Creative commons license by Gabriela Camerotti

Emily certainly didn’t believe it would work. But there she was, in her own body, seven years in the past.

She remembered everything that had happened. That would happen… or rather, now that she had taken the Mulligan, that wouldn’t happen.

She read through the letter in front of her,written in her own hand. It seemed pathetic, so whiny and…

Irrelevant.

All of it. Her complaints about how he never brought her flowers any more, how he always seemed to be too tired to go out anywhere. How he barely hid his loathing of the dance recitals and soccer games and other things she signed the kids up for.

She only had one chance. This time, she would do the right thing.

She burned the letter.

Emily breathed deeply. She had underestimated the strength of emotions that had been coursing through her that day. Strong enough to make her leave her husband and make a go of it as a single Mom.

Not this time.

She heard a thump upstairs. She knew it was the cat, but she also knew who else was upstairs.

She found Christina, all dressed up in her best princess dress, complete with gloves and tiara. Christina, who–in the timeline left behind–had just celebrated her sweet sixteen by having her stomach pumped after chasing a bottle of sleeping pills with a bottle of vodka.

“Oh, sweetie, did you hear Mommy and Daddy arguing?”

The little princess nodded, but kept her hands over her face.

Emily held and comforted her daughter as long as she could. She glanced at her watch, conscious of the time. “Let’s go out and get a treat, why don’t we?”

The convenience store was right around the corner. Christina picked out an ice cream novelty for herself, and another for her big brother, who would be home from soccer practice soon. Emily repeated the numbers to herself one last time, having committed them to memory, memory being the only baggage she’d been able to take on the one-way-trip.

Back home, Emily tingled with anticipation. Her husband grumbled unintelligibly when he came home to see that both kids were eating ice cream before dinner. Usually, his passive aggressive muttering would set her off. But this time would be different.

With money, all their problems could be solved.

She could be the happy, spontaneous person she’d been when they met.

He would love her again.

The first number popped up on the television.

She smiled.

Then the second, and her heart began to flutter.

With the third number, she felt positively smug.

Then the fourth number… was one off. And the fifth number…

No!

This short was written for the Write on Edge prompt: A stand-alone scene, fiction or memoir, in 500 words or less, involving a handwritten letter. It’s not related to anything else I’ve done. My goal was to have the <500 words be completely self contained, and not feel like they are part of a longer work.

This story is an example of Soft Science Fiction. There is no physics, no hard science, no gadgets or technology. I purposely left the method of her time travel vague. The theme of the story is psychological, a so-called “soft science.”

For concrit, I would particularly appreciate opinions on the ending. I want it to be clear that she did not win the lottery, and therefore has to live from that point on without being filthy rich. She has to decide whether that means she’s still going to leave her husband, or whether she is going to try and fix her marriage even without the crutch of the lottery winnings she’d expected. But I feel like I made it too abrupt.

The shortlink for this post is http://wp.me/p1rMYd-ng

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