• 21 July - Monday morning - Tulsa
I was born in 1952. This is 1970. That should make me eighteen years old this month, and I do look the part. But in fact I'm in my sixties. Until a few hours ago we were in Michigan in 2017.
In the confusion of escaping a hideous, snarling death I seem to have held on to a notebook and a pencil. We've lost everything else we weren't wearing or holding. Risa and Resu are sitting in the dandelions, easing into the feel of the period. I've been sitting under a tree, writing and sketching. Kind of like I did back then/now whenever I had a chance. Things were a bit different for me on my first time through 1970, though.
Dig it! If this truly is 1970, there is no Internet. No cell phones. No digital anything. No CDs or DVDs, heck, no VHS. The Viet Nam war and the draft is on. Nixon is President. Apollo 13 just happened. Woodstock is a first run movie. Star Trek is over, and no one has seen Star Wars. Future Shock was just published near the end of last year, but these people have no idea how shocking the future will actually be!
I was just beginning to cope with everything that has happened to me in the past few years, since Risa and Resu, my two muses, came into my life. Being forced out of my job, having a nervous breakdown, loosing my faith in, well, everything and everyone. Watching the world stumble into the vast wasteland of social media inanity, dependent on an infrastructure with more holes than Swiss cheese. And Donald Trump as the successor to Barak Obama as President of the United States. (Holy crap! Did that really happen?)
I will write some of that down later, so I don't forget. Though I'm not sure it matters any longer. (Maybe forgetting would be a good idea?) For now, recording current events seems most important. Beginning with our arrival here in 1970.
— ∴ —
A touch on my cheek woke me up, or at least began the process. I smelled dandelion. Something landed on my hair and rolled down my face. I opened my eyes and turned in the direction of soft giggling.
Now fully awake, I blinked and rubbed my eyes, then moved to sit up. As I did so a shower of dandelions fell around me. How long had they been tossing them at me? How long had I been asleep? Where was I?
"You're awake!" said the short girl with bright pink hair, wearing a blue jumper with no blouse. "I guess this was a bit of a shock." She scowled at the taller girl who had dark brown hair in sloppy pigtails and was wearing what looked like a rumpled French maid outfit accessorized with combat boots.
"Risa? Resu?" My memory was coming back, along with a headache, and I was beginning to panic. "What have you done?"
"I," said Resu (the combat-ready maid), "have simply granted your wish."
"You simply are an idiot!" growled Risa (the imp with pink hair), "This is the stupidest thing you've ever done, and that's saying a lot, you big overgrown excuse for a warrior!"
"You didn't..." I looked around, looked down at my hands, then realized why I was feeling so strange. "Oh my gods! You did. This is 1970. Woodward Park, in Tulsa. And I'm a teenage girl. Holy crap!"
"Holy crap is right," scowled Risa. "Resu, you big moron! How much of your energy did this take? Did you even think before you pulled this stunt?"
"I had to do something!" said Resu. "I could only manage to fly five-hundred feet with the two of you. I'm just a Valkyrie in training. My wings aren't very strong yet. That ogre almost caught you!"
Risa sighed and slumped to sit on the ground, her fists clenched. "Okay, sorry, I know. I guess I wasn't being very helpful at the time."
Neither was I, if I recall correctly. It was Resu who had remained calm enough to get us out of a tough situation.
Resu knelt to put her hands on Risa's shoulders. "I'll try not to do anything like this again unless we discuss it first, okay?" Resu took Risa's hands in hers and pulled her back up, giving her a hug. "But I have to protect you. It's my sworn duty."
"I'm tired of being on the run," sighed Risa, leaning into Resu. "Why does anyone care what you and I do?"
"Because our parents are important people and it bugs them no end that you and I went AWOL together," said Resu.
"Well, yeah, I know that," said Risa.
Resu and Risa are my muses, and therefore minor gods. Raised to be warriors in the endless cycle of god wars, they opted instead for peace, love and understanding. Their parents are famous gods who are political rivals, which makes for a messy situation.
"Maybe we should fight them and go down in glory like Butch and Sundance?" suggested Risa.
I shook my head, trying to clear it. "Just chill out, guys. I need to think about this and figure out what to do next."
"If I may interrupt this little be-in?" said a deep voice from behind me.
I glanced over my shoulder and saw a police officer. "Uh, hello?" I said.
"May I ask just what you young ladies are up to?"
"Oh, we're just rehearsing our parts in a play we're in," I said, standing up and brushing off the rest of the dandelions. "It's a comedy about a writer and her two muses. My friends are playing the muses, and these are their costumes." I was hoping the fuzz wouldn't know anything about the local drama scene.
"Is that so? You're not maybe abusing some substances?"
"Yes, sir! No, sir!" we chorused. The officer looked skeptical, but left us to ourselves. Once he was out of sight, I said, "Come on! We need to get out of here before we attract any more unwanted attention. Let's walk to Utica Square and get something to eat."
