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The Time Capsule MAG
“Isobel, are you going to wait all day to dig up your treasure?”
I sigh. My mother is referring to my time capsule, a series of random objects that I used to love when I started middle school, when I thought that it would be a good idea to bury them in my favorite spot in the garden in hopes of remembering them on this very day, or, at least before they decomposed and anything useful in what was left of them was absorbed by the roots of plants. Unfortunately, with my mother remembering the exact location of the buried memories, there’s not much hope of my 18th birthday being free of embarrassing reminders that I haven’t always been as beautiful as I am now.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” I lie, hoping my mother can’t see through this whopper as easily as she could tell that I hopped a train to New York City with my friend Lucy instead of sleeping over at her house like I said I was. Together, along with Lucy-who-went-to-New-York-with-me we walk over to the small, plain mound of dirt that signifies all that remains of my six-years-ago self is buried just a few feet below. My mother hands me an old shovel that looks like something a gravedigger would use, and I begin to toss up the piles of dirt that hold twelve-year-old Isobel down.
“Mom,” I fib again, since I seem to suddenly have gotten good at it, “I can’t find the time capsule. I think it’s decomposed already.”
With a sudden, strong motion, my mother yanks the shovel from my hand and starts thrusting dirt into a large, mountainous heap. Lucy’s mouth falls open. “Isobel,” my mother whisper-screams in a way that lets me know she’s angry and even causes Lucy to flinch, just in case she hits me with the shovel, “what is your problem with the time capsule?”
I don’t answer, since I think that this is one of those questions that isn’t demanding an answer, and because anything I might say will probably be met with a screeching fit from her. The last thing I want is to ruin my first day as an adult, a butterfly out of her chrysalis stretching her wings for the first time. My mother finally flings the time capsule out of the ground with a swift swing of the shovel, and I open the pink shoebox just to make her happy. Lucy looks down into the box, and I wish that she would just go away, but just for the sake of being a decent friend I let her stay with me.
“Did I know you when this was taken?” she singsongs sweetly, holding up a photograph of me with my brown hair in two ugly braids, blue eyes obviously looking away from the camera, and a face full of blemishes. I shake my head. Of course she didn’t. That was when I was ugly and everybody hated me.
Lucy and I look through the remainder of the mass of seventh-grade garbage inside the box: the latest edition of a magazine, a pink headband, a photo of middle-school me that makes me cringe, and a stuffed bear. A stuffed bear. No wonder I had no friends in my pre-teenage years. I pretend to admire the painful reminders of who I was years ago, and then put them back and run into the house, leaving Lucy to gaze mulishly at how ugly I used to be.
My mother comes inside with the box moments later. “Isobel,” she calls from the other room, “there’s one more thing.”
I resist the urge to groan and walk over to her. She’s holding a pink piece of paper, folded as much as it physically can be. I grab it from her, trying not to look too angry, and read it. Lucy reads over my shoulder, and this time I decide not to be so nice. I make a motion for her to back off, and she obeys, skittering away.
“Dear Isobel-age-eighteen,” the note tells me, and I don’t even try to stifle the groan that flies out of my lips as soon as I start reading. “I hope life is better for you than it is for me. Do you have any friends? A boyfriend? Are people still mean to you because Dad left you and Mom? They say life gets better as you get older, but I don’t really believe that. I feel so sorry for you. Life must be so tough. I hope it hasn’t become too much torture for you. Love, Isobel-age-twelve.”
I want to crumple the dumb letter up and slam-dunk it into the trash can, but I somehow can’t. Suddenly, after reading my past letter to my future self, I have an urge to help somebody – even if that somebody isn’t around anymore. I grab the nearest pen I see, and I tear my room apart for a piece of paper. Finally, I sit down at my desk and begin to write.
“Dear Isobel-age-twelve,” I begin. “First of all, you’re going to have the best friend ever. Her name is Lucy, and let’s just say that you’ll go on some adventures that you could never even imagine now. The next thing I’m going to tell you might sound pretty bad at first, but it’s really not as bad as you think: things will get worse. People will still be mean to you, you’ll be the only girl without a date to Senior Prom, and you won’t be accepted to that college that you’ve always been dying to go to; but the thing is that you’ll learn to deal with whatever life throws at you. I know, this might sound like a nightmare to you now, but I promise that you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been in your life in the next few years. Just focus on the good things and you’ll be okay. Love, Isobel-age-eighteen.”
I carry both letters upstairs and put them in my tiny, empty jewelry chest. I guess that a time capsule is not a burden to remind me of the days past, but an opportunity for me to help put a broken girl from years ago back together. F