“Wake up Maggie I got something to say to you”….The clock radio blasted the fresh spring chill in the room rippling time and splitting the dawn from the night. Two teenage girls, each in a twin bed stirred under handmade quilts. Above one bed were teen idols' photos from the Teen Beat magazine tacked up on the wall. Above the other bed were original artwork and magazine cut-outs of famous classic artists such as Monet, Dali, and Wyatt. There was a blacklight poster of Albert Einstein on the side wall. Library books about great artists were stacked on the dresser. A large portfolio leaned against the wall. On the teen idol bed, clothing was heaped upon the bed from being tried on and thrown down. Sunlight was beginning to shine on the window pane. Birds began to sing loudly.
Jessica was having a weird dream in her last few minutes of sleep. She dreamed that she was a lady in her mid-sixties living in Florida. Prone to odd dreams Jessica smiled and thought to herself “Why, am I dreaming about who I am and where I am right now?” “Oh well”….” boring dream.” She opened her eyes and saw pale lavender walls, not her plain white walls. Although she remembered many times seeing these walls when waking up. “Maybe the morning light infiltrating the room is causing this hue.” She thought. “It's late September and I really ought to be back in school”….Rod Stewart sang on the radio.
Jessica sat straight up. Her heart was racing in her chest. “Is this a hallucination?” “Have I caved into dementia?” She could not believe her eyes as she looked around the room she slept in as a teenager. Every detail was accurate as if she had just been here yesterday. She tossed back the covers and jumped out of bed. “Wait, there is no pain in my hips!”
She looked down and saw a young lady’s body of a petite size which was not the case in the past few years of being grandmotherly plump. This was something she had finally accepted. But now she realized she was looking at her body as it was when she was nearly 18 years old. “Well, now….I must be in heaven.” She had not realized that she had spoken out loud. Her sister in the next bed moved around and yelled at her to shut up that she was trying to sleep. Chris always slept to the very last minute that she could without missing the homeroom bell. Jessica looked over and saw her younger sister curled up. Her heart beat warmly and she thought tenderly of her. This would not have been the case in their relationship with her sister when they were in their teens. Jessica wanted to cry because her sister was killed in an automobile accident. Jessica looked at the calendar on the wall. The page was turned to April 1975.
Overwhelmed, Jessica sat down on the side of the bed. Thoughts in her mind ping-ponged off each other. She wanted to see how it was going to pan out. If this were a dream would she be contained to this one room? She decided to put on some clothing as she was wearing a shortie sleep set. She went to the closet and saw some bell-bottomed jeans that she had embroidered flowers on the cuffs. She also saw her favorite shirt, a pink and yellow paisley print with balloon sleeves. She put the clothing on and relished the small size of her body in the outfit. The pants were low slung and she needed a belt to wear with them. She located her wide brown leather belt with a large peace sign on the buckle. “I’m back!” She said triumphantly.
She thought that she might as well enjoy this dream. Besides, now the memory of her older self seemed to be in the background and she felt excited about life that she had not experienced in a long time. She opened the bedroom door and the hallway was there. She stepped into the hallway and made the familiar route to the kitchen where she planned to make coffee. She loved the way her body felt while taking full strides. There it was…the percolator for the coffee. Jessica still remembered how to load the coffee into the percolator as she had done this a thousand times before. As it perked the coffee splashed in a clear glass bulb on top. In movies that she had seen people who go back to the past always had something, they needed to do to change or alter the future. She wondered if this would be her case.
“I smell that coffee” Jessica’s grandmother and guardian said from her room in the back near the kitchen. Her grandmother appeared fully dressed except for her shoes. She wore a flowered button-down casual dress and she had an over-the-neck type of apron on. She always wore an apron with large pockets in the front to store things she found as she cleaned around the house. Jessica looked at her grandmother and tears formed in her eyes. It had been years since she had seen her.
Her grandmother noticed and said, “Child are you about to cry” “Whatever is wrong?
“Nothing Grandma, just some sleep still in my eyes.”
Jessica tried not to burst into tears and she felt a strong urge to hug her grandmother but this show of affection was not usual for their family. Jessica thought about her hesitation and thought maybe she would begin to hug her grandmother sometime. Sometime soon as she might wake up from this dream anytime. These types of things were always awkward in their family. She would perhaps write a letter to her expressing her gratitude for her grandmother taking her and her sister in. She poured coffee for her grandmother and for herself. They sat quietly together sipping on the coffee. Jessica was starting to feel comfortable in her youthful body but her mind still flipped back and forth from her present self to her past self. Chris came to the table dressed in some of her best clothes that showed off her petite figure. Jessica asked.
“Why are you so dressed up?”
Chris sighed heavily and said.
“It wouldn’t have anything to do with that guy James?”’
“Well, yes…we are going out after school today”
Jessica thought of James as arrogant and always hot-rodding around in his Chevy Nova. It just then struck Jessica. This was the night that her sister would be killed in a car accident. A chill came over her and she was sure she looked pale.
“Why do you look that way?” Chris said with some indignation.
“You are just jealous because nobody likes you.”
This was the furthest thing from Jessica's mind. She had to figure out a way to stop her sister from going out with James tonight. But How? She could wait for them at Jame’s car after school. She would tell her sister that she had come back from the future to save her life. No, no she couldn’t say that. That would sound like she were psychotic. She had to get her sister to come home with her and not go with James. She could tell her that grandma was sick and had to go to the hospital. Jessica thought if she could get Chris home it would be enough for the critical time of her pending death to pass. Even if her sister would be angry when she saw that grandma was well, it would be worth it just to save her life.
Jessica waited by Jame’s car after school. Just in a few minutes James and Chris appeared.
“What do you want?” Chris said bluntly.
Jessica could see the anger boiling in Chris’ eyes even though she tried to appear pleasant with Jessica. Chris did not want to tarnish herself by acting out when James was with her.
“Chris, you need to come home, Grandma is sick and needs to go to the hospital.” Jessica hoped her lie was convincing enough.
Chris looked like she was about ready to stomp her foot. Jessica saw Chris’ clenched hands and knew she was very angry.
“I saw grandma this morning and she was fine. It is probably nothing. How did you find that out?”
“The principal called me into his office and told me grandma had called the school and she needed to reach us.”
Jessica saw Chris had unclenched her fists now. The bit of information about the principal seems to work. Reluctantly, Chris went with Jessica and they walked home. James layed rubber getting out of the parking lot and sped out of the parking lot as if he was on the racetrack and the flag had dropped. Jessica waited until they were almost home and told Chris the truth but he also told Chris that she just had a bad feeling about Chris riding around in James’ car. Chris cried out of anger and fled to their bedroom when they arrived home. Within an hour she came out of the room with a puffy tear-stained face.
Chris said haughtily. “I’m calling James now…and I’m sure he will pick me up here.”
Jessica sat in the living room but she couldn’t help overhearing the phone call. It sounded like she was talking to James’ mother. Chris hung up the phone and was crying again. She came into the living room.
“I talked to James’ mother. She said they just received a call that James was in a terrible accident and was in critical condition. He lost control of the car and rammed into a huge tree. The impact was mostly on the passenger side. The police had said if anyone had been in the passenger seat they would have been killed."
Jessica went to her sister and placed her arm around her sister’s shoulder.
The next morning Jessica woke up and she was back in her bedroom in Florida, Yes, she was there the old arthritis was acting up. “Wow.” Jessica thought. “What a dream!” Just then the phone rang. It was Chris.
“Good morning Sis,” Jessica said. “How are you”
“Fortunate I am alive another day.”