Tag: daydreaming

The Lost Secret of Time Travel

It was an ordinary Thursday when Emily discovered the secret of time travel. She had been sitting by a window, watching the rain, when she noticed a red umbrella moving along the sidewalk below. In a moment, she was transported into a memory.

The umbrella was the same color as the red geraniums that her grandmother grew in pots along her window sill. Emily remembered sitting backwards on the living room couch to watch the rain out the window, with the red geraniums on the windowsill below, just at the edge of her vision. The memory was sharp and powerful, but seeing it in her mind was not the same as time travel.

And yet, Emily could remember her grandmother’s house as though she was there. Mentally, she could walk the rooms as they were, even though it had been at least a decade since her grandmother’s death. The rooms were not the same now. The house was not the same.

However, Emily could remember just how her grandmother’s house smelled. It didn’t take much thought to remember the taste of the raspberries in the bushes that were once behind the house and were no longer there. In her memories, everything was still just as it once was.

Emily sat up in her chair, confused. Surely she couldn’t remember something so completely and well if it no longer existed at all. Something so solid and real that she could close her eyes and it was there, as real as anything she could see with her eyes open, was surely something greater than any other more ephemeral thought.

If it existed in the past, and she could visit it in her memory, surely memories held the key to time travel. But how could you physically visit a memory? If you remembered it perfectly would you somehow be able to step inside the memory?

If you remembered the memory perfectly enough to feel like it was real, would it matter if you were physically there again or not? Emily frowned and drew a geranium on the budget proposal she was working on. Then she erased it.

If you were really, physically there in the memory, would you be replacing your younger self? If you changed something, would you be stuck there? What would happen to the future, if it was already there, the same as the past? Would it change too?

And what about other times? Once you learned the trick of traveling through time, assuming you didn’t get stuck, could you travel there too? Could you learn enough about a historical time to create a memory to visit?

Emily filled out the budget proposal. When it was time to present it, She stood at the front of the conference room, and the room began to shake. Everyone dove under the tables. There were cracking and creaking sounds from all sides. Somebody screamed.

Without any conscious effort, Emily suddenly recalled sitting at her breakfast table that morning. She was sitting at the table in her pajamas, eating oatmeal with a little milk and raspberry jam. Eyes wide open, Emily recalled every detail of that moment.

She could no longer hear the creaking or screaming. She could no longer see the conference room. She was there, in that moment, eating the last bite of oatmeal.

Strangely enough, when she got up to rinse her bowl, she was still there, sitting in her chair. She watched herself walk away to get ready for the day without looking back. Uncertain of what to do, Emily hid in the guest room until she heard the front door close.

It didn’t take much research to discover that it really was six hours earlier. She’d gone back in time. Or she was in a coma somewhere. She pinched her arm. It hurt.

She got dressed, picked up an old purse and gathered all the change from the jar. Then she went to the corner store. Everyone could see her. She could see and pick up things that she hadn’t seen in her memory.

Grabbing a few apples, she headed to the check out. On her way, there was a display of odds and ends. She picked up a red umbrella.

Hours later, she walked along the sidewalk, protected from the rain by that red umbrella. She knew that this was the time she’d looked out the window, but there were no other red umbrellas to be seen. She entered a cafe further along the street and watched for another half hour.

There were no other red umbrellas. Had she seen herself? Was that proof of her time travel? What would happen if she tried to change something else? What would happen if she traveled back even further? She looked at the red umbrella, folded closed like a flower bud, and thought of red geraniums.

Emily disappeared that day, in the middle of the terrible earthquake that leveled the office building where she worked. Authorities assumed she died during the collapse or during the fire that swept the area soon after. The secret of time travel was lost to the world yet again.

But Emily still knew it, whenever she was.

Charlie’s Room: An Unexpected Visitor

Marianne and Charlie loved to read. They would sit on the couch to read in the afternoon, and just tune out the world around them. When they were reading, they couldn’t hear anything.

