Crystal Ball

What a fraud. Lies, lies, lies.
Cindy was so mad. Two years ago she had seen this day and, today, it had finally come.
It had been a strange day, that afternoon two years prior. She had run into a scientist online who claimed to have discovered a way to see into the future. He offered her the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch one day of her future life, like a movie... She had decided that, good or bad, she would rather see her future - even if it cost her a month’s worth of wages.
But- it had been a fraud. She should have seen it coming, she supposed. It had been too good to be true. Here was the day she had been waiting for. Despite what she saw in the glass, she had no husband, no well-paying job, no nothing.
She sighed and looked at the clock: 9:32 AM. At 9:50, she would ride the subway, go to the office... she didn’t remember much of the day, but she remembered how it would begin. To stay home would be to let the dream go, so she put on her jacket and left for the train station.
She walked down the street in a cloud of nostalgia. How many days she had looked forward with hope to today. How many days she had barely survived, waiting in vain for the day when everything would be better- the day that never actually came. She tried not to feel despair as she remembered what she saw in the glass so long ago...
... She was in a white room, sitting beside her husband and listening to a speaker. It must have been a marriage workshop or something. They kept looking at each other, finding it hard to focus on the woman at the front of the room. She saw herself smile at him, brighter than the pristine white walls, and she saw dimples deepen in her husband’s face as he grinned right back...
The screeching of trains demanded her attention as Cindy walked down the stairs to the station. Blinking a few times to clear her suddenly-blurry vision, she chided herself for her sentimentality. She had so hoped that she wouldn’t still be alone today... But- that was that: the stupid machine had been wrong.
She had no idea where her highschool crush had ended up. They had been close until 12th grade, but then she had lost contact with him. But it was stupid to be sad about it. It had never been possible anyway. She stepped on the train and tried to compose herself, finding a place to stand just as the train began to move. As she held onto a cool metal pole, swaying with the rattling of the train, she mused over what she had seen... despite the pain it caused her, she couldn’t help coming back to the vision. It had all been so perfect... But, it didn’t come true. The day was already here. She doubted it could happen now.
The train skidded to a screeching halt as if it, too, were surprised by how quickly time had passed, with so little to show for it. Cindy walked up out of the station, lost in melancholy thoughts. She pushed through the revolving door into the morning sunlight, squinting up at the glass building across the street- the one she practically lived in. She sighed. So much for a fulfilling life with the man of her dreams. Just seeing the office made her stomach turn, thinking of all the hours she’d spent there.
The rustle of paper and a friendly shout took her attention away from the looming edifice. A woman and a man stood on the sidewalk, pushing fliers at passersby as they went. Crossing their path, Cindy couldn’t really avoid the pair, and so she took one at the enthusiastic urging of the smartly dressed woman.
A psychological study on role-playing, open to single adults. It paid $20 for 2 hours, and was scheduled for later that day. She shrugged. A little extra cash never hurt anyone. She sighed. No, no money was extra these days. The fact was that she needed the cash. The office paid well enough... if she only ate oatmeal and walked to work everyday, that is. She was getting more desperate the longer she went without a promotion or finding a second job. She would have done just about anything for a handful of dollars the last couple weeks. She had even started submitting art and such to competitions. She was supposed to get an email today if a video she submitted a couple weeks ago had won, but she wasn’t hopeful.
She wandered the streets aimlessly, wondering why she had been so gullible to believe that the future could be as bright as it had appeared two years ago. She had been naïve. She imagined the glass again...
...She was standing in an opulent hallway, surrounded by smiling people. A tall, smiling, man handed her an envelope that contained a check with many zeros. The others in the room looked at Cindy as if she had done something truly great for the company. Maybe she had completed an important project. Maybe she was even receiving a promotion...
Cindy groaned. Whatever it was, it was a far cry from the bald, sweaty man who handed Cindy a crumpled wad of cash once a month, with a look as if she were sucking the life out of him by accepting it. She had hoped the vision meant she would get a better job, or at least a better boss. But, no. Instead, here she was, a loser, working a desk job in an office where no one cared. Not a single prophecy was fulfilled. Instead, here she was, wandering the streets, wondering what she was hoping for.
If nothing else would come from the day, at least she could get 20 bucks from the study. She arrived at a large building at 12:50 PM. When she entered, a woman with a ponytail led her to a small room lit by fluorescent lights. The room was brilliant white, reminding Cindy yet again of the glass and the beautiful life that had never come to be. A few others were already there, sitting at tables labeled “Newlyweds”, “2 years”, or “5 years”. The woman led her to a seat and handed her a paper that explained the study; the participants would be pretending to be married amongst themselves, for various lengths of time, and they would study the effects of role playing on performance on various team-building tasks... The woman informed Cindy that she would be “married” to the handsome gentleman on the left... until now, Cindy had not really looked at the people in the room. She glanced to the left, and she stopped, her eyes widening. Could it be? Sitting there in a chair was someone she had never expected to see today. Her.. childhood crush... was to play her husband. Dumbfounded, she took a seat next to the man she had been searching for for years, and then, with mutual shock and delight, they got to talking right away. After a breathless conversation in which they each summarized the past 6 years and asked many questions, the smartly dressed woman came to the front of the room and interrupted their excitement in order to give instructions. Cindy barely heard her; she was still so astounded at her good luck that she could hardly think of anything but the man there beside her. She looked over and the man grinned, dimples creasing his cheeks. She smiled to herself and didn’t even notice when her phone buzzed. She had received an email.