Chapter 1: Curio
Nothing can just be easy, Angela thought, breathing a sigh at the roadblock that barred her way home. In just the few hours she’d been in the library, construction crews had erected barriers that were now blocking her usual route from the library to her home. She’d have to double back and go down 3rd Street. She hated 3rd Street.
The dirty little throughway was a favorite hangout for the more unsavory denizens of the town, and they were always accosting passersby for money or trying to peddle drugs. She set her small stack of books down on a nearby bench and slipped her little purse underneath her shirt to hide it. There was nothing else for it.
Angela doubled back, passed the library, and banked left down 2nd, hurried down the block, and then onto 3rd. She walked at a brisk pace, holding her books to her chest and looking straight ahead, ignoring the glances from alleyways and the corners of boarded-up buildings. Halfway down the street, the first brazen panhandler took up stride next to her.
“Spare some change, little lady?” he asked.
Angela shook her head and squeaked, “I don’t carry any cash. I’m sorry.”
The dirty man spit on the sidewalk and walked away. Angela let out her breath and hurried along. The end of the street was now in sight. From there, she could cut down 6th and she’d be in downtown proper, where it was clean and safe.
Nearing the intersection, she passed a small curio shop, where something made her pause. The sun reflected the light off a little trinket in the window. The tiny pendant, shaped like a ruby heart, twinkled so invitingly in the window, draped around a black display neck. She stepped to the glass and stared at the thing. It was just so pretty. The small facets caught the light of the sun, making the thing blaze with red light. She looked into it, and could see the street behind her reflected to near perfection in the shiny surface.
Angela wasn’t much for jewelry, or for dressing up at all, for that matter. She’d best be described as plain. She did not stand out or call attention to herself. Attention made her nervous, anxious, uncomfortable. There was something about this cute little heart, though. She pushed open the door to the shop and stepped inside. The place seemed like the average knick-knack shop, littered with trinkets and baubles. A bell tinkled above the door as she entered. Angela scanned the various items on the shelves and displays out of reflex, but really there was only one thing she was interested in.
From behind a beaded curtain, a gray-haired, matronly woman wrapped in a tattered shawl emerged.
“Hello.” She said, “Can I help you?”
The woman’s accent made it sound more like “Ken ah hilp you?”
Angela set her books on the counter.
“There’s a necklace in your window. Would you mind if I looked at it?” She asked.
The woman nodded, and Angela followed her to the window, pointed out the pendant, and watched the woman remove it from the display. She offered it, and Angela took it, holding it by the delicate silver chain. The little ruby swung back and forth hypnotically. It really was pretty, she thought.
“How much?” Angela asked.
“Special sale. $13.” The woman replied.
For Angela that was a lot.
“It’s so pretty.” Angela said, watching it sway.
“Is magic.” The woman said, “From old country. Just stories, though.” She smiled.
“Magic?” Angela asked, snapping her eyes from the pendant. She didn’t believe in that garbage, but old stories were something of a curiosity to her.
“I do not know this is true.” The woman said, shaking her head. “It was from babushka. She likes to tell stories from old country. Wendigo. Baba Yaga. She just likes to scare the children. Old woman, always with the salt over the shoulder.” She shrugged.
“Do you know the story?” Angela asked.
She shrugged again and said, “She say that stone has the whole world in it, but… different. Opposite. I do not know. Old woman, always with the garlic in her pocket. Would not even let us leave shoes under bed.”
It sounded to Angela as though babushka was just a superstitious old Russian woman that liked to tell scary stories to her grandchildren.
“I’ll take it.” She said, and handed the pendant back to the woman.
Moments later, Angela emerged from the shop, the little pendant in her purse, and took 6th Street into downtown. A twenty-minute walk across the strip, and a few turns later, brought her home. She pulled the screen door open and stepped in. The blare of the TV from the living room signaled that her father was in his favorite spot.
Dale held a can of beer while the TV droned. A pile of mail, most of which was marked “Past Due” lay on the coffee table. Angela winced at the sight of it. Her dad was working two jobs to cover the bills left behind by her mother’s over-spending, prior to their divorce.
“Hey, dad.” She said, and gave him a kiss on the head.
“Hey, Ang. How was the library?”
“Ok. They closed the road, so I had to take 3rd home.”
