Here & Now 13

31

It was a beautiful day to be outside but I could tell my mom was still a bit tense about the whole college situation. She leaned against my back while I thumbed through the pages of a book that I really had no intention of reading. “Miri, why did you have the sudden change of heart?” She casually asked as she gazed up at the sky. “Everything was going according to plan just a few days ago.” I couldn’t tell her the truth obviously…she’d probably have me committed somewhere. I turned and faced her. “I had a nightmare that I lost you and Dad. It felt so real and I guess it just made me appreciate our family more than ever.” I sighed and hoped she would believe me. “Oh, Miri.” She leaned forward and kissed my forehead. “I couldn’t ask for a sweeter kid. I’ll stop bringing it up…for now. We should just enjoy the rest of our day.”

32

We were working on our tans a little while later when someone walked over to us and blocked out the sun. I used my hand to shield my eyes and peered up at the person standing above me. “Megan?” I gasped. “Scoot over and make some room for your favorite aunt!” She teased before plopping down beside us. “Glad you could finally make it.” Mom muttered from underneath her hat. “You know me, I’m always late.” The way they bantered with each other, it seemed like they’d always been the best of friends.

33

“You know what I realized? The older Miri gets, the more she reminds me of that friend of yours. The one you named her after.” Megan declared suddenly. She’d been playing with my hair and had given me pigtails. I quickly took them out and gathered my hair back into a ponytail. “The original Miriam.” My mom murmured absently with a faraway look in her eyes. “Yes, she looks just like her.” I struggled to keep a straight face while they both examined me curiously. “She could almost be her twin.” Megan pointed out. My mom’s hand went to the locket around her neck and she gave me a look that was full of wonder. “Isn’t life strange sometimes?” She asked. I shrugged and smiled. “It sure is.” I put my arms around both of them. “But the only thing that really matters is the here and now.”

The End.

Here & Now 12

28

A dramatic theme song jerked me awake. I opened my eyes and could see the tv from where I was resting on the couch…some kind of action movie had just ended and the credits were scrolling across the screen. I was situating myself into a upright position when I heard a door close and footsteps come up behind me. “Hey sleepyhead, it’s time to get up! I’m blowing off work today so we can go to the beach.” I whirled around to find my mom wearing a bathing frock, her favorite floppy hat, and a huge smile on her face. “Mom?” I gasped as I went to her. “Are you really here right now?” She lifted an eyebrow then smirked at me. “Where else would I be?”

29

There was laughter from the kitchen then. “Who’s in there?” I took a step back in surprise. “Sweetheart, it’s only your dad and Ashley.” Mom replied. “Really? Dad’s here too?” I squealed. “I can’t believe this! It worked!” My mother gave me a look of concern. “Miri…you seem really disoriented. You’re not doing drugs, right?” I laughed at her question and shook my head. “No way! I’m just high on life. Especially right now.” I took off into the kitchen and found my dad and aunt leaning against the counters while having a chat. My dad looked up at me and grinned. “Hey kiddo. Did you have a good nap?” I choked back my tears and flew into his arms. “I’m so happy to see you.” I told him as I clutched him tightly. “I’m always really happy to see you too.” He chuckled. “Um…is everything okay?” Ashley whispered to my mom. “I think so.” She murmured back. “She must’ve had a bad dream or something…or maybe she’s just nervous about college this fall.”

30

“College!” I shouted. “Did I get a scholarship?” I asked no one in particular. “Of course you did. We were all here when your acceptance letter came in the mail. Don’t you remember?” Ashley looked really confused. “I don’t want to go.” We had to have this conversation now so it could be avoided on the way home this evening. “But Miriam, that’s just silly! You worked so hard to get into that university and it’s a damn good school. You can’t just throw it all away.” She wailed in frustration. “I want to go to the same school you and Dad did. It’s closer to home and I want to be here.” My father put his arm around her shoulder then and pulled her closer to him. “I don’t see anything wrong with that. We want to do whatever we can to make Miri happy…even if we don’t fully agree with it, right?” He tried to be the voice of reason. “Right.” Mom sighed in defeat. “We’ll talk more about it later, I suppose. We’re wasting daylight as it is…let’s head to the beach!”

Here & Now 11

25

I was afraid to sleep that night…I didn’t want to leave until I knew for sure that I had changed things for the better. I sipped on iced coffees and read Meredith’s fashion magazines until the sun came up then I went out to get breakfast for the both of us. When I returned to our dorm…she was gone. It didn’t take long for me to find her and Gary both in the student lounge. They had their arms around each other and were in deep discussion. I didn’t want to interrupt them so I began backing away but Meredith looked up and called my name then. “Miriam, it’s okay.” She waved for me to come closer. “Stick around, I have some good news to share.”

