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Saving Amelia
By Sheeshao White
Genre: Fiction Level: Junior 7-9
Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

Dilian

I let out an inward groan. I was literally being dragged to the museum for the thousandth time. Why the hell did my mom have to be the director? Apparently, to my mom, 16 year olds aren't old enough to stay alone and dad was gone on a trip, as usual, so this happened. I hated the stupid museum; all the stuff there was so boring. I reached into my bag and came to the terrible realization that I had left my iPod at home. That's it, this officially sucks, I thought to myself.

"Don't touch anything," my mom warned as she turned to talk to another employee. We had one hour before school started and I did not want to be late like last time. My mom was on a timer; she had exactly 45 minutes before we needed to leave for school.  She liked to drop me off so she knew I'd really get there.  That was our agreement with the school. I had a habit of taking lo-o-ong detours on the way to school.

"I won't," I mumbled as I petted a stuffed lion. I heard my mom scoff. Humph! I couldn't believe she didn't trust me!

My mom was so busy that she didn't notice me as I sneaked away.  I walked around until I found myself in front of the storage room. I decided to take a peek. I walked into the musty room and saw nothing spectacular. I was about to leave when something caught my eye. It was an old looking capsule shaped container.  I touched the smooth glass top and the hard metal bottom. "1980's time machine", read the label taped on its side. Wow, even back then they tried time travel? I had to give the inventors credit; it was really well built and cool looking. I opened the glass top and looked at the soft seats. I looked at the dials and buttons, wanting so badly to touch them, but decided not to. I marveled at how the inventors had pieced it together. I stood in stunned disbelief as I gazed at the machine. I felt the urge to learn how it was constructed. And even more...did it work, or was it just a fancy looking dud? Whatever it was, I was impressed with the design.

"Dil-e-an, it's time to go," my mother's voice wedged itself into my thoughts. I turn to see her silhouette etched in the beam of light coming from the door. I hadn't turned the lights on, I guess. I trudged over to her, hoping that being angry with her would distract her from noticing I had been disobeying her.

"Mom, I hate it when you make fun of my name! You gave it to me. It's like Dylan not Dill-ian," I grumbled.

"Honey, it's a little joke. Besides I told you not to touch things," Mom scolded.

"Sorry Mom." As I followed her I glanced over my shoulder every few paces, unable to keep my eyes off that beautiful looking machine.

We got in the car and headed for another dreary day at school.

Jessie

Finally, after school let out, I was walking to the museum to meet my mom and hopefully sneak another look at that time machine. God, school seemed to drag on forever! I didn't have any of the interesting classes on Tuesdays. Needless to say I was very happy when it ended. I was thinking of how I could improve the time machine when a voice interrupted my thoughts, "Yo, Dilian, what's up?" I turned to see Jessie Taylor coming towards me at a slow jog. Jessie had come to our school last year and I didn't know him as well as others. We'd said ‘hi' and stuff but we hadn't hung out or anything. I tried to avoid the good looking guys...they were just too much trouble. Also, he kind of struck me as a weakling. I stopped walking so he could catch up to me.

"Nothing much. I was going over to the museum for a bit," I replied. Jessie gave me a quizzical head tilt.

"Why are you carrying a toolbox?" Jessie crossed his arms over his chest. Jessie didn't know that I always have a toolbox in my locker.

"Uh, well, you see, I was uh, bringing it to my mom," I stammered. Jessie took a step closer so he was a few inches from me.

  "You're lying to me. I can tell when people lie. So spill," replied Jessie. He would make an excellent lawyer, if he chose to follow that career. 

"Fine. I found an old time machine and I want to fix it and see if anything happens," I grumbled, half hoping he wouldn't believe me. But luck was not on my side that day.

"A time machine? That's cool. Can I help?" I look up to see a child like expression on Jessie's face. I almost smiled. Almost.

"Why? You never seem interested in Mechanics Class," I questioned, my voice softening as I spoke the name of my favorite class.

