TAT 25

Date: June 6th, 2020
Subject: Agnes, age 30

“You’ve been looking at me like that since you woke up this morning, James.” Agnes murmurs as she takes another bite of food then she wipes her mouth. “It’s almost as if you’re afraid I’m going to vanish before your eyes.”

41

“I was merely admiring your beauty, babe.” I say smoothly but she’s not having it. She rolls her eyes. “So…it’s that apparent, huh?” I squirm under her stare. “I’ve just had a lot on my mind, that’s all.” A busboy comes by to clear the rest of our dishes out of the way and we sit in silence until he’s gone.

“You remember everything today, don’t you?” She gives me a pitiful smile.

42

I nod my head and gaze happily at Agnes as I reminisce…
The old James had given me the greatest gift of all time. A life with the woman I loved. The device, which he called the chronosphere, was used to propel us into the future, where we received the cure from Levi. Then we traveled back to 1934…the day I’d left Agnes at the altar. I married her while he watched from afar. After the wedding, he brought us here to the city for a fresh start. And before he finally ceased to be, he made me promise that’d I’d never try to alter our timeline again. It was only after he was gone that I learned Levi’s cure had a side effect…my memory would come and go for the rest of my life.

But it was a small price to pay…for her.

Almost as if she’d read my thoughts, Agnes reached across the table to place her hand over mine. “Do you still keep your promise?” She asks warily. “You’ll never build another time machine again?”

My mind briefly wanders to my parents and the fact that I never got a chance to save them…but I decide then and there that maybe, in some instances, the past should remain buried. “I won’t. For you.” I tell her. And I mean it.

“No, James…for us.”

“For us.” I chuckle. “Let’s go home, Mrs. Fontaine.”

On the walk back to our apartment, the city clock chimes twelve times, announcing the midnight hour. Agnes pulls me to a stop and right there under the stars, she stands on her tiptoes to place a tender kiss on my cheek. “It’s officially our anniversary now, James.”

43

I brush her hair out of her face and smile back at her…the love of my life. “Happy Anniversary, Agnes.” I whisper in her ear. “May we finally get it right this time.”

The End.

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TAT 24

Date: June 6th, 2020
Subject: Agnes, age 30

The sun’s early rays streaming across the bed makes it impossible for me to sleep any longer. I roll over and look at the clock…it’s eight in the morning. Time to get up.

“I hate the city.” I mutter under my breath as I stare out the window into the streets below. I stretch then while I’m in mid-yawn, I notice the calendar hanging on the wall. It’s early Summer in 2020. “That can’t be right.” As I say this, the memories all come flooding back to me…things that had already happened and things that hadn’t happened…not yet. Then I remembered the old man’s last words…he told me that I’d thank him one day.

Suddenly the door opens and a pretty blonde strolls across the room to the mirror over the dresser. “Good morning, sweetheart. Did you sleep well?” She asks me as she fluffs her hair and adds a bit of lipstick to her perfectly pouty mouth.

38

“Agnes? What are you doing here?” My voice comes out in a hoarse whisper. She turns to face me with her brows raised in confusion. “I live here, same as you. Are you feeling okay, James?” Her confusion changes to worry as she lays a cool hand across my forehead. “Yeah, I’m fine. Especially now.” I take her hand and kiss it softly, making her blush. “I just thought that maybe your night terrors had returned. You’ve been through so much.” She pulls me into a hug and runs her fingers through my hair comfortingly. “We’ve both been through so much. Time after time.”

“Anyways, we’ll talk more tonight at dinner. I need to go.” She looks down at her watch as she speaks. “They’re expecting me on the set in ten minutes. And you need to get a move on it or your students are going to get their hopes up and think they won’t have end of the year exams today.” She chuckles lightly.

39

“My s-students?” I stutter awkwardly, causing her to stop and stare at me. “You teach Physics at the university down the block from here. “You do remember that…right?” I did…somewhat. “Of course. It’s just a bit fuzzy, that’s all.” She purses her lips but decides to let it go. “Promise that you’ll call me if you need anything…anything at all?” I nod my head and walk her to the front door of our apartment. “I promise.”

When Agnes gets home from the news studio where she works later that evening, I’m waiting for her in the living room. “How was your day?” She leans down to kiss me on the cheek. “Very strange, but I managed to make it through unscathed.” I shrug and smile. “Good, we need to hurry if we want to make it to our dinner reservations. It’s a very special night.” She winks at me.
“How so?”

40

She grins at me happily as she answers. “It’s our second anniversary. Well…technically it’s tomorrow but that’s when Elizabeth is having her baby shower and I don’t want to miss it. Now, let’s go eat…I’m starving!”

