By Barış Cansevgisi
Copyright © 2016 by Barış Cansevgisi
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Jessie woke up two hours earlier than usual; it was her 17th birthday and this year it was a Saturday. Everything was perfect. She quickly kicked away the blanket that had coated her and rolled out of the bed like a loosely made sushi, leaving the weed-like cover stretched on the bed. She ran to the bathroom as soon as her bare feet touched the fluffy little pink rug and stared at herself in the mirror for a minute or so, practicing her best smile. Her wavy long hair got in the way too many times as she flung her head in different directions so she gathered them together and made an imperfect bun. She would have time for a hairdo later anyway; 7:30 in the morning was too early. Greg, her boyfriend slash captain of the school’s football team, was going to pick her up at least 12 hours later for a nice, romantic dinner downtown. Well, at least that was what Jessie had told her mother. Their actual plan was to go to the drive-in movie theater, watch a movie, (any movie but hopefully a romantic one) kiss and miss the end. She didn’t care about the movie, Greg was perfect for her. He wasn’t the dumb, irresponsible kid that she should stay away from like her mother had told her so many times. Jessie never could wrap her head around why her mother was so prejudicial against him. After all, she was the smartest woman Jessie had ever met and this rage she had against Greg was out of the ordinary; whenever she heard his name she got furious like hell, acting in the weirdest ways. Somehow Greg was the evil incarnate for her…without a good reason. Any reason. She didn’t want to lie to her mother as she loved her and she was the only family she had. Jessie had lost her father in a car crash when she was only 3. Obviously she had no memories of him, not even a blur and her mother never talked about him, ever. Perhaps, this was because what Jessie had discovered at the age of 15 when she was doing research for a school project and came across the news about his father’s accident in a local newspaper’s microfiche archive. The headline read: “Physicist dies in car crash” and below it reported that at the time of the accident, her father was with an unidentified woman. It was impossible to get an identity from the dental records or the DNA, both of which were degraded greatly. Since it couldn’t have been her mother, it could only mean that he was having an affair at the time, which also explained Jessie’s mother’s behavior towards him. Jessie’s mother…
Jennifer Sparks looked like an aged version of Jessie. She was her mother after all, but apart from the physical similarities, the mimics and the character, they also had some unexplainable common points like the pear-shaped birthmarks on the exactly same spot on their necks and the matching scars on the soles of their left feet. Jennifer had told her daughter that she had stepped onto pieces of broken glass when she was taking her first steps on becoming bipedal and often joked about the same thing happening to her as a child. That didn’t explain Jennifer’s slight limp and neither did she give out the details except that it was from a freak accident in her teen ages. Jennifer was a top physicist like her late husband and it was no wonder that Jessie had been showing extreme interest towards the subject since she was a little girl. She was the only kid in her school that was so into it; she often couldn’t connect to others except her physical science teacher Mr. Duncan and Greg, who was actually much brighter than anyone anticipated. How could her mind reader mom not see the real Greg?
Jessie slipped out of her trance in front of the mirror as soon as she heard her mom calling her name from downstairs. After one final test smile, she rushed downstairs. Jennifer was waiting for her by the kitchen door, leaning onto the wall, resting her bad leg in a suspending position. She had a worried look on her face.
“Morning Mom!” Jessie said and gave a little kiss on her mom’s cheek.
“Morning!” Jennifer replied in a monotonous tone. The worry was still all over her face. She seemed like she was trying hard to decide whether to tell her something or just forget about it.
“What’s wrong mom?” The worry seemed to spread onto Jessie as her lively spirit died down.
“You’re going out with Greg tonight, no matter what I do, right?” She paused for a second” and you’re going to the movies not dinner.” She was doing it again; the whole mind reading thing. Jennifer was a woman of science but her knowing every detail that Jessie was trying to hide in advance, added a magical side to her. Mind reading couldn’t be explained by vast knowledge of physics, could it?
The momentary expression of being caught red-handed gave Jessie away. All she could do was nod and say:
“Mom!” Jessie’s eyes got slightly wet. “Greg is a great guy. Why do you hate him so much?”
Jennifer kept her silence for a moment.
“I don’t hate Greg.” She finally said. “We need to talk.” Before Jessie could say anything, she grabbed her wrist and started dragging her softly to her study.
“Mom! I am 17 and…” Jessie couldn’t finish her protest as her mother cut in.
“It’s not about Greg and I’m not your mom.”
Jessie was dumbfounded and this facilitated Jennifer to guide the puzzled Jessie into a comfortable armchair opposite the massive bookcase and she seated her. Jessie had often visited her mother’s study, due to her curiosity, but somehow she felt like it was her first time there. Jennifer reached up to one of the top shelves and pulled back an old, furry Ewok figurine which acted as a book rest. Jessie hated touching that thing and never had; the feel of that figurine was horrendous.
“I hate touching this thing, but here goes.” Jennifer mumbled as she outstretched the book end until a click was heard. She immediately let go off the Ewok and wiped her itchy hand onto her dress, rubbing it hard until that horrible feeling in her hand wore off.
