I wake up and slam my fist on the alarm clock, feeling one of the buttons crack underneath my hand.
My mom rushes into my room flustered and confused, inquiring as to what caused the loud thud. I roll over and groan to her that I’m skipping school today. She tries to comfort me, encouraging me to go to school – like she usually does – but I just ignore her and fall back asleep
About an hour later I hear the faint, humming chorus of “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, which is incredibly bizarre, since I just hammered my fist into my alarm clock about an hour ago. Plus, why would I ever make this song my alarm?
My mom once again flurries into my room, but this time she is persistent. She yanks the covers off me and turns all the lights on to signify that I need to get up. I yell to her that I’m still not going to school as she walks out of my room.
She comes back less than ten minutes later with a freezing cold rag that she throws in my face. In a burst of anger, I jump out of bed to see my mom standing there wearing a two-piece suit. It’s a bleak gray pencil skirt and matching jacket with some over-emphasized shoulder pads.
“Trying out a new look today? How are you gonna run a business in a skirt?” I ask sarcastically. I could honestly care less about what she is wearing, I just know that questioning her change in fashion choices will get a rise out of her.
“Don’t get smart with me, you know I’m just the assistant. Now get up, the bus gets here in twenty minutes and you can’t be late again.” She quickly announces as she hurries out the door.
The bus? I haven’t taken the bus since my sophomore year. Did my car break down and I just can’t remember it? I reach for my phone to text somebody for a ride, but I can’t find it anywhere.
I try not to worry about my phone and linger towards my closet to pick out an outfit, but I don’t recognize most of these clothes. It’s all denim and colorful patterns. I have no idea what’s happening, but honestly, I’m too exhausted to care.
I throw on a pair of acid-wash baggy jeans and an oversized dull-red sweater, and stumble into the bathroom, looking for my contacts. After squinting and searching all around the bathroom I give up and cry out to my dad.
“Do you know where my contacts are? I can’t find them anywhere.”
Radio silence. I guess he isn’t home. I find my glasses and look in the mirror and – WHY is my hair so large? I run out into the kitchen, eager to find someone to tell me what is going on.
In the midst of a panic, I run directly into my father, who is reading the daily newspaper. I look at the top of the paper that read: April 15, 1989.
“1989?” I stutter in confusion.
“Yes dear, now go finish getting ready. You’re about to miss the bus. Your hair looks very nice today, by the way.”
Just as the words left his mouth, the bus sped past my house.
“Oh, guess I spoke too soon. You can catch a ride with the Jameson’s kid. What’s his name again? Matty? Something that starts with an M, I think. Oh well, I just won’t tell your mother of course, because you know what she thinks of him and his motorbike.”
I mindlessly nod along to everything my dad is saying but honestly, I’m not processing a single word.
I rush into my room, still utterly confused on how I managed to wake up in 1989. I throw my hair up with a scrunchie and hurry out the door to find whoever this motorbike kid is.
I step outside and feel the cool April wind press against my skin. Even though it’s spring, there is a bite in the air, whereas usually it’s hot and sunny. I turn to go back inside so I can layer up my outfit when I feel a hand on my shoulder, causing me to jump and hit my head on the doorframe.
While holding my head in pain, I flutter my eyes open to see someone tall standing in front of me. The soft wind gently pushes the brown shaggy curls out of his face.
“Hey, sorry to scare you. Your dad said you needed a ride? Looks like you need a jacket as well,” he spoke as he handed me a leather jacket with the name “Mikey” stitched on the left arm.
Ah, Mikey, not Matty. Dad always had a problem with names.
“Oh thanks, I’ve just been kind of disoriented today. Thanks for the jacket, Mikey,” I said, trying to sound as in control as possible.
“No problem, that’s what I’m here for.”
Mikey hops onto his motorcycle and then taps the seat behind him, signaling for me to get on. I hesitantly hop onto the bike. As I’m getting on the seat, Mikey grabs my arms and wraps them around his torso.
“Hold on.” he says as he revs the engine and speeds off down the street.
After about 15 minutes of my mind racing as fast as the motorcycle, I have a jumbled explanation as to what is going on. I hit my alarm at 6:30 am, like I do every morning, and for some inexplicable reason, I was thrown directly into something that feels like a very bad 80’s film. But, why would the universe decide to send me to 1989?
I’m in such a dazed state that I don’t even realize that we’ve stopped moving, and have arrived at a high school. My high school. This is way too weird.
I attempt to get off the bike and Mikey sees me struggling, so he practically picks me up to help me down.
As he does this, he laughs, saying, “Hurt yourself playing softball again? I told you, you gotta go easy. Especially with recruiting season coming up.”
I force out a laugh, “That’s exactly what happened! I better skip practice tonight.”
Except that’s not what happened. I don’t even know if there’s softball practice tonight. In fact, I have never played softball once in my life, because I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was eight. I’ve never even had the time for another sport. What is going on?
As I’m pondering the situation, we start to walk towards the school and I see girls dressed in the most outrageous outfits. Lots of denim on denim, obnoxious neons, and over the top accessories. Mikey and I have plain outfits on compared to everyone else, which makes us stick out like a sore thumb.
A crowd of people come up to us, asking generic small talk questions.
What did you do this weekend? How did you do on last week’s test? Have you heard about Suzie and Jamie? They’re totally a thing now!
I stagger through the conversation until the morning bell rings. I start to walk into the school when I feel someone tug on my hand. Mikey quickly spins me towards him, barely leaving any space between us.
“I’ll catch you after school, right Jenny?”
I am caught of guard for the millionth time today, and panicking, I blurt out a yes and run off into the school.
Tears started to well up in my eyes, and my heart starts pounding so hard it makes me sick to my stomach.
My name isn’t Jenny.