---The Beatles, "It's All Too Much"
George and Ringo were with the angel-Voices, resting in the field between the worlds and Time, except that they were resting comfortably outside a small white house. As the two remaining Beatles and two angels made pleasant talk, the Timepool suddenly appeared before them in its nebulous scarlet form and two figures were thrown from the Pool and they landed at George's feet.
The group examined the figures and with cries of dismay from George and Ringo, found them to be unconscious 18/19-year-old versions of John and Paul.
"What's wrong with them?" Ringo asked shrilly. "Why are they young? Why aren't they awake?"
Before either of the angels could speak, the young bodies of John and Paul began to convulse. The angels looked at each other and Alexander waved his hand over the pair. A shimmering crimson-streaked-with magenta-haze glimmered like water over John and Paul and suddenly engulfed them. George put out a hand as if to stop the reddish cloud, but Adriana laid a restraining hand on his shoulder.
When the haze dissipated, John and Paul were itching themselves and yawning, looking like they'd just woken up---and they also were their normal selves.
"John! Paul!" Ringo cried and seized both of them in a trembling hug. "Thank God you're all right! You had me worried there!"
John and Paul exchanged confused looks, but both returned Ringo's tight embrace.
George regarded them in awe and then looked up to Adriana, who was smiling.
"Adriana," he started softly, "what happened?"
**They were put into younger bodies for their mission,** Adriana replied, just as softly. **What you just saw was the Timepool taking back the younger bodies and putting John and Paul back into their own.**
"'ello, mate!" Paul said to George cheerfully and hugged him.
George returned it, glad that Paul and John were back safely but abstractedly thinking of what Adriana had said.
John, looking around, asked, "Where are we?"
The Beatles and the angels were in front of the small white house, which was in a clearing the midst of a very richly green, rather dense forest. The sky spread out above them, cloudlessly blue.
"We're in the field we were in when we met the angels and went on our first mission," Ringo told him. "This is our house, our place to rest between missions."
"Nice," Paul said, watching the gentle breeze whistle through the trees. "I could do with a bit o' that."
**Well, you will,** Adriana said. **You'll be able to rest up completely, 'cause it's George's turn to go---he has his own mission to attend to.**
George looked up at these words and stared at Adriana and Alexander.
"My turn?" he squeaked, his throat dry.
**Yes sir, your turn,** Alexander replied, amused at something George couldn't see. **John, Paul, and Ringo rest and you go out to complete your mission. Very simple.**
"Yeah," George agreed sarcastically, wondering what his mission would be. He decided to ask:
"Can you tell me what I'm supposed to do?"
**No,** Adriana answered very amicably. **You'll be put in a younger body like John and Paul were and then you'll have to live your life in this Might-Have-Been past. It'll only take one decision to fulfill this mission. And as soon as you make that decision, you'll be transported back. But I can't tell you what that decision is.** She smiled at him.
George felt oddly like laughing though he was greatly exasperated. How was he to know what to do?
"You don't," Paul said, hearing George's thought. "You just keep dinkin' 'round 'til you figure it out."
"Hmmm..." George murmured and then asked Paul and John to tell them about their mission.
The pair did so, with much energy and fervor, laughing and yelling. George listened, amused, but was deep in thought. When John and Paul had finished, Alexander said,
**It's time, George.**
"All right," George replied agreeably.
Adriana lifted her arms slowly and the Timepool appeared. It a brilliant, almost blinding shade of emerald. George stared at it and then looked back to the angels.
**John and Paul went back to a past that didn't exist, but was in danger of existing,** Adriana explained to George's puzzled face. **It was a pure Might-Have-Been past, made by Them.**
The four young men shivered, without distinctly knowing why.
**You are going back into your own past, touched with a bit of Their power and Might-Have-Been characteristics. It'll be so like your life that you'll believe it's real, and you must be careful of that. Make the choices you already made---if you don't, you'll have created more Might-Have-Beens. Take heed, little George.**
"Yes," George replied and with a deep breath, he closed his eyes and let the greenness enfold him.
His younger body.
He screamed again and tried to break free from the choking grip, but all he felt was his body being pushed into something too small for him.
His fourteen-year-old body.
He felt his arms shorten, his legs crush, his fingers curl backwards and his chest cave in on itself.
The pain was beyond words.
And suddenly, the pain was gone.
He was in.
The young sleeping boy raised his head, and unlike his future best friends, the young John and Paul, he knew where he was.
He was a twenty-something trapped in a teenager's body, of course.
"Mum...?" he whispered, hardly believing that the woman at his bedside was his mother. His mother!
"It's time to get ready for school. C'mon, now."
The woman with the rosy cheeks and still-dark hair put aside the young George's hair from his forehead and lightly kissed him.
"Get up, love," she said softly. "I've pancakes and sausage ready for you."
George smiled groggily back at his mother---his young mother, untouched by The Beatles and fame as of yet; his mother with all of her sons still about her.
