Kent and Tonya lay skin to skin bathing in the glow of mutual pleasure. After thirty-five years of marriage, the desire, intimacy, and passion still flourished. Though it was their anniversary, it wasn’t the only reason for an intimate romp.
Tonya’s head rested on Kent’s chest, the fingers of her right hand tickling his chest. He gazed at the ceiling, lost in thought.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Tonya finally said sensing that her husband had left her in mind, if not heart and spirit.
Kent started stroking Tonya’s auburn hair, took a deep breath and released it with a sigh. He stretched the silence almost to the point of irritation for Tonya.
“You remember when I lost my head and broke up with you?”
“Easily the dumbest thing you ever did,” she responded without hesitation.
“It was,” again, a deep breath followed by a sigh. “What if I told you, we never got back together.”
Tonya lifted herself onto her elbow and looked Kent in the eyes, “Then explain two children,” she waved her hand to indicating their nakedness, “and lots, and lots, of sex between the two of us over the last thirty-five years.”
“I figured out a way to travel back in time and fix what I broke.”
Tonya was more than used to Kent’s imagination, sometimes bordering on the bizarre, but this was way out in left field.
“Are you pulling my leg.”
“No, that was fifteen minutes ago.”
Tonya thumped Kent on the chest for his wise ass comeback. Especially since he ruined the mood with his zany statement that he built a time machine. She slid from their bed and pulled a robe from the back of the master bathroom door. She then sat in the lounge chair Kent often used for late night reading.
“Explain yourself mister.”
Kent got up and went to the dresser and extracted a pair of running shorts from them. Tonya could not help but admire his physique. Impressed with how well he kept himself after all these years. Kent pulled on the shorts, walked over to the corner of the bed closest to Tonya and sat on it. He placed his elbows on his knees and leaned towards her, locking her eyes with his.
“In this life, the one you know of, Tammy broke up with me before our senior year…right?” Tonya nodded. “After a month or so, I called you not expecting you to be available. My thinking being your beauty could never be single.”
“Surprise,” Tonya responded reliving the phone call in her mind. Kent made her the happiest girl in the world when he asked for a second chance.
“I was,” he leaned in and brushed her lips with his own.
“There was another life. Another reality.”
Tonya narrowed her eyes at her husband of thirty-five years, “Go on.”
Kent sat upright, pushed his left fist into his right palm and cracked his knuckles as he gathered his thoughts. One of those big sighs followed, and he again leaned towards the love of his life.
“In that other life, I never called you after Tammy dumped me. In fact, we moved to Coon Rapids, and after a couple of months Tammy called me and asked if I would give her another chance. My heart and head said, ‘hell no,’ but being too nice of a guy, I said yes.
“In that other life, my next call to you was to tell you she was pregnant. That was towards the end of our senior year. I could tell by your reaction, you were crushed, which broke my heart, and yours.”
Kent got up and paced the room for a moment, then returned to the corner closest to the chair, “That was nothing, after a few years, Tammy left me again, taking our daughter and leaving me with nothing.
“In this other life, you and I remained friends, close friends, but you moved out of Minnesota to be with a guy you met in Florida. We stayed in touch, but our time together had passed.”
“When does the time machine get involved?”
“About five years after Tammy left me, I met a girl at a bar in Crystal, Minnesota. I was in my late twenties, as was she. An age I thought the bullshit was over. Turned out, the bullshit just started for some at that age. She lied to be about everything, including being sterile. We had two kids together, and I married her out of duty. Things were okay for about five years.”
Another big sigh, then a look Tonya could describe as nothing, but pure anguish came over Kent’s features.
“Then, for the next ten years my life became a living hell. The worst part of it all…no…that would be an exaggeration. The second worst part was I lost you as a friend. The worst part was keeping my wife’s psychosis from affecting or influencing my children.”
Kent again paused to gather his thoughts. Tonya was sucked in by this point, and because of how hard it was for Kent to tell the story, she was starting to believe him.
