“Zeit!” I screamed, but it was too late. He couldn’t hear me; I had already started my walk through time. My stomach lurched and turned as centuries passed before my eyes in streaks of color and ghosted visions. Men and women lived out their lives, oblivious to my tiny, fleeting window into it.
And then with a jolt, the visions coalesced into solid matter, and I was back in my own time. I was in the middle of the sidewalk, just down the street from my bookstore. The sun was past its apex; still a few hours left in the day. Whatever day it was. I teetered as I tried to regain my bearings, put my hands on my knees and squeezed my eyes shut to keep the world from spinning.
Deep breath in. Long exhale. Repeat.
“Now what?” I said out loud. How do you go back to normal life after such an experience? Seeing all of time and space laid out before you, falling in love with the person who brought you that amazing world. Then to have it all ripped away…
A sob broke free from my throat, thick and heavy, no matter how hard I tried to keep it back.
“Excuse me, Miss, are you alright?” A voice said behind me.
I turned around. A man in his fifties stood there, kind eyes looking into me. “Uh, yes I’ll be fine,” I mange to get out, though not very convincingly.
“You look sort of familiar.”
It was only then that I noticed it. He was older, silver hairs speckled the sides of his head and wrinkles creased his forehead and smile lines, but there was no denying his identity.
“How do you know my name? Where do I know you from?”
“I was there. That day in the square. How is she, did you find her again?”
“Julia.” He paused, a faraway smile on his face. “Yes, I remember you. You were standing in the street with that strange looking fellow.”
The reminder of Zeit shot a pang through my chest. I couldn’t speak, but nodded in response.
Carlo continued. “To answer your question, I did find her. It took many years, and I almost gave her up as dead, but we did find each other. Thank you. I don’t know how you did it, or how you haven’t aged a day in all these years, but thank you for the role you played in saving her life.”
“You’re welcome. It… cost a great deal, but words can’t express how happy I am for you both. I own the book shop just up there. Please come visit me sometime.”
“I’d like that.”
Carlo patted my arm and turned to leave.
“One more thing before you go?” I said, and he stopped to look at me. “I know this may sound very strange, but what time is it, and more importantly, what day is it?”
A questioning look twisted his face, but he answered me without protest. “It’s about three in the afternoon, Thursday, the fifth.”
The fifth… That’s the day I left!
I broke into a run toward my shop. If I hurried, I could still make it. I don’t know what I expected to find. Zeit, maybe. If I could stop him before we left, maybe I could keep him from dying. But then I never would have fallen in love with him in the first place.
The endless loop of quantum mechanics was starting to make my head spin. At the very least, if I could just see him one more time…
I made it to the storefront, and pushed the door to enter.
But it didn’t budge.
The memory of my actions that day snapped into place.
After Zeit had introduced himself, I locked the front door so that we could talk without being interrupted.
I was too late. I banged on the door in desperation. “No! Please!” And then in a cry almost to myself, “Please don’t be gone.”
I don’t know how long I stayed there, crying into the locked door.
“Don’t tell me those tears are for me,” an impossible voice said from behind me. The breath escaped my chest and I spun around. “What would the other Time Walkers think of me if I made a human girl cry.”
“How?” I asked as I ran to him. He pulled me into his arms and held me there for an extended moment. It ended far too soon.
“I told you, Love. I exist outside of space/time. I have no past or future. Which, apparently, means I did not die. I was never aware of my inability to die, but none the less, here I am.”
I stood there, speechless and smiling. “So when to now?”
“Anytime you want. Time is at our fingertips.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story! I had a blast bringing these characters to life, and maybe I’ll revisit them someday. If you missed any part, check out the full story here.