My name is Jess.
I am 16 years old.
Jessica Felicity Rayne.
But only for a day.
Every day, I am someone else. Every day, I am a sixteen-year-old girl…but I am never the same girl. Jessica. Meredithe. Sarah. Cassandra. So many girls who have had one day in which they are…I don’t know, asleep, maybe, while I inhabit their bodies. I haven’t really figured out the details.
I don’t know why this happens. Was I one of these girls once, and then one day, I just…broke? My soul detached somehow and now it’s just bouncing around trying to find me again? I just don’t know. All I know is that I am somehow everyone and no one. I can’t even say how long I’ve been like this. I only became aware of it a few months ago. Maybe I’ve been like this my whole life, and just never noticed. I really don’t know.
Jess is one of the prettier girls that I’ve been in, with smooth ****** features fit for a princess, eyes that glimmer in ocean colors, and smooth, long, chocolate-colored hair. As I explore her room, and the knowledge of her life slowly seeps into me, I am surprised, but pleased, to find that she does little to improve on her natural beauty. In fact, she’s a very shy girl, who keeps to herself and really just has one good friend.
The usual question eventually passes through my mind: What is the problem in this life?
My question is quickly answered.
A woman barges into the room, her dark hair frizzing around her makeup-caked face. I suppress a shudder as I gaze upon whom I’ve quickly realized is Jessica’s stepmother…or stepmonster.
“You’re gonna make us late to church, you little rat! What in God’s name are you doing?! Hurry up and get dressed, and no breakfast!” She punctuates this raging ramble with a series of hard slaps across my face and arms. She huffs and stomps back out of the room, slamming the door shut behind her.
I stumble backward, leaning against the wall. I don’t cry, but my breath trembles as it leaves my lips. So, Jessica not only has divorced parents, but an abusive stepmother. I realize something else as I turn to open the closet: Jessica’s father and mother are both dead, cancer and a car crash. She and her little brother are being raised by her stepmother alone.
“Oh, God, you poor soul,” I whisper to Jessica. I don’t know if she can hear me or see what I’m doing, but sometimes I talk to the host of the body that I inhabit, to comfort her, I suppose.
I sigh and rifle through the line of dull-colored dresses in her closet, eventually pulling out a piece that is a soft lavender color. I pull on the dress, slip on a pair of black flats that I’ve found on the floor, and quickly brush my hair.
*******, JESSICA, GET YOUR *** DOWN HERE, NOW!!!”
I scurry down the stairs, barely remembering to grab the purse and phone that are sitting by the bedroom door on my way out.
I’m not really sure how to feel about religion. If there is a God, then why did He make me this way? Have I been punished for something? I don’t know. I try not to think about it too much. I don’t think I want to know what I’m being punished for if that is the case.
Several of the girls that I’ve inhabited are religious, and many of my Sundays are occupied by church or at-home religious activities. This is another one of those Sundays. It’s always the same. A man, sometimes woman, will stand in front of rows of tired people and ramble about submission and hope and death and a boy who died. It was fascinating the first few times I experienced it, but after a while it became repetitive and dull. It’s scary sometimes, too, when they start talking about following this God and about judgement and demons and angels and all of this otherworldly stuff that I don’t understand. It’s just strange to me.
Jessica’s little brother tugs on my sleeve about halfway through the service. “Jess, I gotta pee!” he whispers frantically. Caleb is about ten years old, a cute kid with messy brown hair and big blue eyes and a face coated in freckles. I look around, letting Jessica’s memory remind me of where the church’s restrooms are. I stand, gently pulling Caleb up with me. Janett, Jessica’s stepmother, glares at me as I scoot past her. “Bathroom,” I tell her quietly. She huffs and turns back to the pastor.
“Caleb, hurry up.” I say, standing outside the worn door to the church’s single bathroom.
“It’s a big dump, Jess!”
I roll my eyes. “Didn’t really need to know that.”
“Well, now ya know!”
Janett suddenly comes barreling around the corner. “What in the blazes do you think you’re doing?! You’ve missed the rest of the service!”
“It’s a big dump, Jan!” Caleb shouts from inside the bathroom.
“Trying to skip service, more like!” Janett shouts. She grabs me by the arm. “You’ll be punished for this when we get home, you little rat.”
There is one good thing about never being in the same life for more than a day: I don’t have to spend my entire life in a living ****. The bad side to this is that I hate leaving these girls knowing that they have to suffer still.
Some of them don’t suffer long.