Second Chance at Happiness
By: Robin Gagnon
Jennifer walked quietly home in the cold wind, deep in thought about her troubled past. She didn’t like thinking about what happened to her as a child, but sometimes it was inevitable. It was the reason she couldn’t have a relationship and why she was doing drugs, while working a crappy part-time job to just barely pay for her run down apartment.
If only she had done something about her abusive step-father, then maybe she could have lived a better life. Perhaps she could of been adopted by another family and been able to go to school and learn normally like all the other kids without having to constantly be in fear of going home.
She had let that man destroy her life and even though she didn’t see him anymore, he was still abusing her. A tear ran down her face and her heart twisted in pain. If only she hadn’t been so afraid to do something about it.
“Hey, you there,” someone called out, as she walked by a large abandoned building. “Do you want to make some extra cash?”
Jennifer looked up to see an estranged man standing at the top of the stairs that led to the building’s entrance. His greyish hair was stuck up all over the place and a his white lab coat blew behind him like a cape. He seemed excited about something and stared at her impatiently.
“Extra cash?” Jennifer asked, pushing a dark strand of brown hair out of her face. “For doing what exactly?”
“I just need someone to test out my time machine,” the man explained, as Jennifer gave him a weird look. “I’ll pay you, even if it doesn’t work.”
Jennifer shrugged, since she needed the cash, and replied, “Sure.”
The man led her inside the large building, which was dark and empty, and towards his lab. A strange machine, which nearly took up the entire room, sat in the middle. Jennifer awed at it’s size and wondered how it worked.
“Just stand in the center,” the man explained, as he walked over to a computer with a control panel. “When you’re ready, let me know.”
Jennifer did as she was told and stood in the very middle of the machine and then gave the man a thumbs up. She was nervous, but honestly didn’t expect anything to come of it. After all, time travel didn’t exist, right?
“Is there anywhere you want to go?” the man asked. “A specific point in time?”
Jennifer thought for a moment before replying, “I want to go back to fifteen years ago.”
“Alright,” the man exclaimed, as he rapidly typed things into his computer. “Here we go!”
The metal arches of the machine rotated around Jennifer and she looked at the man nervously when they started to pick up speed. Sparks shot out of the metal contraption, as the man at the controls watched in excitement, not worried at all. When the machine reached its highest speed, Jennifer could no longer see what was around her and screamed.
Suddenly, a large flash of light enveloped her vision and she was left blinded for a while. Rubbing her eyes, she stumbled forward and bumped into something, or rather, someone. Looking up, she came face-to-face with a familiar looking man in a lab coat.
“What are you doing in my lab?” he asked in angry surprise, as Jennifer looked around to see that the room seemed much brighter than before. “I don’t know how you got in here, but you need to leave right now.”
“But,” she stammered, taking note of a giant, half-built machine in the middle of the room. “You invited me in here.”
“Ugh,” the man muttered. “Junkies.”
He called for two security guards and she was led through the building, which was alive with many people walking the halls. When they dropped her off outside the entrance, she was left looking up at the newly restored building in awe. Even the street she was on seemed different somehow. People were dressed more old fashioned than they should have been.
Jennifer’s eyes widened in surprise when she realized that she was in the past. Her heart beat furiously and she quickly followed an old, familiar route. When she reached her destination about ten minutes later, she found herself in front of a two-story house with a brown car out front. The car was her step-father’s and she clenched her fists in anger. Walking up to the house, she found the key that was hidden in a flower pot and unlocked the door to let herself in.
Once inside, she could immediately heard yelling upstairs. It was coming from the bedrooms and it was an argument she knew all to well.
“You were supposed to come straight home,” a man with a big belly and greasy, black hair screamed at a young girl in a corner. “Not go to the park and play with your friends. There are dishes to be done and my bed needs to be made before your mother comes home from work, you lousy piece of trash.”
He raised his hand above his head, but Jennifer ran up behind him and pushed the man across the room, so that he hit the wall with a thud. The young girl stared up at her with wide eyes, as she sat in a ball on her mattress on the floor.
Jennifer held out her hand and the young girl took it, as Jennifer exclaimed, “Let’s go!”
The two of them ran out the door, as the man screamed at them to stop, but they kept going until they had reached the police station around the block. Running inside, the receptionist looked up in surprise, as Jennifer launched into her story about what had happened.
Not too long after that, a few cop cars left to head to the house they had just escaped from and Jennifer gave her statement about what she had seen. After all that, a female cop took the young girl by the hand to ask her questions about her experience in an enclosed room.
As Jennifer watched her past self walk away, she quietly left the station without anyone noticing. She walked around the building and up the street before coming to a stop with a smile on her face. She was finally free from that terrible man’s torment. After all these years, she could finally breathe easy.
With a tear sliding down her cheek, her body began to glow and fade before her eyes. She looked down on her hands as they slowly disappeared and she realized that she must of changed her future. This tortured version of herself would no longer exist. She stared up at the sky and smiled. She could finally be at peace.