Author: Alzo David-West
Marcus had witnessed several incarnations of himself in the course of his forty-one years—a guarded child, a romantic teenager, a tired tutor, and a tolerant husband of Madeline. She barged into his study, upset about their quartet of preadolescents and the dishes she wanted him to do.
“But I’m going through some formulations, Madeline,” he said from his desk.
“You and your inane formulations,” she retorted. “Always your formulations. When are you going to start working again?”
“Madeline, I worked straight for fifteen years. I need a break now.”
“A break indeed, while I’m here with the little terrors and the bills.”
“You can go out for a walk, Madeline.”
“With this pandemic raging? You want me to get killed? And who will look after the children when I’m gone? You? Why, you can’t even put the spoons back in order.”
“Please, Madeline, I’m burned out. I just want a little rest.”
“Two months, and you want a little rest. Why—”
He refocused on the formulations he had been working on for the past four and a half years. They were difficult years, with his anemia, indigestion, sinusitis, and Medusian supervisor who had no care for illness. And then the contract ended.
He looked up. Madeline was red. He turned to a montage of photographs he had arranged on the study wall, Hockney like, photos of himself and Madeline when they were exchange students living together in North America twenty-two years ago. The couple had known better days, even if they were not always the best of times.
Ah, Madeline, he thought to himself, if we only knew what we’d become.
She left the room. A crepuscular ray poured through a window. He reached under the desk, brought out a complicated device with a solar panel and a chronometer, activated the mechanism, and redirected the spectrum onto the pictures. An irradiation unfurled, and beam streams like florets, warm and hot, expanded. Space pulsed and bent, and the montage opened.
Somewhen, an eighteen-year-old boy and a twenty-year-old girl were walking in the evening, on the campus of a small-town college in eastern Massachusetts.