Annie’s Time Machine

By Caroline Carr, age 8
Annie’s Time Machine Caroline Carr is almost nine years old. She lives in Los Angeles with her mom, dad, and dog. Her favorite things to do are write, read, and play outside, especially in the rain (yes, it does rain in L.A., if you wanted to know!). Her favorite food is apples. Caroline's favorite saying is, "You cannot change the past, but you can change the future." She writes mostly fiction but sometimes writes non-fiction, and her most favorite thing to learn about is Native Americans.

“My time machine wasn’t there, so I decided to build another one with the same materials. Everything happened that had happened before: rainbows. Mom yelling ‘Earthquake!’ I wondered, How come I didn’t feel hear all this earlier this morning?
This time, I landed on my rug. “

“Annie, it’s time for breakfast,” said my mom from the kitchen.

“Ah, not now,” I said as I fell off my bed and landed on my rug. I threw my blanket onto my bed. I took off my sleep mask and threw it onto the floor next to me. I threw my head back and let out a big sigh. And a groan. I was always really cranky in the morning, especially when someone woke me up at the wrong time. It was 6:30! I usually wake up at 7 :00 or 7:30. My dalmatian, Spot, ran up to me and looked at me in the face. Spot tilted his head to the side. I knew that this meant my mom finally was going to be home for breakfast. (By the way, I know how to read faces–people’s and animals’.) “For once, an interesting breakfast with Mom.” I opened my bedroom door and walked down the hall to the kitchen like a person in a marching band.

“Annie, you’re actually wearing the sunflower pajamas I gave you for Christmas last year!” said my mom as she flipped a pancake, which landed on the ceiling and didn’t come down. “Would you mind getting me some more pancake powder? This is like the fifth pancake that’s landed on the ceiling this morning. I don’t know why this keeps on happening.”

I thought in my head, How come she just noticed my pajamas? Every morning when she leaves, she never even smiles or waves or looks at me. Even though I didn’t understand what was going on with my mom because she’s usually really strict, I was happy that she was finally home for breakfast. I opened the cupboard. My little brother’s stuffed dog came falling out and landed on the kitchen floor. Oh Charlie. He always puts his dog stuffed animal in the cupboards–and this was the one today, apparently. My brother, who’s three years old, always hides his stuffed animals all around the house.

“Annie, can you please put Charlie’s stuffed animal back in his room? Also, tell him to come for breakfast.”

I saluted. “Yes, sir, Mrs. Bossy Pants.”

“Annie, that’s not an appropriate joke right now.” My mom sounded frustrated as she reached one hand up to the now dog-less cupboard to try to get more pancake powder.

I ran to Charlie’s room and burst in. “There’s a monster invasion! Go into the kitchen now!”

“A monstuh invagun?” Charlie whined.

“We have to help Mom with the pancakes to feed the monsters!”

Charlie waved his arms and made a sound that was like a cry and happiness at the same time. He shook his curly dirty-blonde hair. It looked like there was a big, cute spider sitting on top of his little head. I picked him up by his arms and carried him into the kitchen. I set him down on the kitchen floor before running back down the hall. Mom was pretty strict, and she always got mad at me when I played jokes on Charlie. I heard Charlie say, “Mama, dey a monstuh invagun? I wan to hep you make a pancakey for da monstuhs.”

“Was Annie playing around with you again?” my mom said sternly, loud enough for me to hear.

After I heard my mom finished her sentence, I slammed my door.

“I dunho.” I heard Charlie banging on the counter with his fists and slapping his legs.

I grabbed a Sharpie from my art cabinet, and I found a piece of paper under my dresser. (I’m kind of an artist, so I have paper all over my bedroom floor.) I wrote, “MONSTER INVASION IN HERE. KEEP OUT.”  I wrote much neater than usual, so that my mom would think it was my older sister, Clara. Clara was nine years older than me. For a nineteen-year-old, she was fun and joyful like a seven- or eight-year-old. She went to college in San Francisco, where we lived, but she lived at home so she could see us more. She had tried living in a dorm, but she came home because she said she missed us all day, every day. Like I said, she’s basically a kid.

