My time machine wasn't working.

Of course, Mommy had told me it wouldn't. She thought I was being silly, but she didn't understand.

I needed to see the beginning of the universe. I wanted to be there when it exploded out of nothing so I could see what nothing truly was. When I lay in bed at night, I imagined it as purple plastic expanding forever, but I knew that purple plastic was something. The problem was that whenever I tried to make my mind go blank, it would be filled with a nothingness that was definitely something.

And I needed to go into the future too. Mommy kept saying not to worry; Missy would be fine, but I needed to save her. Even if she stayed preserved in a dolly museum for the next four billion years, I needed to take her to Pluto so when the Sun expanded out to Mars, she wouldn't die. And then I needed to help her be less lonely billions of years from now, when she was floating around in empty space with nothing but subatomic particles.

Mommy didn't understand why I made her read to me from the Space Encyclopedia so often. But even though she was kind of right to say that neither of us understood, my mind was filled with the Big Bang and the Big Crunch and all kinds of really big concepts. And she was half-asleep most of the time anyway.

So that was why it was really frustrating that nothing could make my time machine work. Sure, it wasn't anything too fancy—just a piece of slate and some walls made of bricks. It was only big enough for me to sit in it. But if I knew science, science other than how to spot constellations, science like my father knew, I could have made it work. I could have made all my inventions work, like the Live Forever Spray and the Brain Cleaner. The problem was elementary school math wasn't as advanced as what I needed.

And that wasn't it. If my time machine would work, I would have something that my pretty best friend Kelly with her alien stories didn't have. She already had a meteor shower on her birthday. It just wasn't fair.

I curled up in my useless time machine—carefully, of course, so I didn't rip my stockings or scuff my mary janes. Luckily, my jumper was navy blue. That's what I remember most—thinking about my clothing, and how I kind of liked argyle socks but how they never matched the patterns on my dresses.

And that was when you came and made everything real. You made it so whenever Kelly stood in front of the class and talked about her made up home planet, I knew it was all a lie even though everyone believed her. You made it so I had a secret I could keep to myself so I could feel good and special.

At first you were scary. You had long fingers and bluish green skin. When you poked me, it felt like ice, and I felt it all over my body.

You turned to the being next to you, who wasn't as tall and didn't share your calculating gaze, and said, "Scalpel, please?"

"No!" said the other being. "You're not allowed to dissect it. You're not old enough! Just bring it on the ship."

"If you don't tell anyone," you said with a mischievous glint in your slanted eyes, "I'm allowed to dissect it!"

"Um…excuse me, sir," I said to you. "Are you guys…aliens?"

"You're the alien," you said. "I mean, you're the alien to me. You should be glad I'm not going to study you because Cy here won't let me!"

"Um, thanks. You're kind of creepy," I said.

"Well, you have a lame time machine," you said.

The one called Cy glared at you. "Come on," he said. "Let's just get the sample and get back. Leave it here. They're waiting for us."

"I'm bringing it with us."

And even though I didn't like you because you didn't like my time machine and wanted to dissect me, I really wanted to see an alien spaceship. So I followed you.

"Excuse me," I said. "What's your name?"

"Wouldn't you like to know," you said. "I don't even know yours."

"I'm not telling you my name! You're a creepy alien!"

"Fine," you said. "Now follow me."

You led me through the dark woods; I didn't glance back at my house. I hadn't realized how dark it had gotten. I wondered what time it was, but then, I didn't care. I was sure my mother didn't either. She had one of her boyfriends over.

"Here it is. The Star Shiner Two," you said.

The Star Shiner Two…was beautiful. It was illuminated by a blue and green glow, and it hovered a few feet off the ground. It was shiny chrome, and I felt like if I touched it, it would be very smooth. I wondered if my mother would notice an alien spaceship or not. It was probably just as likely as whether she'd notice I wasn't inside—not likely at all.

"Hey, where are you from?" I asked you.

Cy answered instead, which disappointed me. "Cellseyanna, not that you know where that is. But it's in the galaxy Andromeda."

"Of course I know where that is! I mean, sorta…." I said.

On the inside, I was gushing. I'd always wanted to—and I still want to—go to Andromeda. It is my favorite galaxy. I thought to myself, maybe I could go home with you and leave my useless life on Earth behind.

I don't know if I knew then that I would love You; the memories are so fuzzy in my mind. I think I loved You from the beginning, though. You were vague and fuzzy around the edges, but at the same time, You were complete.

"You really can't take it," Cy said to you. "It's against regulations, it's not what we came here for, and it's ugly anyway."

I knew I was ugly; I didn't need this slimy alien to tell me that. No, I'd heard it from enough humans. But surely aliens had no standards of beauty. Maybe he thought all humans were ugly.

"It's okay," you whispered. You placed your ice fingers on my shoulders and shook me hard. "You're not ugly. I can't take you, but I want you to know…you're beautiful. And I am going to take you. You just need to wait. I'll be back."

I still don't know what you did, but your ice fingers sent warmth through my body. I was being hugged all over, and we were together and alone. Cy wasn't a part of our world. Nothing was a part of our world, not even the forest surrounding us. It was our world. I was drifting with you, drifting in pure rapture like I'd never felt. You were sending me back, but sending me back with a promise. I understood that promise. Greedily, I tried to bask in the moment. I closed my eyes and soaked, soaked up every emotion, and I had the feeling they were your emotions, but I didn't know. Maybe they were mine. Sadness, fear, pity—

You let go.

The emotions evaporated with your hands.

You didn't send me back to my bed. I awoke in the time machine, cold and wet. I wanted to tell everyone, and yet I didn't. What I really wanted was to tell everyone that I had a secret.