26

“Gary had a wonderful idea! He sold his motorcycle and now we’re going to use the money as a down payment on a house. Isn’t that great?” She beamed at me. I nodded my head and met Gary’s eyes. I realized he’d traded in his old tees for a nice button up shirt. He looked up at me and gave me an apologetic smile. “Actually it was Miriam’s idea to sell the bike and she wasn’t wrong about it. It’s time for me to step up. I have to be a dad now.” He rested his hand lovingly on Meredith’s stomach. “I’m glad.” I murmured and gazed at the two of them. They looked so happy. “There’s something else.” Meredith told me as she held up her hand and showed me the new ring on her finger. “We’re getting married next weekend!”

27

“Wow! That’s a huge rock!” I told her while I admired the ring. “I’m so happy for you both, congrats!” She stood and took my hands in hers. “Now I have a very important question for you.” Her eyes gleamed with excitement. “Will you be my maid of honor?” I gaped at her. “Really? Me?” Before I could tell her yes, a thought crossed my mind. “I’d love to, Meredith…but I can’t. This is my last day here actually. I’m moving back home. I’m sure Megan would love to step in for me though.” She frowned but seemed to understand. “I’m going to miss you! Please tell me you’ll keep in touch.” She hugged me tight. “Thank you for being so good to me. If I have a daughter, I’m going to name her after you.” Tears threatened to spill as she spoke those words to me. “We’ll see each other again one day.” I reassured her. “I wish you all the best in life…Mom.” I eyed her belly and winked. Now it was time for me to go back.

Here & Now 10

22

I found Megan and Gary at the pub and they looked greatly peeved that I’d interrupted their date. “If you’re going to be sneaking around then you should probably pick a less public place.” I told them haughtily as I sat down at their table. “We’re not sneaking around!” Gary scoffed at my accusation. “We’re just hanging out.” I looked at Megan for confirmation and her cheeks flushed a bright pink. “What he said. We’re just friends.” She insisted weakly and stared down at her hands. “Just cut the crap.” I told them flatly. “I saw you together on the patio. The flirting, the whispering, the kiss on the cheek…I saw it all.” The indignation vanished off both of their faces. “Are you going to tell Meredith?” Megan looked horrified at the thought of it. “Not unless more has happened since then. Have you been sleeping together?” I asked bluntly. “No!” They cried out at the same time.

23

“Good because I have something to tell you both. I know it’s not my place but I feel like I have to do it anyways or it’ll be too late.” I grabbed Gary’s drink and took a big swig of it to give myself the courage to keep going. “Meredith is pregnant.” They gaped at me with shocked expressions. “You’re joking? Right?” Gary practically begged. “No.” I told him solemnly. “You love her, don’t you?” I peered at him out of the corner of my eye. “I do.” He muttered then looked up at Megan. “I’m sorry but I do.” She nodded with a trembling lip. “But no matter how much I love her, I’m not ready for this.” He strummed his fingers on the table nervously. “Yeah, well neither is she.” I replied.

24

“My whole life is over. What am I going to do?” Gary moaned and stared at the wall. Even though he was my father, I was seriously annoyed with him. “The right thing, obviously.” I retorted. “You’re not the only person this affects. You need to get your act together and get rid of that motorcycle. Then do everything you can to take care of your girlfriend who is carrying your child.” I turned my angry gaze to Megan. “You’re going to be there for her too because whether she wants to admit it or not, she’s going to need her sister. Now if you’ll both excuse me, I’m going to check on Meredith because she could really use someone who cares about her to be with her right now.” I got up and left them alone with their thoughts.

Here & Now 9

19

I spent the rest of the day getting to know all about Megan. I found that I really liked her and that made me feel kind of guilty. I understood my mom’s anger but to never tell me that she had a sister…it was crazy. That night I secured the locket around my neck as I climbed into bed. I had to go back and see if I could reason with my family members without telling them too much. I laid down and crossed my fingers over my chest. “Please let this work.” The next time I opened my eyes, I was back in 2000 and I could hear crying from across the room.

20

Meredith was lying across her bed with tears streaming down her face. I took a hesitant step towards her and called her name. “Meredith…what’s wrong?” I whispered. “Oh, it’s nothing.” She sniffed and wiped her face. “What happened to you the other night?” She glanced up at me. “Uh…I started feeling sick myself so I went to my parents’ for the weekend. Sorry I ditched you.” She sat up and shrugged. “It’s okay. I’m used to it.” She gave me a wounded smile. “I love Gary so much but he treats me like dirt. He’s never here when I need him!” I hurried to her side and sat next to her. “Well, I’m here. Is there anything I can do to help?” I asked. “No, Miriam. Not unless you can magically make Gary appear so I can tell him that we’re having a baby.” She sighed and put her face in her hands. “You’re pregnant?” I gasped. “Yup. See for yourself.” She showed me the pink positive sign on the pregnancy test. “Congratulations?” I joked awkwardly.

