Life, As Is - Teaser
Orange County, California 1997
Another month passed when on a Saturday morning I received a call from Anne in New York. I had been avoiding her calls since that one a few months ago when she told me that Greg was seeing someone. Luckily, she wasn’t the type to take anything personally. She knew the changes I had been going through. During the past month I splurged on some furniture for my new place, just the basics. I was working a lot of long hours at the new job and getting a lot of overtime so I think deserved every penny I spent.
We spoke for a little while. God, she sounded so young…well, she was. I had to remind myself we were two different people now. I lost track of how many months it had been since I was sent back to 1997…maybe about six months? In any case, I no longer had any delusions that I would be sent back to my old life with Greg in New York. Part of me wanted to ask her what was going on with him lately but I stopped myself. Then she started filling me in on the gossip of the neighborhood: Greg and his girlfriend split up.
I hate admitting this, but I was relieved. Maybe I hadn’t changed the course of things after all. Of course I knew very well that it was too soon to tell. It was still the end of ’97 and he and I hadn’t met until the early 2000’s but this still gave me hope.
I grabbed a cup of coffee and turned on the laptop I brought home from work. Checkers jumped on my lap and made herself comfortable while I opened up my AOL account. I had an email from Jim. Nothing exciting, he just wanted to say hi and see how I was doing. We hadn’t spoken since I broke things off. I didn’t respond to him but I didn’t delete his message either.
That night I poured myself a glass of wine and crashed on the couch with the TV on.
I woke up the next morning with my head pounding. I only had one glass of wine, didn’t I? There was incessant car honking outside and someone yelling. What the hell was going on? I sat up, looked around me and froze. This time I didn’t recognize my surroundings. I looked out the window. I was pretty sure I wasn’t in either Orange County or Brooklyn; it looked more like Manhattan.
This is not happening again!
I walked out of the strange bedroom and found a tiny kitchen. A Smartphone sat on the counter that I assumed was mine. I looked at the date and, hands trembling, dropped it back on the counter. There was junk mail also on the kitchen counter. I rummaged through it and received confirmation that I was at a Manhattan address.
I can’t go through this again, I thought to myself.
I found the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I was back to my old self. I was startled but kind of happy; would have been nice if I stayed looking like I was in my twenties but I’ll take it. Obviously, things have gone back to somewhat normal. This wasn’t where I lived before, though.
I opened the apartment door and peeked out. I was in one of those high-rise apartment buildings. It looked like a nice one, too. I stepped out into the carpeted hallway and looked around. The elevator bell rang and startled me.
Greg stepped out of the elevator and began walking toward me.
“Oh my God, babe,” I ran over and threw my arms around him.
“Whoa!” he yelled, jumping back. Pure confusion across his face.
My heart was racing as I looked at him.
“Greg?” I asked.
“It…it’s Brianna.” At that moment I inexplicably felt terror wash over me.
“Right,” he responded, slowly walking around me, “my neighbor…from 5C,” he was pointing at the door behind me.
I looked back at my apartment door then looked at him slowly walking toward the apartment adjacent from mine.
“Are you ok?” he asked.
I was truly sick of people asking me that. Mainly because I had no idea what the answer should be to that question.
He was holding a cup of Starbucks with one hand and his keys with another. He was wearing a wedding ring.
I didn’t bother answering his question and ran into what, apparently, was my apartment.
New York, NY
I sat at a table outside of the Starbucks across the street from my apartment building. I sipped my vanilla latte while waiting for Katrina, hoping I would recognize her from her picture.
I couldn't believe this was happening, again.
A cute male barista, who looked to be in his mid-twenties, waved hello to me as he walked in to start his shift. I must be a regular here. I was, somewhat, familiar with the neighborhood. I'd been working in Manhattan for years; however what led me to move here was a complete mystery to me. I always thought it would be cool to live in Manhattan but the rent has always been astronomical. How was I able to afford it? I couldn't imagine what I was paying. I'm sorry....what we were paying! If I didn't know how I ended up in Manhattan, I sure as hell didn't know how he came back into the picture!
