Author: Lori D’Angelo
The problem with the time machine wasn’t the motor, as I had first suspected. The problem was the inhabitant.
John, in his infinite wisdom or infinite stupidity depending on how you regarded it, had made it so that the machine would only work for Laurel. However, John hadn’t foreseen that Laurel would be pregnant at the time of his death. How could he have? I mean he wasn’t a mind reader. Though he had foreseen the probability of his death, he hadn’t foreseen the possibility of his wife’s pregnancy.
But the issue of Laurel’s pregnancy was complicated. John had knowledge, medical knowledge, that had proved to be, well, mistaken. And you can’t factor in variables that aren’t even on the table at the time you go to make the calculations.
I was trying to figure out how to break the news to Laurel. I settled on a metaphor. Laurel was in the hospital for monitoring. The shooting, John’s death, had given her quite a shock. It wasn’t something that she had foreseen. Laurel was resting when I entered. The hallways were quiet. She was in the nicest, newest part of the hospital. John was, had been, a major donor. She didn’t open her eyes. But, like John, she had a sense for things.
“Luther,” she said, “any news?”
“Laurel, do you know the gameshow, Deal or No Deal?
“I’m not in the mood to play games.”
“Just humor me, please.”
“Luther, I’m so tired.”
I poured her some water out of the pink pitcher by her bed. “If you could see John again, would you, even if it meant risking everything?”
“Deal or no deal?” she asked, finally understanding.
Her face was pale, her eyes were red, but a light came into them that had been absent before.
“I’d do anything,” she said, “to see John.”
“Okay, then,” I said, “come with me.”
“I’ve got all these monitors,” she said, pointing to the pulse oximeter, the heart monitor, the sensor measuring her respiratory rate.
“We’ll silence them,” I said, “but we’ll have to hurry. I brought you clothes.”
I handed them to her. “You can put them on once you’re inside. When we get to the machine, the doors will lock. I can’t go with you.”
Laurel nodded. I thought she would have more questions. But, like John, sometimes she operated on pure intuition.
“The world doesn’t make sense without John,” she said. “Tell me what I need to know.”
I told her about the elevator down the hall, which wasn’t really an elevator, but a machine to take her back in time. “It will only work for you.”
It was maddening sometimes how much they trusted each other, and each other alone. But then why had he told me and not her about the machine?
She understood before I did, and she smiled. “He didn’t want me to worry in case his death never came to pass.”
“He didn’t know you were pregnant when he built it. So we don’t know how,” I began.
“Luther,” said Laurel, her nerves now steely, “it’s okay. I’ll go back in time and save him, so he can see his child grow up.”
“You will?” I said, for her utter confidence astounded me.
“This is one game that I will not lose,” she said. “I’m ready whenever you are.”
“Okay,” I said, trying to match her confidence with my own. “Go save your husband.”