He got up and got dressed---loose white shirt and a yellow waistcoat---and then went out to the kitchen to eat.
Before he knew it, he was sitting on the upper deck of his father's bus and he was gazing dreamily out over the railing, watching the sea birds circle above the sea in the distance. Lost in his youth, he soon became lost in his mission. He had forgotten who he was.
The yellow-coated figure raised his head from his desk in the back of the room and stared, with unfocused eyes, at the teacher in the front of the room.
"Ma'am?" he said.
"Don't 'ma'am' me, sir! Keep your head up and pay attention!"
"What? Oh, yeah. Sure."
The teacher looked at him briefly and then, satisfied that she had scared him out of sleeping, went on with her lesson.
George played with his waistcoat buttons in a vain effort to keep himself occupied and felt something tug at his mind. He ignored, too out of it to really care. Soon he was nodding again and awoke to a gentle shaking of his arm.
"Yes, ma'am?" George squeaked out. "I wasn't sleeping, honest! Jus' closed me eyes for a minute..."
To his surprise, the teacher was regarding him with a curiously kind expression.
"George, m'dear," she said, "it's five-thirty. School's been out for a few hours. I'm leaving now and if you'd like to stay, you may. I just thought I'd let you know."
"Thank you," George replied, reddening. "I'm going to go now, thanks."
"As you like," the teacher answered. "Good night to you, George."
"The same to you, ma'am."
George hurriedly left the classroom and almost ran down the streets of Liverpool to get home. But as he was rushing, he noticed something in a shop window that caught his attention...
...a beautiful, brand-new, cherry-red guitar.
"Ooh," George said, almost drooling. "What a swank toy!"
He went in the shop and asked the manager permission to just touch it. The manager looked at George skeptically, no doubt wondering, from George's rather disheveled appearance, if it would be a wise thing to trust George with such a beauty. He finally agreed and took the guitar off of its stand and let George hold it.
George strummed it and the sound he produced woke up the thought that had subsided, but had once been stabbing at his brain. He ignored the thought once more and stood in awe of the guitar. He reluctantly handed it back to the manager, saying a very polite thank you. He tore out of the shop, planning to ask his mother for it.
He burst in the front door as his mother was setting down the dinner plates and almost yelled,
"Mum! I saw the most beautiful guitar in a shop window and I was wondering---can I get it? Please, Mum?"
"Where have you been, George Harold Harrison?" Mrs. Harrison said in reply.
George's mouth hung open, but he shut it and opened it again to inform his mother of his whereabouts since the end of school. His mother was greatly amused and told him that if he could stay awake in class from now on, she just might just get him his guitar.
The next few weeks found George taking notes in class and paying attention. The teacher thought that George's sudden attentiveness was due to her "sweetly sarcastic" speech, but she couldn't have been more wrong. George's notebooks were covered in drawings of guitars and he was devouring any kind of guitar-related literature in between classes.
Mrs. Harrison walked in on George one night, seeing his young body sprawled out on the floor at her feet. His cheek rested on his math book, rosy with slumber. A tidy stack of finished assignments lay partially hidden by his long hair and there was a pen in his hand, which lay unmoving on a sheet of paper covered in nothing but guitar drawings. She smiled and then pulled her son up and undressed him, putting him to bed.
She was waiting in his room when he returned from school the next day.
"Yes, my boy, it's all yours." Mrs. Harrison handed her son his guitar and stood back, beaming with the pleasure that came of making her son happy.
George held the guitar and was speechless.
His voice came back with a croak. "Thank you, Mum! Thank you!"
He laid the guitar gently on his bed, like a mother putting her baby to rest, and then ran to his mother and gave a fierce bear hug.
She smoothed his hair and kissed him, rather pleased.
"I love you, Mum," George mumbled against her shoulder. "Not just a'cause of the guitar---but I just love you, Mum!"
"What a flushed face!" Mrs. Harrison said, almost in wonder. "George-babe?"
"I'm just really happy, Mum," George said. "I can't believe it!"
"You're a good boy. You deserve it. I'll leave you to play with it now."
George's mother left the room, quietly shutting the door behind her. George had picked up the guitar---his guitar---and slung the strap across his back. His fingers lightly brushed the strings. A beautiful twang issued forth. George was so excited that he thought he would start crying.
He settled himself comfortably at the foot of his bed and opened the book of guitar chords that he had. Immediately he began putting the books' 'dots' into practice.
And the guitarist himself? He lies sleeping in his bed, his schoolbooks under his dangling hand. Upon close inspection, one can see the young, soft hands are now rather blistered and red---but the calluses have formed. He has been playing for quite awhile---sometimes amazed at the sound he produces, other times frustrated with himself and his uncoordinated fingers. Some nights, he forces himself to play; others, he glares at his once-new guitar in something rather like anger. The night in which he now reposes is one of the angry nights. But this time, he fell asleep, exhausted from his frustration. And in his current state, not one thought of close musical friends or of angels dwelled in his mind.
