Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 17


Wounded Kite At :17

I realize I’ve written quite a bit about the occasional difficulty in finding the right memory to ride back in time on, but I haven’t described the reverse process of blinking back to the future in any detail.  You might think the two would be similar, but in actuality they are not.  Rather than relying on a specific event, returning to from whence you came is a simple feeling that shouts “This has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way.”

    It can be part boredom, part panic, part satisfaction, and part curiosity all at once.  Thinking about it, I figured that made some sense.  If you had to use a memory to get back to your real time you’d never quite get there, because your most recent memory would be of the instant before you left.  At least that’s how I thought it was supposed to work, but this time I didn’t make it all the way back.

    One moment I’m in Dad’s trailer, the next I’m outside my grandparents’ house walking towards the football field.  The barn was gone, the house was back, and everything appeared to be just as I remembered it.

    Although it didn’t make any logical sense, I wasn’t particularly shocked.  At least I wasn’t in that hospital again.  Part of me hoped to land next to Mom’s car outside my old apartment, but the rest of me knew that anticipated ending would be the most unlikely of scenarios since I’d no longer have a reason to make that drive.  With Nelson effectively eliminated, I could have turned up anywhere. 

    But was here a valid anywhere?  If Local Boy killed Nelson, this house shouldn’t be here since Dad bought his parents a new place with his stolen royalties.  But if the record store wasn’t here, I shouldn’t even remember Local Boy since that’s where I discovered him.  Confused?  Me too.

    Stuck in the moment, I kept walking and absentmindedly lifted my arm to grab at a low hanging tree branch blowing in the wind.  My hand went right through it. 

    I couldn’t grab the tree.  The wind was blowing, but I couldn’t feel it.  Checking my clothing, I still had the hospital scrubs on.  Scratching my head, I felt that it was still shaved.  Why wouldn’t my hair keep growing since I’d been back in time for a good month and a half by now?  And that’s where I still was, somewhere in time.

    I cautiously returned to the house to find out when I was and what was going on.  The voice of my younger father drew me to an open window.

    “He’s right in here,” I heard him say.  “Word of warning though, you might be surprised by who it is.”

    He entered the bedroom holding hands with the prim and proper Nelson’s Mom from 1969, then gave a quizzical look upon realizing they were alone.  I ducked away from the window and decided to just listen rather than risk being spotted.

    Nelson’s Mom sighed.  “Your mysterious imaginary songwriting partner, gone again.  Can’t you just take credit for what you’ve done on your own and drop the modesty act?”

    “But he was here.  And you know him.  Or he knows you.  He said he had a thing for you.”

    The conversation continued, but I had stopped listening.  For some reason I had blinked back to where I had left from before my most recent blink to the Barnstormer show.  This didn’t deviate from any of my past experiences, as I’d always returned to the same exact moment I’d departed from previously.  It also explained why I returned to the wedding after the Hearts tournament.  It wasn’t because I wanted to; it was because I had to.  A simple law of time travel forcing me to retrace my steps on my way back home.

    If I was right, my next attempted blink home should take me to the living room of Nelson’s parent’s house…

    …and that’s exactly where I landed.  The house seemed to be more or less as I had remembered it from my brief stay last time, except that nobody was home.  Checking outside, there was no limousine, indicative of the fact that I had eliminated Nelson and thus the wedding.  Do re me so far so good.

    I left the porch for the next scheduled stop at that awful hospital.  I wanted to get it over with as fast as possible, so I prepared myself to blink twice in rapid succession, stopping just long enough to confirm the vacancy of the room, which set me up to land in the real world of my present.

    The headache that hit me was more painful than before.  Imagine the worst migraine you’ve ever had, combined with a terrible wine hangover plus the nausea of a bad concussion.  Multiply that by infinity and you’ll almost ache like I ached.  It turned my world to black.  My eyes were forced shut so tightly from the pain that I still had no concept of when or where I was.  Or if I even was at all.

    Was I dead?  Or maybe worse, erased?  What had gone wrong?  If I was dead I probably wouldn’t be thinking about it.  But if I had gone back to a present that I was no longer a part of, maybe I would be somewhere like here.  Everywhere and nowhere, thinking about the sun and the moon and the spinning of the room and a million other things all at once.  Brain exploding or imploding, not knowing where it is supposed to be.  Was this the same fate I had subjected Nelson to?  So many thoughts, but not a single one was stable enough to support another blink.

    A voice broke through the darkness.  “Are you okay, honey?”

    I fought my eyes open and found myself at the kitchen table across from my mother.  A cribbage board was between us.  What was presumably my six-card hand was flopped on top of it, partly face up and partly face down.

    “I asked if you were doing okay.”

    “Yeah.  Just a bad headache.”

    “All of a sudden?  We don’t have to play anymore.  Do you want to take an aspirin and lay down for a bit?”

    “Yes,” I managed to utter through the pain.

    Mom led me downstairs to the couch.  She said something about Dad being here for dinner that I didn’t quite hear, but I couldn’t be bothered with asking her to repeat it.  Rest was all I needed or wanted.