Jessie couldn’t decide what was stranger; the fact that her mother hated the figurine just like herself but still kept it or that there was a secret room behind the book case. She was still trying to figure out when Jennifer pushed aside the two sides of the book case away from each other, revealing a hidden door. She opened the door with one swift move. Behind the door was a mini version of her mother’s study; much smaller but messier. The three blackboards on the wall had been chalked up fully by formulas, the small wooden desk was topped with stacks of paper and more books; ones that Jessie had never seen. She took a closer look, taking the closest one into her hand. The title read: “Exploration of time and possible consequences.” The author was Jessica Sparks. Jessica Sparks? It was her name. She quickly opened the book and skipped to the publication details. It was…would be printed in 20 years! Jessie quickly flipped over to the back cover and saw the picture of the author; a younger version of her mother or an older version of herself. Jennifer hadn’t said a word since they got in, possibly because she wanted Jessie to figure out the answers until she was stumped. She was stumped.
“I made sure that you would never discover here, making this room inaccessible by putting the Ewok as a key. I knew you…I would never touch that thing.” She explained.
Then, everything fell into place for Jessie; their looks, characters, bodily marks, behavior matching perfectly. They were never similar as they were one and the same. Everything made near perfect sense now; the author of the book being herself, the scar on their soles and of course Jennifer’s mind reading. A million questions formed up in Jessie’s mind but she didn’t know where to start.
“As I see you…I figured it out.” Jennifer smiled “I knew I was always smart.”
Jessie gulped hard and just nodded.
“Please don’t go out with Greg tonight.” Jennifer pleaded. “For our sake.”
Not participating in the conversation became something of the ordinary for Jessie as she kept her mute stance once more.
“You going to the movies with Greg tonight will result in this and Greg’s demise.” She said patting at her bad leg. “A freak car accident.” She added.
“Greg dies?” Jessie asked timidly although she somehow knew the answer.
“Yes, Greg dies and I become crippled for the rest of my life.” She patted her leg again.
“Wait! So if I don’t see Greg today, we’ll be all right?”
“In theory.” Jennifer agreed. “But, I was the inventor of the time machine and this was its first trip. I’m trying to tell you that there’s no guarantee that something else won’t happen to Greg, once the timeline changes.”
“Why did you come here? You don’t even like Greg.”
“This is absurd.” Jennifer sighed. “I’m having a chat with my own stubbornness.”
She continued. “I had a rough childhood, losing both my parents; becoming an orphan at the age of 3, surviving a terrible car crash at 17 losing the full functionality of my leg and losing the love of my life forever.”
“And?” Jessie said. “Life is harsh you know.” Since the woman was not her mother but herself, Jessie had left aside any crumbs of respect she had felt for her and had continued the honest conversation with her future self.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Jennifer seemed a tad angry at herself. “I have come from the future; your future, our future for you to have a better life. But, I’m not so sure anymore.”
Jennifer seemed thoughtful. She bit her lips. She was still battling whether to spill out all or not.
Jessie was not listening to her anymore, she was exploring the room in awe.
“Greg has to die!” Jennifer finally said.
Jessie ignored her once more and started staring at the chalked up formulas on the board. She seemed more like thinking rather than ignoring Jennifer.
Suddenly, Jessie took the letter opener from the top of the desk and inspected it for a moment in her hand, switching it to the other hand at short intervals.
“Why do you have a letter opener?” She asked finally breaking the silence.
“Why are you so interested?” Jennifer inquired.
“I just want to test something.” She answered with a weird smirk on her face. A fraction of a second later, she pricked her left palm. Blood drops formed where the letter opener dug in. Then, she slid the sharp object a little down and made a clean cut.
Jennifer was watching her with blank eyes. She slowly opened up her left fist and noticed an old wound in the center of her palm, which seemed to have magically appeared. It was fresh yet ancient. She had no pain. She slowly raised her left hand in the air, her open palm facing Jessie. Jessie did the same and for a brief moment, it felt like they were staring at their unaligned, out of time mirror images, complete with the flaws.
“Need any more proof?” Jennifer asked, waving the old wound in her hand as Jessie wiped her blood with the handkerchief she carried in her back pocket.
“I assume Greg has to die as he had been your incentive to build a time machine. If he doesn’t die, you will not be able to build the machine that brings you here.” Jessie took a deep breath. “But, you also want nothing to happen to you, so you’ll have a full functioning body, including the leg.”
“Don’t be so harsh.” Jennifer replied. “Do you think I would come here just to fix my leg?” She paused. “Many years in advance?”
“I would so you would.” Jessie said in an accusing tone. Then she just took off towards the front door.
“Where are you going?” Jennifer shouted from behind as a mother would.
“To Greg’s.” Jessie said. “We won’t go the movies or drink. Not today. Today, we’ll survive. Both of us.” She placed her hand onto the doorknob and kept still before she opened the door.
“You’re still in your PJ’s.” Jennifer exclaimed in one last fruitless attempt to stop her.
“So? It’s not going to end how you would want.” Jessie said. “One last thing.”