“Yuck.” He spat, with a look of disgust.
She glanced at the pile of mail again and said, “Dad, you should let me get a job. They’re hiring at the market. I could help out.”
Her father shook his head. “School is more important. You need to be better than this, honey.” He waved his hand over “this” to encompass his life.
“Find anything good in the stacks?” He asked, trying to lighten the mood.
She sat down and showed him the books. He appraised the titles with a smile. Libraries were becoming extinct in the digital world, but there were still people who clung to paper, and Angela was one of them. Her dad was another. He might not have been the brightest bulb on paper, but the man consumed the printed page voraciously. They shared that.
Angela took the stack of books up to her room and set them on her bedside table. She withdrew her purse from under her shirt, and took the little pendant out, letting it swing back and forth on the chain as it glittered in the ruddy light of her table lamp. It really was pretty. She laid it on her desk next to the purse and took up a book, settling in on her bed for the evening’s entertainment.
Chapter 2: The Stupid Old Hag with the Necklace
Arnold was a regular who really loved beating his hard dick into Angie’s mouth while he held her hair. This was the third time in a week that she’d knelt, knees on a pillow in Arnold’s 3rd Street apartment, while the old guy fucked his sizable prick into her mouth. God, it made her wet! Something about having a guy old enough to be her dad so crazy about stuffing his dick into her throat like she was a toy just got her hot as fuck.
“You ready for daddy’s cum, baby?” Arnold asked, his legs trembling as he fed his shaft into her mouth.
“Gug!” Angie replied.
“Here it comes. That’s my cocksucker. Here it comes!”
Angie braced for the familiar hard blast of semen, and immediately began to swallow when the first shot hit the back of her throat. There’d been a time when she had choked on Arnold’s copious jizz loads, but no more. She’d become an expert cum-swallower, and guzzled it down with practiced ease.
Once his dick was satisfied, Arnold had no use for the hot little teen. Angie left his apartment with $100 and a belly filled with sticky semen. She held up the spit-soaked top she’d just changed out for a new one, and tossed it on the floor in the hallway. The top had cost nearly as much as she’d just made, but whatever. She could just swipe one of her dad’s credit cards and get a new one.
Angie left the apartment building and strode down 3rd toward the parking garage on 6th. Just before the intersection, though, something caught her eye, laying in the window of a storefront she’d passed by a hundred times. She’d never gone in. The place was a dump. This time she paused and walked to the window. Among the displays, as though it had been dropped by accident, she saw the little ruby heart that had caught the light as she passed by, twinkling like fire in the afternoon sun. She was sure it was just some cheap glass trinket, but there was something about it that was just so cute.
A bell above the door of the shop tinkled as she pushed it open and stepped inside. She went to the window, and picked up the trinket, holding it up to the light. In its polished surface, she could see the shop reflected in almost mirror quality. An old woman in a ratty shawl emerged from a beaded curtain. The woman looked at the necklace and choked, feeling in her pockets in a panic.
“Stop!” She called over the counter to Angie.
Angie whipped around to face her, holding the necklace.
“How much?” She asked.
“Not for sale!” The woman said, and rounded the counter, “Please. Give it back!”
Her accent made it sound like, “Geev it beck!”
“Everything’s for sale.” Angie countered, wrapping the necklace in her fist.
“You do not want.” The woman argued, shaking her head, “Is cursed!”
“Oh, please.” Angie rolled her eyes, “Cursed?”
“From old country.” The woman said, reaching for the necklace.
“Tell me about it.” Angie said, smirking, putting the necklace behind her back.
“Please. Give it back.”
“Tell me, and I will.”
The woman looked agitated, wringing her hands, but finally she said, “Stone has the whole world in it, but different. Opposite. You do not understand. Please. Give it back. Will ruin you.”
“Come on. Name your price. It’s so pretty.”
“Not for sale!”
“Fine. Have it your way.” Angie shrugged and ran for the door.
“No!” The woman cried after her, but Angie was too fast for the old hag’s spindly legs.
