Visit the Pinterest inspiration page!
“When I come for you, we’ll start the world over again.”
When Elizabeth Anne wakes up after yet another epileptic event, everything’s changed. Her identical twin Rebecca Lynn is dead—killed in a car accident right before the start of senior year.
The only problem—Elizabeth Anne is certain she and her sister Rebecca Lynn already started senior year, where she met a new guy on the first day of school.
Wait–had they dated?
Which is crazy. She has epilepsy, not delusions—but what other explanation is there for that memory or for the other lives she suddenly remembers? Because every time she has another seizure, her life and the world around her changes.
Is her epileptic condition worsening? Is she losing her mind? Or is she right in believing that someone is rewriting the past to change her future? And if they can do that, then maybe she can find the power to change it back. Because nothing in this life or the next will stop her from finding her sister and maybe if she can convince herself she isn’t crazy she can also save the world.
“Hey, ladies!” The voice echoes across the parking lot, causing heads to turn. Tyler lopes over to us, his face beaming underneath freshly dyed purple hair. “Looking fine! Liza, love, did you sew that skirt yourself?” He gives my fifties inspired outfit—swingy rose pink skirt, tight white top, blood-red scarf tied around my neck—the once-over. I spin for him, the skirt flaring out into a perfect circle. “It’s amazing.”
I can’t help preening for him. “And I added the sequins to Becca’s top. She shredded her jeans on her own, though.”
“Of course she did,” he laughs, wrapping his skinny arms around me for a pointy hug. “You look amazing. Feeling okay?”
“Feeling great,” I say, willing it to be true. I haven’t had any of my normal auras yet, which means instead of a 100% chance of seizure on the first day of school, there’s maybe only a 45% chance of dropping like a rock in front of the entire student body.
My stomach gets all fluttery just weighing the odds. It’s not going to happen, I decide. I haven’t had anything but a few small absence seizures for the whole summer and today’s not going to change that. No epileptic seizures allowed. Not even a little one.
“If you were anyone else,” Becca muses as Tyler fist-bumps her with his free hand, “I’d punch you for that.”
“Ah, but I’m not and you won’t. You look like a rock goddess, darling.”
She’d darling and I’m love. It’s been that way since seventh grade, when we stood up to some jerks who were bullying Tyler. Well, Becca stood up to them because that’s who she is. I don’t really remember the fight. It’s one of those memories that’s so hazy it’s almost not there and trying to hold it in my head is like trying to grab the fog.
Which is irritating. It was five years ago, not a lifetime ago. But hey, let’s hear it for my zany brain!
Tyler gives Becca’s boobs a frank assessment. He’s the only guy who can do so without getting flattened. “Where did you get that shirt—Skid Row?” He makes a face. “Tell me that’s not a real band.”
Becca and I giggle in unison. “Found it in Mom’s closet,” Becca tells him, fluffing her giant hair. While I straightened the natural curl into a sleek ponytail held back with a black-and-white polka-dot bow, she teased her hair up into something Mom calls mall bangs. The result is enormous. “She said the lead singer was hot back in the 90s or something. Do you like it?”
“Of course not,” Tyler says, deadpan. But before Becca can snarl at him, he gushes, “I love it!”
She slugs him anyway. “Can you believe that Mom tried to convince us to wear matching outfits—again?”
Tyler laughs at that. “Knowing your mom? I absolutely can. Honestly, though—I’m surprised you didn’t. What’s the fun of being identical if you can’t trick people?” Leaning forward, he drops his voice to a stage whisper. “Remember Toby London?”
“Who could forget?” Becca says, her grin wicked.
I could. I have. A seizure wiped out the memories of freshman year where Toby groped me and what happened next.
But the story is legendary at North. Becca tricked Toby into meeting her under the bleachers, got him naked with the promise of more and then broke his nose, busted his lip and blackened not one but both eyes before she stole his clothes and, with Tyler’s help, his car, which they didn’t find for three days because they abandoned it at the Oakbrook Mall. All while I pretended to be her at chess club because I was ‘home sick’ recovering from another seizure. No one could prove anything. We got away with it scot free.
I wish I remembered the whole thing because it sounds awesome.
“Just try not to pummel anyone on the first day,” Tyler says with mock concern, because frankly, he loves watching Becca right the wrongs of North High.
“I won’t,” she promised, managing to pull off innocent with a look she stole directly from me.
“Probably,” I amend because, after all, this is Becca.
She gives me a dirty look. Tyler snorts again. We all know that the odds of her making it through the day without at least threatening someone for mocking me or making fun of Tyler are at least as bad as me not freezing up. If not worse.
“Liza, my love,” he goes on, turning a dazzling smile in my direction, “you—me—homecoming?”
I roll my eyes because yeah, Tyler is always the safe, fun default. We’ve been to every dance, party, and social together since he moved into this school. I never pass up a chance to work up a new dress and Tyler is one smooth dancer but…man, I wish I could get a real date. Someone I could kiss without feeling like I was smooching a sibling.
And so does Tyler. “Aren’t you going to spend the whole dance mooning over Mike Johanson?”
“Only if you moon with me!”
