!!!!!--Freaky Friday 4.0--!!!!!
By Mike Meginnis and Brooks Sterritt
m: You wake to the sound of your obnoxious kid brother knocking on the door. He's out of deodorant, he says -- he needs to borrow yours. For a moment, the thought of a new day seems completely overwhelming. Your ceiling is plastered with pictures of hunks named Billy, Zach, Corey, and Aaron, all standing next to motorcycles, cars, half-pipes, sports bikes, and so on, their shirts undone or loose and flowing. The hunks give you strength. What do you say to your brother?
b: what is the nature of your smell
m: He says it's just the usual stuff. "I smell like Sweet Tarts, cigarettes, and raunchy socks!" he yells.
b: tell brother to use our mother's deodorant
m: Your brother says your mother won't let him use it because she needs it all today. She has a big case coming up. He says she told him that you have to share with him or else. (But that doesn't really sound like her.)
b: closely examine hunks
m: Oh, the hunks. How you love them. Their best qualities are as follows: 1) Their full heads of hair. Thick, long, rebellious hair. 2) Their total lack of body hair. Their smooth, soft chests. 3) Their small, tight stomachs. 4) Their calm and confidence.
b: find deodorant
m: The deodorant is hidden beneath your underwear, in your dresser, where your brother would not dare to tread, precisely because of situations like this. As to your room generally: there is a small color TV on your dresser, along with jewelry and winter things you haven't needed for months (hat, scarves, gloves). The floor is littered with Treasure Trolls and mismatched shoes. Your closet door, east, is closed, and your bedroom door, north, is locked. You have a window but you painted it black years ago for fear of peepers.
b: apply deodorant while telling brother "I'M COVERING MY BODY WITH DEODORANT AND USING IT ALL UP AND I'LL NEVER LET YOU USE IT UNLESS YOU HELP ME BREAK INTO OUR NEIGHBOR'S GARAGE"
m: "FINE," says your brother, "I'LL GET SOME FROM DEREK, MY BEST FRIEND." As if you don't know who Derek is. You hear your mother's voice, from somewhere else in the house, farther away: "STOP SHOUTING!" This reminds you that it's Freaky Friday, the day you switch bodies with your mother and learn what the world looks like from her perspective.
b: tell brother i was kidding and will let him use deodorant
m: Your brother tries to open your door. The handle jiggles, but nothing happens -- because it's locked.
b: do something nasty to deodorant
m: You consider your options. You could lick the deodorant, but that would be more unfortunate for you than for your brother. You could put it in your armpits, but it would be difficult to explain why he should be upset about that. Finally you settle on pulling the butt of your underwear aside and putting the deodorant in your crack. This has two advantages: it's completely gross, and your butt will smell better when your mother takes over your body, which should get her off your case about hygiene a little, and may even lead to a raise in your allowance.
b: unlock door
m: Your brother bursts into the room and grabs the deodorant out of your hand. "THANK GOD!" he shouts. He rubs it under his arms, never suspecting the terrible truth of your butt. As he applies the deodorant, he also studies your body, in a way that makes you uncomfortable. Your brother looks like one of your hunks -- but diminished, somehow, less handsome, less mature, less self-assured, less.
b: state abstraction
m: You say a word that is an idea or is evocative of an idea but does not communicate anything useful or important to your brother. Your brother says, "Okay." He leaves the room, taking the deodorant with him in case he needs more.
b: open window
m: You open the window. Outside there is your yard: an empty square of grass that your father scrupulously maintains, while forbidding anyone from ever setting foot on it. The month is May; the weather is warm, and the grass looks a little bit dewy. The yard is protected by a wooden fence.
b: find freak
m: The freak is not one body, one person, one thing; it is what you become when you are in your mother's body. It is what she becomes when she's in yours. (The last Freaky Friday, she rediscovered masturbation, and spent the afternoon staring up at your hunks with glazed eyes.) (The last Freaky Friday, you spent all your mother's money on exercise machines for the family.)
b: find phone
m: Your pink phone is in your pink backpack. Now it's in your hand. (It hasn't rung at all in weeks.)
b: open closet
m: Your closet is mostly full of additional Treasure Trolls (the ones you couldn't find room for on the floor). Many of these tumble out, landing in a heap on the floor. Your mother wants to make you breakfast. You can tell by the smells that are coming from the kitchen. Your brother has not detected the smell of your butt on the deodorant. You can tell because he isn't in your room screaming. Your father is gone to work. You can tell because he is your father.
b: examine own genitalia
m: They are much as you remember. Perhaps a little stronger.
