A start to my story is a simple walk.
Around my house then stop to talk.
A simple conversation, we had a grin.
And that's where our walking and talking will begin.
We walk and talked every day.
We gathered more people as we went on our way.
Months turned to years and still it was fun.
Until one of our walkers was hit by a stray gun.
A bullet from nowhere made the walks come to an end.
Now we meet at the hospital checking on our friend.
The gunman was captured, our friend passed away.
We haven't gathered to walk and talk anymore, to this day.
Chores (MAYBE TW but I’m not sure)
The following events are the retelling of a true story
My mom opened the door and looked down at me. This was 4 years ago. She welcomed me in, and I talked and chatted with my mom and sister for the rest of the night. The next morning, my mom gave me a list of chores to do while she and my sister went to get groceries. She also told me not to play on my PS2 until my chores were done, but I didn’t really mind. As I’m folding my clothes, I’m watching TV
Just learning some new stuff when I finally get bored and switch to the News channel. A breaking news story reads, ‘Local woman and daughter killed in car accident.’ At that moment, I realized that my mom and sister had died.
4 years later, still feeling full of sadness from their deaths, I feel that I want a taste of nostalgia, so I go to my mom’s house. It feels very empty without her. I went to my dusty PS2 and opened it. In the disc compartment was a note. It read, ‘Oh son, I told you not to play your PS2 before chores are done. Well, son, I love you to death and want to cut you some slack. You can play your game station until I come back with hugs and kisses :) xoxo -Love, Mom.’ I slowly began to cry as I set down the note, for she had never come back and... I never got my hugs and kisses...
“Take time to be thankful for everything that you have. You can always have more, but you could also have less.”
Caught in the Act
She came around the corner when he was in tears, at exactly the right time he needed her. The feeling of fulfillment was so bright and as tangible to the tongue as a glass of orange juice at breakfast time. They were performance artists together, but he did it mostly to be with her. Justin liked to challenge gender stereotypes, and would sometimes dress in drag. Moana liked to do male drag too, and they would change their voices pretending to be offbeat people that they admired or that made them laugh when they would go on walks downtown sometimes. Justin wasn't really sure why Moana did the performance art, but he thought maybe she liked the reaction from the crowd. She liked to push the envelope, and he did too, but really just for the adventures he had with Moana. He loved watching her out the corner of his eye when they were onstage together. Her eyes where chocolate almonds that went on forever. She really shined with an undisclosed light that drew people into her mystery. She was so comfortable moving her delicious form across the stage, but yet seemed very modest and unaware of her beauty. She had a funny smile that was instantly disarming. The pervasive interest and sometimes palpable hunger of the crowd at times overwhelmed Justin with jealousy though, and this was the first time that he had actually exploded and ran outside to cry in the parking-lot like a broken toy. Moana appeared around the corner and fell down on her knees beside him, throwing her arms around him, she asked him what was wrong. Justin wasn't really sure what to tell her. He didn't want their mutual friendship to change.
Later that hot summer night she invited him over to her house for the first time that she shared with her roommate Aseeka. For the longest time it had only been Justin's house where they planned out there performance pieces to stir up the Open Mics in this little coffeeshop called Gorbachev in Denver; so this was quite a shift. Aseeka was a a thin man of about fifty with childish eyes that danced with excitement, yet seemed to challenge Justin in his black Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds tee-shirt and styled in spots spiked hair. Aseeka laid out a dazzling set of Tarot cards that almost shimmered with the mystical art outlined in an eye-catching silver and gold. He passed a bowl of pot around between the three of them as he read out loud their supposed future's. Justin's was very light, and showed the promise of a new job. Moana's was pretty dark and seemed to spell out a tragic death which she wrote off as a transition that she felt inside of her towards a new cosmic awareness. All through the reading Moana's face seemed a mask of enrapt interest that showed little emotion, but appeared very attentive. Justin admired how she never seemed to get too upset about anything and always appeared so strong and positive. He also enjoyed her no bra look with her perky firm nipples poking up against her white tee-shirt with a low neck-line. When Aseeka was done with the reading, he grabbed Moana's hand, and beckoned Justin with a finger through the beaded curtain of his room that smelled rich with the musky smell of good incense and natural body scent. He sat them both on the bed, and brought down a book of Ginsberg poetry that he wanted to read to them.
"Can I read you a couple poems? I love Ginsberg!"
Moana seemed to just like to be in the room. She peered around with her lovely long lashes blinking, looking very much like the Cheshire Cat. Her arms were propping her chest out in front of her. Justin was a bit intrigued too, though a bit defensive, his arms wrapped around himself awkwardly. He couldn't figure out what to do with his hands, and he felt kind of uneasy in this new environment, though overall he felt accepted and mostly comforted by his new friend. He decided to just accept the situation for what it was. Moana turned and smiled at him, and then immediately looked over at a book of colorful Hinduism that was very pretty and engaging. She took it down and got lost in that, almost entirely losing sight that she was in the room with two men.
"Yes," said Justin.
"Please read to us!"
The poems were kind of long and windy, and though Justin wasn't a huge fan of the writing he liked the way Aseeka read the words with passion. After he was done he dropped the book on the floor and plopped down beside Moana. Almost as if in a dream, Aseeka pulled his comfortable looking parachute hemp pants off and revealed a huge cock with a large pink head. Moana tossed her book away and popped the head of the cock into her mouth, making it disappear down her throat with a nice suction sound. She made a loud pop every time she pulled the big cock out of her mouth, and soaked his rock hard dong with plenty of saliva. The lights were low, and a cd was playing somewhere but Justin was in a trance of disbelief. He could barely conceive it when Moana pulled the back of her shorts down, exposing her nice round ass to him. She took a break, glancing back from her cock-sucking at Justin, hoping he would get the hint. There it was, the velvet Petunia he had ruminated over for so long nestled between the heart shape of her lovely scupltured ass! In an instant he was naked as well! He popped his head between her legs and found her tiny pearl with his tongue, tenderizing it with a smile, and loving the taste of her as the moans of pleasure from the three lovers rolled over each other and became one huge exhalation like the breathing of a whale underwater. When Justin slipped inside Moana he could barely believe how perfect it felt as she completely encompassed him in her warm haven of pleasure made just for his cock. He watched her cup Aseeka's wrinkled balls in her mouth as Aseeka threw his bald head back, pointing his satyr's beard to the ceiling. Justin felt all the jealousy drain from his body as he pumped Moana's tight, yet inviting, pussy hole. He almost came, but then pulled out and blasted his love juice all over her back. It was such a fantastic encapsulated time that glowed like the many embers in a fire, and they all came in unison many times that night.
Later, before sunrise, Justin and Aseeka both enjoyed some tea sitting on the porch steps as Moana wore one of Aseeka's sweaters and stared up into the starry sky. She was smoking a cigarette and humming a song to herself.
"What's that song you're singing?," asked Justin.
"I feel like I've heard it before."
"It's Evelyn Champagne King...It's her song 'Love Come Down'. I really love the way she sings it!"
"Oh yea! That songs great! I remember that one from MTV when I was a kid."
"I just saw it on Youtube recently, like two days ago! It was my first time ever hearing it," said Moana.
"Hey, I just had an idea for a performance piece! I'm going to run to my car and grab my big bag of pens!"
Moana booked across the street right at the same time as the Semi with it's huge steely grill flew with a rage down the road. She never even had a chance to look up. The thwacking sound was like a baseball hitting a bat at a televised stadium. The truck never even paused a clip, flying off into the distance with an evil red light guiding its way. Aseeka screamed and Justin fell backwards on the stairs. The truly amazing thing was there was not a thing left behind of Moana's body. It was like the huge truck had come and stolen her up and out of their lives forever. What a living nightmare! It was the most wonderful and horrible night that they would both carry with them in their collective hearts for the rest of their lives.
He watched them blow in the wind.
He sat on a polished green bench watching his two kids blow dandelions across the park. It wasn’t a large park but he choose the bench closest to his kids and the strange dandelion patch they found. Though he wasn’t fond of the weed, a child’s smile had turned it into a flower- as long as they were happy, he was. So he watched his children turn weeds into flowers at the park.
He loved his children so much some could say he hated them. Most of the time he’s spending time at his desk. Hands covered in ink and sometimes his forehead. An empty inkwell, scribbled post-it-notes, a full waste bin, a room some would describe as a symbol of overtime. He was the comic artist for the local newspaper just like his father was. And, like his father, worked so hard following the premise that as long as his kids were provided for, they’ll be okay.
