Her wipers dance full speed in the escalating chaos of light snow. Bella, her 94 Turquoise Geo Prizm, named after Bella from Twilight soldiers on by the workings of a miracle, she called to have her towed so many times last month she spoke to the same operator twice. She could feel Bella’s gears and other parts crunch and scrape as she fought back at every turn and jolt. She needed two hands and extra muscle just to steer her into the vacant lot. A nearby deer is learning her theatrics. Before she turns the key, Bella gives a cough and a sputter as if she caught a cold on the way over and ceases before she can adequately shut her off. “Oh, Not again!” Jenna knows nothing about cars, but she has become familiarized with what a car sounds like when in agony. Bella’s cries send the deer fleeing around the corner.
Mom Bella died again I need a ride home!
I’m covering for someone tonight and your brother is stuck at his girlfriend’s your going to have to call a tow or Uber. LOL mom
She and her mother discussed the meaning of LOL, and her mother denies laughing out loud is something to be announced. Like Bella, she couldn’t feel any more left out in the cold. Luckily her inner workings made up for her ailing exterior. She smothers herself in as much heat as worthwhile before her forced departure into the frigid evening wind. Snow begins to assemble atop Bella’s roof and along the asphalt, still light enough to sweep it up. The vapors from her mouth visible and lingering around her head with every expulsion. A puff of air shoves crushed soda cans, fallen leaves, and a poster of the missing girl careening into her, the paper tugging at her leg before being ripped away by another draft.
Ava Richards, HAVE YOU SEEN ME?
The rattle of the entryway bell interjects someone mid-sentence about their encounter with the bear. Jenna’s cheekbones regain momentum from a blast of heat coming from the kitchen, with it a soliciting odor to make anyone abandon their diet at the door. Oregano, tomato sauce, garlic, the sound of crust severing, and the affirming nods of gratified customers. Her entrance turns the heads of Clark, her manager, and two regular patrons, one at the window with arched hands peering through the glass into the thriving storm. “Hey, I didn’t know you were covering for Brenda tonight, kid,” says Clark.
“I didn’t know either!” she persists. Joey rears his head in; dishes crash into one another beneath a liquefied debacle. Clark would joke about Joey’s washing capabilities and how he seemed to get more soap on the floor than any actual dish.
“Hey, you hear about the bear?” he says; one earphone dangles out of his head while his gloves are extended over his forearms, soap suds crawling down them to the floor awaiting her answer.
“No, but this is like the fifth forest creature I saw in two weeks; I swear I almost hit a fox on the way over, strange, right!”
“One of the patrons said she saw it was nosing in the trash by the laundry mat she called animal patrol, took them 45 minutes to pick up, she says.” to see even a beaver on occasion is rare. Since Ava’s disappearance, various animals have shown up all over town.
There has been a state of emergency issued for the storm conjuring outside and a curfew set because of the body they just found mauled to death by something of immense size and strength, but it is not Ava’s corpse. An elbow sends her makeshift tip cup collapsing to the ground. She is hunched over when someone navigates to the register.
“Bless you,” someone says.
When Jenna returns to her upright position, Tommy is there chin pointed to the ceiling, his ice blue gaze drives across her face before he speaks. When his glimpse freezes on her, his lips split to produce a smile. He just returned home two weeks ago Christmas break. She thanks him and asks him his name and order like she hadn’t etched it all over her geometry notebook.
“Tommy,” he says.
“Raw steak?” She repeats the last component of the order. His head recoils back slightly as his hand surfs over his dark hair before he answers to her evident unsettled expression. A chuckle rolls off his moist lips. “It’s for my dog; she loves pizza; what can I say.”
“And the rest of your order?” her head in a slant.
“Yeah, jeez, I sound like a depraved animal; I’m not, I swear, small get-together at my place, on Crest lane right behind the abandoned mines.” She lets out a giggle. The register draw begins to procrastinate profuse silence rides on the aroma of his boxed pizzas.
“You went to Glenwood, right?” She never meets his inspection.
The entrance bell saves her.
It’s her geometry teacher. Tommy pulls himself upright, tightening his muscles as she hands him his order. All she can do is mentally reiterate his address to herself.
