Josh Akers had less than an hour before his press conference at Capital High School where he was about to be announced as the new head football coach. In the meantime though, he made a stop at Holy Cow Barbeque where he and his twin 6-year old sons grabbed a quick lunch. While there, he met up with an old friend, Tim Ponder, who had been working with the Austin Sentinel for several years.

The two conducted a laid-back interview that turned into reminiscing old times.

“How often do you think about that fourth down?” Tim asked.

“Why did you have to go there?” Josh said. “I try my darndest not to think about it but then some jerk like you brings it up.”

“What happened Daddy?” Philip, his oldest twin, asked. “What’s Mr. Tim talking about?”

“Nothing buddy, Mr. Tim is a very silly man who likes to make jokes.”

Tim looked at the twins, “Did you know your dad was a very good football player? He could throw like Peyton Manning. He could have played for the Longhorns and maybe even the


Josh swallowed a bite of his sandwich and glared at Tim, “Enough, enough. You’re going to raise my boys’ expectations of me to impossible heights.”

Daniel, his younger son, asked, “Is that true, Daddy? Why didn’t you play for the Longhorns?”

“Don’t listen to the silly man,” Josh said, then turned his attention back to Tim. “I’m assuming you’re going to be at the press conference?”

“Of course. They’ll probably introduce you, let you give a little speech, and then open it up for Q&A. I may catch you for a few minutes after that if that’s alright with you.”

“Oh for crying out loud, how many interviews do I have to have with you?” Josh asked.

“A lot more if you’re going to be head coach of your alma mater.

“Why did I sign up for this?” Josh sighed while hiding his face in his hands.

“It was one incredible ride,” Tim said of the 1994 season when both Tim and Josh were seniors. “I don’t just mean the semifinals game, but all of it, the road there and even after the season. I hope you can appreciate it now. Not to get all emotional about it, but I’m glad you’re back. Seems like forever.”

“It does seem like forever,” Josh agreed.

Moments later, Josh and his boys pulled up to the school where the press conference was about to be held. He was instantly met by several members of the community, including two school board members, the superintendent, and a couple well known die-hard fans of the Capital High Generals.

“Hey coach, congrats,” one fan offered. “Man, it still makes me sick to think of what happened to you in that semifinals game.”

“Yeah, thanks, but that’s in the past now,” Josh said. “I’m inheriting a great team and hopefully we can take it further than that team did.”

The twins curiously looked up at their dad. They didn’t ask what happened because they knew he wasn’t about to give an answer.

A little over 30 hours passed as Josh began unloading boxes in his new home office which was lit only by a couple candles because he forgot to pick up light bulbs. He blew the dust off some old photos and newspaper clippings from his high school football playing days.

“Akers leads Generals to district championship,” one headline read while another proclaimed, “Capital High earns 29-20 win on senior night, completes district sweep.”

His attention quickly turned to a newspaper clipping of his team hosting a district championship trophy roughly 22 years ago as he said under his breath, “We couldn’t get the big one. What I wouldn’t do to bring a state championship to this school.”

Just then, his wife, Lauren, walked into the house after a long shift at the hospital. Josh walked out of the room to greet her in the living room and discovered his wife holding a copy of that day’s newspaper as she eagerly turned to the sports pages.

“Look babe, it says, ‘Former quarterback returns home to coach alma mater.’”

“Yeah I saw that,” he replied. “I hate that picture. I told Tim he would have been better off just running a blank space.”

“Tim?” Lauren asked.

“Yeah, Ponder,” Josh said pointing to the byline of the story.

“Why does that name sound so familiar?” his wife asked.

“He was at the press conference yesterday,” Josh said. “Plus, you met him at my 20-year reunion, remember? He and Marcus, my receiver, they were…”

Josh stopped talking when he realized his wife was more interested in reading the article than hearing her husband’s explanation.

“It was fourth-and-two and the ball was snapped with 20 seconds left on the clock,” she read from Tim’s article, “He faked the pitch to the running back and went up the middle on the keeper.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know what happened,” Josh said with an annoyed tone in his voice. “I was there and I was the one who told Tim I didn’t want to talk about that play.”

“Well it looks like you did anyway,” Lauren said.

“Actually I didn’t,” Josh explained. “He just knows it all too well because he was there.”