Jessie put a pout on his face, "But I want to help. Besides it seems kinda fun."

"Fine, just don't touch anything." I had remembered what my mom said earlier that day about touching, and felt a tad uncomfortable finding myself saying the same thing.                                                                 

"Yes!" Jessie smacked the air with his bracelet covered arms.

"Let's go," I mumbled, not too keen on having Jessie with me who might distract me while working on my plan.

We walked in silence until we got to the museum. I swiped my card, well, my dad's card, which I borrowed from my dad's wallet the week before he left, and we were let in. As we neared the storage room Jessie finally spoke up.

"Yo, are we even supposed to be here?" Couldn't Jessie figure it out for himself? Maybe if he used the thing in his head before he opened his mouth he wouldn't say stupid things. Wait, is that what my mom always tells me? Shit...

"Of course we aren't supposed to be here!" I turned around to him and glared daggers at him, trying to keep my temper.  We had to be quiet or we'd be in big trouble.

I stopped right in front of the storage room. I pushed it open with a little effort and proceeded into the dark room. My hand fumbled for the light switch but instead it touched something warm.

"I have a question," Jessie's voice was coming from somewhere in front of me, "why are you touching my chest?" I gasped as I put 2 and 2 together and realized I was grabbing Jessie's chest, not the wall.

"I was, uh, trying to reach the, uh, light switch," I stammered as I yanked my hand back as if it got burned. Thank god he couldn't see my face turn red.  He was annoying...but he was also really cute.  I always saw the girls stare at him when he walked by in the hall...but so far he'd ignored all their attempts to cozy up to him.

 "You're such an ass," I hissed as I successfully switched the light on. When I could see again I was faced with the stupid lopsided grin I knew was coming. God, I hate it when guys know they are good looking and that girls are drooling.... I weaved my way through the assortment of objects until I stood right in front of the time machine.

"It looks like a pill," Jessie whispered.

Time Machine

"Hand me the wrench," I mumbled as I held my hand. I felt the corrugated handle of the tool as it was placed in my waiting hand. "That's not a wrench. That's a screwdriver."

"Here's the wrench, wench," giggled Jessie, making me roll my eyes in disgust. I took the wrench by the handle and got to work.

I spent a few solid hours tightening this and adding that. But finally it was done. I finished off by polishing it with some mechanic oil. I looked at my oil covered hands. I turned around and to my surprise Jessie was still sitting there. At some point he had fallen asleep. Honestly, I had forgotten about him. Not like I wanted him to stay or anything. He looked so peaceful when he slept. His eyelashes gently brushed against his cheek as he moved in his sleep.

"Hey Jessie, time to get up," I said quietly, not quite acknowledging to myself that I wanted to touch his face, and brush away a stray hair. I gently nudged his shoulder in hopes he would wake. Nothing. I lightly bopped him on the head and still nothing.

I scooted closer so my mouth was less than an inch from his ear, "Jessie, there's a rapist here! I need help," I yelled at the top on my lungs. His eyes flew open.

"Wha...!" he shot up out of his seat and started to stumble around.

"Ha!" I burst out laughing and almost peed my pants.

"What the hell, girl? What did you do that for?" Jessie glared at me and covered his ear.

"You fell asleep," I stated with a dismissive shrug.

Jessie crossed his arms, "So? Doesn't mean you have to scare the crap out of me." Jessie scrunched up his face to make a pouting expression.

"Well, man up bro. come on, let's go," I said as I brushed past him to get to the door. He duteously followed me without a word.

"What now?" Jessie had waited a whole minute before talking. Kudos to him.

"Now we go back to 1937," I replied nonchalantly.

"1937? Why that time?" Jessie leaned his neck to one side and there was a loud popping sound.

I cringed. I hate it when people pop their joints, "Amelia Earhart. I want to save her from crashing in the plane."

"WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS?" Jessie's eyes widened in surprise.

"I've always looked up to her. She loved machines and I do too. I just feel the way she died was not right so I want to make things better. Also, who knows what other great things she might have done if she hadn't have died when she did." I pushed him gently towards the time machine.

