Speculative Science Fiction Fantasy

“Damn it! “Myranda felt the all too familiar rocking and thumping from the front passenger's side of her twenty-year-old mucus green Ford Maverick. This was the third time she had blown a tire in the past six months. “What the hell was with this car?” she thought as she grabbed her keys and handbag, secured the car and began to walk across the bank parking lot in search of a phone. She was glad to have been able to maneuver the car from the highway off ramp into the lot safely but regretted wearing heels to work as she made her way from the far end into the drive through lanes. The teller in the first window waved as Myranda approached. Instinctively she waved back. The woman pressed the intercom button and squawked, “Honey, you can’t use this window unless you’re in your vehicle.” 

Myranda rolled her eyes behind her oversized sunglasses. “Yes, I know. I need to use your phone. I was hoping I could use the side entrance instead of having to walk all the way around to the lobby entrance.” 

The teller held her placating smile, “Sorry dear, I can’t let you in this way. Please use the main entrance.”

“I have a flat. I just need to call a tow truck and my brother. They’re both local calls and I promise to be quick.” One last attempt at connecting with the teller, only to fail miserably.

“We can help you, but you must use the main entrance.” the teller repeated, still smiling stupidly. 

Myranda glanced down, “This is going to hurt.” she muttered to herself referring to the heels she now realized had absolutely no functionality other than looking good while she was seated. She walked through the drive-up lane and rounded the corner of the massive building on her quest for the front entrance. Cautiously stepping across the uneven sidewalk in favor of the smoother pavement, Myranda found herself curious as to why the bank building resembled a southern plantation home while being located in New Jersey. It was impressive architecture, however misplaced. 

Finally reaching the front entrance, Myranda pulled on the heavy glass door to the vestibule. The tiny, air-conditioned room was a refreshing oasis from the hot pavement and unshaded path on the side of the building. She took a second to enjoy the cool air before entering the main lobby of the bank. Once inside, Myranda approached the first desk to her left and asked the gentleman if she could in fact borrow the phone. “My car has a flat.” she reiterated. The bank manager turned the phone to face Myranda and stood, “I’ll be right back.” he said politely excusing himself to give her privacy.

She first tried to dial her brother, but no one picked up. Myranda dug the tattered red address book from the bottom of her handbag and found the number for the towing service used by her family. “Mr. Daly? It’s Myranda Marie, I have a flat at the bank on route twenty-seven, yes, the one near the K-Mart. Ok, well, thank you. I will wait here then.” As she returned the handset to its cradle, Myranda nearly cried. The towing service was exceptionally busy and she would have to wait at least two hours for them. The bank manager hovered a few feet from his desk, only attempting to reclaim his seat when Myranda stood to leave. “Thank you.” she managed before the tears escaped. She donned her sunglasses to hide her embarrassment and exited the building. 

The front of the bank faced the highway, with a circular drive and well-manicured lawn between them. As luck would have it, Myranda spotted a park bench near the curb. A woman sat to the far left, leaving plenty of room for her to wait without causing permanent damage to her feet from standing in her damn heels for the next two hours. The woman turned as she heard Myranda’s footsteps. She was familiar and Myranda quickened her pace. “Hello!” she called out with certainty they had met before. 

The woman turned again and waved. “Myranda, it’s so good to see you.” she said. 

“I knew you looked familiar! How do we know one another?” 

The woman patted the bench seat next to her, “Please join me, won’t you?” she offered.

Myranda sat and immediately began to prattle on, “I was driving home from work and got another flat. I managed to get the car into the back parking lot, but the tow truck will be at least a few hours. I’m happy to have company, even for a few minutes.” 

“Yes, I remember.”

“Remember what?” Myranda asked. 

“This day. It’s how I knew where to find you. I’m sure I seem crazy, but please give me the chance to explain.” Myranda was clearly unnerved, and the woman feared she would lose her attention. Wasting no time, she continued before Myranda gave in to her urge to flee. “I am you, well, from the future. Right now, you’re nineteen, and I am forty-six. Twenty-seven years ago, I was sitting right here waiting for the tow truck. I know you were just at that office job in the Jefferson building across town. You’re a receptionist for that cookware company. Most days, you are the only one in the office and you suspect the boss is shady, but the money is great.” The woman spoke so quickly, she found herself out of breath. 

“Yeah,” Myranda agreed. “I’m pretty sure that company is scamming the people who come to work for them. I feel guilty telling the people who call that it is a real job opportunity.”

The woman laughed, “Actually, it’s called network marketing in the future and the concept does gain considerable notoriety and for some, it can be quite lucrative.”

“So, I should work for one of those companies in the future?” 

“Oh, hell no. You, well, we suck at network marketing. I tried several times with different companies and found the cost much higher than any gains.”

“I don’t follow.” Myranda was growing bored with this conversation and contemplated leaving again.

“Well, it cost me money, my sanity, dignity and most of my friends, but that’s not the message I’m here to deliver. Listen, I won this trip back in time in a raffle, but the stipulations are fairly forthright, so I need to follow the rules and the time constraints.”

