Future Kisses Past
The grubby sights and rancid smells of that now-dead city invigorated me. My clothing -- black t-shirt, jeans, gray Skechers -- didn't stand out amid the styles of that time; my longish hair and gray-flecked beard inspired no double-takes. In fact, I was the one who stared at passersby, noting the mid-80s fashions, the gelled-hair of the yuppie bankers, the shoulder-padded stiletto dresses on the women. It was both stark reality and unsettling hallucination. I was there, and yet I wasn't. How many of these people were still alive? And how was it that they were going through their daily routines as if 1985 still existed?
Clearly, I was out of place, and sped on to see Mary, deliver my message, and return to our present paradise.
I pressed the apartment's buzzer. Mary stuck her head out of the window to see who it was. She of course didn't recognize me, and since I couldn't explain everything from the front stoop, I used what knowledge I had of Mary to lure her downstairs. She was naturally wary, wondered how I knew what I did (place of birth, previous boyfriend), then peered closer at my face.
"Well, 48. Not ancient."
"I don't understand this."
"Can I come up? I have a few things to tell you."
"We broke up. I don't know."
"You broke up with the Dennis from right now. I'm not that guy -- sort of."
Mary reluctantly agreed. Walking up those narrow stairs brought back sharp memories, as did the inside of the small apartment we once shared. It was a bit overwhelming. I felt a little light-headed and leaned against the wall for support.
"You okay?" she asked, touching my arm.
"Yeah. It's been a long time since I was here."
"You were here a few days ago, getting the rest of your stuff."
"Well, obviously not me."
"This is so weird."
I told her I had a brief window, relayed the message about a mutual friend whose life affected the timeline, and thus had to be told to make a different decision in order to keep things straight.
"You're the only one who can do that, Mary. He'll listen to you."
I gazed at the younger Mary. She was still pretty, and I felt a tinge of sexual excitement that quickly passed. I'd already been down that road, which Mary reminded me of as she played a voice message my then-self left on her machine.
My tone was hurt and desperate, pleading for another chance. What a frightened, confused young man. So much yet to experience and learn. He was still a puppy, Mary's pet word for me back then.
"Ignore him," I said. "He'll get over it. He's about to move to LA anyway, so it doesn't matter."
"Of course. I mean, look at me now. I got over you a long time ago."
She asked about the future. I replied that I couldn't tell her anything, as that might fuck up the timeline and return me to who-knows-what.
"Well, you can at least tell me what you're doing, right?"
I said that I was married with two kids, and that my future wife was living downtown at that very moment with the man who'll become her first husband.
"You should go see her."
"Oh no. Not a chance."
"Don't you want to?"
"Yes. But I could alter everything. My son may not be born. Don't want to risk that."
Mary suggested that I go counsel myself. Again, while tempting, I had nothing really to say to that guy. He had to go through all the bullshit, insanity, and poverty that was ahead of him. If he didn't, then who was I?
"I have to get back. I can't stay here. None of this exists anymore."
Mary looked confused, then flashed that southern sexy smile she had polished over time, which worked on more men than not. She was a flirt and decidedly unfaithful. Yet part of my present self still found her attractive. We silently locked eyes; she rose up to kiss me. It was passionate, hot, but in the end a dead gesture. My head began swimming again, which meant my time there was closing.
"You're cute in your middle age," Mary said.
"Thanks," I replied.
Mary and her apartment starting fading, and I felt the pull of the present.
"Look me up when you get back."
I grinned. "I don't think so."
DID IT HAPPEN? Who knows. Allow theoretical physicist Michio Kaku to offer his views: