Death’s Convenience

“I want you all to be on your best behavior for Megan,” Mrs. Hooper introduced the new student, a blond girl with long curls, to her biology class. It was supposed to be an uneventful Friday morning for Nick. Then Mrs. Hooper spoke the phrase Nick was dreading. “Why don’t you sit next to Nick? He’s the young man with brown ponytail,” Mrs. Hooper pointed at Nick sitting alone at a two-person table.

Nick sighed. He was sure Mrs. Hooper suggested the seat next to him intentionally. He’d gone out of his way to avoid making friends; he didn’t see the point. No one in his class would live long enough to be friends with; they would all die before he was even born. It was almost a deliberate decision to choose the class he knew everything about. But, he didn’t know Megan. He watched her curiously as she walked to her seat next to him, and she noticed. A slight blush filled her cheeks when she locked eyes with Nick for a brief moment.

“Hi,” Megan whispered once she was settled and Mrs. Hooper started her lecture.

“Hey,” Nick replied without looking up. He pretended to be taking notes and hoped she couldn’t see him doodling. She seemed to take the hint that he wasn’t feeling chatty. Megan put her bag on her lap and began digging through it. After a moment, she set the bag down and began playing with a thin rectangle of glass in her hands. It was transparent but parts of it lit up to display information. Nick noticed.

“What are you doing!?” he whispered. His question was equal parts curiosity and concern.

“Texting,” she whispered back. “Why?”

Nick had answers and more questions. He wondered where she came from, there was never supposed to be a ‘Megan’ in his class. And now it seemed obvious she was from the future too. He attended school in the early 90’s, ‘Texting’ hadn’t gone mainstream quite yet. Her phone looked unusual too. By looks alone it seemed to be a simple piece of glass.  Nick had no idea where it kept its electronic components that ran the display.

“Put it away, they don’t have that here yet,” he said quietly.

“Oh, sorry,” Megan hid the node in her bag again. “Where are you from?” she asked. It seemed like an innocent question, but they each knew neither of them belonged there. Nick almost ignored her; but, he realized none of his reasons for avoiding friends applied to her. He didn’t know a thing about her and she was a traveler like him! He decided to take a chance.

“2020,” he said.

“Huh?” She asked surprisingly loud. Nick glanced at Mrs. Hooper to see if Megan attracted any attention. Mrs. Hooper was in the midst of explaining mitochondria and didn’t seem to be bothered by Megan’s surprise. By the time Nick decided everything was okay Megan whispered again. “Oh, you’re from the future?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Nick replied. “Aren’t you?” Megan giggled and shook her head.

“No,” she said; her voice no longer a whisper. “I’m from an alternate universe,” she said.

“Shhhh,” Nick tried to shush her but he was also interested in what she said. Megan spoke up again before he could ask what she meant.

“No!” she said playfully and loudly. “This is too exciting to keep whispering. Why are you here instead of the future?” She spoke at a normal volume and Nick glanced around the classroom expecting all eyes to be on them. Instead, he found all eyes facing Mrs. Hooper at the front of the room. She was pointing at a doodle on the blackboard with her mouth hanging open as if she were mid-sentence.

“What’s going on?” Nick asked.

“I stopped time so we could talk,” Megan replied.

“You… you can do that?” Nick asked. He was amazed but couldn’t deny the proof he witnessed with his own eyes.

“Yeah,” Megan smiled. “Can’t you?”

“No,” Nick replied with a shake of his head.

“Really?” Megan asked. “What’s your favorite number?”

“What?” Nick chuckled. “I don’t have one; who has a favorite number?”

“I do,” Megan replied. “It’s 14,” she reached up to brush her curls back, then she tugged at the neck of her t-shirt slightly. A ’14’ was tattooed on her shoulder in red numbers.

“How’d you get here from the future?” Megan asked.

“Time bracelet,” Nick held up his wrist to show off his watch. “How’d you get here from another universe?”

Megan pointed at a tall black portal in front of their desk.

“I walked,” she said.

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