TAT 23

Date: February 14th, 1926
Subject: Agnes, age 20

“What exactly did you expect to accomplish here today, James?” Asks the man that’s leaning against the wall, staring me down. He ignores my sharp intake of breath and my confused expression when I figure out who he is. He was me. But older.

34

“Well…” I hesitate, trying to find the correct wording. “I suppose you already know, right? I couldn’t just leave things like they were. She deserves happiness.” I cast a glance in Agnes’ direction and see that she’s still sitting on the bench and hasn’t noticed all the commotion.

Old James crouches down next to my younger self and shakes his head. “You could’ve at least sent him back, you imbecile.” He growls when he looks up at me. “I was going to!” I insist hotly. “But you interrupted me!” I watch as he pulls up the unconscious man’s sleeve and presses the panic button on his watch. Within seconds, young James’ body vanishes and all that’s left is me and the old man. He climbs to his feet and wipes his pants off then comes to stand next to me. “I’m sure you have questions. Better talk fast, we can’t stay here long.”

36

“What I want to know is how? How are you here now? I’m dying…you shouldn’t even exist.”

“Levi.” The older man mutters. “That kid never gave up on you. He brings you back from this time and saves you…me…us. He’s developing a cure as we speak.”

“Then what happens?” I peer at him curiously.

“You move on with your pitiful excuse of a life. You get old.” He laughs bitterly. “You never marry. Never have children. It’s just you and your silly projects in a cramped apartment in the city.”

“But I hate the city.” I mumble under my breath.

“Yeah, well, things change.” He shrugs. “But the worst part is watching everyone die because they’re so much older than you. Jane, the doc, Levi, Elizabeth. I’ve seen the future, kid, and it’s bleak.” He sighs and gazes at Agnes from afar. “Our fate is much like that of the woman we love. Bitter and lonely. And it takes nearly thirty years for me to build another machine just so I can come back and fix your mess.”

“I had it under control. I would’ve preferred my ending over yours.” I tell him bluntly. “We’d be better off this way.”

37

“Now you’re just being selfish!” He yells and points his finger in my face. “You owe it to yourself. And you owe it to her.” He then pulls out something that resembles a belt with a watch face strapped to it and wraps it around both of our wrists. “What is that?” I ask as I try to jerk my arm away. “It’s the key to our salvation. You’ll thank me later.” He whispers in my ear. Then he holds me close as a bright light envelopes us and we disappear.

TAT 22

Date: February 14th, 1926
Subject: Agnes, age 20

Once completed, I knew my machine was unstable and it most likely wouldn’t be able to handle a return trip. But what did I have to lose? I typed in my roughly drawn up equations and stepped onto the platform for the final time.

When I came to, I wiped my bloody nose on my sleeve and looked around. I was in Agnes’ backyard. I let out a deep sigh of relief…I’d made it. It was Valentine’s Day…1926. The first day we met. But it wasn’t time yet.

I quickly hid in the bushes not far from where Agnes was sitting on a bench in the garden. My hands trembled as I moved the leaves blocking my view of her. She took a small tissue out of her purse then wiped her eyes….and my heart yearned for her. I wanted to go to her and tell her everything would be okay. I wanted to tell her that I was going to fix it all. And I wanted to tell her that Erik Darling was the man she was supposed to be with for the rest of her life…as long as they didn’t take that damned honeymoon cruise.

But she couldn’t know that I was there. Not now, not ever.

I turned in the right direction just in time to see the man fall out of the sky and land in the brush. He stood up and dusted off his lab coat then checked his watch. When he rounded the corner and laid eyes on Agnes…I knew it was finally time. Time to undo it all.

30

“Hey…over here!” I whispered loudly from where I hid. He whirled around in surprise and moved closer to me. “Who’s there?”

While he was caught off guard, I jumped out and sucker-punched him in the jaw. He didn’t even see it coming. But…he was resilient. He got back up and stared at me in shock. “This isn’t possible. You’re…”

32

“You?” I finished his sentence for him as I tackled him to the ground and put my arm around his neck. It’s not everyday you get to kick your own ass. When he finally went limp in my arms, I checked his pulse. He was still alive…just out cold.

33

It was then that I realized that someone was watching me.

TAT 21

Date: October 12th, 2035
Subject: James, age 36

Five months dragged by and each day felt like it’d be my last but somehow, some way, I made it through each one. I eventually stopped caring about my appearance and stayed confined to the basement where I wouldn’t be a bother to anyone.

13

Don’t get me wrong…Jane and her family were very kind to me but I felt like an outcast in their house. I still took my meals with them and tried to socialize like a normal human being would but often failed horribly.

14

Originally there was only a two year age difference between Jane and I but because of my constant need to screw around with time, she was nearly twenty years my senior now. I was closer to her son Orion’s age than hers. And she knew something major was going on…something that explained what’d happened to me and why I looked the way I did but lucky for me, she didn’t try to pry. I guess she figured maybe I’d come around one day and tell her everything. And maybe I would…one day. But probably not.

