continued my work, working hard to trash anything I felt was worth trashing, and washing some clothing that I could salvage along the way. But I had to mentally prepare, I had to get ready. I needed to contact Annie, but not let on to my blood relatives about what I knew. If they found out, I’m sure Guri wouldn’t like it.

Chapter 2

The next few hours were uneventful. I got dressed, packed and we got on the flight and headed to Florida. The flight was boring, and while my sisters talked, my mother read her book, and I sat there making my plans. I had to be careful, but at the same time, I had to get some changes made.

First there was my mother. Oh boy was that going to be a mess. I knew that she’d run out of burnable money in just over a year, and be living on food stamps and not working. That part was easy to deal with. I’d just let her suffer in her own stupidity. But, with my sisters, I wanted to make sure they saw her for the monster she was. Problem was, she didn’t treat them as bad as she treated me. I’d have to gather evidence to prove otherwise. A recording device could help, but something that was small, portable, and usable wasn’t common place in the 1990s. I’d have to get crafty with audio tapes and recording devices. Easy to do, but I would have to plan things out carefully.

Then there were my five sisters. Chloe and Shirley would be easy enough. I remembered what I had seen from my first life. Chloe, though abusive towards me, had wanted to find a male role model in her life, and ended up going off the rails when she kept on rejecting them. She ended up with 4 kids by 4 different fathers. It was the same as Elysa. They were, in my general labeling, a couple of bar whores. They’d go out, pick up guys, have sex with them unprotected unless the guy thought ahead, and then blame the guy for not using protection when they got pregnant. They refused birth control in their later years, and would milk the system for government help even if they had jobs. As for Shirley she was different. She was the one who vanished with the family friend that she would later marry and have kids with. He was the father figure she needed, and had zero, and I mean ZERO, faith in herself or confidence in what she could become.

As I stated, Elysa was the same as Chloe, except that instead of having an aptitude for office work, she had an aptitude for hands on physical labor. Fawn was easier, as long as I kept her close, and understanding, she wouldn’t turn out like she had in my first life, and as for Meagan, she would be difficult. She had the ability to read things the right way. She was already seeing thru who I was, and I wouldn’t have things easy with her with my planning.

The plane itself felt like a sardine can, and I cursed that I was still claustrophobic at a time like this. I grabbed by backpack and pulled out the pad of paper that I had brought along and began just sketching. I wasn’t drawing anything in particular, when I felt a head on my shoulder. I looked over to see Meagan leaning against me.

“You’re different. You keep denying it, but you are. I can tell.” She so no one else would hear.

“What makes you keep saying that?” I asked.

“You think I haven’t been picking up on what’s going on? How you’re acting?” She whispered.

I figured what the hell. I opted to keep my voice quiet and moved towards her so she could hear.

“Yeah. I’m different.” I said.

“Okay, so why?” She asked.

“I’d ask if you could keep a secret, but I already know you can.” I explained.

“Oh really?” She said.

“Yeah, and I’ll tell you when we can be alone, but you must keep quiet on it.” I said.

“Deal.” She said.

She watched me drawing after I shifted back in my seat. To be honest, the feeling of relief I was getting from knowing I was about to spill the beans about my situation, it was awesome. Meagan kept leaning against me as she watched me just drawing anything that came to mind. Soon the plane landed, and Meagan seemed to want to keep me close by. She stayed by my side all the way to the rental car area, and when we got into the van, she sat next to me.

My mother drove us to the rental property and the seven of us got out of the van and carried our stuff inside.

“Joshua, you will be in the living rooms. The girls will have the bedrooms.” She said before carrying her stuff to a bedroom.

I carried my stuff into the living room from the front door, which was like 5 feet, as my sisters went to their respective rooms. I walked up to the sliding glass door on the back of the small house after tossing my backpack on the couch. I looked out the glass to see the pool as I had all those years ago. I thought about my next course of action. I could take Meagan on a walk and explain things, or I could...

“So, can we talk now?” Meagan asked from behind me, interrupting my thought process.

“Um...” I started as I turned to face her.

I looked at her again, for the first time in what felt like years. There she was my eight year old little sister again. I couldn’t think of her like this when I knew what her life would end up like. I sighed at this thought and then directed her to join me by the pool outside. I closed the door behind us.

“First off, I know you’re good at keeping secret, but I need you to swear to not tell a soul about this. No matter what. If you do, who knows what consequences we could all face.” I said.

“Sure, Josh. You’ve got my word.” Meagan said.

“Okay.” I sighed. “The reason I’m different to you, is because I’ve done this all before.” I said.

She looked at me with disbelief.