The first child was a lanky girl who was very good a grabbing things. Even when her late mother held her she always manage to grab something. The keys, earrings, books (especially books) and food. If she wanted it then she took it. Which surprisingly was never a problem at the store.
The second child was a small boy who kept to himself… until he got to trusting you. Then the boy would pour out all of his thoughts and energy in enough words and movements to stage a play. His mom would sit there and take the whole river that his heart had to give. And the husband could never understand that strength.
When she left them for Heaven, he almost fell into his work till his boss was wise enough to force him a break. He came home that day a man broken till a lanky girl grabbed him tightly and a small boy flooded the house with his grief. And they all sat. And they cried.
And so the man sits happily as his children play. He hasn’t been this happy in years. He looks and sees the dandelions flowing through the sky like lanterns. To him this was a festival for his love long gone. So when his children called him over he couldn’t disagree.
He gets up from the bench and is staggered a bit from sitting down too long. As he walks he feels life slowing down as if it’s preserving a moment in glass. When he gets there, one child is talking non stop while the other has a bunch of dandelions in her hands.
He goes to hug them.
Then a soft wind blows
and like dandelions the two children bodies break apart into pieces and fly across the sky like lanterns.
He looks at the patch of dandelions in utter silence. And he sees something white jutting out of the dirts. Slowly he digs up the “something“ till he sees it. A young child’s arm bone. And soon a leg. And soon a rib cage. And soon a skeleton. Then several. All with little roots and dandelions spurting out.
He looked up.
At his children flying across the sky.
He watched them blow in the wind.
And another wind blew…
and he flew too…
Today is going to be a good day.
The sensation of pure accomplishment when one rises, well-rested and ready; before the alarm even begins it's hum drum nagging to jolt the day to an all too fast beginning. Feet hitting the floor with a bounce because today is going to be a good day. These days are beyond endangered in my life so when they drift in, you hold them close and appreciate them for all that they're worth. Coffee's prepped, button pressed, the slow drip of that sweet caffeinated smell curling through the air beckoning me to drink of the dark bold cup of life. The days grow longer, the sun greets and meets me with bright rays pulling me even further into the day. Eyes closed as a slow smile spreads across my face, I take in the warm beams around me, radiating in this present joy.
A darkness engulfs me and I fall fast and hard. Intense radiating agony surrounds me. Everything I hear is fuzzy, a real life dial tone with no answer. I try to see beyond the confusion and see nothing but my own despair.
As Luck Would Have It
Slender Legs in black silk stockings splayed as I rode the wooden chair, every man anticipating my next move, when I saw him- the only man in the room looking into my eyes. I tried to avoid looking directly back at him as I continued my chair gymnastics. Instead, I glanced in the mirror behind the stage and found that he was doing the same thing. Again, with those eyes on mine reflecting back at me.
As the song ‘Fever’, by Peggy Lee poured out of the speakers, drowning the audience in sizzling heat, I began the stocking routine, wearing only my heels, stockings, and a sequined G-String that barely covered the important parts. From a perfect Chinese split on the chair, I leaned back, pulled my legs together delicately, then extended them over my head, dropping my high heels casually on the stage floor.
Slipping my right toe into the top of my left stocking I smoothly glided it off my leg and dropped it into a puff of black silk next to my heels. I did the same with the other leg, and you could have heard a pin drop in that place. There is something of a little boy in every man that is fascinated by a woman removing her stockings. It was a very popular show.
Despite the crowd’s attention, I kept my eyes on the man who was keeping his eyes on me. Every time I surreptitiously tried to peek over at ‘him’, his eyes bored into me, leaving me breathless and blushing. What the heck was wrong with me? I was supposed to be making them breathless and blushing. It was a train wreck, and I was about to become a casualty, but I could not look away.
After my show, I scooped up the discarded gown, and undergarments then slipped my shoes and robe on before descending into the crowd from the stage. I examined the room for another exit to the hotel that did not take me past ‘his’ table. I wasn’t certain I could walk past ‘him’ without tripping over my own feet.
He could have been an axe murderer, and with my past experiences with men, he probably was.
I tried to look anywhere but at ‘him’ on my way to the hotel door. As I neared ‘his’ table I heard a low rumble aimed my way, “Excuse me, Miss?”
Good Lord, I could have gotten very used to that growl whispering into my ear in the dark. It brought goosebumps out all over me and I shivered in my heels and robe, not from the cold. All of those fleshly demons had crawled out of my curly hair to play, egging me on. ‘You know you want him. Go for it!’
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.” I remarked casually…Liar, liar, liar, pants on fire. He was all I could focus on for the past ten minutes and now I had no idea what to say to him.
Even worse than his beautiful, brown, mesmerizing eyes, which I’d already had the pleasure of meeting, and his deadly charming voice, he had shoulders to die for, hard, muscled arms I could almost feel around me, and lips that made me want to suck them off his face. But I digress.
“Any chance I could talk you into coming back down and having a drink with me?” He asked in his incredibly sexy, baritone voice.
I could tell trouble when I saw it. He would be trouble. I’d had just about enough trouble for one lifetime. I stuttered, “Oh, I’d better not. It was a long day. I should get some sleep, you know, go to bed,” hoping like hell he couldn’t read the rest of that sentence in my mind. Like the where, and with whom.
“Aw, please?” He begged, “I’ve been working in town for six months now and it’s getting pretty lonely. Just a couple of minutes. I promise.”
I could not, in my wildest imagination, believe this guy had ever been lonely. He must have had a good reason to lie to me. I checked his ring finger for indentations left from a hastily pulled-off wedding ring. Nope. Nothing. Dear Lord, here I go again. My only problems in life were the inability to say ‘no’, and my lack of self-control. Other than those, I was almost perfect.
“Okay, I’ll have to change before I sit in the audience though,” I told him, trying to slip away before my shaking knees went out on me.
I changed into the knee-length, peach halter top dress that my agent had chosen for me in Toronto after she found out I wore blue jeans when I sat in the clubs between shows. She had complained, “If you must dress like a farmer in the field, don’t do it while you’re working for me.” Then she took me shopping for proper club attire. Tonight, I was happy she had because I felt very good in my new wardrobe. I had even added a few delicate gold chain necklaces that dripped into my cleavage tauntingly.
When I got back to his table he ordered a 7&7 for me and after the waiter delivered it to our table he said, “So, I’m going to guess you’re American, eh?” He joked, looking away from my cleavage. That was good. He knew I was American. He was a genius. Our children were going to be very smart.
“Yeah, um, and, uh, where are you from? I mean, I know you’re Canadian, but where in Canada are you from?” I stuttered awkwardly. Well, some of our children were going to be smart, anyway.
“I’m from London. I’m working in Guelph on a construction job. Been here way too long.” He complained as he resumed his staring competition with me, “Mike, by the way. And you are?”
“Um, what? I’m sorry.” The roaring in my ears was drowning out the conversation, and my darned nipples were misbehaving. Down, girls, down. What the heck? Stop. Stop. Just stop it. Good grief. How embarrassing. I crossed my arms in front of me to hide their enthusiasm.
“Your name? What’s your real name?” He wanted to know.
“Oh, Tina. That’s my real name.” I kept trying to not look into his eyes. They were going to be the death of me.
I was feeling very deja-vu-like. My ex, Jake, who had ripped my life up from stem to stern had been working on a construction site out of town when we met. I had to assume Mike was married because why not?
The bartenders yelled, “Last call”, and Mike complained, “We hardly got a chance to talk. Just keep me company for breakfast, that’s all. I promise to bring you right back.”
Boom. That’s what happened with Jake. Just a drink. Then just breakfast. Then a year and a half later, poof, it was over, except for the scars. I had only recently gotten back on my emotional feet. I should have walked away. Except there would be no tragic story to write and what’s the fun in that?
“Well, Okay. I’ll go get my jacket and meet you in the hotel lobby.” I squeaked out, trying to stand up on wobbly legs and make it upstairs before I passed out from excitement- or maybe it was from fright.
Things went from bad to worse. Mike also had a blue truck, similar to Jake’s truck, which I had smashed to hell with a crowbar after one of our messy break-ups. Well, at least I had prior revenge experience in case Mike decided to break my heart. I even knew how to unscrew all the lug nuts on the tires. So, there was that.