“See ya round,” he says with a lopsided, and he’s gone.
“Hey, Mr. G, I got your order, 11.90 with tax.”
“You’re raking in all the dough; I see,” laughing at his joke, she cannot help but to join in.
“Yeah, I can use all I can get. My baby just died on me as soon as I hit the parking lot, and I have no way to get home!” he hands her exact change.
“Want me to take a look under her hood?” he says.
“Could You!” her hands hugging one another. When Mr. G returns and tells her the jump was unsuccessful, he offers a ride. Mr. G is her last resort, so she explains her situation to Clark. She acquires her things. No sign of the bear as he escorts her to the car. Before they turn onto the main road, Bella is clobbered in snow.
“Did you see the bear yet?” she says.
“No, but my neighbor found a raccoon paw in its traps the other day.” He cranks up the heat.
“Is that weird?”
“Yes, in fact, the only time you find a part of your kill in the trap is if it is starving and gnawed its paw off or,”
“Or what?” her brows collide.
“Something ate it,”
“How do you know it didn’t just gnaw its paw off?”
“That’s rare for a raccoon to attempt; it would take that thing days to accomplish, and because the neighbor found large droppings nearby too, and it had small animal bones inside.”
’Your joking, right?” she jams her hands into her armpits at the thought of what that poor animal must have endured. The rest of the drive is quiet, the wipers in a slow choreography. They pass the abandoned mines, and her insides begin to thaw. The broadcast cuts through the steady tango of the blades. She is announcing that the bear has been found, mutilated by something significant. They are four miles away from her house.
“Are you catching a cold?” he says.
“Allergies, to dogs, you have one?”
His length goes erect in his seat, and they accelerate down the road. The hefty slivers of snow impair his visibility. He shifts the speed of his wipers now in an hostile synchronicity. Something enormous hits the car. Everything happens in fragments, then goes dark, and the ceiling is now the floor. Mr. G is out cold, and she can’t move her wrist without pain. She disengages her constricted body; a polluted stink obstructs her thinking.
Hang on, Mr. G
She checks the glove box. She obtains something unexpected. It’s the same necklace Ava is wearing in the photo plastered around town; some of her hair is bound together with it by twine.
Her brain tries to dismantle this milestone, but her detection sends her head into exercise. Did Mr. G do something to Ava? Was I next? And what do I do now? The car detonates, delivering her into a tree.
Her eyes ajar, the full moon accentuates the barren landscape. Except a shrill howl close by jerks her upright. A grainy figure crawls closer; she cradles her wrist when she sees it on all fours. The snow squashed beneath the weight of it, the beast close enough to see it pushing heat from its snout, its entire frame heaving with every intake of nipping air. Sporting matted dark hair and leering ice-blue eyes still on all fours, its height impressive, she is a vegetable below its crenelating vestige. Every shard of wintry air cauterizes her lungs. It then stretches to its full stature, incisors and thorny talons glimmering in the icy eve, bobbing as it holds itself up, fur swaying in the breeze its diamond gape monitors like it knows her. Tommy? She thinks of her fate.
How unlucky can one get? ACHOO!
Thanks to everyone on Prose :)
You will lose everything.
Everything you own...
Everyone you had...
It will all be gone.
And for the first time in forever,
You will be completely:
Yet- you find a light through writing.
And you meet some amazing people,
Who help you survive.
People who understand.
People who care, and listen.
Many talented, and incredible writers motivate you,
To keep fighting.
Dear Loved One,
Dear Loved One,
You have watched and read enough science fiction to know that it is unwise to know the future. However, you also believe in a God who has told us the end of the story. So I shall tell you where you are in that story now.
You are healing, which of course means you will be wounded. You are growing, which means you will be pruned. You are in a whole new world, which means you will leave one behind. You are also grieving,which means... the unthinkable. But I wouldn't change a thing. After all, we know the end of the story. The good may not always outweigh the bad, but the joy still overcomes the despair.
I write not so you can skip over anything or even to brace you for the chapters ahead. I write to encourage you. I am here, because you are braver than you know. I am here, because you have loved ones who believe in you - loved ones you should hold onto. I write so that you know you are loved through it all. And that love is your strength.
