Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two
Title: If It’s Just A Dream, Let Me Dream (Part 13)
“You know I can’t go with you.”
Yes, I knew, but I wanted her to explain it one more time. “Why not?”
“Because of how time travel works.”
“And how does it work?”
My love laughed. She kissed me on the cheek, then kissed me long, and tender. “You know. Don’t pretend you don’t.”
I knew. I’d always known. And I always felt my heart break when it was time for me to rest, to return to my life, my world, my time.
Time prevents paradoxes, you see. No one can go back in time prior to their birth. No one can go back, and accidentally kill their parents. The time paradox can’t happen. People have tried to go back, change history. All of those who did, died. They went back to when they didn’t exist. And when they got there, they ceased to exist. Their history remained, none of them faded from history. But, their trips back in time were the last things they did.
I could go home. To my time, the world I was born in, the time I lived in. A thousand, ten thousand centuries earlier. I couldn’t go back to before I was born.
Neither could my love. Or my daughter. Or Blue. Or anyone I knew. The people I’d fought with on this strange Earth, with the black sky, the violent red sun, the stars visible in daylight, didn’t exist in my time. They wouldn’t exist for countless centuries.
“You can’t go back because you didn’t exist then.”
She smiled, “See? You do understand.”
“Then why can’t I stay here?” I asked that question each time I had to return to my time. “What happens if I don’t go back?” And I already knew the answer to that question.
“My love. You have not finished your life there. You know that.”
“So, I have to say goodbye to you once more.”
She kissed me again. God, how I loved the feel of her lips on mine. The taste, the texture. I wanted to stay there, in that heartbeat, in that moment, and never leave.
“Yes, my love.”
As we walked, she told me our people would help Blue’s world all they could. “We’ll do everything they can. Food, medicine. Our best scientists will work to heal their world, repair the damage to its biosphere.”
“May be be successful, for once.”
Her laughed was like water to me, after I’d spent days crossing the desert. I wished I could hear it every day.
“And I’ll forget you, won’t I?”
“Yes, my love.”
“Because you don’t exist then.”
As we reached the transfer station, she pointed to a sign above the entrance. “Miracles Room. You made that sign.”
Because it was a miracle I was able to find her, love her, marry her, start our family, across an ocean of time. And a reminder to myself, miracles happen. Miracles are real.
The machine looked like a normal room. My love and I kissed one final time, and I walked into the room. I stretched out on the bed inside, closed my eyes, and prayed I would wake up.
And I always did.
I woke to find myself on the bed I’d set up in the phone booth in my backyard. It had been easy enough to punch the back wall of the booth out, extend it far enough to fit a mattress inside. My phone boot. My escape, from the life I hated. The life I lived, hoping it would someday end.
I’d had another amazing dream. About blue aliens, on a strange world. I knew, like any dream, it would fade from my memory with time. I wished I could remember one of those dreams forever. I liked my dreams.
I knew from the darkness outside the phone booth, it was late. My wife would chew me out once more, “You and that friggin’ phone booth! I think you love that place more than you ever loved me!”
“I sleep well there.”
It was the truth. I slept well in my phone booth. Much better than I did in the house. So, she endured my time there. She let me hide there.
“Well. You’re awake now. So you can help with the dishes. Then, we can go to bed.” She handed me a sponge, and bottle of soap, “And don’t tell me about your silly dreams. Keep them to yourself.”
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.