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You frantically bookmark an article that explains it on the nineteenth day. Maybe the eighteenth if you’re discounting that one evening you spent trying to drown yourself in the pool till your toes were chlorine-blue-tinged and your lungs were leaky-compressed-air.

 

The article is bookmarked on your phone but you memorize the link, down to the slashes and colons, in case it resets when the next day starts.

 

5 Easy Tips to Escape a Time Loop

 

Alright fair enough, but if these tips aren’t easy, you swear to god, you’re going to bash your head in with a rock just to feel some sense of release.

 

 

 

Number One: Figure Out Your Secret Goal.

 

There’s something to be said for diving right into the crux of the issue, isn’t there.

 

If you knew your secret goal, then why the fuck would you still be stuck in this one god-awful day in the middle of god-awful Texas at the god-awful wedding of two sickeningly straight, white and loudly-American people who you don’t even know.

 

You put your phone face-down on the plastic table in front of you to brainstorm better. You can hear the hollering celebratory sounds of the wedding party, over on the other side of the hotel, and it makes you want to go over and light their entire wedding on fire. Maybe start with the cake if you’re in the mood for a certain dramatic flair.

Because these people have spent the last nineteen days following the same tired marriage routine that so many before them have followed, but more importantly, the same tired elaborate celebratory routine that they themselves have been stuck in.

 

But alright, brainstorm. Figuring out your secret goal. It’s possible that the issue is a sort of moral one. Bigger things may have to be repented, of course, like the fact that you assassinate pointless people for a living. That’s generally a frowned-upon profession.

 

Or maybe this is a much more morally-religious situation. Like the fact that you fuck too many women.

It could also be your general distaste for the concept of god; in fact, maybe you should start capitalizing God in your head now. If there’s one thing a cold, shitty childhood in Russia surrounded by guilty corrupt people has taught you, it’s never too late to start fearing God!

 

Anyway, okay, now you have a list of sins that you may have to repent for if you ever want to escape this god-awful (no, God-awful) time loop.

 

If you numb yourself to the fact that you’re most likely stuck here till the end of time, it isn’t actually that bad. The wedding has an open bar, you have a set of three pearl-handled pistols in case you need to shoot someone and the hotel pool has one of those neon pink inflatable flamingo floats. Somehow, the wedding party also seems to be completely alright with the fact that you turn up in loud Hawaiian shirts and eat at the buffet, despite the fact that the hotel is ages away from a proper town and they’re definitely not expecting you.

 

Oh, maybe your goal is a much simpler one, eat at least one of everything at the frankly ridiculous buffet. Like you said, could be worse.

 

 

 

Number Two: Buddy up

 

This one is proving a bit harder to achieve. You’ve always thought buddying up is only worth doing when your buddy is someone you’d like to have sex with, but nobody over here is all that enticing.

 

After around forty, maybe forty-five days, you fuck the bride the afternoon before the wedding and watch the guilt in her eyes solidify into something that looks like hot, molten anger right after she comes. You slowly button your shirt up as she hurls unintelligible shrieks at you and when you go to sleep that night, you’re quite glad for the do-over without a new buddy.  

 

It is only after a few more days that something changes. You’d even go as far as to say that everything changes.

 

You’re leaning against one of the absurd sandstone pillars to the right of the bar. Wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts and a silk Prada top you stole from one of the bridesmaids. You probably look ridiculous, but who the fuck even cares anymore!

 

So yes, you are leaning against a pillar, when you notice a woman awkwardly shuffling around in the middle of the dance floor, clearly forced by someone. And you definitely haven’t seen her before because this is the kind of woman who splits lives into pre-Her and post-Her.

 

You watch her inked-black curls and the way moonlight presses into her shoulder for god-even-knows-how-long. And when she finally looks up, catches your eye and softly inhales through her nose, you grin at her. All sharp corners and glinting eyes.