The funny thing was that they would respond to questions, but their answers wouldn’t make any sense, and they wouldn’t remember later what they said. It was a little like sleep-talking, except they were awake. Isaac wondered if for them reading was like dreaming with their eyes open.

Isaac liked to read, too. However, he was able to hear the doorbell or the telephone when he was reading. If someone asked him a question, he could stop reading and answer the question and remember the conversation later.

One early December afternoon, when the weather was threatening snow but hadn’t yet delivered it, Marianne and Charlie were sitting side by side on the couch reading. They were bathed in the glow of the afternoon light streaming through the front window. Their eyes moved, and occasionally they turned a page, but otherwise they were as still as statues.

Isaac sat in a nearby chair. He had his book out, but he was daydreaming rather than reading. It was hard to focus on the page when there were so many things to think about. Just as he prepared to reread the third paragraph on the page for the fourth time, the doorbell rang.

Marianne and Charlie read on. Isaac sat up and looked around for a bookmark. He found a crossword puzzle magazine and closed it inside his book and set it on the low table nearby. And then he went to answer the door.

No one was standing on the doorstep. Isaac almost closed the door, when a giant white bird flew into the narrow opening and shoved passed Isaac into the house. Isaac pulled the door open a little wider and looked around quickly.

There wasn’t anything scary chasing the bird. There wasn’t anyone running around trying to find their lost bird. There weren’t any other white birds waiting for their chance to fly into the house.

Isaac decided to leave the door open while he found the bird and hopefully chased it back outside. First, he looked into the living room. Marianne and Charlie were still on the couch reading.

“Did the big white bird fly in here?” he asked.

“What kind of bird was it?” Marianne asked, still reading.

“I don’t know. It was big and white and inside the house.”
“Hmmmmm.” Charlie turned a page. “It was probably a chicken.”

“I don’t think so. I do know what chickens look like,” Isaac said.

“Of course you do,” Marianne agreed.

Isaac shook his head and left to check the kitchen. The bird wasn’t there. It was in Charlie’s room. Of course. It was in his closet sitting on a pile of shoes. It hissed at Isaac when he walked in the room.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to spend the winter somewhere else,” he told the bird. “I could maybe spare a corner of the garden shed, if you’re interested.”

The bird hissed.

Isaac left for a moment and returned with a large towel. “I’m going to drop this on you, and wrap you up and take you outside,” he said in what he hoped was a reassuring voice.

The bird hissed louder and tried to peck at him. Isaac wasn’t sure he was brave enough to try to catch the bird in the towel. He’d have to go rather close to that largish beak.

New plan. Isaac retrieved his hidden stash of oatmeal raisin cookies. He would be happy to share his treats with a hungry bird, especially if that meant the bird would be able to continue whatever it was doing before it came inside.

He broke a cookie and tossed half of it in the bird’s direction The bird snapped it up and ate it. Isaac waved the other half of the cookie invitingly and backed up.

The bird flew at him, and knocked him over. Then it took the other half of the cookie and ate it. Isaac curled around the cookie tin and got up, backing out of the room.

He opened the tin and took out another cookie and broke it. The bird turned and looked at him. Isaac hurried down the hall. He made it to the entryway before the bird knocked him over and took both halves of the cookie.

Isaac stood and brushed himself off. Then he opened the tin, took out a cookie, and tossed it out the front door. The bird followed it out. Isaac closed the door. And then he locked it just in case.

He looked out the back door. No bird. He slipped out and closed the door. He left the shed door partly open, just as he promised.

Then he returned inside. He paused, waiting for a moment to see if the doorbell would ring again. Nothing. Perhaps the bird was really gone now. Maybe it was just hungry.

He returned to the living room and sat down. He picked up his book. The magazine slid out and he lost his place. He sighed and put the book back down.

Marianne closed her book and looked up. “What on earth were you doing?” She asked. “You’re covered in crumbs and you have feathers in your hair.”

“We had an unexpected visitor,” Isaac said.

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