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History Vs. Chemistry
Alex and I stood on the balcony stargazing, my hand in his. “This is so romantic,” I sighed, “just like all those really girly movies I make you watch with me.”
“I don’t mind those movies,” he laughed. “I’ll watch as many sappy movies as you want as long as I get to see them with you, Brown Eyes.”
“Good,” I informed him, “because we’re going to see Under the Willow next Thursday.” I leaned my head on his shoulder and looked down at the city lights below us.
“Brook, may I have this dance?” he asked, setting his phone down and letting sweet music drift from it.
With a nod from me, we began our slow dance beneath the stars. I saw Kay and Zach in the house, ready to open the sliding glass door. With a furious swipe of the hand behind Alex’s head, I motioned for the other couple to beat it. Zach caught on and led his girlfriend away.
I looked into Alex’s brilliant blue eyes. “This is so beautiful,” I breathed. “I would think that this is what it would be like for us at prom.”
He didn’t say anything, but gave a quiet nod.
“Of course, that’s still a couple of years away,” I lazily finished, still caught in the marvelous blue diamonds of his.
He leaned closer to me, letting our noses almost touch. My head tilted to the side as my lips drew closer to his. I suddenly gasped as rain pelted down on us.
“That was convenient,” he laughed, scooping his phone back up.
“Sure was,” I sarcastically replied. It seems like every time I have the perfect moment, something has to go wrong. I don’t know what the universe has against me, but it can be an irritating little prankster.
He laughed and pulled me back into the kitchen with him. Zach, who seemed to read my minds at times like these, tossed us each a towel from the ironing board.
“Stay here,” I told my boyfriend, “I’m gonna go change into some dry clothes.” I ran to my bedroom. I quickly blow dried my hair, straightened it, and changed into a peach-colored dress with matching boots and a cute white leather jacket that Javier had gotten me for my birthday one year. I grabbed a white Gucci bag from my closet and swung it over my shoulder.
I stopped to admire my reflection on the way out. Even though I was only going on a triple date with Peter, Zach, and their girlfriends, I looked like I was attending a high-end fashion show or movie premier. “You are a mega-hottie,” I told the fabulously attractive girl in the mirror.
When I’d run back into the kitchen, Alex was staring at a picture on our fridge. “Oh, that’s Hayley,” I told him. “It’s too bad you guys never met, cause you two would really get along. You both love dancing and school learning stuff and ice cream. You’d be like best friends if only I’d known you before she left.”
“Left? Where did she go?” he asked as he turned from her picture.
“Well, there was this whole plot to destroy my race and stuff and something about a robot zombie army or something.”
“And she volunteered to go?” he asked almost in awe.
“Nah,” I joked, “she picked the short straw.”
He looked at me incredulously. “Really?”
“Okay, fine, she didn’t pick the short straw. Peter did but he was too scared to go.” I laughed again, but he clearly wanted to hear the real story.
Peter jogged into the kitchen. “You guys ready?”
“Yupp!” I announced.
I giggled as Ben Stiller asked his girlfriend to marry him in that romantic comedy on TV. Alex put his arm over my shoulders.
Alex and I had our own little circle of trust. And that’s what was super great about our relationship.
This was the happiest I’d been in a while, even with Alex around. In fact, I realized for the sixth time in a week, Alex made me happier than just about any guy I’d ever met. “Isn’t it such a sweet movie?” I asked.
“Not as sweet as this.” He leaned down to kiss me.
“So guys,” Kay interrupted as she intruded, “which slogan sounds better: ‘O’Malley doesn’t disappoint’ or ‘A vote for Peter is a vote for the future’ or ‘Make the informed vote for President Peter’?” She must not have noticed the scowl I gave her. “Or should we even go with a motto? Maybe we don’t really need one, you know? I mean, everyone already knows who Peter is and that he’s probably the best choice, so unless some random new candidate pops up, he’s a shoe in.”
“Zach!” I called with a whine in my voice. “Your girlfriend’s bothering me!” It was times like these that I had to wonder what he saw in her.
“Zach’s at the store,” Rosie told me on her way out.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Kay apologized. “I’ll just be quiet. I don’t want to ruin the moment for you two. Oh, sorry, did it again. Sorry. Oh, I’ll shut up now.”
“Thank you.” I turned my attention back to Alex and his beautifully blue eyes. The room fell silent, with the exception of the TV in the background. I awkwardly looked over my shoulder to see Kay staring at me and my boyfriend. “Peter!”
Peter burst into the room. “Brook!”
“Peter!” I yelled back.
“No, I mean look at this!” He waved an old, crumbly piece of paper in front of me.
“Is that the ticket to Star Trek that I put through the shredder last year?” I wondered.
“No, Hayley sent a message in the time capsule!” he enthusiastically answered. I clapped my hands in delight. We all undoubtedly loved Hayley.
“Read it,” Alex automatically encouraged.
Kay nodded. “I can’t wait to hear from her!” Though much cooler than her cousin, Hayley was still a part of Kay’s family.
Peter cleared his throat before beginning, squinting to read the yellowed lettering. “’In Egypt, captured, hurry’.”
We stared back wide-eyed.
“Oh,” he continued, “’P. S. bring cookie dough ice cream’.”
“Cookie dough ice cream?” Alex asked in amusement.
Peter tried to explain the request to himself just as much as to the three of us. “Maybe its chemical makeup can be used as a weapon against the zombies,” he suggested. “She is creative when it comes to making ordinary objects into weapons.”
Kay nodded in agreement. “Maybe it’s a power source for her ro-ro-robot ar-my.” She spoke like a robot as she stood and stiffly waved her arms around.
“Or she could be hungry,” I put in, knowing how much Hayley liked cookie dough. “It’s possible,” I replied to their unconvinced faces.
“How can we find her?” Alex asked.
“We have an interdimensional anachronous vehicle,” Peter told him.
“Sorry, Alex, my brother forgets that normal people don’t speak fluent Geek. He means the time machine downstairs in the basement.”
“Oh, a time machine. Why didn’t you just say so?” he wondered.
“Come on,” I urged, taking time to gather the ice cream from the freezer before heading to the basement door.
“I’m com-ing with you-ou,” Kay did the robot over to the steps. I stared at her for a minute, wishing Peter would tell her no. She just seemed to mess things up for me whenever she was around. Silence prevailed. “Oh, fine,” I gave in, leading the group to the underground room. “This is the den,” I explained to Alex, “only instead of it being a regular family room, it’s literally an underground room full of artifacts from our home planet.”
“That’s not the literal meaning of ‘den’,” Peter felt the need to put in.
The four of us climbed into the metal booth.
“I have to warn you, though. Earth’s atmosphere has created an erroneous—“
I cut him off before he could give us all migraines. “There’s a glitch that makes you stop at a bunch of places you don’t want to go before you can stop at the place where you do want to go.”
“Well, that sounds irritating. Doesn’t that usually slow these rescue missions down?” Alex asked.
“This isn’t something we do often,” I laughed.
“Kay, hand me that letter?” Peter requested. She returned it to him and he flipped it over and punched a code into the blinking dashboard of the time machine.
“Hold on!” shouted Kay. “It’s gonna get bumpy!” She pretended to be bounced around by the time machine even though it hadn’t started up yet.
“Actually, it’s a pretty smooth ride,” I corrected with a roll of my eyes as the view through the glass doors changed from our den to the inside of a cave, where two cave people were fighting over the last piece of mammoth.
The scene flashed from our eyes and was replaced by the view of some empty planet, then an underwater hangout for colorful fish, then an empty school building, and then a small-town-looking house that reminded me of the farm by brother and I had stayed at the summer I learned why horses shouldn’t be mounted from the right.
When we suddenly appeared in a futuristic dance club filled with robots and three-legged, one-eyed creatures, Kay danced out to join them.
“Kay,” I complained, “we’re sort of in a hurry here!”
“Oh, come on,” she begged. “Great scotts! They just lowered the disco ball!!”
I glared at her until she rejoined us. We were off again. This time to a city street I recognized.
