“Run!” I screamed at Annie, as the sound of an explosion boomed from behind us. “Into the bunker!” Annie tripped on some broken glass, cutting up her arms and legs. There was no time to clean her up, as the enemy fighter planes were just overhead. “Get up!” I bawled, with tears streaming down my face. This is the end, I thought, she’s going to die.
After that day, I’ll never be the same again; I’ll be happy and carefree. Although it doesn’t seem that way, it’s true. It all started when I was filled with stress about the weekend homework load, and all I could think of was how it was finally Friday. Although I had the furrow in my brow due to the dreading thought of how much homework I’d be doing tomorrow, that was tomorrow’s problem. I had the rest of the afternoon to be, or pretend to be, stress free. My friend Lily had originally invited me to go to the new movie theater with her tonight, but she had to cancel because she caught the flu. With the wind whipping against my bare hands as I hiked up my driveway, and the feel of the cold on my cheeks, a heated movie theater wasn’t sounding too bad. “Hey dad!” I said happily, as I ran inside, throwing my heavy backpack on the floor with a thump. “Can you drive me to the movies tonight?”
“I thought Lily cancelled,” he replied, as he embraced me in a warm hug, messing up my dirty blond hair.
“Yeah, she did, but I was hoping I could still go by myself.”
“Ok, I guess so, but be careful. I’d come with you, but I have to coach your brother’s basketball practice.” He made a face. “Don’t you wish you got to calm down fifteen little boys with basketballs?”
“Totally!” I laughed, and for the first time that day, I wasn’t stressed. I love my dad, as he always makes me feel better, being humorous, caring, or understanding whenever I need it. As I looked into his eyes, I wished I could stay with him forever, never leaving the safe and happy place I call home.
It was time to leave, and I was racing out of the house, my coat flapping against my arm, as we were already running ten minutes late. Shaking from the cold, I jumped into the car, and zipped up my jacket. My brother, never bothering to talk to those around him, was sitting next to me, playing a game on his phone. After about fifteen minutes, I looked out the window to see blinking lights, spelling out the name of the movie theater, “Magical Adventure.” That’s an interesting name for a movie theater, I thought to myself, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. “Bye dad, bye TJ!” I shouted to them, giving them each a quick hug before I raced into the theater, trying not to fall on the slippery ice beneath me.
“Have fun! Text me when the movie’s over!” my dad yelled back.
“Bye Autumn,” my brother mumbled, not even bothering to look up, because in his mind, his video game must’ve been more important than me.
I pushed open the door, stepped inside, and was immediately taken aback by the reactions of other people in the theater. It was packed, and each person had a different facial expression. Some looked horrified, or scared, while others looked joyful and amazed. One thing they all had in common, however, was that they were all stunned and speechless. I guess this place shows really good movies, I considered. I scanned the list of movies, and finally chose one about World War II, because like my dad, I enjoy historical fiction. I paid for my ticket, and stepped into the theater. As the movie started, and I dug into my popcorn, the unbelievable happened.
I looked around and saw the inside of a small cottage, with an old-fashioned stove, a wooden table, and a fireplace burning with logs. A girl walked into the room, and yelled “Come on, Linda, we’re going to be late for school!” I turned around, utterly confused. Who is she, where am I, and who’s Linda?
“Linda, why are you standing there like that, looking like I have three heads? We have to leave! Put on your sweater!” She handed me the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen, as it looked like it was from the 1940s.
“Umm, excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but who are you, and who’s Linda?”
“Linda, you’re acting really strange today,” she answered, and then she said really slowly, talking to me as if I was three years old, “I’m your sister, and you are Linda.”
I had no idea what was happening, or why she was saying my name was Linda. “I’m sorry, but you must be mistaken. My name is Autumn Winston, and I live in Boston, Massachusetts” I replied.
“No, you live here, at 47 Pine Ln in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where we’ve lived for six years.” She was clearly annoyed at me, acting as if my ignorance was an act, and I was just messing with her. “Whatever. Just put on your sweater, and meet me outside when you’re ready.” I still had no idea what was happening, but I decided to go along with it for the time being. I buttoned the sweater, and grabbed a backpack off the floor that had “Linda Johnson” scribbled on it in pen, and headed out the door. On our walk, I took in my surroundings, and across the street from us, I spotted a woman and man who I’d seen enter the movie theater with me earlier that morning. I waved, hoping to catch their attention. When they saw me, they rushed over, and said with puzzled and worried looks on their faces, “Hey, weren’t you in the row across from us in the movie theater?”
“Yeah, I saw you guys before the movie started!” I replied. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“I have no clue,” said the man. “All of a sudden, we appeared on the side of the road, right across from that restaurant.”
“Yeah, I appeared in this house with a girl who’s calling me her sister, even though I don’t have any sisters. She said we’re in Pearl Harbor.” I responded.
The woman looked at me with a look of shock on her face as she said, “But the theater is in Boston! We’re over 5,000 miles away!”
When “my sister” realized I was talking to some strangers, she scolded, “Linda, keep walking, you’re holding us up!” She led me into a small building, with a sign above that read, “Pearl Harbor Elementary School.” This was odd, since I was in middle school, not elementary school, but I didn’t argue as she lead me down the creaky wooden floors into a small classroom, in which a teacher stood at the front, writing the date on the chalkboard. “December 5, 1941!” I shrieked. “But it’s January 5, 2018!”
“Quiet!” Snarled the teacher, who continued to write the lesson plan on the chalkboard.
“Sit down, Linda, and why are you acting so strange today?” the girl sighed.