“Did you also tell Tim that the only reason you came back home was to take care of your mom and that coming back was one of your last resorts?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Really?” his surprised wife said. “No you didn’t.”

“I did, but I knew he wasn’t going to write that,” Josh added.

Refocused on the article, Lauren held up a finger to tell Josh to let her keep reading.

“Akers picked up the first down, but instead of sliding and getting back into the hurry-up offense, he tried to squeeze out extra yards but lost his footing in the mud and was sandwiched between two defensive linemen, snapping his leg in half before dropping the ball. 98-yards later, the Rose City Rebels were in the end zone to put the Generals away, 32-23,” she continued reading. “Akers never played the game again.”

Josh grabbed the paper from his wife and said, “You know my story and Tim does too, all too well in fact. I didn’t even have to remind him of the details. Anyway, you don’t have to read it out loud.”

“Oh but I do,” she said.

“Why?” Josh asked.

“Because it makes you so uncomfortable. It’s fun to watch you squirm.”

“You don’t like hearing your own voice, Lauren,” Josh responded. “That’s kind of what it’s like.”

“But you’ve dealt with your fair share of media by now,” she countered. “I figured you’d be used to it.”

Lauren reached for the paper before Josh pulled it away.

“Fine,” Lauren said while pulling out her phone. “I’ll read it online and share it on social media.”

“No, don’t do that,” Josh said. “Take the paper.”

“Thank you,” she said, snatching the paper out of his hands. “I already posted it to social media several hours ago. I had to stop for gas and figured I’d pick up a hard copy.”

She continued to read, “We had a great team that year. We were picked as the preseason favorite to win state. All I wanted was a win at state and I feel like I failed my team. That’s probably the biggest reason I came back here. I want nothing more than to deliver a state championship to my hometown, as coach, since I couldn’t get it done as a player. We had so many memorable games that year, especially in the playoffs, getting to play at the old Astrodome and some big time Division I stadiums. I want to provide that same opportunity for kids who walk down the same school hallways, sit in the same classrooms and play on the same field I did, even if it is turf now. I love this school, this community, and this program. This place has given me so much, and my expectation right off the bat is to be a championship contender. There will be no rebuilding year. I’m not promising you a state championship, but as a team, I think it’s realistic to shoot for that. I’m not about aiming low. I want to give this community the best product on Friday nights.”

“Alright, alright, I’ve heard enough,” he said.

“You sound good, though,” Lauren said.

“I have a few clippings right there from some of the games we won,” Josh said, while pointing towards his office.

“By clippings, do you mean your diary?” Lauren asked jokingly.

“Funny but no,” Josh said. “Your mother-in-law dropped off a box of stuff.”

“Oh really?” she said in amazement. “I’ve got to see this.”

The two of them entered the dark office and Lauren turned on the flashlight on her cell phone to shine light on the pictures and articles.

“Oh, look how cute you were in your little uniform,” Lauren said, teasing her husband. “You must have thought...”

“‘Cute?’ Really?” Josh said, appalled by his wife’s word choice. “I was the real deal. I had offers flying in left and right. I was going to go to a Division I college, win a national championship, a Heisman or two, then go pro.”

“Whatever you say honey,” she said patting Josh’s head.

“I had offers from Texas, Texas Tech, A&M, Nebraska…”

“I know,” Lauren said interrupting. “And Georgia, TCU, SMU, and not to change the subject, but how are the twins?”

“Good,” Josh answered. “They were exhausted tonight, and they were both out as soon as their heads hit the pillows.”

“Fantastic,” Lauren said. “That never happens.”

“Yeah, Philip was complaining of a stomach ache, so I gave him some medicine. He actually fell asleep in the car.”

“Awe, poor thing,” Lauren said. “How’s Daniel?”

“He seemed fine,” Josh told his wife. “I asked him if he had a stomach ache and he said no.”

“Okay, great, I’m going to go check on them and kiss them goodnight and hit the sack myself,” Lauren said as she gave her husband a kiss. “Are you coming to bed?”

“Yeah, I’m right behind you,” Josh told her while glancing back at the photos and newspapers on his desk before saying to himself, “I wish I could replay that fourth down.” He hit the switch on his way out the door and chuckled as he slapped his forehead and turned back to blow out the candles.

