O from the Future

By T.A. Stanley

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I am contemplating suicide, or rather the different ways I could commit it, when I hear a knock at the door. I open it and a man stands in front of me. He is tall and a bit scrawny, his arms hang long, down almost to his knees. His blonde hair rests just above his shoulders and looks as if it hasn’t been washed in several days. His eyes are a deep brown, almost black, but they are big and inviting—not friendly, really, but maybe passionate.

He says he is here to save me. I tell him that I wasn’t actually going to do it. I was just thinking about it. But I am a bit confused as to how he could know what I had been thinking. No, no he says. He tells me that’s not what he means at all. He tells me he’s from the future. From a future where I die a most painful and horrific death and he couldn’t bear it any more—seeing my death playing over and over again in his head. So he came here to the past to save me. I invite him inside, because I’m not sure what else to do with a man who is from the future.

I offer him a cup of tea, but he refuses. He can’t be sure if that would lead to anything catastrophic. I must be like a fly on the wall he tells me. That seems strange because he is here and trying to save me, but I’m sure he knows more about time traveling than me. I ask him how far in the future is he from. I can’t be sure he says. It’s not an exact science. I willed myself to find you somewhere in your past and so I wound up here. It’s fascinating, really, that it could even be possible. Even if he is showing up to save me from a future accident, he is placed at a time to save me from the present. I can’t be sure, but that seems like fate, bundled up on my door step to be with me. After so much has been taken away from me—after everything recently feels like that clot of blood flushed down the toilet—it is nice to have someone directly at my door step. Someone who is not trying to run away from possibilities that are no longer even possible. This man faces all the possibilities head on, I think.

How do I die? I ask him. He shakes his head. He is so somber. So burdened with the weight of this knowledge—this knowledge of my life and my death—but he says he cannot tell me that. It is violent is all he says. He looks at me and I can see tears in his eyes. You are so beautiful he says. I didn’t notice that when you were dying, but you really are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. He emphasizes ‘thing,’ but I don’t realize this until much later. He tells me his name is O. He tells me he is very tired and I have him follow me into my bed. We spend a month learning how our bodies fit together and I forget that he’s from the future and I cannot imagine myself anywhere but with him. Sometimes he puts his head on my stomach as if listening for something. I tell him it’s not worth the trouble, but he tells me he is not listening to anything but the noises of my body. He cannot imagine a more perfect music.

We go one night to a bar and he sees a man in the corner of the room. I see O watching the man intently. The man is young, maybe just barely old enough to be in the bar. He is drinking a beer alone and seems distraught. O, never taking his eyes off the young man, tells me that this is what he came here for. He reminds me of his future, my future—the one I had forgotten in the moments spent with him. I am upset because I thought he had come here to be with me, that he had saved me just by being here. But apparently, this is not the case. I do not tell O that I am upset.

O walks to the end of the long bar where the man sits in the corner. He whispers something in the man’s ear and has the man follow him out of the crowded bar into an alley. I follow behind them, trying to remain unnoticed. In the alley, under the one dim light, O beats the man until he is dead—the thudding echos of O’s fists vibrate over my body. He turns to me, knowing that I watched the whole thing. He smiles and tells me that this is the man who kills me in the future. O explains that it is he who kills me in the future (that the young man was him in the past). I don’t understand. If you killed yourself from the past how can you-from-the-future still be here? I say. He kisses me, then slams me into the brick wall of the alley. You’ll never understand time travel he tells me.

T.A. Stanley

Note: This piece was originally published by Belleville Park Pages no. 27