Jessie still looked uncertain, so I sat him down and told him more. "She was a great pilot.  She was attempting to fly around the world but there was a really long stretch across the Pacific Ocean.  She needed to land on a tiny island to refuel.  She had gotten FDR to ask the military to build an airstrip and leave some fuel tanks and be out there in ships helping her find the island if she had a problem.  But she never got there and no one ever knew what ever happened to her." 

"What we do know is that she left Lae, a town in New Guinea, and did not land on Howland Island.  The military lost her radio signal, although some people in America said that they heard her on the radio, the radio waves can bounce and get to faraway places sometimes. The radio direction equipment on the military ships wasn't able to track her though, because she had a different radio frequency than what had been expected. Also her radio wasn't working so she couldn't hear them. They waited and eventually searched but never found her. That's how she disappeared. Recently people have found what they think is part of her plane on an island far away. They are going to search more and hopefully find some answers."

"Wow, that's kinda...bleak," Jessie murmured after a few minutes.

"Not bleak, but tragic. I want to save her from dying. Let's go now." I got up and stretch.

"Okay, let's go get ‘em!" Jessie's face lit up as he pumped his fists in the air for the second time that day.

"Oh, here," I said as I passed him an old looking trench coat.

"What's this for and where did you get it?" He held the old coat at arm's length.

"Well, our clothes will look out of place in that time period. I saw these hanging up over there," I said, pointing to a rack of clothes.

"Okay," Jessie replied as he slipped the coat on. I did the same.

"Now, let me tell you the plan..."

Time to Go!

We squeezed into the compact capsule and lowered the glass hood. We put on earmuffs, just in case and buckled up. Its important to be safe! The red fabric covered seats were more comfortable then I would have thought. I got a closer look at the dials. There were 3 dials, one each for year, month, and day. I turned each dial so we had 24 hours before her take off. Then I saw a huge green button that said ‘start'. That seemed easy enough.

"Before we go, tell me the plan again. I want to be sure you know your part." I said, turning in my seat to face Jessie.

"Well, once we get to the plane we do some good old-fashioned vandalism and then get the hell out. My part is to help you slash the tires and be a look out," replied Jessie.

"Ready?" I looked over at Jessie for conformation. He gave thumbs up. I pressed the button and immediately felt a pull, like when you go on a rollercoaster. I never really enjoyed rollercoasters, and from the sound, of it neither did Jessie. About a minute passed and we felt a hard thump, telling us we had reached our destination. Port Darwin. We had decided to do our deed here instead of Lea, since we would be less conspicuous in the larger town.

"Well, that ride made me want to throw up!" exclaimed Jessie as I undid my safety belt. I clambered out of the capsule and Jessie soon followed. We both stretched. We hadn't been in the machine for long, but it was really cramped in there and we had to literally hug our knees to fit.

I looked around. We were in what seemed to be a giant field. I needed to memorize this place so we would be able to find it again. By calculations we had exactly a day before Earhart left for her fateful last leg of the trip. First we needed to get a little more information on Amelia. The books on her life didn't have much detail about her stop in Darwin, other than that she refueled and did some maintenance on her plane. We stopped at a newsstand and Jessie distracted the vendor while I snatched a paper. We went back to the time machine and attempted to read the paper from front to back, every sentence, and every line. When the sun was starting to go down I decided we should go.

"Jessie, its time. Let's go," I said as I grabbed my toolbox.

"Right," agreed Jessie. We stumbled our way down the hill and snuck out to the airport.

Saving Amelia

By the time we got there, it was fully dark. We pulled out small flashlights, which I always had in my toolbox to work in tight, dark parts of engines, and went to the hanger. We snuck in and got to work.

"Jessie, you start draining the fuel out while I take the out the steering wheel," I whispered.

"The steering wheel?" Jessie tilted his head to the side.

