|Submitted by G.S. Williams on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 00:11|
Back in my own time, I sat down at the table and reflected on what I had done. So far as I’d been able to ascertain, Frank kept seeing me despite my warnings. However, I had travelled to a point before he ever met me, and told him to stay away. Had it had any effect at all? Looking at the blood-smeared WHEN, I could tell that he ignored my attempts to scare him off.
His sweet little speech in the coffee house, about wanting to make the short time we had together count, seemed to hold sway. Frank seemed to genuinely prefer risking death than living without me. Romantic, yes, but hardly practical. For one thing, he was dead and there were other chances for happiness. As for myself, I had to live with the knowledge that he loved me for a year, but that I had a whole life without him to endure from now on.
That hardly seemed like a good arrangement. I had spent two days travelling into the past and defying current notions of physics to try and stop Frank from dying. I didn’t know how I could possibly spend decades without him. Acceptance didn’t seem in the cards anytime soon.
But, I could still check in on him again, on the 19th, and see whether I’d done anything. He could at least tell me why he was ignoring my warnings. I went back inside the machine.
On the night of September 19th, 2008, Diggory Franklin walked me home after his mother’s dinner party and then we shared our first kiss on my doorstep. I transitioned to that evening and waited a few houses down from my old building, hiding in an alley so the shadows would cloak me.
After a little while, I saw myself walking down the sidewalk with the tall figure of my husband Frank. I felt my heart speed up a little. It was so strange to see this important memory from an outsider’s perspective. I snuck out of the alley a bit to get a better view, hoping the shadows would keep the young couple from noticing me.
Diggory Franklin leaned over my younger counterpart, and they held each other and kissed. It was a moment of tender sweetness. I sighed and it took me a moment before I realized that the other me had gone inside, and now Frank was walking in my direction. I leapt for the alley and succeeded in tripping on a garbage can, creating a resounding clatter.
“What the…” I heard Frank say.
“Oh, shit!” I felt like an idiot for not sneaking away sooner. I felt tears sting my eyes. Here I had seen us kissing for the first time, but back in my own present his blood was still all over the WHEN.
“Calla? How did you… Why are you crying? What’s going on?” Frank asked me from the street, sounding confused and concerned.
I picked my way out of the garbage in the alley, and Frank reached out to take my arms and help me over the can I’d tripped on. I leaned against him and tried not to sob.
“I told you not to go on that date, you stupid jerk!”
“You were there… Now you’re here…” Frank kept looking between me and house. I realized he hadn’t really believed me when I said that I had built a time machine.
“Oh, seriously, please tell me you’re this stupid!” I sank down to the sidewalk, feeling limp. He hadn’t listened to my warnings because he hadn’t believed them at all. He just thought I was nuts.
“You can’t be here, and there…” He kept on. I cried louder in frustration.
He was silent for a moment, watching me cry. Then Frank knelt down beside me on the sidewalk and put an arm around me. His lips brushed my forehead as he offered the comfort of his strength. I leaned into him.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t believe you. Part of me wanted to, and part of me couldn’t handle it…”
“I get it. I seem crazy. But I had to risk it…” I held him closer, just wanting to savour the feel of his muscles and warmth.
“What the hell do we do now?” Frank asked.
“Whenever I go back to the future, you’re still dead. Why don’t you listen? Why do you keep pursuing me for a relationship? Your life is in danger!” I said vehemently. I just wanted him to be alive.
“Because I love you, I wouldn’t change that for anything,” Frank said, his voice sure. He preferred our brief relationship over life itself. I hardly knew how to think about that.
“Maybe it’s meant to be like this. I don’t believe in paradoxes. Maybe you can’t change the past. My future. Whatever,” Frank sighed after awhile.
I put my head on his shoulder. He very carefully wiped the tears from my cheeks.
“So what do we do?” I sniffled.
“Make the time we have count. I’m going to become a part of your life, and love you, and cherish every damn moment. Even if they’re numbered. Because, really, everyone’s moments are numbered. I just know that I have less of them, so I have to make them count for more.”
“But losing you… it’s going to break my heart.” I put my arms around him snugly. I didn’t want to let him go.
“Maybe when it happened. I imagine it must have been terrible, if it inspired you to break natural laws. But now you know that I’d risk anything to be with you. Maybe that will soften the memory, in time.”
“You’ve always been the bravest person I know. How could I not love you?” I said. He had risked his life before for me. That meant something.
“Plus, I’m good looking,” Frank joked weakly. I tried not to smile, but he had always been charming. I felt a twist in my stomach and realized I was running out of time.
“Yes, Calla?” he asked.
I felt myself pulled out of his strong arms and swirled through time, knowing that my husband loved me but that love couldn’t stop death.