It was morning when a loud knock at the bedroom door, followed by a familiar voice, woke Josh up in a panic.

“Joshua James Akers, you have five minutes to be in the car or I’m leaving without you,” the voice said. “If you miss the test you won’t play tonight.”

Josh stretched out his arms to feel his wife next to him, only to feel the edge of a twin-sized bed. He then opened his eyes and was horrified by the sights and sounds. The voice he had just heard wasn’t his wife, it was the voice of his mother. The sight before him was that of his bedroom from his senior year of high school of 20 years ago.

“Umm, okay!” Josh yelled before noticing his high school physics textbook and notebook open on the floor next to his bed.

“What the heck? Where the heck? When the heck? What’s going on?” he exclaimed.

Convinced it was a dream, Josh jumped out of bed and walked down the hall leading to the kitchen and dining room where he found his mom packing his lunch.

“I thought I’d be nice and put your lunch together because I knew you’d forget,” his mom said. “And why are you still in your boxers? Go get dressed.”

“Yeah, I, um, came to make my lunch but if you’re doing it, thanks,” he told his mom.

“Okay, you want mustard or mayonnaise?” she asked.

“Mustard if it’s turkey, mayonnaise if it’s ham,” he answered.

“You ready for your test?” she questioned.

“As ready as I can be in this situation,” Josh said.

His answer was followed by a knock coming from the front door, followed by another oddly familiar, yet distant voice.

“Hello? Josh, are you ready?” the voice said.

It was his high school girlfriend, Whitney.

Josh then sprang into action and sprinted as quickly as he could to his bedroom, not wanting a 17-year old girl to see him in his underwear.

“Okay, this is a dream, a very, very realistic dream,” he told himself while slapping his face and pinching himself all over, “but in dreams, nobody realizes that I’m in my underwear. Come on Josh, wake up.”

Josh heard laughter from his mom and Whitney.

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen him move,” his mom said.

“Well, the fastest when he’s not on the football field,” Whitney replied.

Josh quickly reached for a pair of pants that he hadn’t been able to fit into since high school, threw them on and rushed back into the kitchen.

“Josh, I’m assuming you’re going to ride with Whitney?” his mom asked.

“Um, yes ma’am?” he answered.

“That’s okay but why didn’t you tell me?” his mom asked. “I could have left for work already.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Sorry, I guess it didn’t dawn on me, probably because I haven’t had my coffee yet.”

“Since when did you start drinking coffee on game day?” She turned to Whitney, “Please make sure he gets to class on time.”

“Sure thing Mrs. Akers,” Whitney said. “Are you ready for the game?”

“Not yet, but I will be by 7:30. I’m not sure about Josh, but I can see that you are,” Josh’s mom said, pointing to Josh’s road jersey being worn by Whitney.

Josh’s mom and high school girlfriend looked at him as if he was forgetting something.

“Are you going like that?” Whitney asked. “Where are your books?”

“Oh right, they’re next to my bed,” Josh said. “I was up all night studying.”

“Well, go get them,” his mom said. “I’m heading out. Whitney, please make sure he remembers his lunch and that he eats the bag of carrots.”

“I’m on it, Mrs. Akers,” Whitney assured her.

Josh walked back into the kitchen and started grinding coffee as his mom left the house.

“Josh, we don’t have time for that,” Whitney said as she walked closer to Josh, giving him a hug and a kiss as Josh pulled back.

“Josh, what’s wrong?” Whitney asked. “You’re not acting like yourself at all.”

“I’m sorry, Whit,” he said. “I’m just freaking exhausted. I’m stressed about the test and tonight’s game - it’s a big one.”

“Really?” Whitney said in surprise. “You seemed to have a firm grip on it last night when we were studying, and you normally don’t get nervous on game day until it’s about an hour from kickoff.”

Then, without giving Josh a chance to explain himself, she said, “I’ve got to stop for gas, so you can grab some coffee or something at the gas station.”

“Okay, sounds good,” Josh said as they walked out the door together. “Oh, and out of curiosity, what have you heard about the bad guys?”

A weird look came over Whitney’s face as she said, “The bad guys?”

“Yeah, our big opponent for tonight,” Josh answered.

“I don’t know anything you don’t already know,” she said. “You’ve been studying film, right?”

