FOR THE CONTEST
I ran up to Jackson, who has started walking away from me. "Look, Jackson!" I tried catching up. I ran in front of him to stop him from walking any further. He stopped mid-step, almost losing his balance. "Look. I know it seems crazy that I know your name and that I know where you live, but you HAVE to believe me when I say that I am your sister," I almost begged, trying to convince him. He rolled his eyes. "Listen," He raised his eyebrows, indicating that he didn't know my name. "Alyssa," I said. "Alyssa. I have absolutely no idea who you are. I don't know why you keep telling me that you're my sister. I don't even have a sister!" He was starting to get frustrated, but so was I. "Yes! You do!" I almost screamed. It was getting really annoying how everyone seemed to ignore me. Almost as if they didn't know that I....existed. I quickly took out the pocket watch and opened it. I tried to examine it, looking for something that stood out but everything was normal. Nothing looked weird or stood out. Suddenly, I heard Jackson say something, panic in his voice. "Where did you get that?" he asked. I looked up and his face was scrunched up, panicky. "Uhm...near my house. Why?" "Where? Where exactly near your house?" he grabbed my shoulders, almost shaking me. "Tell me!" He raised his voice. I was starting to get scared. This wasn't how Jackson usually acts. He was always calm and never raised his voice at me, which must be the reason why I always walk all over him, but this wasn't the Jackson I knew. It was as if I was in another..."Universe," I said out loud. "Huh?" He cocked his head to one side, confused. "The universe...near...your house?" he said, eyebrows creased. "No, no," I shook my hand in a 'No' gesture. "I found it at the beach near my house. This pocket watch must have brought me here, didn't it? That's why you don't recognise me. That's why dad and Samuel didn't recognise me. Right? Am I right?" I was getting impatient. It was all so clear now. It was as clear as the morning sky. "I don't know," Jackson simply said, killing my vibe with a simple shrug of his shoulders. "But what I do know is that that pocket watch should have never been found. I don't know why, but my mum once found it in the attic and she threw it into the ocean. She told me and Sam to never pick it up and if we see it, we should bury it deep into the ground," He crossed his arms, as if that fact scared him. I examined the pocket watch again. It still looked normal to me. Suddenly, an idea struck me. I whipped my head to face Jackson. "Bring me to mom!" I almost screamed, because this might be my answer. He creased his eyebrows. "Whose mom?" Oh my goodness, this was starting to get really frustrating. "Our...I mean..your mom. Bring me to your mom. I want to ask a few questions about this watch,"
He brought me to our (well, in this case, his) house. I wasn't shocked when I saw mom (his mom) scream out loud. "Jackson! Why...why are you with this girl! Why is she holding that pocket watch?!" she screamed, obviously shocked. Jackson was trying to calm her down, but she was visibly distressed. "Mom. Mom, look, it's okay. It's okay. See? Everything's fine," Jackson said to her gently, like she was a distressed animal that would run away with a slight raise of his voice. I just stood and observed because, like this universe's Jackson, my mum wasn't the mum I knew. She was frantic and distressed, unlike my mum that I knew,who was rational and calm. "Mum," Jackson started to say after she had calmed down. "This is Alyssa. She wants to talk to you," he told her. She looked at me, glaring. "How do you know us?" mum asked, cautious, as if I might blow up into a rage any minute now. I approached her, also cautious. "I'm from another..place," I chose my words wisely. "Where?" Mum tried to get any information out of me as possible. "Uhm," I looked at Jackson, who prompted me to tell the truth; which I guess..he was right. If I want mum to be honest, I have to be honest too. I sighed, readying myself to tell her. "I'm from..another place...from another universe," I hesitated. Mom covered her mouth as if holding back shock. "It is it, isn't it Jackson?" she whispered to him, though I could hear every word. "That's what I told her," he whispered back. As if conscious of me, he whispered even softer. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but I saw mom scrunch her eyebrows. "No," she finally said. "No. I won't. Jackson, you knew that I wouldn't and yet," She nudged her head toward me. "Mom, I don't know if it's a coincidence or not but she claims to be my sister," This time, mum looked at me, mouth gaped and eyes wide. She hurried toward me. "Is...is that true?" she asked. I nodded, relieved that someone finally could believe me. "Oh my goodness. Okay," Mum raised her hands up, as if surrendering in defeat. "Okay, I'll do it. I'll tell you what you want to know," She headed towards the living room. I didn't know what she wanted me to do until Jackson nudged me to follow. "Oh," I said and headed toward the living room.
