In my “Last 5 Books I Read” post, I talked about a story I had written when I was 14, about waking up 10 years in the future in my “perfect” life, and how unrealistic it was because clearly, as a 14-year-old, you know nothing about the real world. Also, I had bestowed upon my future self all kinds of ridiculous honors and riches, which is just silly, because in real life, 24-year-old me worked customer service at a publishing company and watched a lot of Bridezillas and shopped at Old Navy. And was (and I still am!) really happy. But it just goes to show you how stupid teenagers are.
Erin left a comment suggesting that she needed to see some of this story pronto (actually, she only asked for outlines, but I like to go above and beyond), because she is very smart and recognizes the potential for entertainment when she sees it. So, I found the story where I had hidden it (on the floor in the open, no one will look there) and I bring it to you now.
My note on the top of this small pile of papers indicates that 14-year-old me felt that this “Basically needs to be fleshed out – well…I don’t know. I think it’s too short.” 26-year-old me thinks that is a less-than-accurate representation of what the final edits need to be. Here on out, 26-year-old me will comment in [italics], not to be confused with regular 14-year-old “thinking” italics.
THE STORY I WAS VERY, VERY, I MEAN LIKE UNREALISTICALLY PROUD OF WHEN I WAS 14
I woke to a hand on my shoulder and warm puffs of breath on my face. There was a moment of relaxation before the initial panic set in…the very beginning of a 72-hour panic session.
I sat up in bed. The covers were thick, and they held out the freezing cold air. [Sounds like San Bruno sometimes, actually.] Air that was just a few degrees too low for Lakeport temperatures. I racked my brain, trying to come up with the date, but the closest I could come was September 8, 1998, which couldn’t be right. The weather was supposed to be warm…even in the very early morning. It would have to be December or January to even come close to achieving the 30 degree weather I was feeling. [What’s all this “weather” nonsense indoors?]
All of this – my inner monologue, that is – [LOL] took place in but a few seconds, and before I could stop myself, I turned my head slightly to the left and saw someone next to me in the bed!
Beyond the sleeping lump in the covers was what I assumed to be a clock. [But who am I to say? I’m just a 14-year-old…right?] I could see only red digital numbers communicating to me that it was 3:51 a.m. In the corner, tiny numbers proclaimed “9/7/08.” I assumed that was the date [oh, I can figure some things out, but I’m baffled by a “clock”], but “08”? Maybe it means “98,” I thought. But the question remains: who is this beside me???
Too afraid (for reasons even I did not completely comprehend) to contemplate my present situation, I looked around the room, expecting to see my belongings: CD player to my right, desk to my left, and mirror straight ahead of me. But oh, what I saw instead…
The first thing I noticed, as my eyes grew used to the dark, was that the room was twice as big as my bedroom. Since I saw everything in gray in the darkness of the early morning, I wouldn’t know until daylight that the walls, instead of being the ghastly pink that they should have been, were instead a gorgeous pale green. The bed was not my twin bed, but a king-sized bed. The closet doors were still mirrors, but they were framed with a green marble. And of course, the format of the room was entirely off.
I could see an open door on the far side of the room, and through it I could see what appeared to be a bathroom. A larger door looked to lead out of the room. [And this may be one of my favorite lines:] The entire room is tastefully decorated, I noted appreciatively, but how did I get here?
I threw back the covers and got out of the warm bed, the cold air hitting my bare legs in a shocking gust. I shivered, then threw on a nearby robe sporting three initials in a swirly writing. Too preoccupied to take the time to decipher these letters, I quickly forgot about them. Although I must have recognized them subconsciously, for the sight of them sent a rush of excitement through my system, but I blamed it on my confusion about my surroundings. I opened the ornate door and stepped into the plushly carpeted hallway.
I moved carefully down the hall, feeling like a stranger in (what seemed to be) my own home. I stopped at the first door on the left and pushed it open gingerly. I was looking at a beautifully furnished bathroom, with gold faucets and white porcelain. After a few seconds of gazing in, I moved on.
A grandfather clock at the end of the hall announced the time was 4:00 am. I jumped when it chimed its resounding bong because my heart was already going 160 mph. I had an instinctive feeling that I was going to realize something both wonderful and hideous very soon.
