Screams ripped through the air, from a gravity-defying carnival ride hurling bodies through the sky. The sweet, fried smell of funnel cakes drenched the summer night, and hordes of face-painted kids with balloon animals swarmed around me.
I shifted from one foot to the other, my stomach a cage of butterflies. I wore purple shorts and a white t-shirt, and my disobedient, puffy hair had been styled into submission. I couldn’t stop twisting it around my fingers, though. Because I was meeting a boy. A cute boy. One I didn’t know very well, but my boyfriend nonetheless, a contradiction not at all strange to my school peers.
Today, I remember this moment so well, the nerves, the greasy smell of carnival food, the hot, summer night. I felt like I was standing on a precipice — the future before me, exciting but unknown. I could edge back onto more solid ground, or I could jump, with no net, no harness, no guarantee of a safe landing.
But let me be perfectly clear. This was no true act of bravery. I dove headlong into this date with a boy — but he was already my boyfriend. I knew, on some level, that he already liked me. Likewise, the carnival boasted thrills that took you right up to the edge of danger — with a seatbelt and a promise (we hope) of well-functioning equipment. The impression of “no net” was merely an illusion.
I’ve been fascinated by this dichotomy my entire life — our desire for thrills in a safely controlled environment. The future, it seemed, is the only thing we can’t control. But what if you could? What if you could send memories back to your younger self, so you knew what your future held before you lived it? Would this future be truly safe — or would dangers lurk where you least expected?
Back to my date with the boy. He showed up, his warm brown eyes sparkling mischievously under the neon lights. We held hands, and I worried that mine were sticky from the cotton candy we shared. Gravity smashed our bodies together on one of those thrilling rides, and I racked my mind for something witty to say.
But later, at the end of the night, when the question of “will he/won’t he kiss me?” arose, I didn’t feel at all protected by the label of our relationship. I knew, then, that nothing was a guarantee.
And I had to wonder: Is the draw of a carnival the illusion that there is a safety net? Or because there’s indeed no safety net at all?
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About the book:
Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.
Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.
In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.
But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all—Callie, herself.
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