“Mayflies in Nirvana”

Becky Blaine?”

She trembles as she speaks, barely audible over the drunken yells and thunderous music. The party is chaotic. It always is, every night I visit it. Not to worry, we’ll get away from here soon enough.

I can see her nerves tangle and twist in the depths of her tummy. Her mind fighting to figure out whether the visions are true. They are, but I’ll give her a minute to reach that conclusion.

“Are you…you know…is it true?”

I’ve heard her ask me this a hundred times before. Witnessed time and again as her eyes process each and every variation of the night unfolding before her. Me being able to return here shouldn’t be possible, of course. The me of tomorrow, stepping into the me of a world that’s long since rotted beneath the soils of history. An impossible trick no human should possess. So illogical, no soul would believe me if I told them.

Except her. She has an impossible trick of her own; a mind which can recall every variation of history that’s ever happened and un-happened. Her life is a kaleidoscope of parallel realities, stacked side-by-side.

Many-World Matthews, I call her.

I paid no attention to her, back when I was living out these days in the present, as it were.  Teenage me saw Lily as yet another classroom oddity. A quirky fool who spouted nonsense that justified the torments of our peers. My school day memories toward her consist of the pretty girls laughing in her face, while guys spat chunks of rotting slurs her way as she wandered the playground alone.

It was this party, on this night, where we found one another. I, the pity offer, she the stunt invite; both of us outcasts in a place not built for us. For just one night only, we connected. A moment of discovery and euphoria. It was never meant to last, of course. Destiny would pulls us apart soon after.

Her eyes twinkle as they gaze into mine. She’s waiting for me to confirm what she’s already deduced. Countless realities unfolding before her, corroding any doubt she may have held when she caught sight of me from across the room.

The most mischievous grin spans my face.

“Good to see you again, Lily Matthews”.


Chatter, laughter and intoxicated attempts to recite lyrics thudding from the party’s stereo system thump through the open windows, up and away into the night sky.

We’re both perched upon a garden wall, gazing up into the night time abyss of yesteryear. The time traveller and the oracle, ready to rewrite this night once again.

The house behind us is a hub of chaos and daftness. We don’t care about any of that. Not anymore. Once upon a time I may have done. Back when this night was new to the world, I wanted to dive headfirst and take the silliness for all it was worth. Anything to be accepted by folks who it seemed so difficult to impress. After endless revisits, (cont’d) decades after age marinaded my dreams of acceptance, I’ve decided there’s better things to be doing than rolling about with the dafties and the drunks.

Lily is what matters most. Strange, impossible, Lily. The girl who appeared and departed in the blink of an eye.

“So, what’s the plan this time?” she asks.

I shrug. “Still working on it, unless you’ve got something?”

She peers down at her white converses, patting their grubby souls against the brick wall. Without warning, her eyes light up, filling to the nines with glee and hope. She turns, unable to contain her idea any longer.

“Fancy ruining Sanderson’s night?”


The living room is a pit of teenagers. Reckless, high and barely clinging to reality; thanks to the litres of venom they’ve funnelled into their bodies.

Amidst the huddled mass of ethanol-saturated souls is the worst human I’ve ever had the misfortune to cross paths with. Bill Sanderson’s arm droops over his mate’s shoulder. Flecks of spit fire from his mouth as he waffles into his friend’s ear. Blue bags dangle beneath his eyelids, his cracked and lose skin sways from side-to-side as he unloads whatever nonsense leaves his odorous mouth.

My comments sound callous, but trust me when I say, Bill Sanderson is the lowest of the low. A bigot, a bully, a liar. On his last day school, he thought it funny to spit in the face of a girl he’d initiated a campaign of abuse toward during the preceding five years of her life. Her crime? She asked him for a hug; one final attempt to make peace with her (cont’d) tormentor before they both parted ways. As she ran off, distraught and confused at her failure to achieve closure, he and his mates cackled as they high fived one another.  

Sanderson used to terrify me. His dedicated hunger for locking onto victims and dismantling their self-esteem until they felt like smallest beings in the cosmos left me, and many others he targeted, dented for decades to come.

These days, with my wizened mind, I look at Sanderson and see a damaged monster; one who decided to deal with his inner pain by targeting those who didn’t fight back. Torture without consequence, that was his mantra.