Anda Yang Dicintai
It’s ok you didn’t learn Gladiator skills on this journey, you are to win with love, not through fighting. You are here to show true love, love from the heart not fight back and hurt those who hurt you.
You will be raped, You will be beaten, the man will do all he can to take your trust and dignity. Remember, Athena, you aren’t here for the man you are here for God. Be God’s child, not a man’s slave. It’s ok you don’t know how to fight. Hitting, kicking, and punching. Fighting others isn’t how you, become the best you.
It’s Love, Athena, Love. Love yourself dear one. Remember who you are... who God created you to be, NOT who the world will try to make you be. God’s children are gods and goddesses. They are the demigods, the “heroes”. Brave and courageous. They go against man.
Who will you be is up to you? You can be anyone you want to be, but you will be the happiest being who you are created to be.
You are a Gemini, learn both light and dark, You must know the balance, too much good is just as out of balance as too much dark. Learn who you are, be who you are created to be, You WILL LIKE WHO GOD CREATED, not so much who the world tries to make.
You are special to God, no one else. You are Beautiful to God, no one else matters. It’s ok when things don’t turn out your way. I promise, it always works out ok.
It’s ok you don’t know how to fight, that isn’t you. The world will fight with you trying to pull you in, don’t do it. You are love and light. Remember who you are.
You are God’s Child not man’s slave.
There is always more and everything is a lie.
i know you won't listen
i wouldn't either
there are some things you can't change
i couldn't either
you'll have memories
when you one day write this
that you won't forget,
you'll try to,
but you'll remember
as i do
i'm not going to lie and say
it'll get better
since that already assumes
you're thinking of the future
so stop, take it in, breath,
your present moment's
wrapped in cellophane,
and do remember to
take care of your cellphone,
glass is cracked, and it looks
jank, like an old junkyard dog
know that I'm still here,
and you will be too.
Once upon a vivid dream...or was it?
Yesterday afternoon, I was organizing the attic when I came upon a box of my old journals. I started keeping one when I was twelve and continued until a year into my marriage. (My husband thought he was supposed to have access to every nook and cranny of my mind. I disagreed. Rather than argue, I stopped keeping a journal. I wish I hadn’t. But that’s another story.)
Anyway, I was excited when I realized the treasure trove of adolescent angst I’d found and sat down to read a bit. When I opened the earliest notebook, a piece of onionskin paper slipped out. It was yellowing and written in a handwriting I recognized as my own. Not my childhood perfect penmanship taught by Sister Mercedes and Sister Mary Ellen handwriting. No. The adult version, personalized over decades. I felt a chill. It had no date. I read: Dear Younger Me and skipping to the end, I noted it was signed, Your future self.
And then, I remembered.
And it was a doozy of a brain-twisting memory, because I remembered both sides of the...dream. The writing of the note that I was yet to experience…and the receiving of the letter by my terrified, eleven year old self.
I have to laugh as I write this. I mean, I say memory, but clearly, it was a dream that felt real and left traces in my mind so that one day I might…remember…Right?
Except that, I was holding evidence in my hands that what I remembered was not the product of an overactive imagination. I can recall clearly now that moment in my mother’s house, in my small room, sitting upon my bed, blanket up to my chin, staring into the darkness at this, this woman, who was me, or, one day, would be.
She told me not to be afraid, that she had something for me, to help me along the journey of my life. I tried to scream for my mother. Again, she told me to be calm, that she would never hurt me and that I should remember that myself. Then she asked to read me a letter she’d written me. “Like you, I am still better at writing my thoughts than speaking off the cuff.” And this is what she read to me. What I read on that yellowing piece of impossible history in the attic.
Dear Younger Me,
Say ”yes” the first time he asks you to marry him. (I need not tell you who. There is only one who will ever ask.) You may think that you are being the more mature, the more adult – you will be so very young when he asks – but really, you are just untrusting of his feelings and of your gut instinct that he is the one. Trust him and yourself: Say yes. It may not change the time table very much, I mean, ultimately, you do say yes and as I write, you have been married almost thirty years. But that initial lack of trust may have colored the early years unnecessarily.
That Christmas you try to decide who to visit, visit Daddy. Save Aunt Deenie for another day. You will spend your life time regretting it if you do not.
