By Elsie K
50 feet above the ocean, on a rocky, rough cliff, stood a woman, no more than 20. The expression on her face remained blank, even as she stared across the horizon, the cloudy gray skies and the murky green-brown water, stretched as far as the eye could see. For as long as she could remember, she and her family had lived in squalor.
One could easily tell from her appearance, too. The torn, blue cloth and bare feet, scratches and dirt covering almost every inch of her. When she was 9 her mother was killed by their neighbor, and after she had turned 18, she isolated herself, far away from the city, not wanting the same fate set upon her. She had wanted to go back in time, back a thousand years, to a time when people lived not in fear of being murdered whenever you left the house. But she couldn’t, so she doesn’t even think of it anymore. She just leaned forward, looking at the ground below.
She wanted to go out her own way, naturally, not by the hand of someone else. She turned her back, facing the remains of the city in the far distance. She scooted back more, letting the element of surprise practically push her off the cliff. What was really less than 30 seconds, felt like hours, and soon she felt herself encased in cold, dirty water. It got colder and colder the further she descended, and soon the sky was nothing but a surface, miles from reach. Her lungs were burning, clawing for air, but she wouldn’t let it. She’d rather do this now than later, when she was being forced off. So she did.
Kaylynn Adamson sat on the dock, her feet dipped in the water. She had a light purple dress on, and from the sight of the white church behind her, anyone could tell she had come from a wedding. For the third time in her entire life, her father was getting married to another evil woman who hated Kaylynn. She looked out in the distance, a cerulean lake stretching all the way from here to Grenville. Suddenly, she saw a large splash in the lake, as if something had fallen from the white clouds. When the waves dispersed, she could see something black bobbing in the lake, and when she squinted she saw it was a person.
Her eyes went wide as she noticed arms flailing around in the water. She wanted to dive in and swim towards the woman, saving her, but if she ruined the dress, no doubt her stepmother would kill her. But soon, the woman saved herself, crawling on shore, coughing and hacking. Kaylynn rushed over, helping her up. The woman looked in awe at how clean and sophisticated Kaylynn was, her spotless dress whipping around in the cold wind, her brown hair tied up at the left, pink glasses set on her nose.
“Where am I?” The woman asked, staring at the astonishing amount of green vegetation surrounding her.
“Canada…why? What’s your name?” The woman shook her head.
“Canada? Isn’t it wasteland now? I mean, after the government bombed it from that disease, no one has been there. My name? Oh, um, Elizabeth.” Kaylynn raised her eyebrows.
“What? Disease?” The expression on Elizabeth’s face was perplexed.
“Wow, you really are clueless. In 3489?” Kaylynn felt like fainting, and Elizabeth could see it, too. As a starving family, it happened often. Too often. She quickly placed her hands on Kaylynn’s shoulders, steadying her. “Why are you so surprised? I mean, yeah, you’re young, but you’d think your mother would’ve told you about that by now. Especially if this is “Canada”.”
“My mother died.” Kaylynn whispered, eyes low to the ground.
“Who has been watching you? Do you have siblings?” She shook her head.
“No, I’m an only child. But my father watches me. Actually, he’s in that church getting married. Again. Enough about me, though. Why are you suddenly in the lake? I’ve been sitting there for hours, and I haven’t seen anyone.”
“I think what I’d be more confused about is how I jumped off a cliff, onto a shore with rocks that could potentially kill me, then arrive in Canada. I lived in Chicago. Well, at least what used to be Chicago.” Kaylynn put two fingers on her temples, pacing.
“So what you’re telling me, is that you are from 1,500 years in the future? And you teleported from Chicago…to Canada?!” Elizabeth nodded, thinking about what the girl had just said.
“Yea, pretty much.” Again, she repeated what she had said in her mind, and noticed something she didn’t before. “Wait. You said…1500 years…in the future! That means…I’m in the past! But…how!?”
“I’m asking myself the same thing. Either way, we need to check you in a motel. My father will not let you stay at my house, that’s for sure.”