“I died on Christmas night of the year two thousand eighteen while going to get a sandwich from Pop’s in Las Vegas, NV. I had lost my wife and father in law in a car accident just eleven days before, on my birthday.” I told her. “I saw how you all turned out. I saw what made things the way they were in my time, and they gave me a second chance. A new shot at life. The one who gave it to me was a being that was ascended in a fashion. He wanted to see what I would do, given the second chance, and wanted to know if the second chance was worth living thru everything again.” I explained

“So, you died?” She asked dumbfounded.

“Yep.” I said.

“And now you’re back ... in a younger body, in the past, getting to re-write your own life?” She asked.

“That’s the long and short of it.” I told her.

“So what’s to stop you from, I don’t know ... playing the lottery, winning millions and living the rich life.” She asked.

“Well, besides a sense of right and wrong, nothing.” I said.

“Isn’t it wrong to change the lives around you?” She asked.

“Maybe, but given the alternative, I’ll take on the guilt.” I said giving her a harsh stare.

“What? What would you change? What’s worth changing?” She asked.

“You want an example?” I asked, exasperated.

“Yes.” She said.

“You.” I said.

“What about me?” She asked.

“You end up as a hooker in my time. You spent your childhood getting good grades, being the good girl, and never experiencing life. Not for what it was. After graduating from college with an associates in massage therapy and not being able to find work, you started selling your body. You were very jaded back when I had last seen you. Mind you I hadn’t seen any of you girls in at least seven years.” I explained.

Her eyes went wide.

“Why? Why did you break off contact?” She asked.

“Family issues was the first thing, and you all sided with mother. You took her side and wouldn’t believe a word I said about the incident.” I explained.

“What happened that you two were at odds?” She asked.

I shook my head.

“You wouldn’t listen back then.” I said.

“But if you change it here, and explain here, can’t you just go back and see the changes?” She asked. “Wouldn’t it be just better to leave the info with us all?” She asked.

“Maybe, but Guri told me I’d be coming to this time and be my younger self. I’m sure from what he told me, I must relive my life.” I said with a sigh. “Time only flows in a single direction. Think about it. I can’t go back to my future, because it’s my past now. My future is now yours. I’m not allowed to change big events, according to Guri ... It’s like what Dr. Who tried to explain once in an episode ... They’re fixed points.” I explained.

“Doctor what?” She said.

“Oh right. I was a bit of a geek in my time. I have lots of useless things that I picked up from TV, music and movies that swim around in my head. Like different plots, events, and even words from other languages.” I explained.

“Oh, I guess that makes sense.” She said just before the back door slid open.

“Mom wants you two in here. She wants to know what you want for dinner.” Chloe said.

“Remember, not a word.” I said in a low tone as we turned towards her.

“Sure.” I said.

The two of us headed inside.

“So what were you thinking for dinner?” My mother asked.

“I want pizza.” Fawn said as she, Sherley and Elysa came down the hallway.

I shot the three of them a look.

“Yeah, Pizza sounds good.” Chloe said.

“Okay. Pizza.” My mother said.

“No. We’re not having pizza.” I said in a cold tone. “We’ll be going to the market. We need supplies anyways. So we’ll go, and I’ll pick out what I want to eat, and make it myself.” I said.

“You? Cook? Okay, who are you and what have you done with my son?” Mother joked.

I wanted to snap back at her, pointing out how she would make a meat lasagna with corn in it in a few years, or how her premade biscuits were as hard as hockey pucks at the next thanksgiving, but I held back and just kept a stone face.

“Oh? You’re objecting to having a nice home cooked meal and not having to make it?” I asked with sarcasm. “Surprise, surprise, she wants junk food.” I added.

I sighed and put my hand to my forehead as an anime character would.

“Oh what is the world coming to? A parent says they are trying to raise children and then are in shock when one knows how to cook? Oh it must be blasphemy! A transgression against god of this nature, must be the work of the devil! Yes, the devil has empowered your fourteen year old son to cook, and not the fact that he’s watched cooking since he was a child, not the fact that his father was raised in a restaurant environment and might of told him a few things, and not the fact that he takes home-ec!” I said with false bravado that elicited snickers from all five of my sisters. “Oh great lord, please remove the demonic power of cooking from my body and cleanse me! Absolve me of the sin of knowledge and the ability to cook!”

“Alright, all right. I get it.” My mother said.

I returned to my stone face from before and looked her in the eye.

“Any other objections?” I asked everyone in the room without looking at them.

They made no sounds until Meagan piped up.

“I’d like to see what he has in mind for dinner.” Meagan said.

“Yeah!” Fawn agreed. “I bet he can cook good!”

“All right, it’s settled then. Your brother will cook tonight. As an added challenge, let’s see if you can do it for less than the cost of a pizza.” My mother said with a tone I hated.

“Fine. But If I do, as my birthday gift, you let me control meal plans for the rest of the year.” I said in a serious tone still not breaking eye contact.

