Again with the waking me up in the middle of the night. The room hums with that peculiar buzz as The Granddaughter shimmers before me.
“Hi,” I say, sitting up and rubbing my eyes. I like the way the whole room is lit up by her presence.
“Hello, Jessica, how is your life this evening?”
“Good,” I reply, ignoring her weird syntax. “Daddy’s home, so things are normal again.” Even as I say it, I realize it’s not true, just something our family says when Dad’s not working and he’s in town. Things haven’t been normal since last spring when everything changed because of one stupid night when I was feeling crazy and invincible. Just one night.
“One night can change everything,” The Granddaughter says, and I remember she’s reading my mind. Okay, fine, read my mind. I talk anyway because telepathically communicating with her kind of freaks me out.
“It’s over, doesn’t anyone get it? I lived, I didn’t die. How much time does it take to get over it?” I wonder what Michael’s answer to that question would be.
“You must find your own answers, Jessica. The answers to your life don’t live in others. And remember, there’s no such thing as time. Not really. It is a conventional, man-made concept.”
“You said that before. That there is no time, but you wouldn’t talk about it then. Why are you talking about it now?”
“I had to be certain I would not disrupt any waves from this Consciousness, this Reality, as you call it. From this Time, if you insist on calling it that. I have been assured
it is safe for me to discuss almost anything with you. Others perceive you as fragile. If you were to tell all of your significant others of me, it has been calculated that there is a 92.4% chance that you would not be believed, as Early Humanoids of your lifespace are not very evolved.”
I stare, my mouth hanging open, until I remember to close it. Does she know she’s being rude? Does she care?
“I am an Early Humanoid!” I reply sarcastically, finding myself thinking reprimanding and disturbingly mothering thoughts about her behavior. I push the feeling away, wondering if she thinks I’m insane.
“I do not believe that you are mentally incapacitated, Jessica. Do not assume that is my thought of you. I am from a different construct, and my construct is more advanced than yours so I must reflect the information I have to share with you in a way for you to understand. It is like speaking two languages at once. You might say that I am translating this information to you so you will understand. Where I am from, communication is a simple, singular and universal thing, and all understanding is one with all living beings, including plants and single-celled organisms. Here I must fragment what I know just to communicate with humanoids of your development. Do you realize how difficult it is for me to be here speaking with you, Jessica? It takes a great deal of focused concentration.”
Now I’m really insulted. “Why are you here?” I ask. “How come you keep coming back? You already warned me about Jimmy! Is there something else you’ve forgotten to tell me, like that I’m supposed to kill my parents in my sleep or something?”
I forget to keep my voice low and remember my parents asleep down the hall. I hope they didn’t hear that. I cough to cover my words.
“I see you’re displaying humor. Or is it sarcasm? I have never been able to differentiate the two.” She speaks so Spock-like I’m beginning to feel like I’m losing it, as if she isn’t real and this is just a bad drug trip of some kind. Except for the hospital meds I’ve never taken drugs, but I’m thinking it must be something like this, only freakier.
She must sense my feelings because she tells me, “I am here because you make a difference, Jessica. You are one of the keys to a future generation of people who will essentially save this planet and along that path develop into a more cognizant being, a being one with the universe much as I am. The being that the people of your Time call aliens.”
I suck in my breath, not really wanting to hear anymore. Don’t they kill people with this kind of classified information? I feel like covering my ears with my hands and singing la-la-la to drown out her voice but she hurries on.
“I am a human of the future, Jessica, as I have explained. My people are Earthlings, or were once born of this planet called Earth. But Jimmy Becker is not of the bloodline and DNA needed to sustain the race of humankind. I tell you this catastrophic news and your response is to go on an amusement with him . . . a ‘date.’ I fail to understand your logic.”
Logic, I think. Logic? I’m a sixteen year old with a shimmery blue and silver talking alien in my bedroom and she wants to know why I’m not being logical? I almost want to laugh and a small smile indents her chevron mouth. Right then I realize, I don’t want to believe in her. How can I have anything whatever to do with the future? I’m barely here myself. I look at the indentation on my wrist where a razor blade once sliced through my skin and brought forth a bubbling red eruption, the last thing I remember seeing as I keeled over on the upstairs bathroom floor. Surgery has since hidden much of the mark deep inside my skin, but I know what the indentation is. I know what happened.
I glare up at her, defiant. Now she knows why I won’t obey her ridiculous command. There’s no way I can have any affect on the world whatsoever. She shimmers away without another word or thought, her blue effervescent light darker than usual.
I’m twisting my bandanna into a knot as I sit across from Michael. I’m sorry I told him. Michael senses something is wrong so he waits. With every second of his breath I can feel the knot loosening, the words ready to tumble out.
“I’m not crazy, if that’s what you’re thinking,” I say forcefully. “Though she must think I’m crazy, cuz she said if I told anyone about her, there’s like a 99.9% chance that no one would believe me anyway. Doesn’t she have a clue she’s being rude when she says shit like that?”
I watch Michael frantically flip through his notes. He lands on an informed page, and sits back in his seat, his calm self again.
“Yes, your . . . great-great-great-great et cetera grand-daughter, from the future, is it? Go on. How does that make you feel when she says those things to you?”
I just want to smack him one, that’s how I feel. Sometimes when I get up in the morning to pee, I hear Michael asking me that question: And how does that make you feel? It’s his favorite line, and I usually can throw him a bone as he adds my feelings to his notes, but today I’m not playing this stupid Sims game anymore. Now that I’m doubting The Granddaughter, this is real creepy stuff, and Michael has to quit playing therapist and start being one.
“Why don’t you tell me what I’m supposed to feel, Michael? Isn’t that what we do? I say something, you get all sad and disappointed about it, I fix it, you say, now you’re getting there Jessie, good girl Jessie, and then I go home?”
The words hang there, more anger in them than I realize. But it’s not just Michael. It’s The Granddaughter. I tossed and turned all last night after she left, wondering if I was crazy. Maybe I am nuts. Michael drops his pen and puts down his yellow writing tablet. He takes off his glasses, leans forward in his chair. Stares at me.
“Why don’t you tell me what you really feel, Jessie, for once?” Michael challenges. The sweet gazelle of Michael has suddenly turned into a hungry lion. I feel myself pressing against the chair, trying to escape the pounce. It’s too late.
Feelings burst to the surface in a sweaty rush of energy. I feel actual pain, I think. This question is giving me real pain. It’s hard to breathe and I’m squirming all over the place. How do I feel? How do I feel? I feel like my head is going to explode if I see that weird alien chick one more time. I feel as if I’m losing my mind, aren’t I just? I feel as if my life will never get back to normal, that Mother will never forgive me and Dad will never acknowledge what happened. I feel trapped by what I’ve done.
“Scared,” I say in a tiny voice, realizing that this small word sums it up for me. This is who I really am. Hello, I’m Scared. What’s your name?
“I feel scared about what I did,” I say it louder this time, and I’m surprised. That’s not what I thought I was feeling at all. I always thought I felt triumphant. What’s Scared doing here, a part of me?
Michael rubs his eyes and bends his head forward and I’m trying to see his face, to make out the next move, but the game has crashed all around me. Besides, I don’t need to see him. I know that Michael is the triumphant one, but his features have become a blur. I can’t see anything but water, tears filling my own eyes, hot and wet as they careen down my face. Game over, and I am ruined.