Part III

gears_of_time_by_majentta-d96c25v

Elizabeth nervously waited for the therapist, Dr. Hazel Hunter, to call her into the office. “How do you feel?” asked Dr. Hunter. Elizabeth rolled her eyes, “That’s a pretty dumb question isn’t it?” she replied but Dr. Hunter simply ignored Elizabeth’s rudeness and asked it again.

“How do I feel? Let’s see, I lose my husband every day. The man who has been right next to me for fifteen years is now gone and I can’t seem to get him back,” Elizabeth answered. “What do you mean you lose him every day and can’t get him back?” Dr. Hunter questioned as she wrote in her notepad. “I mean every day when I wake up and realise he’s not lying next to me, it’s like I lose him again. I dream about him every night, so there’s a brief moment when I wake up and I don’t yet realise that he’s gone and as soon as I turn over and see the empty space next to me, I am crushed,” Elizabeth explained. “So you’re sad?” asked Dr. Hunter. “Sad is one way of putting it. I feel empty. I feel dark. Every day the world gets darker and darker to me and my only source of light is James. It is only when I see him do I feel full and…”

“See him?” Dr. Hunter interrupted. Elizabeth realised she had said too much and didn’t want to tell Dr. Hunter about the time machine. “His office. I go into his office at home and I feel his presence there. I don’t actually see him, but it’s like he’s there and it comforts me,” she lied. “Well, maybe you need to stop going into the office and find another source of light,” Dr. Hunter suggested. That statement really resonated with Elizabeth. She paused for few minutes, contemplating it. The remainder of the session was spent talking about how Elizabeth could move on and by the end of it Elizabeth promised herself she would go back one last time to say goodbye and never return again.

“Honey, how do you want your eggs?”

Elizabeth took a deep breath, went downstairs and greeted her husband for what would be the last time. “Babe,” she said, “let’s go to the countryside today. We could rent a small cabin and spend the day together, just the two of us. Please?” By the tone of her voice, James could tell this was important to Elizabeth so he complied without question. At the countryside, the two spent the entire day in bed, only leaving it when absolutely necessary. It was just like their honeymoon as Elizabeth lay on James’ chest, tracing his body with her fingers. The sun setting through the windows signalling she only had a few more hours left. James held her hand and touched the time machine that was still on her wrist. “I know what you’re doing,” James said.

Elizabeth sat up, shocked and confused. Before she could say anything, James continued, “A few months ago I fixed it for you and went to the future. I don’t know how far into the future I was but it didn’t take me long to realise that I had died. Since then, I kept going to the future, altering the time setting on the machine to see if I could pinpoint exactly when I was going to die and then one day, I did. I know what’s supposed to happen today. I tried to alter the setting again on the machine in an attempt to stop my death from happening but instead the machine only became able to take me back in time for a day. Seeing you with it on, I know you’re from the future, which means that you saw me die already and as happy as I am to be with you, I need you to go back. Leave me in the past and move on,” he explained.

Elizabeth was crying. She wanted to stay with him forever, stay right there in that bed, wrapped in his arms for eternity but she knew he was right. It was time to move on. James showed her how to get the machine to take her back to the present so she would not have to wait until time was up. He then instructed her to destroy it upon her return. Before she left, James held Elizabeth’s face and kissed her passionately. He ran his hands down her body and picked her up and Elizabeth clutched him tightly. The two began to cry, knowing it would be the last time they held each other. “Goodbye my love,” Elizabeth whispered in his ears as she pushed the button.

About a month had passed since Elizabeth left James in the past and life had only gotten harder. She thought that having a proper goodbye would have given her the closure to move on but it didn’t. Each morning, as soon as she woke up, she would lie in bed waiting to hear James ask about the eggs but the question never came. It was a task to get out of bed. Her job was also a challenge and after struggling for weeks, she finally quit. She had lost her passion for teaching, in fact she had lost her passion for life. When her friends visited she would pretend she was doing better, but she wasn’t fooling anyone. She missed James. It was as simple as that. Her heart yearned for what was never coming back.

One night, as Elizabeth was making her rounds of the house to take off all the lights, she paused in front of James’ office door. She hadn’t been in there since she last saw him. She put her hand on the door knob and turned it. She entered the room hoping to be comforted but, for the first time, it felt empty. The cigar smell had dissipated. James was no longer present. She sat at his desk and stared longingly at their wedding picture and then opened the top drawer. There it was, the time machine. She never destroyed it, she couldn’t bring herself to get rid of her only connection to him. He was truly a part of her and without him, she was incomplete, her life had become empty. There was nothing here for her anymore so she fastened the machine around her wrist and pressed the button.

“Honey, how do you want your eggs?”

Elizabeth began to cry immediately. She took off the time machine, ran downstairs to her husband and embraced him. As she hugged him, she inhaled deeply, his smell bringing her back to life. The feel of his skin against hers warmed her heart that had gone so cold. Elizabeth held his face and planted a kiss on his lips, “scrambled please and some toast with butter.” “Are we still on for tonight?” she asked and James nodded. The rest of the day was pretty routine; Elizabeth didn’t do anything differently. Dinner was the same as well, except Elizabeth walked with James to the parkade.

On the drive back home, Elizabeth felt a sense of calm. She wasn’t worried anymore or in a state of panic. She had finally come to terms with what was going to happen. She glanced her watch and saw the time- 11:27pm. Bright headlights were approaching quickly towards the car. She held James’ hand, closed her eyes and braced for impact.

“Couple dies in car accident!” read the headline of the newspaper the next morning.

 

Posted by Hillary Muddeen