Sasha Ayala watched out the window of the taxi as it drove slowly through Hemmings Street, looking for the familiar Sugar Maple that stood in the yard of the duplex she and her best friend Miri owned. It had been a little over a year since she had last visited. Six years since she had lived there.
“I’m finally home.” She breathed as the taxi stopped in front of her house.
Sasha checked the time on her phone as she slung her backpack over her shoulder, and jogged to the door. “3:27... I wonder if Miri is waiting up for me.”
She fumbled with the keys for a moment before unlocking the door.
“Door open… And light on.” She tossed her bag on a nearby chair, and shut the door.
"Welcome home me." Sasha chuckled as she looked around the room.
“Now for some tea.” As she turned toward the kitchen, she heard footsteps coming down the hall.
“Sorry Mimi, I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just getting a cup of tea, you want some?” Sasha looked over her shoulder and saw… A man in his mid-twenties...
“Oh. I didn’t realize Mimi had company.” Sasha blushed slightly as she noticed that the man was in his boxers, and a hastily thrown on robe. “Are you Mimi’s boyfriend? She didn’t tell me she got one.”
“Who are you? How did you get in here?” The man asked worriedly. “And who’s this Mimi you keep talking about?”
“My name is Sasha Ayala, I got in with my key.” She held it up. “‘Mimi’ is what I call Miri, my best friend, roommate, and the young woman who lives here. You really couldn’t figure that out?”
“Miri…. You mean Miri Dragavei, maiden name Stafford?” The man asked.
“Maiden name?” Sasha raised an eyebrow “You mean she got married without telling me!?!? The heck!?!? You’re joking right?”
“Yes she got married, and if you were really her best friend then she would have told you wouldn’t she.”
“You’d think so wouldn’t you.” Sasha shook her head. “Wait…. Does that mean you’re her husband?”
“No... Miri was my stepmother.”
“What!?!? No way! You totally look like you’re in your mid-twenties!”
“I’m twenty-six, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that. The strange thing is how you could be Miri’s ‘best friend’ when you look younger than I am!”
“No. What’s strange is that even though you’re obviously older than Mimi you-”
“Older!?!?” His eyes narrowed. “Are you stupid? You’re claiming to be Miri’s best friend and yet you don’t even know how old she’d be now!”
“What are you talking about? I know exactly how old Mimi is! You’re the one who doesn’t know anything!” Sasha tried to push past him.
“Where do you think you’re going?” The man put out his arm to stop her.
“I’m going to find Mimi so I can find out why some crazy guy is in my house!”
“You need to leave. Now!” He grabbed her arm.
“Don’t touch me! I have no idea who you are or why you’re in my house but if you don’t leave now I’m going to call the police!” Sasha jumped out of his reach, and gripped her phone.
“Hold on. There’s no need to call the police.” Another man entered the room. “Let me introduce myself. My name is Nicolae Dragavei, and this is my son Vasile.”
“Great, now I can tell the police the names of the strange men who entered my house without permission.” Sasha growled.
“Dad, sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” Vasile apologized. “Although, it wasn’t my fault.” He glared at Sasha. “But now that you’re up you can make this girl leave. I think she’s high or something. She keeps talking like she owns the place, and calling Miri her best friend, and crap.”
“As strange as this sounds she might be telling the truth.” Mr. Dragavei gave his son’s shoulder a slight squeeze. “Just let me handle this.” He stepped toward Sasha, who in turn stepped away from him.
“One step closer and I’m calling the police. I mean it.” Sasha held up her phone so the men could see the display. 911 was entered, and her thumb hovered shakily over the dial button.
Mr. Dragavei hesitated before pulling out his own phone. “This is you and Miri." It wasn’t a question.
The picture on the phone was of two young women. Sasha with her dark hair styled in a short, messy, pixie cut. And Miri, with her long wavy blonde hair, pulled back in a braid that hung over her shoulder. Both of the girls were dressed for adventuring in the great outdoors.
Sasha glanced at Nicolae’s phone and relaxed a bit. “Yeah, that’s us. We took that picture last year during summer break.” She lowered her own phone. “But why do you have it?”
“You’re Sasha Ayala.” Again, not a question.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Because I’m Miri’s husband. Or... at least I was.” Mr. Dragavei’s eyes softened.
“I’m not really sure what’s going on… but I’ll do my best to explain.” He motioned to the couch. “Please sit down. Vasile will make us all some tea.” And he sat down himself.
Vasile nodded and entered the kitchen, while Sasha sat in her special armchair, before noticing that it felt oddly old….
Mr. Dragavei spoke quietly. “Please listen to what I have to say without interrupting. In twenty-fourteen you and Miri graduated highschool and bought this half of the duplex together, correct?”
“Good.” He continued. “You won a scholarship, and so you went to college in another country, while Miri just joined the workforce. You would visit every year and spend the summer together. By twenty-twenty you had finished your studies and got ready to move back. However, the plane you were on disappeared and-”
“Hold it! What do you mean it ‘disappeared’? Nothing happened to my plane. It wasn’t even late.” Sasha demanded to know.
