When I open my eyes, I am tucked up in bed with my toy Fluffy. He is raggedy and worn out, his snout almost gone. One of his ears hangs limply, the other stands perkily at the side, thanks to a bit of wire. The last time I had slept with Fluffy was… I check my diary for 2014 and see that I must be 14 now, which means it must be 2011. I wonder why I have gone back not forward. However, the diary is proof that I am sane. I must be 14 because I stopped cuddling with Fluffy when I was 15. I check the digital clock at my side and bang my head as I read it.
It is the 14th of July 2011. Not 2012 or 2013, it is 2011. I laugh because I have never lived this day before. I switch on the light and grab my phone to text Lindy but I don’t have her number. Weird but understandable, she probably didn’t have a phone back then. I creep downstairs and leave a note on the table.
‘Gone out, sorry I know it’s late but I am meeting Lindy.’
I know it is careless but my parents will understand- they always have.
I run out into the night, as myself being someone who hasn’t changed too much. I can finally explore the world that I have never lived.
I don’t really know what direction I am headed in but when I reach the place, I realise that I have been going to the old carousel. The box is empty but now the lights are on and so is the music. An old-fashioned tune twiddles out and the horses bob up and down. Their faces are alive with the personalities I have given them. It’s stupid really but I want to go on every horse because there is no annoying kid who wails or that couple that sit facing each other, sucking their faces off. I should be worried that it’s spinning with no controller but at the rate that my life has been going, I am pretty sure I have been through weirder.
‘I am living the years, I have never lived!’ I scream into the night and jump onto the carousel and onto my favourite horse. She is the most unusual. Painted in a midnight blue and covered in golden stars her pole is soft and warm, and her saddle is well worn and comfortable. Her face is warm and not chipped. I slip onto her back and ride along.
‘Is that so, young lady?’ someone asks from the shadows and I immediately grip the pole, as if my will can inspire the horse to gallop away.
I turn, and am sure that I am about to be faced by some pervert. I slip off the horse and slowly jump off the moving carousel. I look at the dishevelled hair and tight jaw line, and shriek. It’s James.
I run to him.
‘James, James! James!’ I shout and move towards him. Suddenly I forget that we haven’t embraced properly on the lips before and kiss him.
He staggers backwards and says softly.
‘I don’t believe we have actually met but my name is indeed James. Yours is?’
I frown. I had met James when I was 13 (I had been told by Lindy) and we had been inseparable. Our relationship had properly started on the 26th of October in 2010. Why didn’t he recognise me?
‘I’m Lucy.’ I am tempted to add ‘your girlfriend’ but realise that sassiness will not help friendship between two strangers.
‘Right. Well I felt a spark but I suppose I am the wrong guy.’
‘No you’re not!’ I start.
He takes my hand and smiles.
‘Where do you live? I think I need to take you home.’
I realise that the magic is gone. Maybe we never did meet. Why would Lindy lie? No, I am sure she was telling the truth maybe I have gone back too much, or maybe my clock was wrong.
‘Lucy, right?’ he teases. ‘Or have you forgotten that too?’
I playfully push him and he smiles a sad smile.
‘Is this your door?’ he asks. I nod and we stop at the gate. He gives me a warm hug, almost the same as he would when I was 15. I feel tears well up in my eyes.
‘My name is James. Stay safe. Don’t go around breaking people’s hearts.’ Again, he smiles a weak smile, wriggles his hand out of mine, softly, and walks off into the distance. I run home sobbing, seeking the comfort of my bed and the hope that tomorrow I will awaken from this awful dream.