“Thank you for calling Sunrise Liquor, where we’re open before sunrise,” I mumbled with the old cordless phone sandwiched between my shoulder and ear.
“Hello, Bitch! Get your lazy ass off the phone.” A filthy snot-nosed toothless bum knocked on the thin glass that separated the two of us.
It was the same shit day in and day out. Things never changed around this sad little place.
Like clockwork at Four-thirty in the morning, the phone would ring. I would pick up, say my lines, then wait as the phone goes dead. This time was different though, this time the caller spoke.
“Duck!” Those were his words.
Just as I was about to ask who he was, I heard the familiar ding that meant someone was entering the store. Darting my eyes toward the security mirrors I noticed a man carrying something shiny in his hand.
Ducking as the caller requested, I kept the phone to my ear and listened to his next instructions.
“Make your way towards the back of the store. There is a red mustang parked directly across the alleyway. I want you to get in and drive.”
“None of this makes any…” I froze mid-crawl at the sound of gunshots.
“You got 15 seconds. Run and do not look back! Drop everything and run. You understand me, Gia! Go!”
Pushing myself up, I began to sprint out of the back door. Just like the caller said to do, I did. I tossed the phone and jumped into the mustang. The engine was already running, and there was a cell phone sitting on the seat already connected to a call.
“Drive and don’t look back!” he shouted before another gunshot rang out.
Doing as he said, I pulled off, heading towards the highway.
The sound of clattering from the side mirror being blasted off gave me raging anxiety. Looking in the rearview mirror, I gasped at the most beautiful emerald eyes I have ever seen. It was like everything around had come to a sudden slow as he raised his gun.
“Make a right!” Hitting a quick right, I continued through a maze of back alleyways and residential streets until the man on the phone asked me to pull over in front of an old rundown house. An older woman was sitting in an upstairs window with a young man standing behind her.
The woman was dressed in a free-flowing white gown looking godly as her thick long gray hair gently blew in the breeze. As for the young man behind her, he wore an average pair of jeans and a plain tee shirt. The oddest thing about him was his choice of eyewear. It was five in the morning. The sun was not out. There was no need for sunglasses unless he was hiding something.
“Lock my door,” His voice startled me as it came through the phone. “And come inside.”
“What’s your name?”
“Now is not the time to ask questions. Just come inside and watch your step.” He laughed, then bent down to the older woman.
“Bet ten, she falls.” The woman's voice could be heard in the background.
Rolling my eyes, I locked his car and stepped off the curb with a tumble. Hitting my left knee on the pavement I groaned. Grabbing the phone off the ground I hung up as I could hear him laughing across the street.
“Told you to watch your step. Now come on Gia.” He called me by name again.
Weirdly I felt close to him like we had already met and that was odd. It was something in his voice that I couldn’t put my finger on. Dusting off myself while looking up at the odd pair I thought about everything that just happened.
“Hurry up!” The boy shouted.
Crossing the street and heading up to the door, I twisted the knob and entered foolishly. Who the fuck does shit like this? I kept asking myself as I could hear them coming down the stairs to meet me.
The older woman looked me over and placed her hand on my cheek. Her hands were as cold as ice against my skin as she looked into my eyes.
Chills took over, and I began to feel light-headed, but everything in me was telling me to touch her face too.
Extending my hand upward, I gently pressed the tip of my fingers against her face. I was drawn to her in such a strange way that I couldn’t help myself. Making full contact, I could feel her pain and heartbreak flowing through my body. The coldness was now causing a burning sensation against my flesh.
“That’s enough,” He removed her hand from my face then everything went back to normal.
“It’s her.” The woman whispered then fell to her knees.
I tried to reach for her, but he stopped me.
“DON’T TOUCH HER!” He pushed me away. Just take a seat. I will take care of her. Okay,” he looked like he wanted to kill me.
“Look, I should leave. Thank you…” I fished for his name.
“Eyzik, and if you step foot out that door, you both are as good as dead. This is our last chance, Gia. We have been going through this for twenty years. There isn’t much time left.”
“Look this is all too weird, I’m just going to go.” Weirded out by how he was acting started for the door.
“Why are you always so hard-headed? Huh? It never fails Gia every single time. This has been the farthest we have gotten in twenty years, Gia, and I refuse to let you go. Now sit down, or I will make you sit down.”
“You won’t—” as the words left my lips, he stood to his feet in one swift motion and sat me down.
The old woman on the floor clutched her chest as Eyzik stood over me.
“Babe, just tell her. Tell her before it’s too late.” The woman’s voice gave me chills from my head to my toes.
I couldn’t believe it. I could not fathom the thought. How did it happen? Was this real? Was I dreaming? All these thoughts and more entered my mind, and she had the answer to all of them before I even asked.
“You’re not dreaming. This is real. I am you. When I die… You die for good.” She began struggling with her breathing. “Thirteen Earths. Thirteen worlds. This is the last one. I’m dying.”
“What? Wait... What do you mean thirteen Earths? My head hurts.” The room started to spin.
This was all so strange as well as confusing I couldn’t comprehend what she was telling me.
“Did you look back?” Eyzik stepped in front of the old woman.
Squatting down in front of me, Eyzik placed one hand on my knee and the other on his shades.
“You always look back,” he chuckled then removed his glasses, revealing his emerald eyes. “None of this is going to make sense, Gia. I just need you to trust me, love.”
Removing my shades, I waited for her to faint. After twenty years, she always seemed to faint at the sight of my eyes. I didn’t know if it was because I was the last face she had ever seen or if it was because she was remembering. Whatever the reason was, she was known for it. Real dramatic and shit for no reason.
“And three… two… one…” Gianna wheezed.
Right on point, the thirteenth worlds Gia gasped and then slumped forward right into my arms. Looking back at Gianna, I winked.
“A young nigga still got it.” I smiled at her.
“Drop the girl and come help, you old bastard.”
Lying Gia down on the couch, I then began to help Gianna. She wasn’t doing too well, and it was because I told her ass to stop touching shit. If it was one thing I learned since meeting these different variations of Gia, it was that you could tell them to go left, and they would go right for the hell of it. They were all so stubborn. It killed me how stubborn they could get.
“You think she’s gonna forgive me?” I whispered.
“She must, or we’re both dead. I can’t go on any longer. You know what happens when we are too close for too long.”
“I know, that’s why you have to talk to her. Those first ten minutes are always the most crucial. Talk to her and tell her how you ended up this way. Tell her how we’ve been together all this time.”
“I’ve been here with you for twenty years, my love. I know how the hell this goes. She’s gonna wake up at exactly 6:24:54 and be all confused and whatnot. Yeah, yeah, yeah…”
“Since you know everything, then handle yo business lil baby. I will be upstairs getting ready.”
“Umph, you always wanna run like a bitch. Go ahead, though, Eyzik.” Gianna shooed me away.
She was right. I was running. I hated to be in the same room as her when she woke up.
Heading upstairs, I made my way into my room, where I took a seat on the bed and began to stare at both of my watches. 2 minutes and 42 seconds. It was never comfortable waiting for her to wake up. But this time… this time I was on one hundred. This was our last chance.
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