Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Bethany opened the milk jug to douse her morning cereal and almost gagged. “Sour already?” She’d just bought the jug three days before. She poured the liquid down the sink, rinsed the plastic container and placed it in the recycling bin. 

Now what? She couldn’t eat her frosted o’s dry. With a frown, she pulled the orange juice from the fridge and tipped the carton over the oats. That would have to do. She was already running late.

She sighed, realizing she’d have to drink her coffee black. Damn the grocery for not pulling expired product from the dairy case.

Opening the fridge once more to put the orange juice back, she stopped. The milk jug was on the top shelf again, just as if she hadn’t yet touched it. What the heck? And the eggs were leaking from their carton. When she opened the lid, she saw that eight out of the dozen had cracked.

Bethany shook her head as though to clear it. If this was a dream, it was remarkably vivid.

The clock in the kitchen read ten forty-five, and she blinked in puzzlement. How had two hours passed since she walked into the room to make herself breakfast? And if it was now two hours later than she thought, that meant she was very late for work. Mr. Davidson needed the last quarter’s numbers for his meeting with the board—exactly thirty minutes ago. She’d promised to have them on his desk when he walked in at nine thirty. 

She shivered, picturing his grimace when he realized her report was missing. Her day would last well into the evening, as she tried to make amends.

Thumbing through her phone’s contacts, she looked in vain for Davidson’s number to text him her apologies. But although she ran through the list several times, it wasn’t there.

She dumped the cereal in the trash, unplugged the coffee maker, and grabbed a power bar. She would clean up the eggs later. There was a Starbucks on the way to the office. If the line wasn’t long, she might only be fifty minutes late to work.

At the school crossing several blocks from her apartment, Bethany groaned. Her lateness put her at the busiest time for the kindergarten start. A crossing guard held up traffic as the minutes ticked by, and Bethany’s blood pressure hit boiling.

“Just let me get to work!” she shouted to the world. 

When the vehicles could finally move forward, Bethany honked at the driver ahead of her to hurry his pace. She turned the corner at Larch to reach the Starbucks and braked. The street looked different. Much different. Instead of a row of small retail businesses, the block was one large building, three stories high, with a shiny blue brick facade. 

Maybe the Starbucks was on another street. She tried to remember, turning left, then right, on a meandering route in search of coffee. No Starbucks. No buildings that looked familiar. And, in fact, where was her office? When she reached Main and Oak, the correct intersection, the four corners held a gas station, a fast food restaurant, an empty lot, and a lawyer’s office. 

Now completely confused, she pulled into the gas station and parked. She was thirty-one years old. This can’t be dementia

Bethany walked into the small convenience store that was part of the gas station. When she asked for directions to Tanner Industries, the cashier gave her a blank look.

“I’ve never heard of it,” he said.

“But …” Bethany started. It should be right here, she almost said. Instead, she muttered to him, “I must have the address wrong.” 

Back in her car, Bethany tried to come up with an explanation that made sense. She couldn’t go to the police—there had been no crime committed other than robbing her of her reality. She could go back home, assuming her home was still there. Or maybe to the ER, and tell them that something was wrong with her brain.

Her phone buzzed, making her jump. It was Mr. Davidson.

“Is everything okay?” he asked. “We were expecting you by now.”

Bethany ran through several responses, but they all seemed inadequate. “I’m so sorry, I’ve overslept,” she lied. “I’m on my way.” Another lie, more or less.

Her boss was quiet for a moment. “We’ll talk when you get here.”

With her head beginning to throb from the absurdity of her situation, Bethany started up her car and pulled out of the gas station. Where to? Back home to the sour milk and cracked eggs? Down the road to search for an office that seemed to have moved?

The ramp to the interstate was three blocks down. It beckoned to her. She again pictured Mr. Davidson’s face, his eyes narrowed at her, his mouth turned down. Truthfully, she’d never liked him—or the job.

Bethany flicked on her turn signal and slid onto the onramp. A new reality required a new approach to life. Somewhere out there, she might find the answer.

Author Bio
Author Bio
Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.
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Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.
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  • DT Krippene says:

    Story really draws you in. It has me wondering what she’ll encounter when she eventually arrives at work.

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