Tag: grandmother

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.

The Cat. Everything Else Is Incidental

Once there was a cat. Really, as far as the cat is concerned, that’s all that needs to be said. However, there were others present who believe there is more to the tale.

It all began when Grandmother was coming to visit. The family insisted on noisily cleaning and rearranging things, and so the cat slipped out the open door for a little peace and quiet. The cat was quickly distracted by birds and squirrels, and nearly caught her own breakfast.

Alas, the birds and squirrels refused to be caught. Annoyed, the cat returned to her domain, looking for an alternate meal. She was in luck. Mother had made sweet rolls.

Mother would say that she did not make sweet rolls for the cat. They were intended for a late breakfast after the family returned home with Grandmother from the train station. But, Mother was not there when the cat found the sweet rolls.

With a paw, the cat carefully tested the rolls. The rolls in the center were still too hot and gooey. The rolls at the edges were already cold. Just in-between, the rolls were just right. If she closed her eyes as she munched on them, the cat could almost imagine she was eating a squirrel.

After she finished her meal, the cat knocked the pan of sweet rolls to the floor. They were in her way, after all. She looked around. The kitchen was boring. It didn’t have any birds or squirrels.

She knocked the bag of flour off the counter and jumped from the counter into the pile of flour next to the now empty bag.

She rolled in the cold, soft flour, and then stood and shook it off her fur. It was time to look out the window and see if the birds and squirrels had returned to the backyard for another round of chase. Unfortunately, the living room furniture had all been rearranged.

The cat did not like the new arrangement. The sofa was no longer in front of the window. Where would she sit to look out at the backyard? Instead of the sofa, which was always just right, there were now two chairs.

The cat sat in the first one. It was too soft. She sunk into the cushions and couldn’t see out the window. The seat didn’t have a back she could climb on, either. The cat sharpened her claws on the cushions and tore out the stuffing. Even with cushions that were less soft, she still couldn’t see out the window.

The cat kicked the useless fluff to the floor and leaped into the seat of the other chair. It was hard and slippery. The seat was too low for looking out the window. The back of the chair was too narrow for sitting. The cat jumped down from the chair and leaned against it until it fell over. It made a satisfying cracking sound as it hit the floor.

The cat curled up on the sofa, angry that it was in the wrong place. She sharpened her claws on the arm of the sofa and looked towards the window. She could see a patch of blue sky, but that was all. Growling in frustration, she tore her claws through the fabric one last time and hopped off the sofa.

The cat decided to go upstairs and nap in a nice sunbeam. Preferably it would be a nice warm sunbeam in the middle of a nice soft bed. She checked the first room.

The sunbeam was not on the bed. The window was wide open. It was too cold. The cat jumped on the desk and knocked a few things out the window in protest. Then she went to the next room.

The sunbeam was in the right place, but the windows were closed. The cat tried lying on the bed, but didn’t stay long. The sunlight was too bright. It was too hot. The cat knocked the pillows off the bed and shredded one of them, just a little.

The last room had an open window and a sunbeam on the bed. It was just right. The cat curled up in the middle of the bed and fell asleep.

The cat knew when the family returned home. She heard them walking up to the front door through the open window. They were always so noisy when they were outside, and never considered how they might be scaring away the birds and squirrels.

When she heard them go inside the house, she decided it was time to go back outside. Maybe she could catch the birds and squirrels as they returned to the yard after being startled away. She stood and stretched.

Just then, footsteps pounded up the stairs. She heard them pause at each of the other rooms. And then, three faces looked inside the door. “…And here she is,” said the smallest one.

The cat jumped out through the open window and into the tree growing conveniently nearby. She left to hunt for birds and squirrels, and didn’t come back until lunchtime.

The family was left to clean and bake again, this time with Grandmother’s help. Grandmother laughed as they pieced together the evidence of the cat’s busy morning. “She is a cat and that’s what cats do,” she said. If the cat was there, she would have agreed completely.

Once there was a cat. Perhaps that’s really all that needs to be said, after all.

 

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