A Familiar Face

June 2022 Flash Challenge, Day 20

Photo by mohammad alizade on Unsplash

Everyone moves so fast at work these days. I do my best to stay out of their way, but it takes vigilance. The hall is a special effect, a light show of colorful blurs as massage therapists and clients zip by at speeds that feel wrong for a place intended to induce relaxation.

“Slow down.” I want to say. Or maybe I do say it. My memory and perception of time seem skewed here. Wherever here is.

I hear the door to the lobby open and look up. A figure, backlit by the sun, wearing a white sundress, enters. Now time moves slowly.

She looks familiar, but from where?

Is she my client?

I look down for my iPad, but my hands are empty.

Someone I know, maybe?

I look down again, but my bare palms don’t offer any answer. My chest tightens.

I blink, and the film resumes with its unsettlingly rapid pace. The familiar figure is an arrow of light that rockets past me. I barely avoid crashing into her.

The restroom door slams shut behind her. An instant later, it flies open, and she barrels back down the hall toward the waiting area.

I need to see my doctor. Time dilation and contraction? These sound like warning signs for something.

As she passes me this time, I perceive her at both hyper and normal speeds.

Her face swivels towards me; her expression is one of sad puzzlement.

Then she turns into the waiting area, and she is gone again.

My memories land with a graceless clunk.

She looks older today, grayer.

She is my wife. Well, she was my wife, once upon a time.

Now she is just somebody that I used to know.

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