21

“I wish.” Meredith frowned. “Gary isn’t ready to settle down and help me raise this kid. I’ll have to quit school and find a job. How am I going to be able to do it on my own?” She began tearing up again. I couldn’t stand seeing her cry. I pulled her into my arms and rested my head on top of hers. “Maybe you’re wrong about him…he might surprise you. But you won’t know until you talk to him.” My voice was full of hope as I spoke. “If you see him around campus, will you tell him to come see me?” She whimpered. “Of course I will.” I had a feeling that I already knew where he was.

Here & Now 8

16

I woke up to the sound of Rey calling my name. “Dude, what’s your deal? I’ve been trying to wake you for a good twenty minutes.” She glared at me from the foot of my bed. “What? Why?” I jerked upright. “I think you were having a nightmare. You screamed so loud the walls were practically shaking.” I stared at her with wide eyes. “Miriam, I’m joking.” She shook her head. “Anyways, are you okay now?” I didn’t answer her as I glanced around the room. “Wait…this isn’t right.” Everything was back to normal. It had to be present day again. “Why am I here?” I murmured. Rey snorted in response. “That’s something I ask myself every day.” She smirked. I stood and clasped the locked around my neck. Could it really all have been only a dream? There was only one way to be sure though.

17

“Sorry for bothering you, Rey.” I shrugged apologetically as I searched for my phone. “Now if you’ll excuse me I need to make a phone call.” I’d tried my best not to sound rude but failed. “Yeah, whatever.” She huffed before she stormed off. “Why did I have to get stuck with the weirdo?” I chuckled at her remark then started dialing Ashley’s number. She answered on the second ring and told me how happy she was to hear from me. “Let’s cut to the chase. I know about Megan.” I waited for her to tell me that she didn’t know who I was talking about but instead I heard a sharp intake of breath from Ashley’s side of the line. “How did you find out?” That one sentence confirmed everything. “It doesn’t matter. How do I get in contact with her?” I asked. “Miri, I haven’t seen her in a long time…nearly sixteen years. I’m not sure.” She sighed. “Well find her!” I retorted impatiently. “I want to meet her.”

18

Ashley surprisingly came through for me and later that day I was meeting Megan on the patio of the same pub where she’d been with my father all those years ago. “Miriam.” She smiled warmly at me as she sat down across from me. Then I remembered where I’d seen her before…the sobbing woman. “You were at my mom’s funeral.” Her smile disappeared. “I wanted to speak to you but I knew you were already going through so much. I didn’t want to add to your pain.” I sat back in my chair and crossed my arms. “I want to know everything.” She nodded. “It started with a kiss…right here in this very spot. Then it led to much more and eventually I told your father that he had to choose between us. I was such a silly girl. He never loved me…it was always Meredith. He was on his way back to her when the accident happened.” She wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “Then your mom found out she was pregnant. I finally told her after you were born and she never forgave me. I always thought we would’ve patched things up one day.” She sobbed. I got up and wrapped her into a tight hug. “I’m going to fix this, I swear.” I promised her.

Here & Now 7

13

“You’re only eighteen, right?” Meredith asked me once we made it to the bar. I blushed and nodded. “Don’t worry, Gary will buy us drinks.” She gave me a coy smile and motioned for us to follow her to a table towards the back of the room. There was a guy already sitting there and when he saw Meredith coming towards him, his whole face lit up. “Hey ladies!” He grinned as we took the seats next to him. “Glad you could finally join me.” He teased. “I’m so sorry we’re late…we got distracted.” Meredith winked at me. “This is my boyfriend Gary, Miriam.” She beamed at him proudly. It was my father. “Nice to meet you.” He lifted his glass in greeting but all I could do was stare at him. He ignored my gaping though…he seemed to only have eyes for my mother.

14

I eventually noticed how both Meredith and Megan hung on every single word Gary spoke as he told us about all of the crazy shenanigans that happened with his roommates. Then he began gushing about his new motorcycle and I felt my gut clench with anxiety. “Maybe you should buy a helmet.” I butted into his conversation. “I wouldn’t look as cool then.” He chuckled. “Well, just be careful out there…you never know what could happen.” I mumbled softly and avoided all eye contact. “You’re starting to kill my buzz but you know what, I promise to always drive safe. Is that better?” He couldn’t even keep a straight face. The last thing I wanted to do was argue with him so I agreed with shrug then went back to sipping my drink.

