Entry 2: Back to the Past

The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin

I arrived in the past with only a slight sense of vertigo. The increased shielding had prevented most of the disorientation that followed transition. I looked around the mostly empty lab and nodded. I was in the past.

I left and found a classroom. It was already dark outside. I headed out into crisp autumn air, but that didn’t really tell me much. I needed to find a newsstand for the date. I jogged up the street, passing pedestrians who idly glanced my way, and I stopped once I found a place to buy a paper. I looked at the cover.

October 17, 2008. I had hit it first try, so it looked like my equations had reliable results. I knew how to successfully aim a time machine I never intended to use again.

I had only a few hours to see if my suspicions were correct. My heart pounded as I walked towards my old neighbourhood. I found an alley where I could watch my old building. I wrapped my arms around myself for comfort and a touch of warmth. I had only worn the same outfit as the last time I went time travelling, the sweater and jeans my husband had bought me. I felt sentimental about those clothes, which was rare for me.

I almost nodded off but woke up with a start when the front door of my old building flew open and smacked the wall. A distraught young woman burst from the doorway and sprinted down the street. The door swung shut behind her. Even from a distance it was evident she was crying. She had been wearing the same clothes I had on, which made sense. After all, it was me from this date. I had been expecting her.

I felt my heart speed up, as if in sympathy for her breakneck pace. I took several deep breaths to calm myself. Was I really going to do this? Was I going to see Frank again? Could I handle that, after all the crying, all the grief? Yes, I longed to touch him. To smell his hair. But human beings went through healing stages after a death, here I was interfering in the natural order of things.

I shook my head. I was already here, in the past. The time for second thoughts should have been before I took the time to restart the machine. I had gone over this in my head every day for weeks, and the conclusion was the same: despite every rational risk to time travel, I had an emotional need to see Frank that overpowered reason. I needed a proper good-bye. And, beyond that, the journal indicated I came here, and by all indications the past was immutable. I was supposed to do this. Avoiding it might be riskier than going forward, there was no way to know whether paradox was possible and I didn’t want to find out the hard way.

I waited until I could control my breathing and my heart-rate slowed. Then I got up and walked across the street with measured steps. I kept having to maintain my breathing every few feet, as I grew more agitated the closer I got to the door. I went up the steps and rang the buzzer.

There was no response for a moment. And then an all-too-familiar voice came over the speaker.

“Hello?” Frank said, his voice sleepy.

“Frank? Let me in, please,” I pleaded.

The door unlocked and I walked inside, wringing my hands. I looked up the staircase and saw him coming to meet me. My heart leapt and I almost shuddered with the emotional rush. Diggory Franklin, my beloved husband, in the prime of life. It ached.

I hesitated at the bottom of the steps and he saw my indecision.

“Come here,” Frank said gently, holding his arms open.

I rushed to him as a mournful sound wrenched itself from my chest and out my mouth. I wrapped my arms around his strong body almost violently, and I started to shake as his warm scent filled my nostrils. Frank held me against his muscled chest and ran his fingers through my hair to soothe me. I sobbed into his shirt, trying to come to grips with the moment. Months without him. Months!

“I’m so sorry. I couldn’t stay away, Frank. I tried, but I can’t. I need you too much,” I told him urgently. Despite all my good intentions, I couldn’t stay away.

“Shhhhh, shhhhhh, it’s okay. It’s okay. Just come back inside.”

He held me tight against the side of his body and half-dragged me back up the stairs and into the apartment, as if realizing I didn’t have the motive-power to get there on my own. I held on just as tight, not wanting him to have any chance to escape. I put my head on his shoulder and laced my arms over his neck and shoulders, and gave into the tears.

Frank moved us to the couch inside the apartment and just let me cry. I wept for a century as he offered soothing sounds and meaningless phrases.

I stopped my embarrassing display eventually, and wiped my face. I sighed.

“Whatever it is, I’m here for you,” Frank told me, quietly but earnestly. “Just tell me what you need, Calla. I love you.”

Now was the moment. I steeled myself, gathered my passion for him and grabbed hold of his beautiful face. My fingers ran through his hair as I kissed him with every atom of my being, summoning all the feeling I had in me. Frank responded almost immediately, opening his mouth to mine so our breaths merged and our bodies came together.

I pulled him down onto me on the couch cushions, feeling his powerful body atop me. My own body responded instinctively, as I wrapped my thighs around his waist and squeezed him closer with my calf muscles. My fingers twisted in his hair as our tongues danced and writhed. I needed him. Desperately.

Greedily, I peeled his shirt over his head and felt spasms in my depths as I looked at his body. I knew every inch of it but it had been too long since I had seen him this way.

“Oh Frank…” I moaned. I reached out and unclasped the button of his pants, and then the zipper followed.
Frank tried to help me get his clothes off, and then we were both tussling with mine. The sweater got stuck over my elbow and head for a second before it was flung aside and somehow Frank toppled off the seat. I jumped atop him on the floor, laughing at how he could be so unsmooth and yet still so desirable.

“You’re still so damn cute,” I told him, trying not to cry again.

“I love you,” Frank replied, looking up at me almost reverently.

“Then love me.” I kissed him hard and aligned myself to take him inside me. I quivered with a fever as warmth spread from my centre outwards, leaving me breathless.

I ground down atop him, making love to my husband, my Frank. He rose to meet me with fervent, powerful motions that were unprecedented in their eroticism. I had never had a lover like him. It was achingly bittersweet, because I knew that I never would again. That just made the moment all the more passionate.

We eventually made our way to the bed, and after a blissful, vigorous time he cuddled against me, worn out. I was sweaty and trying to catch my breath, but I caressed his hair until he fell asleep.

Then I slipped out of the bed and got dressed. I didn’t need the past me to catch me here. I grabbed my keys from the pants I had discarded on the bedroom floor, earlier in the night and earlier in my life. I found the cookie jar in the kitchen where Bianca kept the emergency money and shoved some in my pockets. Then I went downstairs. I left the keys in the building door, exactly as my past self would find them later.

Then I walked off down the street, intent on finding a place to stay until transition occurred.

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