if you had the power to rewind time... would you do it?
Time Machine
Watching myself from afar, I feel like some silly little kid, waiting for something to happen – even though I’m nearly fourteen now and no one would ever call me silly. At least, before I found the wristwatch, that is. People might call me lots of things now.
I stand across the city street in a light snowstorm, and while I should be freezing because I’m wearing a sun dress and cowboy boots, I’m not. I slink back into the shadows of a storefront overhang, watching.
I stare at the girl standing at the bus stop – my old self. My clueless self. It looks like her body is nearly-bursting with excitement for summer, the way she’s bouncing, hands stuffed in a hand-me-down coat pockets, chin tucked inside a neck-wrapped scarf.
I have to bite my lip to fight the tears, because I don’t want her – well, the other me – to catch me staring. Not because the universe explodes when your future self encounters your past self or anything. She’s seen me once already. I just don’t want her to start asking questions.
I scan the sky, watching the snow fall and catch on overhead fire escapes, thinking. Maybe she hasn’t seen me yet – maybe that’s in another week from now, for her. It’s hard to tell. It’s not like the wristwatch came with a calendar.
The bus must be running late this morning because across the street, my past self cranes her neck to peek down the road, anxiously watching the stoplights change from red to green. This all happened a long time ago, but it’s like I’m reliving it all over again.
I shake my head. I had no idea what was about to happen, and how poorly I’d handle everything, too. Back then, all I thought about was summertime – the thickening of city air, the way my foam flip-flops would stick on sun-baked sidewalks, how the trees on our street bloomed lush with green, masking our neighbors’ windows.
Summers in Oregon meant the Saxophonist, too – one of my favorite things about July and August in the city. I never learned his name, but I’d studied his round-melon head from above for years. He plays on the stoop below in the afternoons, when humidity hangs in the air and all you can do is draw open your windows and lay on the cool, wood floor of your bedroom, breathless and fanning yourself with a paper plate, listening to the crackle and catch of a vinyl record on the player.
Back then, I dreamed about the days ahead when my best friend Meredith and I could bike for miles on the river trail at sunset, sweating and wishing for a rainstorm, so we could drop our bikes at the trunks of trees, peel off our shoes and socks, and dance in the wet grass until our bellies hurt from laughing. On the luckiest days, we’d spot dolphins out at sea, and Mere would tell me to make a wish.
And back then, I longed for the weekends when my sister Pria took a break from studying, so we could gather up change from ramshackle drawers to pay for bus fare to the shipyards. We’d eat ice cream until our heads ached from the cold. We’d watch boats unload their loot of fish, nets and buckets full and flopping, and listen to the supermarket owners negotiate how many fish they want to buy, and for what price. We’d swing our legs back and forth, guessing who’ll get the day’s oysters, the wide-eyed tilapia. The fishermen would tell stories about the night and morning out at sea. Our ears would fill with legends of orca pods circling the boats and giant sea-squid drawn up on docks, and we’d retell the tales to Mom over dinner, watching her eyes go wild with amazement.
But the beautiful city summer I dreamed of – the summer I’d always known – never came because six terrible words, two songs, and one antique wristwatch changed everything. And when everything changes, sometimes you can’t change it back – Even if you find a little magic, or a little magic finds you.
The world around me begins to vibrate, like it always does when I’m about to shift through time, like a snowflake swallowed up by a gust of wind.
You might not believe what I’m going to tell you, but I’ll try to explain it anyways.
Everything began to unravel six months ago.
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