Parallel

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.

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