Flash Fiction #54 – What are You Waiting For?
Through the open door, Molly stared at what she’d been convinced was the answer to her prayers. It was all there in front of her. Their first apartment together–the one-bedroom loft above the town’s only bar. She glanced at the woman who’d brought her here–to her past, and she smiled benevolently.
Molly had thought the woman was full of shit when she’d told her that it was possible to go back to a time when she as Christopher had been happy. That she could have a do-over and go back to prevent things from ever going wrong in the first place.
As she drew closer to the doorway, she recognized her old leather coat hanging over the back of the chair shoved under the cheap formica-topped kitchen table. He’d always hated that jacket. She frowned. Was that why she’d decided to get rid of it?
She glanced around the rest of the room, smiling at the hideous cow-shaped salt and pepper shakers sitting on the counter next to the hand-me-down coffee pot from her sister. There was the spider plant rooting in a jar in the kitchen window along with a collection of cobalt blue glass bottles. Those had survived a bit longer than the jacket, but all but one had been smashed to pieces in a long ago arguement.
The calendar on the wall next to the microwave read March 1999. If she remembered correctly, they’d only been in that apartment for six months, at that point. There were so many memories here. And most of them had been good. Like Halloween parties they’d thrown or the Christmas feasts they’d invited both their families to. The book club she and her sister had started and the nights they’d spent gaming with their friends.
Molly crept closer to the doorway–a niggling sense that something was wrong. Almost as if something was out of place. But she couldn’t put her finger on it. From her changed vantage point, she could see past the kitchen doorway, through the dining room and into the living room. Christopher was sitting on the couch playing some Xbox game, and a younger version of herself, looking ridiculously dressed up for an evening at home, sat curled up in a chair reading.
Only she wasn’t really reading. She was sighing and staring at Christopher who didn’t seem to have any clue that she was even in the room with him. Nope…he knew. He’d just asked her to get him a beer. Another beer from the looks of it as she noticed the the three empty bottles by his feet.
Past Molly got up and grabbed him a beer from the fridge looking just as dejected and defeated as she currently felt. He barely acknowledged her when she handed him the bottle and returned to her chair.
“What are you waiting for?” The woman at Molly’s side gestured to the open door.
Molly had forgotten she wasn’t alone. “What?”
“I said, what are you waiting for? This is when you wanted to return to, right? The time when things were still good between you.?”
Molly’s gaze landed on the calendar again. On the day that had a big heart drawn in the center of the square–March 20th–their one year anniversary. The day that he’d decided he’d been too stressed with school and work to acknowledge their anniversary. Sure, he’d attempted to make up for it later, but she realized now, he’d never really been sorry. Like the majority of his attempts at amends hadn’t really been about her or their relationship. He’d just been looking for a way to make his current situation more comfortable, and often that meant appeasing her.
How had she been so stupid not to grasp that it had been this way since the beginning? She glanced around the apartment and was again struck by the onslaught of memories. And she realized that almost all of the positive ones were ones that included other people.
Molly looked at the woman. “I just realized that I’m in the wrong time. This isn’t the right door. I need to go to January, 1998–the seventh, I think.”
In a blink, Molly stood outside O’Toole’s Pub, the biting wind blowing in off the river and the snow swirling in eddies around her feet.
“Is this where you wanted to go?”
Molly nodded as she watched her past self push her chair away from a table full of her friends. Grabbing the cold metal handle, she pulled open the door and entered the bar, the woman following silently behind. Molly rapidly crossed the floor, cutting off her past self as she headed up to the bar, and the two collided.
Molly stopped stopped in the middle of the floor, a sudden chill skating up her spine. She glanced around noticing a vaguely familiar woman by the door. Molly shook off the chill–must have been a blast of cold air from when the woman came in from outside–and walked up to the bar. It was her turn to buy the post finals rounds.
As she waited, trying to catch the bartender’s, a cute guy to her right said, “Let me guess—you just finished your last exam?”
She smiled. “That obvious?”
“Me, too. My name’s Christopher. Can I buy you a drink?”
She stared into the prettiest blue eyes she’d ever seen and shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m here with friends.”
He nodded. “No worries.”
As the bartender took her order, she couldn’t help but feel that she’d dodged a bullet.