Forget Tomorrow - Pintip Dunn


“The next leaf that falls will be red,” my six-year-old sister Jessa announces. An instant later, a crimson leaf flutters through the air like the tail feather of a cardinal.

Jessa grabs it and tucks it into the pocket of her school uniform, a silver mesh jumpsuit that is a smaller version of mine. Crunchy leaves blanket the square, the only burst of color in Eden City’s landscape. Behind our patch of a park, bullet trains shoot by in electromagnetic vacuum tubes, and metal and glass buildings vie for every inch of pavement. Their gleaming spirals do more than scrape the sky—they punch right through it.

“Now orange,” Jessa says. A leaf the color of overripe squash tumbles from the tree. “Brown.” Sure enough, brown as mud and just as dead.

“You going for some kind of record?” I ask.

She turns to me and grins, and I forget all about tomorrow and what is about to happen. My senses fill with my sister. The voice that lilts like music. The way her hair curves around her chin. Her eyes as warm and irresistible as roasted chestnuts.

I can almost feel the patches of dry skin on her elbows, where she refuses to apply lotion. And then, the moment passes. Knowledge seeps through me, the way a person gains consciousness after a dream. Tomorrow, I turn seventeen. I will become, by the ComA’s decree, an official adult. I will receive my memory from the future.

Sometimes, I feel as if I’ve been waiting all my life to turn seventeen. I measure my days not by my experiences but by the time remaining until I receive my memory, the memory, the one that’s supposed to give meaning to my life.

They tell me I won’t feel so alone then. I’ll know, without a shred of doubt, that somewhere in another spacetime exists a future version of me, one who turns out all right. I’ll know who I’m supposed to be. And I’ll never feel lost again.

Too bad I had to live through seventeen years of filler first.

“Yellow.” Jessa returns to her game, and a yellow leaf detaches from a branch. “Orange.”

Ten times, fifteen times, twenty, she correctly predicts the color of the next leaf to fall. I clap and cheer, even though I’ve seen this show, or something like it, dozens of times before.

And then I notice him. A guy wearing my school’s uniform, sitting on a curved metal bench thirty feet away. Watching us.

The back of my neck prickles. He can’t possibly hear us. He’s too far away. But he’s looking. Why is he looking? Maybe he has super-sensitive hearing. Maybe the wind has picked up our words and carried them to him.

How could I be so stupid? I never let Jessa stop in the park. I always march her straight home after school, just like my mother orders. But today, I wanted—I needed—the sun, if only for a few minutes.

I place a hand on my sister’s arm, and she stills. “We need to leave. Now.” My tone implies the rest of the sentence: before the guy reports your psychic abilities to the authorities.

Jessa doesn’t even nod. She knows the drill. She drops into step beside me, and we head for the train station on the other side of the square. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him stand up and follow us. I bite my lip so hard I taste blood. What now? Make a run for it? Talk to him and attempt damage control?

His face comes into view. He has closely cropped blond hair and a ridiculously charming grin, but that’s not why my knees go weak.

It’s my classmate, Logan Russell, swim team captain and owner of what my best friend Marisa calls the best pecs in this spacetime. Harmless. Sure, he has the nerve to smile at me after ignoring me for five years, but he’s no threat to Jessa’s well-being.

When we were kids, his brother Mikey made a racquetball hover above the court. Without touching it. ComA whisked him away, and he hasn’t been seen since. Logan’s not about to report my sister to anyone.

“Calla, wait up,” he says, as if it’s been days instead of years since we sat next to each other in the T-minus five classroom.

I stop walking, and Jessa clutches my hand. I give her three squeezes to let her know we’re safe. “My friends call me ‘Callie,’” I tell Logan. “But if you don’t already know that, maybe you should use my birthday.”

“All right, then.” Coming