anemoia (#words)

United States

WtW's resident "the cool cousin you see once a year, but the conversation you guys were having a long time ago picks up where it left off without missing a beat" (says rosi willard)

Child of God


Message to Readers

Feedback always appreciated, but I'm not changing the second person thing. It's weird, but oddly fun.

Notes on Traversing Space and Time

October 9, 2020


    As soon I near the ground, I tuck and roll onto my side. You’re not so lucky. You land in a hard crouch, your knees popping as they absorb the shock. I offer a hand, but you hop to your feet without help. We brush off the pine needles and debris.
    “So, where are we this time?” you ask, surveying the landscape. “Lots of evergreens, but that could be half the world.”
    “When are we,” I correct. Cedars, pines, and firs tower over us; a few wildflowers, dogwoods, and grasses scatter the forest floor. It’s obvious we’re in a forest, somewhere mountainous. 
    “Early spring?” I glance sideways at you. You shake your head.
 “Late spring, early summer, more like it. If we’re in the mountains, seasons come later. Maybe May.” I nod, satisfied. Even though when is more important, getting oriented to where is a bit of a relief, like brushing your teeth after dinner.
    “We need to find civilization.” I state this first step of our journey calmly; it is no different than any other trip we’ve taken. 
    “There can’t be people for miles!” you exclaim. “We could be anywhere, anywhen.”
    “Then let’s get walking. I hear water.” You tilt your head and listen. A small stream or creek runs nearby. We walk side by side, gentle sunlight crashing to the ground where the trees permit it. The air is cool but pleasant. The sky shows no sign of splitting and spitting us out into this time; it’s soft and blue and dotted with dove-like clouds that bear no storms.
    When we reach the water, you dip your fingers in the glassy stream. It’s maybe five, six feet wide, with small ripples. 
    “Ooh, that’s cold. Snowmelt, I’d say.” You shake off your hand. 
    “Should we go upstream or downstream?” 
    “Upstream will lead to the mountains. Downstream to a lake or a river.” 
    “Yeah, I doubt this little thing goes to the ocean,” I add. 
    “There will probably be people at a lake. But there might also be people at the mountain. Like, what if there’s a lodge or a resort up here, or cabins?” You are assuming that we are in a relatively recent century. I think back to my United States history—but then, I am assuming that we’re even in the U.S. still—and recall that some of the earliest hotels of America were established at the end of the 18th century. But luxury hotels in big cities are much different than rustic lodges in the mountains. And guesswork can never substitute for physical and visual proof.
    “So… I think we should just keep walking,” I suggest. Walking works, after all.
    “Every single trip we take through space and time!” You throw your hands up in the air. 
    “Hey, walking is the best and oldest method of transportation.” You sigh. We’ve had this argument a hundred times—well, eighty-four, to be exact—but we always seem to get through it. 
    You take my suggestion. 
    We walk. We walk. And we walk. I don’t mind. It’s beautiful and serene here, but you’re growing more irritated with each step.
    “Do you hear that?” I don’t know what you’re talking about. I stop and listen. 
    “That gives us a general timeline. Now, if we could just see one…” Suddenly, you are full of renewed vigor. Technology of the past and the future has always fascinated you; I’m somewhat opposite. I love how some things are unchanged from 100 BC to 2100 AD. Trees, fresh air, flowers, sunlight, dirt, water, wildlife. I jog to catch up with you. We peer through the trees at the road above us. Roaring by is a white pickup truck, a jacked up dualie with chrome detailing. In the bed, two racy three-wheelers are strapped down. You whistle appreciatively. We look at each other.
    “Twenty-first century America,” we say in unison. 
    “Well, that’s a relief,” you say. “You know, he probably spent over $50,000 on the truck alone. Could you tell what model or year that was?” I’ve gotten quite good at identifying vehicles in our travels. I bring up an image of the truck in my mind. Now, what brand was it?
    “I wish I had a photographic memory,” I remember you saying a few months ago, not long after we’d been partnered for missions and research.
    “It’s not really photographic. Almost, but not quite,” I’d said modestly.
    “Still, it’s cool. And think of how useful it will be on our missions.”
    “Anything useful coming to mind?” asks a voice from the present. 
    “Let’s see… Ford. An F-150.” I recall the metallic letters in the back of the truck. “Can’t be any newer than 2017. They changed the “F-150” lettering on the back after that.”
    “I swear, I don’t understand how you’re able to do that. So you’ve pinpointed our year, just like that?”
“Not quite, ” I explain. “Just because the truck isn’t newer than 2017 doesn’t mean it couldn’t be 2025 and he’s still driving the same truck. And it could be an older model, because I’m not sure how many changes the “F-150” lettering underwent in the early 21st century.”
    “Then how does your memory help us?” You heave a frustrated sigh. “Besides, it looked new.”
    “True, but someone who spends that much money dressing up his truck and buying three-wheelers probably keeps it pristine. But we’re definitely in the early 21st century,” I reassure you. I don’t mean to aggravate you; it’s just the logic that runs my brain. 
“We need to find a person to ask,” you say.
“You’re right. Let’s keep walking!” I inject a little too much enthusiasm into my voice.
“How did I know you would say that?” You shake your head. “Also, we need to be careful about talking to people. When we find someone, let me do the talking. Capiche?”  
    “Yeah, yeah. Understood.” Surprisingly, you don’t lecture me again after that. When we see a sign in the distance, I allow myself a celebratory whoop. You grin. 
    “Lassen Volcanic National Park,” you read. 
    “We’re in a national park? Ooh.” I’m tingling with excitement. “Can we explore?”
    “That only confirms our time range,” you mutter to yourself. “They closed much later.”