“Well yeah, but I just wasn’t sure what people are telling you.”

“Nothing really,” Whitney said, “other than they plan to blitz a lot. They’re going to try to knock out my boyfriend so that he can’t dance at homecoming. But we’re not going to let that happen, are we?”

That was all Josh needed to hear -- homecoming. This was his senior year, his final homecoming game in high school, one he remembered well. His Capital High Generals defeated the Pflugerville Pirates 38-3.

“Not if I can help it,” Josh told Whitney. “We’ve got this, I think.”

Memories of Whitney’s old Honda Civic flooded Josh as he climbed into the passenger seat. He tried doing the math in his head as to which memories had already taken place up until that point.

“Okay, so you ready for your physics test?” Whitney asked.

“I guess so,” Josh said. “Are you?”

“Um, Josh, I’m not in your physics class,” she reminded him. “I don’t have a test today.”

“Right,” Josh recalled, thinking back to his senior year. “We don’t have class together until third period. What homework is due from that class?”

“Oh my gosh, Josh, are you serious?” she asked.

“What did I miss?” Josh asked.

“Oh my darling, we worked on it yesterday. Then I fell asleep as you watched film,” she told him.

A confused look comes over Josh’s face.

“It’s on the inside pocket of your green notebook,” Whitney said.

“You’re the best,” Josh replied. “I thought I lost it or that my dog ate it.”

Josh continued to think about his senior year schedule, not being able to recall much from more than two decades in the past, but he remembered at least one more detail about his third-hour journalism class.

“Hey, wasn’t Tim in that class?” he asked Whitney.

“Yes, and he still is,” she answered, looking confused as to why he worded the question the way he did.

“You know what I mean,” Josh responded. “That was, or this class is his first journalism class ever.”

“Um, okay,” Whitney said, unsure as to why that mattered.

They pulled up to the gas pump on Josh’s side.

“You got this?” Whitney asked.

“Oh, shoot. I’m sorry, I don’t have my wallet,” Josh explained.

“No, I’ll go inside and pay if you want to pump,” she said with a slight chuckle. “You can look over your notes if you want. Two creams and one sugar?”

“Oh, yeah, please. Thanks,” he answered.

As Whitney entered the store to pay for gas, Josh reached into his pocket for his cell phone, only to discover he didn’t have one, because no high school student did back in 1994.

Upon returning to the car, Whitney handed Josh his coffee. Things slowly came back to him -- all kinds of memories, thoughts, and questions stormed through his head at what seemed like 10 billion miles per hour. Was this a one-day thing before he would wake up to his life as a coach, along with his wife and kids? Would the day go exactly as it had 20-plus years ago? How much would one little decision affect the rest of his life and the course of history? Or heck, was this just a bizarre dream with dead-on details?

He then recalled what happened between him and Whitney. Prior to his injury, Josh had his fair share of offers from major Division I schools. Whitney had been accepted to A&M, a school that was watching Josh but had yet to make him an offer. He hadn’t made up his mind yet because he wanted to see if he could get an offer from the Aggies. He was also curious to see what other schools would offer. But, then his injury happened and all the offers were rescinded.

After his injury, Josh still had his heart set on playing college ball but a Division I school wasn’t an option, at least not for the first two years. He opted for the junior college route with the intent of walking on and transferring to A&M to join Whitney.

However, none of that went according to plan. Whitney went to A&M but he never joined her. He never played another down of football. As his leg was recovering, Josh met with the head coach of his junior college team who encouraged him to major in kinesiology. He did just that, jumping at the opportunity to transfer to Stephen F. Austin State University. While there, an opportunity presented itself, allowing him to be an assistant football coach for a local high school.

The thoughts continued to rush through his head as he stared out the passenger window of Whitney’s car. The two of them never had a messy breakup. It was the long distance that seemed to take a toll on them. They were both busy in college and rarely had an opportunity to talk, not to mention visiting each other. Now, here he was, wondering if he truly had a chance to do it all over again, what he would change. Would he be able to play Division I college football on a scholarship? Would he have an opportunity to go pro? What about Lauren? He didn’t meet her until college. He loved his wife and kids, and if he went a different route, he wondered if his kids would still exist. He was ashamed to admit it, but he was intrigued by the idea of making things work with Whitney and what might come from that. He did care for her after all, and they seemed to have good chemistry. But at the same time, he felt like a creepy old man. He couldn’t give that too much thought though, because his physics test was about to begin in approximately six minutes, and they had barely pulled up to the school.

