She slammed the door shut behind her. A little grey terrier came up to her feet.
"Hey there Ruffles," she said. "Let's see if we have anything." She looked down at the mail. "One bank statement for Lillian Scott," she tossed the envelope and Ruffles watched it fly across their apartment. "One power bill, one credit card signup."
Ruffles watched the other two envelopes and caught one in the air. "Well, at least you like it" Lillian said to Ruffles, watching him walk off with it. Lillian took off her blue trench coat and hung it over the chair at her desk. She had just gotten her first apartment about six months ago, but it feels like she had lived here for years.
Even though the building was a bit run down and the rent was a bit high for such a small place, it felt like home to her. She learned about the apartment through a letter from a company wanting to hire her. She had just got out of her hometown art college and signed up for a program to help students find jobs. The letter stated that an ad agency named "Decisive Words" wanted to offer her a job interview and recommend an apartment. When she went to the job interview, the agency didn't remember recommending an apartment, but said that Human Resources might have added that. After she got the job, she decided to rent the apartment as well. But her enjoyment for getting her first real job quickly changed.
Lillian let out a sigh while leaning her back against her desk chair. Her job was to design ads for unknown companies that will go unseen because the companies want just a stock stereotype ad. She look behind her at the sketch book on her desk. It was her fourth sketch book since she moved here, and it was her only escape to freedom. She could draw anything she wanted, just for herself. She had hung almost all of her personal work up as inspiration to keep work and make enough money so she could find a different job.
The sound of the refrigerator turning on went through her ear. A reminder, to find something to eat. She went into her kitchen and opened up the rusting white refrigerator. A quick scan of the inside led her to believe that there was nothing to eat. Spending a few more seconds, she saw it. The leftover sub sandwich she saved from last night. She took it out and shut the refrigerator. She unwrapped it and was going to take a bite, when she saw Ruffles below. He still had the piece of mail in his mouth, his head tilted to the right, and eyes looking right at her sandwich. He then started to whimper.
"Alright, alright, I will get you some food," Lillian said. She put down her sandwich on the counter and turned around to look for Ruffles’ bowl. His blue bowl always blended into the blue laminate kitchen flooring. She spotted it and grabbed a can of plain dog food. She opened it up and turned it over into the bowl, but nothing came out. Lillian turned her head upside down to look in the can; Ruffles walked a bit closer to see, as well. The food was stuck in the can. She tapped the bottom of the can and the dog food came out and looked like slop in the bowl. She set down the bowl in front of Ruffle, and he just looked at it and looked back at her sandwich.
"Sorry Ruffles, that is what you get" Lillian said while she took a bite of her sandwich. Ruffles looked back at his bowl, dropped the envelope to his side, and dug into this dinner. She bent down, hearing him eating way, and picked up the envelope.
The envelope felt oddly thick to her. She started to take interest and saw that it was not just one signaler envelope but two stuck together! She looked at the newfound envelope and saw no company markings on it. "Do you know anything about this?" she asked, shaking the envelope lightly while looking at Ruffles. He stopped eating, picked up his head and looked at her, and then went back to his meal. Curious about who had written to her, she opened a drawer and pulled out a kitchen knife. She sliced open the top of the envelope to reveal a letter. Lillian picked it out and began to read it.
"Stop. Stop reading and go draw a clock.”
"Who in the world has sent me this?" she thought due to the frankness of the wording. She tried to search for a return address on the envelope. There was just a blank space, similar to the one that she was drawing in her mind. She looked back at the next sentence in the letter. "Oh no you don't, go and draw it." Although she believed that this was the weirdest letter she had ever gotten, she decided that drawing would take a tad bit of stress out of her life.
She left the kitchen as Ruffles was finishing his dinner and walked back to her desk. She sat down, picked up a stubby pencil, and opened her sketch book to a fresh page. She started to draw the clock in her office that she swore went backwards, but then she remembered a small pocket watch her mother had given her. It was a small and had a golden tint, with roman numerals on the inside and a white, half-crescent moon, which she believed to be made out of ivory. Lillian got up from her desk and went to her bedroom. On top of her dresser was the pocket watch, which she grabbed and went back to her desk and drew it. She thought the drawing came out very nicely, signed it, and hung it up with her other works. She went back into the kitchen where she left the letter on the counter. "Good, now I want you move your refrigerator. There should be a manila envelope taped to the back of it. I know you must be confused, but you must do this for us."
"Us. Who was this ‘us’" Lillian thought. "Why had they made me draw a clock and now move my refrigerator of all things?" She looked out to her small living room to see Ruffles all cuddled up in his bed. She felt sleepy just by looking at him. She opened the pocket watch; it read that it was only about seven pm. She knew that if she went to bed now, it would just closer to boring work life. She decided to take a look behind the refrigerator was since it was more interesting than watching reruns of detective television shows. She grabbed the front of the refrigerator and moved it side to side. It was much easier then she thought it would be.