As the day continued, I just got more confused. We were being taught about World War II, and who was winning certain battles. When I raised my hand to inform the teacher that the Allies had already won the Battle of the Atlantic, she looked at me like I was crazy, and “my sister,” who I learned was named Annie, slapped me. I tried to understand what was happening as the day went on, and it was during lunch, as I was munching on sour carrot sticks, when I realized why the name of the movie theater was called “Magical Adventure.”
I thought about trying to explain my situation to Annie, but decided against it. I would just end up confusing her more. As lunch ended, and we headed back inside, I thought about how I wished life at home could be this peaceful.
Two days later, I awoke with a start. Boom! The sound of an explosion burst in my ears as I jumped out of bed, shaking with fear. “Annie! Annie! What was that?”
“Linda! Are you okay?” She asked, and I looked into my sister’s eyes, and although she was trying to sound calm, she was shaking like a leaf.
“What is happening? What-” I was cut off by the sound of another explosion, this one scarily closer than the one before it. It was then that Timothy, our six-year-old brother, started crying and screaming. As Annie rushed over to comfort him, our mother barreled into the room, and said frantically,
“Children, they’re attacking! Japan is attacking Pearl Harbor!”
“What? Why? What have we done to them?” Annie shrieked.
Pearl Harbor, I thought. December 7, 1941, two days after December 5, 1941. The attacks of Pearl Harbor were starting, and I’m in the middle of them.
As I looked up with a look of horror and recognition across my face, mother gave us more information. “Your father was called in, he’s working with the army right now. I need to stay here and collect all our valuables, so they don’t get stolen,” she cried, with tears staining her blouse. “But I need you, Linda, to bring Annie and Timothy to the Davidson’s house, because we don’t have a bunker, and they said they have a one large enough to fit all of you.”
“Ok,” Annie sobbed, as she wrapped her arms around our mother, “I’ll take care of them.” I looked back at the house I had started to call home, as Annie shuffled us out the door, and thought about how much I wished I could go back to my real home.
Broken buildings and the injured all blurred past me as Timothy, Annie, and I raced through the town, making our way to safety. As we ran, I thought about how much I yearned to go back to my life in the 21st century. As I think back upon it, it seemed ridiculous that just hours ago I was stressing my day away, all because of a math test. Now, my worries were about losing the people I love. Right now, if I discovered that I failed a test, I wouldn’t care at all, because in the long run, one test doesn’t matter. What does matter is being happy, and being safe, and in order to do that, I needed to forget homework and find a way to help Annie get us to the bunker.
“Annie! Annie!” Someone was shouting at us from across the street.
“Mrs. Mullens!” Annie shouted back. “Is everything alright?”
“Oh Annie, I’m so sorry, but I just overheard one of the army generals talking about the casualties, and he said your father was shot when he was trying to fight the incoming Japanese, and your mother was hit with a bomb explosion, and she isn’t going to make it…” Mrs. Mullens stuttered. As I looked at Annie’s face, I realized that I’ve never actually witnessed true devastation. Her mouth hung open, and tears flowed from her eyes. I embraced her in a hug, trying my best to comfort her, but I knew that no matter what I did, I wasn’t going to bring our parents back.
“Come on, Annie! We have to keep moving!” I pulled on her arm, but she was so heartbroken that I practically had to drag her along. Ten minutes later, she shook herself out of her daze, and started leading us in the direction of the bunker. We broke into a sprint, and I forced my exhausted, sore legs to propel me forward as it came into view. We were only feet away from the bunker when the sound of an explosion went off, so close that I thought my ear exploded as well. The sound made Annie stumble, and she hit the ground hard, landing on broken shards of glass. She didn’t move.
“ANNIE!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I didn’t know what to do; I had to save her. Now it was up to me to get her and Timothy to the bunker. I pulled Annie to her feet, and dragged her, with Timothy close behind, inside. A bomb went off, only feet away, but since we were in the shelter, we were safe. It was just then that Annie awoke, and when she looked around to see the walls of the bunker, along with Timothy and me, she smiled. It was then that I knew we were truly safe.
My head was pounding, and when I looked up, instead of seeing the stone walls of the protective bunker, I saw bits of popcorn, red soda cups, and the giant screen of the movie theater. I was back. I looked around at the faces of the other people in the room, and tried to comprehend what just happened. I was just in World War II, I thought, and now I’m in a movie theater, over 5,000 miles away, about seventy years later. With my legs shaking uncontrollably, I stood up, and walked out of the theater to my dad’s car. It all made sense now. The mixed expressions of the other viewers, the theater name, everything.
“Hey Autumn! How was the movie?” my dad asked me, smiling from the car window.
I paused for a second, tried to figure out who Autumn was, and then realized that was my name. “Let me just say, I’ll never forget it.”
“That’s great!” my Dad replied, clearly oblivious to my stunned facial expression, “Sorry to ruin the good mood, but how’s the homework load this weekend? Do you have a lot? Are you stressed about it?” As he was conversing, I climbed into the front seat of the car.
“No, I’m not stressed, why would I be? It’s just homework.” My dad looked at me with his jaw hanging open, and it was after I saw his expression of disbelief that I processed what I had just said. For the first time in years, I said homework wasn’t a big deal. But when I thought back on it, I realized it never was. War is something to stress about, not homework.
Now that I experienced it first hand, I finally understand that. To some people, things are a big deal, but to others, they’re petty. If I had told Annie that yesterday I was freaking out about a science project, she would’ve thought I was crazy, because her worries are that her brother might die of starvation. But to me, the project was a big deal.
Life is about perspective. People view things in different lights. You just have to choose which light to view it in.