“Motel?” Elizabeth hadn’t heard that word since she was a kid. It’s a place where she lived for most her life. After that it was just an abandoned lighthouse on the cliff. “Well, when can we go?” Kaylynn looked back at the church, giving a curt sigh.
“I don’t want to be here anymore. I’ll take you there.”
Kaylynn had kindly donated the 30 dollars it cost to check into the ominous motel. Elizabeth thought that the room was quite a step-up from the lighthouse, but the look of utter revulsion Kaylynn wore was a telltale sign that she wasn’t used to such dull rooms. This room was small, the carpet tawny and the walls the color of oatmeal. In the corner was a white bed – perhaps in the 70s. Now the crisp blankets were a subdued beige, and the end table showed many indications of wear and tear over the years.
She took light steps inward, and no matter how gentle she had tread, the floor still creaked. Despite the fact that the rest of the room seemed to be old, the mirror was in perfect condition, no scratches, and perfectly clean. As a child, whenever she tried to see herself in the mirror, it was always covered in a thick layer of grime, and her face seemed to be separated in two where the crack her sister created was.
After a quick wash, Elizabeth definitely loved where things were going. She had a nice room (at least in her opinion) and if she needed anything, her newfound friend was only a few blocks away.
Elizabeth couldn’t believe her luck. After her mother, she never thought this ‘luxury’ could be bestowed upon her. For once in her life, there wasn’t a hot humidity, casting blazing rays of sun against her neck. Or the freezing cold, nipping at her pale, papery skin.
She flopped down on the bed, and burrowed herself on top of the covers, not wanting to escape her cocoon. Her long, black hair spread across the sheets, forming a wreath around her. Elizabeth could feel all her worries floating away, she wanted to drift into a deep sleep, to just forget everything and rest for once in the past 20 years. Then, her milliseconds of peace were interrupted by a knock on the door.
Elizabeth set her hand on the knob, ready to turn the handle and greet the person on the other side. Instead, during that moment of hesitation, the door was kicked open, knocking her back on to the floor. After the surprise faded, she could see the face of the man.
“Room service.” He said, pointing a gun to her forehead. In her time, guns were totally illegal, and anyone seen with one was killed on sight. Obviously, this wasn’t the case here.
“What do you want?” She asked shakily.
“My boss told me someone checked into this room needed to be taking care of, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
Kaylynn could feel her heart pounding in her chest when she approached the motel the next day. There was an ambulance speeding around the curb, cop cars parked in front of a room. Elizabeth’s room. She pushed through the crowd of people, up to the police tape. Through the open door, Elizabeth’s toweled body was sprawled across that god-awful carpet, a crimson puddle staining it.
She could remember how just yesterday, the girl was overjoyed at her newfound time travel, somehow placing her here with Kaylynn. She could remember Elizabeth telling her how all she had wanted was peace, and now some jerk had put a bullet through her skull.
Heart racing, she shoved the policeman on the ground, bolting through the doorway. She was running on pure adrenaline, now. Her hands were shaking when she pulled them to Elizabeth’s face, cradling her. All life had been drained from the once living woman. Her skin was chalky white, her lips purple.
Kaylynn didn’t understand how everyone she loved was taken from her. She hated it. No matter the circumstances, Elizabeth was a friend. A dead friend, now.
“Kaylynn?!” She looked back to see her father rushing towards the scene. “What are you doing here? Did you…did you know this woman?” He lifted her up gently leading her away from the corpse.
“She was my friend.” Kaylynn used the back of her hand to clear the dampness from her cheeks. “Besides don’t you have some honeymoon to be on?” She said monosyllabically.
“No, I called off the wedding. I guess I didn’t really need any of those women. Just one.” Kaylynn couldn’t help the dorky smile spreading across her face.
“Let’s go home, i think the police have got a pretty good handle on this. I’m sure your friend is in a better place.” Kaylynn sighed, glancing back at where the woman was being sent away for autopsy.
“That’s all she wanted.”