[Thanks to @ReginaldGolding on Twitter who thoughtfully let me borrow his blog title as a writing prompt. I'm not sure this is what I had in mind when I started, but here it is anyway]
Jim wrote something in the family checkbook register, then stopped abruptly and flipped it over, looking at the calendar on the back. Then he flipped it over again, puzzled. “What’s today’s date?”
”Hmm?” came from his wife, Anne, who was stretched out on the couch, reading.
“The date. Today’s date. What is it?”
She thought for a moment, turned the page, and said, “May 20.”
Anne stopped reading and looked at him over the book. “Am I sure? Yes!”
The book got closed and tossed onto the coffee table. “Is this some kind of joke, Jim? Are you feeling all right?”
“No. And yes.”
“It’s late May. Almost June. What’s this all about?”
“I had the weirdest feeling – was convinced it was April.”
“Well, I suppose that could happen.” She reached for the book again, uncertainly. “I had an aunt who would put the previous year on her checks into June, some years.”
“I don’t think I’m that bad.” Jim smiled wryly. “It was just strange, that’s all.” He jiggled the iced tea glass by his calculator and it answered with a rattle of ice. Empty. For a moment, he debated asking Anne to get him a refill – she’d settled back down with the paperback – and decided it wasn’t worth the lecture.
Just as he was about to open the refrigerator, he felt a little unsteady and the room blurred around him for a moment. What was that? Vertigo? A minor earthquake? He shook his head and opened the refrigerator door without looking. Reaching in for the pitcher, his hand closed on empty air. He glanced around the door and saw that the iced tea that had been there not an hour ago was missing. There was a large bowl of stew covered in plastic cling wrap in its place.
Jim opened his mouth to call Anne, closed his mouth and decided to look again. Stew. No iced tea.
He padded back into the living room. “Anne, where’d the iced tea go?”
“Iced tea? In April? Especially one this cold?”
Annoyed, he snapped back. “Okay, very funny. I admit I made a mistake, but I don’t think you need to rub it in.”
“Mistake? Jim, what are you talking about?” Anne raised up and looked over the back of the sofa at him in astonishment. In place of the paperback she’d had when he left the living room, she was holding a small piece of cross-stitch in a hoop. And instead of the light t-shirt and knit slacks she’d been wearing, she had on the fleece set he’d bought her for Christmas. Beyond her, outside the windows, it was snowing.
Jim landed in the nearest wing chair with a thump. The glass in his hand landed on the carpet unheeded.
“Jim! Honey, what’s wrong?”
The room trembled for him again. This time, when he opened his eyes, Anne was back in the t-shirt and slacks and robins were playing near the daffodils on the front lawn.
“I’ve finally lost it.”
“Jim, you’re scaring me.”
“I was just in the kitchen and there was stew where the iced tea had been and I came back in here and you were in your fleece doing needlepoint and it was snowing –“ He stopped at the look of dismay on his wife’s face. “I am not making this up, Anne. I swear.”
“I think we need to call Dr. Willoughby.”
“I saw him in town yesterday. He said he was taking the train to Serling this morning.”
He watched her as she sat, perplexed, a worry line between the finely-drawn brows. Then it happened again, and he was back in April. Again, and he was back in May. Again, and this time he seemed to be in both months, with two Annes staring at him in fright and snowflakes and flowers dueling for window space. It was all too much for him and after one last spasm, the room went black.
* * *
The author sat back from the computer and thought. I just don’t know what makes sense
“Got a problem?”
She looked at her husband wryly. “Well, yes. I can’t decide about the setting for this story.”
He shrugged. “Flip a coin. Unless there’s some pressing reason why it has to be one way or the other. At least you’ll make up your mind and be able to finish.”
“Okay.” She reached for her purse and took out a quarter. “Heads, it’s April, tails, it’s May.”
She flipped the coin and it spun in the air, shimmering in the sunlight from the nearby window.