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Jul 24, 2020

Mystery Science Fiction Drama

“Rise and shine, pumpkin,” Willow heard her dad say softly from her door. The light from the hallway protruded from the ever-so-slight crack straight onto her eyes. She groaned and rolled over. “I’m not shining today,” she retorted under her breath. Her dad was always up at the break of dawn--or before--much to the sophomore’s ‘unrequited delight.’ But, as it was, school didn’t wait, and neither did the cow, the goat, the four horses, or that one pig Willow thought they should have butchered two seasons ago, but kept it for her little sister, Maddie--the chickens died out. Maddie was an animal lover, and would give all seven years of her life for anything that would feed from her hand. Willow, however, was just about the opposite. As long as the animals did something to contribute, she was fine with keeping them. But seldom did she form an emotional bond with anything inhuman. 

When Willow finally forced the covers off of her, she didn’t hold back a groan; Her floor was covered, nearly layered, with the contents of the closet. And with the knack for cleanliness her dad possessed, she knew it would have to be up before she went outside. 

So crawling out of bed, Willow dove for the floor and loaded her arms with an amazing array of t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, dresses, leggings, jeans, and any amount of misplaced underclothes; finding a stylish outfit was never her strongsuit, nor did Willow usually care, but when last night at one of those high-class restauraunts called for something on the formal end, out went every drawer in her dresser, every hanger in her closet. She dumped the piles of clothes into her closet and sealed the doors shut. 

“It looks like the sock monster just puked in there,” she mumbled sarcastically, bringing a smile to her face. Since she usually waited to wash her face and brush her teeth until after she was done feeding the animals and milking the cows, Willow quickly pulled on a pair of jeans, an over-large t-shirt, and her boots before sleepily jogging out the back door.

A blast of cool air met her as she let the gentle slope of the land quicken her pace. The dew of the grass painted the leather boots a darker shade. Willow paused to squat down, sweep a hand along the grass tips, and wipe the moisture over her face. The cool droplets helped to open her eyes a little more, and she brightly leapt up to her feet again, and made her way to the barn. The horses usually slept outside this time of year; a couple months after the last true frost--omehow they always knew that sort of thing--so Willow wasn’t welcomed with loud echoes of whinnies. Only the barn swallows were up and singing as she separated a hay bale and dropped clumps of it on the ground. Next she filled up the two troughs with grain, the water buckets with the hose. 

Goose, a gargantuan half-Freesian, half-draft, trotted to her and nipped at her hand. 

“Hey boy, I don’t have any food there. You want some of this?” Willow stepped over to a fresh clump of hay and picked up a few pieces. She thought he was kind of a dumbo… and it was times like these when that certanly seemed to be confirmed; Goose continued to nibble at her empty hand. She shook him off and called woke up the others, tugging on their manes and walking them up to their own pile of hay. Annie, a small white Arabian, whinied and began to run from her pile of hay to Goose’s, tossinng her head at him with her ears pinned back. Willow frowned. That wasn’t normal. Annie was usually the more temprate one. So she ran into the fight, clicking and pulling at the mare, and locked her into a stall. “Stay there for a little, okay girl? I’ll find out what’s up after school.”

The cow, Marty (she was first named Martin, but then Willow and Maddie realized it must be a girl, so the name was changed to Martha--Marty for short), was a rather buff Jersey cow, purely stock, muscle, and milk--which meant early milking hours. So Willow grabbed a clean bucket from the barn’s storage closet, swung it under the old maid, and began to pull and pump at the udder. Unfortunately, Marty was unusually tough, and the milk smelled like spit-up. Willow swished the milk in the pail and eyed it carefully. She wasn’t quite sure of the actual hue, but the dim barn light and early sun did suggest a bit of yellow. So she patted Marty’s side and finished milking her until her udder was empty, and moved on to the goat. 

Hopscotch was a rather small… whatever she was; Willow always forgot the name of what they thought was her breed, or mix, or whatever. Since she was a rescue, she was normally pretty jumpy, but that didn’t stop her from needing to be milked--they would send that and the cheese they made from it at the farmer’s market because of the family’s distaste for it. But that morning, Hopscotch wouldn’t let Willow anywhere near her, despite the obvious fact she needed to be milk. 

In her gentlest tone and softest steps, Willow approached the cowering animal and gently ran a hand down her back. But Hopscotch twitched and twisted, scaring the girl enough to quickly jog up the hill and towards the pig, Dot.

The reek of the pig pen flooded the whole ten-foot radius, and every morning Willow dumped mush and old food into the sad little trough, she could not help but to brace herself against it and wrinkle her nose; there are some things in life you never really get used to.

