[In response to today’s prompt, a friend is someone you can trust as they trust you. They are there for you, as you are there for them. You can share almost anything about yourself with them, and they can share anything with you and feel safe. You can be yourself with them and they can be themselves with you. With some friends, no matter how long it has been between seeing each other, you pick up the conversation with them from where you left off the last time you saw them.
This story is about the future and friendship.]
MESSAGE FROM MY FUTURE ME
“Grandma, can I excuse the table?” I asked.
Grandma chuckled. “You mean, be excused from the table, dear.”
I nodded and then pushed my chair from the old wooden table.
“Yes, you may, but don’t go too far,” Grandma said. “Go only to the end of the road and then you must turn back.”
I escaped out the back door and down the gravel driveway. The street spanned before me, begging adventure. Sunday lawns green, pungent with fresh Saturday clippings piled behind an assortment of fences.
“Go away, will you,” she said in her grimy blue dress. She leaned over the stone wall and pushed me.
I brushed off her greasy prints and walked on, leaving the willow tree and that girl snarling in the shade behind me. As I strolled into the sun, I ran my hand over cracked rendered walls, rattling cyclone fences and peering through the oleander bushes for signs of life in quiet houses.
“Don’t go over the road,” Grandma’s voice warned in my head.
No, I won’t. I rubbed my bottom in memory of the Belair Sunday school picnic adventure when my brother lost me. Promise! Careful not to step on the lines in the pavement. Bad luck. I tiptoed and danced along the pavement in my pink ballerina shoes.
A shadow wriggled over the pavers. Stobie pole to my right, plastered its stunted midday image on the asphalt. I halted. Casting my focus up, I spied this big girl. I squealed and clapped my hands over my mouth. This lady-girl was dressed all in lace and brown velvet as if in Grandma’s clothes.
“Hello, you must be Lee-Lee.”
“Why did you know my name?” I pointed at her; rude, I know. “Ha, ha! Why are you wearing funny clothes?”
She blushed and rubbed her stubby fingers over the velvet. “They’re trendy where I come from.” She smiled and straightened her long dress that swept past her ankles. “Actually, where I come from, I know a lot about you.”
“Because I have the same name as you.”
“So? I know more than you do. You’re dumb. So there, ner!” I planted my hands on my hips and poked out my tongue.
“That’s no way to talk about yourself.”
“Huh?” I pulled at my pigtail and chewed the ends of my hair.
“Elementary girl.” She flicked her long blonde strands and smirked. “I am the future you. In fact, I know more than you do because I know what’s going to happen to you.”
“Future me?” I scratched my cheek and screwed up my nose. “What does future mean?”
“I am your grown-up self.”
“Oh!” I wiggled a loose tooth. “Does that mean your teeth all fell out? Did you get grown-up teeth or did you get them all pulled out and get false teeth like Grandma’s?” I zoomed up to Future Me’s face and ogled at her mouth. “Come on, show me your false teeth.”
She bared her perfect row of pearly whites and nudged me back. “They are real. Orthodontically corrected, but real.”
“I had braces on my teeth.”
“Why? Were they crippled?”
“No, they were crooked.”
“Ugh! Crooked teeth.” I turned from her and poked stones with the point of my shoe. “I don’t think I like being you. Grandma clothes, crooked teeth that need Arthur’s braces. I’ll never be like you. You’re just pretending. ‘Sides, how could I be you?”
I squinted at this tall slim blonde who transferred her weight from one leg to the other. I noticed the worn back-pack groaning full of books, straps straining to pull the load from her waist. Future Me stroked her chin between her thumb and forefinger. “Well, it’s hard to explain to someone as little as you. You’re in Prep, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I’m a big schoolgirl, now.” I thrust my chest forward and with hands each side of my tummy, swung my hips.
“Well, big schoolgirl, Lee-Lee, to put it simply, it’s called T.T.T—thought, time, transportation.”
“What then?” I watched my pink dress swish as I swayed.
“You just think and instead of thinking time as moving forward, you make it move backward for you.”
“Just like that?”
“Well, actually, it’s more complicated than that—a kind of scientific experiment that my big brother Warwick invented. He put electrodes on my head and well, something happens that I can’t fully explain.”
“Oh, did you have a brother, Warwick too? Does your Warwick snort when he laughs?” I cupped my hand over my mouth and tittered.
The lady-girl raised her lace sleeve to her mouth and giggled. “Yes, he does.”
“You must be me.” Repressing the urge to gnaw my fingernails before my future-self, I clasped my hands together and looked in her eyes. “So, me, what’s going to happen to me?”
She avoided my gaze. “That’s for me to know and you to find out.
“That’s not fair! Why can’t I?” I grabbed at her, but she slipped through my fingers and drifted from me. “Plee-ease!”
I watched her move further away and shimmer in the sunlight.
“But why not? Please! Just a little bit.” I chased her and swiped at her. “Just a tincy-wincy-little bit. I won’t tell! Promise!”
“Alright, if you insist.” She floated above the greying plaster fence. “But I must be leaving soon.”
She faded, blending in with the oleander and honeysuckle bushes. I strained to see her. I attempted to touch her, but my hand passed through her.
The wind whistled through the bushes. “Have a good time with Jilly.”
“You didn’t tell me! You lied, me!” I cried.
I hunched over and plodded back towards Grandma’s house. Shouts and squeals from a yard on my left, caught the corner of my eye. A girl my age bounced on an old double-spring bed.
“Hello, my name’s Lee, what’s yours?”
“Hello, my name’s Jilly. Do you want to play on the trampoline with me?”
© Lee-Anne Kling 2009; updated 2023
Feature Painting: Somerton Beach Dreaming © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2011
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11