It was really a beautiful day, after all, even if it was going to end in two hours, just to start all over again. Another twenty-four hours of the exact same day, which would be almost normal, if everybody living through it didn't notice that it was the same day, if everybody lost all the memories they gained over those twenty-four hours and started over with the memories they had at the end of the previous day, that previous day so long gone. Hyacinth tried to remember it, but she couldn't even come up with a single detail of that previous day. The current day had kept recurring for too long. Hyacinth had lost count.
As far as she knew, she was the only one who retained her memories at the end of the day. Everybody else went through the same exact cycle every day without even realizing it. The first time the day repeated itself, she had begun thinking about just what was happening. But it had always eluded her. Why? She didn't know. Was she some kind of special being, some kind of malfunctioning in the workings of the cosmos?
Did every day repeat itself millions of times before the next one started? Had she, just like everyone else, gone through the same cycles every day of her life, until now? Had something gone wrong? Every day, as she walked outside, she looked into the eyes of her neighbour, Mr. Fuzzleblip, and she saw the lack of memories, the obliviousness to the state of events. Mr. Fuzzleblip was walking toward his car; he would look over and see her; he would raise an arm and wave; he would call out, "Good morning to you, Ms. Plasmodia! How are you doing today?" And the first time, she replied, "I'm fine, thank you! How are you doing?" And he said, "Fine as well! What a beautiful day! Isn't it a beautiful day, Ms. Plasmodia?" And she said, "Yes, it is. But please, call me Hyacinth." And he said, "Yes, I sure will, Ms. Plasmodia." And he glanced at his wristwatch. "Oh, look at the time! Well, I must be off to work! Mustn't be late, you know." And then he'd drive off, waving as he went, the back right wheel of his car running onto the curb.
She never knew his first name.
The second time the day went by, she was outside, ready to go to work herself, just like the day before. Everything was the same, but she didn't know that. She had stepped off the front porch when she noticed Mr. Fuzzleblip next door. "Good morning to you, Ms. Plasmodia!" he called out. "How are you doing today?" She looked in his direction and waved back at him. "I'm fine, thank you! How are you doing?" And he said, "Fine as well! What a beautiful day! Isn't it a beautiful day, Ms. Plasmodia?" And she felt a strange feeling go through her, some weird kind of déjà vu. "Uh... yeah, it is. Uh... haven't we had this conversation before?" And he looked at her, smiled, and said, "I'm sure we did." He glanced at his wristwatch. "Oh, look at the time! Well, I must be off to work! Mustn't be late, you know." And then he'd drive off, waving as he went, the back right wheel of his car running onto the curb.
She stood there, staring after the car as it screeched down the road and disappeared beyond sight.
Then she realized it was Saturday, and she didn't have work on Saturday. And neither did Mr. Fuzzleblip.
That was when she knew something weird was going on.
She got a call from Celeste at Ye Olde Computer and Electronics Shoppe an hour later. "Hey, Hyacinth! It's me, Celeste, calling from work. How are you? It's almost ten o'clock, and you're not here! Are you all right? Are you sick? Did your alarm clock not go off this morning? What happened?"
"I'm all right," she said. "It's Saturday. I don't work on Saturday."
Hyacinth stared blankly into the distance.
"Then... what are you doing there?" she said. "Why are you at work?"
"Because it's Friday, of course!"
Hyacinth looked at the clock, but it only showed the time.
"Are you sure?" she said.
"Of course, I'm sure!"
"But... yesterday was Friday. I remember that."
"No, it wasn't. It was Thursday."
"Are you sure about that?"
"This...something's going on. Something very strange." And she hung up.
The next day started the same way, of course. By the end of that day, she was completely sure there was something kooky going on with the universe. She knew she could influence the actions of other people, but everybody started out the same way every day. It was incomprehensible. The fifth day of repetition, she stood outside with a plank of wood, waiting for Mr. Fuzzleblip to come out of his house. As he raised his arm and said, "Good morning to you, Ms. Plas--", she swung the plank of wood and whacked him across the forehead. He fell down, unconscious. Then she dragged him across the lawn, up the steps, and into her house. She tied his arms and legs behind his back, gagged him, and locked him in the basement. He regained consciousness a few hours later, and he moaned and groaned, but she didn't remove the gag or untie him. She watched him until 11:45 at night. She had gone to bed at about 10:30 the last several nights, since before the day started repeating itself, but now she wanted to observe what exactly happened at midnight. And if it was a simple matter of everyone somehow forgetting everything, then Mr. Fuzzleblip would still be there in her basement after midnight. 11:59 came and went. She stared at the clock. 12:00 came and went. 12:01 came and went. And just as she was thinking that maybe she had imagined everything, she realized that her clock was a few minutes early. And then....
She woke up, her alarm clock ringing persistently and annoyingly loud. She reached over and shut it off. Then she remembered what had happened the last few days. She got up and ran downstairs, opened the front door, and burst out into the sunshine. Mr. Fuzzleblip was just leaving his house. "Good morning to you, Ms. Plasmodia!" he called out, waving.
So now she knew that no matter what she did, the cycle would continue. There was some vast conspiracy behind this, and she couldn't figure it out by herself. She might start trying to solve the mystery, but she was behind in her reading, and she might as well take advantage of the repeating days to catch up. She opened a book, an anthology of American literature, and read the first short story in the book, "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving.
Copyright © 2003 by The Invincible Spud