After finishing her outdoor chores, Willow brushed past her sister and father, rinsing her face in warm water, running the toothbbrush over her teeth, and loosely braiding her hair.

“Dad,” she began, strolling tiredly into the kitchen. He turned to face her, nonchalantly sipping at a mug of tea. “Yes, pumpkin?” 

“Annie was really angry today and tried to steal Goose’s food.”

“Oh yeah?”

“And Hopscotch wouldn’t let me milk her. She seemed sick, like she wouldn’t stop moving.”

Her dad furrowed his brows. “I’ll take a look at them this afternoon. You still going to Liz’s place?” Willow nodded. “She said she’d teach me to tie a halter.”

“Hm… tie a halter? No, uh, girl talk? Nothing unproductive with you. Well I’m glad my girl’s finally making some friends, and that she appreciates hard work.” He laughed. “Oh, and by the way, Mrs. Grant, your homeroom teacher, she was asking me if I wanted to show you guys some entreprenual tricks. I figured I wouldn’t say yes until I got the ok from you.” Willow grabbed a glass from the cupboard. “I don’t see why not. That’d be cool.”

“Great then.”

An hour later Willow found herself at school, confirming the arrangement with Mrs. Grant. When they had all taken their seats, she announced to the whole class that, “Mr. Jackman was coming in exactly one week to introduce a few new entreprenual tips and tricks!” Instantly a chorus of voices began to ask, “Mr. Jackman? Like Hugh Jackman?”

“Wolverine is coming!”

“I wonder if he’s related.”

“Probably not.”

“Yeah, but that’s not as cool…”

“Logan shouldn’t have died!”

That set of an avalanche of X-Men theories and references that went completely over Willow’s head. But she stayed silent, afraid that with the surname ‘Jackman,’ she had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Mrs. Grant, thankfully, brought it back to rights with her… blowhorn. Yes, a blowhorn. It wasn’t the preffered method of order, but sure as day it worked, and she explained it was her father who was coming in. Then people began to pass notes to her, none of which she responded, rejoicing silently that she was known to be a strict rule follwer. At lunch, Liz confirmed the halter-tying date, and Willow was once again grateful to not have to be anything else other than herself under that weird pressure of school.

Liz’s parents picked them up, and she spent only two hours there; after mastering the knot, she suggested to google other knots. In all, she triumphantly announced to her father that evening, she and Liz learned nine very easy and practical knots that she would now be able to use around the ‘farm.’ 

Dinner was pizza and broccoli, as Maddie was away at a sleepover, and neither Willow or her father were much of cooks. She went to sleep with her phone playing on shuffle, the last song she remembered being Johnny Cash’s You are my Sunshine

“Rise and shine, pumpkin,” Willow heard her dad say softly from her door. The light from the hallway protruded from the ever-so-slight crack straight onto her eyes. She groaned and rolled over. “I’m not shining today,” she retorted under her breath.

When Willow finally forced the covers off of her, she didn’t hold back a groan; Her floor was covered, nearly layered, with the contents of the closet. And with the knack for cleanliness her dad possessed, she knew it would have to be up before she went outside. She furrowed her eyebrows. Didn’t she put all this in her closet yesterday? She shook her head and grumbled as she loaded her arms with clothes, dumping it all into the closet. It could have jsut been a dream, cleaning it all up. But why didn’t her dad get her in trouble for the messy floor, then? She would have remembered that--she always remembered her dad’s cleanliness lectures. 

“Looks like the sock monster just puked in there,” she said before catching herself. That soudned strangely familiar… But she just shook her head, pulled on a pair of boots, and jogged out the house. 

A blast of cool air met her as she let the gentle slope of the land quicken her pace. The dew of the grass painted the leather boots a darker shade. Willow paused to squat down, sweep a hand along the grass tips, and wipe the moisture over her face. The cool droplets helped to open her eyes a little more, and she brightly leapt up to her feet again, and made her way to the barn. The horses usually slept outside this time of year; a couple months after the last true frost--omehow they always knew that sort of thing--so Willow wasn’t welcomed with loud echoes of whinnies. Only the barn swallows were up and singing as she separated a hay bale and dropped clumps of it on the ground. Next she filled up the two troughs with grain, the water buckets with the hose. 