“I thought I asked you not to interrupt.”
“Miri and I had met earlier in March of twenty-twenty. We worked together. You were supposed to move back in October of the same year, but like I said your plane disappeared. No one ever found any traces of it. Miri was devastated. It was five years before she said she had accepted that you weren’t coming back, although I don’t think she ever really did. The next year, we got married. Vasile is from my first marriage. It didn’t last very long, and unfortunately, neither did my second.”
“You really expect me to believe this?” Sasha asked dubiously.
“Not really, but it’s the truth.”
“Sure it is.” She rolled her eyes.
“You’re phone should automatically synchronize to the satellites, right?”
“Check the date.”
Sasha pulled out her phone and looked at the date for the first time after getting on the plane. It said October 27. The day she was supposed to arrive… wait… the year is 2037… She jerked her head up. “I don’t believe this! This is some kind of trick! You must have hacked my phone... or something…”
“I didn’t do anything to your phone. It really is twenty-thirty-seven.”
“But that’s im-impossible…” Sasha was bewildered. There was no way this was real. Right?
“Unfortunately I have more bad news for you. Miri died in twenty-twenty-seven. Ten years ago.”
This wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Mimi dead. 2037. This was a dream. It had to be. That was the only thing that made sense… She was still on the plane. Any moment now and she’d wake up. It would be 2020, and as soon as she turned her phone on, she’d get a call from Mimi who would be waiting outside for her to take her home. That’s right, this was all a dream. Sasha squeezed her eyes shut. Soon she would wake up. But she didn’t.
Two hours, twelve cups of tea, just as many trips to the bathroom, and five hysterical outbreaks later, Sasha was calmed down, more from exhaustion rather than understanding of the current situation. She lay on the couch staring up at the ceiling, expressionless.
“So let me get this straight.” Vasile was also having a hard time understanding. “She was Miri’s best friend seventeen years ago, who disappeared. And for some reason she’s still twenty-four, even though she should be fifteen years older than me.”
“I don’t understand it either, but that seems to be what’s going on.” Mr. Dragavei shook his head.
“If… I’m really from the past… or some crap… then everyone else from the plane is too… right? Wouldn't that cause a huge panic or something…” Sasha spoke barely over a whisper, her arms covering her face.
“She’s right!” Vasile jumped up and turned the TV on to the local news station.
“-passenger plane vanished while flying over the Bermuda Triangle. Exactly seventeen years later the same plane arrived at the Los Angeles International Airport at 12:45 AM. At the same time it was supposed to arrive back in 2020. Some have speculated that the plane might have flown through a wormhole and traveled to the future. Others have suggested aliens. But as of right now nothing can be verified. Government officials, and medical professionals are currently working on tracking down all of the passengers to gather information, and make sure no one is suffering any serious medical side effects.” The news anchorman said overdramatically. “We will keep you informed as we receive new information. This is David Smith for KYI-57.”
Vasile switched off the TV as the commercials started playing. “So, you went through a wormhole? Interesting...”
“It’s only speculation.” Nicolae murmured.
“How… did it….. happen?” Sasha breathed.
“Weren't you listening? No one knows how the plane flew into the future.” Vasile shook his head.
“That’s not….. I meant… with Mimi…” Sasha rolled on her side and looked Vasile in the eyes. “How did she die?”
“Oh, that.” He ran his hand through his hair, and looked to his father. “Dad?”
Mr. Dragavei sighed. “After the plane vanished, Miri began studying legends, news articles, documentaries, conspiracy theories, any kind of information she could gather. At first, she was able to manage her schedule pretty well, but over time she became obsessed. She would go for days without eating or drinking anything at all. It got so bad she ended up hospitalized. After that, she calmed down, said that being so close to death made her realize she didn’t want to waste her life on a wild goose chase.
“She got better, well mostly better. She got really depressed for a while afterward, but she kept her life together, and even accepted my proposal. I thought with time she would get over you, but I was wrong. I found out later that she never stopped searching, studying, and researching everything she found that had anything to do with the Bermuda Triangle, or planes that had gone missing.” Nicolae sipped his tea, and sighed again.
“In July of twenty-twenty-seven, Miri said she was going to go on a trip with some of her friends. I thought it would do her some good, so I didn’t question it. I found out a month later that she really went on some expedition someone set up. There was a storm, and the ship they were using went down. Thirty-eight people were on that ship. Only one person survived.” Mr. Dragavei looked at his phone, and stood up. “I have to work in a few hours, so I’m going to try to get some sleep before then.” And he left.
It was several minutes before spoke again.
“So it’s my fault Mimi died.” Sasha’s voice was empty.
"I know this isn't the best time to say this but... welcome home." Vasile wanted to comfort Sasha, but had no idea how too.
Sasha looked blankly around the room. "Yeah. Welcome home indeed."