“I was losing my mind,” Kent continued. “I needed to escape, but do so without leaving my children to her insanity.” He looked me in the eyes, “To fix what I broke. In that life, I drove truck, and I started using the vast tracts of empty time to read everything I could on time travel, multidimensional travel, and the multiverse.
“I didn’t want to travel back as a forty-year-old man and tell my seventeen-year-old me to buck up. Nor did I want to go back not knowing what I knew only to make the same mistakes. No matter what I read, it all seemed to say, ‘What you want isn’t possible dude.’”
Then a smirk spread across Kent’s features, “Then, one sleepless night, I found an article on the internet about thunderstorms while the moon was full, could open portals between dimensions. If you timed it juuuust right, during those few moments while the moon was full, and entered the center of a thunderstorm, you could be transported to another dimension…another space time. The final destination depended on how deeply you thought about, and felt in your heart, where you wanted to be.”
“Please don’t tell me you timed a thunderstorm, while the moon was full, just right, to be transported back in time to before our senior year.”
Kent smiled his broad stunning smile, “Don’t be silly, I told you I built a time machine.”
“Ugh! You’re driving me crazy! Finish the story!”
“As I mulled over everything I learned, I came up with a theory. Something radically different from what I’d read. I still needed a thunderstorm, but I still had to build the machine.
“The thunderstorm provided the energy I needed to power the time machine. I built it in a garage in a rental we lived in on a golf course. I stole the materials from the metal dumpsters of the stamping plant next door. The owner of the stamping plant was our landlord.
“I know, a stamping plant on a golf course. It was a small town north of the Twin Cities. But that was my life up to that point…crazy.
“I begged, borrowed, and stole everything else. Computer components I got for free from garage sales, copper wire I stole from the recycling place in Cambridge. The seventy-five-foot antenna I erected for TV, I convinced the landlord to pay for.
“It was a stormy night, the time machine was ready, and the bitch that controlled my life was off at the casino. I put the kids to bed, strapped myself into the time machine and prayed. My intent was to leave this life, be transported back into my old life, with a feeling.
“Lightening hit that new TV tower, and I thought I was going to die. The world lit up, my nerves thrummed, and my vision swirled with every color of the rainbow.”
Jack took my hands into his, “I woke up the morning after Tammy dumped me. But this time it was different, I had a feeling. Honestly, I had no memory of my past, just a feeling that I needed to reconnect with you. We were in the process of moving to Coon Rapids, and the newly transition me had no idea what your status was. I gave it time and called you.”
“Don’t you dare say, ‘and we lived happily ever after.’”
“You just said, ‘I had no memory of my past.’ Yet you just told me a great story.”
“Those memories only came to me recently. I would wake up and snippets of that life were there for me to review.”
“Sounds like dreams.”
“I thought so too at first. But, as the snippets continued, a part of me realized, those dreams were memories.”
“Are you sure? You have always said, your dreams seem like they are real. How many sleepless nights have you had over the years because you woke up to escape dreams?”
“Those dreams were the life I escaped.”
“Tonya, I shit you not. Every sleepless night was a dream about that nightmare I lived before I came back and fixed what I broke. It was not until recently I realized, they were not dreams, but memories.”
“…and you are sharing this now…why?”
“The dreams stopped. Then and now are in synchronicity. That life ended at thirty-five years, and this one reached thirty-five years.
“From here on out, its just you and me.”
Tonya remembered the sleepless nights. Kent leaving their bed. Getting up and finding something to read. His side of the bed damp with sweat. She always worried maybe something was bothering him, maybe he wasn’t happy. But could not figure out what, because their life was awesome. Yet, those sleepless nights always hung over their life like a dark shadow. Then a thought occurred to her.
“What if you building a time machine was just one of those vivid dreams?”
Kent looked deep into her eyes, the corners of his mouth twisted up in a smirk, “No way, it was all real, but now the rest of our life together is just us babe.”
Tonya still wondered if her husband was lost in his vivid dreams. Only the future would show, but if his distracted nights of reading her design magazines were in the past, she would be more than happy to accept his story.