Chapter 3: The Whole World, but Different
Angela stood at the bus stop the next morning, dressed for school in an ivory blouse that hid her shapely body, and a pair of baggy trousers. Her glasses perched on her nose, and the little pendant hung from her neck on its short chain, resting just at the base of her throat. Most of the other seniors in her class had their own cars or had friends with cars. Angela did not have a car, nor many friends, and rode the bus. Soon, though, high school would be over and she would graduate with honors. Her bus arrived, and she shouldered her backpack, got on, and took a seat.
Angela typically sat alone with her book. People rarely took notice of her, and she liked it that way. The bus rumbled away from her stop. She opened the book and read as the other students jabbered around her. Outside, the sunlight grew in intensity, and Angela had to shield her eyes to read. As the bus droned on, the light seemed to grow even brighter, brighter, to the point that she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She shut them against the brightness, and then, just as suddenly, the light dimmed. She blinked back tears as she opened her eyes and looked out the window.
Odd, she thought. She quickly popped her head over the seat, but no one else seemed bothered by the sudden light show. Fucking sun, she thought and returned to her book. The squeak of the seat springs next to her interrupted her reading. Angela looked up from her book into the smiling face of Macy Pinder.
“Hey, Ang.” Macy said, a friendly smile across her dark-skinned face, “Whatcha readin’?”
Macy Pinder was talking to her? Macy Pinder was asking her about a book? Confused, Angela showed Macy the cover of the book.
“Luna’s Pride.” Macy stated, “Not one of my favorites, but it’s still good. I liked the Eclipse series better. Have you read that one?”
Macy Pinder had read a book? Angela thought, baffled.
“Um, yeah. I have the whole series at home.” She stammered. “I didn’t know you liked Ray Roderson.”
Angela did not know that Macy liked any sort of book. Macy ran with one of the rougher crowds, and books were about the last thing on their list of interests.
“Are you kidding? He’s the best.”
For the rest of the ride to school, Angela became engrossed in a literary conversation with one of the most unruly girls in school. Had she been wrong about Macy since the 5th grade? She departed the bus with a list of Macy’s recommended authors and a sense of confusion.
Angela followed the press of students into the school and wound her way through the halls to her locker, which would not open. Puzzled, she tried the combination again. Nothing. Perturbed, she turned around and nearly bowled right over one of her few friends, Kat. Angela blinked and looked her friend over, now even more confused. Kat was, like her, a bookish girl with curly brown hair that was usually done up with little bows. She wore glasses, similar to Angela’s, and never dressed in anything that could be considered revealing or provocative.
Today, though, Kat had her shiny brunette curls pulled back into a ponytail. She wore a cropped top with a deep V-neck and a tight denim skirt. A navel ring twinkled on her tummy, and when she opened her mouth to speak, a tongue ring clicked against her teeth.
“What the fuck are you wearing?” Kat asked with a look of disgust.
“What?” Angela asked back, her face a study in shock.
“Those bags, stupid.” Kat snapped, “Where did you dig up those nasty fucking rags?”
“I… what?” Angela asked again.
Kat rolled her eyes, and behind her she could hear two other girls laughing. The laughing girls were Candice and Laura, two of the girls from the book club. Like Kat they were dressed like… like the popular girls, Candice in a sundress and Laura in a tube top and miniskirt.
“Did I miss the memo on fucking opposite day or something?” Kat jibed, “Seriously gross. Don’t talk to me until you can at least get some real clothes. And lose those geek specs. Judas Christ.”
Kat flipped her ponytail and stalked off with her two cohorts, giggling wickedly. Angela stared after her, stunned. What kind of weird prank was this? Kat wouldn’t be caught dead in something like that! And when had she gotten piercings? Angela shouldered her backpack and started toward class, her locker forgotten as she took in the other students around her. All of them, she saw now, looked different. The people she knew, that she’d been in classes with for most of her life, were all… wrong.
High school had social classes. Nerds. Jocks. Preps. Rockers. The in-betweeners. Most of these people had been part of her life for years as they aged together. She’d watched them all change and become part of one group or another. She was a nerd, she knew. Now, though, everyone that had been like her yesterday was dressed like the popular kids. The popular kids were dressed like her. The rockers were preps, and the preps were grunge.
Opposite day. She stopped in the middle of the hall, getting annoyed looks from the other students. The whole world, she thought, but different. Opposite. Oh, God! She ducked out of the hall into a nearby restroom and entered one of the stalls, wheezing. No way! No fucking way! She took the little pendant off of her neck and held it up, watching it sway.