It was a sunny weekend afternoon and George was sitting on his bed, hunched over his guitar. His mother had tapped lightly on his door and had come in.
"Yes, Mum?...'Come go...'"
"What are you playing?"
"'Come Go With Me.'"
"Oh. That's good. I've noticed your playing lately. You have been playing non-stop for almost two, what, three?---months and it's getting better. What do you think, honey? How are you getting along?"
George rested his guitar against his knee and ran a callused hand through his long hair.
"I don't know, Mum. Sometimes I think I'm getting good, but other times I flat out can't play."
Mrs. Harrison studied her son's sunlit profile. He looked tired---exhausted. Maybe the guitar wasn't such a good idea after all...it was just wrecking his health as it was..."George," she said suddenly, "if your guitar is really bothering you, you don't have to keep playing."
George looked up at her, with dull, unfocused eyes. She was startled. Where was that usual youthful sparkle? She didn't know that he'd been practicing for a few hours non-stop.
"But won't that make you mad?" he asked her, looking up at her from under his heavy bangs. "You spent a lot of money getting me this guitar---won't you?"
"George, my dear," said his mother, sitting on his bed and taking his face into her hands, "if all this practicing is making you unwell, then I don't want you doing it. I won't be angry or disappointed. I only want you to be happy. How can you be that if you're constantly wearing yourself out?"
"Oh, Mum," George protested with a smile. "I'm all right. I just can't put my guitar down once I start and I get tired. That's all."
"But you seem bothered sometimes. Angry."
George gritted his teeth. So she had noticed.
"I won't say you're wrong---'cause you're right. I do get mad sometimes, but..."
"George, I don't want this for you anymore. At first, you were happy, so I was happy. Now you're not and neither am I. We can sell your guitar. You can have the money we get from it."
George stared back at her and then looked down at the said instrument. His hand went to the neck protectively and he pulled it up into his lap.
"'Come go with me...'" he sang under his breath. His fingers finally found the right chord. It echoed richly through the room.
George looked at the impossible thing. He'd put months into it already---was that beautiful chord there to mark his progress?
But the money. That would be a nice thing to have. He'd seen a rather pretty girl at school and he would love to take her out.
His fingers kept moving up and down the fret board. Rich, full chords issued forth.
His mother sat waiting for him to decide. The thought of that pretty girl again entered his mind, but when he felt himself beginning to hand the guitar to his mother, he felt a part of him ache terribly. He felt like he was losing something immeasurably precious. He was giving away a part of himself. He stopped his hands and cradled the red guitar.
"No, Mum," he said. "I can't give it up."
"I'm sorry, Mum. It would hurt bad to let it go. I'm going to keep playing."
Suddenly, the guitar spun out of his hands and his mother disappeared. Everything around him swirled and he couldn't see. His whole body was twisted in pain.
"Mum?" he croaked, but his voice was gone. He reached out frantically for something to hold on to, but he felt nothing. His waving hands encountered only air.
"What is it, Ring?"
"Look---there're the angels. Who's that with them?"
"Who? I don't see anyone."
"It's a kid. Alexander's carrying a kid---a boy."
"But it's supposed to be a girl!"
"That ain't no kid, Ring, and that sure as hell ain't the girl! That's George!"
George didn't want to finish his sentence and wanted desperately to hide.
"Kinda what? Tell us what happened, George!" Paul pressed, leaning against the bed that George laid on.
"I forgot about my mission," George mumbled, with downcast eyes. "Adriana, you were right. I got so wrapped up in being a kid again---I forgot about my mission. I let myself become a kid again. I'm sorry."
**Nothing to be sorry about, young George,** Alexander replied gruffly. **Why should you be sorry?**
"Because I forgot about my mission!" George cried. "I'm really sorry, okay? I'm sorry that I let you all down and---"
**George, what do you think happened?** Adriana asked. **Do you think you failed your mission?**
"Yeah, I---" George suddenly stopped and stared at all the smiling faces crowded around his bed. He looked around: he was inside the little house in the Field, resting on a bed specially reserved for him. And his friends and the angels were smiling at him.
**You did it, George,** Adriana said softly, putting aside his hair. **You fulfilled your mission by just saying 'yes.'**
**I told you it would be a bit easy,** Alexander reminded him. **But you'd have to live your young life just like you really did. We saw you appear in the little grove outside this house, in your young state. We went to fetch you, made you normal again and here you are. If you had failed, you wouldn't be here and you might still be young.**
**Congratulations on a job well done!** Adriana said cheerfully. **That's two down, quite a---a few more to go---**
"Wait---wait a second," George interrupted. "How many of these do we have to do?"
Adriana only smiled at him and Alexander pretended he hadn't heard the question.
Ringo looked at them and shrugged, saying, "We'll just have to find out for ourselves, won't we, George?"
Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, etc.: Lissa Michelle Supler/Strawberry Sunshine This is original copyrighted work and may not be reproduced in any form by any means without the permission of the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.
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