When I opened my eyes, I saw him there: a small, sobbing boy curled up in the corner where his bed met the wall. My shoulders dropped in sympathy and I approached him, softly grazing my fingers over the bruise on his forearm as I took a seat beside him. His teary blue eyes met mine and he gasped in fear, shrinking back further against the wall. "Who're you?" he asked. I smiled softly and scooted closer to him, stroking his long, baby-blond hair.
"Don't you recognize me?" I spoke softly. "I'm you, from the future."
The boy gazed at me in wonder, lips parted in disbelief. After a quiet pause, he looked down and said, "Why're you here?"
"Huh? Can't I just visit?"
"In shows," explained the boy shyly, "people from the future only come to say 'portant stuff to the characters..."
I smiled at him and wrapped an arm around his delicate shoulders. We listened to the hum of the ceiling fan for a while before I spoke again. "You know it's not your fault, right?" I choked back my tears, voice cracking.
The boy stayed silent, contemplative.
"Go tomorrow, don't be afraid. You...you'll be safe after you tell them, okay? No one will hurt you, they won't let anyone hurt you." I observed his furrowed brow and pulled him closer. "Do it for your little sister, right? Are you a good big brother?"
His face softened. "Yeah. I won't let no one hurt her."
"There's a brave boy." I pulled back and stood up once again. I waved. "I'm counting on you!"
"Wait!" his voice rang out to me, but it was too late. That version of me was already gone. I smiled as I felt myself melt away.
With the last of my voice, I called out to him, "It's not your fault!"
But in reality, we cannot change the past. That's why I have to learn to accept what happened. That's why I have to stop believing it was my fault.ns 220.127.116.11da2