I ended up in the kitchen; I opened the fridge door. I needed a drink.
A drink? I thought curiously. Surely I mean, like, a Coke or something. After all, I’m 14 years old, I don’t drink.
I steered my hand away from the bottle of wine that sat on the bottom shelf and instead grabbed a Pepsi. [In reality, 24-year-old me, oops, spoiler alert, anyway, we never had Pepsi unless the Chinese food delivery guy brought it unexpectedly.] Then I sat down at the kitchen table.
He found me like that. Sitting at the kitchen table with an unopened can of Pepsi, staring off into space. I was vaguely aware of him waving his hand in front of my face and calling my name, but I didn’t come fully “awake” until he slapped me lightly on the face.
[And, with that little glimpse of spousal abuse, I’m going to skip ahead. What you’re missing: a description of myself seeing myself in the mirror for the “first” time, and I’m very pretty. And 5’8″. Also a description of how this mysterious man and I got married – when I was 20! “Just post-college”! Also, “he” pretty instantly believes me about being only 14. And lastly, a scribbled note written to myself: “Sex Romantic scenes? I really don’t know…” We can only wish.]
All that day, I did things on the pretext of waiting for his return. I cleaned the house, although it only needed a light dusting and vacuuming. I could tell that in the future, or the past, or whatever it was, I kept the house nice.
I went into my writing studio [Okay, side note: The use of “writing studio” instead of “office” reminds me of this other story I wrote when I was in kindergarten, about orphans. And I just remember that because I couldn’t remember or think of the word “orphanage” I kept writing “adoption agency” or “adoption place.” I hope that I have since learned my lesson about how, if you can’t remember the simplest word, you shouldn’t just substitute another word or phrase that means sort of the same thing], sat down at the large mahogany desk [on purpose sentence fragment?]. I stared blankly at the dark screen of the new computer. I made no move to turn it on, however. For one thing, I was in no mood for writing; for another, I figured if I ever got back to the past, I wanted to live each moment brand new. I had no desire to read some of the material I had become famous for…at least, not a strong enough desire to overcome the knowledge that I shouldn’t.
So I did menial tasks to keep my hands busy. When I had nothing to do, I sat and stared out the window at the view of Mendocino. Living high on a hill, we had that luxury. [Hey! I live high on a hill now!]
The phone rang about noon. I jumped practically out of my skin. Staring at the receiver, I tried to telepathically figure out who it was. If it was him, I wanted to talk to him. But I didn’t feel like talking to anyone else…especially if I would have to figure out who it was and how I knew them.
My worry of it being someone I should have known was offset by my desire to talk to him. I tentatively picked up the phone and said “Hello?”
Good. It was him.
“I’m surprised you answered the phone,” he said. “I thought you would have let the machine get it.” [Oh yeah…that would have been the smart thing to do.]
“Yeah,” I replied. “I thought about it.” [Liar.] “But hey, a coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man only once.”
He laughed. God, how I loved to hear him laugh. [Gag me here twice please. Once for quoting Shakespeare (it’s Julius Caesar, I think?) and once for the sappiest line yet.]
“Good point. Anyway, the reason I called was to say three things. One: hi.”
“Hi,” I said.
“Two: What do you think about going out to dinner tonight?”
“Sounds great!” I said enthusiastically. “Like, where?”
“Someplace nice. Look,” he directed me, “in the closet there’s a long black and silver dress. It’s pretty fancy, but I think it would be the most appropriate thing you have.” [I am now imagining Drew picking out my clothes based on memorizing my closet. Right.] “I’ll be home around 6:30 tonight, okay? I’ll call right now and make reservations for 7:30.”
“Hey, what was the third thing?” I asked.
“Oh yeah. Three: I love you.”
“I love you too,” I said honestly. “See you at 6:30.”
I hung up the phone gently. Sitting in the chair, I thought about how it would feel for me to miss so many years of my life…did I want to just stay here or did I want to figure out a way back to the year where I belonged?