An adorable girl in short, curly brown pigtails sat on the sidewalk next to a colorful puppet show stage with two of her Barbie dolls in her hands. “Let’s go Ken; it’s your turn to sing.”
“Oh, wasn’t I so cute when I was five?” I asked the group collectively.
“Not nearly as cute as you are now,” Alex answered.
“Aww. See, that’s why we work so well together. I’m amazing, and you recognize it.”
The young Peter came up behind my double with his bulky little camera. “Brook, you can’t be here, I’m filming my audition here.”
“Audition for what?” I shot back. “Are you dumber than a fifth grader?”
He angrily kicked a toy at the young me and she started screaming at him with tears dripping down her face.
“I’m gonna set him straight!” I tried to open the accordion door, but Peter put his hand on my arm.
“Brook, you can’t just run through time doing whatever you want! You can mess with the balance of things…again. And even though the human brain would never notice, we’re designed with an extra lobe; you’d be remembering a different reality from the one you’d be living in!”
“So that’s why I don’t remember Mom’s birthday party last year?”
“And why I remember you angrily chasing me down the block in your underwear when I took your cell phone?”
“That never happened,” he corrected.
“Agree to disagree,” I shrugged. “But I know our house was never raided by zoo animals.”
“Not yet,” he grunted. “Apparently, unless we do something to alter that course, it’s still going to happen.”
I sighed. “Fine, then I’ll set your straight in our reality.” I flicked him in the head with an amused smile.
“Moving on,” he announced as we finally made it to a desert full of pyramids.
“Where are we now,” I asked, “Planet Kraken?” I laughed at my jab toward one of Peter’s “comic book” settings. No one else was laughing. They were too busy looking at something I couldn’t see.
“What is it?” I stood on my toes and craned my neck to see what everyone else had been staring at: mummies.
“They’re female mummies,” Peter observed their shapes. “They have poor eyesight and they’re not very fast or strong.”
“How do you know that?” Kay asked nervously.
Peter snickered. “Kay, the females are barely capable of anything. Trust me. Just move past them slowly and don’t make eye contact.”
“Please,” I snorted, “only an idiot would make eye contact with a mummy. They’re a little kooky. Here goes nothing,” I whispered to myself as the door creaked open. Kay followed close behind me, holding the ice cream carton, Alex held spoons, and Peter took up the rear.
We inched past the mummies so slowly that Kay had to complain three or four times that the ice cream was melting. When we’d made it past them, I let out a breath of relief.
“I hope we never have to do that again,” Alex informed us.
I yanked the purple and pink bands out of my low pigtails and tied my hair into a high ponytail, purposely pulling a few curls in front of my face because, as everyone knows, I look super adorable that way. “It’s hotter than Pluto here,” I whined as I dropped my lacy purple jacket on the ground. “And I bet it hasn’t rained here in years.”
“Actually, Brook, Pluto is the coldest planet.” Kay told me.
“Actually, it’s not even a planet,” Peter corrected her.
“Yeah, it’s the really hot one,” I told him.
“You’re thinking of the sun,” Alex told me.
I rolled my eyes. Who were these people to be correcting everything I said? What did they think they were Zach or something?
A freaky moan came from somewhere behind me. “Please tell me that was someone’s stomach.”
“Afraid not,” Alex worriedly replied.
Two humanoid forms wobbled toward us, followed by a dark cloud of others, all dressed in dirty, smelly rags.
“Zombies,” I agonized aloud.
“Don’t take us, take the ice cream!” Kay shouted frantically, shoving the carton in their direction.
“What kind?” asked one of the leaders.
“Cookie dough!” she once again pushed it at the advancing army.
“We hate cookie dough,” decided a woman zombie. “Let’s eat their brains!”
“We should have brought chocolate!” Kay shrieked and hid behind Peter while I nodded.
“None of this was in my history book!” Alex stated.
I turned to him knowingly. “Now you see how little you actually learn by learning. You learn a lot more by getting out in the world and getting experiences,” I taught. “Like, how not to spill soda all over your customers, or what’s the best way to bother your brother without literally pushing him over the wall.”
