TUESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2009, 12:15 P.M.
“How far back should I go?” I asked Adam.
We kept a good distance between us and the long line of kids gathering around the polar bears.
“Thirty minutes?” Adam suggested.
“Hey, let that go!” Holly snatched the bag of candy one of the campers had swiped from a toddler’s stroller and threw an exasperated look in my direction. “It’d be nice if you would actually watch your group of kids.”
“Sorry, Hol.” I scooped Hunter up before his kleptomaniac habits got any worse. “Hold up your hands,” I told him.
He grinned a toothless smile and opened his chubby hands in front of my face. “See? Nothing.”
“Let’s keep it that way, all right? You don’t need to take other people’s stuff.” I set the kid back down and gave him a shove toward the others, who were heading for the large stretch of grass reserved for campers having lunch at the zoo.
“Holly Flynn,” I said, grabbing her hand and twining her fingers in mine.
She spun around to face me. “You have a soft spot for the klepto kid, don’t you?”
I smiled at her and shrugged. “Maybe.”
Her face relaxed and she tugged on the front of my shirt, pulling me closer before kissing my cheek. “So … what are you doing tonight?”
“Um … I’ve got plans with this really pretty blond chick.” Except I couldn’t remember what we had planned. “It’s a … surprise.”
“You’re so full of it.” She laughed and shook her head. “I can’t believe you forgot your promise to spend an entire evening with me reciting Shakespeare … in French … backwards. Then we were supposed to watch Titanic and Notting Hill.”
“I must have been drunk when I said that.” I glanced over Holly’s shoulder before kissing her quickly on the mouth. “But I’ll agree to Notting Hill.”
She rolled her eyes. “We’re supposed to go see that band with your friends, remember?”
A little girl from Holly’s group tugged on her arm and pointed toward the bathroom. I darted around her before we could discuss my inability to make plans two weeks in advance and actually remember them two weeks later.
“Yo, Jackson, over here,” Adam said, nodding toward a tree.
Time for precise and exact time-travel planning.
“Are you coming with us to see that band tonight?” I asked.
What I really wanted to know was if he remembered it.
“Um … let’s see. Spend an evening with your high school friends who, I’ve heard, are like a real-life version of Gossip Girl? Not to mention blowing an entire paycheck on an appetizer and a couple drinks?” He shook his head and smiled. “What do you think?”
“I see your point. How about we hang out in your and Holly’s neighborhood tomorrow?”
“All right, on with it. I can’t eat while smelling camel ass, so we might as well experiment now.”
Adam tossed me my journal and threw a pen on top. “Write down your goal, because time travel without a goal is just—”
“Reckless,” I finished for him, trying not to groan.
“The gift shop is right behind us. I’ve been watching for the last hour and the same girl’s at the register.”
“You’ve been checking her out, haven’t you?”
Adam rolled his eyes and pushed his dark hair from his forehead. “Okay, so you set your stopwatch and then jump back thirty minutes. You go into the gift shop and do whatever it is you do so a girl remembers your name.”
“It’s called flirting,” I said quietly so no one else would hear. Then I focused on writing my notes before Holly got back from the bathroom.
Goal: Test theory on someone who has no knowledge of the experiment.
Theory: Events and occurrences, including human interaction, while traveling into the past will NOT affect the present.
Non-geek-speak translation: I jump back thirty minutes in time, flirt with the girl in the shop, jump back to present time, walk back into the store, and see if she knows me.
But Adam Silverman, winner of the 2009 National Science Fair and a soon-to-be MIT freshman, won’t confirm this conclusion until we’ve tried it from Every. Single. Angle. Honestly, I don’t really mind. Sometimes it’s fun, and until a few months ago, nobody except me knew what I could do. Now that the number has doubled, I feel a little bit less like a freak.
And a little less lonely.
But I’ve never been friends with a science geek before. Although Adam’s more of the bad-boy-hacking-into-government-websites kinda geek. Which is beyond cool, in my opinion.
“Do you know for sure you can jump back exactly thirty minutes?” Adam asked.
I shrugged. “Yeah, probably.”
“Just make sure you note the time. I’ll record the seconds you’re sitting here like a vegetable,” Adam said, placing a stopwatch in my hand.
“Is that really what I look like when I jump? How long do you think I’ll be like that?” I asked.
“I’m guessing that a twenty-minute excursion, thirty minutes into the past, will leave you catatonic in the present for about two seconds.”
“Where was I thirty minutes ago, just so I don’t run into myself?”
Adam clicked his stopwatch on and off about ten times before answering me. He’s so totally OCD. “You were inside, looking at the penguins.”
“Okay, I’ll try not to end up over there.”
“We both know you can choose your location if you really concentrate, so don’t give me that I-don’t-know-where-I’ll-end-up shit,” Adam joked.
Maybe he was right, but it’s hard not to think about anything but one place. Just one tiny half-second thought about any other location than the one I was aiming for, and I’d end up there instead.
“Yeah, yeah. You do it, then, if you think it’s so easy.”
I get why someone like Adam is so fascinated by what I can do, but for me, I don’t exactly consider it a superpower. Just a freak-of-nature occurrence. And kind of a scary one, at that.
I glanced at my watch, 12:25 P.M., then closed my eyes and focused on thirty minutes in the past and on this exact spot, though I really, truly have no clue how I do this.
The first time I jumped was about eight months ago, during my first semester of college. I was sitting in the middle of a French poetry class. I nodded off for a few minutes and woke up to a cold breeze and a door slamming me in the face. I was standing in front of my dorm. Before I even had a chance to panic, I was right back in class again.
Then I panicked.
Now it’s fun, for the most part. Even though I still have no idea what day or time I traveled to that very first jump. As of today, my known record jump has climbed from six hours to forty-eight hours in the past. Jumping to the future has yet to work, but I’m not going to stop trying.
The familiar sensation of being pulled into two pieces took over. I held my breath and waited for it to stop. It’s never pleasant, but you get used to it.
Copyright © 2011 by Julie Cross
JULIE CROSS lives in central Illinois with her husband and three children where she works as a YMCA Gymnastics Program Director. She never considered writing professionally until May of 2009. Since then, she hasn’t gone a day without writing. Tempest is her first novel.