“What’s that?” Strangely, Jennifer didn’t really seem too anxious to stop her from leaving.
“Dad’s accident. It was mom with her that day. Right?” Jessie wasn’t looking for an answer but a confirmation that Jennifer could give away with her mimics.
“I came from my time to prevent the accident, but failed to do so.” She seemed frank. “Everything that had happened, will happen but tiny distinctions without disrupting the main timeline are possible.”
Jessie hadn’t moved. She was still in need for a full explanation.
“I tampered with the scene – degraded the DNA of mom’s dead body after the accident, so that the police wouldn’t find out that it was indeed her who had died in the accident. It was the only way I could act as your mother.” It was getting harder for Jennifer to speak as a lump started forming in her throat. “I did it all, so I could blend in as your mother… and take care of you. It was necessary.”
“Necessary?” Jessie echoed. “But why waste your whole life just to protect me? You should have known better that I would be just fine and become you in the end.”
Jennifer rolled her eyes and fixed her eyes to a spot on the floor, where her eyes wouldn’t meet Jessie’s. Since no answer came from her, Jessie continued her deductive monologue:
“You cannot go back to your time as time traveling is a one way trip. The machine that you built in the future, had to be built in the past as well to be able to travel both ways.” Jessie sighed. “I read about it in your book when I was checking it twenty minutes ago. You’re stuck in your past.”
“It was a theory which turned out to be true and a major flaw I wasn’t aware of at the time or I would have brought all my notes to recreate the time machine here.” Jennifer sighed. “Now, I’m trying to do it from memory.” She pointed out to the blackboards swarming with formulas.
“But you must have a good memory or else you wouldn’t be the mind reading marvel of a mother here; anticipating every move I make and taking precautions.”
“Your present is my past child.” Then, she started giggling. “No, seriously I brought my old – your current diary with me. It proved to be extremely useful.” The tone of her giggling was getting louder. “And here’s a fun fact: you keep writing in your diary until you’re 33.”
Suddenly, an idea came to Jessie that shook her hard; a horrifying possibility that she wished had never existed.
“How did mom and dad’s accident really happen?” Jessie’s rage towards Jennifer started building up fast. “You were there at the scene of the accident when it happened, weren’t you?”
Jennifer’s silence confirmed.
“I’m guessing that you appearing from nowhere caused dad to go off the road?”
“It shouldn’t have been possible. I couldn’t have been the one who put the events in motion as they had already happened. A damn predestination paradox…” Her voice trailed off like a dying candle losing its light.
Jessie’s accumulating anger towards Jennifer prevented her to stay glued to the doorknob. She slammed the door after her and hurried to Jennifer’s red Chevy parked in the driveway, reaching for the driver’s door, which was surprisingly locked. The key was probably somewhere she would never find at a moment’s notice so she ran to her bicycle near the garden shed. Somehow she knew the anger she felt towards her older self was mutual for reasons unknown to her. She noticed that Jennifer wasn’t coming after her when she started pedaling. Had she given up so easily? She was lost in such thoughts for the whole trip to Greg’s and didn’t have any enlightenment.
Jessie made it in time to see Greg leaving the house, making his way towards his car. She abandoned her bike on the side of the road and ran towards Greg shouting his name. Greg turned around and saw her just before he got into the car. Jessie caught up with him and threw her arms around the puzzled Greg. After all, she was still in her night outfit. They kissed for a short moment of eternity before Greg broke off and asked her what was going on.
“We have to cancel tonight.” was all Jessie could say as she burst into tears. Greg hugged her tight although he was clueless. They kissed again, this time shorter but more passionately. What Jessie had said and what she was doing now didn’t quite match but Greg felt being loved and that made him so happy that nothing else mattered. When they broke off the hugging again, Greg spoke for the first time:
“I’ve got to run a few errands for mom. Care to join me?”
Jessie was in her pajamas and barefoot but she didn’t want to leave Greg alone, so she nodded and together they got in the car. She would have time to make up a credible story about canceling the night on the way as the truth would sound like a big, fat lie.
They hadn’t gone very far when a crimson jalopy turned around a corner, bearing straightly at them. Greg made a sharp turn to avoid the clash and went off road into a tiny ditch by the side of the road. They crashed hard. Blood was trickling from the side of Greg’s head and his neck seemed to be twisted in an impossible angle. Jessie’s leg was hurting like hell. Suddenly, everything went black and the last thing she saw was a familiar red Chevy.
About the author
Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Baris Cansevgisi has been a time-traveler (travelling only forward) since 1977.
He currently resides in Ankara, Turkey, where he works as a language instructor.
“Jessie Sparks” is his third digitally published work.
Connect with Baris Cansevgisi
The life of the 17-year-old Jessie turns upside down as she unravels the shocking truth about herself and her single mother in a series of unpredictable yet predictable events that include love, betrayal, selfishness, time travel and a huge paradox of existence. Jessie, soon has to battle with herself to make an impossible decision whether to maintain the current timeline to face a devastating life once more or change it completely for a much worse future, full of unknown.