Flash Fiction: Tourmaline

This week’s challenge was to pick one of ten one-word titles and write a short story. Here is what my weird little brain came up with. Hope you like it.

“Are you sure it’s the black tourmaline I should be getting? I’m sure my friend, Gail—she’s a certified Wiccan you know—told me that hematite was for protection.” The woman standing in front of me, long, stringy grey hair hanging over a long, drapey, bell-sleeved rainbow dress, holds a polished piece of the black stone in her dry, callused palm while she eyes the display of semi-precious stones. It takes every effort I can conjure up to avoid rolling my eyes.

“Actually, as you can see from the descriptions written for each stone, hematite is more useful for grounding and calming the mind, although it has some protective properties.” Once again, I curse at my choice of working at a metaphysical store for the summer break instead of my dad’s hardware store. I may not know much more about drill bits than I do about coloured rocks, but at least there are fewer weirdos.

“I could have sworn Gail said—” But I don’t get to find out what Gail said because the door to the shop flies open, banging against the wall behind it and sending the attached strings of bells madly tinkling. A woman bursts into the store, wearing black leather from head to toe, a motorcycle helmet under her arm. I’ve never seen her before, but she looks familiar. Like she could be my aunt or older cousin, if I had either one. Same mass of blonde curls, same too-small nose, same sky-blue eyes. Those eyes scan the store before settling on me with a slight squint, near-invisible eyebrows furrowed.

“Chloe? You’re Chloe Martin?” I nod my head, still trying to place her. She shoves the other woman aside as she grabs my arm and pulls me back towards the door. “Let’s go.”

I pull my arm back, planting my feet more firmly into the wood floor. “I’m not going anywhere with you! I don’t even know you!”

“Ugh! We don’t have time for this!” She reaches for my arm again. “He’ll be here any minute! We have to go!”

“Who will? Who are you?”

“I’m you. Chloe. Twenty years from now.” She sighs loudly. “And if we don’t get the fuck outta here, I won’t be around much longer.”

“You’re…me?” It takes my brain several seconds to comprehend what this stranger is saying.

“Yes.” Another sigh. “Look, I know this is hard to grasp. I’ll explain everything when I can. But right now, we need to leave.” I start to follow her out the store. I don’t know why, but I believe her.

“Hey, what about me? You can’t just leave a customer alone in the store!” She’s right. I grab her arm and steer her out the door behind me, reaching around her to lock it. I let her go, and follow Older Chloe through a courtyard towards a sleek, black motorcycle. She hands me another helmet and swings her leg over, starting the motor. I settle on the seat behind her, holding her leather jacket for dear life as she pulls into the street. She drives for a couple of minutes before I realize she’s heading for my house. Once we get there, she barely takes the time to park the bike before sprinting across the lawn and around to the back. Still a bit breathless from the ride, I scramble to catch up.

Older Chloe has just grabbed the back door key from its hiding spot under the ceramic Siamese cat when I reach her, panting. “I’m…pretty sure…Mom is…home,” I say between huge gulps of air.

“That’s why we’re sneaking in the back.” She frowns at me. “You want to explain who I am?” I shake my head, and she opens the door, peering through the small window to make sure Mom isn’t there. We creep through the kitchen and up the stairs to my bedroom. I think I can hear Mom in the living room, watching CNN, but we can’t see her from the stairs. More importantly, she can’t see us.

Once older Chloe opens my door, we both gasp. It’s trashed. My usually neatly made bed is a mess, sheets and duvet tangled together. All my drawers are hanging open, with sports bras, cotton underwear, and flannel pajama pants draped along them and strewn across the floor, mixing with random papers and other debris from my desk.

“Motherfucker!” Older Chloe shout-whispers. “He got here first!”

“Who did?” But she doesn’t answer me as she stalks over to my desk, flips open the laptop and opens my Facebook account. She clicks around until she gets to my “Events” page, then scrolls down the list.

“Here. This beer tasting night. At the Bluenose. You were planning to go?” I nod. My friend Jill and I were going to go with a few of her work friends. “You can’t.”

“What? Why not? Don’t tell me you came all the way back from the future to stop me from going to a beer tasting?” I start to laugh at the ridiculousness of the idea, but my mirth dies at Older Chloe’s expression. “You did come all this way to stop me from going to a beer tasting. What’s going to happen? Am I going to die?” I ask, and then realize that I can’t die if she’s still alive. Stupid time-travel.

“No. Worse.” We hear heavy footfalls coming up the stairs to my room. At first I think it’s my mom, but they are too loud. I catch older Chloe’s expression of surprise and horror as we both wheel around to face the doorway. An older man, maybe a couple of years older than Chloe appears—tall, with greying hair, but still handsome. His eyes are the color of green tourmaline.

“Chloe, I know said you’d wished we’d never met, but this is a bit much, isn’t it?”

“Who the hell are you?” I ask without thinking.

“Chloe, meet Jack. Your future husband. Or, I should say, your future ex-husband.”

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