Fiction Fragment Friday
I started this story on a physical notebook sitting in a waiting room. I have always loved time travel and exploring different ideas behind it. For this story I started out wanting to explore memories, but it quickly went in a direction I was not expecting. That is not out of the ordinary when I start writing. Sometimes it is that journey that I love most about creating a story.
You all get to see this first draft and concept building story. There is a time travel love story anthology that I plan on submitting to later this year. These characters and world created in today’s flash fiction are going to greatly inform the story I write for that much longer submission. I think I have something in concept that is not cliché and could really work.
The world ended three weeks ago, but no one else knows. It also ended last month, but likewise these events were forgotten. That is because they never happened. More accurately they happened, but then were undone. Reality can lead to a bit of a complicated perspective for a time traveler.
For each change to the timeline that I have been involved in I remember the world both as it was and as it became. I’ve been involved in over one hundred changes so the buildup of conflicting memories has gotten kind of overwhelming.
The woman who stood before me had been my best friend, my wife, and my hated enemy in different timelines. I feel all the associated emotions for each of those relationships all at the same time in the moment I see her. The contradictions are enough to nearly drive me insane. Instead, my mind locked up not sure how I should feel or react to her presence. I could not determine what our relationship currently was so my best option was to wait for her to speak and set the tone.
“Well?” She asked. It was my worst-case scenario. She was annoyed and expected me to say something. Conversations without context are my biggest weakness. I’m not good at just jumping in and that’s why I do so much prep work before a mission. This wasn’t a mission though it was just life, and I still don’t know how to prepare for that.
“What do you want me to say?” I ask it while trying to fake a tone of annoyance. In reality I am just being completely honest. I want the answer to the question. If she starts to yell and we get into a huge argument so many of my memories tell me that I’m more comfortable with that. I can adjust and maybe find out which memory is the right one.
“I want you to tell me why you’re staring at me like some kind of creepy stalker. You broke it off, you don’t get to pine from afar.” That narrowed down the context considerably. In this timeline we dated, and I ended it. That is not a common occurrence. Unfortunately, memories do not come as complete packages. Even if I figure out exactly what happened in this timeline, I won’t have all the memories sorted. I have a million conversations with her in my head and each one is a separate memory not tied to some big bundle of memories.
“Look can we just start over here.”
I meant the conversation, but looking back I can see how it could have come out as something more. Her hand smacked against the side of my face in the hardest slap I have ever experienced. My cheek stung in a warm throbbing pain. “You have a lot of nerve. You broke my heart and now you think you can ogle me from a distance and I’m going to just fall into your arms. What kind of weak-willed shell of a person do you think I am?”
“You are the strongest and most fiercely determined person I have ever met. I would never for a second think of you as weak-willed.” The words came out before I really thought about them. Complete honesty of thought felt natural with her no matter which version it was. I might not be able to tell her about my missions, but when it came to my deepest thoughts about her, I had no secrets. Even as my hated enemy, she was someone I admired across all timelines. What kind of idiot version of myself had broken it off with her? The kind trying to prepare himself for changes that would rip us apart.
I could see her eyes soften for a moment before becoming hard again. “You think a few flowery words are going to change anything? Why are you even here? What do you possibly hope to gain?”
The memories continued to sort themselves in my head. I had come here to see her one final time before getting ready to make another change. She was never supposed to know that I was here. I had already made the change, but the ripples were not what I predicted. My life with her had not changed at all this time despite so much else in the world changing to avert the apocalypse that was coming. I miscalculated and I also stood there staring far too long. She had seen me while I was stuck in my own head trying to get my bearings. “I’m not trying to gain anything. I’m trying to undo what I’ve lost.”
“You can’t change the past.”
Oh, if she only knew just how wrong she was. “But we can write our own future.”
“Well, I’m going to write one for me without you in it.” She turned and stormed away. People moved away from the sheer force of her presence, giving her as much space as they could. In that moment I made my decision. I had changed the past to save the world so many times without once trying to get anything for myself. I was going to make one more jump no matter what it did to my jumbled memories. This time it would be for me. I was going to undo the hurt I had caused and win her back in the only way I knew how. By making it never have happened in the first place.