Angela saw herself reflected in the stone, but the Angela there was not her. She was different. She was, “opposite.” she whispered to herself. The Angela looking back at her had a nasty smirk on her face. Her honey hair, normally put up in a bun (as it was now) cascaded loosely over her shoulders, the cut slightly different. The ivory blouse was a tank top in her reflection, and the other Angela’s cleavage was blatantly on display.
For one wild moment, she contemplated flushing the thing, but then stopped. She’d read plenty of books about magic jewelry, and if it really was, well cursed she decided, it wasn’t going to be broken by simply getting rid of the pendant. A curse or an enchantment had to be lifted, either by the person who had laid the curse or by accomplishing some sort of goal that nullified the curse. She forced herself to calm and think rationally. The shop lady said that the pendant was old, meaning that whoever had put the curse on it was likely long dead. If she needed that person to remove the curse, she was royally fucked. On the other hand, If it could be lifted by reaching a goal, then she had to determine what the goal was. In the stories, the goal usually had to do with what the effects of the curse were.
Everything was the opposite. Everyone expected her to be the opposite of who she was. That must mean that, here, her life was also the opposite. She’d have to fit in until she could figure it out. She looked back into the stone, and to her horror she saw her life as from the viewpoint of the other Angela. Her doppelgänger must be wearing the pendant around her neck. She could see… evil Angela? No. Angie, she decided. Angie was sitting down to class and getting lustful looks from some of the other students.
Angela wrapped her fist around the stone and held it tightly. She wouldn’t get home by standing in a bathroom stall. Whatever the goal was, she’d need to figure it out. The shop lady might have answers. How difficult that would prove, she did not know. If everything here was backwards, the shop lady might not even be the same person.
She forced herself to be calm and thought through the next steps. The shop wasn’t close. She’d need to take the bus home and walk. That meant getting through the school day, without attracting more attention to herself. She needed to look like Angie, and Angie dressed sexy. It was a safe bet that this school also had a lost and found, like her own. There had to be something in it that was more in line with what her other self might wear. She poked her head out of the stall and glanced at the clock. 20 minutes to the first bell.
Angela hurried through the halls as the body of students thinned, ducking into the front office. She approached the reception desk, where a blonde girl with glasses typed at a computer. The girl looked up as she came near, and Angela knew her. In her world, Stephanie Hamlin was a mega-popular track star for the school. The Stephanie she knew, as well as her twin sister, Tori, were two of the most well-known and likable girls in school. Rumor had it that they also led some kind of double life as porn stars, but that was likely just horny boys wishing. This Stephanie, though, looked like the poster child for nerd, much like Angela herself. The thought of Stephanie Hamlin as an office temp nearly made her burst out laughing.
Stephanie blanched as Angela came up to the desk. If her current friends were any indication, Angie was likely a bitch version of herself, and probably a bully to Stephanie. The girl was clearly intimidated.
“Um, hi Angie.” Stephanie said in a shaky voice.
Well, she thought, she’d nailed that one. Over here, she was Angie. She supposed it made sense. Of course she would think like herself. She just had to think backwards about everything. If nothing else, this experience was going to prove an interesting mental exercise.
“Hey, Stephanie.” Angela replied, “I was wondering if I could check the lost and found for a skirt I left in the locker room yesterday.”
Stephanie indicated a door to the right. Angela thanked her, prompting a suspicious look from the girl, and entered the room. Amongst shelves with backpacks, lunch boxes, and various school supplies was a large cardboard tote filled with clothes. Angela tore through it, discarding sweaters, jeans, t-shirts, and finally found a blue v-neck top that was one size too small for her, and a pleated skirt that looked like someone’s schoolgirl fantasy. She sighed and took them, replacing the other items in the tote. Unfortunately, there were no shoes to replace her sneakers, but once she put this top on, no one would be looking at her feet. So much for not attracting attention, she thought.
She waved to Stephanie on her way out of the office, and returned to the restroom, where she changed and stuffed her old clothes into her backpack. Her glasses went in last. That would be more difficult. Either Angie had perfect vision, or she wore contacts. Angela would be able to see well enough, but she’d practically have to stick her nose into a book to read anything. Finally, she let her hair down out of the confines of the bun and pulled it back into a ponytail. She checked the mirror and decided she was, for now, a passable Angie.
