"I just wanted you to know that you're my absolute favorite book character... and I know how your story ends. I want to change it."
Those were the unexpected words from a stranger, standing outside my front door on a Monday morning.
"Excuse me?" I rubbed my eyes, still half-asleep. Did I hear her correctly?
"You're Natalia Taylor, right?"
I froze. Who was this person and how did she know my name?
"You're eighteen years old," she continued. "And you want to be a writer, and..." she glanced at her wrist watch, "If I'm not mistaken, you're heading to UCSE college right now."
I backed away from this stranger, feeling an uneasiness in my stomach. "Who are you?"
"Oh!" She seemed flustered, giggling a little. "Forgive me for not introducing myself." She held out her hand to me, making me jump in surprise. "My name is Cecilia, but you can call me Cece. We're the same age - we're both Libras! And this is, like, a dream come true! I never in a million years thought that I'd actually meet you!"
Eyeing her hand like it was a weapon, I shook it awkwardly. Her high-pitched squeal made me jerk my hand back.
"Oh my god! I can't believe I actually touched you!" She was bouncing on the spot, giddy with excitement. I laughed nervously, not knowing how to respond.
"This is real! They told me I was crazy - that I'd never meet my favorite character from the pages I've re-read a hundred times, but here I am! I'm looking at you! I'm talking to you! I've touched you. How amazing is that?"
When was I going to wake up from this weird nightmare?
She must have sensed how uncomfortable I was, as she stopped bouncing.
"Sorry," she said breathlessly. "Didn't mean to frighten you. That's not why I'm here. You see..." Her voice trailed away, staring at me for a moment.
I was at a loss for words. Anyone would think she was a sweet, ditzy girl with her frilly white dress, and a light-yellow flower in her hair, with that bright smile of hers. Yet she made me feel so scared. Was she stalking me? And did I need to call the police?
"This is going to sound crazy..." As if everything she said up to this point wasn't! "I'm from Earth, but I'm not from this Earth, you know? I'm from the Earth in the 22 universe."
"22 universe?" I repeated. What was this girl smoking?
"Yes, so basically... there are so many universes." She sounded unconfident. "Ever heard of the Multiverse Theory? Yeah... so... something like that."
She rubbed her temples, seeming frustrated. "Ugh! This is a lot to explain, sorry. My friend, Alfie, can do a way better job explaining this science jargon than me. He's the one that brought us here, actually!"
Suddenly, she grabbed my arm with both of her hands, dragging me towards the gate. "I know! Why don't we go visit him right now? He's at a nearby-"
"Don't touch me," I snapped, yanking my arm away from her. She tried to speak, but I held up my hand to silence her.
"I'm running late for college. I have to go. Please don't follow me and kindly leave me alone, or else I will report you."
I gave her a warning look that I hoped she would find intimidating.
"But," she squeaked, her voice becoming quiet. "I'm not a creep or anything, I swear. I know your story like the back of my hand. I know word-for-word what's going to happen to you, and I don't like it. It breaks my heart. I want to help you."
Hefting my backpack, I shook my head at her dismissively.
"I don't need your help. Goodbye."
With that said, I walked away from her. Sneaking a glance over my shoulder, I caught her staring at me. She looked like she was ready to cry.
I shuddered. What a weirdo.