Part II

“Excited for tonight?” James asked Elizabeth, who could still only manage to stand in place, tears welling up in her eyes. James walked up to her, not even asking what was wrong, kissed her gently and wiped away the tears. “Is that a no?” he jokingly asked. Elizabeth just smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. For the first time in weeks she felt at peace. Since the accident Elizabeth was consumed by darkness, but now she finally saw light. She sat at the kitchen table and ate breakfast with her husband. It was something she never thought would be possible ever again. She begged James not to go to work but he refused to stay home so solitude was the order of the day while waiting for their romantic dinner later.

That night, she wore a completely different dress- a purple dress, James’ favourite colour. She now knew why he was always so busy; he was working on the time machine for her. She vowed to herself to make sure this dinner went perfectly. There would be no accusations, she would simply live in the moment and cherish that she had her husband back. At the restaurant, Elizabeth could not help but stare at James. He was always handsome, but tonight, he was the most beautiful creature she had ever laid eyes on. His smile radiated light and his laughter warmed her entire body. That dinner was the most magical night she had ever experienced. It was like was falling in love with him all over again.

“Wait here, I’ll go get the car from the parkade,” James said as the two left the restaurant. He kissed her on the forehead and walked away. As Elizabeth waited, she kept thinking about the entire situation. How could the time machine have worked? And now, it was like James never died. Now, they could continue with their lives as they had originally planned – happily ever after. Elizabeth planned romantic things they could do together, even about asking him to have a baby. She didn’t want to wait until later because now she knew that later may never come.

Suddenly, Elizabeth got a sick feeling in her gut. She had been waiting for almost ten minutes which was way too long as the parkade was only two minutes away. She began to walk hurriedly toward to the parkade. Just then, an ambulance zoomed past her, sirens blasting. Elizabeth’s heart dropped, she knew exactly what was happening. She ran, following the ambulance, praying that her thoughts were wrong but she knew they weren’t. As she approached a crowd of people, she pushed through them only to see James. He was lying on the road, their destroyed car a macabre background. She tried to rush to his side but the police restrained her. She began to feel dizzy and light headed as she fought against her deterrents.

Elizabeth was back in her room, in the present. The machine brought her back. Immediately, she ran through the house calling out for James but there was no answer. He was gone, only an old newspaper on the coffee table to catch her eye. It was the paper from the day after he had died and it reported the version of his death Elizabeth had just experienced. The past was changed. So maybe, she thought, his death could be prevented all together. She pushed the button again, determined to get her husband back.

“Honey, how do you want your eggs?” Elizabeth raced downstairs and burst into the kitchen. “Cancel dinner tonight, let’s stay home, I’ll cook,” she told James. He stared at her confused, “Is everything okay?” “Everything is fine, just cancel dinner, and don’t go to work today, let’s just stay home, together for the entire day, please” she pleaded, tears running down her face. “Fine…fine okay babe, anything you want,” James replied. Elizabeth jumped on him, wrapping her arms and legs around him. “Please don’t leave,” she pleaded.

She did not leave her husband’s side for the entire day and much to her surprise, he never questioned her behaviour. When time came for dinner, the two stayed at home until James requested dessert, offering to go quickly to get some dessert from the store. Without thinking, Elizabeth allowed him to go. About ten minutes after his departure, Elizabeth realised what she had done. She tried calling him to tell him to come back home immediately but he had left his phone home. She quickly called a taxi and headed into the city to retrieve James. She couldn’t go through his death again. “Sorry ma’am, I think there was an accident, there’s a lot of traffic,” the taxi-driver said apologetically. In a state of panic, Elizabeth rushed out the taxi and ran up the road. For the third time, Elizabeth saw James’ bloodied, lifeless body but before she could react, the machine once again took her back.

In the present, she ran to the table where the newspaper was kept, “Accident claims the life of a loving husband” read the headline and the article told the tragic story of a man who died while trying to get dessert for his wife. She changed what had happened again, but still not enough. She went over the time machine research to see if there was a way to break the time limit, to stay longer. She stayed up fiddling with the machine, tweaking things, cutting wires, re-attaching wires. Time was quickly becoming a foreign concept, she did not know where night ended and day began. To her, the sun only rose when she went back and saw James again. She went back so many times, but always with the same result. James would die at 11:27pm every single time, no matter what she did differently. And soon after it happened, she would return. She couldn’t seem to break the cycle.

In the present, her life was passing by and she didn’t care. Apparently she had missed quite a number of days at work, so they asked her to take a sabbatical to mourn her husband. Her friends would call to check up on her but she would push them away. She was only focused on one thing, getting James back.

“Elizabeth? Lizzy?” It was her best friend, Melissa. Elizabeth walked out of James’ office to meet Melissa in the living room. “Hun, I’m worried about you. It’s been a month since James died and you don’t seem to be moving on,” Melissa said with concern, “and to be honest, you look like hell. Maybe you should talk to someone, like a professional.” “Move on? How the hell am I supposed to move on? I didn’t just lose my husband, I lost my best friend. He was a piece of me. I don’t know how to be Elizabeth without him. I feel as if someone actually ripped my heart out and you have the audacity to tell me to move on?” Elizabeth angrily responded. She was about to continue her rant but noticed the look of worry on Melissa’s face. She calmed herself down a little. “A professional? So you think I’m a crazy person huh?” she said with a fake laugh. The two talked for a while and Elizabeth agreed to see to someone, taking a therapist’s business card from Melissa with no intention of actually making an appointment.

When Melissa left, Elizabeth went back in time again to see James. Going back was a different experience each time. This time, as soon as she heard his voice, her heart broke. She knew by now that nothing could be changed but she kept going back. It was a drug and she needed her fix every day to survive. This time, she didn’t even try to do anything differently, she let the day run its natural course. James went to work, he came back, they went to dinner and he died. She had become numb to it.

When she returned to the present, she went to the bathroom to wash her face. Her reflection in the mirror was shocking. Who was that woman staring back at her? Eyes sunken and dark, cheeks hollow, complexion dull, there was no sparkle in her eyes anymore. She realised going back to see James came with a price. While she got to have more time with her husband, it also meant losing him every day for a month and it was taking a toll on her. Elizabeth went in her handbag, got the business card and made the appointment to see the therapist.

Maybe it was time to move on.

Posted by Hillary Muddeen