I heard Clara’s footsteps coming down the hall. I realized that I must escape the scene. I quickly taped the note to Charlie’s door so that my mom wouldn’t think I’d done it. I saw Clara’s shadow coming down the hall. Oh no, she’s coming faster than I thought she would–she’s usually pretty slow. I imagined myself running in slow motion back to the kitchen, just like in one of those cool action movies. I ran to my chair and sat down as quickly as I could. The chair shook. I held my hands to the sides of the chair to make it stop wobbling, and then I let go. I tried to make a face that said, I didn’t do anything. It’s not like I taped something to Charlie’s door and am going to blame you for it. I smiled.

Clara walked in holding her favorite vampire book. Her hair looked all knotty as usual, and she had black circles under her eyes from reading all night. She was wearing the Christmas pajamas she’d gotten three years ago. I couldn’t believe they still fit her. She sat down in her favorite chair. She was going to set down her book, until she dropped it in the maple syrup. “Ugh! Not again. Every single morning I have pancakes, I always drop a book or something into the maple syrup,” Clara said, frustrated.

Charlie waddled over like a penguin and tried with all his might to pull Clara’s chair back. “Charlie, please get your hands off my chair.”

Charlie pointed at Clara and said, “Noddy woman.”

“Ha!” I laughed. “He always tries to pull your chair back on pancake mornings. And maybe he should hit you with a frying pan next time.” Another cranky morning. I really should take back all the words that I’ve said. Oh! I could build a time machine. But that’s going to be hard.

“Annie! If you don’t behave, I’m gonna hit YOU with a frying pan,” my mom said.

“Well, I’ll hit you with one of these pancakes. How about that?!”

“Go to your room!”

“But I need a frying pan,” I whined, “so I can give it to Charlie to hit Clara.”

“Go to your room! No breakfast for you.” My mom’s face looked like she really meant it.

“Well, uh, can I just have a–” I didn’t get to finish my sentence.

“Go. To. Your. Room. NOW!” my mom said even more loudly.

Clara said, “I’ll hit you with a frying pan.”

“Why is everyone saying they’re going to hit me with a frying pan?” I asked.

“Fwying pan hit you!” I looked and saw Charlie holding the frying pan, looking like he was just about to throw it at me.

I ran to Charlie and we had a little tug of war over the frying pan for one or two minutes. After I finally got the frying pan, I ran back to my room and slammed the door. Then I almost kicked Spot in the face while jumping onto the bed. I held the frying pan in my arms like it was my little baby, and I whispered to it, “You’re home now. You’re home.”

I knew I was acting really crazy about the frying pan. Wow. Now I should reconsider the time machine thing. I threw the frying pan onto the floor. Spot jumped. He landed on my toy chest. “Oh, Spot, it’s just a frying pan…that hit the floor really loudly. You don’t need to be scared. It’s juuuust a frying pan.” I rolled my eyes.

Spot walked onto my bed, sat right in front of me, and stared into my eyes. I could tell he was scared of the frying pan. I pushed him off the bed and said, “That’s really creepy. Don’t look at me like that. It freaks me out, okay?”

I walked over to my dresser and opened it up. I pulled out a plaid shirt that had a little pocket on the right side. I pulled out a pair of jeans that had two pockets in the front and two pockets in the back. I got dressed and put a $20 bill in the back pocket of my jeans. I walked into the kitchen. I saw Charlie holding his favorite blanket. He smashed it into his pancake and said, “Tha’s what you get because you so dewishus.”

“Charlie, this will be your last pancake, because it is literally the twentieth time you’ve smashed your blanket into your pancake.” I could tell by Mom’s face that she wished that she hadn’t stayed home for breakfast today. Usually Clara cooked our breakfast, or Dad–but he’d been too busy at his job. He was a real estate agent for a woman who lived Amsterdam.