“There were so many things wrong with that sentence,” Peter told me.
“Or how to swim against an enormous current.”
“Or when to shut up and get eaten!” the girl zombie grumbled at me.
“Alex, protect me!” I ran behind my boyfriend for cover.
“So you don’t like ice cream?” he asked. “Let’s see how you feel about milkshakes!”
“Um, hate to interrupt here, Sweetie, but what do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m doing what you taught me,” he whispered back, “I’m improvising.”
“As you were.”
He grabbed the carton and spilled some liquid ice cream on the woman.
“I’m melting! I’m melting!” she cried as she became a wet pile of dust and ash.
I shrugged to myself. I guess I’d learned a pretty strange lesson today. “Everybody grab a spoon!” We all did just that. Using our spoons as catapults, we splashed them with the sticky liquid until most of them were gone. “For the record,” I announced, “this wasn’t really the kind of learning I had in mind for a Saturday afternoon.” The few remaining zombies ran from us as quickly as they could, considering they were, after all, zombies and not a mutant hybrid zombie that can run at the speed of light and morph into bugs and small animals.
We made it to the entrance of a large cave surrounded by tombs and pyramids. We stopped suddenly, staring at the gigantic Egyptian painting on the outside of the wall. The figure looked like Hayley with its brown and blonde hair and the feathers going down the side of its head. In the center of the painting was a heart-shaped gap with little stick figure people and birds on either side.
“What does it say?” I asked Peter. “I know someone who would know,” he shook his head. “Maybe I can call her.”
“Um, hello, we’re in the year six billion DC. Unless you’re trying to call a tricerasaurus, you’re out of luck!” I told him plainly.
“Let me see.” Alex moved toward the hieroglyphics.
“You can read that nerdy junk?” I asked in shock.
“A little,” he explained. “An old friend of mine was very cultured. She tried to teach me once, so I might be able to decipher it.” He squinted and rubbed at the dirt on the walls. “It seems that we have to find the stone that fits in the indent,” he told us when he’d turned from the hieroglyphs.
“I bet Hayley’s in there,” Peter desperately ran his fingers inside of the indentation. “It’s ironic,” he mused. “Just before she left we were planning on writing this story. But she was supposed to be here with the rescuers, not trapped on the inside.”
“We’ll save her,” Alex promised.
Another wave of mummies could be seen approaching. “What’s with all the mummies?” I complained.
“Um, Ancient Egypt?” Alex looked at me with an eyebrow up.
“It’s okay, right? They won’t be able to see us just like the last ones.”
“Kay, those aren’t females. Those are males,” I whispered.
“But they’re still slow and weak with bad vision?” Alex asked hopefully.
Peter shook his head. “No! They’re strong and fast with excellent vision!”
The mummies were upon us almost before we’d identified them. One grabbed my arm and twisted it behind my back, but I used his own weight against him and flipped him over me. He immediately turned into a heap of dust and bandages.
“Alex,” I turned to him, “In case this whole killing the mummies thing doesn’t work out, I have something I want to tell you,” I took a deep breath as he slammed another mummy into the sand.
“Look!” he shouted. I followed his line of sight to a red spot shining through the ground.
Peter ran towards it and unwedged it from two big rocks. He knocked another mummy down before it could grab at Kay.
“You two get Hayley back!” Alex shouted. “Kay and I can hold them off until you get back.”
I hesitated, but there weren’t many mummies left and I figured they would join us within minutes.
As soon as we’d slid the gem into place, the wall slid to the side like a secret entrance in a movie.
“Hayley? Hayley?” we called. I imagined her smiling face and her happy laugh and suddenly missed her more than ever.
“Mmf-mmhm-mmm.” The muffled voice came from the dark room and echoed off the dimly lit walls.
“Sorry, I can’t really understand anything you’re saying, so you’re gonna hafta repeat that, and speak up this time,” I told the owner of the voice.
“It’s Hayley!” Peter pointed to a familiar girl tightly tied to a column in the far corner.
“It’s like the first time you two met,” I joked.
We ran to her and I quickly started work on the complicated knots holding her hands behind her back.
