Putting the phone down, she turned the TV on and sighed loudly. Another birthday with Grey’s Anatomy and a bottle of wine all by herself. She knew that her mom wouldn’t call her back; she was too busy with her own life.
A very unhappy looking woman appeared on the screen.
"Have you ever wanted to be somebody else? Somebody more popular maybe?”
"Yes.” Cheryl talked to the woman as if she were standing in the living room.
"Would you like to be the life of the party? Someone beautiful and glamorous perhaps?” The woman smiled, showing her perfect teeth as the scene around her transformed from a boring office cubicle into a hip nightclub. Her short hair grew longer right before Cheryl’s eyes; her drab clothing was suddenly replaced by a sexy mini-skirt and corset top. A dark haired Fabio type delivered her a martini and kissed her on the cheek.
Wow, wouldn’t that be the life, Cheryl thought to herself as she continued to watch the ridiculously cheesy commercial unfold before her eyes.
"Well now you can be all that and more. You can finally be the person you want to be.”
Fabio winked at the camera before linking arms with the woman and exiting off screen.
A number flashed on the screen followed by a website address. TotallyNewYou.com. She rolled her eyes but reached for her laptop and found herself typing in the address anyway.
"Well I guess it couldn’t hurt to look...”
"Sherry, another cup of coffee please?” He stopped at her desk, mere feet away from the coffee maker, to show his annoyance.
"It’s Cheryl.” Her boss was already back in his office and couldn’t possibly have heard her. Not like it mattered anyway since she had been there for over a year and he still didn’t get her name right.
Her daily duty was to prepare his coffee. Two cream. Two sugars. No more, no less. She had the first cup on his desk by 7:57 AM so that it was still warm when he sat down promptly at 8:00. He sometimes asked for a second or third within the next hour or two, often getting frustrated that it didn’t magically appear in front of him. But if she brought it to him and he didn’t want a cup, he’d scold her for wasting coffee while complaining that it was bad for his heart.
Mind reading would have been a useful skill to have. Yet another talent she lacked in life that would have made things easier for her.
She glanced down briefly at the brochure on her desk. It had been sitting there for some time, tempting her more and more with each passing day.
The bridge to a better life starts here......
"Sherry? My coffee?” The voice, bristling with irritation came from across the office.
"Uhh yes, I’m sorry sir...”
Cheryl made his coffee and took it to him, her eyes steady on the floor to avoid meeting his.
"It’s about time.”
No thank you. No apologies for messing up her name again. Nothing.
He dismissed her with a wave as he answered his phone. Someone more important needed his attention. She knew her duty well enough to close the door behind her.
As she walked back toward her desk, her co-workers were whispering about something and promptly quieted down when they saw her. She could have been wrong but it sounded like happy hour plans were being made, and likely they would just “forget” to invite her like they did every other time.
Sitting back down, she refreshed her e-mail from her phone while hoping for a response from several of the Match.com messages she sent out the night before. But there was nothing. Her inbox sat empty.
What harm could it be, she thought? She pulled out the brochure, read it over once more and started filling out the worksheet. It couldn’t hurt to dream.
Before she knew it she had a whole new life mapped out. Parents that loved her would be a good start, beauty and brains couldn’t hurt either. Maybe if she were prettier, she might one day get a boyfriend, have kids and settle down. She wasn’t asking for much.
Who do you want to be?
Cheryl thought about the question for a moment longer and wrote down her answer.
"Anyone but me.”
"And the procedure doesn’t hurt a bit?”
"Not at all. It’s completely painless, almost like falling asleep. Only, when you wake up, you wake up a whole new person. Of course, being that you are reborn as someone else, you will be literally starting all over. Does that sound appealing?”
"Perfectly. It sounds lovely...” Cheryl didn’t even listen to the rest. Who cares if she had to start all over a child; she’d give anything for a fresh start in life. For a chance to do things all over again, to be a whole different person. The main desire she’d listed on her worksheet was to be born to a family who wanted her unlike the mother she was stuck with in her first life.
"Ms. Shaffer, I must say you are a perfect candidate for our new program. You fit all of the requirements. I just have a couple more questions for you. There’s no one who would object to your transformation, is there? A spouse or a boyfriend perhaps? Children, even grown ones...” The man tried to continue but Cheryl stopped him.
"No. I have no one.”
"Okay then... “ The man paused for a short moment to give a sympathetic look. “The only question we have before we move forward with your procedure is... Asset liquidation and procurement.”
"You mean can I afford it? Yes, that’s not a problem. I have money saved up... And my grandma left all of us a nice inheritance I haven’t touched.” It’s pretty easy to save money when you have no life to spend it on anyway, "I’ve been saving up for a new life for some time anyway. I just didn’t know it would be so...surgical.”
The man smiled at her and leaned his head to the side like a puppy dog trying to make sense of what she was saying, "Surgical? Whatever do you mean? We have the most comfortable rooms of any laboratory. Egyptian cotton sheets on the bed, a variety of sounds and smells to help gently ease you into your transformation...”
"That’s not what I meant... Never mind. It doesn’t matter how I go, I just want a guarantee that things will be better than what I have right now.”
"Of course it will be. This is what we do. Just remember that you will never remember anything from this life in your next one. Nor will anyone know who you are...”
"That’s fine. There’s no one who really knows me now anyway. I’m ready.”
The man put on a look of concern she knew was phony as the plant in the corner of the office as he handed the paperwork over to her, "Well then... What are we waiting for?”
(If you'd like to learn more about the transformation process, then head over to my awesome partner's piece because you're surely in for a treat. My super talented boyfriend java_fiend was my partner for the week.)