"It's a small shopping center a few blocks from here. Come on!"
— ∴ —
"How can you stand so much ketchup?" Resu was watching Risa squirt a small mound on her plate next to the fries.
"It's my vegetable for the day. Want my pickle?"
"Resu?" I interrupted. "How does this back-in-time thing work? Is there another version of me in this time, or am I it? Either way, am I a big butterfly that's going to totally change the future of this timeline? You know, chaos theory?"
Resu set her burger on her plate and wiped her mouth. "I don't know."
"Huh? You don't know?"
"No. It's not like I took the time to specify a whole bunch of conditions on what would happen. It was just, like, get us out of there and 1970 sounded like a good solution to our immediate problem. You remember? The ogre?"
"You make using magic sound like jumping out of an airplane!"
"Which was exactly my point!" chimed in Risa, waving a gory french fry at Resu.
"If you'd rather be on an airplane with an ogre, I will remember that in the future," said Resu, neatly finishing off Risa's pickle.
"We'd better figure this out, how many of you there are," said Risa. "It's going to affect what we do next, isn't it?"
"I suppose so. If I'm a slightly different but extra one of me, then we just need to leave this area to shake off pursuit and figure out how to live in this time period. If there's only one of me, though, and I simply vanish, then the police will be looking for me in addition to the ogres and whatnot." I thought for a moment. "It's a ways, but we can walk to my house from here."
What had I been doing the summer of 1970? I should have just graduated from high school, but I had dropped out at the beginning of my junior year. So I had just finished my second try at eleventh grade. Yeah, I was a totally screwed up kid. I shook my head and tried to focus on the larger picture.
Resu and Risa looked at each other. "If it's a long walk, can we take it slow? I'm still feeling a bit tired from the jump," said Resu.
"So am I," added Risa, "though I didn't contribute anything." She seemed puzzled, but I was worrying about what I'd find at my house, so I just began clearing our trash without comment.
— ∴ —
On our walk along South Lewis to 41st Street I tried to wrap my head around this situation. It's amazing being a teenager again. This morning I was sixty-five. My parents were dead, some of my friends were dead, I'd become used to hearing about people my age or younger dying. I was on meds for high blood pressure. My eyes were deteriorating. I was tired all the time and hurt all the time. I wasn't quite at the "wake up and read the obits and go back to bed" point, but it was always on my mind that dying was something I was going to be doing sooner than later.
Leaving aside our little problem with the elder gods, I now have my life to live over again. Unfortunately, I no longer have the boundless hope and naïveté of a teenager. Though I may have some control over what kind of life I live, I know that all the major changes and world events I remember are still probably going to happen.
I already know how novels and movies and television series will end, which record albums I will like, what is going on in the White House right now, which idiots will be elected and reelected, that the space program is going nowhere, that AIDS is out there but won't be noticed for another ten years, that in forty years social media will take over the world, and what it feels like to grow old.
I could use my foreknowledge to become rich. I could pick one disaster and try to avert it (but I've read too much science fiction to believe that would turn out well). I could live fast and die young so I won't have to go through it all again. But what about Risa and Resu?
Probably the most sensible thing I can do is try to be a totally different person by doing the things I was afraid to do, or gave up on doing, the first time through my life. Having good eyesight is groovy. I'm aware of the ways in which being forced to be right-handed messed me up. I know to take care of my carpal tunnels.
I never really wanted to spend my life working with computers; it was just the easiest thing for me to do. I now know that with enough effort I can write and I can draw comics, and I'm a quite decent photographer. Those all became hobbies the first time around, but could be serious pursuits this time, and help me keep a low profile. Also, I need to begin studying French and Japanese immediately so I don't forget what I already know.
However, here in 1970, I was one of seven National Merit Scholarship finalists in the city, about to transfer to a huge public high school simply to avoid physical education classes, and embark on a absolutely disastrous senior year that would send my life careening out of control. No way do I want to go through all that again!
Because of the year I missed the second time I dropped out of high school, I'm already eighteen. So no one can force me to do anything, a fact that I did not fully appreciate the first time through. I'm a teenager in body (and hormone levels, I suppose), but a much older adult in experience and expectations.
While I was lost in my own thoughts, Resu and Risa walked behind me, quietly talking with each other.
"I guess your wild jump gave that ogre the slip," said Risa.
"Well, they aren't very bright. I doubt that one could follow us through a jump like that."
"Or find us in the first place, for that matter."
"True. So why wasn't someone more capable involved? Someone who could trace what I did?"
"Good question. Maybe they were, and there's some reason they chose not be seen or to follow us here."
"Like what reason?"
"I don't know," said Risa, "and it's beginning to bother me quite a bit."
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art copyright © by Lisa Lees.