By Maddon Hoh-Choi

Tom yells a curse at no one in particular and slams the door.  The bitter memories of the mortifying exam he failed five hours ago swirl around his mind as he curls his fist. Realizing there is no one to blame, no one to focus his attention on, he falls, defeated, onto his bed. He feels like crying while hundreds of thoughts swarm him. “Wish I could do it all over again” is the last that reaches his head before sleep engulfs him.

“Sleeping in class again, Tom?” 

With a jolt, Tom throws his head in the air, nearly falling out of his seat. His classmates look at him in a strange manner, a few giggling at his eccentricity. Tom feels a brief tang of confusion and embarrassment before realizing his situation. The clock is 9:20 A.M, and he’s a man seven hours younger. His chance at a do-over is here.

Walking out of the classroom with a certain swagger, Tom feels satisfied with his redone work. A smile just can’t seem to escape his face during study hall and thinks about the possibilities of this newfound cheat code in life. What if he could go back to that recital performance he failed?  Ask out his childhood crush before she moved away? Spent time with his dog before it died? He laments the possibilities before a wave of exhaustion hits him. Oh right. He never did get around to actually sleeping, did he?

Never mind that now, Tom yawns. He’ll take a quick nap before 2nd perio…

Tom wakes up again, hours to go until his middle school recital. He once again relishes the opportunity to perfect his past, to vanquish every shameful moment. Within every second he has, he practices his piece and then plays a respectful piano performance. He doesn’t stop there, however. He goes back again, playing hours of fetch with his golden retriever. One last time, he goes back and finally tells his childhood friend how he feels. 

Satisfied, after each of these experiences he feels his energy more drained and he allows his consciousness to slip away under the covers of his bedsheets. 

Jolting awake again, Tom’s on the floor of the dance all those years ago. People are, again, looking concerned. He waves them off, before strutting confidently to the refreshment stand. With newfound confidence, he asks a girl to dance. She says yes, to his surprise. They dance and laugh together until he steps on her foot. He apologizes, but it happens again. He steps on other people’s feet and knocks over another girl. He’s sweating, from embarrassment, but also exhaustion. He excuses himself and stumbles away to the boy’s bathroom. In the mirror, he gets a glance at his face, with dark bags under his eyes, before he sits on the toilet and once again falls asleep. 

Tommy wakes up on the elementary school playground. “Blah” he thinks as Artie walks towards him, a shiny Squirtle pokemon card in his pocket. “Gimme it” he yells at his old adversary. “No, you don’t have anything good to trade width” Artie hits back. Tommy grumbles before pouting and resting his head on the tanbark. “You can’t lay down there”, an administrator starts to chastise before everything fades away.

Tommy wakes up in his stroller and sees it. The Pokemon XY-EX card pack is on the shelf at Target. He fusses and starts reaching for it, despite not being tall enough. His mom begins to console her Tom-Tom as he paws at the card pack. Determined to get an even better toy to show off to Artie and the other kids, Tommy passes on on his mother’s shoulder. 

He wakes up, being lifted up. He starts to thank his savior before realizing he can’t talk, his only sounds coming out as a wail.  His hands are tiny and he’s thrown into the air. As he’s lifted up and turned around, he sees his mother, sitting on the hospital bed, looking tired but also a decade and a half younger. A sense of irony finally hits him and he finally allows his thoughts to stop, letting out a hearty cry as his mother christens him as Thomas.