Jam - Part 2

“Well?” There was a hint of impatience in the voice.



“It seems weird but either everyone’s playing a trick on me or I’ve lost a day somewhere.”

The older woman’s brow furrowed. “Sorry?”

“Well, everyone says it’s Tuesday, even the newspaper, but I‘m sure it‘s Monday. I seem to have missed yesterday completely. I didn’t come to work yesterday, I‘m sure. It‘s ridiculous but...” Alice petered out, but was amazed when the nurse seemed to take her complaint seriously and didn’t dismiss it as hysteria.

“Hmmm. This might just be a more mild case of a lost weekend. Were you drinking at the weekend?


“Did you take anything? It’s all right, it is confidential, it won’t go on your record.”Alice was confused, and showed it.

“Drugs, dear.”

“Oh, no, I’ve never done drugs.”

“That’s odd. And you’re sure it’s Monday?”

“Completely. But everyone else says it’s tomorrow, well, it’s tomorrow now for me, but today for…” She dried up in the grammatical tense-tangle which time travel induces.

“So you think it’s today, but everyone else says it’s tomorrow?”

”Yes.” Alice found her voice retreating into itself in the face of this questioning.

“You don’t think it’s yesterday once more? Because that would be Carpenter’s syndrome, and that’s much more serious.”

“No, it‘s today, today.” Alice wasn’t sure whether she’d have preferred just to be laughed out of the room. Mrs White’s understanding was unnerving. Her confusion mangled her grammar further. The next question caught her completely unawares though.

“What did you have for breakfast?” There was a quizzical, thoughtful expression on the nurse’s face.


“What did you have for breakfast?” The beginnings of exaggerated patience this time.

“Err, tea, and two slices of toast and jam.”

A ghost of something flitted across the older woman’s face.

“A new jar?”


“Difficult to open?


If you asked her, in later life, about that moment Alice would have said that it really did appear as if a light bulb switched on in Mrs White’s face. She’d always thought the metaphor overworked, but here, for the first time, she saw it in real life. The nurse nodded knowingly, confidence shining through her papery skin, and inhaled a deep satisfying draught.

“Thought so; that would do it.”

“What do you mean? What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Well, you can have jam yesterday, or jam tomorrow, but never jam today. Because you were so determined to have jam it can’t be today for you, so you’ve skipped straight to tomorrow.”

“But that’s absurd.”

“Really?” Whilst the logic was sound its application to the everyday world left Alice even more confused. There was a pause whilst she tried to ally herself with this bizarre notion.

“I recommend that you don’t worry about it, and in the morning it will have sorted itself out.” How could the nurse be so casual about it? She’d lost a whole day, and goodness knew what the wages office would do if they found out.

“As long as you don’t have any more jam of course.”

By Penny Dreadful

1 comment:

silfert said...

Hee, hee, hee!!! Oh, I love it! Definitely did not see that coming...