We giggle at that visual and then freeze as none other than Mike himself walks past us. With a tilt of his head that sends his dark blonde curls bouncing in the breeze, Mike shoots us a collective melting smile and says, “Ladies and gent, welcome back,” as he moves past, the muscles in his back and his butt working in perfect unison.
All three of us fall silent as we ponder Mike Johanson walking away from us. “Wow,” Becca sighs.
“Wow, indeed,” I say with a matching sigh.
“He really is perfect,” Tyler sighs, sounding heartsick. “Liza, love, if I can’t have him, I want you to get him.”
“Same. One of us should find out if he’s a good kisser or not.” Moving as one, Tyler and I turn to Becca and say, “But not you.”
“Hey,” she grins, putting her hands up in the universal sign of surrender. “He’s not my type. Too clean cut and perfect. You know I like them complicated and messy.”
Ah, that’s why I love her. She could easily have any guy—or girl—she wanted because Rebecca Lynn Baker is fierce, fearless and confident as all get-out. But she keeps clear of anyone who might look past the outrageous Baker twin and see me instead.
It’s a very short list. After twelve years of public school, Mike’s about the only guy left on it.
With or without Mike Johanson, this year is going to be my year—I just know it. I mean, sure, I’m not going to suddenly be capable of getting my driver’s license. I know that. But I want a boyfriend—a real one. One who sees me.
I will absolutely settle for a date to homecoming.
“Senior year, here we come,” Becca says, bumping me with her shoulder as we head toward school.
Something flutters in the back of my mind. It’s something…familiar.
“Here—let me try again. Will you go to homecoming with me, Elizabeth Anne Baker?” Tyler asks, adding the flourish of a courtly bow.
I shake my head. This? This is definitely familiar. Tyler makes a production out of asking me to homecoming every single year.
“Don’t push her,” Becca says, almost but not quite snapping at him. “You know she’s hoping there’ll be some new guy this year.”
“Becca!” Heat floods my cheeks.
“Me too, love. Me too.” Tyler replies with a hearty sigh.
“If there is a new guy,” Becca goes on, ignoring me, “all you have to do is wink and give him a little wiggle and he’ll be falling all over himself to get to you.”
“A wiggle? Really?” I roll my eyes. “That’s supposed to be advice?”
The morning light hits the windows of Downers Grove North, momentarily blinding me with brightness and when I squint…there’s another building—looks like a school? I’m standing in front of both of them. First day.
“Liza?” Becca’s in front of me. She grabs my hand and there’s this little tug between us and the shadow over school go away and it’s just…North. The same boring building it’s been for the last three years. “Sissy? Stay with me.”
Tyler’s arm snakes around my waist, holding me up. Or, at the very least, keeping me from landing hard. Falls are the worst. “Liza? Love, if you have a seizure, you’ll smear your lipstick and that simply won’t do.” He’s teasing but also not.
I lean into him, thankful he’s here and Becca and I aren’t alone. No one has ever stayed by us through a seizure except him and it means the world to me that she’s not alone anymore. Honestly, I’d go to hell and back for both of them.
“I’m fine,” I say with a smile. No tingling in my toes or blackness creeping at the edge of my vision and my fingers waggle when I ask them to, so I definitely haven’t frozen up. They both give me the look. “Really, I’m fine. Just the oddest sense of déjà vu.” At least, it better be.
No seizures allowed today.
Tyler’s arm relaxes around my waist, but Becca doesn’t move. “Déjà vu all over again?” he quips. He hasn’t go of me, not all the way. “I swear, love, you are the most déjà vu-y person I’ve ever known. How many lives have you lived, do you think?”
“One life,” I tell him, trying to match his teasing tone and only kinda making it. “But it’s not like this is my first day of school in this building, right?”
Tyler snorts. “It’s true. We did have a very similar first day about, oh, a year ago. And—wait, it’s coming to me! The year before that, right? My goodness!” He flings his hand across his eyes in a dramatic swoon. “Our lives in repeats!”
The swarm of kids rushing into the building part around us. Lots of funny looks, lots of giggling whispers. But we don’t care. Tyler and Becca and I—we’ll always be different, so why not be different?
“It’s not funny,” Becca grumbles and I’m not the only one who hears the edge in her voice. “Epilepsy isn’t a joke, Tyler.”
Tyler drops his hand and the act real quick. “I know, darling.” He eyes me with renewed worry because she’s never wrong about me. “Seriously, Liza.”
“Seriously, Tyler.” I’m okay, I think at my sister as I give her fingers a squeeze.
It’s not an aura. That’s all there is to it. I’m not going to have a seizure on the first day. I’m not going to fall, tear my new skirt or ruin my lipstick. I won’t end up in the hospital for weeks at a time while doctors debate adding this new med or upping the dosage on that one or debate brain surgery—again—as if Mom could afford any of that, even with the decent insurance she got at her new job as a paralegal. After she lost the old one because she had to miss so much work because of me.
I’m okay. I simply have to be. For once, Becca’s wrong about me. “It was just the angle of the light,” I tell them, stepping out of Tyler’s hold.
Becca hangs onto my hand and I wish she wouldn’t but at the same time, it feels like…like she’s holding onto me. Well, she is—but I mean…I don’t know what I mean.
I don’t let go.