Back in Time

“The question for this month was, ‘if you could go back in time, would you? Where would you go and would you change anything?’ So, who wants to share?”

She stared at the moderator, a bit dumbstruck. Why had she chosen to join this group again, she wondered to herself. This was definitely not the place for her. Yes, she was lonely and bored and forcing herself to try new things, but a monthly group that holds in depth discusses of random questions…how did the group even get started…she couldn’t fathom.

“I’ll start,” said a younger man, roughly mid twenties and sporting a beard that was very meticulously maintained to appear to be unmaintained, what was his name, she couldn’t remember, Mac or something nick-namey and false sounding, irrelevant, she thought as he continued, “Originally I’d thought I’d be too afraid to go back in time. Who wants to relive their worst moment, right?” he looked about with a half-smile. He’s definitely practiced this in front of a mirror, she thought. “But then I began wondering, what if I could have made a major difference?” Oh, no, he’s going to say something about Hitler, ugh, she thought. “I mean, what if I could go back and stop Hitler?”

This is ridiculous, she thought, and decided to plaster a smile on her face while surreptitiously looking about. She was pretty sure the redhead to her right had joined to meet men, she always came dressed to the nines, her makeup applied thick and perfect, maybe women? No, definitely men, she thought as the redhead nodded and beamed at possibly-Mac as he droned on. Who am I to judge, she thought, I joined to meet people too, even if I wasn’t thinking about dating, meeting is meeting.

Who would I even want to date here though, she wondered, continuing her perusal of the room. Certainly not possibly-Mac, too bougie, or was he hipster? What was the difference? She shook her head and realized, possibly-Mac thought she was shaking her head at him, his stream of speech began to slow and concern showed in his eyes, she flapped her hand around her as though the head shake had been to dislodge a fly, and his smile returned, his speech picking back up to speed, relief evident in his eyes, he still owned the room.

Taking a deep breath, and trying to be as inaudible as possible she sighed. This was crazy. If she could go back in time she’d decide not to sign up for this meetup. A real smile came to her face and she did her best not to turn it on possibly-Mac directly, so as not to give him the wrong idea. He was way too young for her, not that she’d come here to date, she reminded herself.

The man next to her accidentally brushed her leg as he crossed his. She tried to see him from the corner of her eye. His name was John, she was sure of that, or maybe Jim? What was the point of meeting people if you aren’t going to take a few minutes to remember their names, she admonished herself. At any rate, John-Jim was definitely closer to her age, thirty-ish with a good smell to him, something like vanilla, like cookies. Oh no, wait, those were the actual cookies she was smelling. The cookies that other gal, Joyce? maybe, had brought.

What was Joyce-maybe’s deal, she wondered. Definitely here to drink, always the first one to order and the last one. Whiskey, it looked like. Which was surprising, not a common drink among women. She didn’t appear to like it much, grimacing with nearly every sip, yet always ordered another. Interesting. She would definitely say she’d go back in time. She clearly had regrets.

Wait, what was happening, everyone was looking at her. Shit! Clearly she was expected to say something about possibly-Mac’s monologue.

“Yes, uh, it really made me think about Stephen King’s book 11/22/63,” she stammered.

The moderator, Amy, she remembered that name anyway, had a confused look on her face, “Mac,” oh thank goodness it is Mac, “mentioned that too.”

“Yes, er, right, I just meant, I agree. I agree with Mac, and I also was thinking of that book.” She could see the people around her appeared a bit puzzled, but were also smiling, wanting her to feel welcome with her first bit of sharing, Joyce-maybe was nodding and raising her glass in a cheers-y fashion. “Excellent Mac, really, everything I was thinking,” she added, earning a sheepish but broad grin from the man himself.

Thank god that’s over, she thought, too soon it turned out as Amy spoke, “what else? Why don’t you share?” she said, staring directly at her.

Shit.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

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