By Krystal Claxton
Future-Me was being a bitch again.
“And what did you accomplish?” She stared at the ceiling from her spot on the tile floor, enveloped in a downy comforter.
I didn’t stop pacing around the white, empty space. “Well, you just said we’re not late for work anymore.”
Future-Me’s eyes were bloodshot. “Being told not to come back to work is not the same thing as being punctual.”
“Look, did Jack propose or not?” I asked.
She took a long-suffering sigh, as though the burden of calling up the words to answer the question was too great for her to carry. Her voice was soft and broken. “Not.”
My heart sank, but it didn’t slow me down. I had all the time in the world. I hopped over Future-Me’s nest of potato chips and beef jerky wrappers, striding to the door that would take me back into the past.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to fix this. I’ll be back in no time.”
“You can’t.” Her voice was hollow, blank.
I glanced back, my hand twisting the doorknob, my weight shifting into the door. Tears trickled into Future-Me’s hair, but I was already gone.
There’s a reason I didn’t like the other me. The Past-Me. A reason Jack didn’t want her, a reason her boss had forced a leave of absence, a reason her sister, Tori, hadn’t called in eighteen months. Past-Me was worthless.
An instant after she’d fled through the right-side doorway, she appeared in the left-side doorway, striding in with the kind of confidence one finds in lemming migrations. A wide smile split her face, revealing yellowed, crooked teeth. I pressed my lips tight together. Ours wasn’t a smile I’d force on the world.
“How about now?” She demanded.
I pulled the blanket over my head and squeezed the pill bottle to my chest—the same bottle I knew was in Past-Me’s pocket. She wasn’t taking it though, since the transition to the medicine had given her suicidal thoughts. I could’ve started taking the meds again, but… Well, it’s one thing to understand that you’re a waste, it’s another to want to end.
My blanket flew away, bright lights and cold air flooded in. Past-Me stood overhead, blanket in hand. “Answer me!”
I rubbed my hand over my face to hide tears. “What was the question?”
“How do things turn out with Jack now?”
“After you hack into his student account, withdraw him from all of his classes, and sell his record collection to pay for a two month vacation in Japan?”
Her eyes sparkled. She hedged forward. She thought this was romantic, couldn’t comprehend how insa—
“Well?” Past-Me asked.
“He dumped us.”
Confusion creased Past-Me’s features. “What? Why?”
A million explanations boiled up in my throat, but the only one I could commit to sound was: “Because that’s a fucking crazy thing to do you stupid bitch.”
I wish my voice hadn’t come out so squeaky. I wish I hadn’t used the C-word. It didn’t matter because she was already gone.
Future-Me hadn’t bothered to collect her stupid blanket after I left. Instead she had opted for outright weeping. I rolled my eyes as I stepped through the door.
“So?” I asked. I had it perfect now. Definitely going to fix everything. Brilliant really.
“Tori files a restraining order once she finds that you broke into her house and crashed her car into the pool,” Future-Me answered between sobs.
“A restraining order?” For an instant I was speechless. My sister was supposed to be relieved when I turned up safe after the crash! She should loan me the money to replace Jack’s collection! “What the hell kind of sister is she?”
“And now?” Past-Me asked, slamming the door.
I shook my head.
“Why can’t I make this work?” She sank to the floor next to me.
I could see she was starting to crash. Soon she wouldn’t be Past-Me anymore. This was our chance. I was too far under to drag myself back out, but she still had the energy to act and was right on the cusp of reasonableness. “Take the pills.”
“You want to fix your future?” I handed Past-Me the pill bottle I held. The very same she had in her pocket. “I didn’t take the meds. Take them and responsibility for your mistakes.”
She shook her head, her relentless optimism breaking way for reality. “I can’t.”
I could see the thousands of sins register in her mind, stacking up like a wall, cutting her off from her ability to act. To save herself. In a moment she would be me. “No, you probably can’t. But the doctor said that if we can get past the transition, the suicidal thoughts will stop. That we will level out. Become someone…” Useful? Worthwhile? Sane? I couldn’t say. I didn’t know.
Never-Will-Be-Me accepts the bottle. Twists off the lid. Swallows a dose. She exits through the right door and the room is empty.