“Sorry, Mom, I’m getting really hungry. Can I pleeease have a pancake?” I asked.

“Fine, because you asked so nicely.” My mom handed me a very tiny pancake. It was probably the size of my fingernail. “This was one I messed up on. I accidentally poured too little batter.”

I plopped the pancake in my mouth and opened the fridge to get an apple. “Thank you.” Not. I walked back into my bedroom and put on my red sneakers. I grabbed my bike helmet, walked down the hall, took a left turn and then a right turn, and went out the back door. I went to wait for my friend Jessica. My mom knew where I was going; I’d told her I was going to the donut shop last night. I waited thirty minutes before I grabbed my bike and rode over to Jessica’s house.

On the way there, Jessica rode right past me. I knew it was her because her blonde hair was in a ponytail, one strip hanging down in front just like always. I turned my bike around and tried to catch her. “Jessica, wait! I’m trying to catch up with you!”

Jessica stopped her bike. “What?”

I couldn’t stop my bike, so I ran right into her. “Ughh,” we both said at the same time. Jessica pulled me up. “Are you okay?” she asked.

“No, are you okay?” I said.

“Nope. I scraped my knee and scratched my arm.” Jessica pointed to her elbow and then to her knee. She was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and short overalls. We were both really tomboys.

I said, “Well, I’m kind of okay.” Then I looked at my hand. “Oh, I scraped it,” I sighed.

“Well, let’s get riding so we can go to the donut shop early and get two free donuts.”

“Did you bring your $20? I brought mine!”

Jessica said, “Oh, all I got was a $5 bill. Sorry, maybe next time.”

“Well, I guess we can only buy–oh, wait, the donuts are only about a buck. And also, if we get there at nine o’clock right when they open, we get two free ones.”

We got back onto our bikes and started riding down the street. At about halfway to the shop, I was surprised to see my friend Betty walking her dog, which was a golden retriever. Usually she walked her dog at ten o’clock. I waved. Betty wasn’t really a tomboy. She was wearing a blue shirt with a white skirt and some white hi-tops.

“Hiiii!” Betty said. She tried to run as fast as our bikes, until she got too tired.

We would’ve stopped to talk, but we just really wanted those free delicious donuts. They were calling our name. It was our duty to get those donuts.

We turned on Dockman Street and took a left onto Parallel Road. I realized why it was called Parallel Road; it was in the middle of five streets that were all parallel to one another. When we saw Bobby’s Donut Shop, we immediately stopped our bikes. The front wheel of my bike touched Jessica’s back wheel. Jessica said, “Why you touchin’ my bike, huh? You gonna have to pay for the damages that you do to it!”

“Okay, okay.” I giggled. “Wait, are you actually being serious?”

Jessica raised an eyebrow. “I’m actually serious.”

“Good to know. But what about those free donuts?”

“Are you trying to be sassy? All you care about are those donuts, huh?”

My bike started to go forward. I pulled it back.

“Good thing you stopped your bike from hitting mine. Or else you’d have to pay for the damages, like I said.”

Jessica and I walked into the donut shop. There was a guy in the corner drinking coffee. He was there every morning. We walked up to the counter to ask for a donut, like we were adults. “Ah, Annie and Jessica, how are you? If you’re wondering if you can have a donut, sorry, you can’t–there’re no more left,” Bobby said with a little frown.

I dropped to my knees and screamed, “NOOOOOOO! THE HUMANITY!”

Jessica patted me on the back. “It’s okay, it’s just a donut.”

“It is NOT JUST A DONUT! It’s a creamy, delicious donut that was brought to the world by magic.”

“I think you care about that dumb donut more than friends. Maybe you should just go and live with donuts instead of playing with your friends!” Jessica walked out of the donut shop and slammed the door behind her. I saw her get back onto her bike and start riding home. I stood there on my knees and looked at the door that was now closed. I got up, opened the door, walked back out, looked back into the donut shop, and got onto my bike to ride home and probably cry in my room. I had just lost a friend. I think. And definitely I just lost my donuts. My delicious donuts.

