A Welcome Change
You know, I’ve heard a few times that you tend to attract the things you spend the most time thinking about. If you think about how much debt you’re in, it’s all you end up seeing. Think too much about something like the Mandela Effect and you’ll keep finding new ways to prove that it exists.
Some people refer to it as manifesting, some people refer to it as coincidence. I like to think of it as a happy accident.
And it might be how I met Jerry.
I was dying to get into a new relationship. Jerry was another face in the crowd, but when he rear-ended my car during rush hour traffic, we ended up exchanging numbers along with insurance information. It might not have been the best meet-cute, but it did lead to a coffee date. The coffee date led to an evening at the bar, which led to me staying the night at his house, which led to him waking me up the next morning to eggs and toast. We officially started dating after about a week. It was such a welcome change in my life.
Getting rear-ended was totally worth it.
After a few months, something seemed… off. I didn’t really put too much thought into it – maybe Jerry was having a bad day? His workload had been increased, without a pay raise to match, and our rent had just gone up at the same time. It makes sense that he’d be a bit tense until we know we can keep everything working smoothly. I picked up a couple of freelance gigs to help make ends meet in the meantime.
“Hey, babe, I’m going to be staying late at the office today,” Jerry said over the phone. “My manager has a deadline to meet, and I offered to help her out. Is that all right?”
“Of course,” I chimed back. “Thanks for letting me know.”
“Yeah. Love you, Lace.”
“Love you too!” I said, hitting the “End Call” button through the latex gloves I wore. Suds of soapy water and chemicals coated the kitchen counter. I still had a lot of cleaning to do.
Jerry was out almost until midnight that day. I didn’t mind, since that gave me plenty of time to make sure the house was spotless by the time he got back.
“Hey, love,” he said with a sigh when he stepped through the doorway, dropping his keys on the table nearby. He looked thoroughly wiped out.
“Hi,” I replied, planting a quick kiss on his mouth. He smelled like fresh soap, and maybe aftershave. “Welcome back.”
“Did anything interesting happen today?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said, opening the closet door so that he could put his coat away. “I finished up one of my side gigs. It went through without a hitch!”
“Nice. Wish I could say the same.” He chuckled, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck. “If I have to look at any more spreadsheets tonight, I’ll…” He stopped, peering into the coat closet.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
He squinted and shook his head, like he was trying to get rid of a pesky thought. “It’s nothing.” He hung up his coat without saying anything else, then closed the door.
I forced a quick smile, telling him that there was a tub of ice cream for him in the freezer. He chuckled again and walked towards the kitchen, eager to escape to the bottom of the tub.
A sigh of relief escaped my mouth. I’d forgotten to clean the closet.
After a few more weeks, we’d settled into our new routine. Jerry’s manager had retired, and the new one gave him a nice pay raise. When he heard the news, he called me to let me know.
“That’s excellent!” I said, cradling my phone between my cheek and my shoulder, typing away at my laptop. “I’m really proud of you.”
“I’m just excited to have a savings account again.” He took a deep breath, then exhaled, blowing static into the phone receiver. “I’m going to have to take another late night today, though. Hopefully only an hour or two.”
I frowned, looking away from the computer screen. That was the third time this week he’d had to stay late. Sure, it was nice to have a little time to myself, but I still wanted time with him, too.
“Is that all right?” he asked after a few seconds of my silence.
“Y-Yeah, it’s fine.”
“I’m sorry, love,” he crooned. “Once this next paycheck comes through, I won’t have to do these late nights anymore.”
“That sounds nice.”
“It will be.” I could hear his smile in his voice. “I’ll see you tonight, okay?”
“Okay. Hurry home,” I said, glancing down at the stained shirt I was wearing. Better change it before he gets back.
I met with my parents for a late lunch a few days later, then spent some time wandering the city and scoping things out. There were several new studio apartments along this street, with huge windows letting everyone see in. I tutted under my breath. No way would I ever be that comfortable with so little privacy.
It made my job so much harder.
This was the last freelance gig I had agreed to for now, so I was looking forward to getting it wrapped up quickly. It was a little different from the others – I had been able to lure them back to my place and take care of them there, but this one would be in his own apartment.
My client wanted him gone. He knew too many secrets and had too little money. The client would spare no expense in making sure he could be eliminated in a way that wouldn’t trace back to them.
I tried looking on the bright side of doing the job this way. Maybe I wouldn’t have to put so much careful thought into cleaning up afterwards. I’d still be careful, of course. But I’d been careless enough to leave parts of my own house still smelling like blood, and it would only be a matter of time before Jerry put the pieces together.
I hoisted my bag more securely onto my shoulder, breathing out a sharp sigh, and stepped out onto the crosswalk to get to the building complex.
The screeching of tires snapped me back to reality. Cars skidded to a halt, swerving to avoid crashing directly into me in my distracted state.
“Sorry!” I called out, holding out my hands and backing right back onto the sidewalk. “So sorry!”
Car horns blared and several drivers scowled my way. One of them hollered out a distant “Watch where you’re going!” and I ducked further back. The back door of a taxi popped open, and a guy stepped out, looking in my direction.
I didn’t have time for this. The target had an expiration date, and I was about to miss it.
Turning on my heel, I started speedwalking to a different crosswalk, hoping to get lost in the bustle of the other pedestrians. It didn’t work, though, and the guy from the taxi clapped a hand firmly on my shoulder.
“Lace, are you okay? What are you doing here?”
I whipped around to see Jerry, a concerned look in his eye but anger in his grip.
“I’m fine,” I replied, brushing his hand away and not answering his other question. Why did he have to show up now, when I’m about to get started on my job?
“Why are you here, Lace?” he repeated, stepping closer.
This was weird. He didn’t usually care this much about where I am. We basically trust each other with everything – except, of course, the murder side gigs I took on to make ends meet. That part tends to be a bit of a red flag.
“Well… why are you here?” I retorted, gripping the strap of my bag. He looked away, rubbing the back of his neck. “You should be at work right now. What gives?”
“Okay, I needed to travel for a specific job, all right?” He sounded sharp, angry, and this might actually be the first time I had heard that edge in his voice. “It’s no big deal.”
“Where are you headed?”
“I could ask you the same.”
I tilted my head in the direction of the target’s apartment. “Right over there. I’m meeting up with… a work client.”
Jerry blinked, looking at me with an almost blank expression. “Are you going to room 201?”
As a matter of fact, I was. How could he know?
My facial expression must’ve given him his answer. He shook his head, softly grabbing my arm above the elbow and maneuvering us so that we were going towards the building. “That’s where I’m headed, too,” he murmured into my ear as we walked. “Don’t worry, we’ll work this out.”
I couldn’t figure out how to put words into a coherent sentence. What was he saying? Why is he going to the same room in the same building as me? What’s happening here?
It was a tense elevator ride, punctuated only by our breathing and the series of questions in my mind. When the doors slid open, Jerry walked right to the apartment in question and slid an inconspicuous key into the handle, turning it to open the door. With a knowing look in his eye, he gestured for me to walk in. His next few words made all my questions click into place.
“Let’s get to work.”
I’ve heard a few times that you tend to attract the things you spend the most time thinking about. If you think about how much debt you’re in, it’s all you end up seeing. Think too much about something like the Mandela Effect and you’ll keep finding new ways to prove that it exists.
I spent a lot of time thinking about killing, and it might be the reason I ended up finding and marrying a killer.