The two little ones hugged; the blonde did so very enthusiastically. “You’re here!” They both bounced back over to where my parents stood.
“I’m hoping the weather holds up, Donna,” Mom called to the woman who walked a few paces behind her daughter. Everything started clicking in my brain, but nothing made sense. Aunt Donna, Laura, my mom, Dad, that little girl with her chubby cheeks…
I was looking at the scene of my birthday party over 30 years ago. Could they hear me? “Mom!” I shouted, “Mo-o-o-o-om!” but she didn’t respond. In fact no one even reacted, save for the little blonde girl, who looked at me straight away and cocked her head to the side. I saw into the deep blue of her eyes and felt an indescribable connection. We just stood there, staring, until her attention was diverted.
“Kirsten, here’s a birthday present!” Aunt Donna said, handing over a large box covered in blue paper adorned with pictures of pound puppies and the words “Celebrate!”
“Go ahead, you can open that one now before anyone comes,” Mom said.
Within moments, the wrapping paper was torn to shreds, thrown all over the deck. “Dolly!”
Laura, standing directly behind the scene, said, in an authoritative tone, “Yes. I have a Cabbage Patch Kid too. Her name is Frieda. They will be best friends.”
I turned when unfamiliar voices started coming closer: several other families, kids who I didn’t recognize, cousins who I hadn’t seen in ages, aunts and uncles who looked so different. My parents greeted them all, then the majority of the adults said “Happy birthday,” as they headed back to the parking lot, leaving their toddlers to yell and run on the beach, right in front of where I stood.
The kids all played unorganized games of tag, newcomers just joining in as they came, the children squealed with laughter. There were no specific, thematic activities planned, like nowadays.
Imaginations abounded, and yells of, “I’m a cat!” “I’m a princess!” “I’m an ice cream sundae!” competed with crashing waves.
I took another look at my family, who stood on the deck next to the familiar cabana, for the first time noticing that it was painted yellow, not purple.
My gaze turned toward the water; the calm sound contradicting the excited children. The silver orb was over to my left, though I hadn’t seen it until just now. I felt a pull. It was a sensation that I HAD to climb aboard. In the doorway that had been opened for me, I glanced back for just one more look at the children playing.
There she stood, grounded, staring at me amongst the flurry of other toddlers, all chubby-cheeked and pig-tailed. Not a word escaped her lips, but I knew.
I returned to my vessel to see that there was now only one button on the console. It was labeled “Home.” I pressed it, then closed my eyes while the ship started shaking again.
As it subsided, I opened one eye, and saw the pale green of my bedroom walls surrounding me. The television was still on, repeating the same movie that I had been watching earlier. I sat up, the remote in my hand to turn it off. Before I did so, however, I felt the need to watch the man, who looked less weary and sad than earlier. As he entered the orb once again, I saw it: my yellow hair tie, which was wrapped around the lever.
He turned to the camera and winked.
This story was created from the prompt, “Get into your time machine, press the start button, zoom back and witness yourself at play” by Anne Kelly-Edmunds, 8/4/16, with whom I have the great pleasure of having as a writing instructor/facilitator at the North Shore Public Library.
Using this “story spark,” see where your own writing takes you! I would love to hear your ideas… Comment below or leave me a message.