I creep around the outskirts of the room, locking my gaze upon him, making sure he doesn’t spot me. Lily’s role is less stealth in design. She pops up directly in his line of sight, smiling and waving as his eyes fix upon her.

“Eyup, Sandy boy!” she sings.

Bill’s expression reshapes itself the moment he sees her. A smile spreads across his often deadpan face. Colour returns to his cheeks. The bags beneath his eyes are barely visible, a sign he’s awash with joy.

“Freak Job!” chants Sanderson

I notice Lily flinch ever so slightly, recoiling at the nickname that’s come to define her during her school and college years.  

Sanderson clutches his mates shoulder, trying to control his glee by using his companion as a six-foot stress ball.

“You met Freak Job?” Sanderson asks his confused yet amused pal.

His buddy, nods, grinning whilst struggling to look Lily in the eye. He’s putting on a show, pretending to be entertained by such pointless taunts. Anything not to become prey himself.

Slowly, from behind, I edger nearer to Bill and his buddy. I can see them, tucked into Sanderson’s back pocket.  Our ticket out of here. Our ticket to ruining this guy’s night.

Lily smiles. “Figured we could patch things up. Y’know, now we’re all grown up and that”.

Sanderson scoffs, barely able to contain himself, “come on, Freak Job, we’re already pals. You know that!” He stumbles forward, wrapping his sweaty arm around her shoulder. He leans in, practically pressing his face against Lily’s cheek. She curls inward as the cider fumes escaping Sanderson’s mouth slither up her nostrils.

“Got any more stories about all them wild timelines you can see?”

She closes her eyes. “Not tonight, Bill” she whispers, “please?”

He turns to face his mate, ignoring her plea. “She can see parallel universes.” He guffaws at his own words. His mate laughs back, albeit with less passion.

He turns back to her, his yellow teeth grinning from behind purple lips.

“The ramblings of a cracked mind.”

“C’mon” she says, “You don’t need to do this tonight”.

“I’m only trying to help!” he exclaims. “Seriously, you should see a Doctor, instead of running around screaming about it.”

As I edge move closer toward his back pocket, I can feel the anger thumping through my body, making it difficult to focus on the prize in sight  A metallic taste forms in my throat. The adrenaline builds in my stomach. The sacrifice Lily is taking for tonight’s adventure is too much to take. I don’t care about the plan. I have to end this cruelty; add an extra layer to the misery he’s about the endure.

Sanderson leans in closer, his nose pressing into the side of her temple. “You’re a crackpot. A nobody. Even your freaky little family want you gone.”

His friend sighs. No laughter this time. He can’t help himself. Instead he just swigs at his beer, hoping it’ll punctuate the awfulness of this situation.

I yank the bottle from his acquaintance’s hand, ignoring his surprised protests as I approach Sanderson.

The plan was to keep myself hidden, to take what I needed without attracting attention. Forget the plan. I’ve got better ideas.

As Sanderson sees me, he contorts his face as if he’s just spotted a garden mollusc crawling toward him.

I tip the contents of the bottle over his head. He stumbles backwards in shock, letting out a high pitched squeak as he does. His leg catches the back of the sofa, sending him tumbling to the ground.

As he thumps against the carpet, I snatch the keys from his back pocket and grab Lily’s hand.


We bolt from the living room, weaving through a cluster of drunken teens as we make our way toward the front door.


Sanderson’s grubby moped is perched on the opposite side of the street.

Lily and I dive on. I sift through each and every one of his keys, trying to figure out which one will start the engine.

Sanderson barges through the front door and runs toward us . His poor co-ordination sends him tumbling into the muddy grass before he’s even had time to pick up any sort of momentum.

“Quick!” Lily screams.

Sanderson climbs back up. His Liverpool F.C. shirt a sodden mess of grubby mud, shattered glass and sodden beer. He hurtles toward us. Rage fills his face. The elation and glee from several minutes prior is nowhere to be found.

The key slides into the ignition. As the engine springs to life, I take off, firing up the street. I peer through the side-view mirror, seeing Sanderson trying in vain to keep up with us. Smaller and smaller he gets, until he’s gone.


