It’s Friday writing prompt time! Thanks to a temporary rift in the space-time continuum, you encounter your 10-year-old self and have 10 minutes to give them advice or answer their questions. What would you tell them?
I blearily made my way into the bathroom; the crust coating my eyes yet again. Oh, how I hate mornings. There was no way I was going to make it to work today. Not on the abysmally poor night’s sleep I had.
After washing my face, I looked into the mirror and that’s when I noticed it. My bathroom was different. Was I still sleeping? Was I laying in my bed, my head leaving an indentation in my soft pillows? That could be the only explanation. How else would she be in her childhood bathroom? That house wasn’t even there anymore. Not for years.
I pinched my arm since everyone knew that in dreams you couldn’t feel anything. “Ow!” I yelped. I definitely felt that. Not sleeping, then.
As a fan of science fiction, my next thought was that I’d been wormholed. Somehow, I was standing in the bathroom of my past. Now that I was paying attention, I could vaguely hear the morning show that my mother would listen to while getting us ready for school. That show wasn’t even on anymore. One of the DJ’s jumped ship a couple of years ago and was now doing his own show on the oldies station. Apparently, he like the rest of my parents’ generation couldn’t handle new music. I sighed. Shaking my head.
“Elizabeth!” My mother shrieked. Her voice still not 100%–not that it ever would be. At this point in time, it was only a few months after she left the hospital. At least, I imagine it was. Looking around the bathroom, I spot the Simba tooth brush my dad bought for me during the summer of 1995. I didn’t have that much longer–maybe until some time in 1996.
“Coming, mom!” I heard my younger self answer in its youthful timbre. I couldn’t remember the last time my voice was that high pitched. A stupid decision to sing in my high school’s gospel chorus irrevocably damaged my voice and now I couldn’t sing much higher than an alto.
I couldn’t stand in the bathroom all morning. Not with five other people, her younger self included, needing to get in here. I opened the door slightly, looking through the small crack to see if anyone was outside the door. It wouldn’t do for someone to see me and think that I’m an intruder. I wouldn’t like the accommodations at the 106th Precinct.
From what I could tell, there was no one there, so I made my escape. Unfortunately, I hadn’t looked down and ran right into…myself.
Surprisingly, she (I?) didn’t scream or even make a sound. It was as if she knew that we were one and the same. There was an odd smile on her face and her green eyes hinted at the juvenile attitude that my mother always tried to tamp down upon and always failed miserably.
I put my finger over my lips and led her into my bedroom–never touching her. I’d seen that episode of Doctor Who more than once. No weird Paradox Pterodactyls for me.
“Who are you?” Asked younger me. “Why are you here?”
I shushed myself and closed the bedroom door. What do I say to her? Do I tell her the truth? Would she believe me? Who was I kidding? Of course she would. She was me and I’d always believed in these types of things. Pushing aside the thought that I might outdo Marty McFly and actually erase myself from the present (future?), I told the truth.
“Me? I’m old.” Her eyes went wide. “You’re old.”
“Twenty-nine is not old.” I said through semi clenched teeth.
“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes. “Why are you here?”
“I don’t know. I woke up here instead of in my apartment.”
“You live in an apartment? By yourself?”
“No, with Dad.”
“You live with Dad? What about Mom?” There was fear in my eyes. Her health issues still fresh in my younger self’s eyes.
“She’s fine. She lives with Grandma. I didn’t want to stay there. Couldn’t stay there.”
“Mom and Dad aren’t together?”
“No. Dad left in 2001.”
“And you left with him?”
“No. That came later.”
“Elizabeth! James! Breakfast!” My mother’s shriek bounced off the walls. Somehow my dad managed to sleep through it.
The younger me grimaced. “I have to go to school. I hate it there.”
“I know. Don’t let them get to you. They’re not worth it.”
“Easy for you to say. You lived all this already.”
“Yes, I did, so I know it gets better.”
“High school. Sophomore year.”
“Five years from now? It doesn’t get better for five years?!”
“Not really, no, but you’re strong enough to deal with it.”
There was a knock at the door. “Liz, mom wants you. She said you need to eat or you’ll fail your math test. I think you’ll fail either way.”
I could hear the smirk in my brother’s voice. He always did think he was smarter than me.
“No, he’s not. Math will never be our thing, but you’re not going to fail.”
“Maybe, but Jimmy always gets A+’s in math.”
“He won’t always,” I said, adding, “He’ll flunk out of calculus and drop out of college with a .75 GPA.”
“Yeah, right. And I bet my GPA was a .50.”
“Nope. You do really well and graduate with a 3.69 GPA. Don’t worry about Jimmy.”
“I’ll try.” She turned to go. “Is there anything else I should know?”
Was there? I asked myself.
“Yes. When you go to Grad School, start looking for a job the moment you step foot in Boston. Put your name on crisis center volunteer waiting lists immediately. Also, keep writing. And read. In two years an amazing book is going to come out and you’re going to love it.”
As I looked at my younger self, her eyes widened and her eyebrows shot up into her hairline. She was staring at my hands and something made me look at them. They were fading. Ah, shit. I Marty McFly’ed myself.
I woke up in bed. Turning to get up, my legs brushed up against another, hairier one. There was a man in my bed. That was new. When I opened my eyes, I barely recognized my apartment. It was the one I had in Grad School. Apparently, I changed my future. Cool.