She did not understand what I could do in the kitchen. With ten bucks, I could make a great meal. Annie and I discovered that when we were living off scraps during our early years of dating. I’ve known how to cook for years thanks to those times. I wasn’t about to lose this challenge but she would.

“And I want it in writing.” I added.

And I had learned that later in life. If you make any agreement that might affect life, make sure you get it in writing.

“Deal. Someone grab me some paper and a pen.” My mother said.

Chapter 3

After we both signed off on the agreement, Meagan, Chloe, Mother and I all piled into the car while the others stayed back at the house, and we headed to the supermarket in the area. Along the way, I was scribbling down what I would need for the dinner I had planned out. I knew I’d blow all of their minds. My mother stayed silent during the drive, but my sisters chatted. I don’t think my overly dramatic act amused my mother in order to get my way; but to be honest, I didn’t care. Fuck her.

Pulling up into the supermarket parking lot, Mother parked the car. I grabbed the paper, and tore it out of my pad, and put it in my pocket and clipped my pen to the front of my shirt. I got out of the car almost bumping into someone.

“I’m sorry.” I said.

“It’s all right kid.” The man said, turning back to me.

His hair was short, he was wearing glasses, jeans, a t-shirt, and had a standard build. I knew his face. I knew who he was. But bumping into him here? What were the chances? My sisters and mother were already heading inside. I had to take the chance.

“Tony?” I said in wonder.

“Huh? How do you know my name kid?” he asked.

“Tony! It is you! Holy shit!” I said.

It was him. My wife’s cousin. This would work out to my benefit. While I couldn’t call her without raising suspicion, or alarms, I could have Tony do it. He was in constant contact with my mother-in-law.

“Yeah, but who’re you kid?” he asked.

I grabbed the paper out of my pocket, grabbed my pen and jotted a quick note:

Snape Killed Dumbledore with his wand. -- Void

I tore the bit of paper where I wrote it off and handed it to him, closing his hand and forcing him to grip it tightly.

“It’s a long story, and not something I can really tell you. But give this message to Funny Bunny. She’ll know what it means.” I said, using the pet name he called my wife. “Please, it’s super important. She’ll know what it means. Just please.” I begged.

“Sure kid.” Tony said to me, taken back from my comment.

I shake his hand and then head off to catch up with my sisters and mother. This had to work, it just had to. I walked up to one aisle, separating from the group, to find my ingredients. I began moving up and down the aisle until I find the sauces. Did we have sauce in the recipe? I thought back. It was 2009, right after my mentor had passed. Annie had moved in with me at Kane’s house. Kane had been a bit ... odd when I first met him. It’s like he was trying to impress everyone, including me. I had met him at Job Corps. He was about my height, heavier than me, considering I was a twig and he had a problem with being bipolar especially when his blackout rage hit. But, when you got to know Kane, he was a nice enough guy. When I first met him, he had an old laptop that he claimed was his mothers, with keys that had cigarette holes in them, and he said he didn’t have his because it was in the shop. I rolled my eyes at this, and frankly, it was an outright lie. When I met his mother, she had a much newer laptop, and that one had been a loner from a shop owner, where Kane had put in time. Now the owner was a crook, but that didn’t matter. I had moved in with Kane after completing at Job Corps, because none of my sisters wanted to lend a hand after I got out, as I needed to get on my feet. Job Corps didn’t even bother helping me find a place, they just wanted me out. I had found a real friend in Kane, and when Annie and I moved into Kane’s house, when she moved across the country to be with me, we had to survive on 20 bucks a week to eat, as funds were tight until I went back to college. We had made meals out of whatever we could find easy and cheap.

I set the can of sauce I held for a moment back down. I had to plan for dinner. Something the girls would love. Something that would prove that I could cook. For under 20 bucks. Yeah. That’s right, I could make something Annie and I had learned to survive with for a week back when we first got together and lived at his house. We wouldn’t meet him until years later and the first time was an experience but, we learned a few things, about ourselves, our love and survival. I headed for the canned vegetables. As much as I preferred fresh, this would have to do. I wasn’t about to do more math than I needed to at this point. I grabbed a couple cans of green beans, then a couple cans of corn, then a couple cans of carrots. After gathering an armful of veggies, I headed to the meats section and was surprised by the prices of the meats. It was more expensive in my time. I picked up a pound of beef before my mother and sisters approached me, with a cart full of items. Most of it was junk food. Potato chips, sodas, stuff that they didn’t know was bad for them. With heart disease in the family, they should’ve been eating healthier. We all should have. There was no reason for this fried and junk food crap.

I gave the cart a disgusted look.

“Well, I see you bought your snacks.” I said with cold indifference towards my mother.