Keep writing. Even when you stop keeping a journal because of prying eyes, keep writing. It will save you more than once.
Keep doing all the things you love even when you are exhausted by all your responsibilities. You will find the moments of joy you permit yourself will allow you to keep bringing joy to others.
And at that country club? Your ONLY friend is the cantankerous club president. Remember that. It will save you serious disillusionment. Although learning from bad experiences can be a good thing, this is NOT one of those times.
In general, the path you take is a good one. The five and ten year plans you write serve you well. You are not very adventurous, but enough to keep your life interesting. Keep following your instincts…and your heart.
That smile you cultivate in adolescence to overcome your shyness? Keep sharing it. It is good for you and for the world around you.
It is not an easy life. It is not an endlessly happy life. You will endure many hardships. But you do endure. And you have an abundance of joys to see you through.
It is a wonderful life. Believe it. Believe me.
I do love you though you may doubt it from time to time,
Your future self
As I read the last words, the paper disintegrated in my hand…from age, I suppose. And so, I ran to my desk to write them down, so I would not forget…again. I mean, given the evidence, it’s apparent that one day, time travel will really be a thing… Right?
Time Keeps on Slippin’
You are going to do many great things and possibly more embarrassing things. Unfortunately, like many others, the things you choose not to do will lead to the greatest regret.
I could tell you how to avoid looking foolish, narcissistic or arrogant in various instances, but I don't have much time, so I'll leave you with one bit of advice.
Spend more time with the people you value, before they are gone. You will not get that time back. Other career opportunities will arise, days of leisure time to bask in the sun and get a new high score will come again, but they will not. Specifically your late future father-in-law and your grandmother. I can confirm you will get his blessing to take your future wife's hand in marriage, but for choices somewhat your own, you never got to know him or spend the time with him you should have before that bulbous beast in his head took his mental function and his life shortly after. Now I must live my life day in and out wondering how much closer we could have been before he was prematurely taken from his daughters, his family, and myself.
Same goes for your grandmother. No, she isn't gone yet, but a pandemic has come up in recent times making seeing her...complicated. She only lives an hour away and after losing your grandfather to alzheimers', she could use someone other than your dimwitted uncle or your cynical mother to spend time with. If you don't head this warning, you'll have gone a year without seeing her in person, wondering if she is as well as she claims to be on the phone, when she can actually hear the ringtone going off.
Other than that, don't fall out of your love for cartooning, music and writing. It will save you from episodes of depression and anxiety as you sit in front of the T.V. hoping to muster the emotional energy tomorrow to get back into your passions. Also, stop itching your nose so much as a tick...That's all I have time for now. Don't just think about the things I've told you, act on them.
Chapter 17 - The Sky and the Limit
I don't know why I took Nia to the future with limited technology. I could have taken her back to her own village. Maybe whatever is supposed to be happening to my brain is done and it's changed me somehow. I still feel normal though. I don't feel like I've been changed or maybe it's a result of the game. For some reason the game won't let me out.
I'm back in school. Tom has really fallen for me. It would be easy for me to forget about the game completely and live out the rest of my life here in the past. Tom has both style and money. He not only knows what is expected of him from both society and his parents but he's more than capable of not only meeting those expectations but exceeding them. Tom is destined for greatness. Maybe Tom is just a distraction the game has created to test my resolve.
I start having these dreams about Nia. She isn't happy at all in the village I sent her. She keeps calling to me to take her back but I refuse to do it. In my dreams I say horrible things to her and she thinks I'm evil. I don't sound like myself at all. I'm starting to think that maybe my personality has been altered and I've become somebody else, somebody less caring.
The dreams go on for days. One day I wake up in the Project Station where Lisa and Jake are stuck. Nia and the preacher are there and somebody else I don't recognize. I'm not sure what has just happened. I don't remember thinking myself there.
"What happened?" I ask, "What am I doing here?"
"You have a lot of explaining to do?" Nia tells me. I am disoriented. I need to go somewhere else to think.
"I don't have to explain anything." I say coldly, "I'm out of here." and with a thought I disappear.
