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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 50: Hastings 18
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 49: Slade 16
Wednesday was a warm morning, so after her lesson with Raiden Lauren decided to walk home. On the way she realized she was hungry, and paused as she passed a decent-looking sandwich shop. She had taken to keeping fifty dollars in her shoe just in case she needed a bit of cash unexpectedly, and a cup of coffee and some eggs sounded good right about now.
As she glanced through the window, someone caught her eye--a woman, slender, very professional in appearance sitting alone at a table with a cup of coffee and a sheaf of papers. Lauren recognized her. Oh, she was a bit older, and she wore her dark hair differently and sported more makeup and nicer clothes; but it was definitely her. Lauren had to meet her.
She stepped through the door and past the sign which offered to seat her, walking right over to the table. "Pardon me," she said, "but aren't you Lauren Hastings?"
So alike she could have been a twin, yet so different they could have come from different worlds, the woman at the table looked up, startled, and stared a moment; she seemed at a loss for words. Finally she spoke. "No...no, I'm not."
"I'm sorry," Lauren replied. "I mistook you for someone."
And at that moment the hostess rushed over. "I'm terribly sorry, Miss Meyers. She just walked past me when I wasn't looking."
"No, it's all right," she said to the hostess, and then to Lauren, "it's quite all right. Please, sit down and introduce yourself. Susan," she turned back to the hostess, "please bring my guest--coffee?" She looked at Lauren, who nodded.
"And a corn muffin?" Lauren added. "Would that be possible?"
The hostess noted it, and walked away.
Lauren settled, and brushed the hair aside from her face. She looked at her image across the table, and then began.
"Well, I think I'm you. I was born Lauren Elizabeth Meyers in 1965 at Kennedy Hospital in Stratford, and lived in Somerdale, New Jersey. In High School at Sterling High I met Phil Hastings, and we started going out together. Then I went to Philadelphia College of the Bible for a year, but dropped out to get married in June of 1984. Phil was at Glassboro--they call it Rowan, now, I think--studying to teach. We had a son, Trevor, two years later, and a daughter Tiffany the next year, and Tyler two years after that. We moved down to Franklin Township, because I always wanted to live in the country and have a horse--but I never had the time or money for the horse--and Phil taught high school while I raised the kids and did some tutoring to make ends meet."
"If this is some kind of joke," the woman said, "It's a very sick one."
"It's not a joke. It's more like an episode of The Twilight Zone or something. Life was all rather ordinary, but it was about to become very strange." The waitress brought her coffee and muffin, and she thanked her.
"Go on. I like a good story."
"In the year 2000, I think I must have died."
"Oh, this is good." The tone had a hint of mocking in it.
"It gets better," Lauren retorted, not to be so easily put off. "I was making dinner, and something went wrong with the microwave. This liquid, like gold mercury, leaked out of the control panel and got on my fingers; and it seemed like it soaked into my body; but as quickly as that happened, I felt the tingle of electricity, and saw the microwave explode. The impact threw shards of metal and plastic and probably glass into my body, and the pain--well, I guess that's not the important part of the story. But I blacked out. And when I awoke, I was in another world, a very alien world where a lot of things just didn't make a lot of sense anymore."
"Yeah, I know what you mean about not making sense."
"But there were a lot of strange things there," Lauren continued, undaunted, "and I taught myself to do a lot of things I had never thought to try before."
But it was clear to Lauren that she had lost her audience. She needed to regain it.
Putting her fingers on her temples, she closed her eyes a moment, and then opened them. With her mind, she lifted her companion's water glass up off the table about nine inches, and then set it down again. Then she turned her pyrogenesis on the other cup, and brought it to a boil as she said, "Here, let me warm up your coffee." Then she reached out with her mind to her mind--it seemed so familiar, like talking to yourself--and sent the thought, I learned to do a few things I thought were impossible.
Then she leaned back in her chair, and waited.
"You're not crazy, are you?" the other Lauren said.
"I can't prove that," Hastings answered. "But if you're seeing the same reality I am, then I would say not."
Just then the waitress arrived. "Will there be anything else?" Mrs. Hastings looked at her coffee and muffin, still untouched. But Miss Meyers answered.
"I'm fine. I've got to get to the station--I'm on in twenty minutes. Let me pay for all this." The waitress produced the check from her pocket, and Miss Meyers pulled a wallet from her purse. "I really do have to run. Can we continue this tonight?"
"I work tonight; I'm free on Friday. I've got a morning appointment, and there's something I have to do Friday night, or at least before sunrise Saturday morning, but I'll meet whenever, wherever."
"Join me for supper here, about five o'clock on Friday. My treat." And as Lauren agreed, Lauren left, leaving Lauren to finish her light breakfast.
"Waitress?" Lauren called, and the waitress returned. "I'm going to the ladies room for a moment and coming back to finish; could I order some eggs?"
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #37: Character Diversity. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: