The bell rang for recess and the children bustled out of the classroom, leaving me with some peace and quiet, and a mess of watercolours, textas, and butchers paper to tidy. It was then that an otherwise ordinary day was made extraordinary by her arrival.
‘Hi, my name is Sue, Sue Blackmore. We need to talk.’
I couldn’t do much more than nod, my nervous excitement making my eyes fix in a stare, a blink too much to muster in the moment, with all my energy consumed by trembling hands and the array of thoughts her visit sprung on me.
‘Hi, yes, I’m Liam, a pleasure to meet you Sue.’
I’d been waiting a long time, but she wouldn’t know that. It had been years since she’d last visited, but this time it was different, this time she came with the realisation that she could change some things. I could tell by the certainty in her voice, by the searching look in her eyes that landed in the corner of the room where we kept the wooden box that would be buried once the 6th graders finished their final term, making their contribution to the time capsule.
‘I’m hoping you can tell me where I am’ she blurted, after what seemed like an eon of silence.
‘I think you know more than you’re letting on, Miss Blackmore.’
A smile crept on her face, and as I’d seen her do many times before, she turned her back to me and walked to the blackboard, where she began to swiftly erase traces of past lessons. This was a world she had helped to create, but like so many creative types, she’d meddled a little too much.
Altering Forrest’s timeline, for him to fall in love with Cynthia and marry her at 18 was a little naïve. All in a world where he had two days from first kiss to “I do”. Her doctoring of his childish scrawl had set on course too many other changes. Forrest’s first love, for starters had been destined to be her own daughter, with whom he was to have a child, Sue’s grandchild. A child Sue was going to sacrifice her own life for, on a holiday in the far-off future, in that other world, diving into the chilly waters of Lake Baikal to rescue her, giving Forrest the not too difficult choice between his mother-in-law and the girl.
Sue’s own timeline had been designed to end with her collapse into the depths of the Lake, as Forrest pulled his daughter out to safety, losing sight of his mother-in-law. Now the links in the chain of events had been broken. The girl, the trip to Lake Baikal, and ultimately, Sue’s death. None of these would or could happen with the changed order of things.
I was left with the task of alerting her to this, and letting her finally understand the futility of it all. Messing with her own life/death moment in the Primary World meant she’d created so many alternate realities, including this one, where she’d found Cynthia, and of course, me.
I had to stop her. After all, that was the only reason I got a reprieve of sorts, to live my days in every iteration of reality but that in the Primary World. There is only so long you can continue life as a primary school teacher where year in, year out, nothing changes, quite literally.
‘Have you ever been to Lake Baikal, Sue?’
She didn’t flinch, clearly accustomed to the oddities of the world she now found herself in.
Until now, I have told this story from the point of view of just one character. I was starting to feel a little stifled by this, so for this week’s post, I have changed perspective, and shifted the point of view to another character, though still in first person narrative. This change in narrative voice has allowed me more room to experiment in telling this story that is unfolding for me one post at a time. Where to next? Comments and feedback always appreciated. What questions does this installment leave you asking?
Fourth of a six-part serial – Timeline. Originally Published 26th May 2016. Illustration added 17th September 2017. Regular readers – 10000hoursleft now exists outside of the WP world- check out the Instagram widget in the sidebar- I will post illustrations for stories, behind the scenes shots, pics of inspiration for stories etc. Illustration is my attempt at a copy of graphics from a game called Find It, a vintage card lotto game manufactured by Galt Toys which I recently picked up in an op shop (charity shop/ thrift store) for 50c!