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Grade
8

My head slowly rests on my shoulder, and my eyes drift from open to closed. “Camila, how do you expect to keep the new year’s resolutions you made today if you can’t even keep the one from last year? You were supposed to stay awake until midnight today, remember?” I look up and shake my head. “There is no way that is going to happen… it’s only ten and I’m more than half asleep.” Mollie shakes her head and goes back to playing on her phone. After what seems like two seconds, I hear the TV and everybody in the room counting down. I start counting with them and everything seems normal, until the room goes white. Then black. Then white. Everything goes black again. I close my eyes, and hope this is all just a dream. When I open them again, I figure it must have been. I open my eyes and find myself in a room. It looks old-fashioned, and the sheets on top of me are heavy and fancily embroidered. I see a sewing machine in the corner, and what looks like a vintage dollhouse next to it, but at the same time the dollhouse looks brand new. Suddenly the door cracks open and a little girl steps lightly into the room, gently closing the door. She sees me looking at her, and her eyes widen. So do mine; our eyes are the exact same mix of green, blue, and hazel. The only other person I’ve known with eyes like mine are my grandmother’s, but she passed away before I was born. The girl runs up to me and bounces on to the bed, causing the springs to creak. She winces, then whispers: “Mommy told me not to come in here, but I had to. I’m sorry.” I assure her it’s fine. “I’ve never seen such an old-fashioned sewing machine,” I tell her. “I like it.” She smiles at me, but there is confusion in her eyes. “Thank you, but that sewing machine is the newest model; that’s what Mommy told me.” I slowly nod my head, thinking that it was probably a rare antique and the girl was just a little confused. Before I can say anything more, she asks me if I want to see her dollhouse. I tell her yes, because I’ve never seen a dollhouse like this one. Instead of the bright pink door and glittering closet like the one I have at home, it has shutters and a small closet filled with clothes that look like they’re from decades ago. Just as we sit down in front of the dollhouse, the door opens and a woman wearing an apron approaches us. She smiles and her friendly expression gives me a feeling of relief, like I’m not in a random person’s house with no idea where I am. “Natalie, I told you not to disturb our guest.” Natalie shifts her position and looks down. “I’m sorry, Mommy.” Her mother smiles and tells her that it’s okay. Then she turns to me. “We found you asleep on our porch, sweetheart. I’m not sure what you were doing there, but I don’t think you have any idea, either,” she says, noticing the question in my eyes. “Would you like to tell me the name of your mother? Maybe I can find out where she is.” “Um,” I say, “her name is Annalise.” At that, Natalie jumps up and says, “my doll is named Annalise, too!” I look down at her and smile, everything beginning to click inside my head. The eyes. The name. The old-fashioned room. It has to be. But then her mother tells us that she’ll see about my mom later, and that she’s making us breakfast. I thank her and tell myself that I read too many books and that the sweet little girl in front of me is not my grandmother. I decide that after breakfast I’ll ask to go outside and find just where I am exactly. I help Natalie clean up her dolls and we go to the kitchen. “Why don’t we eat out on the porch? It’s sunny for once,” her mother suggests, indicating to a small table with a delicate vase of flowers on top. I think back to where my house is, California. We’d been in a heatwave, so I doubted I was there anymore. As we eat our eggs, I almost drop my glass of milk as I see a group of students walking to school, dressed in a style I’ve only see in history books. I turn to the side and see someone drive down the street in a car that is the opposite of modern. That’s when I know it for sure: I’m in the early twentieth century. I can feel sweat beginning to form on the back of my neck, despite the cool breeze. I move my hair to the side and drink my milk, trying to collect myself; Mollie used to tease me for always overreacting, but at this point I’m so scared that I don’t notice Natalie’s mother’s concerned face looking right at me. “Sweetie, are you alright? Maybe I should find your mother now, if you’re not feeling well.” I plaster a fake smile on my face, pretending to be confused. “What do you mean? I feel… great!” Natalie gives me a sideways look and rolls her big green eyes. “I’ll tell you what’s not great: your acting skills,” she whispers to me. I stare at her, not sure if I should laugh or try to convince her I’m not acting. I decide on neither. Natalie’s smart, and I’m going to have to think of a way to get her off my case. But then again, maybe she could help me. I shake my head, telling myself that a nine-year-old isn’t going to help me build a time machine and get back to where I belong… in fact, she might not even believe me. I excuse myself from breakfast and ask to go for a walk, but Natalie’s mom tells me to go change, because she doesn’t know what kind of clothes I’m wearing. I look down at my new year’s outfit, jeans and a sparkly top. I’m about to argue that it’s better than a T-shirt, when I realize I’m not in 2018 anymore. She lays out a dress for me from her closet, since I’m around her height. The dress is pale pink and it’s beautiful, but my Converse ruin the look. Natalie’s mother realizes that, because she gives me a pair of shoes. I look at the dainty