Anita G. Gorman
Mollie got off the Ashleyville Local Schools bus, dropping three books on the road as she tried to save her clarinet from
damage. She could hear laughter on the bus but didn’t look up at the windows. She didn’t want to see the faces of her
classmates as they enjoyed her clumsiness. With as much dignity as she could summon, she picked up the fallen books,
straightened her back, and, head held high, walked to the front door of her house.
No one was home, of course. No one was ever home in the afternoon since both of her parents worked until 5 p.m. It was only
3 p.m. She had time for a snack, a little TV, and even a little (very little) homework. Looking every which way to make
sure no one was there, she turned her key in the lock.
At least Snappy, her white West Highland Terrier, was there to greet her. He jumped up and down as she petted him and talked
to him. “Hey, Snappy. I wish the kids at school were this happy to see me.” Then she laughed, imagining her mean classmates
jumping up and down and wanting to be petted.
Putting her textbooks and clarinet case on the dining-room table (she’d clean that up before her parents came home), Mollie
checked the cookie supply and chose a really large chocolate chip delight to go with her glass of milk. It was time to
check the TV.
She sat down in the family room, grabbed the remote, and started to surf. News, news, and more news. Not interested. Soap
operas. Not interested. Game shows. Ugh. Mollie liked old movies, so she checked out the movie channel. A western. No,
she preferred comedy or romance or adventure or mystery, anything but westerns.
Now she was way up the list of channels, flying by shopping stations and local stuff and finally reaching Channel 100. That
was odd. Mollie had never seen a Channel 100 before. Taking a bite of her cookie and a swig of milk, she settled back
in the couch to see what was happening on the new channel.
It looked like her street on the TV screen. It looked like her house, but the bushes in front were bigger, and so was the
maple tree. Her dad came around from the back carrying some tools. He looked older, maybe by fifteen years. She watched
him as he approached the mailbox by the road. Oh no, he was repairing that old thing again. What was going on? Her dad
was at work right now, not on television, and not repairing, once again, their old mailbox.
Mollie wondered what would happen next. She soon found out. A strange, metallic noise was coming from the side of the house,
and in a few seconds there was her mom, sitting in a wheel chair and filling up the entire screen. She looked fifteen
years older, too, and Mollie wondered how she could even figure that out. How did she know–and somehow she did know–that
she was looking at a scene from fifteen years into the future?
Snappy was lying by her feet. Suddenly he looked up at her. Where was Snappy? Why wasn’t he on Channel 100? She picked him
up and put him in her lap. “Oh, Snappy, in fifteen years I guess you won’t be here, my precious little doggy. Why can’t
dogs live as long as people do?”
What was wrong with her mother? Mollie started to get scared, then she saw a cast on her mother’s foot, peeping out from
under Mom’s long skirt. Maybe she fell, or something, Mollie thought. That’s not fatal, at least.
Still watching the screen, she heard a loud bang from a back door, the noise of running feet, and suddenly she saw a teenage
boy followed by a dog, but it wasn’t Snappy. Did she have a brother, a little brother? This boy looked about fifteen.
Amazing! How could this happen? Well, she knew how, technically, but still. . . .
Where am I? Where am I? Why don’t I see myself on Channel 100? Did I die? If I’m right and I’m looking at our house fifteen
years from now, then I could be dead, or alive and twenty-eight. Golly. At that age I could be just about anything I
wanted to be, a doctor, a nurse, a professor, a stockbroker, an adult with my own husband and child. As if! The boys
in her class didn’t pay attention to her now, so why would a man, any man, care about her fifteen years from now? Mollie
felt like crying. “That’s stupid,” she said out loud as Snappy looked up at her. Stupid. Stupid to think that anyone
would ever want her.
Then from the TV screen she heard the sound of a car. The car came up the driveway. Out popped someone who looked like Jimmy,
the nerdy boy in her chemistry class. What was he doing there? Then he took one of those fancy baby carriers out of the
back seat. Am I there? Is that me in the front seat? And then an older version of herself emerged from the car wearing
some sort of uniform. Something medical, she guessed. So there she was, a nurse or a doctor or someone who worked in
a lab, and she had married Jimmy the Nerd and together they had produced a baby!
Mollie sat there thinking about what she had just seen. She had been given a gift, that she knew. She also knew that she
wouldn’t be telling anyone about the gift. Who would believe her? And what if they turned on Channel 100 and learned
more about the future? The future might not always be so happy as on today’s TV program. Even today there were bad omens:
the absence of Scrappy, her mother’s injury.
“I have to think about this,” she said to Snappy. And she did. And when she was finished thinking, she decided a few things.
First, she would always be kind and patient and happy, especially to her parents. Second, she would not let her stupid
classmates get to her. Third, she would not turn on Channel 100 again, not if she could help it.
And finally, she promised herself, the next day she would smile at Jimmy the Nerd in her chemistry class.