The Gift

Melissa has one last gift to give her father.

The Gift
by Kristine Roland

Edited and proofread by Angela Rasch

Beep, Beep, Beep

Melissa stared at the machine making the irritating but reassuring noise. It showed a weak but still present heartbeat of the man sleeping in the hospital bed. There were several other machines hooked up to him, as well as several IV's.

Melissa held back her tears as she sat in the chair next to him, and reached to cling to his hand. She noticed how frail it was, and remembered when she was a small girl and he had been so strong. How safe she had felt when her father held her in his arms.

She squeezed his hand gently.

Her father's eyes opened, and she saw him smile when he recognized her. She could see that he was very frail, but aware.

"Hi Dad, I'm sorry that I wasn't here sooner, I got here as quickly as I could."

She watched as her father struggled.

"it's okay. . . . Long flight. . . . Bob? Kids?"

"No. . . . They wanted to, but they really couldn't get away, just yet. Bob's looking into flights for the weekend."

He nodded, understanding.

"The truth is, we have some things to talk about, and I needed privacy that I wouldn't have gotten with Bob along."

Her father squeezed her hand encouraging her. "Okay."

"Remember when you and Mom sat me down, and you first told me about your other self. I was maybe eight or nine, not quite into puberty yet, but almost."

A slight nod accompanied his wonderful smile.

"I didn't handle that very well at the time. . . . I'm sorry about that."

Once again she felt the gentle squeeze of his hand, as she continued.

"My first thought of course was that you were going to embarrass me in front of all my friends, and I couldn't believe it. Even then I should have known better, as you always put Mom and my needs first. It took me a while, but I did eventually figure that out. Once I got over it, it was kind of cool being able to talk about fashion and makeup and stuff with you and Mom."

She smiled at her father, and he gave her one back.

She held back a tear — wishing the hospital odor around her wasn’t so ominous. "Some of those shopping trips the three of us made back then were sure fun. I hope you know that after that initial reaction, that Mom and I always loved and accepted you."

He shook his head.

She smiled and gently increased the pressure on his hand.

"What you probably don't know, is that I knew how hard it was for you to watch me grow from a little girl into a woman. I could see the jealousy that you fought as I started to grow my breasts, when I had my first period, and went on my first date."

She saw him start to object and quickly moved on. "Oh, I knew that you were also happy and proud for me, but I knew how much you hurt inside, and I made a vow that someday I would find a way for you to experience those things for yourself."

With that she saw a sad smile and a tear come to her father's eyes. "It's okay. . . . I loved you and your mother; and I wouldn't change one day."

She smiled knowing the depth of what he’d said. "I know that, Dad. I can't turn back the clock, and I can't give you a new body. I can't even cure this disease . . . . but I can give you that experience now."

She saw the questions in his eyes and pulled a small device out of her pocketbook. It looked like an oversized IPod, and had a wire connected that had several small electrodes.

"I've been working on this for ten years, Dad. This device holds recordings of my memories of all of those things. It can play them back for you. You will, for all intents and purposes, live those days as me. Everything I saw, everything I could smell, what I could feel, taste and hear, all of it Dad, it will be just like you were me. All of those special moments are here; it's my gift to you. Will you take it?"

Her father looked at her with tears gushing from his eyes. "Those are your memories . . . . private, personal."

"Yes, and I wouldn't share them with anyone else; and when you are done with them, I'm destroying this recording. But I want you to have them, Dad. I can't give you your own, but I can share mine. Please!"

Her father closed his eyes. "Yes. I would like that very much."

Melissa attached the electrodes to his temple. "Are you ready?"

He nodded. "Yes."

She pushed a button, watched the panel on the device, and remembered each of the days that it was playing. Although the machine fed memories to him at high speed, the whole thing would only take about twenty minutes to run; he would perceive them as though they were full days.

It started with one of her earliest memories. The day she and her parents had gone to a lake and she had learned to swim. She still remembered the cute little one-piece swimsuit, with its little ruffled skirt.

She knew her father was feeling her memories of him and her mother, and wondered how that would feel for him, to see himself through her loving eyes.

The next day was the day her mother had "the talk" with her about the birds and the bees. She laughed as she remembered being totally grossed out by the thought of sex. The man puts What, Where? Eww! She didn't think she had ever been so wrong in her life.

Well, maybe the next day on the recording, which was the day she found out that her breasts were growing. She was lying in bed, and her chest was itchy. She had scratched them lightly, and realized there was a hard nodule under both nipples. She had heard horror stories about women finding nodules in their breasts and having breast cancer. She ran to her mother in a panic. "Mom I've got lumps. I've got breast cancer!"

Her mother had tried not to laugh. "I think that's just your breasts coming in dear, but we will make an appointment with your doctor to make sure."

Soon after, she had her first period. She had actually forgotten most of the details of that day, until the machine had pulled the memories out of her own mind. She woke up in the morning, and went into the bathroom as usual, and noticed the spotting in her panties. That was one time she had been prepared. Her mother had been very candid about her first period long before it happened. Her mom had been concerned that she might hear something from the older girls at her school, and be frightened by it. It was just a milestone in her life.

There were several other memories from early high school, including early crushes. She blushed as she looked at the console and realized her father was currently living through the day she discovered masturbation, and had her first orgasm -- her first real dates, and finally her first sexual partner. She hadn't held back any of those things.

She saw that he had just met Bob, and was going through several of their early dates, then the day he asked her to marry him -- the wedding -- and again she wondered how her father felt looking at himself walking her down the aisle. She wore his necklace for something borrowed.

The last memory was the day her son had been born.

A few moments later, the machine beeped to indicate its cycle had completed. Her father opened his eyes; the look he gave her was one she would remember for the rest of her life. For the first time in his life she saw peace within his beautiful eyes. The itch had been scratched; and she saw perfect contentment.

"Thank you, Melissa. I love you."
Her father survived through the weekend, and had been fairly alert on Saturday when the boys were able to visit. On Sunday he slipped into a coma, and passed away later in the evening.

When the minister finished his prayers at the grave site, Melissa dropped a rose and her memory device into his coffin.

When her project supervisors at the research facility next asked her about her progress she showed them a set of burned out circuits and told them that the latest test had failed; she would have to go back to the drawing board on the design, but expected complete success in the very near future.

Copyright (c) 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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