“You what?” Myranda blurted.

“In the future, time travel can be purchased through a licensed agency much like a plane trip to another country. However, it’s a very expensive enterprise which most people cannot afford. I attended a fundraiser with some work colleagues where a time travel agency donated a limited excursion for their raffle. I purchased five tickets for one hundred dollars and won. I thought long and hard about where and when to travel. My decision was clear as I looked through some old photos and came across a few of you, sad and afraid. I knew immediately I had to come and talk to you about Thomas.”

“Ok, I think I’ve heard enough. Thanks, but I’ll be waiting elsewhere, far away from you.” Myranda stood and turned to leave but the woman pressed on, keeping her attention a few seconds longer.

“The future is confusing, I’ll admit. There are so many formalities which, if I explained to you today, would not only sound like really awkward science fiction but illusory lies created to make you question everything you know.”

“I’m not good with liars, so if it's your intention to deceive me as a part of some sick joke, I would rather stand in these heels for the next two hours. I’m already inclined to call the cops and have you hauled off to the psych ward. My head is reeling over the whole, “I won time travel in a raffle thing.” Myranda started toward the front entrance of the bank as she plotted what exactly she would say to the 9-1-1 operator once she got past, “I met my future self at the bank.”

“Wait, please!” the woman's voice was fraught with desperation. “I have limited time and one opportunity; right now, to deliver a message that may change your life for the better, but you need to listen. I can’t stress enough how very important this is, for both of us.” 

Curiosity overruled apprehension and Myranda once again took a seat on the bench next to the crazy woman claiming to be her future self. “Fine, I’m listening.” she conceded. 

“My friends call me Randi. My, well, our brother Michael started that nickname when we were little, and it stuck. Our family is blended, two stepbrothers and one half-brother. You, we, are the oldest. Life gets very complicated, and I know you want nothing more than to live on your own.” 

“Ok, you have my attention.” Myranda admitted. 

Randi felt relieved as she spoke, “Good. Now in just a few months you’ll be reacquainted with a guy you knew when we were younger. His family and ours were friends years ago. He’s home from college for good and somehow you end up on his radar. After a few dates, you fall hard and everything changes. I am begging you; when you bump into Thomas, remember what I am telling you today. He seems so charming and ambitious and honey, very convincing when it comes to his feelings for you. This psycho promises to take you away from all your troubles at home. He even takes you to look at condos in Princeton to try and impress you.  He’s going to be hard to resist, but please try.”

“What will happen if I can’t resist?” Myranda felt anxious and a little fearful as she listened to Randi describe the damage three years with Thomas would cause.

“He will break you; chip away at your self-esteem and convince you that no one but him will ever love you or find you attractive. You’ll lose our family and many friends to his control. Oh, they try to tell you, but Thomas will have you believing they all lie. The emotional turmoil he will be responsible for will haunt every relationship you have after him. Loyalty and trust have nothing to do with control and manipulation, do you understand?”

Myranda shook, “I think so. Never would I imagine I’d be so weak as to allow someone to exploit my feelings. Why am I so weak?” 

Randi’s eyes welled with tears, “You’re not weak, you fall in love with the wrong guy. He’s not just wrong, he’s detrimental to your well-being, not to mention his deviant behavior that increases in intensity over those three years. Every time you allow him to get away with his twisted ways, he pushes the boundaries more and more until he has you convinced his aberrant conduct is desired.” 

“Oh my God. So, it just continues to get worse?” 

“Yeah, let’s just say, Thomas uses sex and fear to keep you complicit, then blames you for being perverse.”

Myranda gasped, “Jesus!” 

“I only have about a minute left. “He is volatile and will cause permanent emotional damage. After three traumatic years, he decides you're not good enough to spend his life with and not only breaks your heart but spreads vicious rumors about you. You are worth so much more than that. I beg you Myranda, listen to your friends and family when they warn you. Don’t let this man change who you are to suit his sociopathic tendencies.”

“If I avoid this relationship, won’t your life change as a result?”

“Yes, but it will be worth it. I never completely trust anyone, and I suffer from self-doubt and have virtually no self-esteem. I was privy to the changes that would occur if you listened to me today and I promise you, they’re for the better.”

“Basically, you’re doing this for you.”

Randi smiled, “Yes, I am. Do you understand?”

The proverbial light bulb illuminated over young Myranda’s head as she recognized the purpose of Randi’s visit. Of course, it was self-serving; for both of them.

“I have to go. Love yourself enough to walk away from anyone who doesn’t love you the way you deserve to be loved.” Randi leaned over and lightly kissed Myranda’s forehead. “The tow truck is coming.” she whispered.

Myranda looked up to see the rickety red truck navigating the circular drive. in front of the bank. She turned to say goodbye to her future self only to find she was sitting alone on the bench. “Thank you.” she whispered. 

May 03, 2023 02:13

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