This Time Tomorrow 


Just thirty minutes, thought Grace, as she set the grocery bags on the coffee table and slid into the recliner. Thirty minutes, then, I’ll get ready for work. She closed her eyes and the dense gray of oblivion stretched out, pushing any lingering thoughts far from her until there was nothing but the steady repetition of her breathing… in and out… in and out… in and… showtunes… out… singing… in and… so distant… so off key. She couldn’t make out the words. A high note, loud, excruciating; like someone dying.

Grace sat up. Startled. Confused. She had drifted off quickly. Crazy dreams, but… someone was singing. Her roommate was out of town. Next door maybe? She stood and stretched, grateful for the coffee she had just bought.

She picked up the grocery bags and started toward the kitchen, again the high note. Grace dropped the bags on the floor and stared at the bathroom door, a seam of light stretched along the bottom.

She laughed at herself as she walked over and knocked on the bathroom door. “Maddie, you scared the crap out of me!” The funny thing was that Maddie complained about Grace’s singing, she didn’t usually sing herself.

Grace knocked again. “Maddie, are you in there?”

The singing stopped, but Maddie didn’t answer.

Grace tried the door—it was unlocked. She pushed it open and stuck her head in, “Are you alright?”

The room was balmy. The mirror was covered in steam and the shower door hung open. It was empty. “Okay, Maddie, this isn’t funny,” she said, as she peeked behind the door she was leaning against, but Maddie wasn’t there. Grace walked over to the shower. The tile was wet. Water droplets clung to the shower nozzle.

Grace shook her head. It made no sense.

Wet footprints led from the shower into the hallway. They hadn’t been there before. She was sure.

Grace followed the small puddles all the way to her room, to her bed. A water spot was spreading over her comforter. This was what she did every morning, shower, then, sit on the edge of her bed and put on lotion. She’d never dripped all the way down the hall or soaked her bedding though.

A crash jolted her. The picture on her nightstand had fallen, knocking her lotion to the floor. Grace trembled as it rolled to her feet. Her phone beeped. She jumped, sucking in a scream. Quickly, she fished it from her pocket. The morning paper had arrived, its headline stretched across the screen and sent a chill down her spine: Woman Found Dead, Grocery Bags on Living Room Floor. Beneath the headline was a picture of Grace, smiling. The air caught in her chest. She zoomed in on the date and exhaled. It was tomorrow’s date. Someone, most likely Maddie, was having fun with her.

The floorboards creaked. Grace looked over her shoulder. The doorknob to her closet was turning.