Lily whoops and cheers as the two of us sail down the desolate dual carriageway. Our hair dances in the night-time breeze.

Around us, barren fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Someday soon, all of this will be replaced with clusters of flats and offices. Over the years, I have watched as concrete nests fatten like flames eating through a picturesque forest. Right now, however, it remains untouched by human hand.

We sail deep into the night. The lights of our hometown twinkle far in the distance.

Sanderson will have phoned the police on us by now. It does not matter. By the time they find us, I will be long gone from this place; back in a present where this timeline never have chance to play out. The only two souls able to remember such events will be us.

We are free, Lily and I. Unshackled by the rules of history. Two creatures in the eye of an event that should not exist.

Each time I step back, I become the architect of an alternate timeline. I can never visit it, of course. Only Lily will be able to get to see how they play out. I’d go and ask (cont’d)  her, in my present. If I could. I’d give everything to be able to sit down with her and find out what became of my many worlds.

If only it were possible.


We’re sat high above on a hilltop, gazing down at the emptiness before us. It’s silent up here, high above everything. Every now and then, the gentle hum of a jet engine grumbles through the cluster of clouds.

As I glance out at our twinkling town, I feel a sense of sadness for the souls who occupy it. In my time, many will have had their dreams shattered, confronted unforeseen hurdles, lost lives, and wondered night after night where it all went wrong. All that hope, destined to be popped like a balloon above a bonfire.

“Why here?” Lily asks. “Of all the nights, why can you only come back here”.

“Beats me” I shrug. “I didn’t make the miracle”.

From Lily’s perspective, she’s still remembering tonight. The hundred other versions unfolding in her mind as we sit upon this hilltop. All those nights together, playing out in alongside one another. A hundred stories stacking up, side by side.

Soon she will remember the versions of this night where I tell her of her fate.

Tell her to come find me.

Tell her to find a therapist.

Tell her to save her from herself.

Do my words save her? Does she make it in the other timelines? From the prison of my own future, I may never know.

I turn to face her.

She does not meet my gaze. She’s not smiling. Just staring.

I guess she’s remembering.

“You’ll make it” I tell her. “All those new futures I’ve made for you. Made for us. We’ll be happy there, I promise.”

“But what about you?” she asks. “What happens to the version of you that keeps coming back here? The you from your world? The you that knows me so well? Does she get to be happy?”

I say nothing.

“Oh, yeah” she adds. “Crappy job, no partner, a wasted degree. You don’t get anything.”.

“Hey!” I snap. I tense up, ready to run or scream or do something equally regrettable.

She places her hand against my cheek. Her skin against mine calms my rage within an instant.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound rude” she assures me.

Lily looks into my eyes. Pools of tears cluster in the corners of hers.

“My Becky. Just look at you. So adventurous. So ready to rip the universe in two so some daft fool you once know won’t take her life. You’ve saved me, in hundreds of versions of reality, you’ve saved me. You’re an angel. A sad, lonely angel looking for her heaven.”

“I’ve found it” I tell her.

She places her forehead against mine. “No. You haven’t. There’s more out there for you.”

Her tears step from her skin onto mine, tickling my cheeks as they tumble down my face.

We remain like this for as long as we can, until our eyes grow heavy and sleep starts to take hold.

As my mind begins to slip away, I feel my myself glide away from this world, back into the present.

I will come back again. Just as I do every other night when fall asleep. I’ll step back into my past and find new adventures for the two of us to have. We’ll taunt Sanderson more, take midnight taxis to nearby cities, explore uncharted neighbourhoods we never knew existed, sneak into pubs, dine out at mysterious new restaurants and live out a lifetime’s worth of antics.

Except as I slip away, I think of something new, something impossible, something awful.

Tonight is the last.

I push the thought away, disgusted at the fact I held it in the first place.

Yet part of me knows this to be more than just a thought.

Goodbye, Many-world Mathews…

As I slip into my present, Lily whispers to me one last time.

“Time to save yourself, Becky Blaine”.

Published by Amber Poppitt

I'm a writer from the UK with dreams of someday becoming a professional screenwriter. I also happen to be a huge film/TV/novel enthusiast with an undying obsession toward Doctor Who.

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