I got back onto my bike and rode home. I turned onto Backey Street, stopped in front of my house, leaned my bike in the front lawn, and opened the front door. I walked in and slammed it behind me. Clara was standing right in front of me with a mad face, holding the note I had taped to Charlie’s door. “How do you explain this, Annie?” Clara said as she shoved the paper in my face.

“Oh, so you found the note that you wrote? Cooool. Now, can you let me into my room, please? I need to work on something–something that will blow your little mind.” I walked down the hall, took a left, opened my bedroom door, and closed it very carefully. I had a plan: a plan that really was gonna blow Clara’s little mind right out of her little head of nothingness.

I was going to make a time machine out of things I could find in my room. I took paint cans, rubber bands, paint, copper wire, and glue. Pretty convenient, huh? After ten or twenty minutes, I finally got it done. All I had to do was go inside, go back in time, and change what I’d said to everybody that morning. I knew I was being kind of a brat. I hope this works, I thought. I went into the time machine. I had to squat because it was so cramped in there. I turned the switch made of wire, glue, and paint, and everything started shaking. I could hear my mom from the kitchen yelling, “EARTHQUAKE!” But it wasn’t really an earthquake. Then everything turned all rainbow, right in front of my eyes.

I landed on my bed. Did it work? I thought. Since my door was open, I decided to take a look. Oh. My. Cheeseballs. I saw myself walking down the hall to Charlie’s room. I really didn’t think this through that well. Clearly this was a bad idea. I needed to get out of here. I looked around. My time machine wasn’t there, so I decided to build another one with the same materials. Everything happened that had happened before: rainbows. Mom yelling “Earthquake!” I wondered, How come I didn’t feel hear all this earlier this morning?

This time, I landed on my rug. I looked around my room for Spot. I thought everything had just stayed the same. “Spot?” I yelled. My mom came into the room.

“Annie, who’s Spot?”

I looked at my mom. “Mom, remember Spot? My dog? My dalmatian dog I got for Christmas when he was a puppy? Remember?”

“I don’t remember having any dogs. Charlie is allergic.”

“But Charlie was never allergic. He’s three. He’s not allergic to anything. I think you’re going crazy. You need to lie down.”

“Honey, your brother is twenty-three.”

“He’s WHAT? I don’t think I’m hearing you correctly, Mom.”

“You don’t remember Charlie being twenty-three? Honey, you probably hit your head. You should lie down in your bed.”

“Mom, I’m not going crazy!” I ran out of my room and bumped into Charlie. I looked up. His face looked the same, but he was way taller than me. “Hi…Charlie…how’s it going? You look…different…”

“Oh, Annie, like Mom said, you probably hit your head. I don’t look different. Well, I did get a haircut yesterday, but Mom doesn’t know. I don’t really tell her much anymore. I’m too old for permission.” He winked at me.

I ran into Clara’s room, thinking she could help me. But instead of seeing Clara’s bright pink room, I saw an office. A grey office. It looked like Dad’s office in the garage, but it was here inside instead. I ran back into my room. I looked under my bed, and I found a time machine! Wow, this must’ve been from when I came here–or something. I hopped in. The whole thing happened again.

Except instead of having everything be normal, I ended up in the future. The future. This time I landed in the middle of the street, and a car driven by robots passed me. This is just great, I thought. I looked around me. People were wearing clothes made of robotic parts. One guy had an arm coming out of the back of his shirt, and it was feeding him a big sandwich. Boy, that looked like George Clothman from my school. He always eats those sandwiches. I walked up to him. “Hi, I’m Annie. What’s your name?”


“Hey, Annie, you look different. You look like a young kid again. I thought you were thirty.”

“I was never thirty! Oh, yeah, um, I did…something…to make myself look different. Yeah, byyyye.” I ran away.