Goose, trotted to her and nipped at her hand. “Hey boy, I don’t have any food there. You want some of this?” Willow stepped over to a fresh clump of hay and picked up a few pieces. This felt weird. Now she was certain this had happened before, yesterday. Goose continued to nibble at her empty hand. She shook him off, calling “Dumb-Dumb” behind her, and woke up the others, tugging on their manes and walking them up to their own pile of hay. Annie, a small white Arabian, whinied and began to run from her pile of hay to Goose’s, tossinng her head at him with her ears pinned back. Willow frowned. That wasn’t normal. And it happened yesterday. Just. Like. That. Willw felt her jaw hanging open, dumbfounded. But she ran into the fight, clicking and pulling at the mare, and locked her into a stall. “Stay there for a little, okay girl? I’ll find out what’s up after school.” If I ever get back to school. Or, what was it Dad said yesterday? That he’d see what was up with her? He never told me…  

Willow grabbed a clean bucket from the barn’s storage closet, swung it under the old maid, and began to pull and pump at the udder. Unfortunately, Marty was unusually tough, and the milk smelled like spit-up. Willow swished the milk in the pail and eyed it carefully. She wasn’t quite sure of the actual hue, but the dim barn light and early sun did suggest a bit of yellow. So she patted Marty’s side and finished milking her until her udder was empty, and moved on to the goat.

I could have sworn this exact same thing happed yesterday. Like, the exact exact same thing. Let me guess--now Hopscotch won’t let me milk her. 

As predicted, Hopscotch wouldn’t let Willow anywhere near her, despite the obvious fact she needed to be milk. In her gentlest tone and softest steps, Willow approached the cowering animal and gently ran a hand down her back. But Hopscotch twitched and twisted, scaring the girl enough to quickly jog up the hill and towards the pig, Dot. 

The reek of the pig pen flooded the whole ten-foot radius, and every morning Willow dumped mush and old food into the sad little trough, she could not help but to brace herself against it and wrinkle her nose; there are some things in life you never really get used to. But she still couln’t get her mind off the fact that yesterday was happening over again!

After finishing her outdoor chores, Willow brushed past her sister and father, rinsing her face in warm water, running the toothbbrush over her teeth, and loosely braiding her hair. 

“Dad,” she began, strolling tiredly into the kitchen. He turned to face her, nonchalantly sipping at a mug of tea. “Yes, pumpkin?” 

“Annie was really angry today and tried to steal Goose’s food.”

“Oh yeah?”

“And Hopscotch wouldn’t let me milk her. She seemed sick, like she wouldn’t stop moving.”

Her dad furrowed his brows. “I’ll take a look at them this afternoon. You still going to Liz’s place?” Willow nodded. “She said she’d teach me to tie a halter.”

“Hm… tie a halter? No, uh, girl talk? Nothing unproductive with you. Well I’m glad my girl’s finally making some friends, and that she appreciates hard work.” He laughed. Willow’s face was white. “Oh, and by the way--”

“Mrs. Grant wanted to see if you could teach the class some entreprenual tricks next Monday, right? You didn’t want to say yes without the ok from me.” Willow grabbed a glass from the cupboard, and wasted no time in filling it with water. Mr. Jackman asked curiously, “She told you already?”

“You did… yesterday, I think.” 

“Oh, okay then. I forget way too much these days.” 

She turned around sharply. “What day is this, Dad?”

“Monday.”

“Where were we last night?” 

“What do you mean? Don’t you remember it?” 

“Yes, I remember it, it’s just that… well I feel like I dreamt it all because everything is happening again, the exact way I thought it did yesterday, but yesterday was I guess really today, and I’m so confused!” 

Willow’s father was quiet for a moment. Then he walked slowly to a bookshelf and ran his fingers along the spines of the more ‘sciency’ books as they called them. “There was this book,” he murmured thoughtfully, “that your mother had me read when we first got married. It was this time hack thing, talked about radiation and reality, quantum physics, particles, molecules, stuff that was way over my head. But it talked about something that was in this movie called Live, Die, Repeat. It was really weird, had aliens and lots of sci-fi stuff, but your mom liked it, and it sounds like what you’re talking about.” He pulled a book off a shelf. “I’ll take a look at it.”

“You believe me?”

He shrugged. “I’ve seen weirder things in your mom’s field of quantum expertise… kind of scared me that I married a genius.” Willow sighed and smiled, huggign her dad. “Thanks, pops.”

“Don’t call me that again!”

“Okay, pops.”

“You’re not going to go to Liz’s today if you do that again.”

“Aw, come on, it was funny!”

“Willow Katherine Jackman, don’t you dare call me a popsicle again.”

“It was actually ‘pops.’”

“Same difference.”

The rest of the day, Willow kept in mind what her father had said, and eagerly awaited his research--she was completely convinced she wasn’t crazy, at least, and her father seemed to think so, too. In the meantime, she found plenty of ways to use this ‘repeat’ to her advantage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you had to live one day over again, what would you do differently? Would there be choices you know you would change, opportunities you would accept or decline? How can we use every day to our advantage, and live a life we have always hoped for?

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