As we drove to the restaurant I couldn’t stop staring at his big, rough hands on the steering wheel and his perfect profile. Just looking at his hands made me shiver and my demons were laughing at me. They knew they had won already. Even before I knew. I was dumb like that.
After we ordered breakfast Mike told me about his recent past. Or what he said was his recent past. At that point, I had a hard time believing anything a man told me. I expected the worst from them and was seldom disappointed.
“I hope it doesn’t turn you off, but I just got divorced before I went on the road to work. I didn’t want to pretend I don’t have a past, you know, eh?” He said apologetically.
“Turn me off? No. I’m glad you were honest about it. That rarely happens to me. No. That never happens to me. Thank you.” I was sort of in shock and still not convinced he was telling me the whole truth.
“Well, I’d like to get to know you a little, and it’s not good to start with lies, eh? How about you?”
“Um, I just broke up with my ex-boyfriend about six months ago too. He ended up being married. It was pretty ugly.” I admitted.
“Man, I’m sorry. That sucks. Are you over him, or is he kind of holding you back from moving on?” He wanted to know.
“I thought he was. I’m not sure anymore though.” I answered truthfully, “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.” He said between bites of waffles dripping with way too much butter and syrup.
If he was going to live long enough to help me raise our children he'd better change his eating habits, I thought.
“Why weren’t you watching my chair routine like everyone else? No one ever looks at ‘me’ when I’m dancing. Why were you?” I quizzed, staring into his eyes, just like he did with me.
“I don’t know, honestly. I just liked your smile and your eyes. What? Is that weird or something?” He said awkwardly.
“Well, not weird. Just unusual. Most guys are trying to see past my G-String, that’s all.”
“I’m pretty sure that may have been on my mind too. Mostly, though, I just liked you from the first time I saw you onstage, even before you started to strip.”
Good answer. Good answer. All right. I give up. There was no downside to this guy- yet. I’m sure to find it eventually. Tonight was not the night to do investigative work though. If there was bad news it could wait.
We got back into his truck for the ride back to my hotel and when he leaned over to kiss me, I found myself moaning and leaning into his arms, wanting more. My hiatus from men was officially over.
He pulled out onto the highway, keeping one hand on my thigh, driving me out of my mind. I struggled to light a cigarette with shaking fingers, immediately dropping the lit cigarette onto the driver’s side floorboard as we were going 80 miles an hour.
The cigarette landed on the rug and flared up, setting Mike’s pant leg on fire. We both panicked and I undid my seat belt and tried to reach down to pat the flames out with my hands. He tried to carefully pull over but had to over-correct when a semi passed us on the right.
I remembered burning my fingers, then hitting my head on the bottom of the steering wheel before I was thrown sideways into the console like a rag doll, headfirst.
When I woke up there were red and blue lights flashing everywhere and I wasn’t able to sit up. I laid my head back down and heard the metallic clank of a door shutting. The siren was the last thing I heard before I woke up in a hospital room, with someone shining a bright light into my eyes.
(TRIGGER WARNING ⚠️ Abandonment)
Coming home, TJ, jumps in exement, he finally gets to have a day with his dad. They where going to have an amazing day. He went to the library his favorite place. He reads the books, what a wonderful child anyone would think. Only 7 and already reading short novels. He picked out his favorite book, "The Giving Tree" Even though it was a shorter book he loved the message behind it. He wanted to show his dad this book. His dad never even looks at books, he's only writing them, stacks and stacks of paper on his desk. His dad told him to come home at 7:00pm, he didn't know why it was so late but he didn't care.
Finally 7:00pm came and he left the library, skipping his way home. When he reached his house, it seemed quiet, it was normally quiet but something just seemed off. Like it was too quiet. TJ thought that maybe it was a surprise party. The thought got him excited. He's never had a birthday present, let alone a party. He ran up to his front door, a little bundle of joy. His smile was so wide...
As he opened the door his smile slowly dropped. There was no party, there was nothing at all. His dad had left, and took everything he loved with him... But of course that didn't include TJ.
TJ slept on the carpet of the living room. Crying himself to sleep.
A Wink In Time
Thirteen year old Wink Woodley was wondering what his Gramps had been thinking. 'Books?'
'Your Grandfather Walter wanted you to have them,' his mother told him. 'That's why he left them to you in his will.'
Wink didn't mean to sound ungrateful but, 'Books?'
'They were all his favourite stories,' said his mother. 'And there are some good authors in there. Melville. Twain. Sir Walter Scott.'
Great, thought Wink. Another Walter.
His library was the second thing his Gramps had given Wink that he really didn't want. The first had been his name. Walter Winston Woodley.
He liked Wink better. Who wouldn't?
'They smell,' said Wink.
Even the short squat case the books were kept in was old and ugly.
Wink was not impressed. 'I don't need books,' he said, 'I have friends!'
Leaving Wink sitting on his unmade bed, his mother stopped at the door.
'Books can be your friends,' she said. 'Maybe the best friends you'll ever have.'
Thinking he owed it to Gramps to at least look at the covers, Wink chose one at random. The faded gold print on what had once been a dull red, worn canvas binding was too small to read without his glasses, and Wink hated wearing them, so he flipped through to the first chapter.
"The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His pale grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was flushed and animated. The fire burned brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescent lights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon, and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere, when thought runs gracefully free of the trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way, marking the points with a lean forefinger, as we sat and lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (as we thought it) and his fecundity."
It would help, thought Wink, if his Gramps' collection included a dictionary.
Crossing to the bay window with its cushioned seat, Wink leaned back with the open book in his lap, and looked out glumly at the grey drizzle. It had been raining all morning and the vegetable garden his father had been so proud of was a muddy bog. The lettuces lay flat, and the climbing beans drooped on their trellis, just like Wink sagged, sometimes, under the weight of his grief.
Only the weeds grew, despite Wink's best efforts. Or maybe in spite of them. The world could be a spiteful place.
Sod it, thought Wink, and picked up the book again.
“This little affair,” said the Time Traveller, resting his elbows upon the table and pressing his hands together above the apparatus, “is only a model. It is my plan for a machine to travel through time."
Wink rubbed his strained eyes and reached for his glasses.
A time machine? Yeah, right.
“Now I want you clearly to understand that this lever, being pressed over, sends the machine gliding into the future, and this other reverses the motion. I am going to press the lever, and off the machine will go. It will vanish, pass into future Time, and disappear. Have a good look at the thing. Look at the table too, and satisfy yourselves there is no trickery. I don’t want to waste this model and then be told I’m a quack.”
"The Time Traveller put forth his finger towards the lever. "No,” he said suddenly. “Lend me your hand.” And turning to the Psychologist, he took that individual’s hand in his own and told him to put out his forefinger. It was the Psychologist himself who sent forth the model Time Machine on its interminable voyage. We all saw the lever turn. I am absolutely certain there was no trickery. There was a breath of wind, and the lamp flame jumped. One of the candles on the mantel was blown out, and the little machine suddenly swung around, became indistinct, was seen as a ghost for a second perhaps, as an eddy of faintly glittering brass and ivory; and it was gone."
"Everyone was silent for a minute. Then Filby said he was damned."
"The Psychologist recovered from his stupor and suddenly looked under the table. At that the Time Traveller laughed. “Well?” he said. Then, getting up, he went to the tobacco jar on the mantel, and with his back to us, began to fill his pipe."
Wink felt hot.
He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
He was in a room full of strange men.
They turned and stared at him.
'Who are you, boy?' A man holding an unlit pipe demanded. 'And what are you doing here?'
Wink backed away. 'I uh...'
'What did you see?'
'Nothing! I just uh...'
'How did you enter?' Asked one of the others. Filby, Wink thought. 'Did anyone see the door open?'
They all shook their heads.
The Psychologist turned to the Time Traveller. 'What nonsense is this? Another one of your parlour tricks? Your toy vanishes and this child appears in its place?'
There were surprised faces. And suspicious faces. But there weren't any friendly faces.
Wink did the only thing he could think of.
Then, suddenly, with no way of explaining how, he was back in his bedroom.
'What the fudge just happened?'
The book lay open on the floor.
He kicked a pile of dirty laundry over it.
The sky outside Wink's bedroom window was dark when his mother knocked on his door.
'I thought you might be hungry,' she said, setting down a covered plate. 'You've been in here for ages.'
'Thanks,' said Wink, looking up from the book lying open on his knees.
'What are you reading?'
He held it up for her to see.
'Wells? I don't know that one. Any good?' She asked.
Winked shrugged. 'So far.'