A person riding a mechanical bike almost slammed into me. “Hey! Look where you’re going!” he screamed.

I walked across the street. I looked around and saw my house, so of course I walked to my house and opened the door. Right in front of me was future me and Charlie–except Charlie’s hair was long and curly, and he was wearing a long, pink dress. It looked like a ball gown from Cinderella. Future Annie looked me in the face. “What are you doing in here, kid?” she said. “I should pull a prank on you and taze you with this pack of gum. Here, you want a piece?”

“No, I don’t want a piece of gum. You just told me you were going to play a prank on me.” Wow, I looked like a person who would prank someone. I was kind of shocked to see that this was how I would turn out in the future. It was kind of exciting, but it worried me a lot. I didn’t want to end up like this–a person who would prank someone and end up in jail or something.

Charlie spoke up in a very girly voice. “Hey, kid, get out of here. I’m going to a fancy prom for my school.”

I looked at Charlie. “Wow, cool. By the way, Charlie (I did little quotes with my hands)–”


“My name isn’t Charlie. That was my old name. My name is Charabella.”


I giggled. “Charabella? That’s your name? That’s dumb. You’re not a girl. Why do you want to be one? I thought you were a boy.”

I turned my head to him–ahem, I mean, her. Or whatever. I asked my future self, “Where’s Clara?”

“How do you know who Clara is? And why are you wearing those clothes? You look like you’re a last century girl. And Clara moved to Palm Springs. And why do you even wanna know things about her? You don’t even know who Clara is.” My future self looked very, very surprised. She squinted her eyebrows and looked at me like a person who had a chicken hat on. “Hey, what’s your name?” my future self said as she pointed at me.

“Um, my name is Annie,” I said as I took one step back.

“What’s your last name?” said my future self as she walked one step closer to me.

“It’s Thompson,” I said as I took another step back. I was getting ready to run.

“Wait, that’s my name. Wait! I remember this. I made a time machine when I was ten years old, and I traveled to the future. But then when I came back…”


After future me said that, Charlie shoved her back and slammed the door in my face. Clara moved away? I thought in my head. How could this be? I guessed it was kind of good for my future self, and me, but I eventually would get back to where I was supposed to be, and everything would be normal again. I hoped…

I looked around, hoping I would see Spot. Then I realized he had probably passed away by now, since it was twenty years in the future.

I decided to build another time machine. This was like the fourth one, but after this, I wasn’t going to be messing with time anymore. I knew what I’d done, and it was pretty bad. I felt guilty because I wanted to be back home with my family and Spot. Now I was just stuck in the future, where I didn’t want to be. I knew this was basically all my fault.

I slouched over and started walking, my hands at my sides and my head looking down at the sidewalk. I decided that I would go to the craft store because they probably had what I needed there. Oh! I still had the $20 in my pocket. That would be enough to buy the things that I needed. I started running–but then I stopped. I didn’t even know where the craft store was. I saw a bike in front of someone’s house. I knew it kind of seemed bad, but I hopped on it and started riding. I planned to return it (like, never), but I didn’t even know this person. I was a criminal, stealing something, but it was totally worth it. I needed to get back home and put things back to normal. Like I said–I hoped…

So I was riding down the street, until I passed a store that said “CRAFTS AND MORE.” I jumped off my bike, which went rolling down a hill and hit a trash can. A cat jumped out of the trash can and started running as fast as it could. Then it tripped and started tumbling. I thought to myself, Poor cat, but I had no time to think about adorable things. I opened the door to the store.

Everything looked so different. There were no real people, only robots! I got paint cans and all that stuff. There was one tiny, tiny problem. I only had $1 left after I bought everything. Okay, I guess I was overreacting, but I was wasting money here!

