The bustling coffeehouse was almost full and Tracey couldn't believe her luck with her seat. It was her favorite one, the one with two big plush chairs and an unobstructed view outside. Nothing made coffee taste better than to be comfortable and people watching. The beautiful spring day enhanced her high spirits and the number of passersby.
Most people were breaking out their shorts and T-shirts for the first warm day of the year. Tracey herself was was wearing a light blouse and a black knee length skirt, her unshaven legs hidden by stalkings. Since she didn't have a man in her life, Tracey was usually pretty lax about keeping them smooth (much to her daughter's chagrin).
April was the light in Tracey's life. Of course, when she'd first gotten pregnant at 18, she'd thought her life was over, but after having April everything changed. The once carefree Tracey got serious and worked her way from being an at-best C student to becoming a magna cum-laude university graduate. While all the other girls were partying, Tracey was at home studying and raising April.
Now that April herself was 18, Tracey was earning close to 6 figures a year, well more than enough to make sure that her daughter went to the best private school in the area. Tracey was terrified that April would repeat some of the same mistakes she herself had made. Tracey was thrilled that April was in her life, but she didn't wish that hardship on her daughter.
Tracey checked the clock on her phone. She still had half an hour left on her lunch break. A young couple crossed the street in front of her. They looked so happy. Tracey wasn't jealous though, she had April and that's all she needed. After leaving her immature boyfriend who had impregnated her, she'd never felt the need for that type of intimacy.
"Mind if I sit next to you?" a male voice said to her.
Tracey looked up at the nondescript man standing next to her. He wasn't tall, but he wasn't short. He wasn't fat, nor was he really skinny. He wasn't ugly, but neither was her really remarkably good looking. Tracey had the feeling that if she were to look away for more than a second she'd be completely forget what he looked like.
Before answering his question, she looked around the coffee shop. It wasn't crowded enough that he couldn't find a table of his own, but any other table he sat at wouldn't have had a decent view outside. Moving her purse out of the other chair, she said, "Not at all. Go ahead."
He plopped down next to her. "Thanks."
Tracey dropped her phone in her purse and stared at the people wondering around outside. Maybe tomorrow she'd buy a sandwich and go to the park. She loved spring, which is why she'd named her daughter April.
"Nice weather, huh?" the man asked her.
Not really wanting to get into a conversation, Tracey nodded and gave a polite "yeah".
"Man, if I were 18 again, I'd definitely be skipping school today. Go hang out at the beach or something, anything other than slaving away for the Man." He gave a nervous laugh.
Tracey looked at him harder. She'd done exactly that most of her high school days until she got pregnant, but then again, a lot of people did. She ignored his friendly comment, though, and resumed looking out the window.
"I wish I could turn back time, see if everything would turn out differently if I hadn't become so serious. Don't you, Tracey?"
She whipped her head towards him. How did he know her name? Did she know him?
He continued on. "Maybe I would have wound up making it with the band or maybe I'd be some carefree button masher somewhere living paycheck to paycheck."
Unable to place the man, Tracey asked, "Do I know you?"
"No, Tracey, you don't."
"Then how do you know my name?"
He took a sip of his coffee and set it down. He ignored her question. "Things turned out the way they did. I am who I am and you are who you are. For what it's worth, you did a bang up job raising April. If I'd just known the 18 year old you, I never would have guessed."
"How do you know all of this?" Tracey asked in a louder voice than she should have. A guy across the room reading a newspaper shot her a dirty look.
"Back then, I'd have put money on you winding up working as some mom and daughter porn star or stripper tag team."
Tracey stood up to leave. "I don't have to put up with this."
Despite herself, Tracey sat back down. Adrenaline pumped through her. "What are you doing to me?" There was another glare from the newspaper man.
"I want to see what would have happened if you weren't so serious after April was born. What if you hadn't changed at all, or what if you'd gotten even worse?"
Tracey calmed herself. She made sure she answered in an even tone. "No one can know those things. Like you said, 'I am who I am.'"
