Mr Wilton sat at his counter impatiently, waiting for a customer to come and check out a book from his library. He opened his rusty, leather journal, browsing through the books borrowed. His index finger stopped on one book, ‘The Little Red Balloon’, it was called. The book was borrowed for a whole month now, by Lyn Brook, a girl in 7th Grade and if she didn’t return it, she would have to pay $10.00 as a fine. His library would close by 6:30 that evening. He looked at his antique, 19th-century clock, it was 5:42 so he lay back on his chair, cleaning the finger smudges on his glasses.
Meanwhile, Lyn raced to the library, the humid summer wind pushing against her face as she ran straight into it, as the clock in Mr Wilton’s library ticked 6:08. She pushed open the door, letting it slam behind her, then tried to catch her breath.
“Hello Mr Wilton”, she panted, giving the man a wave.
He looked up from his rimless glasses and smiled.
“Hi Lyn, have you brought the book back?”, he asked,
“Oh, yes I did bring it!”, she pulled out a small book and laid it on the counter. Mr Wilton ticked it off in his journal, grabbed the book and placed it on a shelf.
Lyn went over to another bookshelf on the other side of the room. Out of all the books, one of them caught her attention. It was red with green strokes, dusty and old. She pulled it out, examining it. The book had a lock and a key, ‘Into the Future”, it read. Lyn looked at it for another moment before carrying it over to the counter.
“Um, excuse me, Mr Wilton, can I please borrow this book?”, Lyn asked.
“Um ok?”, Mr Wilton grabbed the book and took a scan of the QR code.
“Thanks, Mr Wilton!”, Lyn nodded, swiped her card and dumped her book in her schoolbag, then gave the man the last wave before heading out the door.
The sun was still blazing at 6:34pm, a typical Australian summer and Lyn felt all sticky and sweaty, that the uncomfortable feeling urged her to take a shower once she got home. Tying back her dishevelled sweaty auburn hair, Lyn opened the book while she walked down the cheery streets of the sunny Gold Coast towards home. The fresh summer breeze was blowing on her face, the green, lush gumtrees towered over her. Lyn decided to collect a few of the leaves so she simply walked off the sidewalk and reached over to the lowest branch and grabbed a sweet-smelling handful of 5. Carefully slitting the leaves, she took a great whiff of the gum leaf.
Stuffing the leaves into the pocket of her navy-blue sports uniform, passing a mother pushing a pram of a 2-year-old. Whipping out her mum’s old phone which was now Lyn’s special possession she received for her birthday last September. Opening up her mum’s contact, Lyn typed a quick message, informing her mum that she was on the way home and that she dropped off her books. Lyn waited for a quick response from her mum like most do, but the screen of her phone stayed still. Lyn rolled her eyes and stuffed her phone back into her pocket.
“Why bother?”, She thought and continued down the path.
Lyn’s home was a white modern house you would normally see, except she lived right in front of Surfers Paradise Beach. Opening the front door, she pulled off her dirty shoes and laid them on the shoe rack. Dumped her bag by the door, Lyn washed her hands in the kitchen, scrubbing into her dirt-filled fingernails. Mum was in the study room, sipping her coffee and typing away on her laptop. Dad was in the lounge, talking on his ‘important’ calls that he didn’t even notice, Lyn comes back home.
The only being in the house that greeted her that evening was her dog, Luna a German Shepherd.
“Hi, Luna!” Exclaimed Lyn ruffling the 3-month-old dog.
She went upstairs to the bathroom and took a long shower, scrubbing away at the sweatiness with goat soap and her favourite coconut shampoo. She loved the divine smell of the shampoo that she spent some time in the shower making coconut bubbles. Lyn knew it felt much better to be clean and, in your pyjamas, than to be in some uncomfortably itchy school uniform and dirty shoes.