I saw a tall Phoebe-from-Friends-look-a-like walking toward me and I knew instantly it was Katrina. According to my calendar, I had a psychic reading scheduled with her for today. (That's right. I, Brianna, had a psychic reading scheduled at a Starbucks. What, exactly, had I become?) The only reason I showed up was to see if someone...anyone...could fill me in on anything!
Attached to the calendar reminder for my reading was the e-mail trail between Katrina and me and from what I could tell, we seemed to be friendly. Even if she wasn't a legitimate psychic (if there is such a thing) I should be able to gather some information from her about my life.
As she approached, she had her arms opened to embrace me. I'm not hugger...at least I don't remember being one.
Oh no, she did not just call me Bri-Bri.
"Hi," I responded while awkwardly hugging her.
"What's wrong?" she asked and without skipping a beat added, "You're not yourself right now, what's going on?"
Before I knew it I burst into tears.
"What happened? Did something happen to Jim?"
The crying jag paused for a second when she mentioned Jim’s name then it started again, only harder.
"No, he's fine. I think."
"You think? Bri, what...
I remembered to breathe and took a sip of my latte.
"I woke up this morning and...and I don’t recognize anything!"
"Ah!" I was sure she thought I meant figuratively; as if I was going through some sort of “dark night of the soul.”
"Did you have that dream about..."
"No, I’m talking literally. I literally didn't recognize my apartment and I still don't. When I went to sleep last night it was 1997 and when I woke up this morning it was 2015. And, no, I don't mean in a 'boy, does time fly' sort of way. I seriously cannot remember the last..." I tried, unsuccessfully to count, "I don't know, sixteen or seventeen years! I'm married, right now, to someone I haven't seen in that many years and I'm living in a different state. Oh, and before last night...however long ago that was... I went to sleep in 2013 and woke up in 1997!" It was word vomit at its finest.
"Slow down. Slow down, Bri. I'm having a really hard time following you."
I looked at Katrina for a moment. Could I trust her? Would she believe anything that came out of my mouth? She claimed to be a psychic so that must mean she's open-minded, believe in time travel, astral projection and whatnot.
"I don't know what I'm saying," I blurted. "I just don't feel like myself right now my heart's racing, I'm burning up." I said, taking off my jacket.
"You made sure your coffee is decaf, right?"
"Yeah, remember you had the same reaction when that cute barista accidentally served you caffeinated instead of decaf?"
"Why would I react like this? And why in the hell would I ask for decaf? What’s the point of that?"
Katrina went from looking confused to downright worried.
"Brianna, what's up with you? You don't drink caffeine."
"What do you mean 'what'? You gave up caffeine, like, ten years ago. Caffeine, alcohol, and red meat. If that coffee has caffeine in it of course you're going to have a negative reaction. You know that."
"Did I become a Mormon?"
"Ok, you have to talk to me." She grabbed my hands and spoke slowly. "What exactly happened when you woke up this morning?"
I sighed. What did I have to lose?
I filled Katrina in on everything I experienced within the last few months; or what seemed like the last few months. I told her about how I went to bed with my husband Greg in late 2013 in Brooklyn and the next morning woke up as my twenty-six year old self in 1997. When I woke up that morning I was three-thousand miles away from home in Fullerton, California, living with my crazy guitarist ex-boyfriend, Damian. I told her how I reconnected, and hooked up with Jim, an old flame that I lost touch with in my teens. Then as soon as I manage to get my life on track and also help my little brother Caelum get on his feet, I fall asleep while watching TV and wake up in 2015. I was back in New York but in a strange apartment with Greg living across the hall and married to somebody else. Oh, and apparently, I'm married to Jim.
I was about to take a sip of my latte then remembered that I didn't feel like having a heart attack. So I simply sat there, with my hand in mid-air and stared at Katrina.
