Author : Aiza Mohd

Haan has found a cup of noodles from the future.

‘Mfg. 09 Jul 2036,’ reads the bottom of the cup. The year is 2013.

Haan is a penniless college student with an unbalanced diet, too much time, few friends and a cup of ramen from the future. All five of these are the reasons why he finds himself at the 7-Eleven where he gets his snacks.

But the cashier has no explanation. ‘Sorry, man,’ he says. ‘Barcode says you didn’t buy it here. It’s probably just a misprint, anyway; I wouldn’t worry about it.’

Haan has one foot out the door when the cashier exclaims. ‘Hey, wait a minute,’ he calls.

The cashier rushes over with something in his hands. ‘It’s not everyday I get a situation like this,’ he tells Haan. ‘Last week, a girl came in and gave this to me.’

It is a brown envelope.

‘To the boy asking about the ramen.’

In it is a destination.

Haan follows the directions in the letter until he reaches a house in the suburbs. The smooth white driveway is lined with daisies and the lawn is impeccable. It is the diamond to the rust of Haan’s small, wild balcony garden, ice cream tubs running amok with neglected life.

A girl opens the door when he knocks, holding a blue hardback in her hand. Haan’s shoulders tense as he takes in the bright eyes and the expectantly raised eyebrows.

He holds up the cup of noodles, but she just looks confused.

‘I’m sorry,’ he says, feeling stupid. ‘I must have made a mistake.’

‘We already have noodles, thank you,’ she says. She is ever so polite.

‘I’m not selling,’ he answers, embarrassed. ‘It’s a funny story … you’d never believe it.’

She laughs. ‘I don’t know whether to close the door on you or to ask for this story.’

‘Oh, don’t close the door,’ says Haan. ‘I’ll tell you. But don’t laugh at me, okay?’

‘I won’t. I like stories.’ She looks over her shoulder, as though glancing back at something less than pleasing. ‘I never get to hear any good ones.’

Haan, after placing the cup of noodles in his bag, explains to her all the peculiar events of his day. As he tells his tale, she tilts her head and listens, letting the polite smile grow into something warmer.

Her name is Leanne.

Next morning, he awakens with the strangest sensation that something of profound importance has finally changed in his life. On his wall in blunt pencil, he writes, ‘11 July 2013. Yesterday, two things I believed impossible turned up in my life.’

Now it is 13 August, 2036, and Haan and his wife are battling once again. ‘You never loved me,’ weeps Becca, her face a canvas of smeared makeup, years of frustration painting her cheekbones. ‘It’s her. You want her.’ And although deep down Haan knows she’s got it right, Haan utters not a word. He watches and waits, the way he has his whole life.

In the room down the hall their daughter Jo should be sleeping, but she’s imagining another space in the universe right now, in which Haan is now married to Leanne, and not Becca. They have a double-storey home, three children and a puppy. Becca, in that same space in the universe, is soaring to the top of her career. Everyone is happy. Everyone’s in love.

On the floor by her feet is the blueprint of her plan. The light is dim beneath the desk, but the first step is visible still.

‘2013: Leave note at the 7-Eleven.’

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