It was one of those rare moments in life when the boundaries of the dimensions blur, a forbidden glimpse into the ‘what comes next’. Similar to how LSD allowed the cross talk in my brain to see music and hear colors, this cross talk allowed me to stumble across the space-time continuum. Therapists, rejecting a spiritual explanation, call it déjà vu and blame it on PTSD. I can get behind their theory and say that there have been episodes in my life that have been intense enough to warp time, but this wasn’t exactly déjà vu, it was more of a premonition, a discontent of the senses.
We perceive time to be linear, measured in a series of events, but scientists like to describe it as a space-time continuum. Like pulling a string, a world string, of pearls through a clenched fist, we only experience the semi-precious moments in our grasp. The string dangles on either side of the fist in the space-time continuum, one side representing the past, the moments we are familiar with and one side dangling in the future, the unfamiliar. Intense moments cause my fist to clench and the world string sways and tangles in the space-time continuum as the jolt runs through my body; A wrinkle in time, so to speak.
My pathway to the 7-11 was intercepted by his white Toyota pickup. Stopping by the 7-11 or Dunkin’ Donuts was part of my daily routine as a couple of the clerks were friendly and would keep day-olds for me. Mom had been absent for a while and I was squatting in our vacant apartment at night and making myself sparse during the day. I recognized the truck immediately, spun to run in the opposite direction but he had seen me, and our eyes had locked before I could escape. He had been out of our lives for over a year yet still his presence sucked the air from my lungs and caused me to take in the shallow breaths familiar to entering a walk in freezer. He waved and smiled and kept his eyes firmly affixed to mine as he pulled into the parking lot. “Play it cool, Kelli, get rid of him as soon as you can,” I thought.
“Hey, Bob,” I chirped in the calmest tone I could summon, “what are you doing here?”
Bob exited his truck and with one hand swept the unkempt, black, greasy combover out of his eyes and back into position. The smile on his lips read like a danger sign warning hikers to stay on the path for fear of being lost in the thick underbrush forever, their bodies to rot undiscovered. I immediately mapped out an escape route and was sure to keep a few feet of protective air between us. Air molecules with volume and mass, molecules that hold 747s in the air, molecules that take the shape of their container, molecules that fill the space between me and a monster.
“I saw your mother downtown the other day,” Bob cooed through his coffee and cigarette stained enamels, “I was worried about you and Jason.” His eyebrows were arched with a forced concern that came off more maniacal than worried and although I couldn’t smell it from where I stood, I knew his breath reeked of stale Marlboros and beer. The phantom scent turned my stomach.
His divulgence clearly exposed his motivation. He was aware that the thin, semipermeable protective guard of my mother’s presence was absent and he had decided to pounce.
“No, I’m good. We’re staying with some friends,” I lied.
Quickly his body shifted and pushed against the air padding between us, which in turn pushed me a step backward. He moved to get closer but the repulsion was too strong and I continued to move away. I knew he had no chance to hurt me as long as I kept my distance. I also knew that I didn’t want to give him any reason to come looking for me as he knew where our apartment was and I suspected he might come and check it out. I smiled and added, “…really, we’re ok.”
It became clear that he had lost his ability to manipulative me and the hairs stood on the back of my neck as I awaited the fallout. The guy was a fucking psycho and I knew he was capable of anything. I knew kidnapping was not outside of the realm of possibilities as he a number one fan of True Detective magazine and got off on the horrific stories of torture. He was dangerous and I wanted to distract and divert his attention from making me the prey about which he had certainly fanaticized.
“Are you sure? What can I do?” Bob asked with strained sincerity. “Do you need some money?”
Fuck. Of course I did. I looked at the twenty in his hand but knew what a twenty cost and took another step back. Like an abandoned puppy eyeing a tasty morsel thrown by the one intent on capturing her, I looked at the money again. He saw me.
I glanced in his eyes and saw it, the abyss. A bolt of lightening ran down my spine and the two ends of my world string collided and tangled. I tasted blood as I witnessed past events in his dark eyes, like a movie screen. The event pearls continued to slide past each other as the past collided with the future and for a microsecond I could see what would happen. I saw his hand over my mouth as I struggled to get away and felt his strength overcome me. I saw the sweat drip from his nose onto my cheek. I saw him bare his teeth as I struggled. I saw a dark blue vein bulge from his temple. I screamed but no sound could escape. I saw it. I felt it.
I could see in his eyes that he knew what I had seen and it appeared to spook him as he took his first step away from me and the haze in his eyes was replaced by a hint of fear. My world string untangled and my sight returned to the present.