shoes and then look back at my converse, but I know if I wear those I’ll get a lot of stares. Once I finally get outside, Natalie is there, waiting for me. “I’m going to come with you, and you’re going to tell me what you were so nervous about before.” The seriousness in her voice almost makes me laugh, but I hold it in. “Well, you’re not going out in your nightgown,” I tell her. Natalie, looking defeated, suddenly starts running into the house. “I’ll be right back. Please wait for me!” I can’t say no to her pleading tone, so I sit on the steps and wait for her to get dressed. When she finally emerges from the house, she reaches for my hand and begins to walk. “What are you hiding?” she asks me. I tell her that I’m just confused as to where I am, but I can tell by her face that she doesn’t believe me. “More like you’re confused as to when you are,” she says. I know she’s just a nine-year-old, but she’s so persuasive that I finally give in. “Fine. I’m not from… here. I have no idea where I am or when I am in time.” She nods. “That’s what I thought. But do you recognize anything here?” I’m about to say no when I realize there is something I recognize. “Well, there is one thing. Your eyes,” I say. Natalie looks like she’s about to question me when her eyes widen as she looks into mine. “That’s because they’re the same as yours,” she says. I nod. “The only other person I’ve known with eyes like mine is my grandmother. I have a picture of her right here, if you want to see.” I pull my silver locket from under my dress and unlatch it. I hold it to Natalie and she looks at it. But she seems more interested in the actual locket itself rather than the picture. “Why do you have Mommy’s locket?” She asks. “My mom gave me this,” I tell her. Natalie looks at me. “Oh. Well, the picture’s different, too, so I guess it couldn’t be the same.” “Well, my mom said that this locket has been in our family for a long time. My great-great grandmother had a picture of her grandmother, my grandmother had a picture of hers, my mother had one of hers, and now I have a picture of mine,” I tell her. “Wow. It’s the same with my family. In my mommy’s locket there’s a picture of my great-grandmother. Can I see the picture?” she asks. I hold out the locket again, and Natalie smiles. “She looks just like me!” I turn my eyes to the locket and immediately agree. The resemblance is certainly there. Same smile, same nose, same eyes. Natalie slowly looks up at me. “Camila, do you think… I’m your grandmother?” I know in that moment that it has to be true. “Yes,” I tell her. Natalie smiles. “That’s so cool, but … a little weird,” she says, and starts walking again. But as we walk, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever get home again. A few hours later, Natalie and I are walking back home with ice cream cones in our hands and smiles on our faces. When we walk through the door, Natalie’s mother is sitting by the window, sewing one of Natalie’s dresses. It suddenly occurs to me how this woman is my great-grandmother. I’m just thinking how cool it is, when she looks up at us. “Thank you for watching Natalie for the day, Camila.” I tell her it was no problem, and before she can ask about my mother again, I make up a story about how I was here on vacation and must have gotten lost on my way back to my hotel yesterday. Natalie’s mother seems to buy it, so she tells me to get my clothes and she can drive me to the place I was staying. I tell her that’s not necessary, and she finally agrees to let me walk there with Natalie. I gather my clothes and begin walking with Natalie, neither of us really knowing where we’re going. “So, how are we going to get you back -- or should I say forward?” she asks me. I sit down on a bench next to the walkway and look at her. I want to tell her that I have no idea and that I don’t think I’ll ever get back, but I don’t want to scare her. So instead I just shrug and keep quiet. Natalie sits down next to me and looks down at her hands. After a couple of minutes of silence, she looks up at me. “Staring contest?” she asks me. I manage a small laugh and say sure. I’m able keep my eyes open for fifteen seconds until I have to blink. “Want to try again?” Natalie asks, obviously proud of herself for winning. I accept, and this time manage to hold it for about twenty seconds. But suddenly I see white, then black, then -- I quickly close my eyes, and when I open them Natalie is staring at me. “What happened?” I ask her, and she jumps up. “You were probably going forward in time!” My eyes widen as I realize that when I was going to the past, the same black and white flashing had occurred. She quickly sits down again and we begin to stare. Within twenty seconds, I see the black and white flashing. I reach out to hug Natalie when suddenly I’m back on the couch, with Mollie on her phone and all of my family and friends hugging each other and wishing everyone a happy new year. I smile, but at the same time I feel like crying. I’ll miss Natalie a lot, but I’m still happy that I get to be back where I belong. I look into my locket and see Natalie’s face. I smile knowing that she’ll be with me wherever -- and whenever -- I go.     

 

One year later

As I get ready for the New Year’s Party, I take my glittery top from my closet. As I’m about to close the door, my eyes linger on the pale pink dress given to me by my great grandmother. I put my glittery top down and pull on the dress. I smile and when I close my eyes I can see Natalie and I, holding hands and eating our ice cream. I go downstairs, and start counting down to midnight with everyone else. When we get to zero, I see a flash of black, then white, then black again…

State
CA
Zip Code
95035