Emilia slowly stood up, using the back of a chair to support her weight. She was still feeling nauseated. Aru was still by her side, wagging his tail happily as always. She reached for the switch and light filled the small hall. Her movements were sluggish, her vision blurry. She kept taking deep breaths.
“I… just… travelled… through time…” she kept repeating to herself, still unable to believe what had just transpired. She went on to her couch and sat down, hiding her face inside her open hands. Her head was hurting, but she had to process all that was going on. Aru came close to her and put his head on her lap.
“So, Petersteel and Hugh were friends, apparently. And Petersteel stole this watch from the Government. And that old guy, Bogart, knew about the two of them… and about the watch. And now, here I am, some hours behind, about to meet the thief… great. Just great” she mused to herself. She lifted her head up and her eyes fell on the black clock above the TV. It was always frozen at 2:32.
It was a Thursday, two years ago. Their ‘special day’ of the week. They had agreed that, no matter what, they would have a day all to themselves. She had picked Thursday because it was the day they had met. He was all dressed up, wearing his not-so-expensive black suit, matching pants and shoes. Emilia had worn her favourite red dress, the one that made her waist look fantastic, and white heels. He had made a reservation at the ‘Treeline’, the most fancy and expensive restaurant in Valedorn.
“I have already done it, and I’m not canceling” Hugh had said to an angry Emilia, once she’d found out.
“But Hugh! We agreed on it being a special day, not a super-flashy day!”
“There is no day more special than this! We are doing this, love. Trust me, it will be a night you’ll never forget. I promise…”
And he made good on that promise. It was moments after he’d taken the first sip of that wine. She was still haunted by his face turning blue, his hands grasping on his neck, his breath slowly fading…
Suddenly, Aru’s angry barking brought her back to reality. She quickly sprang up and started pacing nervously. What’s this? Is he already here? As she was about to walk towards the door, Emilia heard footsteps running down the stairs.
“What is it this time, Aru?” she heard herself saying. What to do?
Thinking fast, she jumped over the couch and hid behind it, just as her past self walked in. She could hear Aru’s breath as he approached the past Emilia.
“I thought I’d turned the lights off… whatever. Who the fuck is this now?” Emilia whispered as she went to open the door. Meanwhile, the Emilia from the future checked her watch. 3:45. Miss Prudence was there to complain about Aru. Aru, who wasn’t the least bit surprised that there were two versions of her now… she waited until the exchange ended. She knew what was coming up next, so she waited patiently behind the couch. Petersteel was sighted entering her place at 4:30, as Bogart told her. She could hear the TV playing the silly commercials, and herself, lying so close to her, brething softly. She was about to fall asleep.
Knowing herself, she was certain she’d not wake the past Emilia up, yet she had to move around carefully. Emilia slithered on the floor like a ninja and rushed upstairs. The watch was showing 4:28. She sat on her bed and waited.
The sound of a branch breaking outside the window. Next, the sound of something trying to bust the window open. How did I not wake up from this? she wondered, as she patiently waited for Petersteel to enter. She knew that, if she’d gone and opened that window, he would be so surprised, he’d probably fall off the branch.
And the window opened. He came in and lit a small torch. He looked around, and was shocked to find her there, a wry smile on her lips. He turned away, but she grabbed his coat and pulled him down with strength she did not know she had. The two struggled silently for a few seconds, until Emilia decided she had enough.
“Stop it you fucking moron! I know you’re coming to give me the watch! Stay down! You’ve got some explaining to do!” she said in a menacing tone.
“Emilia? Is that really you?” a hoarse voice gasped.
“Yes. I used it. I used the damned watch. You said I should do so in your letter. Didn’t you? Now, about those answers you said you owe me…” Emilia went on and pulled him up. She turned on the light. A blonde man with sparking blue eyes was looking at her, with a big grin that revealed his white teeth on his slightly pale face. His black coat was dirty from climbing the tree. He looked tired, yet excited at the same time.
“It works! It really works! We were right, Hugh and I! We were right!”