"They can't take off without a way to steer," I replied, getting a nod from Jessie. With that, I climbed into the plane and started the process of removing the wheel. I also removed the copilot's wheel just in case. While I did this Jessie emptied out the tank. Then he helped me pop the wheels. Well, we actually slashed the wheels but as long as the plane couldn't drive it was good. We started at 8:00 and finished up at about 3:00 in the morning. It took them seven hours?

"Man, I'm tired," yawned Jessie as he stretched. I caught his yawn and started to pack up my tools.

"Let's go," I said as I headed for the door. With a half-hearted nod Jessie followed. It took about five minutes for us to walk to the capsule.

"Hey, before we leave can we take a quick nap? I'm so tired I might faint," whispered Jessie. I nodded and without hesitation we both flopped down on the cool grass and passed out.

Did it work?

I woke up laying in a field. For a moment I forgot where I was. I felt a weight on my side. I looked to see what it was and let out a gasp. Jessie Taylor had his arms wrapped around my waist! I tried to move my arms only to realize my right arm was trapped beneath him. Apparently in my sleep I was snuggling him right back.  I finally pulled my arm free and sat up looking around.  Then realization hit me in the face like a wet towel, and it all came back. The vandalism; the time machine, and Amelia.  

"Jessie, time to go," I nudged Jessie awake. His face scrunched up as he woke.

"Wha?" Jessie's eyes fluttered open. His voice was heavy with sleep. God, he looked cute.

"We've got to go," I repeated as I pack my toolbox in the back of the time machine. I saw him stand up and stretch. I blushed and turned around so he couldn't see.

"Okay," mumbled Jessie as he brushed off his clothes. We buckled ourselves in.

I wasn't sure if time had passed in the present while we were gone but I was about to find out. Again I felt the whoosh as my stomach went into my throat. It was thrilling, but scary too. When we got back to our time I looked at the clock in the storage room. It was the exact same time as when we had left. I crawled out of the capsule and heard Jessie quickly follow. We looked at each other for a long time.

"Damn girl, we just did the impossible," Jessie whooped and broke into a grin. He bent down and wrapped his arms around me. I stood there for a second before I hugged him back.

"Yes we did," I agreed, returning the smile. I inhaled his scent. He smelled like cinnamon and peppermint. We pulled away; both our faces were bright red.

"Uh, sorry about, um that. I was just, um, really uh, happy," stammered Jessie. It was kind of cute to see him stumble over words. He usually said snarky or smart-ass things.

"It's okay," I blushed even more and looked at my shoes. Was that a new stain? Very...stain-like.

"Let's see if it changed anything," Jessie suggested. I followed him this time, as we left the storage room and the museum.  Everything seemed the same. If we changed anything, it didn't have any earth shattering effects. After half an hour of wandering around we got tired and headed our separate ways. We agreed to wait till after school the next day to do further research...so we could be together when we found out if we saved Amelia.

I trudged through the door and up to my room before flopping on my bed. Soon after that I passed out. I woke up at 7:00 in the morning. I didn't want to get up, but I had to go to school. I dragged myself out of my warm bed and into the shower. After I showered, clothed, did my hair (meaning I gave it a mean stare in the mirror), and gathered my school stuff as I went downstairs. My parents were likely still asleep because they usually work late. I got something to eat and headed out. This was my normal routine. I waited for the bus. You said that her parents always took her to school.

When I walked into the school I was blasted by warm air that had that distinctive school smell...yuck.

"Dilian," a voice called out. I turned to find Jessie bounding up to me.

"What's up?" I asked as I readjusted my backpack. My eyes drifted to his lips. I snapped my eyes away before he noticed. Bad Dilian! No staring at his lips. I mentally slapped myself.

"Ceiling. But that's not why I called you," Jessie replied. I rolled my eyes before he continued, "So, has anything changed?"

"Not that I can see. Did you see anything different?" we spoke in whispers so no one can hear us. In order for us to hear each we had to be standing close to each other. Very close.

"Nah," Jessie shrugged. We looked around for a minute.

