What would you do if you could go back to being your eighteen year old self? Timothy Dane. Yeah, I’d fuck him, that’s what I’d do. I scrolled through my social media page and clicked on his profile, gazing into those baby blue eyes and rugged handsome smile, completely ignoring the fact that his wife was also staring at me in the picture. It’s funny how some people change a lot in twenty years and some really don’t—Timothy Dane was one of the guys who didn’t. I mean, sure, he was a smidge older looking but he was still ripped, gorgeous…god, am I seriously getting wet thinking about him? How fucking pathetic. I looked at his wife and couldn’t help the sneer on my face—Angela Boomer Dane. What a dumb name. She was one of those who looked the same now too—still had that dull, short straight brown hair, those same overly plucked eyebrows in a ridiculous curve that made her seem like she was always surprised. They started dating as sophomores and married after college—cliché high school sweethearts. Disgusting.

I stubbed out my cigarette in the ashtray on the table and leaned back in the patio chair on my porch, staring out into the rain. I rarely smoked—that shit will kill you—but when I got stressed I needed to do something so puff puff I went. I knew I shouldn’t. Mom died of lung cancer, she smoked like a chimney after I was born for almost twenty years. Almost, I say—because she died just after I started college, middle of my freshman year. By the time they found the cancer it was too late; she fought, but in the end all it did was leave a wake of medical bills for me to pay off after her death. I had to drop out, kiss my dreams goodbye and start working two shithole jobs to get out of debt. If the house hadn’t been in Grandpa’s name still, I would have lost that too. Luckily it was though, but by the time I paid off mom’s medical bills Pops went too—thankfully, he was old enough that all that was taken care of by his life insurance. Mom, on the other hand, wasn’t.

I stared at the digital image of Timothy Dane’s face, clicking through his pictures to see his happy kids and perfect magazine life—what? You know what, you can eat a dick. Don’t you judge me, you know you use social media to stalk people too fucker. At least I’m not above pretending like I don’t. Fine, whatever—I clicked out of his profile and back to the event page, my thumb hovering over the buttons. Yes…No…Maybe. Ugh. Was it already my twentieth class reunion? Am I that fucking old—thirty eight. Yup, I’m that fucking old. I clicked Maybe, though if I’m being honest, we both know it is a hard No. I mean, I’m disgusted with myself, with my life. I’m thirty eight, I’ve gained seventy pounds since senior year, I literally have nothing to show for myself—no husband, no kids, no nothing. I’ve got a job, but not one that I’d admit to any of those people, fuck, I work at a gas station. And not one of those fancy gas stations, like the ghetto kind in the neighborhood where no one who comes in is white. Frankly, I’m the whitest person who has ever set foot in there and that’s saying something because I’m only half. What’s the other half? Like everything, little bit of this, little bit of that—like making soup without a recipe, you just clean out the fridge and throw that shit in a pot, add water and bam, you’ve got soup. The only good thing about being a mutt is you look ‘exotic.’ Mom always said we would make great spies—our looks pretty much blended in with any ethnicity, we could look mixed, Indian, Native American, Asian, whatever.

The one that I always got was Hispanic. I suppose it didn’t help that my boss at the ghetto gas station was Mexican. Thank goodness I took Spanish all throughout high school. I know, you don’t really learn enough to carry on a conversation with anyone older than five, but getting the basics down really helped. Once I started working there, I was thrown into the trenches and forced to speak a language that wasn’t my own every day. That’s the only good thing about that job, aside from my pathetic paycheck, was that I’m now fluent in another language. Yup, I know all the bad, dirty words too.

Spanish class, wow, that’s a blast from the past—it was one of two classes my senior year that I had with Timothy Dane, in fact I sat next to him. He fucking sucked at it and if memory serves right, he almost failed until the football coach personally paid for a tutor so he wouldn’t lose his varsity linebacker. I scrolled through the list of people who said they were attending the reunion and it brought back some memories—I hadn’t seen a single one of these people since graduation, though I was ‘friends’ with them now. Stupid, right? I mean, yeah, I’ll accept your friend request even though you said like three words to me and never pronounced my name right. Gives me something more to feel bad about while I’m eating cereal for dinner like a loser and scrolling through their professional family photos in matching plaid shirts against a burlap background.

