(Read part 1 of the story.)
Tina did not talk to her father often. In fact, she'd probably describe their relationship as "strained", and she was pretty sure that her father would not disagree. But she had to talk to him at length about this "gift".
"So it's all true? I can get any man I want now?" Asked Tina. She had recently been flirting with a guy, but not really expecting it to lead anywhere. So she was surprised when he suddenly seemed very earnest about his love for her, and absolutely shocked when her father told her that it was due to her new superpower.
"Well, it's been true enough for me. Since the stranger's visit, women just kept falling for me. I mean... I've always... you know. And now that you've also gotten this gift, it sounds like the part about it passing on to my kids is also true. So I guess your little sister will probably get it too in a few years?"
Tina hesitated a moment before her next question. "Is this... is it why you left mom?"
"Tina, you know that things were rocky between me and your mother long before the divorce."
"Yes, but is this why?"
Her father was silent for a long time. They were both remembering the past. Tina had heard whispered rumors of her father's infidelity, but they never seemed to amount to anything. None of the other women seemed to want to speak up about what had happened - as if they still had a stake in pleasing her father. And Tina's mother had always seemed to want to defend her father a little too much - she was completely smitten with him, and couldn't oppose him even in the face of infidelity. Tina thought it was pathetic. She had long ago told herself that she wasn't going to be like that. She wasn't going to waste her time or energy on defending or remembering anyone who left her.
"Look, Tina, this... gift, or curse, or whatever you called it, has many effects. But really, it's not so bad. You shouldn't think about how it affected things in the past between your mother and I. Hey, you really can get any man you want now! How could that be a bad thing? Remember how the last time you called me was when Billy broke off the engagement with you? We never have to go through anything like that again. Think of the future!"
Oh, yes. Tina was never going to go through anything like that again. She wasn't going to be pathetic like her mother. She wasn't going to ever tolerate any man like her father. She wasn't going to worry about her biological clock, or needing to feel wanted, or not getting married - ever again. She was going to find her perfect man and have a perfect family with him, with a perfect boy and a perfect girl. She was now going to be in complete control of her relationships. She was going to put her gift to good use.
Donny had been born under a lucky star. His father was rich and powerful, if a bit henpecked. He had his doting mother's full affection and attention. And he had always been popular with the ladies. In fact, good fortune in love seemed to run in his mother's side of the family. He had some cousins with some unbelievable stories to tell, who where far better with women than even "the Don" himself. That "good fortune in love" seemed outright ridiculous at times.
To be perfectly blunt, he actually sometimes wondered how a woman like his mother managed to hook a man like his father. It didn't make any sense, given his understanding of sexual relationships. But now, after being told about the gift, he understood why - his entire mother's side of the family really did have some unreal aid. And at last, that gift was finally active in him.
Well, it's not like he needed any extra help with women - but it certainly didn't hurt. He could compete with his cousins on an even footing now. He was going to live out all his wildest fantasies. He was never going to settle down or be satisfied. He was going to take all the women who caught his slightest fancy.
He didn't want any children - they were unfortunate side effects to his main goal in life as far as he was concerned, and he took some care to avoid them. But he did end up having two kids, through sheer low-probability accidents over many trials. Not that he would ever pay attention to them, of course - he died alone, never having wanted or understood fatherhood.
People had called Kat "confused" before. She supposed it was a fair description. After all, there was that "experimental" phase when she tried on various sexual identities. She had been married for a short time - then divorced. She had a kid, not from that marriage, but now she was wondering what the hell she was thinking at the time. She certainly felt confused.
So it came to be that when the stranger's gift finally kicked in for her, she achieved clarity at last. She could get anyone she wanted! She could have whatever family she wanted! It was all up to her!
She eventually settled on a somewhat "wild" and "unstable" guy in the end. He felt perfect for her - quite frisky and adventurous, willing to try anything. She didn't feel as confused anymore - and she certainly felt happier than before. She lived out her days doing everything she wanted, and if that ever turned out to be a bit too crazy, she always had a kid she could go back to, someone to whom she could play 'mother'. And she lived out her days that way - yo-yoing between "crazy" and "stable", between "sexually liberated" and "devoted mother".
People generally thought of Janus as a level-headed guy - rational, thoughtful, not given to erratic emotional impulses. Sure, some members of his extended family were a bit off the wall, but Janus himself was well known to be calm, if a bit cold. So it came as a complete surprise to everyone when he went on his killing spree not long after being told of the gift.
In Janus's family, informing their grown children of the gift had become a tradition to look forward to, almost like a rite of passage. His parents had told him clearly of their gift from the stranger, and how it will allow him and his descendants to have any mate they wanted. They told him all the details of how the gift operated and what he could expect. So there should have been no surprises for Janus when his gift activated. And yet, not long afterwards, Janus went on talking about the "work of the devil", the "end of the world", and the "original curse that afflicts us". He then murdered 16 people, starting with his younger brother, at a family reunion. Soon thereafter, he was killed by the police when they intercepted him in transit to his distant cousin's home with an arsenal of weapons.
The tragedy rocked the remaining members of Janus's extended family - they had lost so many of their kin. But still, they would carry on. There were plenty of survivors. And Adam's descendants, together with the stranger's gift, would endure for as long as the human race continued to exist.
(Continue on to part 3)
You may next want to read:
The want of a mate (Part 3) (Next post of this series)
The want of a mate (Part 1) (Previous post of this series)
On martyrdom - a parable (Part 2)
Another post, from the table of contents