“Ready?” Kelly asked. Anna replied with a long yawn. Both women stood in Kelly’s kitchen at 6:00 a.m. in their pajamas in front of Kelly’s custom-built cupboard. It was modeled after a full-sized wardrobe with plenty of space.
“Why six a.m.?” Anna asked. Her eyes weren’t fully open yet. Kelly didn’t know if that was because of all the lights being on or because Anna wasn’t fully awake yet. Kelly shrugged.
“This is when I normally wake up. You can go back to sleep after I show you why you spent the night.” Anna’s half-closed eyes narrowed even more.
“Did you forget you showed me your confusing organizational skills last night?” she asked. Kelly shook her head.
“That’s the point. I haven’t left your sight since last night, right?” Kelly asked. Anna shrugged.
“I dunno. I was asleep for most of it, but sure. I trust you.” Kelly shook her head.
“No, you have to believe me. I didn’t leave the room.”
“Okay,” Anna nodded. Her eyes were wide open now showing off their coffee-brown color. “I believe you. What’s the big deal?” Kelly reached for the cupboard handle and pulled it open. She looked in and immediately started searching for anything new. Both women screamed and jumped back from the cupboard; the pink head of hair that frightened them looked down at the commotion.
A woman’s head with a pink ponytail hung upside down under the middle shelf and seemed to be looking ‘up’ at something on the bottom shelf. When she saw and heard the two women, her eyes went wide for a moment, then they deflated as she released an audible sigh.
“Aw damnit,” she mumbled. She stared at the two women holding each other side by side upside down. “Don’t freak out; I’ll be right there to explain everything. Also, sorry.” The upside-down head disappeared into the bottom of the middle shelf.
“Hi, I’m Lyra.” Anna and Kelly jumped again when Lyra spoke from the kitchen entrance. They both turned to see the same pink ponytail attached to a full woman. She wore a crisp white blazer with red buttons and a red scissor logo on the left. Now that the shock of finding a head in her cupboard wore off, Kelly noticed a small red star tattoo on her cheek.
“Kelly,” Kelly introduced herself as she tried to process the situation. She had been dealing with odd happenings for a few weeks already. Finding a head was initially grisly, but Lyra seemed to be walking and talking okay. She didn’t bother wondering how Lyra got into her house; she was already in the cupboard.
“Anna,” Anna gave a half wave, then started another yawn.
“I can do this,” Lyra said. She raised her hand to chest level and wiggled her fingers at the air. A small, saucer-sized black hole appeared in the air. Lyra slid her right hand into the hole, then used her left hand to point at the still open cupboard. Anna and Kelly turned to see a hand waving at them from the shelf. “And this,” she added.
The hand retreated and was replaced by Lyra’s head in the cupboard again. Kelly looked at Lyra in her kitchen and saw her body standing there with a black hole at her neck. Then, the hole disappeared and her head was attached again.
“A few weeks ago I lost access to my normal stashing spot, so I picked a new one at random,” she shrugged. “I didn’t know it was owned. I’m sure you’ve noticed some weird things. I’m sorry. My stuff’ll be gone in a couple of hours.”
“You didn’t know it was owned?” Kelly asked. “But my stuff was in there too…,” Her voice faded at the end; she was afraid of sounding accusatory. It was a genuine curiosity. Lyra smiled and nodded.
“There’s a difference between occupied and owned. I thought I wasn’t the only one using it was all; it’s handy to stash things when traveling between universes. As long as I didn’t touch anyone else’s things and no one touched mine, there’s lots of room.”
“Did you say, ‘traveling between universes’?” Anna asked. Lyra nodded.
“For work, yeah.”
“Between universes!?” Kelly asked. “Like, alternate universes?” Again, Lyra nodded, then she smiled broadly.
“How about a tour, to make it up to you for invading your space?” Lyra asked.
“Really?” Anna asked.
“To another universe?” Kelly asked.
“How about to lunch in another universe? I know the best Chinese place ever.”
“Chinese?” Kelly asked and she glanced at the clock on her stove. “It’s not even 6:10 yet.” Lyra shrugged.
“It’s lunch where we’re going. Lesson one of the multiverse: Each Earth is its own time zone. So…,” Lyra gestured at the pair of women. “…you’ll need to change out of the jammies.”