Author : Aaron Koelker

The first note, neatly folded into squares, appeared a short ways off the park path where I enjoyed my evening walks. Had I not spotted the strange rippling effect, like a vertical pane of crystal clear water broken by a gentle leaf cast down from the tree of time, I would’ve never seen it. I wouldn’t have hunched my shoulders against the autumn chill and left the path; have never known she would exist. I picked it from the grass and unfolded it with cold fingers, frosted breath screening the neat handwriting.

To anyone who finds this, kindly write your name and the date in the space below. Then return this message to the EXACT spot you found it, or as best you can. It is very important to us, and will be much appreciated.

I thought it a joke at first, or some student’s social experiment. Did they assume I’d have a pen? I did, though. I had written out a check to my psychiatrist earlier that night.

Walter Kinsley. 11/29/2013.

I folded the note back into the same little squares in which I’d found it and lay it back on the grass, more or less where it had been. Then I returned to the path and waited a moment, wondering if whoever had put it there would run to retrieve it.

Instead the ripple returned, though now directly before me and leaving little doubt as to its existence, and the note vanished. I was bewildered, suddenly exhausted, and decided I would need to see my psychiatrist again sooner rather than later.

The next evening, while walking the same route at roughly the same time, I found the second note much like the first. I snatched it up and found the same handwriting; the same message. Below that was an addition.

If this is Walter, then hello again! And thanks for your help!

I replied.

Who are you?

The next night I found a third note, though this time I waited an hour for it, alone and shivering.

My name is Claire…

She told me she was from the future, at a time when dozens of private parties raced to produce reliable time travel, the goal being to send a human there and back in one piece. She told me that the notes really helped the project; eliminated bugs, honed the data, perfected the art.

And thus began our strange relationship, with hundreds of messages to follow, growing progressively longer until it was several papers folded together appearing each night. I went along, all the while surprised at how calmly I handled it. Quite unlike me.

When we ran out of professional topics, we shared our interests. I said I liked 90’s rock. She liked the Oldies. Turned out they were the same. We shared our lives, our hopes, our dreams. At first for the sake of science, of course, but I couldn’t help falling for her. Hard. I figured she liked me too, since the notes continued even after she told me that phase of the project had ended.

She finally wrote.

Talk about long distance, huh?

The longest distance.

Of course, my psychiatrist thinks I’m completely bonkers. He’s changed my meds a dozen times, though I know I’m fine. I don’t even feel like I need them anymore. The anxiety, the depression; both gone.

She wants to volunteer as the first human through the ripple, and I’ll be waiting. Waiting for her to make that long distance through time and space feel so incredibly small.

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