Different books, Wink discovered, affected him differently. With some it was just an emotion. Or a physical sensation. With others he had the peculiar idea of watching a football game from the reserves bench. Of being involved, but not included.
Wink had a gazillion questions.
And as many theories.
.It was all just a weird dream.
Only in his imagination.
He was going crazy.
The pages in his Gramps' books were printed with hallucinogenic ink.
There was some kind of darke magick at work.
The answers were there the whole time.
Waiting for Wink to find them.
If you're reading this, Walter, then you have found my letter.
It was a single folded sheet of lined note paper tucked inside the cover of the first book on the top shelf, and Wink could have kicked himself for not thinking of starting there.
I) You're not losing your marbles. It's real. Or as real as fiction can ever be.
II) You can't die in a story, however much you become involved. And nothing you do will change a story in its published form. Always remember, Walter, that ink is permanent.
III) What you give to a story is what you get in return. Don't be afraid to dive in head first. Heart and soul. Live every moment.
I don't know how else to explain it except, imagine a book being one of those electronic games you're so keen on. You're in it for as long as you want to play it. And you can turn it off at any time.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I was a boy.
Ok, thought Wink. Better late than never, I guess.
None of it was real, and yet, all of it was real.
As real as he wanted a story to be.
His room was clean. The dirty laundry picked up and thrown in the hamper. His Gramps' copy of 'The Time Machine' returned to it's place..
"I think that, at that time, none of us quite believed in the Time Machine. The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed."
"There was some speculation at the dinner-table about the Time Traveller’s absence, and I suggested time travelling, in a half-jocular spirit. The Editor wanted that explained to him, and the Psychologist volunteered a wooden account of the “ingenious paradox and trick” we had witnessed that day week. He was in the midst of his exposition when the door from the corridor opened slowly and without noise. I was facing the door, and saw it first. “Hallo!” I said. “At last!” And the door opened wider, and the Time Traveller stood before us."
"His coat was dusty and dirty, and smeared with green down the sleeves; his hair disordered, and as it seemed to me greyer, either with dust and dirt or because its colour had actually faded. His face was ghastly pale; his chin had a brown cut on it, half-healed; and his expression was haggard and drawn, as by intense suffering. For a moment he hesitated in the doorway, as if he had been dazzled by the light. Then he came into the room. He walked with just such a limp as I have seen in footsore tramps. We stared at him in silence, expecting him to speak."
"He said not a word, but came painfully to the table, and made a motion towards the wine. The Editor filled a glass of champagne and pushed it towards him. He drained it, and it seemed to do him good, for he looked round the table, and the ghost of his old smile flickered across his face. “What on earth have you been up to, man?” said the Doctor. The Time Traveller did not seem to hear. “Don’t let me disturb you,” he said, with a certain faltering articulation. “I’m all right.” He stopped, held out his glass for more, and took it off at a draught. “That’s good,” he said. His eyes grew brighter, and a faint colour came into his cheeks. Then he spoke again, still, as it were, feeling his way among his words. “I’m going to wash and dress, and then I’ll come down and explain."
The Time Traveller looked around just as Wink stepped away from the fireplace.
His head tilted quizzically. 'You again.'
'Don't let him leave,' he told the men around the table.
Wink had no intention of going anywhere.
The Doctor fetched an extra chair, and he and the Editor made room for Wink to sit between them.
"When the Time Traveller came back. he was dressed in ordinary evening clothes, and nothing save his haggard look remained of the change that had startled me."
“I can’t argue tonight. I don’t mind telling you the story, but I can’t argue. I will,” he went on, “tell you the story of what has happened to me, if you like, but you must refrain from interruptions. I want to tell it. Most of it will sound like a lie. So be it! It’s true. Every word of it. I was in my laboratory at four o’clock, and since then I’ve lived eight days, such days as no human being ever lived before."
"The Time Traveller came into the hall with us and helped the Editor on with his coat. The Medical Man looked into his face and, with a certain hesitation, told him he was suffering from overwork, at which he laughed."
Everyone had gone. Everyone but Wink.
The Time Traveller fixed him with yet another piercing, peculiar look.
'I told you my story,' he said, 'now you tell me yours.'
'One night, my father woke up and saw the moonlight shining outside his window. It occurred to him that the moonlight was not common moonlight, and the night was not a common night, and, for a while, he lay struggling with this odd persuasion. Thought followed thought, like things that whisper in the shadows.'
'He made up his mind. He knew, then, what it was he would do.'
'He went very gently across the creaking boards, for fear that he might wake the sleeping house. He climbed out onto the sill and, making as little noise as he could, clambered down to the garden path.'
'The garden in the moonlight was very different from the garden by day. Every flower was gleaming-white or crimson-black, and the night air was full with the thripping of small crickets.'
'He stood for a time like one who is awe-struck, and then, holding out his arms, he ran as if to embrace the whole immensity of the world. He did not follow the neat set paths that cut the garden squarely, but thrust across the flowerbeds and through the tall, scented herbs. He came to the hedge and thrust his way through it, and though the thorns of the brambles scratched him deeply, he did not care.'
'Beyond the hedge he came to the river, or at least to what was the river by day. But by night it was a great bowl of silver moonshine. He ran down into its waters, between the thin black rushes, knee-deep, then waist-deep, then deeper still until it came up to his shoulders.'
'And the next morning they found him dead. But the expression on his face was one of such happiness that, had you seen it, you would have understood.'
'Beautifully told,' said the Time Traveller, 'though I don't believe a word of it. What really happened?'
'He shot himself,' said Wink. 'He was a manic-depressive. Do you know what that is?'
'I understand how the world might weigh too heavily on some. So, why are you here?'
'Don't you want to know how?'
'Does it matter how? You must have a reason.'
'I think you know,' said Wink.
'You want to borrow my machine. Is that it?'
'Not exactly. I'd like to... Uh... Engage your services?'
'To what purpose?' Asked the Time Traveller. 'Do you think I might be able to stop your father from taking his own life?'
'Then you think you can?'
Wink shook his head. 'He was sick. He would have... He would find another way.'
'That's very perceptive of you. And all too true, unfortunately. But if you already know that, why go back?'
'I didn't get to say goodbye, and... I just want to hug him. One last time and... '
'I'm afraid it's not possible.'
'What? Why? Please! I can't do it without your help!'
The Time Traveller shook his head. 'I'm sorry, Wink. It's just... '
'You're going back, to the future, I mean. Aren't you? But we can do both! It won't take long!'
"As I took hold of the handle of the door I heard an exclamation, oddly truncated at the end, and a click and a thud. A gust of air whirled round me as I opened the door, and from within came the sound of broken glass falling on the floor. The Time Traveller was not there. The Time Machine had gone. Save for a subsiding stir of dust, the further end of the laboratory was empty. A pane of the skylight had, apparently, just been blown in."
"At that I understood. I stayed on, waiting for the Time Traveller; waiting for the second, perhaps still stranger story. But I am beginning now to fear that I must wait a lifetime."
Tainted Love ( Trigger Warning Mentions of abuse)
(this is part of a larger story I’m working on altered slightly)
Taylor dropped off her clients dog one evening before heading home
: …“Thanks Mrs Feilds”. “Aw no problem, she’s no trouble are you princess”? Taylor bent down and petted Mrs Stevens’s dog: “No you’re not, no you’re not”. “You’re so good with her”. Mrs Stevens remarked as Taylor stood back up to face her: “Aw, it definitely helps when you enjoy the company you’re with”. Mrs Steven’s smiled as Taylor gave the dog an affectionate pat on the head: “How much do I owe you”? “£30”. Mrs Stevens located her purse and dug out £30, she handed it to Taylor: “Thanks, take care”. Taylor answered giving Mrs Stevens a wave: “You too dear”. Mrs Stevens replied as Taylor headed toward the door. Once outside, Taylor looked around to see if Ellie and Cody were around, having not spotted them, she breathed a sigh of relief before starting for home. She walked a few steps forward and was about to round that first corner on the way to her’s when all of a sudden, Ellie and Cody appeared seemingly out of nowhere: “Boo”! Ellie exclaimed, Taylor jumped a little: “What are you doing here”?! “We just finished up, we were gonna come get you from Mrs Stevens’s”! Taylor shook her head: “Listen guys I’m really not feeling well”- “blah blah blah blah blah”. Ellie answered as she and Cody each linked an arm through each of Taylor’s, forcing her along with them: “Honestly guys, it’s been a long day”- She protested, looking over her shoulder: “One drink isn’t gonna hurt we just wanna catch up”! Cody answered.