"How can I find the envelope in all of this?” she thought at she got her first glimpse behind there. It looked like dust bunny central, with connecting towns of dirt and food crumbs. It being near spring, she decided to do a little cleaning. She picked up a coin and magnet on the ground and dusted the back of the refrigerator. Lillian got a little bit distracted until she saw it, taped to back of the refrigerator.
The manila envelope was there, under the dust. She carefully un-taped it while wondering how in the world did someone put it there. “Maybe it is something left by the past tenants of the apartment.” she started to think. But while looking at the package, she could only see the yellow paper looking back at her. Her next thought lead her to go back to the letter. "Great, now open it up. You may want to sit down first." the letter read.
"How do they know I have it already?" she thought as she moved back to her desk chair and set down the pocket watch. She rocked the manila envelope in her hand, and felt like there was something small and a bit heavy inside. Lillian laid the manila envelope down on her desk and opened it. Inside was another envelope and a heavy object wrapped up in a white cloth. She looked back to the letter for the next step, but there was none. She turned the letter over but it was just a blank white page on that side. She decided to open up the new envelope and she found two pieces of paper, one more folded then the other. She could see letters on the less folded piece, and started to unfold that one first. She scanned it and saw that this one had much more substance than the last one. In the header of the letter just had two words. "Open them."
She started to unwrap the heavy object, and got a sight of a golden surface. Once it was fully unwrapped, she was holding a pocket watch in her hand. Lillian took a double take between this new pocket watch and her pocket watch on her desk. She looked it over and it looked like an exact replica. She set it down and moved on to the other, more folded, piece of paper. As she opened it, she started to notice that it was a signed sketch by no other then herself. The one that she had just made. The one the letter told her to. With a jolt of curiosity running down her spine, she lunged forward and grabbed her original drawing. She had taken a class about art forgery and tried to compare the two drawings. But no matter where she looked, or how she looked at it, it was the same drawing that she had just made. Lillian looked back to the new letter to answer her new found questions.
"Okay, yes. This is your pocket watch and your drawing of it. It's not a replica." She believed that they were still replicas, but couldn’t explain the drawing; so she kept on reading. "I am not sure of what I have done so far will prove to you of what I am going to say next. I am not a previous tenant of this apartment, in your sense of what previous means. What I am trying to say is that I am you."
She stopped like she was made of stone. Why, who, and how? These questions were starting to hurt her brain, as if these letters hadn't already. Lillian continued reading, as her eyes were opening, big as a peach. "Tada! No, it isn't black magic. Let me tell you a story."
"Back sometime at your age, I was working at that dumb ad agency. Every night I would come home and draw to take the stress away. Well, you know this part better than anyone so I will skip ahead a few years. About a month ago, my doctors told me that I didn’t have long to live. Hearing this, thoughts of what I wanted my life to be started to haunt me. I decided to do something daring for the first time and commit a crime, time travel. I won't try to explain how time travel works since, frankly, I don't understand it either. So I went back and rented this apartment and plotted a plan. Hiding the package behind the refrigerator and tacked on the letter from Decisive Words about how this apartment was great. I knew that my past self would had bought it since I always wanted to live in an apartment all by myself. So now, I am actually writing to you as I sit at the desk which you are sitting at. I am not sure what I will do when you come to move in, but that is a matter for another time. The reason why I went back to change my life, your life, is to-" Lillian was so focused on the letter that it took her some time to remember to turn it over. "-help you. You know that second pocket watch you have now? Well, I know that it means a lot to you, and you wouldn't sell it for the world. However, now you can sell this one. It isn't worth a dime in my time, so it should be a good sum of money in your time. You need to sell it and use the money you get to support yourself while looking for a new job. Unless of course, you want my past as your future." She couldn’t believe it. It almost felt like a dream to her. A dream. She became so caught up that now this felt like it was just one of her wild dreams, and decide that the best thing to do was to just go to bed.
The next day, she walked into the kitchen and almost bumped into the refrigerator. She hadn't moved it back last night. She started to push it when it dawned on her.
"If the refrigerator is still out," Lillian thought, "then last night wasn't just a dream."
She didn't see Ruffles looking at the space behind the refrigerator, and almost tripped over him while running over to her desk. He barked at her legs as they flashed before his eyes. Lillian reached her desk, and saw the two pocket watches, the two sketches, and the two letters. She picked up the second pocket watch. It looked just like her old one, because it was. Her brain couldn’t wrap this idea around it. Ruffles looked at her, his head tilted to one side, mirroring her expression of confusedness on his face. She couldn't explain it, couldn't quantify it, couldn't…anything of it.
Lillian still didn’t know what to do. This was the weirdest, and adventurous, thing that had happen in her life and she felt that she wasn't ready for it. She turned, holding a pocket watch in each palm, and looked at Ruffles. He was just on the floor, chasing his own tail. He could never catch his tail, since it always in the past. But now she had caught her own tail, her past. But now that she caught, she had become a new animal; a new Lillian Scott.