I should just return Bryan’s watch to Nordstrom and go home. Instead, I’m sitting by the circular fountain in the Stonybrook Mall, staring at the window of the Sunrise Skin Spa. It features a poster of a wrinkle- free woman and the slogan Go Back in Time.
Sounds good to me. If I could go back in time, there’s lots I’d tell my younger self.
In third grade, do not let Karin Ferris cut your bangs. Your best friend is no stylist. She’s going to accidentally cut them too short. And too crooked. And she won’t always be your best friend either.
In ﬁfth grade, do not put marshmallows in the toaster oven, even though it seems like a good idea. Toasty! Gooey! Yummy! No. When they expand, the tip of one of the marshmallows kisses the burner, and the toaster catches ﬁre, and your entire family will forever bring up the story about how you almost burnt the house down.
Sophomore year: don’t leave your retainer in a napkin in the cafeteria—unless you want to wade through three spaghetti- and- meatball- ﬁlled garbage bins to ﬁnd it.
This December: do not buy the Dolly jeans you like in a size 4 because you believe they’ll stretch. They will not.
May twenty- ﬁrst: do not buy Him a silver watch for a surprise graduation present, because then you will spend senior skip day at the mall returning it. Which brings me to the most important tip.
About Him. Bryan.
If I could go back in time, the most important thing I would tell myself would be this: never ever
fall for Bryan. I would warn fourteen- year- old me never even to go out with Him in the ﬁrst place. Or even better—the party where we ofﬁcially met when I was a freshman never would have happened. Okay, the party could have happened, but when he called me later and asked me out, I would have said no. Nice of you to ask but I am just not interested. Thanks but no thanks. Have a nice life. Maybe I’d tell myself to stay home instead and organize my closet.
Imagine that. Talking to my fourteen-year-old self. I wish.
I spot Veronica at Bella Boutique, right beside the Sunrise Skin Spa. She waves. I wave back. “Devi! Come see my new stock!” she calls. “It’s stunning!” As if I’d listen to her. She’s the one who swore up and down that my jeans would stretch. “I’ll give you the employee discount!” she offers, even though I haven’t worked a shift since the winter holidays.
“I’ll come look in a minute,” I call back to her. I rummage through my purse, ﬁnd my phone, and dial for my messages. I want to hear the one he left this morning. Again. I’ve only listened to it once. Fine, seven times. I know: pathetic. But I keep hoping each time that it’ll be different.
“Hi, Devi. It’s me.” Bryan’s voice is low and raspy, like a smoker’s. We tried cigarettes once, together, at the Morgan Lookout on Mount Woodrove when we were sophomores. But when we kissed, he tasted like a dirty sock, so that was the end of our smoking.
Until our relationship went up in smoke.
“I wish you’d answer,” his voice continues. “You always answer.” A pause as though he’s waiting for me to answer. “I’m sorry. I mean, I’m really, really sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”
The message is still playing in my ear, but I can barely hear, because now I’m crying, and my cheeks are all wet and my hand is all wet and how could he have told me he loves me when he obviously doesn’t and—
Like a bar of soap in the shower, my cell phone has slipped through my ﬁngers and landed in the fountain.
Superb. One more thing to tell my younger (by two seconds) self: don’t drop your cell phone into a house-size saucer of green chlorine. I peer into the water. A ﬂash of silver twinkles up at me. Is that it? Nope. It’s a nickel. The pond is ﬁlled with coins in addition to my phone. Are there really people out there who believe that throwing a nickel into the water can make a wish come true?
Aha! I see it, I see it! I stretch out to reach it, but it’s a bit too far away. I lie down on my stomach and reach again. A little more... almost there...
The cell phone gets pulled further out of my reach by the swirling water jets within the fountain. Ah, crapola— I’m going to need to get in there.
Luckily, I’m wearing ﬂip- ﬂops. I look around to make sure no security people are watching, then stand on the bench, roll up the bottoms of my oxygen- depriving Dolly jeans, and step in.
Cold. Slimy. When I look down, my toes are bloated and tinted green. Maybe the water is radioactive and I’m turning into the Hulk.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Harry Travis and Kellerman marching through the mall like they own the place. Harry—deﬁnitely one of the best-looking guys in our class—has dark hair, a muscular build, intense blue eyes, and the rosiest skin. He also has this sexy stubble going on— very rugged and hot. And Kellerman—everyone just calls him Kellerman—looks like he’s already part of a frat. He’s always wearing his older brother’s Pi Lambda Phi hat, and sweatpants.
I duck down so that the coolio senior duo won’t see me. That would just make today perfect, wouldn’t it? The water soaks through the knees of my jeans. Crap, crap, crap! When the guys turn in to the food court, I ﬁnd my footing and try to relocate my phone. And there it is again! Yahoo! Balanced on top of a pyramid of nickels. Got it.
Now all I have to do is safely make it back to the side...
The swirls of water push me over, and the next thing I know, I’m ﬂat on my butt. Great. Just great. My eyes start to prickle.
I heave myself up and back to the safety of the fountain’s edge, leaving a trail of shiny green droplets. I ignore my sopping wet jeans—maybe the chemicals will help them stretch?—and wipe my phone against my shirt, as if that’s gonna help. Please don’t be broken, please, please, please. I press the power button.
No sound. No connection. No nothing.
I spot Veronica staring at me. “You okay?” she hollers.
Um, no? “I’m ﬁne!” I wave, then turn back to the phone. I press power again. Still nothing. I press the one button. Nothing. The two. Nothing. Three, four, ﬁve, all nothing. Six, seven, eight, nine, the pound button, the volume button. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
I kick the ﬂoor. My ﬂip-ﬂop makes a squishy sound.
I hit the power button. Again. Nothing.
I hit the nine, the eight, the seven, the six, the ﬁve, four, three, two, one, the pound button, the volume button. All nothing.
I press the send button. The phone comes alive.
There we go. I have no idea who I called, but it’s ringing.
Excerpted from Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski. Copyright © 2011 by Sarah Mlynowski. Excerpted by permission of Ember, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.