Changing the Future, a Story
“Who are you?” Dave asked.
The woman was white—from her long hair and porcellaneous skin, to her long gossamer gown that revealed a thin but shapely body. White light glowed around her like a bright aura. It hurt my eyes and made me shield them with a hand.
“Come,” she said. “You mustn’t be seen with me.” She lifted an arm. Vree’s house and backyard vanished.
My bedroom appeared. I was at my desk, sitting at my blue Remington typewriter. Dave and the woman stood next to each other at the right side of my desk.
Someone knocked at my door behind me.
It opened and my mom called me to supper.
Dave and the woman vanished.
I hurried to eat and hurried back to my typewriter. Ridgewood was there but the people I knew were gone. No Dave and Amy, no Lenny or Riley or Cheryl—no band called ARC. Even their parents were gone.
The sinkhole was gone too.
For several days, I looked for my friends.
I finally gave up and went home, lost and confused. At school, I talked to my creative writing teacher about being stuck on my story. She read what I had, told me it was good, and said I needed to plan my story from beginning to end. Then I would not be lost.
But it just happens, I told her.
Control, she said. That is what it takes to write stories.
For the rest of the school year I stayed away from Ridgewood and stopped writing. I developed a stronger passion for making drawings and paintings, so writing became less important to me. By summer vacation, I no longer thought about Vree, Dave, and the others until I dreamed about Vree.
I was at the sinkhole in Vree’s backyard. A Ridgewood police officer questioned me about her disappearance. I was unable to answer his questions. Vree’s dad appeared and said she had gone to Finland to live with relatives.
They left me alone at the sinkhole. At the bottom, a woman in a wheelchair looked up at me and waved. White light bathed her. Then she and the light vanished.
After I awoke, I wrote the following short story about Vree.
The amnesic young woman known as Jane Doe slumped in her oversized wicker wheelchair. Rachel Pennwater, sister of Dr. Henry Pennwater, had parked her chair again in front of the parlor’s largest window so she could look out at the hilly, tree-lined neighborhood. Rachel took her there every afternoon and claimed looking at the people and gasoline automobiles that puttered along the woodland section of Pittsburgh could help bring back memories of her past.
Jane’s mind was blank, though she was coherent for the moment; the regimen of drugs would begin again after supper. She wished to be painless and drug free. The medicine kept her from thinking.
She squinted past the silver-gray skylight stabbing through the large window. It was July, but the city sky looked far from being summery. Thunder sounded. A darkened sheet of low-sailing clouds threatened to pour down rain. Lightning lit up the view outdoors for a moment and she saw a figure beyond the sloping lawn that ran to Henry Pennwater’s black wrought iron gate. A young man, a teenager perhaps, was dressed in a long black raincoat and stood at the bars. Two boys in yellow plastic raincoats scurried past him on the sidewalk. He looked through the bars at the house and the window. Then he waved a short, firm and emphatic wave at her.
A sudden flash of lightning and clap of thunder made her shoulders jump, but it was the young man now striding through the gate and heading to the front door that made her heart beat faster.
He looked familiar.
She balled her hands into tight fists and waited for the sound of the doorbell.