 

By her very existence in your time loop (yes, you’ve started referring to is as your time loop, a girl’s gotta form attachments with the objects around her), she’s an anomaly, a mystery you haven’t gotten a chance to unwrap yet. And so, what of it if you let her believe you’re a mystery too, more complex than your base emotions of confusion and rage and lust.

 

It takes two minutes for her to wrench herself away from the dance floor, whoever wanted her there was doing a very good job at forcing her to continue her awkward shuffle dance. When she comes over to you, eyes hard and serious the entire time she’s walking over, she orders a gin and tonic for herself, staring at you till the bartender slides it along to her.  

 

“Hello,” and your voice is deliberately a bit rougher and lower because it seems like you might have found a buddy, after all.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

Okay, maybe her bluntness is a bit annoying. Excuse me, ma’am, I’ve been stuck in the same day for ages and flirting is the only respite I currently have. Let me savour this.  

But you go along with her, because time is now post-Her.

“Villanelle. You?”

 

“Eve. Eve Polastri.”

 

“Okay, Eve Polastri,” and fuck, it’s such a great name to roll in your mouth, makes you want to scream it from the top of mountains, “Why are you here at this horrible wedding?”

 

She laughs, and it’s cold and loud and over too fast, “My freshman year college roommate’s getting married. I had no idea if I was going to come or not but decided to take a flight yesterday. Break from work and stuff.”

 

And sure, the much more pressing matter is how have you never seen her in your loop before. But right now, at this single incredible moment, the most important thing seems to be to get her into your too-small-bed.

 

“Eve, just a quick question, would you like to continue this scintillating conversation back in my room? We could steal a bottle of champagne from this bar, if you’d like.”

Emphasis on Eve, emphasis on scintillating, emphasis on champagne.

 

She smiles and it feels like an emphasis in itself. “Yeah, sure.”

 

Halfway up the stairs away from the reception, you softly place your thumb on her hipbone and she spins around and kisses you. You let out a muffled sound in the back of your throat and God, she lets out another quick laugh.

 

You take another step up, letting her go for only a second when part of your foot slips off the step, and you feel something like fear hooking in your stomach before you comically, and horrifically, fall and break your neck at the bottom of the stairs.

 

The two things you can think of are: Eve Polastri’s confused, shocked expression and oh my god, not this time, we were so close.

 

--

 

When you wake the next morning, you somehow assume that Eve won’t still be there. Or she’ll have completely forgotten about you. It is only later, when you’re getting ready to sunbathe in the flamingo float that she comes barreling at you, screaming your name like an unhinged banshee.

 

She yells a lot of things, but primarily, “WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE TO ME.” And you grin to the universe, because you’ve found your buddy.

 

 

 

Number Three: Explore different paths

 

It’s been four days since; she’s killed herself twice, killed you once and has grumpily stormed off to sleep in her room the last time. You remember being a lot more casual about the entire situation when you first got stuck here but you’ve been told that it’s good to let people process things differently. You assume this advice extends to shared infinitely stretching time loops with hot women.

 

The two of you are clapping for the bride and groom during the wedding. They’re smiling at each other and simpering when the bridesmaids whoop for them. It’s enough to make you sick, so you stop clapping and suggest the only thing you’ve been thinking about for the last four days.

 

“We could try and have sex?”

 

“No!” And she looks so indignant that you’d find it cute if not for how affronted you are.

 

“Please, I am fantastic in bed. Have always been. It could also be the only thing to break us out of this thing.”

 

“Why would breaking out depend on me fucking you at this terrible wedding?”

 

And you must smile at that, or at least blush, because she laughs out loud, eliciting harsh annoyed stares.

 

You furrow your brow and speak in a hushed whisper, “Okay fine, smartpants, I was just trying to explore different paths. I read about it in an article and if you are so determined to not have sex with me, then suggest something else.”

