Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 10


10 A.M. Automatic

It wasn’t that I didn’t trust myself, but I needed to see what condition my condition was in.  Thinking over what had just happened, I realized it was probably better to let myself believe it was just a dream.  Even though I said I didn’t believe in that type of prophetic omen, I knew that I really did.  As long as I remembered the dream I was sure I’d at least try to act on it.

    The walk across town was quite long.  I didn’t have to worry about traffic or crosswalks or jaywalking fines, but that isn’t much of a positive when you have to walk 500 miles, much of it pseudo underground due to your holographic nature.  (It was closer to five miles, but it certainly felt like more.)  This is where the concept of a time “machine” would have really paid off, especially if that machine was a vehicle of some sort.  I didn’t even need or want a DeLorean.  Just a time bicycle would have made me a happy camper.

    Another concern was the elevation issue.  The likelihood of my sister’s place being exactly level with mine was slim at best, but since I had nothing better to do I figured the odds were in my favor that I’d still be able to at least observe from a few feet above or below.  Easy come, easy go, little high, little low.

    As for what I would do when I got to my sister’s house, I still wasn’t sure.  Hopefully just confirm that she was with the other me and then blink back home to find that everything was now better.  Had I screwed up, I could blink back a bit further and try again.  I certainly wasn’t going to stay around to watch her kill herself.  That would be too hard to handle. 

    But wasn’t letting her live a life with Nelson without saying anything watching her die in a way?  I had made my initial objections, but it didn’t do much good since we never really spoke again after that.  Should I have attempted a reconciliation?  Did my selfish and stubborn tough love tactics play a role in what was to eventually happen this evening?

    When I reached the house I was walking on air about eight feet above the ground.  After walking through the wall above the front door I was able to squat into an invisible crawlspace with a good vantage point of each room.  I suddenly had a new appreciation for vaulted ceilings.

    My sister’s home was far nicer than my own.  Rightfully so, as a dual income was involved in both the rent and the decor.  As much as I disliked Nelson’s personality, he did earn enough to lead a comfortable life.  He wasn’t rich by any means, and even if he were I don’t think my sister would be in it for the money.  That wasn’t her style at all.  It was more so that he showed up in the right place at the wrong time, found the right buttons to push regarding some of her insecurities at almost the exact point when she decided to drop her standards, and the rest was history.  “Was” being the operative word, as now anything “was” possible for the new future.

    I found my sister sitting at her dining room table grading papers while enjoying a glass of wine.  She was just as I remembered her, but at the same time a little roadworn and weary.  As I watched her focus on her work and smile at the joy the children she taught brought to her, I could see some of that old glow.  The glow that said “I’m going to save the world one day, and nothing can stop me.”

    But something had stopped her.  The glow was faded, dulled by the efforts she went through to make Nelson happy.  By the sacrifices she made.  They were killing her softly, and I was her only hope.

    The kitchen timer buzzed.  My sister checked her watch, then stood up quickly.  The gas oven didn’t appear to be on, but I now saw what she was up to.  She shut off the timer and efficiently cleaned up her wine glass, hiding the bottle of blues in the back of a closet.  She then put two pieces of spearmint gum in her mouth, rigorously exhaled, and returned to her schoolwork.

    Less than a minute later Nelson arrived.  He kissed my sister on the cheek, poured himself a glass of water and pulled up a chair across from her.  She continued to work, leaving him to start the conversation.

    “How was your day?”

    “Fine,” she replied quickly without looking up.  “Yours?”

    “The same, you know.  Nothing wrong with that.”

    “No, not at all.”

    Nelson leaned back in his chair and took a loud gulp of water.

    “Are you about ready to head out?”

    My sister put down her red pen and looked at Nelson for the first time since his arrival. 

    “Actually, I had a different idea for tonight.  My brother called...”

    I smiled, proud of myself for following through on the “dream.”  I also tried to recall what I said since I now must have made that same call a year ago, but like before I was drawing a blank.  I might have had it if I tried harder, but Nelson stopped my thoughts cold with the tone of his objection.

    “Your brother?”

    “Yes,” said my sister.  “I do still have a brother.”

    “What did he want?” he spat back, with heavy emphasis on the “he” accompanied by a theatrical dropping of his arms in a show of disapproval.

    “He left a message.  Said he was sorry and wanted to talk about some stuff.  I haven’t seen him for a long time and think it might be nice to give him a chance.”

    “But we’re supposed to go visit my grandparents for dinner like always.”

    “All I’m saying…”

    “He’s not coming here!  You two will just talk the night away like you used to, and I won’t really be in on the conversation.  Plus he’ll want to drink beers, which will make me want to.  You know I can’t do that.”

    Grrrrr.  I couldn’t believe that he was still using that excuse.  Yes, Nelson used to be an alcoholic.  And I knew he had come a long way in recovering and had been sober for a good four years or so at this point, and I give him all the credit in the world for that.  But he plays the card so much it’s almost comical.  Before their marriage my sister was more or less banned from any place that may have had alcohol on the premises because her boyfriend might have trouble keeping his demons at bay.  It’s one thing to seek support from people, but fight your own battles, pal.

    My sister made me proud with a brief jump to my defense.

    “He doesn’t HAVE to drink, and I could always ask him not to.  Though I was thinking of meeting him elsewhere.  He suggested a night at the Cape house, just like we used to.  You can still visit with your grandparents on your own this one time.”

    Nelson was getting red-faced now.  “I forbid it!  You don’t need him.  He wrote you off after the wedding—before the wedding for that matter.  You’ll be much happier at dinner with us.  You know that, right?”

    Then I saw the look in my sister’s eyes.  Not the glow, but the look.  The same look I’d seen on and off for years.  The look that said I don’t like this, but I know the happiness of others is more important than my own, so I’ll make the sacrifice just this once and next time will be for me.

    But next time it was always the same.

    And the next time.

    And the next.

    And the time after that.

    I could see what this was leading to, and it looked real grim.

    Even though the look said all of that in more than words could have conveyed, the single word that accompanied it spoke all that Nelson needed to believe to be the truth. 


    Fine?  Fine?  Everything was moving along as before, making this far from fine.  In the game of give and take, my sister was all give and Nelson all take.

    I didn’t know what to do next.  I wanted to pop Nelson one in the jaw, to run back home and tell myself to get my ass over here, to take our sister away from this and back on her intended path to glory and greatness and sainthood.

    But maybe all was not yet lost.  Yes, she caved again.  But I did one thing differently:  She never got that phone call from me the first time around, which means they never had the small argument I just witnessed.  Wishful thinking, but maybe that small gesture that said I still cared did the trick.  It wouldn’t have fixed everything, but I thought it could be the initial fissure required to cause their relationship to crumble.  If nothing else it could have bought me more time to help fix things by giving myself a reason for being around.  A few more olive branches could be just what I needed. 

    Maybe it was better to check the present before proceeding, as further action on this exact day wasn’t necessary.  And maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true.  Yearning with all my heart that there would be no memorial mass to attend upon my return, I blinked back to the present.