They entered their local club and Ellie took a seat on one of the bar stools with a “whoop”! Cody and Taylor closely following: “So what’ll it be first”? Cody asked, rubbing his hands together: “First”? “You said one”! Taylor answered in shock: “Ah ah ah you said one”. Ellie pointed out, playfully poking Taylor in the chest: “Besides, you’ll love it once things get going”. They looked around to see people starting to loosen up for the night: “”I’ll have a Rum and Coke and Tay’ll have”…. Ellie gave Taylor an expectant look, she sighed and plopped down on the seat beside Ellie: “Sex On The Beach”. Ellie nodded with a smile: “Sex On The Beach”! She repeated to the bar tender as Cody got out his card to pay.
A few moments later Ellie, Taylor and Cody sat at a table enjoying their drinks and chatting: “So, do you wanna hear the goss on the others”? Ellie asked excitedly, Taylor turned to Cody, jerking a thumb over at Ellie: “Cody, what’s wrong with her”? She turned back to face Ellie: “Did you really corral me all the way here just so you could talk shit on the others”? “We did say this was a catch up”. Cody defended Ellie with a shrug before taking a swig of his beer, Taylor turned to face him again: “Yeah with each other”. Ellie raised an eyebrow: “So you don’t wanna hear about Steph getting a boob job last month”? Taylor gasped: “Last month”?! “How did I miss that”?! “Because you’ve been avoiding us that’s how”! Cody answered, giving Taylor’s shoulder a light shove: “I haven’t been avoiding you it’s just, Jack and I needed to take some time for ourselves you know”? Taylor answered before sipping at her cocktail: “Yeah and we totally get that it’s just”…. “We kinda got the feeling you were still mad about what happened at Charley’s 27th”. “I’d have told you if I was, anyway what made Steph decide to get a boob job”?! Taylor asked intrigued, leaning in with her elbows on the table: “I don’t know, she just said she wanted bigger boobs coz they looked nice and she wanted to be able to feel them bob up and down and jiggle”. Ellie wiggled her body around demonstrating, they all burst out laughing:, “Have you really not seen her around”? “Guess I’ve not been paying much attention, I will now though I assure you”. Taylor affirmed with a nod: “Oh can we tell her about our trip now”? Cody asked, giddily: “Ugh it was amazing Tay”! Ellie dug out her phone and began showing Taylor photos of her and Cody in France: “Oh wow”! “Yeah and that was when we went zip lining, that’s us at The Eiffel Tower”. “Aww you guys look so happy”. “Yeah it was the best”! “That’s us trying some french food”. “I begged Ellie to try some escargots but she was like, ewww no”! Cody mocked flapping his hands about dramatically: “Yeah no thanks, you could not pay me enough money to eat snails”. “I bet I could”! Taylor answered, looking at her amused: “Nope”. Ellie answered shaking her head: “Aaaah”! “Oh my gosh this is my jam”! Ellie screamed suddenly before shoving her phone back into her handbag: “Come on guys let’s dance”! She pulled Taylor and Cody up by their arms and dragged them toward the middle of the dance floor: “Don’t forget the drinks”! Cody raced back to their table, grabbed their drinks and rushed back to join Taylor and Ellie in the dance floor.
Meanwhile, throughout the late afternoon/evening, Monica and Jack had been doing some paperwork in Jack’s office and taking the odd break here and there. They had just finished all the filing by this point, and had set aside the papers. Jack sighed before stretching his arms: “Thanks Monica, you’ve been a big help”. “All part of the service”. Monica saluted: “Do I get to hear a song now”? “That was the deal, any requests”? “Hmm, how about something from The Lion King”? “Ok, how’s this”…? “From the day we arrive on the planet, And, blinking, step into the sun.There's more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done, there's far too much to take in here, more to find than can ever be found.But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky keeps great and small on the endless round, It's the circle of life, and it moves us all through despair and hope, through faith and love.'Til we find our place, on the path unwinding, In the circle, the circle of life”. Jack sang in a rich, soulful voice. When he finished, Monica clapped enthusiastically: “Haha, thank you, was, was that ok”? “Jack that was amazing, honestly”. Jack smiled: “Thanks, can I hear you sing a little something now”? Monica giggled: “Aw no I’m a little intimidated now”. “Don’t be, if it helps I’ll close my eyes so I’m not looking at you”. Jack offered, closing his eyes making Monica giggle again: “Ok, erm”…. “Today, is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you, and by now, you should've somehow realised what you gotta do, I don't believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now, And backbeat, the word is on the street that the fire in your heart is out, I'm sure you've heard it all before, but you never really had a doubt, I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now. And all the roads we have to walk are winding, and all the lights that lead us there are blinding, there are many things that I, would like to say to you, but I don't know how. Because maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me, and after all, you're my wonderwall”. Her voice was light but strong as she sung, afterwards, Jack opened his eyes: “fantastic”. Monica gave an shy smile: “Yeah”? “You’ve got real talent Monica, you’re gonna ace that audition, I’ll miss having you around you only just got here”. Monica laughed: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves”. “You’ve got to work on being more confident Monica, you’ve got a lot of potential”. Monica smiled:““Thanks Jack, that means a lot”. “No problem”. Jack stood up: “Right let’s get these papers sorted out and we can”- He stopped suddenly when he picked up his phone and saw the time, his face growing a little pale: “What”? “What is it”? Monica asked concerned: “I er I should get going”. He told her, beginning to gather his things and walk quickly toward the door: “Can you sort the papers into piles for me”? “Er sure has something happened”? “No no it’s just my wife’s expecting me, I told her I’d be home by half 9 she’s got something planned”. He informed, opening the door: “Ok, well don’t worry I’ll sort this out”. “Thanks, see you tomorrow”. He answered hurriedly before making his exit not even looking back: “Have a nice evening”. She called after him, not knowing whether or not he even heard her.
Jack opened the door of his and Taylor’s home at 9:28 looking a little flustered, he called out to her as he placed his briefcase on the floor and threw his keys on the coffee table: “Hey, under the wire again, you proud”? “Tay”? He wondered around the house but couldn’t find her. Unbeknownst to Jack, Taylor, Ellie and Cody had been at the club for a couple hours now, enjoying a few more drinks and dancing: “Seeee, aren’t you glad you came out in the end”? Ellie asked, beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol a bit, Taylor giggled, starting to feel it too: “Awwww yes Ells I am, I am baby”! She hiccuped: “Woooow”! Ellie yelled waving her arms around: “Knew you would”! At that moment Taylor felt her phone vibrate in her handbag: “Oh hang on who’s calling me”? She fished her phone out and saw Jack’s name flash across the screen, she answered happily: “Jacky”! “Baby I’m so glad you called”! “How are you baby”? “Erm where are you Tay”? A subtle feeling of guilt sobered her a fraction and she rubbed the back of her head: “Oh er, I’m just out will El El and CoCo”. “Oi”! “Don’t call me that”! Cody shouted in the background, she heard Jack sigh at the other end of the phone: “I thought we agreed”- “I know baby but they dragged me out unex- unex- un erm”… she groaned frustratedly at herself: “You know the word I mean”. “You can come too if you want Jack”! Ellie yelled, jumping up and down on Taylor’s shoulders causing her to wobble a little: “Erm no thanks Ellie that’s fine I’ll just see you at home Tay”. “Noooo please Jack in the box, We need you and your giant bean stalk”! Taylor turned to Ellie and Cody, moving the phone away from her ear: “Did I ever tell you that my Jack has a very very large bean stalk”? Ellie cackled hysterically while Cody wrinkled his nose in disgust: “Ok I know you’re drunk but that was way too much info”. Ellie snatched the phone from Taylor: “Please come, we might need a des-ig erm”- “Nated”. Taylor and Jack helped in unison: “That’s it”! Ellie exclaimed pointing: “So you lot only want me to come out so I can drive you back”? “No course not we want you but what’s the point paying for a cab when we’ve got a loving, caring friend slash husband”? Jack rolled his eyes: “I expect to see a Diabolo Grenadine at the bar when I get there”. Ellie squealed: “Yay”! “Thanks Jack see you in a bit”! She hung the phone up and handed it back to Taylor.