I got a shopping bag and just dragged it down the street until I came across a fence. On the other side of the fence was nothing–just pavement–so I decided to go there to build my time machine. Even though it smelled like butt and fish, it wasn’t a big deal. I jumped over the fence and gave myself a wedgie. The fence caught hold of my underwear, and I was just hanging there, hanging out by myself–until I fell face first onto the pavement. “Owwwwwww!” as I said as I shut my eyes really tightly and stood up. Where is my bag? Oh, right in front of me. I grabbed it and did the same things I did to build all the other time machines. I went inside. Rainbows. Unicorns–wait, this time there were unicorns. How weird was that? Okay, nevermind the beautiful unicorns that were pooping rainbows. I had to go back! It was my duty. They were calling me–well, no one was really calling me, but you know what I mean.

I landed on the roof of my house. “OW!” Again. “That hurt more than last time.” There were bricks and bricks and nothing but bricks–so many that I couldn’t count. Then I fell off into the front lawn and landed on a flower pot. How am I not dead? I stood up, walked to the front door, and opened it. Then I walked to my room. Instead of there being one bed, there were two. “Hello? Is anybody home? Who put this extra bed in my room? If this does any damages to my floor, they’re gonna have to pay!”

Wait! Jessica! I should make up to her. Right then, I ran out the front door. I had no time to look for my bike, even though it was right in front of my house. I was just running and running and running. When I got to the door, I knocked and stood there breathing really hard. I was so tired.

Jessica opened the door. “Oh. Hi, Annie. What are you doing here? Want a donut? Well, sorry, we don’t have any.” She didn’t look surprised, but she did look mad. She crossed her arms.

“Jessica, I’m sorry for what I did. Donuts are not brought to this world by magic. That’s just silly. I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” I said. I started to hug Jessica, and she hugged me back.

“No, I’m sorry,” she said.

And that went back and forth until I said, “Enough. We’re both sorry.”

She walked me back to my house, and before I went in, we hugged. “Oh, I’m having a playdate with Sagey tomorrow. Is that okay with you?”

“Uh, who’s Sagey? I don’t know who Sagey is. Do you mean my cousin, Sage?”

“No, I mean, Sagey. Your nine-year-old sister. The one who likes dinosaurs?”

I shook my head No.

Jessica rolled her eyes and started to walk back home. Then she turned and smiled at me, and I waved.

I looked back at my door and opened it. I saw Clara, Charlie, and… three other kids. One looked nine, one looked thirteen, and one looked about five. Oh. My. Cheeseballs. The door slammed behind me. “Who are these people?” I asked Clara.

“Sagey, Elizabeth, and Ruby? Your sisters? Come on, you should remember this stuff. You have brain damage, I think, Annie. Or are you just kidding? I think you are.” Clara crossed her arms, and Charlie did the same.

“You awe bein so cwazy. You awe like a ducky,” said Charlie as he started to dance in the hallway.

I figured Ruby was the five year old, because she ran after Charlie, and Clara yelled, “Ruby! Get back here now. We’ve been at the mud market all day, jumping in puddles of mud, and everyone is so dirty. Mom will get mad if you get mud marks on the floor!”

Elizabeth, who had to be the thirteen year old, ran after Charlie and Ruby, picked them up, and walked into the bathroom to start a nice, steamy bath. Sagey walked to the bathroom to help with the bath.

I squinted my face up. I was about to throw a temper tantrum. I didn’t want three other siblings! That was way too much for me. FIVE siblings? I’d be the sixth! I really did not like that. I could feel myself about to burst out crying and shove everyone out of the way.

But I didn’t want to be a person who would scream a lot. I didn’t want to end up someone who pulled pranks. I decided to let it go. I took a deep breath and unballed my fists. I closed my eyes, then opened them.

“Your head should be made out of bird food, because birds want to bite it right off,” I said to Clara. I walked into my room, smiling and squinting my eyes. I could still say little mean things now and then.

“Annie’s back to normal,” Clara said.

“I heard that!” I screamed. I lay back on my bed, and Spot jumped on my stomach. “Oof!” I shouted. I pet Spot on the head.

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