 

“Smarty-pants.”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

“No, I just told you that you can’t,” she grins delightedly and you realise that you are very much hating this slightly unhinged version of her that won’t pay attention to your time-loop-buddy-conversation.

 

--

 

It’s around fifty days after and the two of you have still not had sex.

But you’ve been going for movies with her at the local movie theatre. There are only three movies even showing but you’ve watched all three. And one time, she downloaded Ocean’s Twelve on a pen drive and asked you to threaten the movie theatre guy with one of your pearl-handled pistols.

 

And this is actually new, because your job is not something you’ve been able to indulge in over here, but she asks so many questions and seems so interested and reverently says ‘cool’ every time you describe a kill.

 

You’ve taken her on dates to every single restaurant in the area but she doesn’t call them dates. Unfortunately, she’s a lot less romantic than you are. But you’ve bought her flowers and ordered her favourite pizza toppings. And once she stood up and yelled “Happy Birthday Villanelle!” for the sake of complimentary dessert so yes, you are still technically stuck in the time loop but when has life ever been better.

 

--

 

It’s much later that she asks you how you got stuck in here. And it’s strange that she wouldn’t ask before but you’ve learnt that she’s a lot stranger than you give her credit for.

 

“Oh, it goes how these things usually go. Came to the wedding to steal away the groom,” she giggles at that, “Started a fist-fight with the maid of honour, stole a car, got eaten alive by coyotes and the entire thing started back up again.” You shamefully grimace at her to really sell the act.

 

“How true is that, scale of one to ten?”

 

“I’ve stolen a car before and started fist-fights so six, maybe seven.”

 

“Okay, come on, I’m listening.”

 

“It’s quite boring, Eve. Came here to kill some guy named something, see, I can’t even remember. He wasn’t here, I ate at the buffet and when I slept that night –” you gesture around you at the flamingo float and lawn chairs by the pool.

 

She leans over and brushes her nose against your cheekbone. And honestly, it’s pathetic how still you go, staying as static as is possible when the blood in your veins is pounding and rushing everywhere because of this pale imitation of a real touch.

 

“For what it’s worth, I’m glad I’m stuck here with you.”

 

And when you tilt her face to yours and kiss her, it feels like you might have explored every single path and this is where you would end up each time.

 

 

 

Number Four: Document everything

 

So here are the things you document: her mouth against your collarbone, the strangled sound that seems to live at the back of her throat, the way she whispers words into your tangled blonde hair.

 

Here are some more things you document: the golden of her wrists when she drives you to the movie theatre, the half-snort when the bride gives her horrible speech about the millions of ups and downs Jason and I have shared, but we are still so strong after it all, the way Eve’s eyes look into some deeper, more painful and hopeful part of you when the two of you are waltzing on the dance floor.

 

She suggests it about a hundred days after. Quantum Physics. To break out of the loop, but here’s the catch: scientifically. It has nothing to do with the people you kill or the women you have sex with, which is generally quite heartening.

 

The two of you fall into a natural groove of studying and experimenting and laughing and fucking. And after what seems like a thousand days, the two of you blow yourselves up in some mountain far away from the wedding and you document the way she presses her lips to yours and whispers that she loves you a second before pressing the detonator button.

 

Number Five: Try not to die

 

 

So, this is how things go now.

You kiss her, Eve Polastri, (still a great name to yell from the tops of mountains) every single morning. You go to work and have inside jokes with your handler. You go for movies where you don’t have to threaten movie theater guys with pearl-handled pistols. You laugh loudly, uncaringly, when she reminds you of the time that she shot you in the head and you woke up the next morning.

 

You have a wedding a year later. It is not in god-awful Texas and it’s hard to explain to the people around you why the two of you are moving so fast. You let them believe it’s because you’re a sapphic cliché and not two people who lost everything but themselves and time.

 

You grin at all her jokes, especially the bad ones. You spend a few extra seconds zipping up her dress for dinner with her friends. You bake shitty cakes for her birthday.

You try not to die.