I leaned back in the chair and sighed—if I could go back and just change one or two things, what would it be? Would I become the popular girl? A cheerleader instead of some quiet emo goth freak that everyone avoided? No. I knew exactly the moment I’d go back to, because it was the one that affected me the hardest. It made my life unbearable. I closed my eyes and dredged up that memory.

“Catarina?” It was my mom’s voice.

I drew in a deep breath, the smell of second hand smoke and grease filling my lungs. When I opened my eyes, I saw her sitting across the table from me in the crappy diner we frequented when she didn’t feel like cooking. There was a cig hanging out of her mouth, her face looking at me like she was waiting for an answer. I could never recall the question, but I remembered everything else about that night. I always felt like that was the night I should have told her to quit smoking, to go see a doctor because in a year, she’d be dead.

You know what? It’s my day dream so this time, I’m going to do something about it. I reached across the table, grabbed the cigarette out of her mouth and stubbed it out into the ashtray, “Quit being so fucking selfish! In one year, you’ll die of lung cancer—I know this for a fact. In almost nine months your cough will get so bad that you will finally drag yourself to the doctor only to discover that it is too late—then, you die. You die and you leave me all alone and you know what, Mom? My life is shit because of it. Because you’re not there. So for once in your life will you just listen to me and stop smoking? Go to the fucking doctor tomorrow and demand they do tests—if they would have caught it sooner, you would have lived.” I was pissed, my voice was angry and there were tears running down my face. It was all true, this one moment fucked my life to hell. I hated that she smoked but I never had the balls to do anything about it.

Mom looked shocked; she put the menu down, her hands shaking. Right then, the waitress came over, “Do you know what you ladies want?”

“A club and fries,” I said before looking over at my Mom—her mouth was still open, “And she’ll have the strip steak, medium well with a baked potato and extra sour cream. And I mean, a lot of sour cream, like an entire bowl.”

The waitress nodded and walked off. I sighed, “I’m going to wash my hands.” I got up and went to the bathroom, leaving my Mom gaping behind me.

When I walked in and caught a look at my eighteen year old self, I laughed. I watched my reflection reach up and touch my black hair, painstakingly straightened by hand every day, stupid bangs curled into that fake round tunnel, thick black make up and lipstick twelve shades too dark. I had a dumb velvet choker on, a baggy button up black shirt and a long black skirt with combat boots. Wretched fashions of the past. I pulled up the hem of the shirt and looked at my flat stomach—god, how I wished I had that body back. To think, I was always mortified that I weighed 130, because all those other twig bitches thought 110 was fat. I’d kill to weigh 130 again—if I had known then, what I knew at thirty eight, how different my life would have ended up.

I saw teenage me roll my eyes before shutting them—yeah, this was too painful of a memory to dredge up. Back then I had the world in the palm of my hand—I could have been anything, done anything, but instead I squandered it. Hindsight is a bitch.

When I opened my eyes, I expected to see my front lawn just beyond my porch, my overweight ass stuffed into a patio chair while I stalked former classmates online. But, that isn’t what I saw—I opened my eyes and I was still in the bathroom of that crappy diner, staring at my eighteen year old self. What the fuck. I blinked again. I reached up and slapped my stupid emo face—nothing happened. Well, I mean my face hurt and was a little red but it was still there.

I leaned on the sink and stared at myself—was this really happening? I mean, I would have killed for the chance to go back and change things but that wasn’t a possibility. Maybe I had finally lost it. Or maybe, just maybe…

Woah. What would you do if you could go back to being your eighteen year old self?

I’m not going to fuck it up this time, that’s for damn sure. I washed my hands and went out into the diner, sat across from my mom. She didn’t light up another cig in my absence, so that was good. I looked up at her face and almost burst into tears—I missed her so much. I held it together and gave her a smile, “How was work?”

She looked at me odd but started laughing, before telling me about her day. It was the most normal, boring conversation we had while eating, but it was something I always missed later in life.

We got home before seven, it was a Thursday. As we pulled into the garage, I sat there for a moment before talking to her again, “I’m serious, Mom. You need to call the doctor tomorrow. I know that you’ve been having problems breathing for a while now and you just think it is a linger cold, but it isn’t. Promise me. Promise me you’ll call.”

