Timely Persuasion - Online Edition - Chapter 26


Across 26 Winters

Years went by as I bounced around our lifeline, and as far as I could tell I somehow managed to live a fairly normal life.

    I didn’t marry the cute little redheaded girl.  As anticipated, the pressures of foreknowledge were all too much for me to take.  If you can’t let human nature take its course it just doesn’t work out.  They say you can’t fight fate, but you can’t force it either.  Hence the fickle finger.  She’ll be with you if you want her to, unless she finds out that you do, then somehow she won’t want to be.  Look at it this way:  What would you do if someone you weren’t dating walked up to you and said with complete confidence that they were going to marry you, and there was nothing you could do about it since it was destiny?  Not that I tried that line.

    Actually I didn’t really try much of anything.  Had myself pseudo stalk her for a while, partly for the sport of it and partly just to see her smile now and again.  I could never manage enough control to really turn up the charm, and even if I could charm was Dad’s gift, not mine.  We did have an occasional pleasant conversation after “randomly” bumping into each other on the street.  But there wasn’t any real spark, no inciting incident.  Que sera sera. 

    On one blink I saw her out on a date with someone else.  For a few seconds jealousy flared through me, but upon realizing her date was with Nelson the feeling dissipated.  I wondered how much influence the internal Nelson had over the external Nelson in that scenario.  Was this the Nelsonification the doctor was referring to with his last word?  Though I considered having a drink and doing something about it, I decided against it and stayed away.  I needed to keep my eye on the long term endgame.  Maybe it was just sour grapes, but it did make me decide that I didn’t really want her anymore.  The past was gone, but something might be found to take its place.

    Enough about who I didn’t marry.  The girl I did end up with was about as good of a bullseye into my quote unquote type as you could probably get.  A smart, short haired girl who sometimes wears it twice as long and likes music and cards and wants to save the world and who everyone is in love with but she either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t care, only wanting to live her life on her own terms and not be caught up in the ways and means of traditional society. 

    People often tell me my wife reminds them of my sister.  I hadn’t seen it previously, but after hearing it multiple times I could admit there was a resemblance of sorts.  Subtle, but definitely there.  Maybe I was picking up on it subconsciously.  Or maybe my mind did it on purpose to remind me of what I had to do.  Or maybe my older self had a hand in our set up and this was his Freudian idea of a joke.

    I say my older self, as I honestly had nothing to do with it.  At least not directly.  Looking back, maybe admitting to both my internal and external selves that the redheaded girl wasn’t the one lifted enough baggage to pave the way for this one.  Or maybe having me inside as a confident confidant during similar scenarios gave the youngest me the self-assurance that cupid needed to do his thing.  After all, I’d had my share of misses, and they say he only misses sometimes.

    It didn’t matter.  We were both very happy with the relationship.  My only curiosity was whether or not we were together in another version of our lives.  Was she originally the unconfirmed second wife I had presumed myself to have?  In a different time, were my romantic misses actually my missus?  It was probably better that I didn’t know, as I’d have more than likely found a way to screw that up as well. 

    But if she was a brand new girl, what did that say about destiny and soulmates and the concept of finding “the one” that’s out there somewhere?  Can anyone settle down with anyone else in the world as long as they play their cards right?  Do the cards played matter as much as the cards that I’m dealt?  Is there not really a specific “one,” but instead many similar options that could be equally blissful depending on probability and other mathematical factors?  Do I think about this far too much?

    I thought back to Dad & Mom and Dad & Nelson’s Mom and Nelson’s Mom & Nelson’s Dad and Nelson & my sister and Nelson & my brother and Nelson & the cute redheaded girl and me & the cute redheaded girl and me & tree house girl and me & the roommate and me & my newfound angel.  So many permutations that I could hardly keep it straight.  Might as well just enjoy what I have while it lasts.

Blink.  I am somewhere in the city.  I am climbing up a fire escape.

Blink.  I am staring out the window, seeing the world fly left to right.  Why do I end up in the car so much?  I guess it’s the only place where a mind wanders enough to accept an intruder.  Where your guard is let down enough to let me in.

    We’re in the back seat this time.  I’m young, sis is younger.  I’m not sure if this is something I remember, as it could be one of any number of similar car rides.  Maybe Mom took a photo I can match it up with.  In sync with that thought, Mom turns from the front seat.

    “Who else is going to the party, honey?  Are you the only girl?”

    Sis turned red.  I suddenly remembered this drive.  We were dropping her off at a birthday party for a boy in her class.  Probably her first boy-girl party.  Originally I chimed in with a “little sister got a boyfriend” chant right about now.  Don’t be so immature, I thought to myself.  Let her go and start over.

    That was enough to suppress the peanut gallery.


Red lines. 

The clock. 

Insomnia again. 

I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink? 

Glug, glug, glug, ahhhh.

    Working my way back to the computer, I sat down and started writing about everything that had happened.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, ever since you upgraded to a new model you couldn’t afford.  A total impulse buy as far as you were concerned, though now that you’ve read this far I’m sure you realize my role as the voice inside your head had something to do with it.

    I’ve been careful to keep the names to a minimum in case someone else found this manuscript and read it before you did.  Character names aren’t needed when you’re telling a tale to somebody who knows you as well as you know yourself.  You’ll know who I’m talking about when I refer to me or my sister or Dad or the cute little redheaded girl.  No need to give names just for the sake of it.  Except for Nelson.  Hate needs a name, especially a hate as strong as this one.  If it wasn’t for him, none of this would have ever happened.  Maybe his name wasn’t actually Nelson, but it’s close enough.  I’m sure you know who I mean.  That is, if you even happen to find this file hidden on the depths of your hard drive.  Some writers say they’re driven to drink to help find their muse.  You never realized how true that really was.  Lou Reed called it the power of positive drinking.

    Maybe our sister will still end up with Nelson.  Maybe we’ll keep my current wife.  Maybe we’ll still end up with the redheaded girl.  Maybe you really will play the Hot Spot numbers and win that drawing.  Maybe I’m amazed at the way you pulled me out of time.  Maybe it doesn’t really matter in the long run.

    For now I feel a sense of relief.  Whatever happens next will happen for the right reasons.  I might not be around to remember it, but mentally I’ll be with you all the while.  Older us will be too.  I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.  I have a feeling that you and the other younger generations of us might like it better this way.