by Hannah Kollef
Hanna Kollef has four published novels and several short stories. You can learn more about her at hannahkollef.com
Ramona, age eighty-five, stood in the dressing room of a lingerie store, naked above the waist save for a lacy black bra that did nothing to support her breasts. Her milky pupils were dilated, and a tremor ran up and down her left arm. A second earlier she’d been thirty-three, skinny, and just barely beginning to see crow’s feet at the sides of her eyes. She frowned at herself in the mirror, then mouthed something at her reflection — a name, a place, it was unclear — and began pulling off the store’s lingerie with arthritic fingers. Her movements were slow and clumsy, the delicate clasp at her back difficult to remove.
She discarded the bra on the floor behind her, and bent to search the pile of clothing at her feet. Her withered breasts swung as she located her own bra. Once settled, they pooled in the soft, satin cups, nipples melting into areola like soft cheese. Her shirt was easier to find. She stuffed feet swollen with varicose veins into impossibly small ballet slippers, wincing at the tight leather on her toes.
The clerk at the counter raised an eyebrow when Ramona creaked out of the dressing room. She had been idly reordering the display of watches beside the cash register, and now smiled as Ramona shuffled her way towards the door.
“Caught you up, has it?” she asked, mild curiosity lighting the dull corners of her eyes. “Do you need a ride, honey?” she added.
“Hmm,” Ramona replied, and hurried as quickly as she could out of the shop. Her knees nobbled as she stepped into the crowded street. She recognized the shop across the way, and the street name. Glancing at her wrist was less rewarding; she hadn’t started to wear a watch until she hit fifty. She thought of what they’d said when she was younger, how quickly these time jumps could be over. There was something she had to do, and if she remembered correctly, her destination was at least ten minutes a—
Ramona returned to her own time in the middle of the sidewalk and put a youthful hand against a lamppost to support her while she recovered. She’d been somewhere else, somewhere cold and empty, but it was hard to say exactly where. It was disorienting, this business of moving back and forth, and today was a particularly bad day for a recurrence of her temporal condition. Frowning, Ramona pulled out her cellphone and tapped out a quick message to her husband’s Blackberry.
It happened again. She paused, biting her tongue over the phone, and added: What time home for dinner?
A few seconds later, her phone beeped.
Sorry, babe. I’ll be home soon.
Ramona studied his message a second longer. She closed her eyes, breathed deep, then hoisted her purse higher on her shoulders.
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