“Someday We’ll Get This Right”
The first time Chrome lays eyes on M.M., it is at a time when they still wear school uniforms and the blush of youth on their cheeks, but yet carry the vast and burdensome knowledge of the future-that-might-have-been inside them.
That day their eyes meet by chance on a busy sidewalk after school; M.M.’s face turns angry and cold, delivering a glare of loathing like a harpoon through Chrome’s chest before she turns her back and walks away. Chrome watches her go, a little sad. It seems wrong for this one thing to repeat, remnants of scars that should have been shed during the trip home to the past.
Months later, after learning the pattern of M.M.’s after school activities and suffering many more such rebukes, Chrome manages to wear her down enough to usher her into a tea shop known for its sublime confections. She knows deep down that perhaps this is an attempt to duplicate some of her most precious memories of that time in the future: two girls, silent, sharing food so hot that it sears the tongue and melts all else away.
There is magic in such a spell, the only kind of spell Chrome can think of to make this ugliness between them any different, to prevent the future from repeating.
M.M. watches Chrome pour their tea, her mouth in a prim, unhappy line. Chrome fixes her eyes on M.M.’s drumming fingers to keep from being nervous and spilling; her nails are short but manicured and well-tended. Chrome quietly takes her seat, barely able to sip her tea before placing the cup back onto the saucer.
M.M., waiting for this exact moment, lifts her cup to the side and then empties it right onto the floor with an expression of disgust. The customers around their table gasp in shock. M.M. stands up in a fluid, grand motion, tossing her head with its short hair as she turns to walk away yet again—but this time Chrome gets up to hold her back.
Chrome’s hand is rough and thin, her nails bare and far less dainty or appealing than M.M’s—but her grip is sure.
“You haven’t tried the scone yet,” she whispers, squeezing M.M.’s wrist in earnest. “It’s… it’s… it’s delicious.”
M.M. cranes her neck in disbelief, baring her teeth at such audacity, but Chrome doesn’t waver. She pulls, leading M.M. back to their table and hovers until she sits back down. Chrome ignores that M.M. huffs in disdain, and patiently refills her emptied tea cup. When she passes the plate of scones, M.M. lifts one to her mouth and takes a single, precise bite, looking off into the corner of the shop with a bored expression as she chews.
This time M.M. drinks half of what’s in her tea cup before slinging her expensive bag over her shoulder and leaving Chrome behind in the shop with the bill. Chrome’s heart flutters happily inside her ribs, even though she’ll now have to spend the evening in the back of the shop washing dishes in exchange for the small but costly luxury of hot tea and warm scones.
It’s a start. Or at least enough to ease the ache of phantom wounds until they too can be remade.