Time Marches On
Time Marches On
I really didn’t mean to push those buttons, but this girl just can’t always control herself. “Why do you have to be so obstinate?” my mother sighed after every punishment for my sassy and stubborn ways. However, I never seemed to learn my lesson. So, when my grandfather had built a time machine of all things, he was so excited and he let my brother and I go inside of it to show it off. He pointed to the dials and lever that operated it. The whole point was for him to go back and tell his younger self not to make the mistakes he had made. First, he would go to when he didn’t do so well on a test or project at school and even graduate from high school with honors. Second, he would go back and prevent his three-year-old son, an uncle I never met, from drowning in a pond. That was a tragedy that still brought tears to his eyes. Then he spoke about keeping Hitler from rising to power, preventing the invention of nuclear weapons, saving Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. from assassination, and transforming his Detroit Lions into a football powerhouse. My grandpa discussed out loud whether or not his plan was a good one.
“All those shows where the time traveler goes and interferes with the past,” he explained, “but totally changes the present, I hope they’re just fiction. I mean, imagine if Hitler never did all the evil he did. Imagine if slavery ended sooner or didn’t even happen at all. I could fix all those problems and make things the way they should have been.” He was so excited over his chances.
The machine had a helmet that you put on your head and your own thoughts told it where in time to go. So, when my grandpa became involved with a conversation with my parents, my brother and I slipped in and I strapped the helmet to my chin. My brother, he pushed the power button and twisted the intra-dimensional (whatever that meant) lever. I guess it primed the time machine and I imagined going back to that moment I fell out of a tree and broke my arm. Well, apparently the machine moved from time to time and place to place. I found my stupid kindergarten self as the machine appeared right next to the tree behind our garage. Wow! I forgot how high up I was. That six-year-old girl, how crazy I was for going up in a dress, was nearing the one branch that would not hold her up. I had only been six for a month and I think the school was on Spring Break.
My brother Jon went out first, but I had to unhook the helmet from my head. Oh no! I had to hurry. I should have sent the machine here five minutes earlier while my feet were still on the ground. My six-year-old self happily sang a chorus of “Miss Mary Mack”. What a pretty voice I had back then! Of course, now it's tremendously gorgeous, so I believed. Running out of the see-through elevator style door, I yelled up to her, “Hey, Mikela...don't climb any further. I'm you but now I'm eight and a half. Grandpa built a time machine. If you keep climbing, you will fall and break your arm. And, you really shouldn't wear a dress climbing a tree. Do you know everyone can see your underwear? It's embarrassing.”
Jon copycatted me. “Yeah. You're an embarrassment.”
“Shut up,” I scolded him plus elbowed him in his ribs. “Stop copying me. I didn't know any better.”
Well, that pretty little girl I was had quite the sassy mouth on her. “You can't tell me what to do. I don't believe you. And, you've got a big ol' ugly head on your shoulders. And, I don't care who can see my underwear.”
“Oo, girl,” I growled at myself. “I'm your older and wiser self. My head isn't ugly because it's the same head as yours.” When I was in that tree, my hair had two braided pony tails with the hair-ties that had those marble-sized balls at the ends. I had to admit, I was quite the cutie. Now, I wore my hair in tiny braids with the little beads at the end so it looked like a rainbow surrounded me. Instead of cute hair, I wanted a more serious, sophisticated look because I was done with all of my kindergarten ways.
“Nuh-uh. My head's right where it's supposed to be and so it can't be the same. My head is pretty, but yours is an ugly one.” I couldn't believe I would talk to myself that way.
“Listen to me, you're gonna fall if you keep climbing. Don't make me come up there and get you!”
She stuck her tongue out at me. I never realized I was such a handful...luckily, I've grown out of that stage, pretty much anyway. I had the good mind to whip that little girl's butt and teach her some manners. Little Mikela continued to inch up closer to that fateful branch and I didn't want to see her fall, although it would serve her right. My younger brother, only six-years-old himself, found all of this so funny. He dropped on the ground breaking one of his guts—or was he busting it laughing so hard. I don't know, but his reaction only encouraged my younger self to ignore me.