“Hey, did everyone get my message about the ice cream?” she asked when the gag had been pulled from her mouth.
Peter nodded. “You’re a life saver, Hayz. I would have never thought of bringing it to fight the zombies with.”
“What? That’s not what it was for,” she laughed. “I wanted cookie dough ice cream. It get’s hotter than Arizona out here.”
“I tried to tell him,” I chuckled as Hayley used her free hand to do our secret hand shake with me.
“Don’t worry,” Peter assured her, rubbing her arm comfortingly, “We’re getting you out of here.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” I looked up to see the doorway closing. A deep gloom filled my chest as I started to doubt that we’d really get out safely.
In the shadows stood a young woman with a dark shiny cloak and white hair. Peter took a step forward as he studied her. From where I knelt behind Hayley, I could make out the woman’s high cheekbones and deeply stained lips. She had a beautiful figure for a creepy Shadow Lady. My brother shook his head in disbelief as he stepped even closer. “Rosie?”
Suddenly, recognition hit me in the head like…something that hits people in the heads. Her voice, though oily and sinister, still had the same ring to it that Rosie’s had always had. She looked so different in black dress and cloak, with white eyes and hair and what looked like fangs, that I had to stare at her hard before I could manage to convince myself of her identity.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, briskly walking in her direction.
“Yeah, what are you doing here? You’re here to destroy us, aren’t you?” I accused, as much as I didn’t want to believe my own theory.
“Brook, of course she’s not,” Peter reprimanded harshly. “She’s my girlfriend. How dare you ask her that. She obviously has a perfectly rationally explanation.”
I looked at her, hoping for Peter’s sake that there was a reason she was in Ancient Egypt in the same location where my race’s fate was hanging in the balance.
“Actually, Peter, that is why I’m here.”
“You want to destroy my people?” he asked in shock.
“Peter,” Hayley started, “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you.”
“Silence!” Rosie boomed, shaking the cavern we were in. “That’s not it at all,” her voice softened as she turned to my brother and let her hands fall on his shoulders. “I only use Xena energy because it keeps me alive.”
“What are you some kind of vampire?” I asked in disgust. My heart ached for my poor brother. I knew how much he cared about Rosie.
Hayley shook her head in equal disdain. “She’s a real freak,” she murmured to me.
She gave me a shrug. “Something like that.” Turning back to my brother she continued in her especially smooth voice, “I would never hurt you, Peter. I love you. Join me and be my king. We’ll be together forever, eternally young. We’ll rewrite all of human history, you and I. We will be the greatest rulers of all time.”
I saw him reach for her outstretched hand. “Peter!”
“Do you even hear what she’s saying?” Hayley asked incredulously. “She wants to kill people from your planet and mine.”
“I can’t,” he admitted, obvious pain in his eyes.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” she coaxed.
He shook his head in confusion. “Rosie, I… I can’t. Please.”
“I love you, Peter,” she told him, brushing his chin with her smooth hand.
“No, she doesn’t!” Hayley screamed with tears in her eyes. “If she cared about you, she wouldn’t be doing this!”
“You’re wrong!” he snapped at her, so desperate for his feelings to be reciprocated by his vampire girlfriend. I winced. “What do you know about it? Nothing! You can’t possibly understand love!”
“Yes, I do,” she cried.
Rosie gave a menacing chuckle as Peter wrapped his arms around her. “Take care of her,” she glared at me.
With a single nod, he sped back to me. I blocked a hit and dodged a second. “Peter, what are you doing? This isn’t you!” I literally cried. He couldn’t be this captivated by Rosie, could he? We struggled with each other while Rosie smiled smugly.
“No!” Hayley unexpectedly leapt from her corner onto Rosie. While my brother held me pinned in place, his girlfriend gripped Hayley’s neck to keep her pressed against the wall with her feet dangling helplessly. “Peter,” she choked out before her body collapsed to the floor.
Peter released me and pressed his hands to his head like there was an ongoing war inside.
I ran to Hayley and lightly rested my first two fingers on her neck, hoping that the rest of the group would catch up with us soon. There was a pulse. She was alive.