Then I remembered the dress. I ran to the closet in the bedroom, threw open the doors, and rifled through the clothing until I found what I was looking for — a gorgeous (obviously designer) long black dress. I could tell right away that this was something I had saved for. From what I could tell about our living conditions, we had an impressive amount of money, but we weren’t rich. [Vague, vague.] Yet this dress…I’d bet that even a princess would be exceptionally proud to own it.
[Even I knew this paragraph was not great, I have notes saying “New dress – mo. one?” I’m not sure what “mo.” stands for. Something amazing I’m sure. I also have a note saying “Deal with $$$ better.” I may have been trite and a little sappy, but I was no fool.
After I try on the beautiful gown, I realize that I have to go back to the 90s where I belong. We go out to dinner, and let me just show you the description of the restaurant.]
Dinner was wonderful, although I hardly tasted a thing. I was too involved with the surroundings and the company. There was stained glass in almost every window, and chandeliers hung from the ceiling in various places. The atmosphere was romantic, yet tasteful.
[I was big on “tasteful,” right? And yet something tells me my sense was a bit off. You can clearly tell that at this point my experience with fine dining was JJ North’s Grand Buffet in Santa Rosa.
So then I decide to tell him that I have to go home. The foolproof way of doing this is to go to my house in Lakeport, and spend the night there. But we’ll wait a day or two so we can hang out. A couple days later…]
At 8:30 that night, we left Mendocino and headed east. Two hours later, I was home.
My house was gone. I had not as of yet thought about what I would say to the current owners of the house when I got there, but luckily I didn’t have to…
[Not sure where I thought my parents would be at this point. I guess when you’re 14, 24 does seem a lifetime away.]
There was an empty field, grassy and gorgeous, even at night. I regretted not bringing a sleeping bag, but hopefully I wouldn’t have to wake up out here. If I could just go to sleep quickly, everything would be fine.
And I had the means for that. In my pocket was a package of (perfectly safe) tranquilizers. [I might have meant sedatives.] I was prepared to make the journey back to 1998. I gulped the 2 pills dry, ignoring the bitter taste.
I lay out in the field. It was a warm night, not yet winter weather. I stretched out my blue jeaned legs and tucked my arms behind my head. Looking up at all the stars, I could easily imagine that I was already back in 1998…but no, because there was the sound of his Jeep starting up. We had agreed that he should go home and go to sleep, same as me. Waiting for him on the counter at home were 2 pills identical to mine.
My eyelids grew heavy after awhile…how long it was I couldn’t tell. The stars were adding to my weariness and right before I slipped off to sleep I whispered his name.
“I love you…”
I barely got the sentence out before my eyes shut and I was gone.
I sat up in bed and stretched. The air was cool but not cold, just like usual. My cat, Gabe, jumped on the bed and pushed his wet nose into my face.
“Yuck!” I exclaimed. The clock on my nightstand read 6:48, and music blasted out. It was Madonna’s “Frozen.” [LOL]
What a way to start the day, I thought sarcastically, but not bitterly [thanks for clarifying] as I threw back the covers. I got out of bed and started my day.
An hour later, I was in my room applying makeup to my 14-year-old face. [FYI, I don’t think I ever wore makeup when I was 14.] I went to spray myself with body mist [a note here reads: ?really?] and the strangest thing happened.
The mirror seemed to…change…and I saw myself as an adult. I looked older, but not extremely different. This flash was for a split second, but I caught it. And I reacted the way any normal person would.
Whatever, I shrugged it off completely, saying it was a trick of the lighting, the angle, the fact that I was still a little tired, you know.
Then I remembered how I had been feeling last night. After a day of annoying peers and condescending teachers, I had been ready for a vacation. Unfortunately school had just begun. I remembered thinking, If only I knew there was something to live for. Something to work for. Something to look forward to. If only I didn’t feel so alone. [Drama queen?]
I knew that feeling alone was an adolescent thing, and I was supposed to feel that way. That didn’t help soothe my ego, though. With the way I was feeling, it would have taken a miracle to make me feel better.
I wonder, I thought, amused, if something happened that would have made me wake up in such a good mood. Something between last night and now. Something amazing and wonderful.
I looked back in the mirror.
And there you have it. I know it was long, but I wanted to try to get in the good parts. I mean, everyone writes awful stuff when they’re younger, right? I know there is a lot more where this came from…