The atmosphere is vibrant, music is blasting out of speakers, and people are socializing over Coke and tacos. I stick close to Olivia. My anxiety causes my throat to swell up a bit. In an effort to keep my mind off all these people, I ask Olivia, “Who’s hosting this party again?”
“London Willis! She’s super rich, but also super nice, and she holds this party every New Year’s Eve. I think you know her- she went to the same middle school as you. Remember her?”
“L-London Willis?”
“Yep!” says a girl with a black bob walking up to us. Turning to me, she says, “Have we met? I’m London, the hostess.”
“Well… we have actually met before. At Jerseyville Middle School. We had the same homeroom- I’m Miranda Kelly.”
“Miranda?” she says tentatively. Then again she says it, her pretty smile replaced by a frown, “Miranda.” Her eyes cloud over. She shakes her head and her smile is back, only this time, it looks fake. She scans me, from head to toe. “You’ve changed.”
“So have you,” I point out.
She ignores my remark. “Well then,” she says drily, “I hope you enjoy the party.”
As she walks away, Olivia asks, “What happened with you two?”
“Things happened,” I reply vaguely.
She shrugs and suddenly says, “Look, there’s a chocolate fountain!”
“Y’all it’s time for the countdown!”
Everyone rushes to the stage, where London stands holding a microphone.
I suddenly wake up and I’m sitting in a familiar classroom. The paint color, a putrid shade of green. Just like my 7th grade math classroom.
I’m suddenly passed a test. What’s going on? I decide to just go along with it and I write my name on the paper. I raise my hand, and ask the teacher- who looks a lot like my math teacher in 7th grade- the date. My voice comes out alarmingly high-pitched.
Her reply rings out in the classroom, clear as a bell. “November 3rd, 2009.”
2009?! That can’t be right! Wait…
The gears in my head start to turn. I put all the pieces together and I realize: I’ve been transported through space and time back to 7th grade.
But why?
I shrug and hand in the test, which I finished in hardly a minute. It’s basic prealgebra, nothing too hard.
I walk back to my seat and try to figure out the reason for me being in 7th Grade again. How did I get here? And how do I get out?
The bell rings and I pick up my Hannah Montana backpack, which seemed like a good idea at the time, and walk out of the classroom. There’s a girl showing off her new iPhone 3GS. She’s going to be laughing about that a few years from now.
I see a crowd gathered around someone and I join it. There’s a girl, one I recognize as my old friend Fiona, and she’s saying something to another girl. I find my way to the front, trying to figure out who the girl is, though I’m afraid I already know.
It’s a shorter, chubbier, London, cowering, her back against a supply closet. I realize. That day, it’s today. That day when I established my reputation in this school.
Fiona is calling London terrible names. She sees me and smirks. “Miranda, want to join me?”
I do. But instead of teasing London, I think about how the last time I went through this, I decided to insult her for popularity. How I always walked around with all the students at my command after that, all but one. London. I always felt a twinge of guilt whenever I looked at her, her emotionless stare penetrating me. I think about all this, and I say, “Back off, Fiona.”
I think about that one wrong decision I made so many years ago, and I say it again, “Back off from her.”
I think about the gossip that went around after the last time. How London’s little sister drowned and her dad was abusive, and I say, “She really doesn’t need this right now.”
Fiona scoffs, while London looks at me in wonder. I think about all the sirens when the paramedics took London away after surviving a jump from the school roof. I hear the sirens all over again, and I continue, starting to tear up, “If you do this, it’ll have terrible effects on London. Believe me. I’ve seen them. I’m asking you, for the sake of humanity: stop.”
Then everything goes black again.
I wake up in a hospital room. I see present-day London staring back at me with Olivia. “You’re awake!” she says, “Happy New Year, by the way!”
So it was all a dream? But if it was…
“Why are you here?”
“Me?” says London, “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Well, don’t you hate me because I bullied you in middle school?”
She laughs, “You?! Bully me?! Girl, you defended me from that bully! That’s how we became friends, don’t you remember? Did you get amnesia from that fall?”
Not a dream after all.
I shake my head no.
“Want ice cream, girls? It’s on me!” says London gleefully.
Olivia and I say “Yes!” in unison.
I could get used to this.
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