When Jack arrived they spotted him from where they were dancing, Taylor ran up to him and flung her arms around him: “You came”! “My hero”! She kissed him deeply. “Hey Jack, long time bud”. Cody remarked walking over and handing him his drink: “Thanks”. Jack replied, accepting it: “Come on guys let’s get back out there”! Ellie ordered, dragging Cody back out onto the dance floor, Taylor did the same with Jack. Out on the dance floor, Taylor wrapped her arms around Jack’s neck as he snaked an arm around her waist: “I’m so glad you came”! Taylor stated, tipping her head back then moving it back up to face him: “It was not the same without you Jack Jack”. He smiled half heartedly at her before taking a sip of his drink with his free hand.
A few hours later the gang filed into Jack and Taylor’s car and stopped outside Ellie and Cody’s house: “Th-thanks Jack”. Cody said as he unbuckled a half asleep Ellie and helped her out of the car: “Come on babe” “Mmm CoCo, hot CoCo”…. “Yes yes come on Els”. Cody answered: “Do you want a hand mate”? “No, no I’m fine mate it’s only across the road”. “Come on babe”. Cody answered, continuing to help Ellie: “Mmm”. Ellie croaked out sleepily as they make their way out of the car: “See ya Tay, thanks for a great evening”. “Yeah you too”. “See you round mate”. “Nice seeing you again Jack”. Cody closed the door and helped Ellie to their door. A tense silence filled the car as Jack resumed driving home: “Ar-are youu setup with me”? Taylor asked, attempting to break the silence but still feeling the alcohol a little: “I’m just confused, I thought we were concentrating on us for a while”. “Jack it was one night, I told you it was unex- erm”… She rolled her eyes at herself: “You know unexthingy”. She laughed a bit at that: “So what they just manhandled you there did they”? “Baisic-thingy yeah”! “Why are you getting so het up”? “It was one night, it’s your fault we even have that stupid ag-thingy in the first place”: “I told you things were getting better between us, that we didn’t have to keep doing it anymore I even said you could meet up with Ellie if that’s what you both wanted, you were the one who said you didn’t need anyone else, that you wanted it to be just us”. “Yeah and I still feel like that but you can’t get mad at me for axa-thingillily going out one time when it’s you that has the problem, why should I have to give up my friends it should only be you”! Taylor jabbed a finger into his arm: “I offered to give mine up too coz I was trying to be fair, silly me huh”? “You said you didn’t even like them that much anyway”! “Well I lied to you Jack ok”? “Assume I am always lying to you, look at you, I was having such a good night and you spoiled it you pathetic piece of shit”. “I didn’t have to answer your call you know, I could’ve just left you wondering where I was like you do when you come home late, huh, would you have liked that Jack”? “A taste of your own med- medi- Ahhh”! She shouted, bumping herself against the back of her chair: “You only answered because you wanted someone to drive you home”. “Ellie said that not me”! Taylor yelled again, pointing to herself: “I answered because I acta-thingy wanted you there with me, quala-thingy time we said remember”? Her voice broke a little as she said that: “More fool me”. She sat back in her seat, looking out of the window. Jack swallowed a lump in his throat: “I’m sorry Tay I-I just thought-“ “Thought what”? Taylor cut him off, leaning toward him again: “Go on, speak up, thought what”? Jack kept his mouth shut: “That’s what I thought”. Taylor settled back into her seat and resumed staring blankly out of the window.
The rest of the drive home passed by in silence until they stopped at their house, Jack shut off the engine before turning to Taylor: “Need a hand”? Taylor whirled around to face him: “Obvious-thingy Jack, I’m still tipsy aren’t I”? “What you only got half a brain cell in that fat head of yours”? Jack got out of his side of the car, opened the passenger door and helped Taylor out of the car, he locked the car up and they hobbled awkwardly to their front door. Once inside, Jack helped Taylor into their room, he took off her shoes and she flopped back onto the covers. Jack went into the bathroom and retrieved a bucket, bringing it out and placing it on the floor in front of Taylor: “Just in case”. “I’m sorry about before Tay”. “I’ll sleep outside if you want”. “Do what you want Jack I don’t care anymore”. Jack stood up, rounded the bed, took his own shoes off and tentatively laid down next to Taylor, slowly moving closer and putting his arm around her. The second she felt how close he was she kicked him hard in the leg, he hissed in pain: “Get away from me”. He shifted so he was as far away as he could be without falling off the bed and turned his back to her, a hush fell over the room which made Taylor suspicious: “You’d better not be crying either, if I hear so much as a sniffle from you I’ll hit you so hard you won’t be able to see straight for a month, then you really will have something to cry about got it”? Jack swallowed: “yeah”. He whispered, biting the pad of his thumb to stop his sobs coming through, when he was sure Taylor had drifted off he allowed the tears to fall slowly down his face being careful not to make a sound.
Jack woke up to the sound of Taylor throwing up the next morning, instinctively he sat up, held her hair back and rubbed her back in soothing circles: “That’s it Tay let it out”. Once she finished he got off the bed, took the bucket from her and whipped her mouth with one of the tissues in the box on the side table: “Thanks babe”. He gave her a small grateful smile: “How you feeling”? “Ugh like I’ve been run over by a truck”. Taylor replied sagging, Jack laughed: “Let me get rid of this then I’ll get you some pain killers”. He gave her a kiss on the top of her head then made his way to the bathroom to dispose of the tissue and vomit: “Thanks Jack”. He heard her call groggily from the bedroom. Having disposed of the sick and the tissue, Jack returned to Taylor with the tablets and water, he handed it to her: “Thanks”. She took the tablets, swallowing them down with water then putting the glass on the side table beside her: “Sorry about last night”. “Me too”. Jack sat beside her on the bed: “You sure you don’t wanna re think this whole no friends thing”? Taylor sighed: “Jack it was one night, I fully intended on coming home straight after work but Ellie and Cody forced my hand, literally”! “If you wanna be mad at someone be mad at them”! “I’m not mad I’m just saying this isn’t easy on either of us, maybe we’re ready to be a bit more lenient with each other now”. “Clearly we’re not if last night was anything to go by”. “Us being social isn’t the issue it’s”- Jack stopped suddenly as Taylor glared at him: “What”? “What’s the issue Jack”? “Coz it sure as hell isn’t me, we haven’t had any issues in ages before last night”. “Yeah because I was surprised not because you went out”. “You really miss your friends so much that you’re willing to jeopardise our marriage over them”? “Of course not I’m just saying it’s not their fault things get out of hand sometimes”. “K well I think it is, or doesn’t what I think matter”? “You know it does Tay, I’m just tired of trying to come up with excuses as to why we can’t hang out or why I’ve suddenly stopped messaging and I know you are too, maybe there’s some sort of compromise we can make, we shouldn’t have to cut everyone else off just to prove we’re each other’s priorities you know”? “Well they can’t miss you that much can they”? “I don’t see anyone dragging you out to have fun against your will, but you know what Jack fine, you want your friends back so much have em”. Taylor stood in frustration: “But don’t complain if things get bad between us again yeah”? Taylor walked out of the room before Jack could say anything further.
What Can Go Wrong
Two teenagers walked on in the pouring rain, their boots splashing in the puddles, as they shivered in the wind. The streets were eerily empty because of the weather. They walked on through the cobblestone streets eventually reaching a small house. A bird chirped in the distance, somehow audible over the rain. The wind pierced their faces like a sword. On the door the name Steven Fairwell was engraved. Once undercover of the small awning projected from the roof, they removed the hoods of their raincoats, revealing a girl and a boy.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” The girl asked, impatiently, her dark hair whipping in the wind. “It seems sketchy, Billy, the whole place, the whole plan.”
“I trust Fairewell, Isabelle,” the boy named Billy said calmly. “If anyone can figure out time travel it’s Fairewell. You haven’t met him, he’s a genius. And it can’t hurt to ask.”
“You heard one rumor, Billy! One rumor that Fairewell might know how to time travel! And if you ask me he seems a little insane.”
He ignored her and knocked thrice on the black door. They waited for a few moments, and then he knocked louder. The door opened and there stood a tall man, with rather eccentric graying hair. He was wearing an old gray bathrobe, shirtless underneath, his chest was bare and slippers.
“Mr. Fairewell, hi,” Billy said, extending his hand. Fairewell shook it.
“This is Isabelle Potter,” Billy added and Fairewell nodded at her.
“I wasn’t expecting visitors. You must excuse me, my house is rather messy at the moment,” Fairewell said.
“That’s no problem, we just had a few questions,” Billy said loudly over the rain.
