Time machine. A sweatshirt. Something thick and metal so I can bash in Jenny Martin’s knees. I wish I had any of these things instead of this blossom of blood-red punch blooming in the middle of my new cream-colored Frightened Rabbit concert tee. A freshman walks into the girls’ bathroom—where I stand before the cracked, murky mirror—and then runs out screaming. I guess I can’t blame her. I do sort of resemble one of those victims in that TV cop drama my dad loves so much.
After performing a sort of contortionist gymnastics routine getting my shirt under the faucet then into the electric hand dryer, I leave the bathroom. The stain is still there, and I’m pissed. I’d spent thirty minutes in line and missed the band’s opener to get this t-shirt. It’s pretty much my all-time favorite band t-shirt, and Jenny Martin didn’t even care that she ruined it. After she rounded the corner and plowed into me with her mug of pomegranate juice (What high-schooler drinks out of a mug? And a mug of pomegranate juice?), she couldn’t even say she was sorry. She only said, “Oops. Hope I didn’t ruin your dorky little band shirt.”
I’d really like to bash in her knees.
But really, the shirt thing wouldn’t be such a big deal if I hadn’t already failed a math test and argued with my best friend Dean during history class. It’s really been a crap day. I just want to disappear.
The bell rings, and I trudge to class. I’m almost there when I see it. A kaleidoscope is just lying there in the hallway. I lean over and pick it up. It’s so bright it practically glows. Greens, yellows, and reds in flowery designs all over the outside. I hold it up and look through the end.
After a moment, I lower it then raise it again.
I do this once more. Because it can’t be right.
Instead of seeing a puzzle of one hundred different brightly-colored pieces, I see an empty road, stretching into the mist. A forest of tangled tree branches hangs overhead, and a mossy green grass carpets the ground alongside the road. Up ahead in the distance shines a bright, golden light. I think it’s a car approaching.
I turn the kaleidoscope one click to the right. But nothing happens. The road remains and the car is still just a bright light on the horizon. I click it twice now. Still nothing changes.
I lower the kaleidoscope, and instantly my muscles freeze. I’m no longer in the school hallway; I’m on the side of that deserted road, standing next to a puddle. I jerk the kaleidoscope up, but the inside is blank. I slowly lower it, and I’m still by the side of the road.
The car has begun moving. My heart beats wildly as the headlights get closer and closer.
When the car slows to a stop next to me, I look over into the window, and…