She looked at me—her face was blank, but I saw the worry in her eyes. She smiled and reached out, touching my cheek, “Okay baby. I’ll call first thing in the morning.”

“And no more smoking.”

She grimaced, “No more smoking. I’ll pick up a patch before work.”

What a fucking relief that was—now I just had to make sure she stuck to it. When we got out of the car and I saw my reflection in the window, I almost flinched. “I think I’m going to go to the thrift store down the street and pick up some different clothes.”

Mom looked at me with a frown, “More black?”

I shook my head, waving my hand over my body “No, I’m over this.”

“Thank god,” she muttered under her breath. She fished out her wallet and handed me forty bucks, “Here, as long as it isn’t black I honestly don’t care what you wear.”

I laughed, giving her a hug before I tucked the money into my pocket and wandered out of the garage. It was a little cool for a fall night but I didn’t care. I couldn’t believe it, even still—it was impossible, but somehow my thirty-eight year old consciousness was thrown back into my eighteen year old body. I got a second chance to make something of myself. Well, most likely I was just passed out in the chair on my porch, snoring away and having some wicked hangover dream, but you know what? Who the fuck cares—I’m going to go with the flow.

I walked into the thrift store and smiled—eighteen year old me wouldn’t have been caught dead here. Who would have known in a few decades, second hand shopping would be cool? I tried to remember what the mid nineties were like—ugh. Plaid, horizontal stripes, ribbed shirts, midriffs, shiny, pink and coveralls. No thank you. I remembered that seventies style clothing was coming back around so I scoured the store and found some decent vintage clothes. Wow, forty dollars bought a lot back then.

I wandered home just before dark with a huge bag in each hand; Mom was watching TV so I stripped the tags off and stuffed everything into the wash before heading to my room. Ah, the room of my teenage years—nothing like what you would think, mind you. I would have bet that most girls in my school had posters of boy bands, hunks from movies, stupid cats or whatever was pink but not me—maps. Maps covered my walls; I always wanted to travel the world, see new things, meet different people, experience other cultures, I just never had the chance. I kicked off my combat boots and ran into the small attached bathroom, scrubbing the shit off of my face, finally seeing the perfect complexion underneath all of that foundation. It made me smile. Eighteen year old me was actually attractive, hot even—I was just always too awkward and quiet to make anything come out of it. Not this time, though.

I changed into PJs and flopped onto the twin bed, pulling out my homework.

It’s a good fucking thing I still remembered half this shit because I would have been screwed otherwise. I stuffed my new-old clothes into the dryer and finished off my calculus just as the phone rang. It startled me, honestly—I looked around and saw the handset on the wall. Yikes, landlines, that’s right—I had my own personal teen line back in the day, though it wasn’t like many people called me. When I got up and looked at the caller ID, it read Adams, Philip. Who the fuck was that?

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hey kitten,” a deep male voice purred, “what are you wearing?”

“Who the fuck is this?” I snapped.

“What? It’s me, Colton.”

Oh god, Colton Adams, how could I ever forget that douche? I dated him for most of my senior year, he was a real shit bag. I also lost my virginity to him in the back seat of his crappy Ford Tempo—wait a second, tomorrow night, that’s the day I would lose my virginity. I almost laughed out loud—not this time. That’s a hard nope to this motherfucker.

“Oh, sorry. Hey I’m busy so I gotta go.” I said quickly.

“Wait, kitten—” I heard him say when I hung up the phone. Thinking on it, I left it off the hook because I knew he’d call back.

I had a stupid, shit eating grin on my face as I recalled what would happen the following day—I had a memory like a steel trap sometimes. I went to school, boring as usual; in Spanish class, Timothy Dane asked me if I could help him with his homework over the weekend. God how I wanted to, but I chickened out and said I was busy—I knew he only asked me because I was wicked smart and easy for a jock like him to approach since I was a nobody, a quiet awkward girl who should have been falling over the chance to spend time with him. Instead, I blew him off. Colton picked me up that night and we went to a movie, then parked down a gravel road and he fucked me. It was painful and in no way enjoyable, granted neither of us knew what we were doing back then but still—I always wished he wasn’t my first. Now, I’d get to pick and yup, that’s right, I will impale myself on Timothy Dane like a sacrificial lamb.