b: exit window
m: You climb through the window onto the grass. It is perfectly cool, soft, and just the right amount of moist. If your mother wants to switch bodies with you, she'll have to come get you! … Of course, now there is the problem of escaping the yard: the fence that surrounds it, which is taller than you, has no doors.
b: examine fence
m: The wood is thick. Your father built it in one night. The finish is thick, and over-smooth, so that it doesn't even look like wood.
b: attempt to climb fence
m: You attempt to climb the fence. ... You can't quite make it. If only there were some kind dwarf to give you a boost!
b: find freud
m: Who or what is Freud? Tell me about him, her, or it.
b: freud is a dwarf i met behind a dumpster that told me about the healthy practice of examining my own genitalia. when i told him i suffered from paranoia he said that was a function of my fear of "being taken from behind" which i told him was bullshit
m: Then what happened? Were you taken from behind?
b: no--after "enlightening me" about the true basis of my paranoia, freud entered through my brainstem and we engaged in mutual venting of the spleen
m: Well, Freud is probably at home right now. You could call him on your phone if you like. Meanwhile, your mother has gone into your room! (She has invaded your private, personal space!) (Which would seem like a bigger deal if she didn't also plan to invade your body!) Now she's searching for you in your room! She notices that your window is open! Soon, she'll look through the window, seeing you outside! What do you do?
b: enter through front door
m: She'll never see that coming! Then what?
b: enter parents' bedroom, lock door, strip naked, and put on the clothes of either mother or father
m: You choose your mother's clothes. Maybe if she sees you in them, she'll get confused and think you've already swapped bodies! Odds are good she's already reclining in your bed, touching herself for the hunks, whom she calls her "adoring fans." Your mother wears nothing but high-powered pant suits, so now you are wearing a high-powered pant suit. Red, with a pink shirt beneath, and a large red ribbon tied in a loose bow where a man might wear a tie. High heels, too, and socks with gold toes.
b: search room for contraband/talismans
m: You find your mother's supply of marijuana, your father's pornographic playing card, and of course the small blue idol (a pair of vaguely female bodies joined at the hips) that allows the Freaky Friday body-swapping ritual to take place. Which is probably what you came here in the first place.
b: call freud
m: "Hi Freud," you say. "I’m in my mother's clothes, locked in her room, looking at my father's pornography, while my mother is quite likely in my room, searching for me and/or furiously Jilling herself to the sight of my private collection of hunks." And Freud says:
b: "Is your irony related to your Gnosticism?"
m: But you're not sure what that means. "Maybe?" you say. "Do boys like that?" To which Freud responds:
b: "Boyhorse is the boyness of horseboys. How about let's dip into your mom's stash? Can I come over?"
m: To which you say, "I'm late for school. You can come if you want, but I might not be here waiting. My mother is going to lose her job the way she is behaving. I think she only likes to be alive on Freaky Friday and the rest of the time she is miserable. I can't live with her anymore. Maybe I'm running away forever." To which Freud says:
b: "I'm on my way in a bullet-proof motherfucking scooter. On the way, why don't you tell me about your father?"
m: "My father is a bad man. He won't let us walk on the grass. When he comes home to find that I have walked on the grass he will be very angry."
b: hang up on freud
m: Your mother is knocking on the door and jiggling the handle. She must know that you're inside. "GIVE ME YOUR BODY," she is screaming.
b: examine small blue idol
m: The idol is carved from a larger blue stone. It is shot through with threads of darker blue and threads of white. The female figures stand side by side, their inner legs crossing at the knees. Their hips are joined. They have one arm each, and one large breast, and their heads point in opposite directions (you can tell by their small, pointed noses).
b: touch idol
m: It feels cold. If you want to use the idol to make the switch, you'll have to let your mother touch it too. That's the Ritual of Freaky Friday. (She's kicking the door now, shrieking for you to let her inside.)
b: tell mother to chill the fuck out
m: Your mother does not appreciate your language. She says that when your mouth is her mouth she will fill it with soap.
b: sing to mother
m: What will you sing?
b: "This land is your land, this land is my land..."
m: And how will your mother respond?
b: "YOU STOP FOOLIN AND LET ME IN THERE RIGHT NOW I'M HUNGRY!"
Bio: Brooks Sterritt lives in Boston, and his writing appears or is forthcoming in The Madison Review, The Fiddleback, LIT, The Southeast Review, Gigantic, and elsewhere. He once endured a painful sting operation near Buford, Wyoming after which he spilled with other refugees, casino attackers, and tsunami ghost ships into a turkey.