Greetings everyone! Below, you’ll find this week’s writing prompt. I found it on the Promptuarium blog. As always, please feel free to respond to the prompt in the comments below.
No one likes sitting next to a random stranger while waiting for the bus. To avoid making things completely awkward, people generally divide up the bench between your space and my space, and stick to that division rigorously. So when Maisie – who hates awkward silences but who also appreciates not having to force conversation with strangers – sees another girl already sitting on the bench, she sort of groans inwardly.
The girl, from what Maisie can see at this distance, has a very similarly-cut hairstyle that Maisie herself has. And the hair itself is black, like the predawn outside of the city, with a similarly-placed streak of white on the left side of the girl’s head. And as Maisie slowly gets closer to the bus stop, she realizes that the girl is also wearing a pastel-pink cardigan sweater with ripped-up jeans.
Maisie, at this point, is quickly rolling through All Possible Scenarios in her head, one of which is an excruciatingly coincidental meeting with some long-lost twin who’s got an eerily similar taste in clothes and hair. And because people are at least moderately paranoid by default, a second Possible Scenario is that Maisie’s incurred the wrath of some powerful, unknown person who has set people to following her, and who had a person dress up as an eerily-similar Double to startle her for some reason. Neither scenario is particularly plausible, but it seems like they are the only ones that make sense, especially as Maisie actually reaches the bus stop bench.
Because it isn’t some almost-identical long-lost twin. It isn’t even, like, a human double of Maisie. It’s actually Maisie. It’s Maisie from yesterday.
Maisie – Present Maisie – awkwardly sits down on her side of the bench, and doesn’t say a word. What is there to say? But she watches as Past Maisie looks up from her phone, at Present Maisie, then looks at her watch and says, “Oh.”
Considering the impossibility of the situation, it’s impossible to explain to you what it’s like, hearing your own voice come out of some other person’s mouth. You kind of have to experience it to really understand.
Still, it’s understandable how uncomfortable it was for Maisie to hear her own voice without having opened her mouth. “Oh?” Present Maisie demanded, finally looking at herself, and trying not to acknowledge how weird it was, like she was staring into a mirror but not.
“It’s…. complicated,” Past Maisie said, looking suddenly uncomfortable. She suddenly rose from the bench, even as Present Maisie heard the bus meandering down the street. “Forget this ever happened.”
Maisie is, of course, not one who likes it when people wave mysteries in front of her face and then don’t explain the mystery to her. Past Maisie should have understood this, and I suppose she technically did, but this was not part of Past Maisie’s plan. Now a bit panicked, Past Maisie forgot what her usual self was like, and was trying to fix her mistake by pretending it hadn’t actually happened.
Truly, she shouldn’t have been surprised when Present Maisie forwent the bus and followed Past Maisie around the corner.
“Hey.” Maisie demanded. “Hey! I’m talking to you! You have to explain what’s going on!” Maisie grabbed a fistful of Past Maisie’s pink cardigan. Past Maisie turns around to face her other self. “This is completely insane.”
“It’ll get more insane in a few minutes,” Past Maisie told her. “But if you want to understand, you have to catch your bus. I can’t explain. I wouldn’t even know how to. Just… do your usual thing, and you’ll find out pretty quick.”
Maisie raises her eyebrow at the pink-cardiganed girl before her.
“I swear it, but, really, you need to catch that bus.”
Maisie bites her lip. She can hear the bus is getting pretty close to their corner. It’s one of those questions of chance. If she gets on the bus, there’s a chance that this won’t be explained. But staying here might mean she might not get the answers she needs. It’s also a question of trust, of course, and Maisie realizes after a moment that this is her she’s talking about. It’s like looking in the mirror and wondering if you trust your reflection. Of course you do.
Maisie doesn’t want to turn around. It feels like the exact opposite of her very nature. But she does anyway, and runs to catch her bus. She regrets it almost immediately, but when she claims her seat and the bus pulls forward, past the very street she’d spoken to Past Maisie on…. the pink cardigan and ripped up jeans are nowhere to be found. She thinks she’s going to regret this decision her whole entire life. Except, of course, it was Maisie. And Maisie wouldn’t lie about something like this.
Within the hour, Maisie is forced to acknowledge that this is an extremely bizarre world.