Chapter One – Down the Rabbit Hole
The first time I met her was at my place of employment, a Starbucks. Everything changed from that point on to a subtle insane roller coaster ride. Upheavals are like that. Questions lingered even now: Was she an alien? Was she an escaped mental patient? Was she suffering a brain tumor? Had she escaped such abuse that reality was completely skewed? Did she enter from another dimension in the future? Was this the Matrix? Or… maybe she was the strongest psychic on earth. Voices told her what to do. Was she simply a schizophrenic then? The line between genius and insanity is thin – transparent really. Many people throughout history – Einstein, Augustine, da Vinci - transcended common knowledge and delved into questionable knowledge during their time on earth. At those times it is easier to write it off as insanity. We always choose the path of least resistance and to admit there are forces at work outside what we see and feel would mean we'd have to take leaps: leaps of faith – leaps of thought – leaps from our own human frailty.
I was never sure what to think or feel when I was with Tesday. But, I'm not sure I was supposed to know that. She popped in my life and out and then….
TWO YEARS EARLIER
Gail walked by me, patting my shoulder. "Mornin' Camille, how are classes?"
"Good – last semester."
"That's wonderful. Bet you can't wait to get out and use that degree."
"Actually… it's kind of scary. What do you do with a history degree?"
"Oh hush now – always look at the positive and the positive will look back."
Gail was the matriarch of our Starbucks. She had short-cropped ash blonde hair, tortoise-shell professorial glasses, and a welcoming smile. Her voice made the world brighten. She began working at Starbucks after her last daughter graduated high school – she had three that left for Baylor. She had been a homemaker her whole life and after her husband was laid off at Texas Instruments she took on a part-time job to help with finances as he consulted from home. She told me it helped get her out of the house too, since her husband was always around now. It's not that they didn't love each other; it's just there can be "too much of a good thang."
The chime went off and a tall, lanky girl, maybe in her early 20s, walked in. She had what I'd call bedhead – brunette and wild, short and sassy. She wore fat, chunky black boots, and I think men's pajama bottoms. She also had a thick, dark blue sweater, like sea captain's wear in Gorton fish stick commercials. And then a red scarf around her neck and sunglasses –like a spy. I think she just jumped out of bed wanting coffee; yet, it was three in the afternoon.
"Hello," I said, "Welcome to Star…"
"I need a cup of coffee right now."
I began to ring her up.
"What are you doing?" she demanded.
"What do you mean?"
"I said I need coffee now." She tapped her finger on the counter.
I glanced back at Gail, who was busy with Jorge, our drive-thru guy taking an order. Gail was frothing up some milk for a non-fat latte.
"NOW - I need it NOW," she said again, this time removing her sunglasses.
She had the wildest color eyes I'd ever seen. They were actually two different colors, one greenish brown, and the other lighter, a bluish brown – I'm pretty sure that's called Heterochromia. But her eyes were enhanced by her wild behavior - like each individual eye were scanning data at two different times.
She pointed past me toward the pots of coffee.
"They're right there. Pour me a cup. Do you know what 'now' means? It's not 'later' or 'in a moment' it's 'at this moment… this very moment' – NOW."
"O…kay." I began to press the amount on the till and this time she slammed her palm on the counter.
"Coffee? Hello? I'm late."
"Are you a racist?"
She wasn't ethnic.
"Fine," the patron huffed, looking at her watch, "now it's too late" replacing her sunglasses on her face. "See?" She pointed to her watch. "Concepts" pulling down her sunglasses so that her eyes drifted just above the lens, squinting to look over my name tag, "Camille – concepts!"
I shook my head, as if I'd just entered a fog that lead to another dimension, "Wha…?"
Gail walked up, "Is there a problem?"
"She doesn't want to give me a cup of coffee."
Gail looked to me, "Why not?"
"I-I'm just... no, that's not it…"
Gail looked over the young lady and said, "I'm sorry Miss."
The young girl turned, and then stomped back out of our establishment, repeating for everyone to hear, "late-late-late."
Gail turned to me, "What did you do to her?"
"Did she want something we didn't have?"
"No." I was still stunned. "I'm not sure what just happened."
Gail snickered, "we get all kinds…."
Soon I'd find out this was how it would continue to be with Tesday. That was her name. I would find out later that day.
My shift was over and I walked away from the Starbucks to the back parking lot. The sun lowered across an open area, fields that were green, tattered with scrubby brush and spools of hay bales. I walked to my Honda Fit. I held my keys, pressing the lock button. I'd have just enough time to go to my apartment, shower and then make it to my evening class. I was hurried and running late.
I heard wheels screech in the distance. Someone was driving like a maniac through the parking lot. I was parked behind the Starbucks where all employees had to park. This was open so sometimes young people would come and drive like maniacs, spinning donuts or accelerating at speeds along the back alley of the stores in this strip mall.
Suddenly the cars tires were squealing a few feet behind me. I turned. At that moment it's like when your life flashes before your eyes. Your mind slips to pause and suddenly everything – the wind, the sounds, birds, and your own physical being, stop moving.
I flung my arms over my face – a basic reaction – dropping my car keys, ready to be hit.
The brakes screeched, stopping the car inches from my kneecaps.
I'm sure even my heart stopped beating.
Only my breathing seemed to start up again.
The car door opened and out stepped a young woman, dressed in a tank top, accentuating pale, thin arms, with a red scarf around her neck, sunglasses, and boot-cut jeans with those big black boots.
"Hey Cams," she waved, "long time no see."
It took a moment for the rest of my physical being to catch up with the necessary breathing, and re-start brain functions.
The car was an older model Porsche, a 911. Again she had the bedhead hair, and I'd come to realize that was how her hair would always be.
Okay, I was alone and there were no other cars or people out here. This girl, the one from earlier inside Starbucks, I had now come to believe… was totally insane.
She pulled off her sunglasses. "Hey, let's go."
"Um," I watched her closely, and then lowered to pick up my car keys. I knew they could be used as a weapon if necessary from a self-defense class I'd taken last summer.
The girl leaned against the hood of her car and then laughed. "Oh wow – what a day – huh?"
She brushed her hand across her hair like she was trying to straighten it out. It didn't work. It was still the bedhead.
"I'm going to go. You should really watch… your speed," I said, ignoring her. I thought if I did this it might get the point across that we weren't friends, despite her acting like we were.
"Oh my gosh!" She walked up to my car. "What a small car. You drive this?!"
Again I had no idea what I should answer. She was so strange.
"I mean," she waved her hand in the air, up and down over my frame to emphasize, "it's just… you're not a small person. It's gotta be uncomfortable."
I had to admit I wasn't beautiful or hot. I wasn't ugly or disfigured, only around 20 pounds overweight. I was a plain Jane. I was average. I was the type of girl people would think, she'd be really pretty if she wasn't fat. But, I had my mind, and to me that was something much more worthy than looks.
"Yeah, that's what they all say," she said this and I didn't understand why she said this, but then she said, "You were just thinking that a mind is more important than looks and so I said, 'yeah, that's what they all say.' But in reality – we all prefer looks. Don't we? Just like me – you don't know whether to fall madly in love or grow a wee girl crush. You're straight and I can appreciate that."
She smirked crookedly, crossing her arms, and now I couldn't leave fast enough.
"Okay, gotta go." I rushed up to the side of my car, ready to open the door.
She placed her hand over mine, stopping me. "Come on, we have to go."
In an instant I backed up, holding out my keys the way they showed me in defense, the keys in-between my fingers making me look like Wolverine.
"Back off – or I'll…"
She stood there, blinking for a few seconds and then burst out laughing.
"Fine love – your funeral not mine."
Now I felt threatened. "I'll scream."
"No really – I'll scream."
"Okay." She was flippant, "whatever makes you happy – scream away."
She walked back to her car, opening the door. "But… it's your funeral love, not mine."
"Stop saying that. And do you have a British accent now?"
"What do you mean? I've always had one."
She was truly insane. She opened the door and stepped inside the car. She sat there watching me from behind the steering wheel. Maybe she had a gun in the car.
I watched her for another moment. She replaced her sunglasses and just sat in the car, watching me.
