• Seeing Is Believing

    It looked like this was going to be another boring rainy day at my house. There I was upstairs surrounded my dirt, dust, cobwebs, old furniture, and wads of dirty pink attic insulation. I could hear the rain drumming on the roof and running off the eaves. The nails they had used to attach the shake shingles were sticking though all over the place like an upside down pin cushion. The rafters were covered with cobwebs, and the fluorescent light overhead was humming loudly. Dad kept saying he was going to replace it. From the weak glow of the light, I could see around me all the clutter of a family attic.
    I was looking through an old family photo album that I needed for a social studies report, when I stopped at a newspaper clipping showing a crowd of young people. There were lots of teenagers in sixties clothes, wearing long hair and holding signs. Also, there was someone standing on a platform with a huge No More War! sign painted on a backdrop behind him. Oh, yes, this must have been one of the anti-war rallies dad and mom used to go to back during the Vietnam War. I couldn’t believe how young my parents looked and how pretty my mom was. Will I look like her someday? I wondered. They were standing sideways to the camera. Dad seemed to be holding something in his hand, and I could see his hair in a ponytail. That’s when he still had hair.
    This album might work for the report, but I still needed a few more pictures. Digging down into the chest, I scraped the bottom with my fingernails and felt something odd. Wondering what it was, I pushed aside the pictures to find a small sliding panel, which I finished opening. Inside I found a black velvet bag and a yellowed piece of parchment tied with a ribbon. I shook out the contents into my left hand only to find a beautiful silver necklace, well what I supposed was a necklace. And there was a note. I untied the ribbon and slowly opened the delicate parchment. The letter was handwritten in a swirling script that read:
    Dear reader,
    The pendent that you now possess is not your average necklace. Its true name and origin I will not reveal, but this necklace will take you anywhere in time, any place, one time and one time only. Once you open the necklace, it will take you where you wish and return you when you open it again. Take great care not to interfere with past events or contact people who may know you in the future. Dire results could follow.

    Dr. Featherin

    I couldn’t help but laugh at this, time travel, yeah right. Someone thought they would play a joke on whoever bought this old chest, and I was the one who was supposed to fall for it. Well, the joke was on them. I had a pretty necklace out of the deal. I placed the necklace around my neck, admiring the clock and hourglass engraving on the front of the locket. Time travel—it would be fun to go back in time. Lately, I had been wanting to know more about the sixties. I liked the Beatles and Beach Boys and the clothing styles. I even had my own bellbottoms in my closet. More than that, though, I wanted to meet my mom and dad when they were younger, to see what they were like and to see what I might grow up to be.
    As I thought about this, I noticed the locket beginning to tingle. I reached for it and felt it warm and vibrating slightly. What the heck, I thought, what’s in this thing, anyway? I held it in my left hand, feeling the vibration increase in intensity. It felt almost like one of those hand buzzers. I pried open the locket with my right thumbnail and saw for just a split second what looked like swirling gray mist, the kind that comes from dry ice dropped in water. Then the locket seemed to grow larger, and the mist grew with it, suddenly surrounding me. This is too weird, I thought, trying to drop the locket and jump out of the chair. But it was too late. There was a swooshing sound, and I felt myself moving downward into the mist. It felt like I was falling down a deep well through a cold, damp fog. The next moment I felt myself sitting on a hard surface. The falling sensation had stopped, and the mist slowly disappeared. I found myself sitting on a sidewalk in a place I had never seen before.
    A crowd was gathered, mostly young people in their late teens. Several journalists were photographing them, asking questions, and taking notes. The young people were listening to a speaker at a platform about thirty yards across a park. I caught the words “Vietnam” and “veterans against the war.” The people were dressed in bellbottoms, tie-dyed t-shirts, and overalls. Lots of the guys had long hair, some tied back in ponytails, others wearing headbands. Some wore Afros. Many had beards and long sideburns that I thought looked pretty funny. The girls wore sandals and also hip-hugging bellbottoms. I didn’t see much make-up either. Several college-age guys near me were holding signs that read BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW! and STOP NIXON’S WAR! Nixon, I thought to myself, did they say Nixon? He was a president back in the sixties. Could it be? Had I really been transported back in time?
