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A Switch in Time - Short Story by Margaret Karmazin

“The reason,” said Sarah, “that you don’t have the energy is because of your weight. You live on junk food and sugar, don’t think I don’t know; I’ve seen how you eat and can only imagine what you do at home. I have problems myself, but you’ve let things go beyond the pale. As your boss and friend, I want you to do something about it and go on to improve your life professionally. Please consider what I’m saying and get back to me so I can see what I can do about getting you on the right path and out of this nursing aide shit. I am not going to stop pounding you about it.”

That evening, instead of opening a large bag of Fritos to be followed by half a bag of chunky Chips Ahoy, she cracked open a window and stared into the night. “What’s the meaning of all this?” she sighed.

In the background, the TV set to CNN mumbled on about the President’s latest behavior; his attempts to deflect attention from his outrageous comments and ruthless denial of help to victims of hurricanes and police brutality, and the real possibility of his starting a nuclear war.

For a moment, Brianna glanced at the relentless talking heads and felt tension rising in in her back and shoulders, then turned back to her view between two buildings onto what appeared to be an empty street. It seemed to her that the anxiety level of the world was rising to an almost unbearable pitch. It might, she fantasized, keep festering in her own body until it burst out the top of her head.

Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her that did not seem to be the TV. It sounded as if it was coming from the exact center of the tiny living room, though high up toward the ceiling. Her heart thumped alarmingly.

“Don’t be afraid,” it said. “You will not be harmed.”

Very slowly she turned around.

For a moment, her vision turned to white light, as if her head had lost all its blood, but then sight returned through a screen of golden sparks. Her mouth hung open.

There stood a creature seven feet tall and apparently made of glittering light. Through this light, she could make out vague female features. Sporadically, through the intense brightness, she saw a ripple of clothing, a multicolor gown of some kind. Was there hair on its head? Yes, there seemed to be and it was golden or silver, mutable like the clothing. The eyes looked dark, then finally green.

“What are you?” Brianna whispered.

“A Guardian, a senior fairy,” said the creature. “One of those who protect the world from those who would destroy it. I have a job for you. A long range assignment involving something possibly startling, although after a short while, you’ll adapt and get right into the swing of it.”

“Startling?” Brianna whispered. It amazed her that she could even talk.

“Yes, but as I said, you should do fine.”

“What is it?” Brianna wasn’t sure she could breathe.

The creature smiled. “You’re going to switch bodies with someone. In order to save the earth.”

Okayyyyy... if she were not actually looking at something totally incredible, something no one would believe including her David Icke buff cousin Eric, she would at this moment laugh. Help save the world, huh? Like a twelve-year-old boy in one of those we-can-only-use-you-because-you’re-a-video-game-master movies? But she was staring right at this astonishing creature and was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, nor did she suffer from a psychiatric disorder other than the depression. That she knew of.

“You are not crazy. You have been selected since you are a good soul and particularly suited for this job. You will end up enjoying yourself and if you remain as you are now in quality of spirit, your choices in life will prevent terrible things from happening. Are we clear?”

Her manner of speech was musical. Each sentence was like a melody

“Am I about to die?”

“The very opposite,” she said.

Brianna considered her options. Were there any? Could she say no to whatever was coming? Did she have any reason to say no other than fear? Her life now pretty much sucked. She had no one to care about and no one in the world cared about her other than Sarah, her boss and they weren’t really friends. There didn’t seem much to lose.

“All right,” she said, “what the hell. I mean...”

The fairy chuckled. “I do need to warn you. You are going to go to sleep and when you wake up, you’ll be different and in another time. Not too radical, just 1964.”

“1964? Why?” She was alarmed. No cell phones, computers or Netflix, and wow, not even Star Trek yet!

“So that the switch is roughly fair, age-wise,” explained the fairy. “Now lie down on the sofa there and shut your eyes.”

Clumsily and as if this were the most normal behavior in the world, Brianna obeyed, and then the Guardian bent down and touched her forehead.

It was a beautiful summer day when she stirred awake. Birds tweeted outside the open window and she was confused. Where were the two buildings she normally saw outside?

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