"Well, I'll see you in history class," I said as we headed our separate ways. I let out an exaggerated sigh. God, he was going to be the death of me.

I walked into history class 2 hours later along with 24 other students.

Mr. Hunt started the lecture and I really didn't pay much attention until he said, "Class, we are going to learn about WW1 so pay attention."

I looked over at Jessie who had a bored expression on his perfectly crafted face. I reached into my bag and pulled out a note pad. I quickly scribbled on it and showed it to him. School dragged on but when it finally ended Jessie and I ran over to the library to study up. We found several books on Amelia Earhart and started reading.

"Hey, check it out, she was married. The dude's name was George Putnam. Also here's more, Amelia Earhart wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. Before her trip Joseph Gurr was hired to install and teach her about the new radio, but she was too busy to pay attention."  I had forgotten about that!  Maybe I could have somehow gotten her to study more. The book continued, "Earhart's plane was vandalized during her stay in Port Darwin. Somebody slashed the tires, drained the gas and also took the steering wheel. Earhart was very angry and sad that her plane was hurt. ‘Now we must change the plans to take off today, and order parts and fix her.' Earhart said to the interviewer." I looked at Jessie and he started reading again.

"They were able to fix the plane and were only two days behind schedule", continued the book. They took off as soon as repairs were done. Then they crashed somewhere between Port Darwin and Howland Island. People tried to find her but to no avail," Jessie looked up to see my jaw slack.

 "A 15 year old girl named Becky Klenck was listening to the radio in St. Petersburg, Florida, when it picked up a new signal. It was from Amelia and it sounded like she was in trouble. She wrote down everything she heard and when her father got back from work they went to the coast guard who dismissed them because he thought their radio couldn't pick up frequencies from that far away," I read.

"What book is that?" Jessie scooted over to look over my shoulder.

"It's called "Amelia Lost: the Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart," I replied.

We continue reading and studying.

 "So we didn't save her," I whispered.

"I guess not," he replied.

"But I thought we could. Let's try again." I felt terrible; we had tried so hard but she still died.  I just had to try again.

"But, we tried and failed," Jessie's eyes drifted from the book in his lap to me.

"We can try again," I protested.

 "It's just, what if we do save her and then she crashes again, but this time she has passengers on her plane? What then? All those people die just because you want to save one woman?" Jessie had a very good point, but I felt that if I didn't try again it would haunt me for a very long time.

"Yes, but if I save her she has more time to hone her abilities and therefore the chance of failure is decreased," I argue. We sit in silence, both processing what the other said.

"What makes you think this time will be better?" Jessie sets his book down and stares at me.

"We'll research and make a precise plan. ... Please?" I begged. When we first teamed up I thought I would hate the time we spent together. But now that I knew him a little better I didn't mind him, rather, I enjoyed his presence.

"If I do this for you, will you give me a chance?" Jessie furrows his brow.

"Chance?"

"Yeah, the first time we teamed up you seemed less than happy to have me. So what I want is you to give me a chance at being a friend."  Jessie's face was unreadable. Or more than a friend the dirty part of my mind said. Shut up! The other, clean half, hissed.

"Okay." I said in a small whisper. What made him think I didn't like him? Oh, right, the fact I practically told him to get lost. But that was before. Before I got to know him and all.

 I knew we had to do a ton of research because this time we were going to do this right.

Three days of studying and planning and we were ready. We knew what we needed to do every minute of our trip to come. We even found clothes that would fit this time period better.

"Let's go Jessie," I said as I adjusted my backpack. Without a word Jessie followed me, his backpack over his shoulder. Jessie tangled his hand in mine; fingers intertwined. I gave a questioning look at our hands.

"For luck." Jessie smiled. I blushed. This was great.

But one thought kept coming back. Should we really try again? Whatever the answer was one thing was for certain. Time travel was not meant for amateurs. I squeezed his hand as we fast walked to the museum, backpacks over shoulder and hand in hand.

The End


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