He is still far away in print but I must revisit his future stories–they offer a respite in trying compositions of other storylines. This is a revision of I Think, Therefore I when, seen here before. This post will be included under that title in the upcoming collection that we
hope intend to have out this summer.
The first incident happened like this.
An old mix tape played through his earbuds. He didn’t know the song was on it. It took him back to that day when she told him it was over. She’d had enough, she said, and played Voices Carry to illustrate why. He wasn’t that guy anymore, he hoped. A sudden gust tossed unbound hair in his face. He tied it back before moving on and looked up in shock.
“What the hell!” Derek said. He wasn’t recalling the event with Susan anymore—she was there in front of him, physically, in their apartment. With Aimee Mann’s voice resounding as loudly as her own.
“No! No! This can’t be happening, again” he said, pulling out an earbud. “We’ve been through this before!
“Yes and that’s why I’m leaving. I’ve had enough, Derek—it’s over! I’ll come back for my stuff in a couple days,” she said, slamming the door behind her, drawing air through the open windows.
The breeze brought Derek back to the present, stumbling along the sidewalk barely missing a woman passerby.
That was then; this is now. A memory and nothing more. That couldn’t have happened. She wasn’t really there. Maybe that green chile cheeseburger overpowered me. Maybe I’ve been working too hard. I’m not a jerk now—why this reminder of the past?
After a few days of worry and bewilderment, he put the strange incident aside. An episode of the Twilight Zone—perhaps one he’d watched in syndication. Then it happened again, six weeks later—not the past this time, but the future.
A book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Las Cruces. Derek lived on the edge of Silver City. Close enough, the events manager said. With three weeks to go, Derek had 30 copies of The Onions Down Below for sale. He’d be lucky to sell 15, other writers said.
He tossed and turned that night, worrying had he done enough social media and networking. Dawn’s light eased through the honeycomb shades. He gave up on sleep, hoping a sunrise walk would brighten his mood. A curved-bill thrasher called to him as he set out. He looked up and felt a breeze across his face. That’s when he found himself sipping a Mocha Grande at the B&N café in Cruces.
“It’s complimentary for authors at their signings,” the events manager said.
“Thanks! I need the caffeine.”
“Oh, don’t worry—we’ve had 20 people in here for the event already, and it’s still half an hour away!”
Derek kept hearing the thrasher’s song, while sitting at the table, talking about the setup. Am I disassociating? How can I be here—this is three weeks from now, and still be hearing a bird on a walk in Silver City? How can I be talking with this woman and be thinking about this?
The signing went well—extraordinarily well, if the visit to the future held true. It did. All 30 copies sold and orders were placed for ten more. Derek finished his morning stroll, smiling at the birds and the rabbit who crossed his path. He decided to bring 15 more copies of his book to the signing. He did more promo and sold all 45 books.
. . . .
Time switching directions, moment to moment, like the wind in Mimbres Valley. A wind blowing from the west and then the north or south and back again. Time carrying him toward tomorrow when he’ll be doing this or doing that. The next moment the wind of time reverses, carrying him back to yesterday or yesteryear. Perhaps to travel a path not taken.
Growth is measured by straying from the comfort zone–into untried and unknown. Unknown could be scary to some, especially in scary stories. Stories of unexpected events or visitors that appear in otherwise comfortable places. Places one frequents without incident until that time. Time should be a well known thing, a thing that behaves itself by moving in only one direction from past, through present, to future–never alternating. Alternating currents of time–what would, what could he do with that?
Derek faced this unknown alternating current of time, unprepared for its effects. Disorienting. Frightening. It took a long time—HA, for him to find it exhilarating. To fully appreciate the opportunity. First to make the most of each moment. Then to actually bend his brain to control the current–a capacity he’d never known might exist. No time traveling machine a la H.G. Wells–no, Derek mastered time itself. A mastery not without consequence.