Josh walked with Whitney to her locker.

“Aren’t you going to your class? It’s that way,” she said pointing down the science hallway.

Josh managed to find his classroom by matching the teacher’s name on the notebook with the name by the classroom door.

To say he was underprepared for the test would be an understatement, but he had enough common sense and memories from college to survive the test and his second-period class. He had an A in the class so he would have to bomb it pretty bad to make himself ineligible to play football. He went on his way to journalism class for third-period and met up with Whitney and Tim.

“Josh, my assignment for this class is to cover your game tonight,” Tim said. “Can you meet up with me afterward for an interview?”

“Sure man, no problem,” Josh said. “We’re going to win big.”

“Okay, where does that confidence come from?” Tim asked.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Whitney said. “Earlier you asked me what I knew about the ‘bad guys’ and said you were nervous.”

“Yeah, I was just curious about what you had heard, but I don’t think we’ll struggle against these guys,” Josh said.

“They’ve been chosen by four teams to play homecoming games this year,” Tim added.

Once the bell rang for class to start, Mr. Freeman told the students to pair up into groups of two.

“Each group will pick a topic or two,” the teacher said. “Each person and his or her partner will have a turn interviewing and being interviewed in front of the class. I will give you five minutes before the first group starts.”

Josh looked over at Whitney, who indicated she wanted to work with him, but Tim was whispering his name, “Josh, can you work with me or you working with Whit?”

“Tim, he’s mine,” Whitney said.

“Can I work with him please?” Tim pleaded. “I need to discuss my assignment with him.”

“Whitney, I’ll work with you if your boyfriend is going to be a jerk and ditch you,” Karen, the student sitting right behind her, said.

“Okay. My boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore,” Whitney said, pretending to cry.

“Well I guess that settles it then,” Josh said as he moved slightly closer to Tim.

“Really? You’re choosing Tim over me? I never thought I’d lose my man to another man,” Whitney added jokingly as she turned her desk around to face Karen’s.

“Look man, I’m going to make your job easier,” Josh told Tim. “Start writing now. We’re going to crush them tonight 38-3. I throw two touchdown passes. The first came, or will come, on the opening drive of a 17-yard fade in the corner to Marcus. Then my second will come on our second drive of the second quarter to Dom. I only finished, I’m guessing I’ll only finish with about 135 passing yards. I’ll get pulled in the third quarter because we’ll build a large lead, but I’ll go out to take a knee for victory formation. We’re going to keep it on the ground. The Ingram brothers will combine for about 400 yards alone and our special teams…”

“Dude,” Tim interrupted. “Slow down. Now, first of all, we have an assignment to work on, secondly, what the heck are you talking about?”

“He said we can pick the topic,” Josh said. “You can interview me like you have for the school’s paper. I’ll interview you about what you hope to accomplish as a journalist. We can wing it.”

A puzzled look came over Tim’s face as he asked, “Okay, but what’s going on?”

“Promise me you won’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you,” Josh said.

“Yeah, I promise,” Tim replied. “What’s up?”

“So one could say it sounds like a dream, but it was real, as real as this is,” Josh said in a whisper so no one else could hear. “I woke up with memories, like 20-plus years into the future.”

Tim’s eyes were like saucers and he was speechless, not sure whether to make fun of Josh or attempt to be sympathetic.

“I know it sounds crazy, but for what it’s worth, this journalism thing works out for you and I’m a coach,” Josh told Tim.

“Thanks, I think,” Tim added puzzled. “Good for you. Right? That’s a good thing isn’t it?”

“I don’t recall everything that happens in the next 20 years, but I remember several things from this season like it was yesterday because of our long playoff run,” Josh said. “It was so memorable.”

“So you weren’t good enough to make it to state?” Tim asked in a half-mocking manner.

“Well, no, we were one game away from it but I got hurt and fumbled.”

Tim, still looking confused and a bit weirded out, couldn’t come up with anything to say.