I saw Rosie’s shadow pass me as she escaped up a long stone staircase. Knowing Hayley would be okay for now, I followed Rosie closely.
The outside desert heat had given way to an unearthly rain. Strong gusts of wind blew in my eyes and ears. I felt strangely open and vulnerable as I watched Rosie in front of me. Anyone who could turn my brother’s passion for justice into a dark chasm was certainly worth fearing.
She stopped and turned to fear me, only a few yards away. She pulled on a string around her neck and her cape blew away to reveal black dragon wings, which quickly unfolded. If only Peter had seen this earlier on in the relationship. “Do you really think you can destroy me, Xena?”
“After what you’ve done, you leave me no choice.”
She scoffed, “I’ll take your power and add it to my collection.”
“I’m a lot stronger than you think,” I warned. My heart beat with rage. She’d turned Peter against his race, against his friends. And against his own sister. “I should kill you and end all of this now,” I seethed.
“Excellent,” came her cool reply. She knew her own strengths, and she knew my weaknesses. What chance did I stand? “Why don’t you give that a shot?” she taunted.
I ran at her blindly, only to be thrown by a blast of lightning. Quickly recovering, I forced a laugh threw my anger and pain. “Is that the best you can do?”
“I am the goddess of the sky!” Raising her arms to the heavens, she collected a ball of electricity between her hands. “That’s not even close to being my best.”
If it weren’t for all the people whose lives depended on me right now, I’d be tempted to give up in the face of my own doom. “You’ll have to do better than that!” I called as I blocked the blast with a wall of energy projected by my bracelet.
She responded with an automatic fire of hailstones. I dropped to my stomach and slid down the wet stone between her legs. She turned to face me, but I’d already used a crumbling column as a springboard and regained my original position, hoping that I knew what I was doing and that my Xpills wouldn’t suddenly give out on me.
“Surprise!” I clapped a large stone over her head. To my horror, the stone cracked and she reacted as coolly as before, simply turning around and facing me.
“Fool!” she laughed. She knotted her fist around my collar.
“Don’t do this,” I begged. “Think about this for a minute. Think about Peter.”
“I never liked that moron,” she sighed.
“What? Then…then why—“
“Oh, all the research that you two’d done on everything going on out here? I needed access.”
“But, Peter never told you about any of this,” my legs kicked around, searching for the ground. “How did you get him to show you anything?”
“Oh, please. He’s so predictable. Do you think it was that hard to find his little hiding place?”
I knew it was only too true.
“Fool,” she repeated, flinging me into a pile of rubble.
My eyes darkened. It was like I was trapped in some sort of limbo, where I could hear voices and see colors swirling about me.
I found myself standing in a long hallway, doors on either side of me. I blinked, sure that this wasn’t real. As I moved down the hallway, I could feel the wooden floorboards creak under me.
My fingers brushed over the handles of the doors as I passed down, looking through the windows as I passed.
“Alex?” I asked when I spotted him through one window.
He smiled and I walked in. I rushed into his arms in tears, the memories of the Rosie encounter flooding through my mind all at once.
My head pulsed when I opened my eyes, Alex’s face melting from my mind. Where was Rosie? I scanned the area through the pain, but between the headache and the thickening veil of rain, I couldn’t make out much.
Motion across the roof from me caught my attention. I sat up slightly, pressing a hand to the side of my head. It was Peter. I let out a sigh of relief at the sight of my brother.
“Rosie?” he called out.
She came flying from nowhere, an enormous dagger of a stone in her hands.
“Peter!” I screamed in warning before she could plunge it through him like a skewer.
He turned just in time to catch it with both hands. “Rosie,” he pleaded, “let it go. Stop all of this and we can be together again.”
“I can’t let go. I have everything I’ve ever wanted. I can have all the power I’ve ever desired! You’re the only thing standing in my way.”
He shook his head and moved his mouth, but no sound came out. He instinctively shoved her away from him as she attempted again to shish kabob him.
She gave a shriek as she slipped from the cliff edge.
