Saturday, October 27, 1984 (Alba is 14)
Alba: Cold. It seeps through my "borrowed" jeans and cardigan that look like they're from around the early eighties. I shiver. Snow swirls in the air, and I wrap my arms tighter around myself. I'm in the forest behind the Meadowlark house. It's strange thinking that I have stolen my own mother's clothing, seeing as she would have been my age about now, and the clothes were lying in a basket right near the glass door.
I trudge farther into the woods, the shin-deep snow accumulating on my pant legs, and the wind biting into the holes of these stupid, torn jeans. Did she really wear these in public? I muse silently.
I've already passed the meadow, where my parents met. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I swallowed them back. I wonder if he will visit her soon. I wonder how old he would be. I absently fingered my empty pocket, where the sketch of my father that my mother had created would be if I had it. No, now it was probably on the floor, in a crumpled heap of clothes, or laying on my bed where my mother had picked them up and put them, awaiting my return home.
It had been nine years since my dad has died. My mom hasn't been the same since he's been gone. How could she be? She has spent her whole life with my father, and had to adjust to life without him. She keeps herself busy, always accepting requests for work, never just sitting around, that is, unless I'm travelling. I've gotten home on numerous occasions, and she is sitting in dad's chair, drinking tea, waiting.
Voices from nearby startles me out of my thoughts. Whispers and footsteps. They're close. I drop into the snow onto my stomach. They can't see me. Please be Dad. Please be Dad, I pray. Suddenly, two men step into view, dressed warmly, I observe with jealously. They come into sharp focus. Grandpa! And Uncle Mark! Grandpa's hair seems to have magically reversed it's white, and Uncle Mark has much more hair then in my present. They step cautiously through the snow, guns in hand. They obviously are hunting.
I start to make my way through the drifts on my hands and knees. I can't get caught. I crouch behind a dead bush, wiping the flakes off of my pants. The motion causes me to hit my hand against the bush's thorns, and I gasp. Grandpa whips around, and I take an involuntary step backwards. Snap! I twig breaks under my feet. I am frozen in fear, my heart pulsated in my ears. Even in the freezing weather, I am sweating. Please, I think, Please God just get me out of here. And, as if answering my prayer, Grandpa waves Uncle Mark into the abyss of trees, past where I am panting behind the hibernating shrubbery.
I stand still for several more minutes, calming my pounding heart, and then take off into the trees, running far where they cannot find me. I run, for who knows how long, until my legs ache and lungs scream at me to stop. I lean against a tree, pressing against the cold bark. That is, until, I hear a noise.
It sounds like a woodpecker, at first. I follow the sound, stepping past fallen logs and dead leaves. The clattering gets louder. I take a breath, and step into the clearing. A man. His teeth are chattering. Not hard to believe seeing as he's not wearing any clothes. My already scarce breath catches in my throat. My dark hair, my face. My father. He's on his hands and knees in the snow, his body convulsing in shudders. I can't move my feet. All I want to do is run up to him and throw my arms around him, but I can't. In everything I can do, my feet don't move, my mouth doesn't open.
Footsteps behind me; whispers. Oh no, please no. A gunshot rings through the air. The body before me crumples to the snow, then vanishes. I cannot scream. I collapse onto all fours. Drag myself into the underbrush. Curl up into a ball. My arms enclose around my knees. My entire body racks with sobs. I am cold, so cold. Daddy!
Sunday, November 8, 2015
I materialize on the kitchen floor, curled up in fetal position, tears running down my face. My heart aches. I hear Mama gasp and then scurry away. A few seconds later, she wraps a blanket around my shoulders and hugs me to her chest. I cry myself until my eyes are sore; until there is nothing left. I sniffle and sit up to face her.
"It's all my fault!"
"Shh. It's all right," she soothed, stroking my hair.
I jerk away from her. "No it's not! I did it! I killed him!" I cry.
"No! I was there! I saw! I made them change directions! I made a noise, and they followed it. They found Daddy. They....they..." I cannot finish the sentence. Mama stares at me like I've lost it. So I explain everything. Where I time travelled, what happened, and how my actions had eventually lead to my own father's death. Slowly, as if she is forcing the words out of her mouth, she says,
"It wasn't your fault. You couldn't have stopped it, or prevented it in any way. The past is the past. What's happened has happened, and you can't change that. It's not your fault. Do you understand?" Her words are stern and steady, unnaturally so.
I nod. She strokes my face, stares at me for a heartbeat longer, then rises and walks away. I sit on the cool tile, alone, with a painful ache in my chest. I could have stopped it. One word, I could have changed the way things had turned out. I tried to imagine my life with my father present. I remember him at the museum. His smile, his laugh. I remember Mama running to him, she was so close. The feeling when his hand disintegrated into mine. Vanished. Mama whispering Henry over and over, crouched on the pavement.
I tried to imagine Mama not being so quiet when he was mentioned. Not going to her bedroom and locking the door to cry. Not pretending to be okay. I wondered how she would feel if she had someone in the house with her, either Daddy or me, when the other was time travelling. Mama always waited. She has spent her whole life waiting for him to come back. And what happens when he never does? Oh Daddy.
That was the first time.