A Hundred Yards Over the Rim

Today, climbing the tree
feels more honest
than the fence door.
My sister jumps
into the yard first, smiling wicked
as the last week of school. I unfold
my legs and drop. She’s already half way
to the new room, and then
she’s gone. I start to jog
after her when behind me
someone says,
Hey!

I turn around
and there’s Jenna,
from my dream
last week.

Hey, you could try the front door,
she says.

I… uhm… sorry…
I stumble backward
into the fence.

Have you come to apologize?

I’m sorry?

Have you come to apologize.
For missing the movie.
I knocked on your door
for five straight minutes.
When I looked in
there was no furniture.

Uhm… I’m sorry, could you give me
a minute? I think I shook my head
too hard when I jumped.

She looks at me with what could,
in another world, be sympathy.

I… uhm… I’m sorry,
have we met? Are you a friend
of my sister’s?

You have a sister?

Look, who are you?

I’m… My sister’s…

Where the new room should be
is the porch. It looks almost as beat up
as I remember it.

Apparently, I sit down
when I panic.

Please don’t take this the
wrong… I’m not trying
to be a creep… It’s just
you look exactly
like someone I dreamed
about last week.

Her eyebrows go up.

You dreamed of me?

I… no. I mean, yes. I… ah…
Could you give me a minute?
This is really freaking me out.

She cocks her head.

Deep breath. I, ah, I don’t think
you’re supposed to be here.

I’m not supposed to be
in my back yard?

This is my back yard.

I disagree.

That makes two of us.

Jennifer, come in for dinner!

A figure is shouting
from high, behind the porch screen.

Up in a minute, Mother!
she shouts. Somehow
she looks even angrier now.

Your brother and father and I
are waiting. Who are you talking to?

Our new neighbor.

Oh my God.
She can see me, too.

Jennifer. Won’t you invite him in?

Oh, maybe next time.
He was just leaving.

Hello, young man! her mother shouts
awkwardly. Which house have your parents
moved into? Are you on Magos Avenue?

#4, Mrs. …Miller! Next to the Burqs!
Maybe it’s just shouting
that’s awkward.

Well, please visit us
at a more opportune time!
We certainly like to know
our neighbors! Jennifer,
two minutes.

Jenna spends at least one
of them with her chin
in her hand. Finally she says,
You’re a reefer-head,
aren’t you?

What?
No. Pot doesn’t do this to me.

Pot?

Marijuana.

Well, that’s new.
Is that what they call
it in Cincinnati?

This… this is really freaking me out.

In another world,
I think she just chuckled
ruefully. That makes two of us.

About a minute passes.
She exhales sharp and looks
across the yard.

Let’s start simple, she says.
What’s today?

April… third.

Good…

1976.

Okay.
Now we’ve got a problem.

Oh? I look up at her.

Yes. This is 1959.

I’m sorry, I say. I wasn’t born
in 1959. You’ll have to prove
that one.

Fine, she says. Stay here. I’ll be back
after dinner.
She walks
to the basement door.

When I look up
my sister is standing
over me
with a dishtowel
and a glass of water.

Added: March 5, 2013 | Last changed: June 7, 2014