She answered the door, peeking through at me before opening it further to let me in. Considering the number of times we’d met here, I’d hoped that she would get over that momentary hesitance with trusting me in her home, but perhaps that was just part of who she was. Glancing around the room, I saw the same simple design as always. She lived a very spartan existence, one I could never do, but I admired her devotion to her ideals.
We sat and talked about the projects we were working on. She was a bit vague on the latest bit of magic she was working on but I didn’t pressure her on that one. That was how she operated, just a bit on the skittish side. After a few more minutes, she directed me to the guest room so I could rest.
When I woke up in the morning there was no sign of my friend, other than a notebook set in the middle of the table. A post-it with my name on it adorned the notebook. Curious, I picked it up and skimmed the pages. Most of it was notes about the spell she was working on, the magic too advanced and complicated for me to follow. On the final page was a single word, repeated over and over again.
How strange. Setting the book down, I let myself out, locking the door behind me. My first glance at the hallway outside gave me a start. Had they painted the building a different color while we were asleep? How had they done that without waking us up?
As I moved through the building and eventually outside, I kept noticing small differences. Subtle things that just didn’t feel right. Nothing as obvious as the color difference. It wasn’t until I was outside that things finally dawned on me.
This was not my world. The entire street was changed. What was once a somewhat middle class area was changed into something more upscale. I spotted my friend leaning against a tree planted next to the sidewalk, tapping her foot on the ground and keeping an eye on the surroundings. She seemed to have spotted me the second I walked out of the building.
Hooking her arm with mine, she practically dragged me down the street. She kept babbling about how sorry she was and that she didn’t meant to do it. It had only been an experiment. A test to see if it could be done. She hadn’t meant to actually cast the spell.
By the time I could finally calm her down, we had arrived at a place that looked oddly familiar. Almost like the house I had grown up with. Even the label on the mailbox was the same. She pointed to the yard, where half a dozen children were running around. They all looked alike, easily siblings or at most, cousins.
Suddenly the front door opened and my friend dragged me behind a nearby car to watch. My mother stepped out of the house, appearing easily twenty or thirty years younger than I remember her. She called to the kids and they followed her back inside.
This wasn’t my world. I didn’t belong her. Now her apologies made sense.