Jamie rarely went out with her friends, as they and she were equally broke, but the day of her eviction seemed a special occasion. She ordered lobster for everyone, on her. She saw no reason to hold back.

“My friends!” She said, clinking her champagne glass. “My wonderful friends. Starting tomorrow, I am homeless, jobless, and present company excluded, alone. I have made a wreck of my life without even the convenience of recreational drugs. Thank you for knowing me. This is the beginning of the end. At least it’s mine!”

After a brief defeated cheer, several of her friends spoke up, pledging their support. They would see her through this difficult time. Some had spare couches and amiable roommates. Some had tents they weren’t using. Her friend Stacy had a crystal that could send a person ten years backwards in time, and Jamie was welcome to it, if she wanted.

“No, I couldn’t possibly.”

“Please, I insist.”

Jamie held the gem, a misshapen pink prism about the size of her palm, up to a lamp in Stacy’s apartment. She saw nothing inside it, but it seemed oddly hopeful. She considered the warnings she might give her ten years past self. Relationships to avoid, jobs that had gone nowhere, the administrative nightmare it had been when she’d bought that horrible Volkwagen. Of course she’d research some lottery numbers, invest in Facebook, get on the forefront of the natural foods trends she’d heard so much about. She would do all of that. She would save her life.

“So when you break the stone, you should get about ten minutes with your past self to do whatever you want. I usually just cuddle with mine, but please, go as far as you like.”

Jamie was a little taken aback by Stacy’s hedonistic self-indulgence, but she did not criticize her friend. She held the rock closely. As soon as she finished her research, she would slam it against the ground and invade her old life, leaving details of every advantage she should have had.

Her last night in the apartment was spent frantically googling. When was the market best? What dates specifically? Which stocks jumped where when? She would have to get this information out fast, so she practiced it until sunrise, in terms her twenty-two year old self might possibly understand and remember. The knocks would come soon, angry knocks from a sideways fist. After one last review, she threw the rock down and saw her fifth-year college self.

She was receptive and attentive, more so than Jamie remembered being at the time. Perhaps the shock of seeing the effects of ten years of failure had woken her up, an unlikely circumstance this early in the morning. “Just make sure you make these investments before the end of the year. Please be sure you understand.”

“I’m sure,” her younger self chirped. She was taking this too casually. This was going to fail. As the ten minutes came to a close, Jamie smiled a sad smile at her vacant younger self, while she remained empty in other ways.

The apartment was the same. The knocks happened, and the yelling, just as they were supposed to. She was displaced, a refugee. Reality had finally happened. She left her things where they were. Someone would steal them. She didn’t care.

Elsewhere, in a reality she’d created, another version of herself was eating crepes in bed on the top floor of her estate. “Wasn’t it nice that I made this life for myself?” She swallowed, wistfully remembering, and wished she’d made out with herself when she had the chance.

#change, #ineffective, #parallel-universes, #regret, #science-fiction, #time-travel, #universal-parallels


The waiting room was furnished well enough, considering the circumstances. Despite the man with the cigar’s reassurances, Jeanine did not feel safe in this otherwise sterile facility. She did not remember being abducted, nor did she remember changing into this blue jumpsuit. She couldn’t imagine that she chose it of her own free will. No one so far had had the courtesy to inform her why she was here or what they wanted from her, and the provided coffee and sandwiches answered none of her questions.

“Help me out here,” the man pleaded with her. “What is going on in your life that’s so important? We’re trying to help you.”

Jeanine was hesitant to speak to the man, whose shirt and tie were loud enough to strain her eyes and ears alike. He leered over her expectantly, and she was hesitant to validate his unappealing demeanor.

“I’m doing okay,” she said. “Could be better. I’m not saying anything until you tell me what’s going on.”

“See, our computer says that there’s an 78% chance that we’re here to help you hold onto your credit cards. Does that seem familiar at all?”

Jeanine examined him a moment and shook her head. She didn’t even have a credit card, to her knowledge.

“Now you let me know if you think of something, whatever could be the central problem in your life. My colleague is working your case, and it’s in all of our best interests that we solve whatever crisis you might be experiencing.” He resumed his sideways glance. “You must be so uncomfortable in there, a beautiful woman like you. I got a good look at your body earlier, hubba hubba, if you don’t mind my saying.”

He stood over her, waiting for a response. “Oh,” she said eventually, though she was still bewildered.

“I’m going to confer with my colleague. If you think of anything, please let us know as soon as you can. Otherwise my friend will be trapped in your body forever, and I’m sure you wear it better than he does.”

The door behind him slid into the ceiling, and he turned and waved as it slammed back to the ground. She saw no handle on the door, or any button on the wall. It seemed that he had activated the mechanism with a pocket calculator as gaudy as himself.

As she began to examine the walls, she caught a glimpse of herself in the one-way mirror. She seemed so tall, with such a square and rugged jaw. The jumpsuit actually suited her, in an odd way, with this face and this haircut. She tossed her head back and smiled at the flare of her now prominent nose.

As she practiced her masculine poses, she considered the central problem of her life. The opportunity had never presented itself, and she wasn’t certain she would ever be ready for the commitment and the upheaval involved, but as she watched her new face smile in a way her old one never managed, she was able to feel, as she hadn’t been able for years.

“Have you had any ideas on what we might need to help you with?”

She imagined her reflection trapped in her body forever. A terrible fate, indeed.

“It’s probably the credit cards. You should really nail the credit cards.”

#bodies, #feminine, #masculine, #quantum-leap, #time-travel