“Rosie!” I watched my brother snatch for her, but his fingers only brushed hers as she tumbled into a canyon. “Rosie,” he repeated softly, tearing up.
My heart ached more than my head. I made my way to him and placed a small hand on his shoulder, empathizing with him more than I ever had.
“She was going down a path you couldn’t follow,” I sighed.
He nodded quietly. I know he knew it was true, but he was heartbroken. She’d used him, but the romance had always been real to him.
I suddenly remembered my injured friend downstairs. I retraced my steps down the crumbly old staircase. When I’d gotten to the chamber I’d started in, I saw my boyfriend and Kay bent over Hayley’s unresponsive body.
“Is she alright?” I asked before I’d even reached them.
She stirred and sat up, looking dazedly up. “Alex?” she asked gleefully, hugging him tightly. “You came for me! What are you doing here?”
I watched in shock. “Do you two know each other?”
They turned to me hesitantly, glancing at each other in some unknown code, deciding whether or not to answer my question truthfully. “Alex and I used to date,” she at last answered.
“What?” I was bewildered.
“Alex is my exboyfriend. How do you know him?” She looked just as puzzled as me.
“He’s my current boyfriend,” I jealously and protectively snapped at her. A sudden thought occurred to me. “Alex, you knew who we were looking for all along. Why didn’t you tell me? You made me think that you wanted to come with me.”
“Brook, I did want to come with you.”
“For her! This wasn’t for me at all, was it?” I started to cry. “This was about you two the entire time!”
Both Alex and Hayley tried to answer, but I ran through the desert, which had mystically dried after Rosie’s plunge.
I closed myself into the time machine and punched in the code to take me home and away from this tragic mass of drama. I paid little attention to the memories playing outside of my window until the machine reappeared in the cellar.
There was a knock at my door. “Brook, can you open the door? It’s me,” Hayley asked. I leaned across my bed and unlocked the door, quickly pulling myself beneath the covers again.
“Brook,” she said softly, sitting on the bed with me, “I need to talk to you about what happened with Alex.”
“Go away,” I moaned. “I don’t want to talk to you. Or Alex. I’m never going to be happy again.” It wasn’t a fair assessment, but it seemed realistic.
“Would a hug make you feel better?” she asked sadly.
“Come on, Brook. Just listen.”
I poked my head out from underneath my blue wool blanket. “Alex broke my heart. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before.”
“I know,” she automatically agreed. “I can see how much you care for him. And how much he cares for you. We may have a history together, but there’s no romance anymore. We’ve moved on. In fact, I think I may like someone else now. You two belong together. Don’t let a little misunderstanding like this ruin your happiness.”
“You promise?” I asked her. She nodded. “I’ll take that hug now.”
We hugged tightly.
“How’d you guys get back?” I asked suddenly.
“You had the time machine, but Peter had the remote control, in case something like this happened,” she laughed.
“Brook?” There was another knock. Hayley opened the door and Alex looked surprised to see her.
I slid out of my bed. I’m sure I had tumbleweed hair and ratty pajamas I looked like a wreck. “Alex, I’m sorry I was so quick to jump to conclusions,” I apologized as Hayley slipped past him out of the room.
He shook his head firmly. “No, you were right. It was my fault that I didn’t tell you from the start.”
I sighed. “Let’s not fight about it.”
He smiled with his blue eyes. “Deal.”
I walked into the den to look for Peter. Hayley gave him a punch in the shoulder as a quick farewell and nodded to me. “See you guys at the after party,” she joked, jogging up the stairs.
“You okay?” I asked him gently.
“Working on it,” he shrugged. “Brook, I loved her, and it all turned out to be a lie. Why is it that the people we care about the most are never what they seem?”
“Well, that’s not always a bad thing,” I sighed. “Hayley turned out to be a friend and a good one too. Besides, you know I’ll always be here for you.” I sat next to him on a wooden park bench my father was storing down there.
“Thanks,” he squeezed my shoulders.
“You’re a good guy,” I told him soberly. “There will always be another girl. And somewhere out there is one who will be worth your love.”
He smiled and nodded his appreciation. I let my head fall onto his large shoulder as we sat in silence.