She opened the door to his home office. The room was still. She went over to his desk, sat on his chair and cried. Elizabeth hadn’t been in there since James’ death two weeks ago and today was the funeral. She had just buried her husband and wanted to feel him one last time. She always felt his presence in the office but knew it would not last forever. The last few months were rough. She was so caught up in her research on the time machine and he always seemed distant and busy. You see, Elizabeth was a physics professor at the university and was working on a paper on time travel for the last year, this research had consumed her. She was so close to building a functional time machine. James was an engineer at one of the most successful firms in the city. The two met at university fifteen years ago and got married after only four months of dating. They were the perfect couple. They completed each other in the truest sense. She was a focused workaholic and he was a laid back jokester. After fifteen years of being together, the two of them fell into a mundane yet comfortable routine. Elizabeth always thought they would have forever to be together and since James’ death, she had been ridden with guilt.
The night of James’ death was the first date night they’d had in months. They had been fighting for a while and it reached a point where something different needed to be done. James instructed Elizabeth to be ready to go out Friday night at 7:00pm and told her nothing else. He planned a romantic night for his wife; reservations at the restaurant where he proposed and a bouquet of blue hydrangeas that he bought because he knew those were her favourite. When that night came, Elizabeth wore a sexy red dress and did her hair and makeup, something she hadn’t done in a while. She had a nervous, excited feeling and it took her a while before she realised she had butterflies. . . after fifteen years, James still gave her butterflies.
Elizabeth almost cried when she realised which restaurant they were going to. At their table, James had already ordered a bottle of her favourite wine. For the first time in months they had a real conversation. James asked how Elizabeth’s research was going, Elizabeth enquired as to how James’ work was going. In that moment, they weren’t the distant married couple anymore, they were young lovers. Then, Elizabeth did something she would regret for the rest of her life. “Where have you really been all those nights you came home late?” Elizabeth asked. The very question that had been saved for weeks but she was always too afraid to say. She’d had a private investigator follow James for a while. It was very unlike him to return home close to midnight and that had become a recent trend. So when the investigator told her he was not at work, which is where he always said he was, Elizabeth immediately thought the worst. Little did she know, that question was the beginning of the end.
“I told you already, I was working on something,” James replied. “Liar!” Elizabeth rebutted. She told him everything about the private investigator she hired and her suspicions about an affair. James was furious.
“Why did you have to do this? You ruined what was supposed to be a romantic night for us. I am not cheating. If you only knew what I was doing, you would never dare accuse me of having an affair,” he said angrily. “Then tell me what you were doing?” she asked. James refused. “Here, take the car keys, I’ll take a taxi home,” James commanded. He dropped the keys on the table and stormed out.
On the verge of tears, Elizabeth ran out the restaurant after him. “James! James!” she called out while he was entering a taxi across the street. He couldn’t hear her, or maybe he did and chose to ignore it. Within moments of his departure, Elizabeth’s world was destroyed. A car at the intersection broke the traffic light and slammed sidelong into the taxi. “No!!!” Elizabeth screamed as she rushed over to the cars. The taxi was completely wrecked; her husband’s bloodied body lying limp on the road. “James! James!” she screamed. “Please wake up, please!” She was crying hysterically now and collapsed to her knees; an immense pain in her heart. At that moment, she knew he was gone.
Elizabeth sat for a while at his desk in his home office. The room smelled of his cologne and cigars. She always hated the smell of the cigars until now. Now, it was the most comforting smell: the smell of love, of life, of her other half. She touched their wedding picture which James always had on display on the desk. She began to open all the drawers looking for memories of James. When she opened the third drawer she was surprised. There was some of her time travel research.
Along with the research, she found her prototype time travel machine. It was an aluminium band, made to be worn around the wrist, with some buttons on the side. As she looked through the documents, she realised there was additional information that couldn’t be credited to her. She realised that James must have been researching it too and from the documents she found, it seemed as if he had solved the problem she was having. She took the band and all the research up to her room. She spent the hours reading her dead husband’s discovery and she couldn’t quite believe it. James had figured out a way to make the time machine work. She excitedly put on the band, closed her eyes and pushed the button. When she opened her eyes, taking care to do so slowly, she was still in her bedroom. Nothing had changed. She was so disappointed, she really thought it would work. She laid back on her bed, band still on, and fell asleep.
“Honey, how do you want your eggs?”
Elizabeth woke up startled. Who asked her that? The sun gently poking through the curtains, an indicator she had slept through the night. “Lizzie, are you up?” the voice asked. She knew exactly who that voice was but she didn’t want to believe it. Gingerly walking downstairs, she crept into the kitchen.
Elizabeth froze. There he was. Six feet tall, dark hair, toned body and illuminating smile. There he was. In the kitchen. No words could escape her mouth. She just wanted so badly to move closer, but her body remained still. He turned around and smiled at her. It was James.