Isabelle cleared her throat pointedly.
“I had a few questions,” he added, giving her a dirty look.
“Come in, come in,” Fairewell said, gesturing with his arm.
The small house was unlike any other. Books and stacks of papers lay everywhere; on the floor, on tables, shelves. There were also random objects lying on the floor, marbles, empty water bottles, plastic flowers. It seemed as if there had been an earthquake. Billy and Isabelle had to tiptoe carefully to make sure they wouldn’t step on anything. They were led into what seemed to be a living room, it was too littered. Fairewell motioned for them to sit on an old couch, and he sat opposite them on a blue armchair.
“How can I help you, dear children?” Fairewell asked grandly.
“Well, Mr. Fairewell-” Billy began
“Please call me Steven,” Fairewell interrupted.
“Steven, there have been rumors. Strange rumors, and I only thought that someone with brains like yours would have figured out, well, time travel.”
There was a pause.
“Rumors are not usually true, but do generally start with some fact,” Fairewell said. “I certainly have experimented with the matter and have gotten some success, but it would be too risky.”
“Some things are worth the risk,” Billy said. “I mean how risky could it possibly be?”
“My dear boy, we are talking about the secrets of the universe, changing the past, changing life as we know it,” Fairewell said. “You do not understand the SCALE of disaster that can come with that.”
“But it’s possible. You can go back and change the past,” Isabelle said, sounding fearful, speaking for the first time to Fairewell.
“Certainly it’s possible. Come here,” he said, standing up and starting to walk. The other two followed him, exchanging curious glances.
He led them through the kitchen into another small room with a large wooden table. On the table was an odd looking upside-down silver bowl. There was a keypad with buttons numbered one through nine.
“This is my newest project. I’ve been working on it for months. And I’ve finally got it. This is my Time Machine, the Fairewell 1500. The buttons are used to enter the exact date and time you want to go back. Push the green button and you get transported to where your past self was at that exact moment. You change your course of actions, now knowing what they do in the future, and then press and you come back. Maximum three people can use it at once, one person wears that hat and he holds the other two people’s hands. You get turned into your past self that you were at the date you put in until you decide to leave when you push the green button on the back. You’ll get transported back to the present and the past will have been altered.”
“Does it—work?” Isabelle said, unable to keep the skepticism out of her voice. She looked uncertainly at Fairewell.
“Of course it works. But it must be used very carefully. It in fact should never be used. The world is too perfect to risk rewriting its past,” Fairwell said kindly. “I know why you’re here, Billy. And I can’t help you.”
“Does this have something to do with the recent demise of your girlfriend?”
“I’m afraid I cannot help you there. Time travel could theoretically change the past. You could go back and fix things, change how you do something. Then come back into the future. But you have to understand how lucky we are. Everything worked out so perfectly for us to be standing here. Just to be alive is a miracle and something to be grateful for. Changing even one thing could affect so many others,” Fairewell said, looking exhausted. “You could seriously hurt yourselves helping her. What could go wrong would horrify you, you could attain great physical injury, I cannot even begin to state what could go wrong.“
“What if it’s worth it. Some things are worth sacrificing yourself for,” Billy said, sounding angry. He looked at Isabelle who shook her head slightly. “I don’t care. You don’t understand. It’s my fault she died. It’s all my fault,” Billy said, sounding as if he were ready to cry. “I texted her, while she was driving, she was answering me. I sent the Last Text.”
“You don’t need to blame yourself, Billy, it could have been anyone,” Fairewell said, as Isabelle put her arm around him.
“I need to use your time machine, and you can help me. Please, Steven,” Billy said, with a plea in his voice. “I need her, it was my fault, I need to help her.”
“Time travel can be used to fix small problems. You redo a question on a test. You trip in front of everyone. You forget your lunch at home. But you’re talking about life and death. You can’t change that. You don’t get to play God, decide who dies when. And even if you did that she wouldn’t be alive completely.”
“What does that mean?” Isabelle asked sharply. “What do you mean completely, is half of her alive?”
“She would be alive and dead at the same time. Both here and there. She would be miserable and so would everyone else. You wouldn’t get the Olivia you knew you would get some mutated version of her. A version you don’t want. If she was honey before she would turn into poison. She doesn’t belong here. It would not do you or her any justice.”
“She does, she’s supposed to be here!” yelled Billy. “She was too young, she ever was supposed to go, it was a stupid mistake! Fairewell, help me!”
“I’m sorry, Billy, but that is my final word,” said Fairewell, and without another word Billy left the house and Isabelle followed.
“Stupid old coward,”Billy said once they were outside. He spat on the ground outside Fairewell’s house.
The rain had cleared now, but the streets were still muddy. The two started walking, leaving muddy footprints behind them.
“Billy, it’s not his fault,” Isabelle said quietly as if she was worried he would start yelling at her.
“No, it’s not, it’s mine! Mine, Isabelle, mine. And I screwed up and am ready to fix it. I want to help, what’s his problem?”
“Look, Billy, I know you’re angry at Fairewell but he’s not stupid. He’s brilliant, smarter than me and you put together. He invented time travel, for goodness’ sake. I mean maybe you just have to trust him on this.”
They kept arguing with each other, until reaching their houses. After a few nights of restless sleep and little appetite Billy brought up the subject again.
They were sitting in Billy’s house, which was luckily empty except for them. Billy’s parents had developed an annoying habit of always keeping close to him, asking how he was coping with Olivia’s death, if he was okay. He could not get angry with them, they were doing it out of concern, yet he could not help but feel exasperated.
“I’m going to do it, with or without Fairewell, with or without you, Isabelle,” Billy said.
“You heard what Fairewell said, it’s dangerous, it’s stupid, Billy!” Isabelle said, her eyes blazing again. She seemed as determined as he did.
“I don’t care, I need to do this for my own sanity. I’m not going to regret failing, I’m going to regret not trying. I don’t think I can live with myself if I don’t try.”
This seemed to resonate with Isabelle more than anything he had said yet. She looked as if she finally had given in.
“While you’re not doing it alone, I can guarantee you that much. We’re in this together, Billy. We always have been, we always will be.”
It was her willingness to stay with him, her desire to risk everything just for him, that caught Billy off guard. His eyes watered and he looked away embarrassed. He was not a crier; he only cried once since his girlfriend’s death. He always was proud of his masculinity. Hoping Isabelle had not seen. However she stood up and put her arms around his waist and he hugged her back.
“What’s the plan?” Isabelle asked.
Over the next two weeks they planned all they could, thinking of every single flaw, every bump in the road. “What can go wrong will go wrong.” Isabelle kept saying. Finally when they had worked out every detail, every problem, planned out every exact minute, they thought they couldn’t delay it any longer.
“I think we’re ready,” Billy said. “Planning can only go so far, we’re just going to have to grit our teeth and do it.”
Isabelle agreed, rather hesitantly. They were going to break into Fairewell’s house using a key Billy knew was under the doormat. Years ago he used to go in to feed the goldfish Fairewell used to have, when he was on vacation. Fairewell’s calendar, which Isabelle brilliantly had paid attention to, said that he went and got clear polish manicures on the third Sunday every month for four hours. Billy could not stop LAUGHing at this unexpected piece of information.
On Sunday they both told their parents they were at a friend’s house, and tipped the friend off. Thankfully he did not raise too many questions and agreed to keep their cover. They both sneaked off into the old house. Using the large brass key under the doormat they entered. The place looked exactly as it had the previous time. Carefully walking over to the Time Machine room, trying not to move anything they crossed the house.
“Who’s going to wear it?” Billy asked
“Not me,” she replied.
“What, I don’t want to, it’s hideous.”
“She’s your girlfriend, and it's your mission.”
He punched the date of Olivia’s death and put the time an hour before, to give himself some time to prepare.
“Remember, we’re going to be split up, we’ll be sent back to where we were at this moment. I was at my house and you were at yours. You will meet me by the Salvia Drive road sign and whatever you do you will not text Olivia.”
“Yes, Isabelle, I got it, we’ve gone over it a hundred times.”
“I know, okay, you ready?“ She asked, looking AFRAID, yet determined.
Billy nodded and put the time machine on.
“How do I look?” He asked, not really wanting to know.
“Awful,” she said smiling.