“Look man,” Josh said, “Just remember 38-3. If you want, I can give you a quote for your story so you can finish sooner.”

“Sure, you give me that quote and if the score really is 38-3, I’ll use it and I’ll believe you, maybe.”

“Maybe?” Josh asked. “What are the chances of me knowing that if I was lying?”

“I don’t know,” Tim said. “Bizarre, lucky guess? It’s rigged?”

“Rigged, Tim?”Josh said.

“This is a lot for me to take in, Josh,” Tim said. “Like I said, I’ll use your quote if it’s 38-3. We’ll see how the game unfolds tonight, then we’ll talk later.”

Mr. Freeman walked up to Josh and Tim and said, “You boys seem to be in a pretty interesting conversation. Why don’t you start us off? Go take your seats in front of the class and interview each other.”

“Yes sir,” Josh and Tim both say at the same time.

“I’ll ask the questions first,” Tim said.“Josh, tonight is your homecoming game. What do you expect from the Pirates?”

“Well Tim, we’re not worried about what to expect from them,” Josh told him in front of the class. “We just have to worry about our own effort and knowing our team. We should have no problem pulling out a win if all 11 people on the field do their jobs and do as they’re coached to do.”

“You sound like a coach,” Tim said. “What’s the game plan entering tonight?”

“Run the ball,” Josh answered. “We have a solid backfield and if we just stick with the running game and control the clock, we’ll be in great shape.”

“What’s your prediction for a score?” Tim asked Josh.

“Well, I’m not focused on numbers, but I am focused on letters and the letter we’re after is W,’” Josh said.

“Do you plan to make an appearance at the homecoming dance with anyone special tonight?”

“If you’re asking me out, the answer is no,” Josh said. “I’m already spoken for.”

The class erupted in laughter as a student from the back said, “By who, I wonder,” pointing to Whitney, who blushed.

“Settle down, class,” the teacher said. “Now let’s have Josh ask Tim questions.”

“Tim, I understand you’re leaning towards going to Texas for journalism,” Josh said. “How did that go when you told your big-time Aggie parents?”

Tim laughed nervously and said, “Well, actually, I haven’t told them yet. I didn’t even know I told you quite honestly… how…”

Josh interrupted, “And you want to be a sportswriter, right?”

“Well, maybe. I think that might be pretty fun,” Tim answered.

“How did you become interested in that?” Josh asked, recalling questions Tim asked him, or will ask in the future.

“Well, Josh, I guess if I never get paid to play professionally, I might as well be around sports by writing about them.”

Tim then looked at the teacher and asked, “Sir, can we be done now?”

The teacher nodded. The two stood up and walked back to their seats as Tim whispered to Josh, “How did you know I was thinking of going to UT? I didn’t tell you that, did I?”

“Are you starting to believe me yet?” Josh asked Tim.

Tim was struck by silence before responding to Josh, “So you’re saying this is like the movie, Groundhog Day, where you’re living every day over and over?”

“I don’t know about that,” Josh said. “This is the first time I’ve re-lived this day.”

After class, Josh, Tim, and Whitney headed to lunch.

“Josh, don’t forget your lunch, and I promised your mom I would tell you to eat your veggies, so eat your veggies.”

“Does Whitney know?” Tim whispered to Josh.

“No, and we’re going to keep it that way,” Josh replied.

“Do I know what?” Whitney said.

“You can hear that? Holy crap,” Tim said.

“Yeah, she’s got the ears of a hawk,” Josh said.

“‘And we’re going to keep it that way,’” Whitney said. “What are you not telling me, Josh?”

“Okay fine, I had something big planned for tonight after the dance.”

“Oh really? What?” she said.

“I don’t want to ruin the surprise,” he said.

“That’s not it,” Whitney said. “I know you, Josh, and you’re acting really strange and have been all day. Something is up. What is it?”

“Josh knows the exact score of the game,” Tim said, but before he could say the score, Josh was there to cover his mouth.

“I told him I thought we’d win 17-14,” he said. “There’s no science to it but he thinks I know something not everybody else does.”

“Okay, I’ll remember that,” Whitney said, “and if it is 17-14, I’ll know something is up.”

“Trust me, the chances of that are slim to none,” Josh said. “Hey, I’m going to go sit down and look at my playbook. Would you mind grabbing me a burger?”

