1 Borrowed Time

It was a pleasant day of May 28, 2040. So, I stretched my arms upward as I open my eyes to welcome a new day. 


"Oh it's a new life, Oh it's a new day~" I sang as I drop my feet off my bed to get up, planning to go to the National Bookstore to look for materials I'll be needing in school for a new school year.


I danced my way inside the bathroom and strip my clothes off to take a bath. I opened the shower and giggled as I felt how cold the water is as it flows to trace its way down to my feet. After that, I brushed my teeth and got ready for my today's activity.


"Mom, I'll be out to buy school stuff!" I shouted, running down the stairs.


"Take care!" she replied, shouting from the kitchen.


As I step inside the bookstore, the smell of papers attacked my nose. I closed my eyes for a moment and felt how ecstatic it is. I love the papers. My friends would even look at me like, 'oh my God! She's going to buy memo pads, sticky notes, and vellum boards again!' whenever we're inside the National Bookstore. 


I went to every shelf where papers are piled up and simply let my fingers glide at each one of them. I don't know why seeing different types of papers automatically put a smile on my face. Like, my lips would stretch to its limit at the sight of it.


"Oh my! Sketch pads!" I exclaimed and got one out of the shelf to take a look at how beautiful the paper inside it would look like. "Yay! Love it!" I said while bouncing. Then, I put the sketchpad inside the basket I'm holding.


My steps were very slow as I savour the moment being here in this place full of beautiful papers. But as I scan through different shelves, I saw an eccentric type of journal and it caught my attention. So I slowly stepped closer to it. Then, I pulled it out of the shelf and began scanning its pages. 


I don't know how to explain but, maybe it's its style having a different smell from all the papers here. It smells old and it looks like a journal owned by a Philippine hero born in the 1960s; that's how it looks like! The papers were yellowish and the cover looks like it's made of leather. 


My eyes glimmered and it awakens a different type of feeling in me. If there's this thing called love at first sight, this would be it! But the only thing that makes it different from the original thought is that I'm talking about an old-looking journal. 


I bounced in excitement as I imagined my days writing in its pages. I put it inside the basket, look for some of my school stuff, and took quick steps on my way to the cashier's counter.


"Mom, I'm home!" I shouted as I opened the door of our house. I did not wait for her reply because I immediately went to my room to try the newly-bought-weird-looking journal.


As soon as I entered my room, I placed the bag which contained everything that I bought on my bed and immediately scanned through it to look for the journal. When I found it, I immediately took it out of the bag and carried it with me to my study table. I excitedly opened it and touched its pages.


"Oh my Gosh! This is heaven!" I exclaimed while closing my eyes with my fist closed, feeling the thrill. I know it sounds overreacting for some but you can't understand me if you're not like me.


I opened my eyes, reached for a pen, and began writing on the journal's pages. I'm smiling like an idiot as I saw how the ink from the pen perfectly fit the journal's page. I almost clapped my hands after finishing some strokes. But the smile on my face gradually faded when I saw how the ink slowly disappeared as if the page absorbed it.


"What's happening?" I asked, panicking from the strange thing I have observed. I even closed my eyes thrice just to confirm if I am just being deceived by my eyes. But my brows extremely furrowed when I saw the blank page where I wrote my name earlier. "I'm pretty sure I wrote something in here..." I whispered, my voice left me as panic began to flow inside me. 


I stared at the journal for a few minutes before I grabbed, scanned, and shook it to look for an explanation. But all I found are blank pages. 


"You're scaring me," I said, my voice shaking. I was about to stand up and tell my Mom about what I've seen but I quickly got back to my seat as I saw how letters formed on the first page.


'I would like to borrow a bit of your time.' it says. 


I can't move in shock. It even took me a while before I could process everything. 


"Is this happening for real?" I asked myself in a whisper.


When I gathered all the courage to forcibly bring my senses back, I decided to close the journal. But before I could do it, a blinding light came out of the page and began sucking me in.