“Where is everyone? It’s a beautiful day.” I look down at my watch, which adapts to tell the time and the day of the week for any location and was crafted to withstand the effects of time-travel. “And it’s Saturday. People should be flocking here.” You frown. 
    “Why don’t we check out the visitor center?”  
And then you see it. 
The sign with the date on it. 
 April 11th, 2020. 
There are other signs about the closure, but we do not need to read those in order to  
You fly at me, fists clenched. “I told you—I warned you! Don’t let Jareth push the button!”
I narrowly avoid being punched in the jaw. I step backward gingerly, hands up in defense. 
    “Bad things happen when Jareth is near the machine!” Spit flies out of your mouth. “Why does this always happen to us?” 
    You tackle me. Darkness floods my vision. It’s because you’re pinning me to the concrete walkway. My neck pops sickeningly on its own. I’m afraid it will pop again when you slam your fist into my jaw, like you’re about to do. 
    “I’m sorry!” What else do I say? “I didn’t know he was going to do the honors, I swear!” In the past (literally), it irritated me that you hesitated before hitting someone when our lives were in danger; now, I’m extremely grateful to have that one second advantage. Before you can pull the punch, I snatch your wrist and buck my torso up, causing you to tip back into a seated position. But you’re not done. You curl your left hand into a fist, and I roll to the side and use my grip on your wrist as leverage to pull myself into a crouch. 
    “First the bloody riot in Londonderry! Then a day in the French Revolution! That outing with the Viking berserkers, wasn’t that fun? Don’t forget almost being sacrificed in Chichen Itza! And the kicker, a week evading Stalin’s army! Professor D. should never have paired us!” you yell as we tumble down again, tussling furiously. I’d forgotten about that awful Sunday in Londonderry; my brain had automatically filed in Things To Not Remember. Was it 1972? I use my momentum to slam into your side, but you kick wildly, catching the back of my knee. I groan. 
    “Well, try telling that to him now!” I yell back. “We’re partners, whether you like it or not. So maybe we should work on getting out of here! There’s clearly a reason the machine sent us here!” Why are we usually assigned the difficult missions, though? Youth equals more valuable and skilled? Or more expendable? My grip on your wrist is weakening.
    “I don’t want to find some creaky old lady! I don’t want to retrieve a moth-eaten cloak! Or a circle of junk metal!” We roll along the concrete, trying to get away from each other, but at the same time, trying to injure each other.
    “That circle of junk metal happened to be the circlet of a Mayan noble!”
    “I don’t care if it was Elizabeth’s coronation crown! I just want to go home!” At this, your voice breaks a little. 
“Me too,” I reply. I stop struggling. If it helps us get home, a black eye and a bruised jawbone are a small price to pay. Certainly better than getting my thigh slit open with a kirk in Scotland, 1736. Oh, yeah. You forgot to mention getting launched into the middle of a clan feud, when we learned exactly what Scots wore under their kilts. We’ve had twelve, maybe thirteen escapades together, but the ones you mentioned were the worst. I can scarcely recall anything else as your furious rant bounces off the walls inside my head.
    You finally stop too, and we both jump away from each other and to our feet.
A venture into the strange world of second person. Short story (1676 words). Is that a short story? What does that qualify as? I don't know. Yes, it ends there, for my sanity. Otherwise, I'd write forever. I wrote this sometime in April/May 2020.


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