“Here we are!” I smile, and fling my arms wide. "1980's Los Angeles, Califoria! Feat. a private beach that we're totally not trespassing on, but who cares! It's the middle of the summer!"
Naturally, Julian looks a little... shaken. You know, I kind of expected that from him. He seems uh... well, you know, I'm actually not too sure. He's kind of staring at the ocean all bug-eyed. You know, if I had transported him to like, maybe the same street we were at but just a different time, maybe he'd feel a little less shaken?
Julian continues to stare at the ocean, before he begins to blink at a rapid pace. Now he's screaming. Oh, god, he's screaming. Ok.
I grab his arm. "Julian! Julian! Calm down! I told you I'm a time traveller! So look! Here we are! At a different point in time! I proved it to you! It's real!" I smile, making another grandiose gesture to the beach, hoping that maybe it'll calm him down or something.
Fortunately, he stops screaming, but now he's just... wheezing.
"I-I-b-but-th-this-n-no-not-wh-" he stutters wildly, sounding a bit like a motorboat trying to speak English. I pat him on the shoulder. He falls to his hands and knees in the sand.
"There, there, little Julian. 'Tis normal for rookie time travellers to experience some uh... shock, you know?"
His breathing begins to slow, and he looks up at me.
"It's... you're... you're really a time traveller," he marvels.
I crack a smile, and laugh gleefully. "Heheheh. You callin' me a liar?"
He stares at me, a bit confused, before he gets what I'm saying. Of course, I'm referencing what I asked him when he was trying to interrogate me last week. He gives me a meager grin - but you know, I can't blame him. He's trying. He's also possibly been traumitized by suddenly materializing in a completely different city, season, day, and time. But you know. Little details.
"Why don't you take me to the future?" Julian asks, poking at his dumpling with chopsticks. "Or like, really far back in the past? You've only been talking me to places within like, my parent's or my granparent's lifetimes."
Wilson snickers, popping a dumpling in her mouth. "Ok, you wanna know why? Because for one, we'd stick out like a sore thumb in these clothes, and I'm not made of money, you know? I can't just buy you a whole new wardrobe. And heck, it ain't like the movies, kid. You can't just steal some poor family's clothes off their clothesline. That's just like, cruel. Especially in something like the 15th century where it's not like they can just hop on over to a goodwill and get a new outfit. And as far as money goes, every time period's money is a little different, too. Can't walk in with 2010 pennies in 1997! You'll get weird looks! People will think they're counterfeit! Psh." Wilson shakes her head and rolls her eyes, as if Julian's question is in itself offensive by nature, and he should know these things. "Also, movies, books, T.V. shows and stuff... you know, they wayyyy overglorify the whole time travelling thing. It's cool, sure, but you go anyplace before toilets and toilet paper and it's just kinda miserable."
Julian snorts and grins, now applying his chopsticks to the rice in front of him. "Ok, but what about the future though? Surely they have things better than toilets, right?" He asks.
Wilson flares her nostils and gives him a flat look - her eyes practically glaring at him. "Trust me. You don't want to go to the future."
"Well geez, you make it sound like it all just goes downhill from here," Julian says with brows raised, as he takes another bite of rice.
Wilson groans and slouches far down into her seat, her bum practically slipping off of it. "Ughhhh. Here I am, taking you on all these free vacations, and you're just complaining? I'm tryin' to make it so you can have fun. So you know, things like authentic Chinese food eaten in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on a rainy day, on the third floor of a crowded building overlooking... well, some no-name street in 1967, but it's a nice place."
Julian nods. "It is. I'm not... I'm not complaining. I just, well... I guess I just expected time travel to be different is all."
"You were expecting me to fly around in some blue box or some kind of time machine, weren'tcya?" Wilson asks, looking at him with an unamused expression and one waggled brow.
Julian opens his mouth to speak but closes it again before answering. "... I mean. A little. You kind of just... I dunno."
"I just do," she explains.
"It's almost too easy," Julian remarks. "With... power like that -"
Wilson cuts him off. "Woah, woah, woah, there. This isn't some super power. Don't use that word. Ech. I don't like how it sounds."
"Ok, with an ability like that -" Julian pauses, looking at Wilson with brows raised, seeking approval before continuing. With her nod, he kept going. "With an ability like that, why don't you change history? Why don't you interfere with things that have happened?"
Wilson flutters her eyes at him. "Have you like, EVER seen or read a movie on time travel? Alternate timelines? Stuff like that?"
Julian nods, but shrugs simultaneously, overall giving a not so convincing answer.
Wilson sighs and rolls her eyes. "Well it's all wrong. And even if I wanted to do stuff like that. I can't."
"Have you ever tried?" Julian asks.
"Yes." She replies, staring out the window, watching the rain drops patter against the glass. A moment of silence forms between them, and the conversation hangs in the air for a minute before they both return to eating their meals in silence.
“You said you weren’t dying,” I choke on my words, my pitch rising and falling as I fight back the tears. But they only gather as a thick coating of water over my eyes, finally spilling over as my lids force them out with one simple blink. My tears drip onto her plaid shirt as I hold her in my arms.
“You said this was normal,” I croak again, this time anger and sadness melding together. "You said you would be ok. You said you never…”
Her finger touches my quivering lips. I can tell that for her to even lift her hand takes a great amount of energy. She’s trying. I can see the strain in her pale face.
“Wh-“ I stutter.
“I can’t die… if I was never born,” she whispers - her voice hoarse, and her dark eyes staring blankly out into space.
I stare at her, tears still steadily streaming from my eyes. “I… I don’t understand… why won’t you tell me… why won’t you explain how-”
Her fingers pull away from my face and her arm falls to her side with a sudden plop.
“I’m… I’m not…” she almost convulses, her shoulders hunching up as she tries to hold back either vomit or tears (I can't tell anymore), and keep back the lump in her throat that emotions will not allow her to deny.
“I’m not real,” she whispers, her whole body shaking. “I’m just… whatever time wanted to make… so she could experience… what it was like to live in the very thing she is…”
I stare at her. I don’t understand. “What do you mean? Wilson, of course you’re real. Don’t lie to m-“
“So she could experience something... something like friendship. Like... love.”
"Wh-wha-t d O y o -
uM m e A n N͞ ͝ņnń ҉n ? ?"͞
"I̢- ̸- I҉ ͝-̀ ̧- a͟m҉ ͠--̡ - t̴-͘t ҉T Tt҉ ͜I̷m e
i n̶ th҉E҉ ̷f-f ͏F̴ ̕L͜es ͞s͢ H.
Now that I have... found... what I was looking for... I must depart.
I wish I could stay."
We're back at Longview. We're back to the time period that we're from - no, that I'm from. I'm still not used to the sudden change of scenery. But this time, my eyes are not fixed on the sudden transition from grass to concrete beneath me, but on Wilson's face. The look in her eyes is absent, and she's both frail and limp in my arms.
There are people passing by. I don't know if they can see us. I don't know if they can see her - because suddenly she begins to fade, like a projection of an image instead of a real, tangible human being. She dematerializes in front of me, as if she were only ever a vapor. And now, there is no peron in my arms. There is no Wilson. There's just me, kneeling in the middle of the sidewalk on a street corner, trying not to cry.
"I've lived many lifetimes,
and travelled many years
to find a friend in you.
But I must return to destiny -
the life I'm called back to.
I hold it all together,
and if I fall apart,
it will not all be for nothing;
it's just the b r e a k i n g o f m y
h e a r t."