Willa only had three more minutes left on the clock. She glanced at Mr. Mack and quickly back down at her paper. He was scowling, just like an hour ago. Detention was never fun, but it seemed to drag on forever today. Finally, the clock stroke 5:00. Willa was free to go home. She grabbed her backpack, pushed her chair out, and walked out of the room without looking at her math teacher. As soon as she closed the door, Willa pulled out her phone and texted her friend, Jay. Finally out of detention. Free to hang till 7. Willa ran out of the school and jumped onto her skateboard. Kicking off hard, she rode to the bus stop to find a tall boy with shaggy black hair waiting with a relaxed smile. Willa jumped off and sat down next to Jay.
“How is our favorite teacher today?” Jay asked, sarcasm hanging in the air. Willa smiled.
“The usual. Grumpy, unfair, and still smelling slightly like corn starch.” Jay laughed. Willa tied her long midnight-black hair into a sloppy braid. “So,” she said. “Wanna go to the rink or what?” Jay nodded.
“Cool. Let me call my mom first,” he said. Willa watched her best friend jump up and jog away to lean on a lamp post and make his call. Willa had just looked away when she heard a high-pitched whine and a crash. She jumped up and, out of habit, ran to see what the noise was. She stopped dead to see a man a little older than herself laying in the grass. His face was covered in dirt and his big bulky watch was smoking. Willa ran up to him and pulled him off the ground.
“Are you okay?” she asked, her voice shaky. The man coughed and dusted himself off.
“Perfectly fine,” he said. “What year is it?” Willa was taken aback.
“W-what do you mean?” The man looked at her face for the first time and smiled.
“How rude of me. My name is Dean Marshall and I’m a time traveler.” Willa’s brain seemed to have stopped working.
“A what?!” she said, but Dean did not seem the slightest bit interested in her anymore. He grabbed his watch and started to turn knobs and push buttons. He waved away the smoke and pulled the device off his arm and thrust it at Willa. It took a while for her to realize that Dean wanted her to take it. When she did, Dean smiled.
“Now, don’t push this button and you should be fine. Oh and if you do, you only have around three minutes in the 1800′s before you should reappear back here. I will be back in five minutes with batteries.” Dean turned on his heels and walked off, leaving Willa completely clueless.
“W-wait! Is this a time machine? Where did it come from?! AND HOW COME IT NEEDS BATTERIES!!” she shouted, but Dean was to far away to hear. Willa took off running to follow him when she tripped, sending her sprawling to the ground. As she landed, the machine hit the ground, pushing the very button Dean had said to stay away from. Willa knew it was going to happen before it did, but it was still surprising. She felt like she was falling through nothingness. She shut her eyes and waited for an impact. But instead of a painful fall, Willa found herself laying in the grass, birds twittering overhead. She slowly pried open her eyes to find herself staring at a small girl with short brown hair and freckles. Freckles wore a long vintage dress and was holding a bucket full of water.
“Are you alright, Miss?” she said. Willa didn’t answer but sprang up and started pushing buttons on the time machine/watch. “Come on, come on,” she whispered, hitting the watch with her hand. Suddenly, she realized that her phone had fallen out of her pocket. The little girl set down her bucket and picked up the smart phone, pushing every button on the sides.
“What is it?” she asked. Willa took the phone and turned it on.
“It’s called a phone, look.” She pulled up a game and gave it back to the little girl. She squealed and dragged her finger across the rope, sending a piece of candy into Omnom’s mouth.* Willa’s time machine started to whine, and before she could get her phone back, Willa was falling through nothingness. When she came to her senses, Willa opened her eyes to find herself in a different world, but it was not hers.
“Oh, no!” she breathed, her eyes wide. “What have I done?”
* The girl is playing Cut The Rope, an actual game.
* * *