Chloe frowned at this. I could see her anger building up. She was holding off a total tantrum. I ignored it for the time being. I turned back to the meat and grabbed more before placing the items in the cart. A pound and a half of beef, green beans, carrots and corn. Maybe a few spices would be needed. I walked off to grab them. I made it to the aisle pretty quickly. Chloe caught up to me.

“You need to fucking apologize to Mom.” Chloe said.

“Stuff it, Chloe, I’m not in the mood for your shit or hers.” I said as I made my way to the spices.

“I’ll kick your ass if you don’t.” Chloe barked at me, still right behind me.

“Well, I’m busy but if you want to try...” I started.

I felt her hit me on the back shoulder. Why had I been so afraid of her as a kid? When she hit me, I barely felt it. This made little sense. I turned towards her after grabbing the spices, and had her punch me right in the right side of my jaw. I didn’t move, not even a movement in reaction. I just stood there with her fist in my cheek.

“You done?” I asked.

She just stared at me, like I was a ghost.

“I ... um...” She started.

“Like I said, I’m busy right now. However, if you wanna try to kick my ass, wait until we’re back at the rental, and we can duke it out.” I said.

She pulled her fist away from my face. I pushed past her and started walking towards the cart. That’s when things got weird. Everything faded out, and I was in a black void. Guri appeared before me.

“Hey there, Joshua.” Guri said.

“Guri! Wow. Didn’t expect to see you.” I said.

“Well, I wouldn’t normally interject, but some things have come to light that you need to know.” Guri said.

“Really?” I asked. “What’s that?”

“Well, first, I want to congratulate you in finding an interesting way to contact your former wife.” Guri said with a smile. “It was very unique.”

“Thanks.” I said.

“Secondly, I wanted to point out that your body is different this time around.” Guri pointed out. “Your muscle memory came back with you.”

“Thanks. I had kind of figured.” I said with a smile.

“I thought you had, especially since you took that punch without flinching.” Guri laughed.

“Yeah, again thanks.” I said.

“There’s more. I wanted to let you know that you weren’t the only one sent back. Besides you and your wife, there are ten other people sent back, and each have their own goals. None are like your own. If you encounter them, it might be dangerous.” Guri explained.

“I’ll keep that in mind. Any way I can identify them?” I asked.

“Sorry, Joshua, I can’t give that away.” He said. “But if it makes you feel better. All of the people sent back are scattered around the world. It might be hard to find any of them. I’m just warning you so you don’t try and hunt them down or anything.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not here for that.” I said with a grin.

“I know you’re not. I look forward to where you take things.” Guri said. “Oh, by the way.” He added. “You can tell anyone you like that you’re sent back. Though, I wouldn’t count on them believing you.” He added in.

I gave off a laugh before he vanished and everything reverted to the way it was. I made my way back to my mother with Chloe in tow. As I got to the cart my mother had a grin. She handed me a twenty.

“Take this and go pay for your groceries. Let’s see if you’re as good as you think you are.” She said.

“I’m sure it will be different.” I said as I scooped anything up.

“Yes, I’m sure it will, considering this is coming out of your birthday present money.” She said with a laugh.

I finished scooping everything up and headed to a register. I checked out and the cashier, who wasn’t older than Chloe smiled at me.

“Hey there cutie.” She said with a smile.

“Hi yourself.” I said.

“So what’cha making?” She asked as she rung up my items.

“My birthday dinner with my birthday money.” I said.

“That’s weird. Why are you spending gift money on groceries?” She asked as my mother came up behind me with her cart full of junk food.

“I intend on making someone eat crow.” I said, smiling at her.

After she rung up my last item, she gave me my total. I still had five bucks left. I paid her and after she handed me my change, and I pocketed it, she leaned over the counter and gave me a kiss on my cheek.

“Happy birthday.” She said in a sultry tone with a huge grin.

“Thanks.” I said as she handed me my groceries.

I gave her a big smile back, as I take my groceries. I head towards the outside of the market with Meagan following me.

“She was cute.” Meagan said after catching up to me.

“I guess she was. Remember, I’m still in the mindset of being 36, I mean that would make her, at most, half my age.” I pointed out.

“Yeah, but you’re 14 now. You should’ve gotten her number.” Meagan pointed out.

“Maybe. But what would it amount to? A one night stand at most?” I told her as we got to the car.

“Just saying, that’s not how 14 year olds normally act. If you keep doing stupid stuff, people will suspect that you’re not you.” Meagan said.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I said.

I leaned up against the car, as we waited for Chloe and mother to get out of the store. When they arrived, Chloe had a big shit eating grin of her own on her face, and we loaded up and headed back to the rental property.

That was a preview of The Walk of Life - Book 1. To read the rest purchase the book.

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