Even though I knew that this was my house (though not in this situation), I still felt awkward. Mum sat down on the red sofa chair. I sat opposite her at my usual sitting place. The black leather couch looked the same. "Alyssa, right?" mom asked me, trying to confirm my name, which felt awfully strange. "Yes," I confirmed. She nodded, sighed and crossed her legs. "I heard from Jackson that you wanted to know about the pocket watch," She looked at me intently. "Do you really?" she asked. I nodded. "Yes. I really do," She sighed again. "Okay. What is it that you want to know?" Jackson came out of the kitchen and sat on the stool; his usual sitting place. I felt a pang at this habit. I felt the weight of being a nobody in this place. No one knew who I was. Not even my own family knew who I was. I started feeling regret and guilt about the incident before I was transported here. I shouldn't have slammed the door at Jackson's face and I miss him even more now. "I want to know about this pocket watch. Why was it so dangerous that you had to throw it into the ocean?" I asked. Mom rubbed her hands on her pants, probably because she was nervous. She exhaled before starting the story."A long time ago, when witchcraft and voodoo was still widely practiced, my great-great grandfather used to own a shop. He was the co-owner and somebody else ran the shop with him. This man," Mum took a deep breath and hesitated, as if scared to continue. "He was a bad man. He was very greedy and he wanted to cheat my great-great grandfather of his shares of the money from the shop. When my great-great grandfather found out, of course, he was very mad. Furious even. He told the man that he did not want to continue with the shop with him and left. Coincidentally, the man's business started going downhill after my great-great grandfather left. It wasn't his fault of course, but the man did not want to believe that. He was so convinced that it was all my family's fault. So he cursed my...our family," She smiled at me. I smiled back, glad that she acknowledged that I was her daughter. "He cursed our family. He practiced voodoo apparently and he put a curse in that pocket watch," She pointed at the pocket watch that I was holding. I looked at it. "He put a spell on it and gave it to my great-great grandfather. He told him that that was a gift. A sincere gift, as a token of how grateful he was of my great-great grandfather being his friend and co-worker. He said that he didn't want any hard feelings between them. My great-great grandfather accepted the gift sincerely. From then, things started going downhill for our family. Our crops didn't grow healthily, the family house burned down, we were robbed, all sorts of bad things. This pocket watch brings people to misery. So that was why I threw it into the ocean," Mum concluded by relaxing her tense shoulders and leaning back. Wow. That story was..."Way too intense," Jackson said what I thought for me, as if reading my mind. Now I understood why Jackson (my Jackson) panicked when he saw me holding that pocket watch. I understood now, but... I understood the history, but I didn't understand why I was here. "I think the pocket watch brought you here because this place would cause misery for you," Mum said, seeing the confusion on my face. I widened my eyes because it made more sense now; even more sense than before. "I get it now," I said, more to myself. "No one knows who I am here. No one remembers me, not even my own family," I drew to the conclusion. My family is everything and without them...I'm nothing. Like I am here. "But, that doesn't seem like such misery," Jackson said. "Jackson!" Mom snapped at him. "No. No. What I meant was," He turned to look at me. "You could just turn the winding crown like you did to get yourself here," he explained himself. "Maybe that can get you back?" I cocked my head to the side, thinking that maybe that could be true. I tried to turn the winding crown. I waited to see what would happen, but nothing happened. I slumped my shoulders, defeated. "I'm sorry Alyssa," Mum walked up to me and pat me on the shoulder. That familiar feeling of comfort almost made me cry. I miss home even more now. I miss Jackson and Samual. I miss my mum and dad. I even miss the next door boy who I thought was pretty cute. I just miss everything about MY world. Not this world that constantly makes me feel like I could die any minute from sadness and depression. Being 16 and alone in a world where you don't belong is really hard. I started to cry and unconsciously, out of habit, buried my face in my mum's stomach. To my surprise, mum (the alternate mum) didn't push me away or remove me. She just pat my head, like my mum always did to me. That made me cry even louder. "Uhm..mum..is she okay," I could hear Jackson say. Even in this universe, he was still naive. I allowed myself to cry as much as I could. After a few minutes, my crying subsided and I just let my head be buried in my mum's stomach for a while. The room went quiet. It was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. You could even hear a clock ticking. However...the sound was too faint to be a clock ticking. It was like the sound of a watch ticking but slightly louder. I moved away from my mum's stomach and looked around for the sound. "Do you hear that?" I asked, still looking around. Jackson sat up. "Yeah. Yeah, I hear it," He looked around too. I looked on the wall. No clock hanging there. I looked on the table. No clocks there either. I decided to stay still and listen carefully. I looked down slowly at the direction of the sound and saw my hand holding the pocket watch. I could hear the faint sounds of the gear of the pocket watch moving. I slowly opened the cover of the pocket watch and saw the hands ticking. Tick-tick-tick-tick. However, I realised that it didn't match the time on my watch. The time on my digital watch read three fifteen pm. The time on the pocket watch read five fifteen. I wasn't sure if it was just my watch that was wrong or not, so I asked Jackson for the time. "Uhm," He took out his phone from his pocket and checked the time. "Three fifteen," he said. My heart almost stopped. My watch was right and my fear was right too. "I understand now," I turned to mom, panic in my voice. "This is how it'll make me suffer," I started panicking, looking around. I got up and started walking around the living room, unsure of what I was looking for. Mom stood up to calm me down. She grabbed me by the shoulders gently. She looked into my eyes. Her eyes were telling me to explain to her about what was going on. "Alyssa. Explain to me," she said calmly. "Th..thi...this pocket watch. This is how it'll make me suffer!" I almost screamed, frustrated. "How?" mum asked calmly. "The hands are ticking but not following the time. It's like...like," I started stuttering because I was too scared. "It's like a countdown clock. It's been counting down since I arrived in this alternate version of my city and I didn't even realise it," I explained, trying to calm down. "Countdown clock?" Mom looked confused. "It's counting down according to the numbers on the pocket watch," I held up the pocket watch to show her. "I've been here for five hours," I said. "I only have twelve hours to get out of here. I've just wasted five hours and I only have seven hours left to get out of here," I panicked and looked around again. "What happens when your twelve hours are up?" Jackson asked. I turned to face him and looked at him straight in the eyes. "I'll be stuck here forever,"