Today, something changed.
Every day, I woke to the deafening blare of “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande that rang at 8 o’clock AM without fail. Believe me, if I could change it, I would be starting my day on a much more tasteful note. I sat up to stretch my arms and back in a stifled yawn. As I scratched my disheveled fluff of hair, my bleary eyes glared at the calendar hung right next to my curtained window to see a date I’ve already stamped within my head.
Without standing up to draw the curtain open, I always already knew that it was snowing outside. And not just any type of snow—this is the thick, wet clump type that makes the outside world look as if we’re stuck in picturesque slow motion on a cozy Christmas Day. I knew my brother was outside, pulling our puppy Mango on a sled in swirls in our yard. I knew that my dad was downstairs, cooking up his newest souffle pancakes colored with the beautiful ombre of brown and getting ready to call me down, just like I knew that if I hadn’t gone to sleep last night that at 2:39 AM an elderly couple by the names of Carol and Joe would have argued right outside my window about the state of their 24-year-old relationship on what was supposed to be a peaceful dog walk.
“Breakfast is ready!”
You see, I live in a LOOP.
loop (noun): /lo͞op/
- The shape of your favorite roller coaster at the amusement park of your childhood
- The splash of what seems to be a spectrum of color in your bowl of cereal until you realize that it only has 5
- You can’t escape
More specifically, a time loop.
Exhibit A: I catch the bus to go to school where I have an in-class essay in biology that I progressively get higher grades on. I have lunch with the boys, ask the girl Adala out to Winter Formal, and smile all the way to indoor soccer practice to shoot some more shots.
Exhibit B: I skip school and I walk over to the local playground to marvel at the beautiful nothingness all day.
Exhibit C: I flip my shit and throw the pancakes that my dad made at the wall. I scream and yell and attempt to break my neck or the table or fucking anything. My dad sends me to my room and I spend the day watching All American. Or Tiger King. Or Too Hot to Handle. Anything to escape.
I’ve experienced every possible outcome, made every choice, and gone down every branch of possibility that fit within this 24-hour time limit. But nothing I do lasts. I don’t have to—no, get to—live with the choices that I make because every time I wake, there is a reset I never consented to. I’ve lived January 27th for a year—down to the molecular quark.
But today, it was different. It wasn’t snowing. The white flurry that had greeted me every morning had left without so much of a goodbye. More shocking than the disappearance of the snowfall was the fact that something had changed within my repeating loop for the very first time.
It’s been about 3 weeks since it stopped snowing, and the snow has now disappeared altogether. The only substance covering the ground outside are the patterns of frost swirling the grass. Still chilly—not much else changed other than that my brother no longer brought his sled out.
It stayed like that for another week until the frost disappeared too. Now, I read the thermostat that hangs right outside my window every day. The first time I checked, it was 44 degrees. By the next few days, it had increased by 5 degrees. Then—13. And even then—27. All I could think about were the rising numbers as the mesmerizing patterns outside my window went from sledding imprints to frost, then to my dad’s irregular lawn mowing to the clumps of dry, yellow grass amidst the cakey dirt.
The numbers were rising exponentially. It was getting warmer. Hotter. My continuous world was ever-changing. My erratic heartbeat refused to let me sleep at night, but then I woke drenched in cold sweat. I took deep breaths throughout the day to calm my shaking hands. No one—except me—knew that it was supposed to be snowing. Whenever I asked anyone what was up with the increasing temperature or what to do, I flinched. The same painfully bright smile and oblivious response always greeted me.
“What do you mean, Asa? Don’t be stupid. Here, have a biscuit.”
With the true affirmation that I was alone, I went to the library in search of answers. But book after book in the library was blank. There was nothing.
A soft tap on my shoulder interrupted my deep sigh. When I lifted my head out of yet another blank book, an old librarian nodded her head towards the dimly lit corner of the library—there was one shabby shelf teetering under the weight of a couple of books. Walking over, I saw it wedged in the furthermost shelf, collecting dust. Global Warming for Dummies. Finally, there was information.
Hello. Here is the information you seek.
Global warming is the increase in global temperature all around the world. And it is accelerating. Scientists recorded……
At the rate in which the temperature is increasing, wildfires, storms, and other extreme weather patterns will increase in frequency and intensity. The melting of glaciers will decrease water supply and drown coastal cities. There are other possible consequences, such as genetic mutation, radiation, and even the possible extinction of the human species.
Now that you know, what will you do?
A blur of a week passed. I processed nothing—I couldn’t stop thinking about the thermostat and the book. I lay numbly on my bed.
It seemed to be that I was placed in a loop that was doomed to crash and burn.
Faces crossed my mind. My dad and brother. The boys at school. The girl I was going to take to what was Winter Formal. The familiar faces I exchanged smiles with in the halls. The helpful librarian. Every connection I had made, no matter how brief, gathered to create a conglomerate of people within the image of my mind. By the nature of the loop, I had been robbed of the consequences of choice. But everyone else—every other person on this fucking planet—was robbed of choice itself. I was the sole inhabitant who knew we were in a loop; I knew and could remember every single day and recognize the changes. My family, friends, and everyone else was blissfully oblivious. They were destined to die without say.
But I was aware. I knew that our world was heating up.
That was it. I had to do something instead of sit and wait amidst the mass of people who were constricted to a set script of predetermination. How could I continue to exploit the day for my own purpose?
I didn’t know yet what I should do, but I was the only one that could do anything at all, right?
At that exact moment, a small beeping began to sound. It was 4:37 AM. Hesitantly, I tiptoed out of my room and headed downstairs as I pinpointed the noise to come from the door to the basement. My slick hand gripped the railing as I walked down the creaking stairs. It was all dark. When I gave a slow glance around, I saw a blinking red light on the far wall and walked over. It was on a large handle switch where on the top, it said ‘On’ and on the bottom, it said ‘Off”. Without a second thought, I grabbed the thick bar and pulled it down to ‘Off’ with a grunt. Immediately, the light and beeping stopped and I was thrown into complete darkness.
I woke to the full blast of “New Day” by Alicia Keys in my bed. I blinked my eyes open, confused by the unfamiliar sound and shivering from my thin covering. I shifted my body to check my clock- it was 8 o’clock on the dot.
“Asa, you’re going to miss the bus! Hurry up and grab these waffles for breakfast!”
At that, I immediately sprang out of bed and ran up to my calendar. There was a large X on January 27th.
When I unveiled the curtain to my window, I could see the reflection of the tears running down my face with a white backdrop. It was snowing outside- and not just any type of snow. This was the thick, wet clump type that made the outside world look as if we were stuck in picturesque slow motion on a cozy Christmas Day.