She kept twisting and turning, searching for a comfortable spot. Body tense, tired, mind refusing to slip into a quietness so she could sleep. Something was off. Why couldn’t she slide into darkness? Finally, she threw off the light blanket, mumbled “Damn it all anyway,” and got up. She wandered toward the refrigerator, hoping some cold water would cure whatever the problem was. Grabbing a bottle, she took a long drink. Nothing. Looking at the clock by the front door, she noted it was 2:37am. Maybe going outside would help? Quietly, she opened the door and stepped onto the cement porch, still warm from the day’s heat.
Looking up toward the sky, she was suddenly wide awake–her body tingling. What was she seeing? Dropping the water bottle abruptly, she rubbed her eyes–hard–then looked again. “Holy shit!” A wispy figure hovered before her. She stared. Frozen.
“Do you know who I am?” the figure asked.
She shook her head no.
“Do you want to know?” it asked.
Again, she shook her head no, still silent, staring, still frozen.
“I’m the time-keeper, that part of your dreams that knows no time, though I do. I came to give you a piece of your life to live over again.”
She swallowed hard, her mind doing somersaults to comprehend what the figure was saying.
With an amused smile, the figure said, “From now until dawn, you will be 14 years old again. You can do what you want, go where you want, totally unimpeded. Have fun and I would suggest you use your time wisely. Now close your eyes and visualize your 14-year-old self. Good-bye.”
Obediently, she closed her eyes. She then opened them and was standing in her old friend’s yard. Quickly, she looked at her limbs, her clothes. Damn! She really was 14! How? Who? What? She quickly looked at her left knee–yep! There was the wound that would leave a scar! Her mind raced. So I’m 14 again with no limitations, she thought. WOW!
A boy rode by on his bike. It was Jerry! He yelled out, “Whatsa matter birdlegs? Your friend won’t let you in?” and laughed loudly, flipping her off as he rode past. She hated him! If only… Oh, boy! Yes! Finally she could get back at the mean, freckle-faced turd! Quickly, she picked up a rock from the nearby flower bed. She yelled out, “Hey! Turd! Catch this!” and hurled the rock with her pitching arm, her aim true, hitting him square in his back. He yelled long and loud, “OOwwweeeeee…” She in turn laughed, just as loud as he yelled. Oh Yes! THIS WAS FUN!
While Jerry vowed revenge, she sprinted towards her dad’s small grocery store, wondering if it would really be there. It was! She burst in, excited and still laughing. Her dad yelled, “You’re late! Get that apron on and get behind the meat counter!”
Would the magic that put her here still work? She walked down an aisle, slowly, her hand scraping cans and boxes off shelves as she moved toward the meat counter. Her dad practically screamed, “What the hell do you think you’re doing!”
She stopped moving, looked him in the eye and said, “Why, I don’t know. Don’t you remember? I don’t think because I’m stupid and brainless. How can I tell you what I think I’m doing?” Then she laughed again, loud and longer than before.
Her dad strode towards her, angry, hands making fists. She picked a can from the shelf and heaved it, hitting him in the crotch. He yelled in pain, doubling over. She calmly walked by him, chuckling.
Once outside the store, she jogged to the house of her former partner-in-crime. As she neared his house, she heard his drunken father, ranting and raving. She picked up an empty whisky bottle on the front porch, walked into the house, and broke it over the drunk’s head. He staggered a moment, then fell backward, hitting his head on the corner of the coffee table. Her friend, mouth gaping, looked at her. She just smiled and said, “Let’s go!”
Jogging beside her, her friend asked, “Where are we going?”
“To get the horses. Then, good buddy, we’re outta here!” and she laughed and he smiled and said, “AWWWW right!”
The slender girl and the lanky boy reached the small barn where the horses idly munched hay, tails swishing away flies. The two friends quickly brushed down the horses, then saddled them up, double-checking girths and bridles. No goof ups allowed.
The horses and the two 14 year olds rode with abandonment and pure joy–the horses leading them deep into orange groves, then walnut trees, then more and more groves. It was an experience the girl relished–until she remembered time was passing. Slowly, she started reining in her horse, Birdie, and her friend followed suit. As they now walked their horses, side by side, the girl asked her friend, “If you could ‘right the wrongs’ done to you–suffering no retaliation–who or what would you want to take care of?”
He didn’t hesitate, laughing and saying, “You did a fantastic job on my dad! I mean really, really fantastic! And he was so drunk he’ll never remember!” He continued to shake his head and chuckle.