By then, mum was in the kitchen making dinner and dad watching some news on the TV. She strode up to the door of her room and slammed it shut,
“Dumb, useless TV”, she muttered, then settled herself into her chair and grabbed her homework books that lay stacked to the corner. Unzipping her newly customised pencil-case, Lyn grabbed her blue ballpoint pen and started to do her science assignment on chemistry and read the assigned article her teacher, Mrs Mays had given.
It was 7:00 by the time she had finished off her work. Usually, she would go downstairs and watch a bit of TV or play video games for half an hour but this time, she decided to use that half an hour to read the new book that she had borrowed. Of course, she had been so caught up with it that she didn’t notice that her mum was calling her. Putting aside the book, she ran downstairs to help set up the table. It was boiled broccoli, carrots and peas with some potato mash and corn to the sides for dinner. Normally, she would take forever to eat and would end up being the last one to get up from the table but this time, she ended up being the first.
“Dessert?” asked mum, pointing to the bowl of choc chip cookie ice-cream with maraschino cherries on top.
“Uh, I’ll have it in my room”, Lyn grabbed the bowl and went back upstairs.
She opened the book and continued reading, flipping through every page with excitement, taking a scoop out of her dessert every 2 minutes.
She kept reading it until 8:30, her bedtime so she placed her book open on her desk and went to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Then went downstairs with an empty bowl and placed it in the sink.
“Night mum and dad”, she yawned and headed back upstairs.
Her parents who were on their phones just grunted. Giving Luna a cuddle and putting her in her bed in the lounge before she switched off her lights and fell asleep. Her parents headed to their room 20 mins later, switching off all the glowing lights. The clock in the hallway ticked 9:00, Lyn was fast asleep, but she didn’t know that the book that lay on her desk was glowing, opening up a portal.
Lyn was lost in her dreams, dreams of becoming a professional writer and artist. She felt hope that her dreams would come true, after all, she loved to write and had written numerous stories which were complimented greatly. In her bedroom, she had graceful paintings on the plain white walls. She had hope that it would come true.
Lyn’s eyes snapped open as she heard a noise coming from downstairs.
“Probably just a broom…”, she muttered then reached for her phone, her eyes began to water and strain as she checked the time.
But her attention turned to the book, it was glowing brightly, slightly illuminating the room.
“Weird”, she mumbled then crept up to the book, peering at it carefully.
“Let’s see...”, Lyn grabbed a pencil and let it go into the book.
“Oops…”, Lyn stuck her finger in, no pain. Carefully, she stuck her hand in, then her head and the rest of her body, and went tumbling down.
Lyn’s head was pounding, bubbling and boiling. Her eyes were shut unable to be opened and her back and elbows left in a blistering and stinging pain. Her fingers felt a jolt, almost an electric shot. Lyn sat right up; she felt a chill go through her. She was on the beach; the waves were lapping up on the shore, the wind was definitely not warm or humid like a normal Queensland summer day. The sea stank of dead fish, clogging Lyn’s nose, almost suffocating her.
Lyn felt a stinging sensation near her eyebrow and something wet coming down her eye. Her dirty, sandy finger touched her eyebrow. Lyn gasped,
“Blood…”. Wiping the drooling blood on her sleeve, she slowly limped towards the corner of the beach. Her slippers had ripped at the soles and were incredibly uncomfortable.
Lyn spotted her house, it was standing there, dead silent. In front of Lyn’s gravel driveway, she spotted a car, a blue car. The car had its bright golden lights on, but it was silent. Lyn peered into the car, there was a lady, possibly in her twenties. What Lyn found fascinating was that she looked like herself, the same auburn hair, sea-green eyes and the same jade choker she had gotten for her 10th birthday was wrapped around her neck.
“That’s the future me!”, gasped Lyn, peering at her future self.
But the Lyn in the car had her eyes full of tears, and in her hands was a newspaper.
“Worst story is written in the history of writing, Lyn Brooke could have done better”, was the headline of the newspaper...