Satisfied, she left the restroom and went back to her locker. She couldn’t be sure that her classes here were the same as her normal classes. Hopefully, Angie wasn’t so different as to not keep a copy of her schedule in her locker. She just needed to get into it. She reversed the combination and the locker opened with a satisfying click. It took some digging through crumpled up papers, stuffed into the locker, but she managed to find her schedule of classes. Of course, they were all backwards.
Angela made it to her history class just in time and took an open seat, next to Kat. Glancing at her friend’s evil twin’s binder showed her that Kat went by Katie. Katie gave her an appraising glance and smiled.
“What the fuck was the deal with that getup?” She whispered, “I thought you’d lost your shit there for a minute. Shit, you looked like one of the Hamlin girls!”
Angela thought quickly. If she were one of the hot, bitchy girls, what would she have done?
“I broke into Tori’s locker,” She lied, “and thought it would be funny to go make fun of Stephanie at the office. You should have seen her face. I thought she was gonna cry.”
Katie cackled. For just an instant, Angela’s vision wavered. The room seemed to brighten, and Katie’s mean girl image slipped. It was barely a second, almost so fast that Angela wasn’t sure if it had happened at all, but in that fraction of a moment Katie became the Kat that Angela knew. Then it was gone. Angela looked away to hide her surprise. She was certain that in that brief instant she was where she belonged, but it had happened so fast. Probably just hope, she decided.
“Your tits look amazing in that top,” Kat whispered, and she felt the girl’s hand on her bare leg beneath the table, “Why don’t we skip next period, and we can lez off in the work room. I stole the key from Black Bill.”
Angela nearly choked on her tongue but caught herself. Fuck! Was Angie a lesbian?
“I…“ she stammered, then quickly said, “I can’t. That time of the month.”
Katie nodded and shrugged, understanding.
Fortunately, she was saved by the start of class, which also proved to be a complete headtrip. Her teacher, Mr. Lynn, was a short Asian man with wire-rimmed spectacles, who always wore a blazer that was too large for him. He was terse, short-fused, and had the propensity to mutter to himself angrily in Korean when he wasn’t happy with the class. Angie’s Mr. Lynn was, well, the opposite. He smiled broadly and welcomed them to the final week of school. Rather than an over-large blazer, he wore a smart polo shirt and ironed slacks.
“This will be a practice exam,” he announced in perfect, unaccented English, passing papers around, “with the final on Thursday. It will cover all the same content, so you’ll know what to study, though the final exam will have different questions.”
Angela looked down the list of questions, which were all a blur. Shit. Fortunately, the other students became focused on their own tests, so no one paid much attention to the fact that her face was nearly pressed against the table so that she could read the words. None of them made any sense. The questions were about history that had never happened, as far as Angela was concerned. Well, she supposed that Angie was likely not the best student, so one more failed exam wasn’t going to make a difference. Unless, of course, she was stuck here. The thought was too horrible to contemplate.
Chapter 4: Joan of Arc… or Fuckin’ Something
Judas Christ this Katie was an annoying little cunt, Angie thought, toying with a beaker of some kind of blue liquid. Kat, she caught herself. The prattling bitch was Kat, here. Angie sighed. She’d never paid much attention in chemistry. Boring. The teacher, though, him she could pay attention to. Her version of Mr. Layton was a dorky fuck, but this guy made her go all gooey between the legs just looking at him.
“Fuck he’s hot.” Angie whispered to Kat, who turned crimson with embarrassment.
“Gosh, Angela!” Kat hissed, “What the heck? Now you’re checking out a teacher? I
should take you to the nurse, or something.”
“I’m fine.” Angie said. “He’s just fucking hot. How does your pussy not get wet every day just looking at him?”
Kat rolled her eyes and said, “Whatever. Can you just tell me the pH, so we can finish this?”
Kat sighed and said, “just give it to me.” Angie tore her lustful eyes away from the hot teacher and laid her hand on Kat’s arm. At least this Kat would make graduating easier, she surmised. This Kat actually did work, rather than skipping class to get pounded in the janitor’s closet by Black Bill.
