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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
Recommendations: 6

Four Years - Chapter 4


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She had a friend.

4.


Jimmy walked into the inner lobby, wondering how the mat in the foyer had gotten so ruined and dirty; the landowner had only put it in the previous autumn. He strode over to the elevator, called it to the lobby, and determined the fifth floor once he entered. Maybe Mark had somehow, in a flash, gone back upstairs for whatever reason. And there was food.


The day was turning out to be one of those odd ones. First a stranger accosted them, then Mark disappeared, and then the weather, almost uncannily, went from sunshine to rain. He didn't even dwell on the laundromat in place of the restaurant.


He unlocked the door to their apartment, stepped in, and gawked. What he saw wasn't what he was accustomed to.


Instead of a sparsly furnished room, it was heavily made up with modest furniture and wall dressings. The lawnchair he usually lounged in was gone; the curtains were different; the entire place looked like it was transplanted from an Ikea showroom.


He stepped up to the doorway into Mark's room to see if he was there, but it was empty. It looked much the same as it normally did - except, unusually, for the woman's garments littered about the room.


This day being odd was just the beginning; Jimmy was only realizing that deciding it was odd was only scratching the surface of his entire mental capacities.


In the living room, Jimmy heard voices drifting through. Then Mark, out of sight, yelled "Jimmy! You left the door open again!" A woman's sneer followed it: "He's always leaving it open, I don't know what's wrong with him."


Jimmy turned around and looked into the living room. Into the space entered Mark and a woman who was obviously with him. His beard was completely gone; in fact his friend looked several years older than he'd been that morning.


"Hey Jimmy," Mark boasted with a smile. "We were wondering where you'd gone this morning, you never wake up later than ten."


"Uh...uh...I was out," Jimmy sputtered.


"Was it a job interview?" the woman asked, sounding slightly hopeful.


"Um - no. I, I have a job. What's your name?"


"Must have really gotten hammered last night," the girl said to Mark. She had green eyes, frizzy auburn hair, and a v-shaped face.


"Lauren's been living here for eight months now, man, you should remember her name by now," Mark replied with a smile to Jimmy. Why did he keep smiling at him? Was he stupid or something?


"Oh - yes. Okay. Um, Mark, can we have a small talk? It's...it's about that 'job interview.'"


"Sure," his grinning friend welcomed. Jimmy thought he looked like an idiot. "Lauren, can you please move some of the groceries into the kitchen? I'll help you in a second." They walked into what Jimmy expected to be his bedroom. To his relief, it was exactly the same as it was before, except the lawn chair now sat in it.


As Mark closed the door, he turned and said, "nice to see you trimmed your beard."


"What the heck is this!" Jimmy burst. "Why are you grinning at me like that? You never grin! Why's the apartment so - like that? Where's your beard?


Mark's grin disappeared. "What do you mean 'why is the apartment like that?' It's always been like that."


Jimmy shook his head. "This is unreal. Look, I saw you ten minutes ago. We were walking out of the building together. You were off to school. Remember that? And I was off to the restaurant."


"Jimmy, I've been finished school for three years now. I didn't see you at all this morning."


"Three years!? Is this some kind of joke? It isn't my destiny to have jokes on me. I'm the joker. You never joke often, and when you do, it's a smart-alecky thing based on sarcasm, nothing elaborate like this!"


"Are you okay, Jimmy?" Mark asked with obvious concern. "You looke pale and, like, almost dead. What'd you eat for breakfast?"


"I haven't had any! The stupid restaurant turned into a laundromat this morning!"


"Calm down, man. Listen, if you're unsure about everything, then maybe we should have a proper talk."


"What's today, Mark? Why are you like, five years older-looking? Why are restaurants laundromats? Can you answer that? Why are you with a girl? 'Cause ten minutes ago you were frustrated and annoyed and going to school. Is this like, the future or something? What's the date?"


Mark stared at his roomate. "It's March. The thirty-first."


"Of course it is!"


"It is, it is," Mark pressed. "March 31st, 2017."


"2017!?"


"Calm down Jimmy."


"Are you saying I time-travelled!? There's no such thing!"


"Of course there's no such thing," Mark replied, his wonder increasing by the second at the behaviour of his long-time friend.


"This isn't real," Jimmy moaned, looking around frantically. "No such thing, no such thing. My life was supposed to lead me somewhere, but into the future? No way."


"Let's sit down," Mark suggested, "and figure this out together. I don't understand anything more about what you're saying than you do."


There was a knock on the door and through it came Lauren's voice. "Is everything okay in there?"


"We're fine, we just need some privacy," Mark answered. "We'll be out in a few minutes." To Jimmy, he said, "tell me everything."


"Okay. Okay. It was morning. We were leaving the building together. It was sunny. Then that guy you didn't like grabbed us."


"What guy?"


"Don't you remember? The guy you kept complaining about, the one you said stared at you."


"Leonard? We're good buddies, I volunteer at the homeless shelter from time to time just to see him. He's a very good-hearted man."


Jimmy's reality continued to break down into further pieces in front of him. He liked unpredictability and making things up as he went along, but this was just too much.


"Okay, well Leonard then, he grabbed us by the shoulder..."


"Uh-huh," Mark patiently coaxed.


"And when I turned around, you and him were both gone. And the weather had turned rainy, just like that...and when I put you two out of my mind and went to the restaurant, it was...it was a laundromat. It was gone. Same address, but a laundromat."


"What was the date?" Mark asked.


"March 31st. March 31st, 2013."


"2013? Wow, that's four years ago. So if you came from that time, I would definitely have still been in school...and Lauren wouldn't have been around...I see."


"Do you? This is a very difficult thing for me to process. I just...I can't deal with this, man."


Mark nodded, stood up, and faced Jimmy. "I get you perfectly. And I must say, good job."


Jimmy looked up at his friend. "Good job?"


"Oh, totally. You had me freightened for a bit, but I get it now."


"Get it? Well yeah, that helps me so much now that you get it - "


"And you totally had me fooled with that amazing acting. You were just superb. I'd never seen such perfect agitation."


"But - "


"However, man, this has really got to stop, you know?" Mark looked frustrated and annoyed, and Jimmy was suddenly presented with such a familiar personnage that he felt slightly better for the briefest second.


"You're twenty-eight, you don't have a job, no school, you still live here with us - "


"I don't have a job?" Jimmy lamented.


" - No job, Lauren and I pay the rent while you do nothing all day but act immature, and it's just not getting you anywhere, Jimmy! You need to act like an adult! We're moving out, you remember? You know we're not bringing you with us, Lauren and I have already found and signed the papers for our own place, and where does that leave you? I'm tired of lending you money. Either get a job or live on the streets." He turned away and strode out of the room. "Lauren, sorry about that, where's the rest of the groceries? I'll help you with - yeah, he was just joking again. Kind of tired of it...I know..." His voice faded away.


Jimmy just sat there, feeling unstable, shocked, and like a little kid, lost in a big world that didn't care about him.


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Justin Campbell's website: http://justincottawa.blogspot.ca/

Next: Do I still love you? pt 2