As Lord Howard Neville got down on his hands and knees and started sweeping the grate in the dining room, somewhere above him in the master bedroom, his daughter Hattie lay contentedly asleep.
She snored loudly, lying on her back in her father’s double bed, her long muscular arms laying flat on top of the covers. As a woman she had nary made a sound in her sleep. Now that Hattie had taken on her father’s form, her mouth hung open under her bushy handlebar moustache, spittle dried to her chin as she snorted and ground.
As the gently scrolling morning sunlight from the window touched her eyes and bald head she squinted in her sleep, snuffling loudly and smacking her lips. She reached up and scratched her nose then froze, feeling the thick hair on her upper lip.
Hattie’s eyes flashed open as she felt her rough cheek and smooth head, her big masculine nose.
“Goodness gracious,” she said, sitting sharply up on the bed, looking down at her father’s pyjama shirtsleeves; his huge hands. Her huge hands now.
She’d really done it. She’d really taken on her own father’s form. She was her own father now. She had become him.
“Bad dream dear?”
Hattie looked sharply to her left to see her mother, the Countess, sitting at the dressing table, doing her hair, wearing her nightgown. She wasn’t looking her way. She was looking into the mirror.
“Er... Yes. Must have been,” replied Hattie, disconcerted by the very manly voice coming out of her mouth; her father’s voice.
I’ve really become my father.
“I slept oddly,” replied Elizabeth. “Very deeply. Not unlike when I’ve had that sleeping potion.”
Hattie swung her feet onto the floor and looked down at them, at the silver hair on her ankles; the hair on the back of her hands where they rested on her knees. She didn’t respond to her mother’s comment. She was too busy trying to take it all in. She had been so busy putting it all in order the night before and getting it done. She hadn’t really allowed herself time to consider the ramifications of actually becoming a middle-aged man.
I’m my own father.
She felt her legs and torso through her pyjamas. The legs were so much harder than she was used to and her body was like the trunk of a tree. There was a layer of fat all over her new body but it wasn’t soft. It was firm. She was gigantic. It was odd and discomforting; though kind of thrilling too.
She looked at her mother’s back, considering how oblivious she was to what was happening around her – Hattie was playing such a grand jape on them all – and gave out a deep manly chuckle, totally unlike her normal light giggles.
“What’s so funny Howard?” asked the Countess.
Howard... That’s my name now.
“Er... nothing much,” replied Hattie. “I was, er... Nothing at all.”
She stood up and approached behind her mother so that she could see her reflection in the mirror. Her father’s face looked back at her: craggy and worn with over five decades of wear but still strong and rigid. Her eyes were square and deep-set beneath rugged, overhanging brows decorated with great bushy grey eyebrows. Her face was blocky and wide, her neck thick. Her bald head caught the light from the window and shined. She fingered the handlebars of her silver moustache.
It didn’t feel right at all. She wasn’t meant to be a man. She didn’t like it. It was funny and she enjoyed the profundity of the experience... to a point... but she didn’t relish staying this way for any length of time.
She wondered if her way of thinking had been altered in any way yet, but there was nothing she could detect. Inside her head she still felt like she was Lady Harriet. In fact she would have to be careful that she monitored her gait and kept it neutral. She wouldn’t want anyone to talk ill about her father.
Though come to think of it, she had the power now to quell any such chatter.
She smiled to herself, nodding at her reflection.
I’m Lord Howard Neville now¸ she thought. I’m the most powerful man for leagues around.
As she thought this, a warm contentment settled over her and she looked forward to exploring her new powers more fully.
But just for a day, she thought. I have no wish to remain a man any longer than I have to. Just long enough to teach my mother a lesson...
At that the Countess finished her hair and got to her feet. “Are you going to get dressed Howard?” she asked, and before Hattie could answer, her mother gave her a quick kiss on the lips and turned away, not noticing the look of dismay that passed across Hattie’s masculine features.
It was too strange to be kissed by her own mother; being thought of as her husband. Elizabeth started getting dressed and Hattie turned her back on her, continuing to feel uneasy.
One day. That was as long as she would carry this on. After that she would become a beautiful woman again and be done with it. She’d get rid of the pendant and settle down to enjoy a lifetime of memories of the greatest practical joke ever played.
Just one day and she wouldn’t be Howard Neville anymore.