“Son of a bitch,” I swore under my breath, trying once more to turn my key in the lock of my car door. I jiggled it, angled it, cupped my hand around my mouth and heated the key. Nothing.
I glared at the canister of lock de-icer I’d bought yesterday, now quite empty and apparently useless. I had to have squirted at least half the container into my lock when I bought the thing, another quarter or so this morning, and the rest of it just now.
The de-icer remained silent and my lock remained stuck. I dropped my head, resting one gloved hand on the window of my car.
Another can of de-icer was just a phone call to Campus Security away, but I hated dealing with those guys. A lot of them were perfectly nice, polite guys, but a lot of the rest of them couldn’t stop their eyes from wandering, and I was way, way past finding it flattering when creepy guys checked me out.
“Mirror.” Someone whispered.
I jerked my head up, looking around. I hadn’t noticed anyone else in the parking lot when I walked up to my car, and I didn’t see anyone now.
“Hello? Anyone out there?” I called out, frowning. No one answered.
“Mirror?” I wondered to myself. I had just enough time to think ‘what a weird thing to whisper in the middle of a parking lot’ before I was sitting in the driver’s seat of my car, hand pressed to the window.
“Woah, what the f-” I snatched my hand back, staring down at it in horror.
I took a deep breath, closing my eyes and shrugging my backpack off to stuff into the passenger seat.
“It’s okay,” I told myself, “it’s just stress from mid-terms. You managed to black out the ten minutes it took to get Campus Security to open your door. That totally happens to people.” I opened my eyes. “Oh, shit, who am I kidding?”
I fished my phone out of my pocket, and scrolled through the contacts until I got to a number I rarely used.
“Hello, Dr. Cardero? Got any openings for this afternoon?”
“How are your classes, Aiyana?”
I fidgeted on the examining table. I never really knew how to answer that kind of question. On one hand, my classes were going fantastic; I had actually just aced an organic chemistry test earlier that day, and my grades in the rest of my classes were either the highest or second-highest of all the enrolled students.
On the other hand, you never really know how people are going to react when you tell them you’re a Gender & Sexuality major.
“Your mother tells me you’re attending the University of Chicago with almost no loans?” Dr Cardero kept going, setting up for the blood draw.
Normally, I found it comforting to have her chattering at me while doing squicky things, but I was less than excited about the prospect of discussing my major with the family doctor. My family knew what I was going to school for, but my parents chose to pretend I was going for something ‘respectable’, and my brother didn’t talk about it in front of them for the sake of family harmony.
“Uh, yeah.” I turned my face away as she wrapped the cord around my upper arm, trying to relax. “Between the academic scholarships and all the racial ones, I’m going to graduate with a lot less debt than my peers.”
I felt the prick of the needle and winced, but kept my arm still. I knew from past experience that if I panicked or tensed, it would just mean more needles in more sensitive places as the doctor tried to find a vein I hadn’t blown by fidgeting.
“Hmm,” the good doctor finished up and taped a piece of gauze on my arm. The rest of my body promptly relaxed, only to tense up when she spoke again. “Your brother says you’re a Gender & Sexuality major.”
I laughed nervously, rubbing my forearms and crossing my legs. “Um, yeah. It seemed like a good idea at the time?”
Dr Cardero chuckled. “You don’t need to justify it to me. I have a gay cousin, and my family welcomes her partner like they would any other spouse. As long as you’re being safe-” she speared me with the kind of over-the-glasses look only a mom could manage, and I quickly nodded, “-then that’s where my concern ends.”
Normally I would try to remind someone that not all G&S majors are queer, but I was too relieved to have the conversation end in a whimper instead of a bang. Besides, I was bi, and I wasn’t keen on accidentally implying otherwise to my doctor, of all people.
“Alright then,” Dr Cardero’s words interrupted my navel-gazing, “I’ll go take care of this, and someone will be in to take you for the other tests.”
A few days later, the test results all came in negative. I had some gallstones, but one frantic google search later I found out that a lot of people have gallstones that never act up. Dr Cadero officially diagnosed it as stress, and told me not to worry about it unless it happened again.
Life went on. I kicked my mid-terms right in their unneccessary asses, and managed to half-convince myself that the doctor was right, and I’d just have to take on a lighter course load next semester. It was a lie, of course. I wouldn’t lighten my courseload unless I was in imminent danger of collapse, and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew – knew – that the thing with my car window had happened. Still, people are really good at denial, and it’s even easier when you have other things to concentrate on.
Looking back, I don’t think it would have helped if I’d accepted what I could do. If anything, I might have attracted the wrong attention, the way a lot of us did in those early days, especially those of us who could do flashy or obvious stuff the way I could. Later, it didn’t so much matter– but I’m talking about stuff you know better than I do. You asked about Predator, so I’ll give you Predator.
“Shit, again?” I moaned, rolling my head on my shoulders and dropping my head forward dramatically.
My keys, the cheeky little buggers, sat smugly on the driver’s seat, right where they’d slipped out of my coat pocket. I stared them down, as if that would make them jump out of the tiny space between the window and the doorframe where I’d left it slightly open.
Predictably, nothing happened, and I fished my cell phone out of my pocket with a sigh. I really didn’t have the money for a locksmith, and there weren’t any other copies of my car keys in existence. I’d kept meaning to get them copied, and then something else would whittle away at my savings, and I’d tell myself that getting my car keys copied was less important than having that money on hand for when something else in my life inevitably went wrong.
Halfway through dialing the number of what google told me was a local locksmith, I paused. I’d been good – really, really good – at not thinking about the incident, but the fact remained that if I wasn’t actually losing my mind, I’d managed to get myself from outside my car to inside my car.
I cancelled the call, chewing the inside of my cheek. I didn’t really want to try this – it felt like I would be encouraging my own craziness if I did – but if I could save myself the money that calling a locksmith would cost me, I’d be in a better position for the rest of the week. The only bills I actually had were a token rent payment for the apartment my brother and I shared and my phone bill, but every dollar I didn’t spend was a dollar I wouldn’t have to beg my parents for when it came to paying for books. At the same time, teleportation wasn’t really something people could do, it was just something they thought they could do.
Searching for a tiebreaker, I looked around the parking lot. If there was someone there, or even a security camera pointed in this direction, I wouldn’t do it. After all, there was a big difference between making a fool out of yourself in front of yourself, and making a fool out of yourself in front of other people. If no one was looking, I could just try it, and then pretend it had never happened. If someone was, I’d call the locksmith. Easy.
As luck would have it (or misfortune, maybe), the parking lot was deserted and the only camera looking at this part of the parking lot was obscured by a nearby tree.
I swore under my breath, but took my hand out of my pocket, pressing it to the window. One long, shuddering breath later, and I whispered, “mirror.”
I stared at the inside of my car window. My hand was pressed up against the space it had been when I’d been outside, but I was definitely sitting in the driver’s seat, backpack squished between me and the seat and keys digging into my ass.
This time, instead of freaking out and immediately questioning my sanity, I kept my hand pressed to the window. Before I could think better of it, I said, again, “mirror.”
Faster than I could register, I was standing in the same place I’d been before. One more whisper, and I was back in my car.
“Goddamn,” I muttered to myself, shaking my head. “God damn.”