“Get down here right now, young lady or I'll come up there and whip you good.” I said it like I really meant it. Why did I have to be so stubborn? Now I know why my mom and dad punished me like they did. Man...I was so obstinate, as my mother would say.
“No!” that little girl said. She reached up for that branch and I heard the snap. And, I saw her tumble down. Somehow I went down an area where no other branches were below and I heard the tiny thud of her body hitting the ground below. Who'd have thought that grass could be so hard? Then, I winced at the crack that the bone in her wrist and lower arm made as it fractured in two spots.
I cried some as I remembered how painful the arm-break was. My legs were all scraped up from not wearing pants or something to protect my skin from the tree. It was a miracle I didn't land on my head and break my neck. She screamed and cried for her mom...well, my mom. Going over to her and noticing how twisted her arm was, I almost threw up at the sight. I told her, “Why didn't you listen to me? I tried to warn you.” Only, she ignored me but continued to wail in hopes of getting her mom's attention.
Then, my mom came out with my then 3-year-old brother running with a panic look on her face. I had to give her credit. She knew when my crying was truly a serious matter or not a big deal. She only looked at me and my six-year-old brother, but not recognizing us as her children. This was almost three years earlier from when my brother and I took off in the time machine. However, when six-year-old Jon met three-year-old Jon waddling out in his toddler diaper, the kind you just pull on when you're learning how to use the potty, and they just looked at each other and smiled. However, the older version of my brother couldn't stand to see himself in a diaper. I mean, what kid wants to remember those diaper days, right? He dashed back into the time machine.
My mom had comforted my younger self, and since she was trained in first aid, understood she didn't want to move her daughter without immobilizing her arm somehow. Turning to me, she asked me, “Hey, there. You look familiar...almost an older version of my daughter. Can you watch her while I go get something for her arm? Did she fall out of the tree?”
“Yeah. I tried to warn her. Because I'm...” I almost told her that I was her daughter, just eight and a half now.
However, she noticed the time machine in the backyard. “You are my daughter, aren't you?” I nodded. “Grandpa must've finished his time machine and you must have messed with it. You won't be in trouble now, but when you get back to your regular time, you certainly will go on punishment.”
I almost opened my mouth to say something sassy, but then I remembered how I didn't like it when my younger self did it to me. Politely, I accepted my fate. “Yes, ma'am. You know, I never realized how sassy I was.”
“What were you doing messing with Grandpa's time machine?” my mother asked.
“I wanted to warn myself. So I wouldn't break my arm. It's broken in two places. But, she wouldn't listen to me. She was...”
“Let me guess, obstinate. She was obstinate.” It was like my mom read my mind.
“Oh, yes. Obstinate. I just have to warn you though, I'm gonna be obstinate for at least three years almost. When I go back to my regular time, I plan on being less obstinate.”
My mom glanced over at the time machine and I saw my brother with his head strapped in the helmet. She suggested, “Uh, I think you better hurry up and get in there...who knows where he'll take that thing.”
I gave her a quick hug and looked down at my younger self, so hurt and just screaming her head off. “You...don't be so obstinate.” Then, I sprinted towards the machine and shoved open the door. “Get out of that chair, Jon.”
As I was undoing the straps to the helmet, he yelled in protest. “Hey! I wanna go see those dinosaurs.”
“No. We shouldn't have taken Grandpa's machine.” I pushed him away from the seat. “Get the dial and lever ready.” Fixing the helmet to my noggin, we left my backyard. The time machine reappeared in my grandparent's basement right where it was supposed to be. My whole family was there waiting for me.
As soon as I stepped through the door, my mother announced the consequence of my actions. “Okay...I've been waiting for this punishment for almost three years, Mikela. You're grounded for a whole month.” I just nodded my head, tempted to whine and complain. Later, my family would explain why it's important to not mess with time. Afterwards, we wished my Grandpa good luck in stopping Hitler...unfortunately, he was unsuccessful. Time had marched on as normal.