"Heeeelp!" I shouted in fear. But before someone could barge in and get me out of it, everything turned black.


I slowly opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling for a second. But when I remember everything that happened earlier, I panicked and jumped on my bed. I roam my eyes around but all I could see was my room. Nothing seems different except that I can't see the bag which has all the school stuff I bought earlier; even the weird journal!


I slapped my forehead as I realize something, "Gosh, it was a dream!" I exclaimed, relieved. Maybe I dreamed about it because I kept thinking about buying school stuff last night before I close my eyes. "It scared me. Good thing it's only a dream," I shrugged and reached for my phone. "Oh my! It's 9 in the morning already. Gosh, I promised to see my friend today!" 


I quickly went to the bathroom and did my things. I also texted my friend that I'll be late for our meeting. When I was about to pick up my phone, it beeped for a message notification but I didn't bother looking at it because I'm in a hurry. I know Vivian is already waiting for me and I'm already late!


I ran downstairs only to be surprised seeing my dad sitting on the sofa, watching television. My brown furrowed in wonder.


"Why is he here? I thought it's Tuesday today and he works on weekdays," I whispered to myself. But I only shrugged afterwards and took a step towards him. "Dad, I'll be out to see my friend, Vivian," I told him and kissed his cheek. But he only stared at me with creased forehead and eyes full of confusion. 


"There are lots of COVID cases now, Brielle, and you're still going out?" my dad told me. I stood up straightly and began looking at him like, 'are you serious?'


"Dad what are you talking about? Dad, COVID happened in 

2020! We're in the year 2040 now!" I told him, unable to believe what he's talking about.


"Are you sick, Brielle?" my dad asked me and began to touch my neck and forehead using the back of his hand. I slightly tapped his hand because of annoyance. I turned my back at him and text Vivian about how weird my father is acting right now.


"Gosh, what happened to him? He's sick not me!" I annoyingly told myself before unlocking my phone. But the confusion slowly built up when I saw the date.


June 15, 2020


What made me confuse more is Vivian's reply from my text earlier.


From: Vivian

What meeting are you talking about? I thought you already knew, 3 persons are COVID-19 positive here in our place.


Oh my God! Did I just went back to 2020? But how come my body's still the same? And the people around me? I am not supposed to be here yet because 20 years ago I am still inside my mother's womb!


When everything sank in, I quickly ran upstairs and went to my bedroom. There I saw the journal on my bed. I swiftly walked towards the journal and opened it. I saw how it formed letters again.


'You'll see how they survived amidst the pandemic. But, will you survive, too?'


I slowly put the journal down as my heart began to beat wildly. What is this thing talking about? "My life is in 2040!" I screamed but slowly covered my mouth when I realized something, "Was coming back in 2020 affects my life in 2040?"


As I got to understand how crucial my situation is, I spent the following days thinking this is just a long dream but those days made me realize it isn't. 


The news from the television revealed how the numbers of COVID-19 positive sky-rocketed. I stayed home, afraid I might get infected and will never be able to come back to the present. 


I got bored so I wore my mask and took a few steps away from our house. I looked around and I observed how few are the people walking around the streets, how they distance themselves away from each other, and how everyone wears their masks and face shields. 

I'm busy looking around when my phone rang. The LCD revealed it was Vivian's mother, Tita Vicky. My brows furrowed in wonder because Tita Vicky doesn't call me. I only got her number when Vivian used her mother's phone one time. So, I immediately tapped the 'answer' option.


"Hello, Tita?" I answered as I pick the call up.


"Brielle," I heard her voice shaking so I took quick steps back to our house because I could sense that something isn't right.


"Tita, what's wrong?" I asked, panting because I almost ran.


"Vivian tested positive for Covid-19." Tita Vicky answered and burst out. I became deaf for a second upon hearing the news. I even stopped opening the door and remained standing, holding the doorknob.


"How?" I asked full of confusion. Vivian was the one who warned me to follow the rules and never go out if it isn't urgent.