“Hey, sorry.” she said, “I just woke up on the wrong side of the world, er, bed today. It kind of feels like I’m somewhere else. Thank you.” She smiled sweetly, the way she did when she needed to get Donny Thompson to do her homework for her, and it had the same effect.
Kat flushed cutely and replied, “Yeah, it’s ok. Let me just finish this so we don't have to redo it. I like your top.”
Angie looked back to Mr. Layton and caught his eyes on her cleavage.
“You’re not the only one.” She murmured and winked at the teacher suggestively.
Mr. Layton looked back down at his papers.
Angie mulled over her next steps. It was a real kick in the cooch when she’d left for school that day and somehow ended up in fucking Oz. After getting her bearings and realizing that the old Russki from the shit shop had actually been telling the truth about a curse on the necklace, Angie had decided to make the best of it. Stealing the thing was proving to have been a great decision! Aside from having to ride the goddamn school bus today, she thought that she could get used to this topsy-turvy place. At least here she was on track to graduate in a week, and she hadn’t needed to do fuck-all for it. It was a free pass.
Hell, all the nerds over here (wherever here was) were the crowd of popular and successful people back… home, she guessed. All she’d had to do was come to school today showing some cleavage, and it was like she was fucking Joan of Arc to the dweebs. Angie did not know if that was an apt comparison, but she’d heard the name somewhere and knew the chick was famous for something awesome. You don’t get into a history book for being a complete cockup, after all. Even she knew that.
As she figured it, all she had to do was get acclimated, pull some of the nerds out of their shells and make herself their own personal Judas, no, Jesus over here (That fuckup had earned her some odd looks), and she’d be running this place inside a week. She just had to keep in mind that over here, everyone thought she was some kind of sissy dork carpet-muncher, or something. She’d just hook the cattle in with sex (what dorks wanted more than anything) and show them how to actually live a little, then she could make them do anything. Easy as smiling at Donny Thompson.
Chapter 5: Becoming Yourself
Angela rode the bus home, her first day down the rabbit hole something of a success. She’d managed the school day well enough, she thought, dodging the odd question or crinkled brow with hasty excuses and half-witted replies. Now, she bounced in her seat waiting for the bus to drop her off so that she could make the trip to the curio shop, where she hoped some kind of answer awaited.
At last, she reached her stop and quickly made the walk through downtown, which seemed much the same as her own. She wasn’t in the mood for sightseeing, though. She rounded the turn onto the end of 3rd, and there was the little shop. She pushed the door open, the bell tinkled, and she stepped inside, approaching the counter swiftly. A moment later, the same old woman emerged from the same beaded curtain. She fixed Angela with an angry look.
“Some nerve you have, little thief, to come here!” She shouted, “I call the police right now!”
She reached for the phone.
“Wait! Please” Angela said, “I’m not… I’m not who you think I am.”
The woman paused and looked her over again, then her eyes widened. Her hand moved away from the phone.
“No,” she said, “No, you are not her, are you?”
Angela breathed a long sigh and said, “You know?”
The woman nodded. She quickly walked across the shop and flipped the sign to “closed” then locked the door. Her face softened.
“I know.” she said, nodding her head.
“Please! What do you know about it?”
The woman looked far away for a moment, silent, as though looking back through time.
“I was… like you.” She said, “From… over there.” she waved a hand.
“You… but you never got back.” Angela stated, her heart sinking.
The woman shook her head and said, “Babushka was like you, too. Like me. From over there. It… it switches you with the doppelgänger.” she said sadly, “but I could not be like her, so never got back.”
“I don’t understand.” Angela said pitifully.
The woman seemed to struggle for words, then said, “To go back, one of you must become like other you. The same. I could not be like… other me. Evil, she is. Tricksy. I could not become that, and so I never go back. She could not be me, so she never goes back.”
Angela thought it through. To go back, she had to become Angie?
“How did you get it?” The woman asked.
“You… she sold it to me.”
The woman nodded sadly and said, “Tricksy, like I say. Other you, she steal it and run. Never would I wish a thing like this on someone. Always I keep it, though, and I think that one day I might go back. Glupyy… stupid.”
“So, I need to be… like her to get home?”