15

A little while later, Gary and Megan went outside for a smoke together and I finally had some alone time with Meredith again. “That’s a really nice locket.” I mentioned. “I have one just like it.” I reached up and realized it was missing from my neck. “I must’ve left it somewhere in our room.” She smiled happily at me. “Gary gave this one to me for our four year anniversary. I’ll never take it off.” Her face abruptly changed to a grimace. “Can you go see what’s taking them so long…suddenly I’m not feeling so well.” She pushed her club soda across the table and leaned back in her chair miserably. “Sure! I’ll be right back.” I hurried to the back patio and was shocked by what I found out there. Gary and Megan were talking intimately and to my horror, he leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. Without speaking a word, I turned then fled back to my dorm room.

Here & Now 6

10

“Hey…freshman. Are you okay?” I felt someone’s hand brush across my forehead. Everything came flooding back at once and I sat up quickly. I met my mother’s concerned gaze. It couldn’t be possible…yet it was. “Yeah. I’m fine.” I told her meekly. “How did you know?” She furrowed her brows in question as she helped me up. “Know what?” I asked dumbly while I regained my footing. She stared at me warily. “You called me Mom.” I blushed and shrugged. “I just meant that you look kind of like my mom.” A smile spread out across her face then. “I’ll take that as a compliment, I guess.” She giggled. “So you didn’t get to tell me before you passed out…what’s your name?” She asked. “Miriam.” Her eyes lit up in approval. “That’s so cute.”

11

There was a brisk knock on the door before it opened and a brunette poked her head inside our room. “Are you ready for lunch, sis?” She chirped in a sweet voice. “Yeah, come on in, Megan.” Meredith waved her inside. “Miriam, this is my sister, Megan. She’s a sophomore.” My eyes were as wide as saucers at this bit of news. “You have a sister?” I mumbled and rubbed my temples. “I didn’t know that…no one ever told me.” They gazed at me like I was from another planet. “You know what, Miriam should probably eat something before she has another fainting spell. We’re going to a diner a few blocks away…they have the best food in town. Do you want to come with us?” Meredith offered. “Sure!” I replied then glanced at my side of the room. “But I don’t think I have anything to wear.” Both girls clapped with glee. “Makeover time!” They squealed and right away they got down to it. Within an hour, I looked like a hotter version of myself. “Oh, I love this song!” Meredith gasped and turned the radio up. “Dance with me!” We twirled around and around while Megan egged us on.

12

Eventually afternoon became evening and we all decided on sandwiches and drinks at the bar with another friend of theirs. I wasn’t in a hurry to leave though, I was trying to cherish every moment I got to spend with Meredith and Megan. It was just so easy to love them…and for the first time in two months, I felt content.

Here & Now 5

7

I woke up to the sound of an energetic pop song blaring on the radio from across the room. It was the very last thing I expected from someone who dressed like Rey. I groaned and blinked rapidly as my gaze settled on the vivid purple wallpaper right in front of me. “That can’t be right.” I mumbled and wiped the sleep from my eyes. It was still there. In fact, everything had been replaced with brightly colored objects. Even the very bed I was sleeping in. All of my stuff was gone including my phone. I jumped up and stomped to the bathroom I shared with my roommate. “Rey, are you seriously hazing me?” I screeched at the top of my lungs and jerked the door open. It was empty.

8

“She is not going to get away with this!” I told myself angrily as I slid a pair of  bunny slippers onto my feet and marched down to the campus office. “My roommate hid all of my stuff and I can’t find my cell phone!” I huffed to the lady sitting behind the desk. “You have a cell phone?” She questioned uncertainly as she eyed my robe and slippers. I was about to start ranting again when I noticed the cork-board on the wall behind her…all of the fliers had the year 2000 on them. “Is this some kind of joke?” I asked, pointing to them. She glanced at them then looked back at me with a raised eyebrow. “What do you mean?” She scratched her head. My heart began pounding loudly in my chest. “What year is it?” I murmured quietly as I clung to the locket around my neck. “2000, duh. Girl, I don’t know what you’re on but I think I want some.” She put her hand over her mouth to stifle a giggle. I turned on my heel and quickly ran back to my dorm room.

9

I opened the door and found myself faced with a young woman’s back as she hummed loudly with the current song that was playing. She was going through the clothes in the closet, looking for something to wear. I knew exactly who she was without her turning around but what I couldn’t figure out was how. I stood there trying to come up with a plausible explanation for what felt like ages before she finally noticed me. “Hey! I didn’t hear you come in!” She whirled around and beamed at me. “So you’re my new roomie, huh? I’m Meredith.” It shouldn’t have came as such a surprise but still I gaped at her in shock. “Mom?” I blurted out right before everything went black.

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