Six years later
“Tamarin!” my mother calls. “Tamarin, come down already! You’re going to be late for school!”
“You’re so slow, Tammy!” Chamberly’s little sing-song voice rings out.
I look around me, my vision fuzzy at first. Slowly it grows clearer, and I recognize where I am. I am standing in a small blue room- walls decorated with horse racing posters and score charts. Horse racing. When had I ever enjoyed something so childish? However, this tells me where I am- my room.
“Tam!” my mother calls a second time. “If you want breakfast, you’re going to have to come down now!”
Despite myself, I reply. “Coming, mom!”
Slowly, I open my door and start down the stairs, heading for our kitchen. Just as I step into the well-lit room, I am nearly tackled by Chamberly, who is hugging me and laughing. I laugh too- until I realize the problem.
Chamberly’s hands- they’re too small. She would 16 by now- tall, smart, and beautiful. But Chamberly is gone. And the Chamberly in front of me has small hands. Child’s hands. As if she had been frozen in the the day before- or maybe the day of- her disappearance.
A high scream. An explosion. Blood. Pain. Fire.
I blink. Chamberly is looking me in the eyes now, her too-young face screwed with worry. “Tammy? Are you okay?”
“Fine,” I murmur. She smiles, plants a kiss on my forehead, and skips away. Slowly, almost reluctantly, I look down, taking in my own hands. They are calloused and weathered- and too large. I am the only thing not stuck in time here. And therefore, I do not belong.
For a moment, I wish I could stay here- hold myself in this time forever. But already, I feel myself surfacing, as if rising through deep water. Reluctantly, I let the dream go. It peels away, rising in curtains of mist, until it dissolves completely.
My surroundings become real. This is not my house. Chamberly’s laughter is gone. I am alone.