“I guess, but only because I love you,” she said. “Eat your carrots. There, I told you twice.”

Josh headed to the table with the lunch his mom prepared for him as Tim sat down with his food.

“So you’re eating what your mommy packed you plus a burger that your girlfriend is getting you?” Tim said. “Man, you’re eating more like an offensive lineman.”

“Tim, I can’t have you telling people about all this,” Josh said. “You’ve got to keep your mouth shut.”

“About you being a fatty?” Tim said.

“No, not that,” Josh said.

“So you are a fatty?” Tim added.

“Tim, shut up,” Josh said, getting annoyed. “I’m talking about the score prediction and all that.”

“Okay, I’ll be more careful, but if what you say is true, what happens? Not just tonight, but in general?” Tim rambled. “What if something big occurs that you can change, or what can I change?“

Josh, not wanting to talk about it, saw teammates approaching his table and said, “How are we feeling? Pumped up?”

“Heck yeah brother, we got this,” Terry Green, the team’s starting defensive end, said. “They got too many holes in that O-line. We gonna have sack city tonight.”

“I need you to throw a few more balls my way, Josh,” Marcus said. “I’ve got an offer from a couple DI schools, but I’m trying to earn a scholarship to TCU.”

Whitney then took a seat next to Josh, who took a bite of his burger and stared at his playbook before saying, “Yes sir, 20, 22, 23 years from now, we’ll remember this game fondly.”

Less than a minute remained on the scoreboard as the seconds continued to tick. Josh was under center when he took the snap, followed by a knee. One more kneel sealed up the win for his team, with a 38-3 score, just like he remembered.

He took the final knee and held the ball up in the air in celebration as he jogged to the sideline, where he was met by teammates and coaches. After the two teams lined up to shake hands, Josh was met by Tim.

“Okay, what the crap?” Tim said.

“I told you,” Josh said before being interrupted by Tim. “I’ve lived this already and…”

“No seriously, what’s going on?” Tim asked.

“You’re still not convinced?” Josh responded.

“Would you be?” Tim said back. “Think about how crazy this all sounds, I don’t know, insane?”

“I get that, trust me I do,” Josh said. “I know this sounds crazy but how else would you explain this?”

“It’s a setup?” Tim asked, thinking out loud. “I don’t know?”

“A setup? Really Tim?” Josh said. “Do you not realize how many people it would take to set all this up?”

“I know, but there’s no explanation that will make sense,” Tim replied. “Look man, you know how you were telling me about getting hurt a game before state?”

“Yeah,” Josh answered.

“What if you don’t get to that point this time and you get hurt sooner?” Tim asked. “Or if a game doesn’t go how it went the first time, from what you remember?”

“Well I thought of that, Tim,” Josh explained. “That didn’t matter tonight though because I recalled how explosive our running game was and all I had to do was manage the game. I’m pretty sure the only way things will be different is if I influence them to change.”

Josh saw Whitney walking toward the two of them and slightly changed his tone in order to hing to Tim that their so-called interview was about to have an audience.

“My offensive line protected me and made holes for our running game,” Josh said. “It’s all about the team. I didn’t have the greatest game ever, but I didn’t need to because of those guys up front. Plus our defense was lights out. I’m glad I only have to go up against them in practice.”

The two shook hands and walked slightly away from each other as Josh walked toward Whitney who ran up to him and jumped on him.

“Good game Q,” she said. “That’s my quarterback.”

Josh laughed.

“You sound like someone. I can’t think of who,” he said after remembering what year it was and that what she reminded him of hadn’t happened yet.

“Well, sorry you didn’t guess the score correctly, but I’m pretty sure you’d rather win 38-3 than whatever you said,” Whitney said.

“Do you still want to go to the dance?” Josh asked.

“Yeah. Nick and Sara said we can ride with them,” Whitney said.

“Nah, I’ll drive your car,” Josh added.

“Okay. Is Tim going?” Whitney asked. “Did he ask out what’s her face?”

“Not that I know of,” Josh said before recalling Tim had in fact gone to the dance with Tammy the first time around, but in his second time living the day, Josh didn’t recall hearing Tim mention it.

Josh put his hands in his pockets in search of his cell phone yet again.

“Let me text him,” he said.

“Do what?” Whitney asked.

