I sit there and look at her face , like so many times before, trying to convince myself. But how do you forget it all, how do you not know. I reach for my wallet and pull out a picture of ours. She looks almost the same , a couple of years older maybe. Time is something I stopped keeping track of long ago. Its the same person I say to myself as she smiles while reading the newspaper.She's going to play with the edge of the paper , and she's going to look up at you and smile.
She follows suit just like yesterday, and everyday before that. I still feel like iam looking at a stranger. Someone whos just reminding me of her. Some one I would sacrifice myself for.
The machine? The machine worked perfectly. It solved the problem it was meant to. I went back in time. I changed the past, things are different now.
The childs death was tearing her apart. Everyday I watched her suffer. That we could have had another. That the death was during birth and there should be little attachment. The brain believes in logic. Sadly the heart doesn't.
I didn't think it was necessary to tell her about the machine. It would be better she would know none of this . Or why I was spending more and more time away from home. "Just a little longer" I would whisper to myself as I would have home late to find her asleep on the couch. Tear marks fresh across her face.
On paper I could see the problems and decisions I could be faced with. Questions time would have to answer. Meeting myself would be an issue. But I think I would understand. I'v always had the idea, and the discipline to not even try to use it. Things change. She on the other hand, was to not know. For then she would ask why.
I didn't stay to say goodbye. I was in a hurry to see her smile again. I stepped into the machine and bid this nightmare farewell, as i pushed the buttons and set the dials. The lights flashed and I had gone back a few years. I was in the same warehouse where I would later set up my lab. It was around midnight, as I went and sat in a corner. Waiting for tomorrow. Rehearsing my lines.
I knew when and where I could find him. He was standing alone in his office. Working late like he did on every Thursday. He saw me from far. Trying desperately not to believe his eyes. We stood face to face with each other. Till he finally muttered. "what's wrong". Knowing that there was going to be no good news.
I told him everything. I told him how to avoid it. They weren't going to have the child, not with that doctor whose incompetence led to all this. I spent my time in the warehouse, he would get me food and anything else i would need. Everything was going according to plan. Untill it happened.
I dont know why I left the warehouse that day. But i thought i should get some things from the market. And thats where i saw her after all those months. I knew then i couldnt let go.
Later i met him, my past, in the warehouse. We were much closer now. My hands were in my coat, clenched. When he asked, " oh by the way , how did you solve the anomaly ". My hands tightened their grip. "what do you mean?" i answered, my eyes wandering away from his eyes to his hands. "how did you solve the problem. I mean we knew about going back to the past, but how did you solve the travel back to the ....." as he went silent. He knew, i had to act now. I pulled out my hand from my coat , gripping tightly a gun. This isnt how it was supposed to be, as i looked at the gun. It was for me, not for him. My hands shivered , the weight of the gun seemed to be increasing with every passing second, making it harder and harder for me to keep it pointed at him.
He, he didn't panic at all. Its like he understood. He knew given the option what i would choose. He would choose the same.
I saw blood trickle down my face. I had made the ultimate sacrifice. I had chosen her over myself.
Years passed , i took his place. I had set my life straight. It was perfect. To see her again, to be with her again. Life had new meaning, a new zest. Things i had taken for granted meant much more now.
But of-course there's always a price to pay. In time my mind started to wander, to dark places. I was back to the board, solving equations. It couldn't be. They feelings in my bones grew as it all converged. Often i tried to stop my self from going any further, to just take what i had and not look any more. But that's human then isn't it. The truth, even if it means your own end. Every day it got harder to love her, the idea rooted in my brain, the equations on the board. They all started to point in the same direction. I had to face the truth. To face what I had done.
Time is still linear, and what i had traversed was not time. I hopped between copies of the universe, each with its own off-set. And she still existed in the first one, i was still missing there. What i deceived myself into thinking that i had set things right was actually me destroying another copy. I looked like him, i thought like him, but i wasn't him.
What was worse, me leaving her when she needed me most, or me killing someone else's love, i couldn't be sure.
So here i am wondering where i go from here. It haunts me to know how she is. It haunts me to know how she coped with my disappearance when she needed me most. And i have to see someone who looks just like her every day, someone i lie to everyday, someone who i stole from, someone who thinks she loves me. I keep telling myself i couldn't have known. I didn't mean any of this to happen. Through this changing time, we only have once.
I sit there and look at her face, like so many times before , trying to convince myself. But how do you forget it all, how do you not know.