by Robert Morella
The universe has pinned me to a roulette wheel of five time-points in my life. I bounce between these five time-points. Just now I jumped to time-point three.
Time-point Three: September 12th, 1984
I’m back in the schoolyard and my hands are small, I’m age nine. Pain shoots from my arms since Tom Scapoli has them pinned behind my back.
“What’s the baby gonna do? Gonna CRY?” Frank Scapoli snarls while Tom restrains me.
“Loser,” I mutter as I begin to count. In four seconds I will duck and throw an elbow.
This is the twelfth time I’ve made this jump. I’m getting better at dealing with Tom and his fat-faced brother Frank.
Deep breath. Tom’s losing grip on my arms. My left arm is loose.
As Frank takes a swing, I twist free and duck. Once again, I nail it. Well nail Tom, specifically. I land an elbow, hitting him square in the nose. Lots of blood. Good. Frank misses with the punch and stumbles. I pivot, advance on Frank then bury my knee in his groin.
This all went to plan, again. Tom staggers backwards while Frank doubles over. Lisa Connor stands watching, mouth agape. She’s so impressed that we fall in love, move to California, get engaged after college, make love for weeks-on-end in a Volkswagen camper parked by the beach, get married and have kids, until... Sorry, getting ahead of the story. I jump to time-point five.
I hate time-point five.
Time-point Five: July 23rd, 2051
My 81-year-old body aches and I’m half-blind, yet I manage to drag myself to the cemetery. I hate this place, all my friends are here. I catch my breath as I reach the headstones where my wife and daughters lie buried, thanks to that drunk bastard.
Lisa Marie Connor, May 1, 1970 - December 12, 2015, Devoted Wife, Loving Mother.
Two headstones mark the graves of my daughters. Thirty-six years ago he hit them head-on and died too. Good. I clutch some drugstore flowers in one hand and my revolver in the other. I bring flowers on our anniversary, yet soon a groundskeeper is going to find my body, again. A bullet kills most people, but not me, I jump to another time-point. I plant a kiss on the headstone then put the barrel in my mouth. I squeeze the trigger.
Time-point one: June 25th, 1972
I’m terrified, naked and freezing. A gloved hand is poking something into my ear while a throng of giants in masks looms overhead, grunting and laughing.
They’ve abducted me and I’m their specimen at some sicko alien probe-party and I’m the centerpiece, the probe-piñata. I scream. Or they’re going to put me in an alien zoo to show ugly alien children what Earthlings look like. I clench my fists, but my hands are baby hands, they’ve given me baby hands to thwart my escape from the alien zoo.
My memory snaps back. June 25, 1972, my birthday. A doctor hands me to my mother. She’s smiling radiantly in the hospital bed looking me over.
“He’s perfect,” she says.
Wait, what is she doing?
She opens her top, exposing her breasts, then lays me across her naked chest.
No! This is sooo wrong! I make a time jump just in time.
Time-point Four: December 11th, 2015
At home the chaos continues. Tomorrow Lisa is taking the girls to St. Simons to visit my mother. I cannot remember what happens, but it’s bad, I can feel it. Every time I try to make a note, the universe won’t let me. I remember a man at my door who brings bad news.
“Girls, did you pack sunscreen?” Lisa asks.
“Yes,” they say in unison. “It’s not like they don’t have stores there,” Carla says.
“I wish I could come,” I say, looking down.
“I do too,” Lisa says, “don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”
A pain stabs inside my skull. Something won’t be fine.
“Did you get new tires?” Lisa glares, then pulls me close and kisses me.
“Stop worrying. I got tires. It’s a short drive,” she says. I flop on the sofa to check my messages. I fall asleep and make a time jump.
Time-point Two, August 4th, 1980
I’m five years old at my parent’s house, standing at the bathroom sink doing what has to be done. I’m haunted with nightmares about car crashes. Bubbles rise from the sink as I press the trigger on the inhaler.
I’m not supposed to play with my mother’s inhaler but I need to.
A voice calls from downstairs, “Dinner!”
“Coming,” I dry off the inhaler and set it on the counter.
Downstairs, my parents are in the kitchen. Mother is reading a copy of Travel and Leisure.
“Can we afford it?” he says.
“Sure, it’s not expensive,” she says.
I ask what they’re discussing. She coughs, “Bad asthma day…St. Simons, we might retire there.”
“But, of course your mother is too young to retire,” my father says with a wink.
She laughs, but it kicks off a coughing fit that suddenly worsens. He looks up in a panic.
“Get her inhaler NOW!” he shouts.
I run to her with the inhaler. She exhales then pushes the button. Nothing happens, it’s empty.
I make a time jump.
Time-point Four: December 11th, 2015
It’s the fifth time I’ve made this jump yet still cannot remember what happens tomorrow. Lisa is watching a travel video.
“St. Simons looks neat,” she says.
“My mom wanted to retire there.”
“She died young…was it Asthma?" She says.
“Yes,” I say. A pang of guilt hits me. I helped.
“The girls would’ve loved it there.”
* * *
That night I examine a memento on my dresser, a framed baseball card of Pete Rose as a rookie. On the back there’s a handwritten note in the margin, a message that survives every time jump:
At time-jump two, you MUST kill Mom.
Robert Morella is an IT guru and part-time college professor who hails from Atlanta Georgia.