After tapping the icon on my timepiece which closed the portal, I held my arms out in front of me. A grin stretched across my pimpled face as I examined the smooth, unlined skin of my hands.
A low chuckle rolled through my chest as I looked down at my clothes, brown polyester pants and a high-collared blue silk shirt. The chuckle soon became a full-bellied laugh.
“I did it!” I shouted to the sky, startling a robin from its nest.
To test my youthful limbs and expend a bit of my overwhelming exuberance, I cartwheeled through the spongy grass of the perfectly manicured lawn outside my childhood home.
“Markus Ramsey, what on Earth are you doing at home at this time of day? Were you kicked out of school? You get in this house this instant before the neighbors see you!”
My arms buckled the moment I heard my mother’s voice; a voice I hadn’t heard in decades. Once I got back on my feet, I stood and stared as I tried to swallow past the lump in my throat.
“Markus, did you hear me? Get inside right now!”
A small sound escaped from my throat as I ran across the yard, bounded up the porch stairs in two leaps, and threw my skinny arms around my mother in the tightest hug I dared, just shy of actually hurting her.
“Markus?” My mother placed her arms around me, tentatively at first, then squeezed. “Are you all right?”
I sniffed and wiped my cheek against my shoulder, leaving behind a big wet splotch, before I looked up into my mother’s face.
She was so…young. Much younger than I had been on the other side of that shimmering green circle. Much younger than I pictured her in my memory, even at this age.
“Yeah, yeah mom, I’m all right. I’m great.”
“Well, come on inside then.” My mom reached behind her and grasped my wrists as she gently extricated herself. She paused when her fingers brushed the face of my rather large digital timepiece.
“What is this?” my mother asked, quiet at first and full of curiosity, but her voice rose and grew more intense as she narrowed her eyes at me. “Markus Allen Ramsey, where did you get this?”
“I made it,” I replied immediately, a flush of pride coloring my cheeks.
My mother’s unlined brow furrowed.
“You made this?” She leaned in for a closer look. “What kind of watch is this? And why doesn’t it have any numbers?”
“It’s an experiment I’m working on, a project, and guess what? It works!”
“It works huh. What does it do?”
I hesitated, not sure if I should reveal my secret. There were still some things I hadn’t figured out, some hypotheses that needed testing…but here was my mom, staring me in the face and I felt every inch the fifteen year-old boy whose body I now inhabited. How could I lie to my mom?
“I learned how to follow myself back in time,” I stated. “Not just travel back in time, but actually become myself at a younger age, except I know things that I knew then, or rather, know things I knew in the future, you know?”
My mom’s eyes sparkled and one of her cheeks twitched slightly.
“Wow, that is really amazing dear,” she said as she turned and pulled me gently into the house. “Can you make one for me?”
“I might be able to,” I replied slowly, considering the possible ramifications.
My mom grinned.
She finally stopped pulling me once she’d reached the kitchen.
“Do you want something to eat?”
I barely heard the question, and I didn’t respond immediately. My head was full of all the things I would change. This is the year I would fall in love with Carli Walker, and then she would break my heart. I could totally avoid that. It’s also the year my basketball team would miss going to Regionals by four points. I would practice harder this year…
“Markus, do you want something to eat?”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” I finally answered.
As I sat down and watched my mom bustle around the kitchen I couldn’t help but ask, “Mom, what would you change if you went back in time? If you could do it all over, what would you do differently?”
My mom paused and gave the question her full attention.
“Well, honestly, I don’t think I would go back, even if I had the chance.”
“Really? Why not?”
“There are some things that are only meant to happen once in a lifetime, Markus. Besides, what if I made completely different choices in order to have the life I thought I wanted and ended up never meeting your dad, never having you or your sister?” She paused and twisted the cap back on the peanut butter. “Sure there are things I wish hadn’t said or done, some things I wish I hadn’t experienced, but they’re part of me now, and I kind of like who I am.”
With my right thumb I rubbed the thick band of my timepiece as I contemplated her words. After several minutes I looked up and said, “I’m so glad you’re my mom.”
She smiled her best smile as she placed a plate on the table in front of me, then sat down beside me. She wrapped her slender fingers around her favorite mug and sipped the steaming coffee.
I savored the moment, soaked it up like the tropical sand absorbs the heat of the sun.
At five minutes to three, I told my mom I needed to go to the store. I hugged her tight and told her I loved her, then marched out of the house and down the sidewalk until I was out of sight.
After I’d ducked behind a row of trees, I programmed my timepiece for August 29, 2030. I waited for the shimmering green circle to appear, then stepped through to the bright, sterile environment of my lab.
“Well? What happened? Did it work?” my assistant asked eagerly as I turned the portal off with bony, liver-spotted fingers.
“Not the way I expected,” I replied. “Not what I expected at all.”
Her shoulders sagged slightly as she asked, “So what do we do now?”
I removed the timepiece from my wrist and placed it gently in its case.
“We get some lunch,” I replied. “And you know that suit you were talking about? The one that would allow a person to extract the oxygen straight from the water as he swam? Let’s start on that one.”
“Really?” my assistant asked, perking up a bit.
*Thank you to Christine for the response to my “What if?” question which planted the seed for this story. Her actual response was…what if you believe reincarnation exists and you found a way to follow your own path backwards from lifetime to lifetime ? Do you learn from the mistakes you made as you go forward? Do you stick to the same routine basically rerunning the same life in a different time and place? Do you learn from the mistakes you made and improve your quality of life in the next existence?
and All the Time in the World is the story I came up with. I hope you all enjoyed it and tell me..
If you could travel back in time, would you? If you could relive your life, or parts of it, and make different choices, would you?