For the fist time since he'd started talking to her, she [i]looked[/i] at him. If she'd been asked to describe him now, she'd only need one word: terror. He frightened Tracey to her core. "I can find out," he said. He turned back to the window.
The calm Tracey had forced on herself was gone. Sweat beaded her brow and her heart raced. [i]No, he can't. People can't[/i] do [i]things like that.[/i]
"Yes, Tracey, I can."
The two sat in silence. Tracey grasped the sides of her chair. She desperately wanted to shove it out from under her and flee the shop.
"Tracey, choose someone." The man gestured out into the busy street.
"Ch ... choose?"
A young girl, probably some intern at one of the law firms, was waiting at the light to cross. Tracey lifted a shaky finger and pointed at the girl.
The man held out his hand and crooked his index finger in a "come here" motion. The girl did an about face from the light and walked over to the coffee shop. She stopped in front of Tracey and the mysterious man. She looked directly at them. Then she looked at her reflection in the glass.
Tracey and the girl watched as the girl morphed from law office intern into a whore. Her office attire shrank and twisted it's way into fishnet stockings and a tight white and blue dress. It only qualified as a dress as the top and bottom parts were connected together by two thin strips of fabric. A large hole in the middle exposed the girl's pierced belly button, and her sides were exposed as well. That, added in with the deep cut neck line, and there was barely any material to cover up her massive chest.
The newly created streetwalker dropped her cigarette and stuffed it out with her 8 inch platform shoes. She fluffed out her dyed hair and turned to go. That's when she changed again. She shrank down in size until she had turned into a 60 year old homeless woman.
She wiped her dirty face with her hand, which only smeared more grime down her cheek. She noticed Tracey staring at her through the glass. She gave Tracey a toothless grin and held up a paper cup. She jingled it as if to say, "Give me some money."
The old woman morphed back into the hooker then back into the original girl. There was still something different about her though, and it wasn't just the fact that Tracey could see her black bra through her thin white shirt. The girl's aura had changed.
"She's blowing all the partners at the firm. They pass her around like an Applebee's appetizer. She's hoping that it will help her land a paralegal position there, but at best she'll wind up a coke addicted secretary."
Tracey had to leave. She [i]had[/i] to, but she couldn't. Her body wouldn't listen to her.
"You know, Tracey. I like to play games. Sure, I could just walk up to you and turn you into some dumb slut, but where's the fun in that? When I first got my ability, that's all I was about. Slut, slut, slut.
But I've evolved since then. I've realized, it's more fun to watch someone fight the fate I'm trying to bestow on them. You know, give them some sort of incentive and just watch them. Am I making any sense?"
Tracey wasn't even really listening anymore. She'd lost the capacity to. "Please, let me go."
Her turned his face of terror towards her again and put his hand on her leg. "I will."
Relief shot through Tracey. "Thank you."
"Oh, don't thank me yet. The game hasn't started yet."
"I don't want to play."
"Oh come now, sure you do. Here, look at this."
All of a sudden, Tracey was thirty years in to the future. A little girl she knew to be her granddaughter was screaming and throwing things across the room. A haggard looking April viciously yelled at the little girl and went back to cussing her ex over the phone. There was a pounding at the door. Tracey knew it was some sort of collection agency coming to take something else away.
Just as suddenly, Tracey was back in the present. "That's your daughter's current future," the man said.
Once again, Tracey found herself thirty years in the future. This time, she was at her granddaughter's eleventh birthday. April, all grown up, was standing behind her daughter clapping her hands. April's loving husband sang with them. Her daughter had married a wonderful man. She was happy and successful. Tracey's heart leaped with joy.
The man brought Tracey back again. "That's the future I'll give her if you win."
"What if I lose?"
"Oh, now Tracey, don't you ruin the fun. That's something you'll have to discover as we go along. Now, are you ready to hear the rules?"
.... There is more of this story ...