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I don’t know what Albert Einstein was thinking when he said, “The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” That is not true. I’ve been living in this supposedly “futuristic” world for about a month now, but am already sick of it. I remember the days when I was texting my friends about all the latest gossip and Facebook chatting with my cousins about how I couldn’t wait to see them. Now, I have to send letters .You know how long that takes when your cousins live in California? About two weeks. I could always fly out to see them, but that costs a lot of money, something I don’t have much of these days. It’s hard living on your own as a teenage girl hoping your parents would return, but still knowing they would never come back.
It’s been a month today since my parents died in the earthquake.
I was in New York at my boarding school when I heard on the PA system “Scarlett Westing, please come down to the main office”.
I looked around my school, not knowing that this would be the last time I would see cell phones, Ipads, computers and high-quality color televisions for a while. I waved good-bye to the class and walked down to the office. The principal looked at me with a despondent look on his face.
He told me, “I am so sorry, Scarlett. I just received news that your parents passed away in an earthquake.” I started crying and choked out the words
“No. This can’t be.” I burst out of the room.
“Scarlett, wait,” I hear the principal shout. I didn’t look back.
As I walked down the street, I felt the ground shake. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. I walked around the block onto the next street and felt the ground shake again. The ground split from beneath my feet. The shaking intensified as I screamed for help. Houses crumbled into pieces. I was like a toddler learning to walk as I wished I could balance myself. I saw people getting sucked down into the ground by the earthquake. Suddenly, the world turned as black as coal.
When I wake up, I see people in outfits that look like they are from the early 1900’s. There aren’t any cars that I can see and there aren’t many children or people for that matter.
“Where am I?” I mutter to myself.
I hear a voice cry out, “You’re in America, honey! Land of the free and a great place to be, if I do say so myself!”
I look around confused, “Who said that?” I see a boy about my age turn around the corner. He seemed nice enough with his shaggy brown hair and eyes the color of the sparkling sea.
He turned back to me and spoke, “ It was just me, Samuel Jones, but you can call me Sam if you like.”
I reply, “You don’t happen to know the date, do you, Sam?”
Sam says, “Of course I do. It’s April 21st, 1920.”
Wait a minute, when the earthquake started it was only March 21st; had I really been unconscious for all that time?
“Thanks, Sam,” I reply, ignoring my prior thought.
“If you don’t mind my asking, what is a fine young lady like you doing wandering the streets of New York City by herself? What’s your name?” Sam questions.
“My name is Scarlett Westing. I don’t really know what I am doing here. Well, I have to go. Thanks for your help!” I run off before he can say anything else.
As I turn onto the next block, I see a park up ahead. The park is like an oasis in this unfamiliar city. It’s the only thing that seems new. I see flowers with a million magnificent hues. The sun even looks brighter here. The park feels very private, like it’s my own garden. I am the only person there besides an old man. The man is walking around with the most beautiful book I’d ever seen. It is bound with dark leather, the color of the dampened earth with the coolest button to keep it latched. I immediately want to know what is kept in it. Secrets, lies, drawings? Or maybe even a story. I decide to rest on an old park bench, as I’ve had a very emotional day. Before my bottom hits the bench, the old man comes up in front of me.
“Hello Scarlett. I was wondering if you needed any help? How are you doing? You’ve probably been having a pretty unpleasant day. I am here to help you in anyway I can,” he spoke with a voice filled with kindness.
Avalanches of questions go running through my mind. “ Who are you? Why are you helping me? How do you know my name?”
“ I don’t need to tell you my name. That’s not important. I know your name because the Council of Absence has to tell me before I proceed to my mission. I am only trying to help you get back to the life you were meant to live,” he answers.
“What happened to me?” I inquire.
“You were in an earthquake that went throughout the whole world. The world you lived in before today was built on top of this world; the old world of the 1920’s. When the earthquake hit, the fault line split on top of the 1920’s world. There are many other fault lines throughout the world for every decade. There are other people working for the Council of Absence under every fault line for every decade like me. They find the people who stand out in the world, like you; and help them. In exchange, the future of the human race relies on the person you help. In the 1920’s fault line, the chosen one to save their time period needs to have the most beautiful singing voice and needs to be a teenager. You, sweetie, fit the bill.” he explains. “So, will you do it?” he asks optimistically.
“Sure,” I smile.
“Come with me, we need to start preparing,” he states.
I follow the man through the park to a big white gazebo by a magnificent pond. He pulls out a large trunk with a texture like corduroy pants. I realize he pulls out sheet music with a walnut stain. He also grabs a music stand. I see him sit down at the black grand piano. The man beckons for me to come over to him and to grab the music. I set the smooth music onto the stand that is cool to the touch.
“Scarlett, we are going to sing a Spanish madrigal called ‘A La Nanita Nana’. None of the other teenagers have been able to hit the right notes at the right time, therefore saving their decade, but I have faith in you, Scarlett.”
I hoped I would sound beautiful more than anything else. I kept singing through the notes in my head. I need to focus on the meaning of the lyrics and use my interpretation of the song. Once, I put myself into the song, that’s when my time period would really show. I won’t think about the notes on the papers but will sing what is me. I will pour out my feelings from the terrible day. I open my mouth to begin the song.