“Right,” he said. “Let me go ask him.”

“Okay, but hurry,” Whitney said. “Everyone is waiting for their quarterback.”

Josh tracked down Tim and asked about Tammy.

“Um, no. I was planning to ask her at lunch, but I totally forgot, I guess because of what we were talking about,” Tim said. “Wait, in your world, the future, how does that work out?”

Josh recalled the two of them only went on two or three dates max and didn’t want to do anything that might change the course of history too drastically.

“Um, not really,” he explained. “She turned kind of crazy. She adopted about two dozen cats and called them her children. She even took them to the dentist hoping they’d let them hang out in the waiting room while she got a root canal.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Tim asked.

“No, I swear, I’m really not,” Josh answered.

“Well, maybe I can change that. Maybe I can prevent that from happening?” Tim asked curiously.

“Tim, don’t do anything crazy without talking to me. But for now, I’m going to go to the dance,” Josh told him sternly. “Whitney is waiting for me. You can join us there to hang out.”

Josh and Whitney jumped into her car and headed to the dance.

“Is she going with him?” Whitney asked.

“No, he forgot to ask or chickened out,” Josh said.

“So is he going without a date or not at all?”

“I don’t know,” he responded. “I don’t think he’s decided. I told him he was welcome to come hang out.”

The two arrived at the dance Where Toni Braxton’s 1994 hit “Breathe Again” played over the speakers.

“Oh, I love this song,” Whitney said. “Come on Josh, let’s make this our song. Dance with me.”

After some convincing, Josh stood up and danced with Whitney, but the song and the situation reminded him of his wife as he began to flashback, or flash forward.

Josh and Lauren had been dating for about six months when they went on a college road trip to Corpus Christi for Spring break. “Breathe Again” blared on the radio.

“Quick, name this song,” Lauren said.

“I can’t,” he replied.

“Really? Come on,” she said.

“I’m not a big music guy, you know that,” he told her. “I’m a sports guy.”

“Please, you can be both,” she said. “Okay, I’ll give you a hint, it’s by Toni Braxton.”

“Do you not realize how little that means to me?” Josh asked. “I still don’t know the name of the song.”

“It came out your senior year of high school,” Lauren said.

“Oh, okay, yeah, I actually do remember that now,” Josh said, giving it a close listen. “I don’t know the name of the song but I remember when it was super popular.”

“Did you dance to this song at prom?” she asked.

“I don’t know, maybe,” he responded.

“For real? Did you? I was just kidding,” she said.

“Seriously, I think I might have,” he said. “I seem to remember dancing during this song now that you mention it.”

“You’re lying,” she said. “I remember my brother had the CD and left it in my 1990 Teal sedan.”

“Teal sedan? I had the same thing, swear to God,” he said.

“Shut up,” she responded.

“No, I did, but my odometer stopped working at 51,993 miles,” he said. “Well technically it was between 993 and 994 but I was anxious to see it switch over to 52,000 miles and never did.”

“You’re kidding me right?” Lauren asked.

“No, why?”

“Same story,” she said.

“Liar,” he responded.

“Okay, not exactly the same but my odometer also didn’t work. It never did.”

“Wow, crazy,” Josh said. “But back to the song - it was homecoming, not prom.”

“Mystery solved,” she said.

“Hey, you hungry?” she asked. “I made ham and cheese sandwiches.”

As the song concluded, so did Josh’s flash forward. He and Whitney stood there slowly dancing.

“You hungry Josh? They have sandwiches. I’m guessing you haven’t eaten since before the game.”

“Oh, no,” he said, trying to recall where and when he was. “No, I didn’t eat, that is. Yes, I’m very hungry.”

That was the first time in his life that he noticed one major similarity between his high school girlfriend and his wife: just how much they each cared for him and how he cared for them as well. Similarities pretty much ended there though as their differences suddenly stood out to him. Whitney was far more outgoing, a social butterfly, and the life of the party, as one might say. Lauren was always more of an introvert who especially valued quality one-on-one time and was known for her sense of humor. Whitney constantly told Josh through her words how much she valued him. Lauren was more sarcastic. She wasn’t afraid to pick fun of him through her words, but he always knew it was in good fun as he often returned the favor. He also realized he had some major decisions to make.