And Jane had her own secrets as well. I’d heard the whispers at our family reunions years and years ago. Rumors of aliens and conspiracies. Whether those rumors held any held any truth or not…I’d never know. But in our family though? I wouldn’t doubt it.

I spent my final days mulling over how things could’ve gone differently if I’d just left things alone. Maybe I wasn’t meant to save anyone. Not my parents. Not Agnes. Not even myself. I had to fix the mess I’d created. And I had a plan.

The real reason I spent so much time in the basement was because I was working on a very special project. My last project. I was building my very own time machine.

15

And it was nearly complete…

TAT 20

Date: May 4th, 2035
Subject: James, age 36

“How are you feeling?” Dr. Newcomb asked as he shined a flashlight into my eyes. “I’ve been better.” I replied curtly. “It took us a long time to crack your password. Far too long, I fear.” He sighed and leaned against the wall. “Well, spit it out doc, I don’t have all day.”

“You’re dying, James.” I already knew but to hear it spoken aloud was a different story. “I figured as much. How much time do I have?”

“Maybe six months. A year if you start taking care of yourself now. We’ll keep you here in the infirmary where we can observe you.”

“Think I’ll pass doc, I’ve got places to go and people to see.” I announced as I jumped out of bed and made my way back to the machine with Newcomb right on my heels. “Please, listen to reason. You can’t do this again.” Levi and Elizabeth were in the lab when we got there and when they saw the look on my face, they knew exactly what I had in mind. “No. Absolutely not!” “This has gone on long enough!” Call Security now!” With all of them speaking at once, it made the ringing in my ears magnify by tenfold. “Stop. Now.” I growled as I whirled around and began to type new equations into the machine.

10

“I’m sorry, James.” Newcomb shoved me aside. “We can’t let you do this. You’ve become a liability to our program…and your work here is done.” Then to my horror, he took a screwdriver from his pocket and drove it into the keyboard. “W-why?” I stuttered in shock. “Why would you do that?” A security guard finally came in and snapped handcuffs onto my wrists. I was too traumatized to resist. “To be frank, the machine is useless without you. And now it’s useless to you.” Newcomb gave me a look of pity. “Please escort Mr. Fontaine back to the infirmary.”

11

A few hours later, Levi came to me. “I read your journal.” He told me unapologetically as he handed it over to me. “So this whole mess started because you wanted to save your parents? I can understand that…but the Crumplenator? You have some strange taste in women.” He cracked a smile. I stared back at him sadly. “I just wanted to make her happy. But it all turned out so wrong. So very wrong. And now I’m royally screwed.”

“Screwed or not, you’re still my best friend. And I can’t watch them turn you into some sort of lab rat for your final days. You can escape while I distract everyone. Go somewhere safe…I heard Jane moved back into town.” I stood and hugged him then. “Thank you for everything.” He nodded and rubbed at his eyes. We both knew it was the last time we’d see each other like this. “Now get outta here.”

12

When Jane opened her door to me a few hours later, I let out a sigh a relief. “Wow James, you look great! I bet you have quite the secret about that. If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.” She winked at me. “But first, come on in and meet my family!”

TAT 19

Date: January 1st, 1942
Subject: Agnes, age 35

At the crack of dawn, I slipped out of out Agnes’ bed and went to the bathroom. My nose was bleeding. As I stuffed a wad of tissue up my nostril, I stared into the mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. My skin had a strange sickly sheen to it and my eyes were bloodshot. Quite honestly, I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I knew fluids and rest would help so I drank a glass of water then ran a warm bath. When I got out, I slid Agnes’s robe around myself then checked my watch. I didn’t have any more time to waste.

Agnes was still asleep when I went back into the bedroom. I stood and watched her for a moment before waking her. It was how her pale blonde hair was nestled against her face…she looked like an angel. Her eyes barely opened as I lifted her out of the bed and held her close to my chest. “We need to get dressed, sweetheart. We have a big day ahead of us.” I whispered in her ear as I helped her stand.

7

“What on Earth are you talking about?” She murmured sleepily as she wiped her eyes. “You kept me up half the night and now I can hardly function.” But she eventually made her way to the closet and grumpily called out, “And what am I supposed to wear anyways?”

“A white dress.” I replied. “We’re going to finish what we started seven years ago.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?” She came to stand in front of me with her hands on her hips. I nodded my head enthusiastically. “Well, this is the last time, James. If you vanish before we make it to to the altar once more…I’ll never marry you again.”

“Then we better hurry.” I grinned at her.

A few hours later, I had her exactly where I wanted her. We were saying our vows.

