Hyram Vyras possesses the capacity of recalling all of his dreams in great detail and using them to foretell local events on that unfolding day.
But Hyram never speaks; he whistles. It’s a language understood only by his family, and especially by his sister Viki.
Viki Vyras has always known her family was different, but when she was told the truth of her origin she was devastated to learn that her real mother and father had wanted her destroyed. The fetus she once was had been signed off as aborted.
Hyram whistles his prophecies to Viki this morning. She’s nervous. This is the day she has arranged to meet her conception parents for the first time, after a great deal of effort identifying and locating them.
The calendar says that on this fine morning I’m scheduled to meet the child I never thought had been born. Other than that, the prospects look good for a day as myself in an apparently “normal” world, normal pertaining to that to which I am accustomed, of course. It smells like home.
Even I, who lives “what if” every day, have certain places I don’t want to imagine. I don’t avoid those places consciously, but the personal nature of them is painful.
What do Viki’s mother and father feel when they discover 15 years later that their “abortion” is alive, if not well? That the doctor they thought destroyed their fetus somehow preserved it and brought it to term? Angry? Resentful? Imposed upon? Hyram can’t foretell. But at any rate her mind is made up. She is going to meet her genetic parents.
Hyram feels the same. Someone had thrown him away. In his condition he understood, but he still wanted to know who his parents were. Not for retribution, but to know why he was who he was; to know his legacy. He will be with Viki now and she will help him find his parents next.
I don’t want to regret anything. But when I imagine “what if” my aborted fetus had been born, it might make me believe that I did the wrong thing, and not only wrong but horrifyingly wrong. I might convince myself that I’d aided and abetted the murder of my own children. Who could live with that?
Yes, children. There were two. The first, when I was 18, was at the insistence of my girlfriend. I argued against it and offered an alternative, but she was adamant, she was not having a baby. I hated it, yet I paid for the operation and drove her 300 miles to have it performed. I was so upset that when she said “goodnight” I said “goodbye.”
The second was my insistence. I was 22 and not about to become a father. This girlfriend wanted to keep it, but I said no. I didn’t have to drive so far this time.
A decade and a half later I became a father upon my choosing. The amazing son I had and my unconditional love for him opened a realm for me that I’d only heard talk of before. “What if” I had aborted him? It would have been no different.
The door chime rings. Now let’s find out what “What If” really is.
“Hello,” says a young girl. “I’m Viki.”
But this is – or was – my sister on a previous Earth, the day I was Zygo Nella Scatola Vyras, a brain in a box with a family that made the Doom Patrol look normal! And that oddity with her was – or is – my brother Hyram!
Viki and Hyram left home right after our adopted father told us the truth about our origins. But that means I exist somewhere else at the same time. Can I be two places at once on the same Earth? How can I be their brother and our father simultaneously?
Hyram lets out a series of shrill whistles, pointing excitedly at me with his T-Rex arms. Because I didn’t actually grow up with him I have no idea what he’s “saying,” but Viki looks stunned.
“That’s your father?” Viki asks Hyram, jaw hanging. “But that’s my father!”
“Honey?” I call out to my wife who’s preparing goodies in the kitchen. “The kids are here!“
Looks like I’m face to face with paradox.