Trip Through Time


Thanks in part to Lucille Gayles and her short story “The Time Tripper” for the inspiration behind this short short story.
Other thanks go to You.


City lights always dazzled me and made me think for years about a world I needed to escape to with women I couldn’t touch and clothes I’d never fit, parties I’d never attend, and desks that I only thought begged for me to sit behind. Now it brings on a sense of sadness, rain like tears hitting steel beams and glass buildings as I rush to the El thinking of you. I was supposed to write about you for a special kind of assignment but I couldn’t find the right words…and then we woke up well into next year.

You and I can keep each other safe, nested in between a duvet and a jacuzzi laden with candles. I know you want us to be intimate in other ways, but what I know best is holding you in my arms and trailing my fingers through your cacao. I made cinnamon chips last week and tonight I put my nose down as close as I could, inhaled your brown sugar and cinnamon scent, and was reminded of sweaty days spent in the kitchen surrounded by hot ovens. Wherever we are together, right now, is a good place.

Crawling down your body, barely stopping to soak in the contrast between you and the white down comforter and the terra cotta tile, all I taste are memories we’ve never had, sweet and salty and bitter. Individually they don’t taste like much, but I come up to bite your ear gently and tell you that stirred together, they are the best memories I have never tasted. I lay still with you, my arm thrown over you, scared that if we move too fast it will be like a car rocking unsteadily on the edge of a cliff. We could go plunging.

But you have no notion of this thought in my head and you sit up and swivel, pulling me into you, notching us together as my legs go over yours and your arms go around my back. “Let’s be good,” I say, “and maybe we’ll have all the time in the world.” You laugh, or sniff, or sigh into my skin, like you’ve been trying to explain this to me for years. “We don’t have that kind of time. You keep trying to stretch a moment into a year’s worth of time. Enjoy it now.” I am quiet, letting the tip of my tongue taste your shoulder and I notice that you don’t say “while it lasts.”

“Be still,” you whisper in my ear, and I am. I am still and absorbing the feel of you. Your nipples on my skin are warm and little tremoring lines of electricity seem to go from your nipples to my skin and out my back. Our legs and cunts together feel exotic and unreal, and your breaths and sounds and growls in my ear make this task a challenge. We should be sending California our power supply, but where we are in this space, this pause in time, there is no California. There is no East Coast. There is no Midwest.

There is no time to be impudent. You lay me down neither gently nor brutally nor slowly, but a strange, time lapsed combination of the three. Your weight on me is sure and sudden and strong, and I am almost immediately overcome with tears. One look at you tells me that you are too, but you’ve always hid it better than I could, and your eyes stay dry. Reaching for a candle from the edge of the tub, you splash my skin and watch the wax harden before moving on. From somewhere above my head you grab a fistful of scarves and choose one to tie my wrists with. I arch my body in response and through a flash of pain your lips and tongue go to work on my neck, as if to let me know that everything is all right.

Out of habit and some feeling of humiliation or proper upbringing I close my eyes until you slap my inner thigh, hard. My eyes snap open and I gasp, attempting to draw myself up until I remember my wrists are bound. I look up and slightly behind me and see stars. The ceiling has cracked open, blurred and smeared with the stars and the dark paint of the sky. How much time do we have?

Your movements aren’t frantic, but I’m still on edge. Your lips bring comfort on mine, and one finger strokes slowly and gently between my legs, as if to tell me that time and space barriers don’t matter anymore. We are who we are together, and no one and nothing can take that away, whether we’re years or miles or lovers apart. Your eyes pierce mine with that brown-gold-green I can’t get enough of, and I’m coming apart for you. Coming for you. Shudders like high voltage shocks force my body off the duvet and slamming back down, legs spread in a butterfly shape, to reveal the cocoon within. Steam and musk and sweat all hover above our heads. You give me the once-over and grin, pulling the scarf from my wrists. “This is a good look for you.”

I wrap myself around you, wrap you inside me, and kiss you. Biting your neck and then your lip, I drift off with you, all fears abated. I open my eyes in the present, sheer yellow curtains at my windows, sunlight streaming in and a warm breeze blowing. A baby shifts and sighs in the next room, and I am undone at the realization of what our time together was: a dream. Some days I am past tears at the thought of you, and today is one of those days. I feel limp, exhausted, and full of grief. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice something catching the sun on my nightstand and I look over, leaning partway off the bed. Swinging gently on a drawer pull is a sterling silver wolf on a thin chain. I catch it in my hand, and it is inexplicably warm to the touch. The phone rings suddenly and I jump, grabbing it up in my free hand.


“Hey. What are your travel dates again?” Your voice is mellow, and I’m confused at first.

“What about last night?” I ask.

“What about it?” You pause. “Hold on.”

I think for a moment that you’re trying to think back, to recall what I’m talking about, but I hear you talking to one of the kids in the background. Given time to think, staring at the wolf in my palm, I realize that you have no idea what I’m talking about. How could you? Last night wasn’t a dream, but a time trip.

“Okay, what were you saying?” you ask me. I grin, clutching the wolf.

“Last night. I had this dream. Anyway, it’s not important. What I really need to know is if you’re going to be available a few months from now…”

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