"She went out three days ago to attend a birthday party of her classmate in elementary and the rumoured COVID 19 positive was there. Unfortunately, it was the cousin of the birthday celebrant and Vivian had close contact with him. After that, Vivian experienced mild symptoms and we checked, the result came out and it says positive. I don't know know what to do. Your Tito Rey and I were tested, too but our results came out negative. My poor, Vivian." she cried.


Something popped up my mind. I want to visit my friend but at the same time, I also want to survive and go back to the present where my real life is. But, I realized, if surviving isn't for me, I will never make it back to 2020. So, I was thinking, even if I couldn't go back to the present, at least I did something for my friend here which I'll do even in the present. It's Vivian we are talking about, my friend since grade school until now. She's almost a sister for me!


I was about to open the door to change my clothes and get ready to visit Vivian when her mom spoke up.


"Vivian told me not to tell you about this because she knows you'll visit her. But as her friend, you have the right to know. But, please don't do anything that could harm you both." she warned before we said our goodbyes.


After the call, I went to my bedroom and think. I went back and forth in front of my bed, thinking about what to do. I want to see Vivian. I think, 20 years of being in this world are already enough. If ever I get infected and die, I don't care anymore. I just want to see my friend. So, I grabbed my phone and was about to go out when the journal opened on its own. I slowly went to it and I saw how it formed letters again.


'The key to surviving; following the rules and having compassion. You did well!"


The journal showed. My brows furrowed and stood up, determined to see Vivian. But before I could even take a step, the journal immediately opened and the blinding light immediately appeared. My mouth formed an 'o' when I realized what's going to happen.

"Wait! I haven't visited Vivian yet!" I shouted but it got drowned when the journal began pulling me inside its pages. 

I slowly opened my eyes when the sunlight passing through my window's curtain started poking my eyes. I slowly sat on my bed and held my head.

"Gosh, my head feels so heavy," I whispered. I closed my left eye and stared at the window for a while. My forehead creased when I kept on thinking about something I couldn't even remember. I was about to get up and take a bath when I noticed something on my bed. "A journal?" I asked myself. "I don't remember having this kind of journal."

I picked up the journal and began scanning its pages. My eyes started to shape like a heart when I saw how beautiful the papers are.

"You look old but you're beautiful!" I exclaimed, praising its beauty. I may be wondering how it got here but I'm thankful. My smile started to fade when the first page started to form letters on its own. In shock, I accidentally dropped the journal. My head started to ache and unknown memories started to come back. I rested my back on the edge of my bed. My lips parted when I remember what I was trying to remember the moment I opened my eyes earlier.

"Vivian..." I whispered and moved y gaze towards the book. I slowly reached for it, my hands shaking. I placed it properly in front of me and I began reading what it wrote.

'You survived!'

I threw the journal back to my bed and sprinted towards the bathroom to see Vivian. But before I could make it to the bathroom I heard a knock.

"Brielle?" the person who knocked called. "Brielle, it's me, Vivian." my eyes widened and quickly went to the door to open it. I was about to hug her tight but I stopped when I saw she's wearing a mask.

"W-why are you wearing that?" I nervously ask, thinking I'm still here in the past. Or is there a new virus?

"Oh! I'm sorry," she said and giggled. She took off her mask and pouted. "It's because I have a big pimple!" she said, pouting and began stomping her right foot on the floor. "I'm ugly now!" 

No one could ever explain the relief I felt. I exhaled a heavy breath and started laughing at her disappointed face.

"You're always ugly!" I teased her. She rolled her eyes on me and slapped my right shoulder.

"Such a tease," she said and rolled her eyes again. I smiled and pulled her for a hug. "Hey! Why are you being so cheesy!" she began pushing me a little. But after a few moments, she hugged me back.

"Be thankful it's just a pimple," I said before pulling out of her embrace. "You can't come here, walk around and still enjoy life if it's a virus," I said before pulling her inside my room. We have many things to talk about.