The man she loves/loved/will love is about to be married. While she was busy time-traveling–Saving the world from crisis!–he could not wait the two minutes it would take her to get back to his era to re/acquaint him with her. But why should he stop courting one plain, non-time-traveling lady in hopes that another woman—one whom he hasn’t yet met—will show up?
It’s funny, isn’t it? While he is saying his vows, the time traveler is stuck at a tollbooth without a dollar; having the power of time travel doesn’t save her from having to scrounge in the seat cushions for change. When she arrives, it is already too late. The bride and groom are kissing each other. Later, there will be cake and champagne.
The time traveler is angry. She is disappointed. She needed her man to be a mind reader. He is perfect for her, except that he lacks that one skill, that gut instinct, that tells him that something is out of joint. Is a little extra-sensory perception too much to ask from a man? Instead, the time traveler shrinks from the receiving line and toys with a wineglass. She wonders if marrying a woman in a different continuum counts as faithlessness. The bartender does not offer an opinion. He’s seen it all before.
She had the bottle, the stopper, and the paper, but all of her pens were waterlogged and, of course, there were no pencils. Every night, the wind blew away her SOS in the sand. She used her dead phone to reflect flashes of dots and dashes, but no overhead planes stopped for her. Writing had failed her in so many ways, she thought as she cracked open a coconut. It had failed her as it had so many before.
“Con brio!” he shouted. “Vivace! Even a mouse like you can twitch with vigor!”
I sawed at the violin and tore through pages of the score. I galloped a horse and parked the Volvo aslant. I ate a ham sandwich and let the mustard run down my cheeks.
“Con brio!” he shouted again from the wooden dais. “Molto vivace!”
“I am trying,” I said, with my mouth so full that I could barely fit it around my life. “Not enough,” he said. “Not nearly enough.”
More of Mindy Hung’s short fiction for The Toast can be found here.
Illustrator: Haley Crain is a graphic designer by day and a rookie webmistress by night. She recently relocated to Minneapolis from her home state of Georgia, but cross her heart and hope to die, she will never call Coke “pop.”