“You’re not married,” Katrina said.
“What?” I asked.
“You and Jim aren’t married.”
"Really? After everything I told you, that's the one item you focus on?
"I just thought you should know."
"Thank you, Katrina.”
"But I get it; you're more concern lies elsewhere."
"Well, it is incredible."
"I swear I'm not making any of this up."
"Oh, I believe you. I've just never met anyone who's been through that before."
"I'm sure you haven't."
"Before any of this started, did anything traumatic happen? Did you have an accident? Maybe a near-death experience?"
"No. At least, not that I can remember."
"Well, you know the soul can travel to different dimensions."
"No, I don’t know that. Can it change things? Change the past and present?"
"That, I couldn't tell you. But who knows?"
Katrina was accepting this a little too easily. Was she simply humoring me? I asked her as much.
"Come on, Bri-Bri. You know me better than that. I honestly do believe you went through something."
"No, that’s the problem, I don't know you! I don't remember you at all! I don't remember my apartment, this Starbucks...none of it. And please stop calling me Bri-Bri, I hate it.”
"I need to know: do you really believe that I physically went through...I don't know...some sort of time warp or something?"
She thought about it for a few seconds.
"You think I've lost it, don't you?" I asked.
"I didn't say that."
"But you're thinking it."
Katrina grabbed my hands again and said, "Look, you need to calm down and stop being so defensive. I'm not judging you. I don't think you're crazy. I'm trying to figure out what's going on. Let's breathe together and try to get centered."
I could live with that. I just wished she wasn't so touchy-feely. It was a little strange sitting out in public, holding hands with a psychic while breathing. What, exactly, did I turn into in this life?
"I'm having a hard time getting anything," she said after a couple of minutes. "Not surprising, though. You're still stressed. Too much low vibrating energy is surrounding you."
"Ok," I said, pulling my hands away, "tell you what; from past experience I can tell you that I'm most likely not going anywhere for a while. So instead of focusing on what my soul, the universe, or God Himself is trying to tell me, maybe we should find out what tangible information I need to know to get me through the next few weeks, months...whatever."
"Well, for one thing, work. I'm living in Manhattan of all places. How is it possible I can afford to live here? What do I do?"
"You're a pharmaceutical sales rep."
I looked closely at Katrina and tried to decipher whether or not she was being funny.
"No, I'm not," was my response.
"Yes, you are."
"I'm a vegetarian who's sworn off alcohol and caffeine and I sell drugs?"
"Well, I wouldn't call you a 'vegetarian'...."
"Doesn't really matter, Katrina, how did that happen? First of all, I'm supposed to be a health nut. Second: the Brianna I know hated people which meant that she hated sales because that required having to talk to - and even worse - be pleasant to people!"
She shrugged, "You like the money."
"I don't know the first thing about pharmaceutical sales. And what's the deal with Jim? How did we reconnect? The last time I remember speaking to him was to tell him it was over."
"He was persistent." Katrina was now munching on something she picked out of a funky looking sack. She held it in front of me. "Soy beans? They're covered in organic dark chocolate.”
What the hell was I doing here?
"I...I need to go back to my apartment. I need to figure out what to do or where to go from here." I tried to stand, but couldn't.
"You know what? I wonder if performing a past life regression on you would help. Think about it. It works with helping you remember lives from centuries ago, why not the past few years!"
The one thing that was keeping me from telling this nutcase to go away was the fact that, first of all, she didn't tell me to go away after hearing my story. On top of that, she knew the life I’d been living until that moment, so I needed her. See seemed harmless, too. Crazy but harmless. I finally stood up.
"Let's hold off on that for now." I suggested. "Let's go to my apartment and maybe you can help me put some pieces together." At least when I was sent to the past I was able to rely on memory.
As we walked across the street to my apartment building, I stopped short and felt tears start to form.
"What's wrong?" asked Katrina, grabbing my hand.
"I can't remember what apartment I live in."
© 2014 Brenda Thornlow