    I felt for the locket about my neck. Yes, it was there. The letter had said that the locket was good for a round-trip through time. OK, fine, I can do this. While I’m here, why don’t I just mingle a little? I made my way through the park filled with people, sometimes bumping into them, often having to say, “Excuse me. Sorry.” But most of them were friendly to me, saying back, “Oh, man, it’s cool. Don’t worry about it.” I was relieved that even though some of them sounded angry, at least they weren’t mad at me. After all this was a peace movement, shouldn’t they be peaceful people?
    I was about half way through the crowd, still bumping into people, when I remembered the necklace and reached for it to reassure myself that I could still escape if I needed to, but to my horror I couldn’t find it. It was gone! Oh, no, where did it go? How could I have lost it? I looked down at my feet and turned in a circle, bumping more of the protestors. But this time I didn’t notice because I was so panicked. It wasn’t anywhere near me. I started back the way I had come. It had to be somewhere. I plowed through the crowd, frantically scanning the ground, but all I saw was grass and people’s sandals. Pushing past the last of them, I broke out of the crowd close to where I had started. That’s when I saw a young man with my time-travel necklace in his hands showing it to a pretty young woman with long blond hair. I had to get it back.
    I started toward them—and then stopped. Something about this couple looked familiar. Could I have seen them before? Suddenly, the picture that I had been looking at in the attic flashed into my mind. The young couple in that picture was this couple. Oh my God, that must mean . . . these are my parents! How cool! How awful! I wanted to talk to them, but the note had warned me not to talk to anyone who might know me in the future. Uhh . . . I guess that would include my mom and dad. But I don’t have any choice. I’ve gotta do it.
    I approached my dad. He looked so young. His dark brown hair was in a pony tail, and he was wearing a dark leather headband. He had on a tie-dyed t-shirt, loose fitting blue jeans, and tennis shoes with no socks. Mom looked at me first with the beautiful blue eyes that I had seen looking at me from her modeling pictures when she was a teenager. I stammered, “Hi, my . . . my name is Lauren. Uh, how are you guys?”
    Both of them gave me a funny look. My dad said, “Fine,” glancing quickly at my mom and then back at me, “how are you?”
    “”Well, I’m not really doing so well right now because that necklace you have in your hand belongs to me. I dropped it just a minute ago.”
    “Oh, yeah,” said my mom, “so where did you drop it anyway?”
    “Here or close by. I was just trying to get up close to the speaker.”
    “I see,” said my dad. He put his arm around my mom and spoke while looking at her. “I was thinking that this would make a pretty good gift for you, honey.”
    My mom smiled at my dad, glanced at me, then said back to my dad, “What do you think? Should we believe her? Lauren, that’s your name, right? A pretty name. I like it. Can you describe this necklace? Are there any identifying marks on it?”
    I thought frantically for a moment. What did it look like? Then I remembered. “It has an hourglass and some clock faces carved on the front.”
    My mom looked at my dad, who held the necklace out in the palm of his hand. “OK, darn it, I guess it’s yours. There goes my birthday present for Beth.”
    I grabbed the necklace faster than I probably should have, saying, “Thanks, you guys. You just saved my life.”
    Beth looked concerned and said, “Really, are you in some kind of trouble? You’re kind of young to be down here without your parents. Where are they anyway?”
    I started backing away, remembering that I wasn’t supposed to be talking to these people. As I turned from them, I called back, “Closer than you think” and then started running. I jogged down the sidewalk about twenty yards and then darted into a thick screen of pine trees that shielded me from the group of protestors. I reached for the necklace, found the clasp, opened it, and with a flash of bright light, I suddenly found myself back in my attic.
    I looked around myself to be sure that it was really my house. Yep, same dusty old attic, the light still buzzing too loudly. I was sitting by the old wooden chest with the photo album still open. I reached for the locket, and at that moment I heard a voice call, “Lauren, are you up there?” It was my dad calling. “Honey, where are you?” I called back weakly, “I’m here.”
