"Strawberry shortcake, blueberry pie, who will be your lucky guy?"

Marina smiled as she jumped, and jumped, and jumped, her dark hair whipping in a silky curtain around her face. Not N, she begged God in her mind. Not Nathan. Anyone but Nathan...

The ball Peter was bouncing on the basketball court nearby thumped. Thump. Thump.

"G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N..."

She lost her footing and tripped, smacking the concrete hard and scraping her knee. That didn't matter. She looked up at the blonde-haired, blue-eyed pixie of a girl standing near her, clutching a green rope.

"What letter, Annemarie?" she snapped, forcing herself up. "Was it N?"

Annemarie shook her head, her blonde ringlets bouncing up and down. "Nope. It was P."

"P for Peter!" shouted the other end of the rope. Marina turned and glared at the brunette girl with the slightly-large nose and striking green eyes. She looked sheepish. "Sorry."

"Just make sure it doesn't happen again, Effie," Marina growled, and took her place at Effie's end of the rope. Effie went to the middle, and Annemarie and Marina swung the rope, Marina using all her willpower to ensure that she didn't whip it at Effie's head.

Thump. Thump.

"Strawberry shortcake, blueberry pie, who will be your lucky guy?"

Clumsy-footed Effie lost her footing at G. There was no one in the class with a name that started with G, but there was a very annoying boy named Gerry in third grade.

"Gerry!" Annemarie shouted, gleeful. Marina crossed her arms and smiled coyly at Effie, savouring her revenge.

"Look, I'm sorry about the Peter thing, okay?" Effie murmured. Marina stuck out her bottom lip in a childish pout. Effie let out a disgusted sigh.

"Fine. You can have my Oreos at snack," she said quietly, dejectedly walking to where Annemarie was waiting with the rope.

Annemarie, ever the loyal best friend, shoved the rope into Effie's hand, refusing to look her in the eye, and stalked to the middle. Sighing, Effie and Marina began to swing the rope.

"Strawberry shortcake, blueberry pie, who will be your lucky guy? A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N–"

At N, Annemarie faltered and tripped, but tried to keep going, refusing to stop at N.

"That was a trip!" Marina yelled, letting go of the rope. It flew toward Effie; with a shriek she batted it away.

"But we're best friends!" Annemarie protested. "And I can't stop at Nathan! You know that!"

"Best friends or not, rules are rules!" Marina sealed it with a glare, and Annemarie stalked to the end of the rope, picking it up, and began to swing, muttering, along with Effie. Marina started to jump.

"Strawberry shortca–"

And suddenly the rope was gone. So were Annemarie and Effie, and Peter, and his basketball, and as Marina whipped her head around so were Alisa and Hannah and everyone. Even Nathan. They were all gone.

Marina looked around. No one's here, she whispered. Not out loud. Somehow she couldn't bring herself to speak out loud, or even to move her feet, as if she would be lost of she did something wrong.

The playground was deserted. The people were gone. Still she remained. She was confused. Only a minute ago, there were people, laughing and playing around her...children, mostly her age, first, second, and third graders. The bigger children had to go to the other yard.

With a start, Marina realized that the sky was getting darker. A darker blue, then a deep, orange-streaked purple, then a black, then suddenly the sun quickly rose again. Children came, adults came.

"What's happening?" Marina screamed at them. They were moving unnaturally quickly. Marina was scared, so scared...

"HELP!" she screamed, but no one took heed, continuing on with their activities. Marina tried to move, but her movements were sluggish, as if she was underwater. She could breathe, but she could hardly move, it was like walking through syrup..

She forced her way toward the people, determination strengthening with every step. It was like pushing a boulder through mud, but she persisted.

As soon as she was on the crunchy rocks that surrounded hte playground, she searched out her classmates. Quickly she grabbed someone's shoulder. He turned for a split second–she thought it might be Nathan--but then he was gone, and the sun was setting again.

"NO!" Marina screamed, but no one listened. No one heard.

In reality, Marina was experiencing a natural phenomenon that takes place in random locations every ten thousand years. Called a time snap, it affects an individual life form and catapults them forward in time. In a few hundred years, this phenomenon was discovered, named, but no one connected it to the long-forgotten disappearance of the third-grade girl called Marina.

For a while, Marina survived. She made her way over to the older-child yard when her classmates left the third grade, but after about two days of her time they had graduated eighth grade and she could no longer see them. The school grew and changed, she no longer recognized the children playing in the yard.

Marina watched as the school was demolished, as futuristic designs evolved and an enormous city took over the small town where Marina had once lived. Marina died after six days of malnutrition, when the small amounts of water she could siphon from rainfall were no longer sufficing.

And the moment her life-force left her, the body of a small girl wearing ancient clothing was discovered in the area that used to be a school.