My name is Ayanna Jackson.
When I was a child, I lived in a small apartment in Detroit, Michigan.
I lived with my mother and little brother, Cameron. We were very poor, just like a lot of people in Detroit. My mom worked hard to make sure we had what we needed when we needed it. When she came home from work, Cameron and I would sit at the kitchen table while our mom made dinner and helped us with our homework at the same time.
She said if we worked for it, we could be successful, but I struggled to believe her. Every day I’d look around me and say to myself, “will I always live in poverty?”
But then my whole life took a turn for the best.
One day as my mother was reading the paper, she saw an ad that caught her attention, “look at this!” she exclaimed, “a scientist named Dr. William Moore invented the time machine! He’s going to host a raffle, and one lucky contestant is going to be sent 25 years into the future!”
Then turning to me, she says, “you should sign up, Ayanna.”
“Sure,” I say
I went to Central Park, where the tickets were sold, and bought one.
“Why am I doing this,” I say to myself. “I’m not going to win.”
But then something amazing happened.
The next day we went to Central Park to hear who won the raffle.
“Thank you all for coming and participating in my science experiment,” said Dr. Moore.
The crowd cheered.
“But there can only be one winning number.”
Then he plunged his hand into the ticket box.
Everyone in the crowd held their breath.
“502613!” shouted Dr. Moore
I looked down at my ticket and gasped.
“I have the winning ticket,” I whispered. “I have the winning ticket.”
I ran up on stage
“I HAVE THE WINNING TICKET!” I shouted
The crowd cheered again.
Cameron and my mother ran on stage to join me.
It was one of the happiest days of my life.
The following day I set out to meet Dr. Moore. The building was strange, cylinder-shaped, and reflective. It almost felt futuristic. I walked inside.
It was brightly lit, and the walls were covered in the same reflective paint as the outside.
I saw Dr. Moore. He stood up to greet me.
“Hello!” he said warmly. “Are you ready for the future?”
“Yes,” I replied
The machine was also cylinder-shaped, with flexible metal straps that molded into the shape of your upper body. Dr. Moore strapped me into the time machine.
“When you’re ready to come home, press this,” he said, pointing to a small blue button. I felt my stomach seize up and my shoulders tense. I felt a rush of wind hit my face, colors I’ve never seen before danced around me. I shut my eyes tight and tried not to vomit.
Then I heard a thud. I opened my eyes and looked around.
Every house was hovering above the ground, flying cars soured through the sky, and kids on floating scooters circled above my head.
“Woah…” I whispered, “wow.”
I stepped off the time machine. I landed on a black-top-like surface with a painted white ring around my time machine. I turned my head and found that there were rows and rows of white rings. Men and women wearing strange, brightly colored shoes filed out of their time machines. Then I heard an ear-splitting sound like a car alarm. My hands shot to my ears. A man in bright orange shoes ran over to me and shouted, “Scan your hand!”
“What do you mean!”I yelled back. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.
He signaled with his finger to a pad next to my time machine. I scanned my hand, and the noise ceased. I dropped my hands to my sides.
“Thank you, Mr. um…?” I started to say.
“The name’s Carmile, Steve Carmile,” he said, “ and no problem youngster. What’s your name?”
The man’s voice was rich and had a strong southern accent.
“My name is Ayanna Jackson,” I answered.
Mr. Carmile’s eyes widened. “By any chance, are you related to this Ayanna Jackson?”
He opened his phone and showed me a picture. The picture was of a stunning black woman with brown eyes and a grin that showed all of her sparkling white teeth.
“Wow,” I said, amazed. Could she really be related to me? She sure looked like me.
“Do you know where she lives?” I continued.
Mr. Carmile shook his head, “No, but I could find out,”
“Could you drive me there?” I asked him.
“Of course!” he said, smiling.
We walked over to his car, which was burgundy with an off-white stripe across the side.
I slid into the seat next to Mr. Carmile. He pushed a button on the steering wheel, and we lifted into the air.
We flew across the baby-blue sky, shooting past all the other cars like a rocket.
Mr. Carmile pressed another button on his steering wheel. A fan-like sound started to emit from the car.
“What is that?!” I shouted through the noise.
“That’s the Whoosher!” he yelled back, “It blows away the clouds to make it easier to get through!”
He approached a cloud, and as he said, the Whoosher blew a hole right through the cloud.
“Wow!” I shouted, “Who invented this?”
He grinned at me, “Ayanna Jackson,”
We arrived at the famous Ayanna Jackson’s house. Mr. Carmile waited in the car as I walked up the walkway to the house. I knocked softly on the door, and a few seconds later, a fine-looking young man answered. “Oh hello,” he said cheerfully, “Who are you? What’s your name?”
“My name is Ayanna Jackson,” I said confidently.
His mouth dropped open. “Honey, she’s here.”
A stunning lady came striding into the room. She looked beautiful and dignified from her straight brown hair to the tips of her square-toed pumps.
“Hello Ayanna,” she said, “welcome to the future.”
I smiled and reached my hand out for her to shake it, but instead, she wrapped me in a tight embrace. I tensed slightly. Although I never met her, there was something vaguely familiar about this woman.
Ayanna pulled away from me, “Ayanna, do you know who I am?” she asked.
I shook my head.
“I’m you, from the future.”
I shook my head and backed away, “No, no, you can’t be,” I said nervously.
My mind was spinning. “Calm down, Ayanna,” she said, “Let me explain.”
“Oh, so that’s how we made the Whoosher,” I said.
Ayanna laughed. We were sitting on a wooden bench in the middle of a beautiful park. Flowers and greenery covered it from the grass on the ground to the buds in the trees. Animals scampered around happily as we talked about what we had accomplished.
“What about those weird shoes?” I asked Ayanna.
She grinned at me, “‘Those weird shoes’ are called STEPS. That stands for Solution To Every Problem Shoes, but STEPS for short.”
“Were, awesome!” I said gladly.
“Yes, we are,” said Ayanna and high-fived me.
I leaned back on the bench and put my hands behind my head. I checked my watch.
“Oh my gosh! It’s so late!” I said it was 6:30 pm.
“Here, let me walk you back to your time machine,” Ayanna replied.
We walked back to my time machine. Ayanna hugged me tightly for a moment, and when she let go, there were tears in her eyes.
“Ayanna, promise me one thing,” she said, “Work hard so that we can be successful,”
I nodded and strapped myself into the time machine. I pressed the small blue button and whooshed away. The colors and nausea came rushing back, I shut my eyes, and soon it was over.
When I arrived in the present day, I was greeted by a crowd of cheering people. A line of people streamed out the door of Dr. Moore’s lab. I unbuckled my seatbelt, and my mother lifted me out of the time machine. My brother Cameron pestered me with questions as my mother pushed her way through the crowd.
Once we were outside, Dr. Moore led me on stage.
“What’s happening?” I whispered in his ear.
“They want to hear the story of your journey,” he whispered back.
He ran off stage and left me to face the crowd of curious people.
I opened my mouth and began to speak. I told them about Mr. Carmile, and future Ayanna, and the park. I talked at length about all the inventions that future Ayanna had made. Then I said, “There are many amazing things in store for all of us. But the most important thing is never to lose hope.” I took a bow, and the crowd clapped.
When they had left, my mother ran up to me and hugged me. “I’ve always believed in you-now you can believe in yourself.”