Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 14


Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods


    The kitchen was gone.  I was sprawled out on the ground in a field, watching two different dynamic duos walk away.  My father and myself were closest to me, with Nelson’s parents about fifty yards in front of them.  I was still at the wedding site, which meant nothing had changed at all.

    But how could I be here now?  Older me had said I couldn’t visit the same day twice, but here I was.  Not only was it the same day, but the exact instant I had left from.  Maybe he was oversimplifying it for me and meant I couldn’t revisit the same event.  Since I hadn’t seen this part of the day yet it was still fair game, and as the last place I remembered it was an easy enough time to will myself back to.

    The revelation that it all started in the kitchen had me reeling.  I had pushed my sister towards her doom with Nelson.  What was I thinking?  I tried to remember, but my recollection continued to be hazy at best.  The Hearts tournament had been a misstep in more ways than one, both past and present.

    The four figures in front of me continued their walk.  Nelson’s parents veered off to the right, presumably heading home on foot.  Younger me and our father were about to get into a car parallel parked alongside the field.  Vehicles of other guests peeled off one by one.  My counterpart gave an over the shoulder look towards me, almost being hit by a tan van that screeched to an abrupt stop in front of him.  Dad continued to scold as he ushered me into the car, waving an apology to the driver of the van before giving a final long glare back at real me.  The burn from his eyes could be felt from even a full football field away.

    Again I wondered if he could really see me.  It seemed pretty obvious by this point, but how?  Not that the question really needed an answer, but I was curious.  Was it a bloodline thing?  No, because Mom and sis would be able to do the same.  Well, sis at least.  Mom had different blood than Dad, but partially the same as me.  Maybe a y-chromosome, gender related anomaly?  That didn’t make any sense on the surface, but it was the only piece of genetics I remembered from all the crap I learned in high school biology.  If Sam Beckett could leap into his great grandfather during the Civil War, maybe I could interact with all of my male ancestors too.

    I know I said before that I was going to start grounding my baseless theories in the real world rather than the fictional lands of television and cinema, but sometimes those are the only concepts I have to work from.  I often wonder if there are hidden messages in good time travel stories—things only a real time traveler would pick up on included as a signal to other displaced blinkers so they can seek each other out or at the very least know they are not alone in the multiverse.

    As Dad’s car drove away, I recalled his comment about this not being a good first meeting with the in-laws.  Those in-laws were as good of a lead as any, so I got up and followed Nelson’s parents four or five blocks back to their homestead.  My mother was waiting on the porch when we arrived.  She was alone, as my Dad was taking the other me home.  I hoped that other me could handle it.  In a perfect world he might have even convinced Dad to object to the union as well.  That was wishful thinking, but I could keep on dreaming.

    I entered the house through a side wall and joined my Mom for the grand tour.  Nelson’s parents’ house had been in his mother’s family for years.  She had grown up here, and although the family was well off enough to have bought or built a place of their own the sentimental value and some persuasion by the Mrs. over the Mr. had them instead decide to add on to and refurbish portions of the old family residence.

    “Although I don’t condone your son’s behavior,” started Nelson’s Mom, “it is nice that we get to have the wedding here.  I was married in this very house.”

    My mom tried not to turn red as she changed the subject.  “We’re very sorry things had to end like that.  It’s a lovely home to be wed in.  How many years have you been married for?”

    “We’ll be celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary next year.  And you?”

    “We’re a little behind you.  We’ll hit thirty in 2003.  Some would have liked us to wait, but we met and married in the same year.  Only knew each other a few months.  Nobody thought it would last, but it did.”

    Mom’s answer provided yet another tidbit about her past that I never knew before, causing me to do some quick bowling math to determine if I had a stain on my shirt.  (Not that it mattered, as I’d be insane to complain about it.)

    Mrs. Nelson wore an exaggerated look of horror on her face.  “Our parents insisted on us having a proper courtship before settling down.  We met in the summer of 1969.”

    Mom giggled.  “Standing on your mama’s porch, you knew that it was now or never?”

    Nelson’s parents both stared back at her blankly, not getting the joke.  It goes without saying that I was quite amused by my mother’s musical trivia.

    “I’m sorry.  It’s a song.  I guess you don’t know that one.”

    Nelson’s Dad hadn’t said a word since I’d been here.  I started to wonder if he was the one settling down in this scenario.  He was rather stoic—I actually hadn’t heard him speak since his outburst at younger me after the wedding.  But I supposed that speech was more required than anything else.  Now he just stood by the window staring off into space.

    Imagine being stuck with a son like Nelson.  How could you love him?  I’d think even “because I’m the mother” would be tough to justify.  And what about the poor father?  His wife was a bitch, but at least she was a bit of a looker, especially considering the fifty some years she had under her belt.  But was that enough?  I’d never thought too much about the concept of a trophy wife before, but this seemed to be a prime example of one.

    Nelson’s father broke his silence with just one sentence.

    “The kids are here.”

    A limousine was parked out front, delivering the betrothed and enabling this sham of a wedding to conclude as soon as my father returned.  The smug look on Nelson’s face as he helped my sister out of the car was enough to make me want to kill him.  The only thing that saved him was my transparent existence and morally grounded upbringing.  But suddenly I realized that neither of those reasons would necessarily stop me.

    At this point I hadn’t really seen anything that would justify Nelson’s elimination.  Although surly, he wasn’t all that bad of a guy except for the cheating at cards bit.  But was that really any worse than my attempt at backing my way into the championship?  In all fairness he probably wasn’t one hundred percent responsible for my sister’s suicide.  Some of the blame should fall on her, as well as on me for not noticing the extent of the problem before it was too late.  But Nelson ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and if I was certain of anything it was that if he had not married my sister she would still be alive today.  And for that reason alone I wanted him dead.

    Or did I?

    I knew that murder was wrong, and no matter how much grief he had or would cause my family he didn’t actually deserve to die.  Maybe what I was really hoping for was the slightly less malicious wish that he had never been born to begin with.

    And what if he hadn’t?  What if I could go back, break up his parents with a little help from Dad, and thus leave no chance of him ending up with my sister?  He can’t hurt her if he doesn’t exist.  Would it be murder if he were never conceived?

    I suppose it was similar to abortion in a way, but not directly.  Part of that argument focuses on whether life begins at conception or birth or somewhere in between, so if there wasn’t a fetus involved at all I shouldn’t take any heat from neither Roe nor Wade.  I’d be the only one that knew about it, and I would be doing society a favor.  He was forgettable enough that no one would really miss him.  And if he really was meant to be I was sure I’d fail in my attempts.  He’d still come around by some other means and I’d be off the hook.  It was the perfect crime in theory.  The biggest question was whether or not Dad would help.

    I looked at Nelson’s Mom standing near her husband as they watched their son and his bride-to-be approach the house.  Both were focused on the children, with not so much as a sideways glance of happiness or a loving caress of shared joy between them.  Were they really happy?  Could Dad split them up?

    My Mom was different.  She gazed towards her daughter and smiled, then checked her watch, wondering where her man was.  That’s how it should be when it’s real.  She would wait a million years for Dad and walk a thousand miles to fall down at his door if she had to.  If I borrowed him for a few months before they ever met it wouldn’t hurt anything in the long run.  At least not anything I couldn’t fix.

    Plan in hand, I just needed an event to send me back.  Something that happened between Nelson’s parents meeting in the summer of ‘69 and their wedding in 1971.

    The answer was simple:  “Paul is dead.”