    I heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs, and then I saw my dad followed by my mom as they came up to where I was still sitting. Only they didn’t look quite the same as they had a few minutes ago. They were a bit more wrinkled and round than the teenagers had been. “Lauren, what have you been doing? You were only supposed to be up here five minutes.”
    “But I’ve only been here for a few minutes.”
    “No, I don’t think so. You’ve been up here for more than an hour. Did you fall asleep?”
    I just shook my head. What could I tell them? What would they believe? “Mom, dad,” I tried to say calmly, “I’ve been up here so long because I haven’t been here at all. You probably won’t believe me when I tell you this, but I went back in time, to the sixties, to a war protest, and I saw you guys there!”
    My dad smiled, saying, “Lauren, it sounds to me like you’ve been reading too many fantasy books. So you just fell through a wardrobe, like in Narnia, and found yourself back in the past, eh? So what was it like back then?” My dad nudged my mom, who looked a little irritated. He was humoring me. He didn’t believe me at all.
    “No, honest, dad, I did go back to the sixties. I’m dead serious.”
    “Uh-huh, yeah, and so how did you get there?”
    “I found this necklace in mom’s old photo chest,” I said, reaching for the locket. But . . . it wasn’t there. “What the—but it was there. It came from this hollowed out space in the trunk.” I pulled aside some pictures and showed them the bottom of the trunk. Sure enough there was the sliding door and the space beneath it.
    “That’s nice, Lauren, so you found a little sliding door, great.”
    “But that’s not the point. I found a time travel locket with a note that told me to open it to move back in time. I had been looking at one of the old family albums and thinking how cool it would be to talk to you and mom when you were teenagers when suddenly I was back in time at this anti-Vietnam War rally. And you guys were there!”
    Dad got down on one knee, looking concerned, while mom squatted next to me. “Honey, do you really think you traveled back in time?” dad asked. Beth put in, “You must have fallen asleep and just dreamed it.”
    “I don’t think I just dreamed it,” I said, shaking my head slowly. Could it have just been a dream? The necklace was gone. . . . Maybe I just dreamed what that old newspaper clipping made me think of. I looked closely at the old picture, and then I noticed something strange. There were mom and dad at the back of the crowd, but there was someone else with them, a girl who looked awfully familiar.
    “Mom, dad,” I said, excitement growing in me. “Look close at this picture of you guys back in the day.” Dad and mom leaned over the album. Mom said, “I remember that rally. And the photographer from the K.C. Star who took our picture. Oh, this explains where your dream came from, sweetie.”
    “No, mom, look closer. There’s someone else besides dad who I think you might recognize.” She and dad both turned the album so that the overhead light shown fully on the picture. “See that girl, the twelve year old with long hair and the Roxy t-shirt. Yeah, that one. That’s me.”
    My dad looked puzzled, saying to my mom, “I don’t know, Beth, does that look like Lauren?”
    Mom said, “It does look a little like her.”
    “Come on, mom, it looks a lot like me because it is me. Look at that shirt. It says Roxy on it. You were with me when we bought it. And something else. How long has the Roxy company been around?”
    My dad said, “No way they’ve been around for almost forty years. What’s going on here?” He got up and said, “I’m going to get my reading glasses.” He returned in a moment with his glasses and a magnifying glass. “Let’s get a good look at this picture.”
    Dad held the album up close to the light. Looking through the magnifying glass, he said to me, “I see the Roxy shirt. It looks just like the one you have on now. And let me see that ring you’re wearing.” I held out my hand to show him the silver band with the amethyst heart on top. Dad whistled softly and then passed the album and magnifying glass to my mom. “Take a close look at the girl’s hand, Beth.”
    Mom looked for a moment and then said, “It’s your ring, Lauren! And if this isn’t you, then it’s the twin sister you never had!” We all looked at each other in amazement. “Mom, I really did see you guys when you were young. You were so beautiful. . . .”
    “And still are,” said my dad. He put his arm around mom and continued. “You, are growing up the same way, honey. You will be a beautiful young woman soon.”
    I felt embarrassed at that, but good at the same time. I picked up the album, and we all headed back downstairs together. As we left the attic, I thought to myself that my time travel adventure to the past might be over, but my journey to the future was just getting started.