There was a new person with them this time. A man I don't remember being a character in the game. Maybe the game is adapting. Maybe the game is throwing different things at me to see how I will handle it. Nia was there. Maybe this new character is responsible for taking them both there. If that other character can move between different futures, he could screw things up for me.
I'm lying in my dorm room. My roommate Amber is nowhere to be found. I hear the sounds of the insects of the night just outside my window. I didn't realize how much I miss the constellations projected on my ceiling. I hear a knock at the door. If it were Amber she would just barge right in, it has to be somebody else. I make myself get up and go answer the door. Tom is standing there. There is a sullen look on his face. It's also after curfew so it must be important.
"What's wrong?" I ask him, "You look like your best friend has died."
"My father gave me an ultimatum." He told me, "He said you were becoming a liability to my future."
"I thought he liked me. He even offered me a job." I told him.
"Well, it seems that opinion has changed." He said matter-of-factly.
"So what are you going to do?" I asked. I was genuinely interested in what his plans were. It seems like the game is trying to mess with my mind again and I am interested in seeing how this is going to play out.
"I have spent most of the day thinking about it. My future with my parents influence is an assured one but then I've never met anyone who stimulates my mind with way that you do. Most people bore me to tears but there's always been something about you that has kept my attention." Tom explained.
"We should part ways." I tell him, " I have enjoyed our time together but I can't expect you to give up your future for me. As much as I care about you I certainly won't give up mine for you."
"That's not like you to say something cold like that." Tom replied, "I didn't know you had it in you. It seems you find new ways to surprise me. I think my father is wrong about you. I think you would be a great asset to my father's company."
"How do you know he still won't hire me?" I shot back.
"Maybe he will. He knows how to mix business with pleasure as well as knowing how to keep both those things separate when it's required." Tom mused, "I didn't think you would take this news so well. It is a credit to you and I will make sure I let my father know. If he wanted to make trouble for you he certainly could do that. I regret having to make this decision of course and if you need anything please be sure to let me know and I'll see what I can do."
Tom is gracious to fault but there is a ruthlessness about it that impresses me. Tom's father has taught him well. I will miss him more than I care to admit but I have more important things to concern myself about. The game isn't going to throw me off with this development.
Dear Little Me,
You’re a pretty energetic child. You should really know by now that Mum is aware you’re lying when you tell her you’ve brushed your teeth while your little green toothbrush sits nice and dry in the bathroom ... one day you’ll realise that lies only cause confusion and it’s not worth fibbing to your own mother. And green will still be your favourite colour.
You like to write stories in that little notepad with the pink cover, don’t you? That’s right; you’ll still have it in the years to come. It’s more precious than you know. You’ll write better stories one day, and your spelling will improve. It takes time. Who knows? You’re probably on your way to becoming a real author, kiddo (I’m still not sure about that one).
Eventually you’ll realise that the world is bigger than you, that Michael Jackson wasn’t always the cute little boy you hear in your treasured Jackson 5 album, and that, to your disappointment, you can’t marry your brother. Sure, he’s the best boy in the world, but it’s just not how it works. And I know this will be a shock to you ... but he’s going to be very close to death one day. You’re going to stand in that hospital ward waving to him while a pane of glass separates you. You’re going to sit on the edge of his bed watching his chest rise and fall mechanically as he breathes with the support of a machine, his eyes closed; alive and yet not quite living. And you’re going to see him come home. Everything will be alright again.
But.... Well, there’s a bigger shock coming for you. This is one you don’t think about too much. He’s going to grow up, go to university, and come home with a girl on his mind.
Of course, he still loves you. It’s just that he loves her too.
It won’t be as bad as you think.
You’re going to become a musician, could you have guessed? I know you hate those piano lessons. But you’ll find solace in those black and white keys someday, and you’ll have a guitar with a big black case just like you’ve always dreamed of. You’ll also realise that the guitar is more important than the case.
Now, there’s one more thing left to tell you. You will have friends, and you will lose them. Somehow the memories that mean everything to you never meant a thing to them. They will forget, and you will hold on. But God is your friend, your ally, and though you will fall, He will always have your hand in His.
(Did I mention that there’s going to be a worldwide pandemic and you’re nearly going to run out of ... actually, never mind. You’ll find out.)
From the future.