Billy grabbed Isabelle’s hand very tightly and pressed the green button with her free hand. They felt as if they were falling, as if they had jumped off of a skyscraper and kept falling until their hands were forced apart. Billy landed in his kitchen, two months ago. His mother was making apple and raisin bread, its scent drifting through the house, and talking about plans for his little sister’s birthday. He quickly took the time machine off and hid it under the table. Now he remembered the small details of the day, he had forgotten them in the height of what would happen. But he knew he didn’t have time to savor the smell. He looked at the clock on his stove and adjusted his wristwatch.
“Mom, I need to go to Isabelle’s house, I need help with a homework assignment,” Billy lied.
“Okay, honey be back soon.”
He agreed and hurried off towards the sign. Isabelle was already there waiting for him.
“Okay she’s supposed to die in 45 minutes,” Billy said, checking his watch.
“Now we wait in the park, not talking to anyone, or adjusting anyone’s life and wait until she safely reaches her destination.”
They walked quickly to the park where they sat on a secluded bench. Billy leaned against a tree watching as an eagle flew across the sky. He kicked over an unbloomed rose bulb. They talked about pointless things to pass the time, the weather, school, Isabelle’s love life. She was not too happy with this subject and changed it as quickly as possible. Billy checked his watch.
“Okay, she has safely arrived at her destination. We can go home now.”
A young woman strolled by walking a small puppy and started talking to them. Small talk between strangers, it seemed completely harmless. She complimented Isabelle’s necklace and Isabelle told her where she bought it from. They spoke for less than two minutes.
Once Olivia was supposed to be at her destination Billy put the time machine back on and grabbed Isabelle’s hand. She once again pressed the green button and they were transported back to Fairewell's house.
“We did it!!” Billy exclaimed, hugging her. “We really did it!”
“Now we just have to call Olivia and make sure she’s alive. Call her.”
Billy reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed Olivia up. After a few rings with no answer he ended and put it back in his pocket, swearing.
“Maybe she doesn’t have it on, or was busy,” Isabelle offered. “We’ll just have to go to her house.”
They set off to her house, half walking half running. The streets were eerily empty. After they reached ten minutes later, Isabelle was panting, clutching her rib. Rather apprehensive, unsure of what to expect Billy knocked. Olivia’s mother, Ava, opened the door. She looked tired, dark circles under her eyes. She looked thinner than ever before, even sick.
“What are you doing outside at a time like this? Do you want to get murdered?” Ava said, looking very alarmed. “Come inside, do your parents know you guys are here?”
“Um yes, we just wanted to see Olivia,” said Billy tentatively. He was unsure what to expect and had no idea what Ava was talking about.
“I’m not sure this is the best time. She’s really not well as you know,” Ava said and Billy and Isabelle seemed puzzled. Neither knew how to ask what happened without raising suspicion, yet both were dying for answers.
They walked inside the house.
“How can you both be out and about at a time like this? It is so dangerous to even be outside!“ Ava yelled once inside
“Well, Mrs. Weasley, we really just wanted to check in on Olivia,“ Billy said now looking and sounding rather desperate. “She is okay, right? And why is everyone saying it is dangerous to be outside.“
“Why are you acting so dumb. The murderer, Bailey Green, is still out there and claiming lives every day. No one can seem to catch her. And well you know how Olivia is, she‘s still all depressed and refuses to talk to anyone. She acts like she isn‘t even living anymore, she just sits and stares all day. She doesn‘t do anything or go anywhere, it is not getting better.“
Billy remembered what Fairewell said, she would be neither here nor there. She would not be able to really live, but she would not be dead.
“Can we please talk to her, Mrs. Weasley,“ Isabelle asked tentatively.
“You can go try, although she doesn‘t do a lot of talking these days.“
They walked up the stairs into Olivia‘s room. Billy knocked once he reached there. He saw Olivia sitting on the bed, but she was not like he had ever seen her alive. She looked terrifyingly skinny and pale. There were shadows under her brown eyes, like she had not slept in days. She sat in the fetal position, shivering slightly, looking up when they entered the room, not saying anything.
“Olivia, how are you?“ Billy asked.
She did not answer, but shook her head and looked away. No one said anything for a few minutes until, unexpectedly, Olivia broke the silence.
“I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to live. It makes no sense, but it’s like I’m struggling to do anything. It’s so difficult, physically and mentally, for me to do anything. There’s something holding me back from living, a physical weight that wasn’t there before,“ she said and started sobbing. Billy put his arms around her, making note of how skinny her waist had gotten.
“It’s okay, it’s going to be okay,“ he said soothingly.
Isabelle wandered over to Olivia’s dresser and picked up a newspaper.
“Billy, look at this,“ she said, sounding worried. She handed him the paper and he began to read. It was a report on the murders of Gloria Rudolph.
“This woman, we talked to her, the day we-you know,“ he said.
Isabelle nodded gravely.
“She’s a murderer? But she seemed so nice, the dog and the necklace,“ Billy said.
“We need to talk to Fairewell,“ Isabelle said and Billy agreed. They both said goodbye to Olivia and snuck out before they were seen by Ava.
“Wait, Isabelle, there’s a serial killer loose, maybe we shouldn’t just walk down the street trying to get killed.”
“ We'll go the back way, cut through people’s yards. And it’s broad daylight no one kills someone at four in the afternoon.”
They strolled down the streets hyper aware of any noise around them. There was a noise and Billy grabbed Isabelle’s wrist pulling her behind a tree.
“It’s a car, its gone,” she said looking rather shaken.
Finally they reached Fairewell‘s house and Billy knocked. Fairewell answered, hurrying to let them in.
“You scared me, I wasn’t expecting visitors,” he said once inside. “Billy, this is a pleasant surprise. I haven't seen you in months.”
Billy was perplexed, he and Isabelle went to visit Fairewell a month ago. Then it dawned on him: since their plan worked, since Olivia never died, in this timeline they never visited Fairewell, and he would never remember their visit.
“Mr. Fairewell, we have to talk to you about something important,” Billy said.
“My dear boy, please call me Steven.”
“Yes, Steven, do you know what this is?” Billy asked, pulling the Time Machine out from under his coat.
“Yes, why do you have it?” He asked.
Billy and Isabelle explained everything, the alternate timeline, how they talked to the murderer, how Olivia wasn’t supposed to be alive.
Fairewell stood up.
“The time machine was never really meant to be used. I never dreamed that it would work as well as it did. But you yourselves have seen firsthand the dangers of meddling with time. I presume you understand what must be done now. You must go back in time, and bring back the original timeline. The one only you both remember. You have to go back and kill Olivia, and make sure you do not under any circumstances talk to the murderer,” Fairewell said. He did not look angry at them.
“I don’t understand, how did a small conversation with the woman turn her into a murderer?” Isabelle asked.
“I don’t know but something must have changed in her timeline when you talked to her. Sometimes the smallest actions have the biggest impacts,” Fairewell said. “Now you both must be off, to the date of Olivia’s death.”
Billy punched in the date again, putting on the time machine and gripping Isabelle’s hand. Once again they were transformed back and Billy landed in his kitchen a few months prior. For the third time he listened to his mother’s conversation about his sister’s birthday. He once again said he needed to see Isabelle for something important, feeling extreme deja vu. Running and meeting her once again at the old signpost they set off, however instead of going to the park, they decided to go to an extremely quiet and rather dodgy alleyway. It was completely deserted and they were out of sight from the main street. Once there they sat leaning against an old brick wall, breathing heavily from the running.
“Are you ready, Billy?” Isabelle asked.
Billy nodded an odd feeling in his stomach. He felt rather nauseous knowing what he was about to do. Isabelle seemed to guess this because she grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly. He started texting Olivia, meaningless conversation, hating himself for what he was doing. Her responses came back quickly until he asked her what she wanted to do this weekend. She started to type and all of a sudden stopped. He knew what happened. He knew what he did. He collapsed into Isabelle’s arms, full of guilt and sorrow. Tears poured down his face, but he did not care. She put the time machine back on and they were transported back to Fairewell’s house.
Once there Billy sat down on the sofa and Isabelle sat next to him. Fairewell sat across from them.
“You did a very brave thing, Billy,” he said. “You must be wondering why what happened happened.”
Billy did not answer. At that moment he did not know nor care why some things had worked and others did not. He did not care about anything.
“The past cannot really be changed, just accepted. You can’t fix things like that, Billy,” Fairewell went on, sadly. “You can’t bring back the dead, they’re gone. But you can keep them alive in your heart.”
Fairewell’s words seemed so meaningless right now to Billy but he knew he was right. He missed Olivia, but knew that she was up there, watching him.