“James Fontaine, I’ll forever be thankful for the day you walked into my life. You are the oddest and most wonderful man I’ve ever met. And I would be honored to call you my husband.” She smiled bashfully and stared into my eyes as we exchanged rings. And the way she looked at me…I’d never had anyone look at me like that before.

8

If I could’ve stopped time…that would’ve been the moment.

“Agnes Crumplebottom, I wish I could’ve courted you like you deserved and that I could’ve been by your side throughout all of these years that you had to endure without me. I wish we could grow old together and sit on the porch to watch our children and grandchildren play in the garden. I wish I could’ve given you…ordinary. Instead all I have to offer is a love that has passed through a century and hope that it’ll be enough.” She looked confused and opened her mouth to question me but it was then that I chose to kiss her and seal our marriage.

A bright flash went off as a reporter took our picture. It was to be printed in the Sunday paper. “By the way, I’m not changing my last name until I know this is permanent.” She hissed in my ear as we posed for yet another picture.

9

“If you say so, Mrs. Fontaine.” I chuckled.

And that night I went to sleep in my wife’s arms.
But when I woke up it was to a room full of scientists staring down at me…

TAT 18

Date: January 1st, 1942
Subject: Agnes, age 35

It was well past midnight by the time we left the balcony where we viewed the fireworks to celebrate the beginning of a new year. It was 1942 and I was with the one I loved most.

Agnes lead me downstairs to the ballroom which turned out to be empty and rather dimly lit. “I guess the party’s over already. Everyone has gone home.” She sighed and looked a bit put off. “Did you want to show me off to your friends or something?” I teased. Her cheeks turned red and she shrugged her shoulders. “It’s just that I was looking forward to it all day and then I missed it. But I got to spend time with you instead. That’s enough for me.”

“We’ll have our own party then.” I smiled at her and walked over to turn the radio on. I found a slow song and adjusted the volume so we wouldn’t disturb anyone. There was a sudden ringing to my ears then. I closed my eyes and shook my head slowly as to not alarm Agnes. But luckily she didn’t notice. Turning back to her, I bowed and held out my hand. “May I have this dance?”

4

“I suppose that’d be alright.” She said as she curtsied then placed her dainty hands in mine. As we waltzed to the music, I ignored the pain that was forming in my joints and the dull ache that was making it’s way to my head. I was determined to show Agnes a good time and nothing was going to stop me.

“James…what’s it like in the future?”

I twirled her around and buried my face into her sweet smelling hair.

5

“Well…it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. A lot of good things happen…amazing things. But with the good, there’s always the bad. And to be honest with you, I would much rather be here…in this time.”

She turned to face me then. “But why?”

6

“Because you’re here.”

TAT 17

Date: December 31st, 1941
Subject: Agnes, age 35

It was late morning by the time I came to. I guess I’d landed so hard, it knocked me out. I leapt up from the bushes and went in search of Agnes and I eventually found her in the garden… sitting on the same bench where I’d first met her. I took my coat off and wiped my brow…it was an unusually hot winter day.

I sat next to her and rested a tentative arm on her shoulder. Then I waited for her to unleash her wrath upon me. But she didn’t. Instead she sighed sadly, refusing to look at me. I gazed at her intently and took note of the barely visible wrinkles that were beginning to form around her eyes and mouth. “You look very pretty today, Agnes.” I nudged her gently, hoping she’d at least acknowledge my presence.

1

“It’s been seven years, James. Why bother coming back?”

“You know why. For you.”

She clucked her tongue and tried to pull away from me unsuccessfully. “Every single time I try to move on and forget about you, you appear looking just as dashing as you did the day we met. And it’s always the same.” She picked a flower as she talked, pulling the petals off one by one. “You’ll be here for a few hours or maybe even a day. And while you’re here, you’ll fill my head with empty promises then leave me out of breath and with my heart racing. Stolen kisses on borrowed time.” She laughed dryly.

2

“Please don’t give up on me, Agnes. Not yet.”

“You know…a lot has happened since you’ve been gone. I was wed four years ago to a wonderful man named Robert. He was my second cousin twice removed…it was an odd match cooked up by my sister and strangely enough no one frowned upon it.” She stared off, lost in thought. “But I don’t think I truly loved him. I don’t think I’ll love anyone the way I loved you.” She spoke slowly and in past tense which kinda felt like a swift kick in the gut to me. “But he was kind to me. And we were actually speaking of adopting children when he was taken from me.”

“What happened to him?” I asked. I almost felt guilty for being so relieved that he was gone.

“A chandelier dropped a full two stories on him.” She turned to me then…her delicate features screwed up in pain. “And here I am once more…living in my sister’s house. It’s a burden I wish I could take away from her but then I’d have nowhere else to go. I truly believe I’m meant to spent my life alone.”

She stood and wiped away her tears.

3

“There is a party to celebrate the New Year tonight. You are welcome to come but I won’t hold my breath.”

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