Unstuck by Hamish McIntyre

She was unstuck in time.

She wasn’t sure exactly how it happened. There was no secret military experiment, no toxic waste spill, and no magical McGuffin. One day she just felt a low rumble before being flung back three hours, as if she was the only person on Earth not wearing a seatbelt.

There was no rumble the second time around, but the damage was already done. The next day she woke up and got ready for class seven times before it finally stuck and she was able to continue her day as normal.

She kept quiet at first. If she started thinking about it too much, she’d have to accept that either it was real, or she was going mad. So she tried ignoring the problem, occasionally just gritting her teeth and repeating moments over and over without complaint. But gradually it wore her down.

*

A few days after it started, she was having lunch with her girlfriends, Mel and Hannah, when they finally noticed something was wrong. Mel looked up and saw her scrolling through her phone in boredom, silently mouthing along to what Hannah was saying. Mel put a hand on her shoulder.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Mel asked.

She raised her head with a slight look of panic in her eyes and gave a strained smile. “I’ve already heard this shit fifteen times.”

Hannah’s face fell.

“Fuck, no that’s not what I meant,” she said quickly. “Look, can we talk about it at your place?”

The trio walked to Hannah’s apartment to discuss everything. It took a long time and several pots of tea, but after a while they believed her. They couldn’t work out the cause, but maybe it didn’t matter. Sometimes weird shit just happens to cute people, they reasoned before retiring to bed.

*

She was much more cheerful the next day. She didn’t have to face this alone anymore, Mel and Hannah were surprisingly understanding and patient. They barely even reacted when she refused to eat the pancakes Mel made because she’d already eaten them half-a-dozen times that morning. They knew it was uncontrollable, so why make her feel bad about it?

She tried not to let it get to her when she fell back through time, but it was hard. One day she interrupted a conversation by throwing her head back, closing her eyes and letting out an exaggerated groan of frustration.

“Sorry, are we boring you?” Mel crossed her arms and glared.

Hannah was a bit more observant.

“How many times?” Hannah asked quietly.

“Twenty-seven”, she mumbled.

Mel’s eyes widened. “Shit. I’m sorry.”

After a minute of silence, Hannah spoke up.

“You normally seem really calm about the whole thing. Doesn’t it just freak you out, repeating stuff all the time?”

She shook her head. “Reliving a moment over and over isn’t always bad. Sometimes it’s the best!”

As if to emphasise her response, she pointed a finger-gun at each of her girlfriends, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. Mel smirked and threw her a wink, while Hannah went bright red and buried her face in her hands.

She looked at them both and smiled widely. If she had to choose, this would be a good moment to get stuck in. Maybe she could learn to control it. Maybe if she relaxed enough, she could just-

“Sorry, are we boring you?” Mel crossed her arms and glared.

Her eyes snapped open.

“Not this time.”

 

 

Originally published in CQ5: Poetry

Hamish McIntyre | he/him/his
Ham is especially interested in writing interactive fiction text adventures. He is not a real ham, but can be found on Twitter as @zombieham

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