“Old story. I know only that much. She become you, or you become her. More you are like her, more you will see other side. When you see other side, you break stone, you break curse. This is what I know from babushka. This is what she know from old country.”
She shrugged. Angela stood straight. That split second, in her first period class. She’d told Katie that she’d broken into Tori’s locker, something that she believed Angie would do. In that instant she’d seen her Kat, and then it had been gone. She’d become like Angie, and she’d been home.
“I saw it today. The other side. I… I did something like her, the other me, and I saw it.”
The woman nodded and said, “I have seen it, too. You are like them, and you are closer to home. You are not like them, and you are far away. You will become like her?”
“I… I don’t know.”
The woman nodded, understanding.
“Thank you.” Angela said.
The woman snorted, “Is not good saying this. You are now further away. It is not like her.”
The woman nodded. Great, Angela thought. Now, she just had to become a slutty ultra-bitch full-time, and she’d be set.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Angela said, then put on her best bitch face, “Thanks for fucking nothing, you stupid old cow!”
The woman nodded, understanding, and the world wavered in her vision, so quickly, like a spliced frame in a film reel, and then it was gone.
“Is good. You are closer.”
“Fuck off.” Angela said, and just for good measure, she swept the woman’s jewelry display off of the counter and stormed out of the shop. She did not feel good about it.
Walking back home, Angela thought it over. Could she actually do it? Was she willing to become like Angie in order to go home? What a mindfuck! She’d have to watch her every word and every action, every minute of the day. Even the slightest lapse into her real self was a setback. How could she maintain it? Lost in her own thoughts, she only realized she’d made it home when she found the door locked, and her key did not work.
It suddenly occurred to her that this might not even be her home. A wave of panic tied her stomach in a knot. She had no idea where she lived. What were her parents like? If things were backwards, had the divorce never happened? Well, she was here. She may as well find out. She raised her fist and knocked on the door, then waited. A minute passed, and then the door opened.
“Mom?” She asked, staring in surprise at the woman standing in the doorway.
“Angie?” The woman asked, equally surprised, “What are you doing here? It’s not our week. Does your dad know that you’re here?”
Angela bit off the flow of questions that were about to spill forth. Her next words or action would either get her closer to home or set her back. What would Angie do?
“I’m an adult. Dad doesn’t have to know every fucking thing I do.” She snapped, “And, why did you change the locks without telling me?”
Her mother sighed and said, “One of these kids around here broke the lock trying to get into the place a few days ago. I just had them changed. I wasn’t expecting you until next week. It doesn’t answer the question, though. Your dad is going to be pissed. You’d better come in and call him.” She looked over Angela’s shoulder, then asked, “Where’s your car? Did he ground you again? Judas Christ, Angie, you shouldn’t be taking buses around the city dressed like that. You’re going to get into trouble. Come in here.”
She went inside and her mother closed the door.
“I need to use your phone.” Angela said.
“What happened to yours? Oh, of course. Grounded. What did you do this time?”
Angela rolled her eyes and shot back, “Do you want to read my diary, too?”
“No, but I also don’t want you to get raped, riding public transportation dressed like that, but since when does anything I say matter?”
Her mother handed her phone over. Angela couldn’t afford a phone of her own, and even if she could it was unlikely it was going to work over here. Hell, over here Verizon was probably some mom-and-pop joint in fucking Wisconsin. Angela scrolled through the contacts. Fortunately, her father had the same name. She dialed, waited, and then a woman on the other end answered, “Mr. Eller’s office. This is Laura. How can I help you?”
Mr. Eller? Laura?
“Is my dad there?” Angela asked, as entitled and prissy as she could manage.
The woman did not sound happy to hear from her, but she was polite, “Hi, Angie. Just a moment.”
The line went silent, beeped, and a moment later it clicked.
“Angie?” Her father’s voice asked, “What is it? I’m about to head into a meeting.”
“I’m over at moms, and she doesn’t want me to take a bus home. Should I order a cab or something?”
Her father sighed and said, “What are you doing at your mom’s? Nevermind. I’ll send a car. Is there anything else?”
The line went dead. Ok. Dad was kind of a dick. It made sense. Her own dad was kind and accepting, and her mother was a bitch, so… opposite. Jesus Christ. No, Judas Christ. Even cursing didn’t work right around here.