We were there - both watching one another.
I finally opened my car door and got inside. I sat there for a minute, because she was still parked, her car nose at an angle in front of my car. I looked over, wondering what she was doing and what she'd do next.
She sat in her car. I sat in my car.
What did she mean, your funeral not mine? How'd she know what I was thinking?
No, it doesn't make sense – she just took a guess. I'm trying to reason out the ranting of an obviously insane person.
I turned my ignition and as the car started up I watched, wondering again what she meant and wondering why she just sat in her car looking at me. I'd acquired a stalker and to me – I wasn't worth stalking.
I placed my car in reverse and backed up away from her car, since it somewhat blocked my passage to the exit. Again, she still sat in her car. I pulled back further and then hit the gas to pass her car, through the narrow opening between her car and the curb, when her door suddenly opened. She jumped out, running from her car and flew onto my hood with a loud thud.
I hit the brakes hard and this time I did scream. I screamed really loudly.
I closed my eyes, fearing I killed her.
I looked up and she wasn't there. I looked around the area and she wasn't anywhere.
"Just drive," I told myself. "Just keep driving and leave."
But, I didn't see her. What if her body was in front and lying there half-dead? What if my leaving would actually run her over? She was a person that just wasn't all there mentally. Did it matter? I could claim self defense.
I turned to my side window. "AHHHHHHHH!"
I turned to see her wild eyes staring at me from the other side of my car window. Her face pressed up against the glass.
"What the bloody hell are you doing?!" she yelled, pulling back from the glass, "you trying to kill me?!"
I screamed again. Her face from her nostrils to her mouth was covered in blood. She limped back and away from my door. "Sheesh!" She yelled, "What is wrong with you?! Running people down…?!"
I pushed the button, lowering my automatic window. "Oh man, I'm sorry – I'm so sorry. But you jumped on my hood. I – I didn't mean it. Are you… are you okay?"
Sirens suddenly whirred in the distance and when I looked out at the flashing lights, coloring the purple sky, flashing against the bottoms of clouds at dusk, I could see they were near where I lived. My apartment was only a few blocks in that direction.
"Good – safe," her voice was nearly in my ear.
I turned to see she was just outside my window and talking. I screamed again, taken back that her head was nearly inside my car. When did she move so stealthily beside me?
She pulled back and away again, held up her hand, holding a ketchup packet, dropping it to the pavement and then licking up the ketchup that covered her lips.
"Guess you can go home and shower now. Just be careful around the emergency vehicles. They'll be blocking the entrance another five minutes or so. But then…" she hit my car door hard, making me jump. "Have fun at class."
She skipped back to her Porsche.
Again, she had me dumbfounded - speechless.
"By the way," she opened her car door, "my name is Tesday – not Tuesday – TES – DAY. You can thank me later for saving your life."
She winked, hopped in her car and screeched in reverse, spinning her car 180 degrees and then driving out the parking lot.
Again, she stepped into my life like a spider dropping from the ceiling. Speechless… she had me completely speechless.
I sat in class still entranced by that strange young woman. How did she know there was an accident, just as she said, in front of my apartment? If I would have left work I would have run head on into it. Did she really know that? It had to be a coincidence.
"Ms. Longfellow, are you with us?" My English professor, Mr. Duarte, asked.
I looked up from the desk. Others were following the text and I looked down at the book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Tales of Terror, by Robert Louis Stevenson. Even the words, "the strange case," made my mind drift back to the unusual woman, Tesday, who popped into my day twice.
"Can you read page fifty-five, please?" he asked again.
"Fifty-five?" I looked down and my book was on page 32. "I'm sorry… you'd just like me to read the whole page?"
A few snickers let loose behind me. This was a college course and you'd think I was still in high school. I sat in a class of British Literature because I needed more language arts credit and then I was done. I only had a World History course and World Economics left. I hated economics.
I read the text, finished class and left when it was dark outside.
For some reason I felt jumpy, like any minute she'd pop out and scare me, run me down, tell me some ominous foretelling.
But I made it home and sat in my living room watching the news. And that ended the first day I met Tesday. The following days would get worse.