She smiled, happy with and for her friend. But she asked again, earnestly. The horses had stopped to nibble some grass. She looked over at her friend and watched his face cloud over. “Well,” he said softly but with anger, “I’m sick of that jock, Ron, calling me names and ridiculing me. Sure I get good grades, but, unlike him, I pay attention in class, do my homework…” and his voice trailed off as he relived his humiliation at the hands of jock-Ron.
She felt her own heart seethe with anger and then empathy for her friend. “What if…maybe… you know–he couldn’t be a football star? I mean, what would he have left?” she offered.
Her friend studied her face. “What are you saying? IS there a way?”
She shrugged, looking away, then turned back to say, “Yes! And I can’t explain it, but we can make it happen!”
Her friend drew in a deep breath, never taking his eyes away from hers. “But how? I don’t get it. What are you? Magic?” and he exuded a shaky laugh that didn’t cover his uneasy feeling at the girl’s certainty of “making the wrong right.”
“Follow me!” she said in a strong voice, again laughing. She and her friend put their heels to the horses’ flanks and they were on their way–one unsure and one determined.
Quickly, they found themselves by the jock’s driveway and then in it. Before the boy could question, the girl astride the horse yelled, “Hey! Ron! Come out of your house! I got a treat for you! Come on, Ron! Come see!”
A lumbering hulk of muscle and sinew stepped out of the door to his parents’ house. “What do you smart-asses want? Get those damn horses outa here!”
The girl got off her horse and taunted, “Why don’t YOU move my horse? You’re so STRONG and all. One little horse shouldn’t be a problem–unless you’re scared. Are you SCARED asshole?”
Ron rose to the bait. He strode over, cursing, and snatched the reins from the girl’s offering hand. “Come on stupid,” he snarled at the horse, and yanked hard. Birdie was having none of it. 1400 pounds of horse was not to be moved by a mere boy, especially one yanking on her reins.
He yanked, Birdie stood resolutely, not so much as shifting her weight. Ron looked up at the boy on the other horse who was chuckling. “Shut up smartass! At least I can play football! All you can do is hide in your damn books! So SHUT UP!”
The girl’s friend continued to chuckle. “Move this fuckin’ piece of dog meat!” Ron screamed at the openly laughing girl.
She stopped laughing long enough to say, “Maybe if you got on her, you could walk her off your 0h-so-precious driveway. Unless, you know, you’re SCARED!”
Ron practically vaulted into the saddle, telling the girl the horse was as stupid as her. She simply smiled. Ron started yelling, trying to whip Birdie into moving with the reins. She stood still. Then–he kicked her–hard–in her flanks. Birdie rolled her eyes to look at the girl. For a moment, they looked into each other and then the girl, smiling, gave a slight nod. Birdie whirled and bolted across the yard toward a huge old elm tree. Ron lost hold of the reins and grasped the saddle horn to hang on. Birdie rammed his left leg and bobbing arms and head into the tree. While he was screaming, “like a girl,” she headed back toward the driveway and Ron’s dad’s truck. Ron, screaming, “STOP!” finally got through to Birdie. She stopped. Dead. Catapulting him over her head and into the side of his dad’s truck. Then the girl made made a soft clucking sound and Birdie quietly walked to her. The girl picked up the trailing reins and reseated herself in the saddle. Ron whimpered, “Help me! I think my leg’s broken!”
The girl and her friend looked at each other, smiled, and the boy said, “You’re the tough one. You’ll manage.” And the two left at a trot, listening to plaintive cries of “Mama! Somebody! Help me!” The two riders looked at each other again and smiled, trotting on.
They reached the barn, unsaddled and cooled the horses down. The girl praised Birdie and offered both horses apples for their good work. Her friend smiled and shook his head saying, “I can’t believe you! What you did!” and he started laughing again. The girl just smiled and winked.
He continued, “You really are MAGIC!” and he shook his head chortling.
The girl became somber and as they put the horse tack away, said quietly, “Glad to help. But I have to go now. Just…well… just always remember today and that we’re best friends forever and for always, okay?”
He nodded, not realizing what was going on.
She started to walk away, then ran back to him, throwing her arms around his neck and whispering, “You’re magic, too. And you will do great things. I’ve seen. I know! Keep the magic!” Then she ran toward the barn door as he stood looking after her.
She ran and ran. Suddenly, she was back on her porch, watching the dawn struggling to appear and show itself. The figure appeared again and asked, “Do everything you wanted? Did you enjoy being 14 again?” and there was a smile.
The girl returned the smile. Then nodded. THIS time around, 14 was good! Oh, yeah!
Judy Kukuruza’s books “One Body, Many Souls” and “Little Stories to Play With in Your Mind” can be found on Amazon at and ; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/. Their blog is at https://wolvescrowsandspirituality.home.blog.