Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
I’m no stranger to visits from my future selves.
The first time I showed up to myself, I was only nineteen. I was in the backyard, smoking a cigarette with my hand cupped so that my parents wouldn’t see.
An older version of me stepped out of the bushes. He was wearing a suit but it was dingy and the elbows were frayed. He had some stubble and a wet, red look to his eyes. I could smell whiskey and desperation.
He told me that he was a future version of myself. I had no trouble believing it. There was a kinship there that went beyond the features of his face or the fact that it felt like I was looking at a reflection of myself that wasn’t flipped around like in a mirror. There was almost a magical flow of energy between the two of us, atoms calling to atoms, a recognition of the same time-space footprint being near.
He told me who was going to win the football game tomorrow. He told me to write it down. I went inside and took out a notebook and did what he said.
I took it to heart and bet big on it. I made two hundred dollars. Big money for me at the time.
Years later, I’ve had hundreds of visits. I have six large estates around the world and I am the seventeenth richest man in the world. I write every visit from a future self in the notebook with the exact time notated as well. This is the notebook, my future selves say, that will allow me to come back and create this present. When the secret of time travel is discovered, they say, I will use this notebook as a bible and influence myself to this rich state of affairs, thereby avoiding a paradox.
What didn’t make sense to me, though, was that the versions of me that kept coming back to give me tips got progressively more well-dressed and wore more jewelry. I found that odd since I, myself, don’t really like wearing rings. Also, if my future selves were changing according to the riches that I was making, why was the first one to come back dressed so poorly?
I smelled something fishy. I was going to ask the next future self some pointed questions. The riches had made me bold. I was poised with the notebook, ready to get some answers.
The next time a future self showed up, however, it wasn’t me. It was a woman in a red dress and a scar down one cheek. She walked with purpose, the straight back of a dancer. She marched up to me and grabbed me by my expensive collar and kneed me in the balls.
While I was writhing in agony on the marble floor, she took the notebook out of my hands, the supposed bible and key to all of my success, and threw it into the fireplace.
There was a flash of blue light and she disappeared, having never uttered a word.
Nothing changed for me. I am still the seventeenth richest man in the world. My wealth is intact. My appearance hasn’t changed.
Her appearance happened just over four years ago. There hasn’t been a visit from the future, myself or otherwise, ever since that notebook was thrown into the fireplace.
I wonder who she was. I turn the puzzle pieces over in my mind and I can’t make sense of it. I feel left out and oddly alarmed most days, like this could all disappear in an instant.