I pulled out my English book and read a few chapters, which was both funny and pointless because I remembered finishing the book. Eventually, the dryer went off. I went downstairs and got my clothes, giving my Mom a kiss on the cheek goodnight before I headed back up to my room. While folding them and putting them away—a habit I never had as a teen—I was actually looking forward to tomorrow. This was going to be amazing.

When my alarm went off at 5:30 am I leapt out of bed. Nervously, I went to the bathroom and turned on the light—I barely slept, but that didn’t matter, I was still eighteen year old me, grinning like a fool. I hopped into the shower, washed my hair and body, shaved my legs and—woah, what the fuck is this, a tribble? I hesitantly prodded at the bush between my legs, yikes…carefully I shaved my bikini line before getting out of the shower. I forgot about that thing—I didn’t start waxing until I was twenty. Looking around my bathroom I knew that I couldn’t rip it off now, I didn’t have any supplies and plus, I wasn’t sure that high school kids knew about bald pussies back then. I grabbed a pair of scissors and decided that I could at least weed wack the damn thing back. It nearly took me fifteen minutes before I got the hedge under control to the point that I no longer looked like a 70’s porn star.

I tossed some mousse into my hair, knowing that it would dry wavy but would look good. I stood in front of the mirror naked for a long time, simply admiring the body I used to be ashamed of—a nice C cup, hips, curves (but not any extras, if you know what I mean), nice flat stomach and a plump ass. Damn. Hindsight—right?!

I slipped on a black bra and panties because that’s all I had back then, everything in black. I pulled on a tight red tank top underneath a red plaid shirt that I buttoned up almost all the way, but still let my cleavage show and a pair of slim blue jeans. Vintage feel, but still doable in the mid-90’s. I put on some socks and the pair of black I bought the night before with my other clothes. Back in the bathroom I went through my makeup, saving only the mascara before dumping the rest into the trash—unless I planned on going as a vampire for Halloween, it was pretty much worthless. I snuck into Mom’s bathroom; she was in the shower.

“Hey,” I said, “I’m going to use some of your make up until I can get some at the store.”

“Okay honey,” she replied. She continued humming to herself behind the curtain.

I rummaged through her stash and opted for some palate of brown eyeshadows, going natural instead of goth. A quick dusting of the eyes, some smoky eyeliner and mascara, a light sheen of a pinkish-red lipstick and bam, my image was remade. I was definitely fuckable.

I grabbed my backpack and went downstairs to the kitchen and made some oatmeal in the microwave. I was just about finished when Mom came downstairs in her work clothes.

“Holy shit,” she said, looking at me, completely stunned. “You weren’t kidding, you’re really done with all of that black stuff.”

“Yeah,” I said, kind of embarrassed, “do I look okay?”

“Okay? You’re gorgeous honey!”

“Ack, you’re saying that because you have to,” I grumbled.

“No, I’m not. Before I would just say, ‘I love you no matter what,’ because you can’t really tell your daughter that she looks scary.”

I laughed hard, “Okay, okay, I get it. Thanks Mom.”

She leaned over and kissed me on the forehead, “Of course darling. Do you want a ride?”

“No, I’m going to catch the bus,” I said, sticking my bowl into the dishwasher. “Have a good day, and don’t forget—”

“I will call the doctor as soon as I get in.” She smiled at me. God, it was good to see her again.

I hopped onto the public bus and sat in the back like I always used to. In my backpack, I found—yes, I’m serious—my portable CD player and wired headphones. I contained my laughter as I put them on over my ears and listened to whatever was in there. I knew there was a smile on my face, just thinking what an amazing day this would be.

At the next stop, a few of the popular guys from school got on, Derek and Brandon. After the bus started moving again, I caught one of them flat out staring at me—like mouth open kind of staring. I turned and looked at him, gave him a smile and did one of those stupid head nod things.

Derek was shocked and mouthed, “Hey.”

I turned my gaze back to the window but I could see him nudging his friend, casually pointing over at me. It was a good feeling to be noticed and not because I was a freak. When the bus finally stopped two blocks from school, I got off last to find Derek and Brandon waiting for me.

“Hey Catarina,” Brandon said. His eyes wandered up and down my body.

I smirked, stuffing my CD player into my backpack, “It’s Cat—only my mom calls me Catarina.”

“Okay, Cat,” Brandon grinned.