Time haunted her. It didn’t do what it was “supposed to” when she was around.
It ran forward, backwards, sideways. Sometimes time helped her solve her problems, sometimes it made them worse.
For a lovely young woman, you’d think there would be young men lined up to talk to her at any gathering. But she stayed away from them – to protect them from her curse.
What would be the good of a commitment like that if the other person was going to age too fast or too slow – or live forever haunted with the thought of a long-lost love?
Or was this time-problem contagious? Were other people at risk because of her – or could she pass it onto her children?
Life wasn’t all that safe, just because you could bend time anyway you wanted.
Time Bent – New Fiction Writing by S. H. Marpel
We showed up at an outside terrace, running the length of a long home, where some sort of gathering or party was going on inside. We could see through the thin curtains inside, through nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. The terrace itself was built of old stones, large flagstones at the base, while flat field stone built the walls up to sitting height. Topping these were wide slate slabs that allowed flat seating.
The landscape dropped off gradually below where a small orchard of dwarf fruit trees dotted the small yard – just before larger native oaks and hickories took over at their edge and climbed into the sky. The grass in the orchard was short, but not cropped close. This wasn’t mowed like a lawn or sheared by sheep.
A motion out of the corner of my eye drew my attention back to the terrace. I saw a young woman over to the side, wearing a loose blouse, tan knee-length skirt, and light brown hair pulled back with a dark wide ribbon or a narrow bandeau. Simple, understated. As was her make-up. She could just as easily pass for one of the domestic help as a guest.
When she saw us appear, she smiled and started walking over to us. Within a few steps, she was in conversation distance.
“John – and Harpy. Thanks for coming. I’m so glad we could meet here. Oh – as you’ve probably read, my name is Carol.”
“You’ve been expecting us?” I asked.
“Short answer: yes. I wouldn’t say I was looking forward to meeting you any more than looking backward. But don’t expect me to keep my tenses straight. Time bending gives me grammar problems. All this moving can confuse my language describing things. I’ve found it’s often better to just observe rather than a comment about what I see.
“But you’re a time traveler.”
“More of a time tourist. If we wanted to put a name on it. I haven’t seen anyone else do what I do, although I’m always looking for someone in my travels like me. The trick is it’s a bit like using a needle in a haystack to find another needle. Even a magnetic one would have a very hard time. Or so I think right now.”
“When did you notice this unique ability?”
“When I was a kid, sometime in my teenage years. At first I just wanted to be able to go back to hand myself something I’d forgotten, but would need later. That might seem confusing at first, and it was. But it was exciting, and I became adventurous. Later, I found I could simply travel to a place and then move forward and backward in time there. So I worked out jobs or vacations where I could travel physically around the globe, and then move backward as I wanted. Or forward to see the possibilities. And all that was fine until I found out how lonely it was.”
“Because you always traveled by yourself?”
She nodded, sighed, and looked off to where the sky started above the trees.
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