Experiment #296

Unpredictable Part 1

I was a year and ten paragraphs into writing my novel. She was three lattes and a cappuccino into understanding the 21st century obsession with coffee. Our eyes met across the grocery store café. The rest is mostly history… for her.

On our first date, she took me to Rome, to a gladiator match in the Colosseum. She thought I’d like the theatrics of it, and I did, but I liked her in a toga more. I wasn’t prepared for the gore of that kind of spectacle though. Throwing up all over a girl’s toga amidst a Roman mob rarely warrants a second date. For reasons I couldn’t explain, though, she stuck with me. Maybe she saw something in my future she liked.

Next she took me to a restaurant in Paris thirty years before I my birth.

“No gore,” she said, “but there will be mimes.”

“I may still throw up,” I said.

She laughed. Instantly my only purpose was to make her laugh again. We ate baguettes, sipped coffee, and people watched. Her suggestion. Even with the enlightenment of time travel, our animal fascination with staring at people hadn’t changed.

On our third date, I insisted we stay in my time. I wanted to bring her into my world, to show her its depths. We ate at the grocery store café where we met and went to an avant-garde play about a man who only spoke while standing in a sandbox. She’d seen it before. Then we headed back to my place and played Parcheesi. She assured me over and over and over that she really, really enjoyed herself.

On date four she took me to the moon base where she grew up. Over a starlit dinner we watched the Earthrise and drank too much champagne—or whatever the moon equivalent was. The date was so fantastic it didn’t seem real. A girl like that never falls for a guy like me. There must be a reason. She must want something.

The fifth date had always been the test for me. If I didn’t bore the girl by date five, we had a chance at more. That I’d never made it to date six seemed immaterial. She took me to Stonehenge where we assisted in placing one of the crossbeams.

It was awesome until I saw her. Another her, standing off to the side with someone else. A not-me someone else. A man. It was only a glimpse, but by the time she dropped me at my apartment a few millennia later, I was certain of what I’d seen.

Experiment #297

Unpredictable Part 2

We fought about it on the Titanic, our sixth date.

“You come here often?” I asked. My tone could have sunk the ship. “Bring every flunky here? Wowing him with your defiance of linear time?”

“You’re not a flunky,” she said. “I don’t think you are, anyway.”

She’d seen herself with the other man too. “It’s in my future. I don’t know anything about it.”

Time traveler excuses.

In fact, the order I’d known of our dates wasn’t the order she knew them in. She’d had so much fun on our second date, she’d jumped backward and had our first date. Thinking about our relationship was giving me a headache.

On our seventh date, I broke it off. In the midst of Charlemagne’s coronation, I told her it was over. “I can’t deal with this time travel thing anymore. I need structure, a time line I can comprehend.”

She shot a look at me and brought her finger to her lips.

“You’re a time sailor with a guy in every time-port…errr… period.”

“Wait till after the ceremony,” she whispered out of the side of her mouth.

“No, we’ll do this now,” I shouted. A few courtiers hurried over to hush me but I would have none of it. I slipped their grasp and stepped out in front of Charlemagne as he processed towards his throne. “What are you looking at?” I snarled.

Date eight was a prison break.

Why she came back for me I’ll never know. She took me from the dungeon back to my apartment.

“There is a reason I’m dating you,” she said. “When I come from, time travel is everywhere. There’s no privacy, no mystery about what might happen. People pop ahead to see how things turn out. So I was trying something different.”

“What?” I asked, “Do I become a katrillionaire or galactic president or something? You’re trying to get an in before I’m famous, aren’t you?”

“No,” she said with a somber look. “It’s the opposite.”

“What?”

“There’s no record of you.”

“I don’t-I don’t understand. My novel didn’t sell?”

“There’s no record. No birth certificate. No death certificate. Nothing. It’s almost as if you didn’t exist. With you, I finally didn’t know what was coming next. I finally had a mystery.”

“So you’re not dating me because I’m a big shot. You’re dating me because in your timeline I’m literally nobody?”

She shook her head and bit her lip in that way I couldn’t resist. “I’m dating you because I like what I see and I get to discover the rest… in time.”

“But, I’m boring.”

“On the contrary,” she said as she leaned in to kiss me, “I have no idea what comes next.”